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Sunday, January 9, 2022

Larry Simpson's No Excuses


 I remember as a young man reading "Now Let Us Praise Famous Men." It was the compelling stories of simple Americans living in a hard era. I had the same ethos as I read "No Excuses."

Larry Simpson grew up in a family constantly on the move across America in the 1950's. As the title says, it is not a story of victimization, tragedy, or hopelessness. "I'm a trailer boy. I'm grateful for it all. I have no excuses. I hope you don't either," he declares. And that is his message. Through learning to play marbles, joining sports teams, acclimating to new schools, and building friendships Larry does something else: He lets my generation see the world as our parents lived it. 

"Find the story in yourself." - L Simpson

I saw in the stories the things I reflect were great about my parents (also growing up in the 50's). Larry at one point introduces a chapter by saying, "One of the great blessings of the life God gave me was being taught to work." In another place he tells of sliding down a mountain side with his rifle, realizing he was thirsty and ill prepared. He shares how much he treasured small things like his mom's plastic burgundy purse he acquiesced to use to keep his 127 marbles. He reports his early romance and the heartbreak of the family picking up and moving. He shaped his life not off the failures of his father, but off his father's strengths. "my human father had faults, but I never held any of those against him and chose rather to look at the very good character in him. All dads should have character traits for which to be remembered."

The story reads more like you are sitting on the porch listening to your grandfather weave stories, amazed at the life he led beyond how you know him. knowing Larry is a pastor, I imagine he has blessed his congregants over the years with these vignettes, using them as punctuated sermon illustrations. I'm sure when he did the people in the pews around him knew he was real, his faith was real, and he loved them. 

Love is the word. It is seldom used in the book, but it is on every page. In a later section Larry talks about his own faith that led him to college and ultimately to seminary. But this work resides in the life of a young man growing up in America with no excuses.  The book is written in what must be Larry's conversational "voice." I think the few editorial corrections would blur the connect the book offers to a part of history that many will enjoy remembering and all will enjoy experiencing through this memoir. I highly recommend. 

I was given a copy of the book for review. Opinions are my own.

Larry was kind enough to also share an exert. Presented here with permission:

Story 13:    "Sitgreaves Pass, on the way to California, 1957"

"We casually headed up and out from Kingman to Bakersfield-- a gorgeous, sun-lit day-- going
through Oatman was shorter, we turned North on Oatman Highway, old '66--  we were very
content-- being only 3,550 feet in elevation we knew we wouldn't have much of a climb--
slowly moving up to Sitgreaves Pass, Dad pulling our 50' long trailer with his green Ford truck--
then 4.4 miles down to Oatman-- the highway looked gentle-- the Del Vikings were singing"come
go with me," I got happy--

The decent would be easy-- THAT CHANGED SHOCKINGLY, increasing speed-- the slopes dropped
off like sinking earth-- Dad's face was white-- hitting one hairpin curve after another-- we were
faster-- the brakes were smoking, they faded completely, the trailer swerved close to the violent
edge-- looking down the rocky cliffs, I knew we were fighting for our lives-- time stood still--  his
look at me was fearful-- then mortal pity--plunging off the mountain filled my brain--jagged,
sharp rocks-- "we're going to have to jump!"-- faster with each passing inch-- the trailer tilted
to the left and shook-- as we fought for our very existence-- I thought, at least I'm with my
Daddy, we'll just go to heaven with each other-- But suddenly, shockingly-- we began to slow
a little-- the bottom seemed to be rising to us -- we're nearing the bottom-- pulling over to
the side of the road, we fell into each others arms and mixed our tears-- Dad prayed an
impassioned prayer--we were safe.
I briefly got to speak with the author who I met at NextChapter Con in Dalton:

https://www.facebook.com/J. Larry Simpson, I - No Excuses.....
https://www.newswire.com>news> J. Larry Simpson, I
https://youtu.be/WoXP5PxiRis....tv interview
https://youtube.com/ No Excuses....press release
https://fultonbooks.com/J.Larry Simpson, I

Author name:  J. Larry Simpson, I

Title:  "No Excuses, The True Life Adventures of a Little Trailer Boy" ( see links above)

What led you to write your memoir?

    Living in NW Ga. I am a first time author, with a Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Ed.
and Political Science, a Master's  Degree in Theology, a businessman, a lifetime pastor,
a horse National Champion, and was a distance runner.  I'm married to my teenage
sweetheart, Sandy.
    I began writing because I knew I had to tell my' boyhood story'.  My story is too
unique, filled with boyhood adventure, family, successes, girls, friends, all while I
traveled across America as a boy.  Moving to 10 states , 15 schools, 24 moves in a trailer
pulled by my father, I lived a life like no other.... too unique not to tell.  On retirement at
age 73, excitement to reveal this one very different and blessed life moved me to start

What are your hobbies and do they play into your writing?:

Yes, was horses up till 3 years ago, and my experiences with them enter into my writing.

What is your favorite part about writing?

My re-discovery of the blessings and uniqueness of my life as a 'trailer boy' etc. and refined
the love and thankfulness of my life and the hope that others will see it and enjoy with me.

WIs there a follow-up?

Other untold stories of childhood then into adulthood, including victories of life and exciting
horse stories. As well as Knowing God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rules on His throne.

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