Clyde R. Kennedy

Dateline: 23 May 2015

Uncle Clyde & Aunt Dawn in 1958
(click picture for enlarged view)

Back in my July 2010 Blogazine I told about my Uncle Clyde Kennedy's new book, The Hard Surface Road: A Memoir of the Great Depression. It is the hardscrabble story of how one family, hard hit by economic devastation, managed to survive. The book begins as follows:

The stubborn pace of time cannot erase from my mind how fate, in one of its bleakest forms, set our family adrift in the throes of the Great Depression. Born on the first of January in 1923, I was seven years old when the Roaring Twenties curled up and died. Dad lost his job, the bank foreclosed on our mortgaged house, and our good life vanished like a dream at sunrise. Dad's brute strength, craving for work, and devotion to Mom kept our heads above water as we battled those cruel hard times. I wonder, though, what in the world would have become of us boys had it not been for our indomitable mother, who stood at the helm with her trust in the Lord.

The Grapes of Wrath, a famous novel of Depression-era hardship, won John Steinbeck the Pulitzer Prize. But that was just a novel, written by a man who did not personally experience the worst of Depression-era depravity. Clyde Kennedy's Hard Surface Road is, however, a firsthand account by a man who could never forget the reality of those days. As such, I believe it is a remarkable historical document.

The setting is Southeastern Ohio coal country, where Clyde's family on his father's side were moonshiners and Klansmen (he once told me his grandmother Kennedy was "a truly evil woman"—and the book gives some insights into that sentiment). 

I wish that Uncle Clyde's book was a little more affordable, but it is a self-published book. You can go to the Amazon link above and start reading with the "Look Inside" feature. 

Uncle Clyde passed away on March 1st of this year. You can Read His Obituary Here.

The picture above shows Uncle Clyde and Aunt Dawn (my mother's sister) in August of 1958. It was taken at my Grandmother Kimball's camp on Cross Lake in northern Maine. My mother took the picture. I would have been 7 months old at the time, and I'm sure I was there.

I remember the bear rug, though not particularly well. My best memories of that wonderful place are from when I was into grade school age, and by then the bear rug was gone.


W. said...

Typo in the title:
I'm sure you meant 2015, not 1915.

SharonR said...

I've gone to read excerpts from the book. What a storyteller, indeed! I love good storytellers. Every family needs at least one. Despite the cost, I do plan to buy one. My intentional collection (I have so many UNintentional ones, like, fabric) are books that are written specifically about women in local history. To get them, I go to the local writers' section of a bookstore in a town we are visiting and seek them out. I have lovely books about grand and great-grand mothers who worked hard in the settler days to the depression days. I'll make this exception with the man's view, though, it gives a lot of information of the woman's view from his mother, from what little I read online. Thank you for this reference. It's a little jewel.

Herrick Kimball said...

Fixed. Thanks. I am posting in a rush these days. :-)

If I can locate it, I have a good book along the lines of what you collect that I'm sure you will like, and I'll send it to you. But it may be awhile before I find it, as I have "collections" in disarray around here. As the opening paragraph implies, Clyde's mother was the glue that held her family together, and the driving force that helped them get through some very hard years.

RonC said...

I found The Hard Surface Road to be a fun read. I passed it along to the wife when I finished it and she inserted it into the home school curriculum as "History." Our kids (9 and 11) were thoroughly entertained. Clyde is a very good and entertaining story teller. There is a little course language in the book, but he uses it to capture the home scene very well.

At $29.85, you might think it is a bit steep to be entertained, but I was more fascinated by how the family pulled through. Clyde's mom must have been an amazing woman...Obviously very clever and resourceful. I think the lessons learned put the book in the definitely worth picking up category.

Sheila Gilbert said...

I read what was offered in the "Look Inside," on Amazon, and just HAD to order it! I loved it! I can't wait to read it. What a fantastic writer he was.
I'm very sorry for your families loss. He was indeed a great story teller, that's for sure. Bless, Sheila

Dallas said...

Uncle Clyde was a remarkable raconteur and one-of-a-kind. The book is an outstanding inside look at what living through that was like. I grew up hearing the stories. But reading it all in cold print, as an adult, backed by research and fact-checking, made it come to life in an unforgettable way. We will miss Uncle Clyde and his wife Dawn.