Open this book and you are in Door County, Wisconsin, strolling down Coot Lake Road—a one-lane, dead-end gravel track just a few miles from Baileys Harbor and the Lake Michigan shore. Along the way you meet George and Helen O’Malley, who are growing old gracefully. Russell, their brave and empathetic golden retriever, wags hello and offers you a paw to shake.
The Olsons and the Berges live just down the road. Bump Olson is the local septic tank pumper and birdwatcher extraordinaire, and Hans Berge, MD, PhD, was at one time the only Norwegian psychiatrist in Chicago—or so he says. In a cottage out by the highway, you may spot Lloyd Barnes, ex–Tennessee state trooper, hound fancier, and local man of mystery. Uncle Petter Sorenson, visiting from Grand Forks, takes the polar bear plunge at Jacksonport. Around the neighborhood you’ll meet Deputy Doug, the flirtatious cellist Debbie Dombrowski, and Italian import Rosa Zamboni.
Dave Crehore’s sketches of life on the Door peninsula also expound on:
• the delights of codfish pizza
• how to insult Canadians
• what to expect at your fiftieth high school reunion
• how to lose a school board election
• the prevention of creeping old-fogyism
• Marilyn, a buxom eight-pound smallmouth bass
• and what goes on in the winter, when no one is there.
As a young boy, Dave Crehore moved with his parents from northern Ohio to the shipbuilding town of Manitowoc on the shores of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan, where the Germanic inhabitants punctuate their conversations with “enso,” the local radio station interrupts Beethoven for commercials, and the outdoors are a wellspring of enlightenment.
Crehore’s stories of his youth in 1950s Wisconsin are peppered with engaging characters and a quiet wit. A grouse-hunting expedition goes awry when an eccentric British businessman bags an escaped bantam rooster with a landing net. Crehore's great-grandfather gets in trouble one Christmas when he sneaks a whoopee-cushion under a guest’s seat. The elderly Frau Blau gets trapped in an outhouse by a shady auctioneer during a farm sale. Through all the adventures—and misadventures—in a small town and in the great outdoors of Wisconsin, family is always at the center. This gently humorous look back at a baby-boomer’s awakening to adulthood will be appreciated by members of any generation.
Honorable Mention, Kingery/Derleth Book Length Nonfiction, Council for Wisconsin Writers