Author:  Rick D. Niece
ISBN:  987-0-9815462-0-9

Click Here To Purchase The Side-Yard Superhero (Life in Degraff: An Automythography)

That quick/That complex/That simple/That’s Life.”  This last line from one of Niece’s poems, which are included in this book, could be the tagline for this nostalgic American memoir.  It expresses the sentiment Niece that puts into his stories of growing up in a small town in the 50’s and 60’s.  It also captionizes the boyhood friendship at the heart of this work:  between Niece—a professor’s son—and Bernie, a boy with severe cerebral palsy.

When Rick—during his daily paper route—met Bernie, it didn’t seem that he had much in common with the wheelchair-bound, only child; but from a shared interest in Dick Tracy, a friendship was sparked.  Through Rick’s eyes we get to know the gentle soul who was trapped by his physical limitations, who spent much of his day in his side-yard, watching the world go by; Rick’s visits being one of the few things Bernie had to look forward to.  As special outings for Bernie were rare, the poignancy with which Niece recaptures these occasions will make the reader at once sad and glad for Bernie as he experiences a few of life’s enjoyments.  At the carnival when Bernie looks up at the Ferris wheel, we see how he longs to have the freedom most of us take for granted, yet bravely lives his life without complaining.

The rest of the book introduces us to various neighbors and townsfolk who had an influence on Niece.  He recounts the small kindnesses and good advice, humorous incidents and heart-felt attachments of his childhood.  He tells his story sweetly and cleanly, and gives us a feel of what it was like to grow up in a small neighborly community fifty years ago.  Rick himself seems like a stellar, upright kid, and readers will enjoy spending time with him.

Childhood memories and circumstances stay with a person forever, and this book reminds us that a rich, caring community can make all the difference in people’s lives.  As it says in his poem:  “Small towns are like an older brother/a favorite aunt and uncle…”

The poems (among them: Long Ago, A Figment of My Youth, and Remember Me), keep with the themes of memory keeping, time passing, growing and change.   This is Book One in the trilogy Life in Degraff: an Automythography.  This reader is looking forward to revisiting Degraff in Book two

Click Here To Purchase The Side-Yard Superhero (Life in Degraff: An Automythography)