There is a very exclusive collection of people, either chosen by a concealed supremacy or happy accidents of chance, who have become unwitting members of an exclusive society; those individuals known to have crossed the threshold into the great void, thence returned from that plane of existence to once again journey along the road of life.
Whether it was a paranormal force such as, Fate, Chance or Destiny, that had determined this course of events is as mystifying as the reversal of the condition known as deceased, a state in which each affiliate had previously dwelled, however briefly.
For a few, this opportunity at a second life would offer great advantages, while others would not fare as well; they would be looked upon as a curiosity, something unnatural, and in the eyes of the most superstitious, evil.
This story centers on one member of this elite group, a very young lad who had experienced a wretched time of it in his initial existence, followed by a series of more forgiving circumstances in his second chance. Fortune had granted a kinder alternative to his probable demise as he narrowly escaped becoming an inmate of a dubious institution for abandoned children, a kinder word for workhouse. His saving grace in this particular instance was directly attributable to worldly intervention, an action of humanitarian endeavor, not something that could be ascribed to one of the previously mentioned mystical phantoms, but consequence of a loving aunt who by her determination to protect the helpless, altered the course of a rejected child’s life circumstances.
The Road Down Snake Hill, offers unique observations from the positive side of life during the Great Depression years. At least one person in that moment of history experienced good fortune as a direct result of the calamitous failings that plunged America into the Great Hopelessness. The escapades depicted in this book were inspired by real life events, memorable, witty and amusing tales of growing up as a member of an all-adult family, during those years of unprecedented hardship. The depression had only scant influence on people for whom hardship was a constant. They scarcely noticed any changes in their daily lives, those hearty souls who worked the land and tended the vine, seemingly oblivious to the economic perils being experienced by our nation.
The reversal of fortune experienced by the child was not associated with the economics of those lean years, but could be considered more like a change of direction or intersession at the hand of Providence. Who can say?
Let us presume that an “authority of undetermined origins” had returned this child to the world of the living despite two human pronouncements to the contrary; the first by the medical doctor who had delivered him into this world, and secondly by a priest who had known him since administering the sacrament of baptism upon his infant body. Then, at this final encounter, only three years later, the same priest had recited the ritual of ‘Last Rites of the Catholic Church’ for the recently departed child. Both men were quite familiar with the symptoms of death, and each had concurred that indeed, the youngster had lapsed into the state know as, “deceased”.
Now, slightly more than a year later, the same boy had been rescued from a fate nearly as terminal as that previously mentioned, having been sent off to dwell in a facility for discarded offspring. The boy’s mother, intent on a career, did not want children nor was she inclined to motherly instincts. The experience of childbearing was a dreadful and traumatic occurrence in her life, an experience she vowed never to repeat.
After the birth of this unwanted arrival, a sickly-squalling-inconvenience who was a drain on her very meager financial resources, she decided to rid herself of the responsibility by sending the boy away to a home and to be put up for adoption (an unlikely prospect in those days.) It was a fairly common practice during the depression era for parents who were unable or unwilling to provide for their issue, to drop them off on the doorstep of “benevolent institutions”.
A loving relative saved this particular juvenile from a childhood of servitude and he was instead taken to live with his paternal grandparents on their farm, transforming his future from hopeless or even non-existent, to astoundingly promising.
This story highlights a journey of learning for an unsuspecting underdog, giving him newfound insight into the meaning of love and understanding, in addition to revelations of approval and welcome, all conditions previously unknown to him. At this stage of life he was old enough to realize that he had not been accepted in his former household, but he was still too young to understand the circumstances that brought him to a place of new beginnings. He would realize substantial upgrading in his daily environment; life would be uncomplicated and understandable for the first time in his brief existence.
Surrounded by people who cared for and nurtured him, the narrator describes in retrospect, the events of this new life and the profound happiness he would know living with his father’s family. There are many heartwarming tales of stimulating, often humorous experiences, memories of which endure over a life span.
The time line of this great adventure is the early to middle 1930s, in a farming region of Western New York State, well known for its lush grape crops, succulent strawberries, and superlative red wines.
This is a work of fiction, based on real life events and characters, factual yet embellished to some degree. The adventures, activities or incidents actually occurred and are portrayed to the best of my recollection. Where my memory failed, my imagination did not. A few of my cousins, an aunt and two uncles are still living as of this writing and I’m sure they will forgive any errors or added color and details that I may have exaggerated or omitted. I did not however have to contrive any situations to make them larger-than-life, since that has always been the reality of their existence.