The author describes his experiences as a farm boy growing up in the deep south during the days of the Great Depression and his later experiences in college and military service during World War II. His father’s farm consisted of 160 acres located in Claiborne Parish in northern Louisiana. His older siblings left home when he was six years old so he grew up essentially as an only child. The volume is divided into discrete essays or chapters, which cover several facets of his life and career. Some attention is given to the unique style of dwelling in which he was born and raised and how its features related to daily life on the farm. The stock market crash in 1929 occurred when he was 10 years old and he saw how life changed for almost everyone. While his family was more fortunate than most because the farm provided abundant food in the form of vegetables, pork, chickens, milk and eggs, it became increasingly difficult to survive economically. The price of cotton, the chief cash crop dropped from 20 cents per pound to five or six. Most farmers who were able to retain possession of their land were nevertheless caught in an endless cycle of borrowing money each year to finance the next crop. A rather detailed description of his school days portrays the physical features, somewhat primitive by today’s standards, and the academic opportunities offered during those Depression times by rural schools in the Deep South. The important role of the church in the religious and social life of the community is discussed. The compassion and good will of neighbors and other good works is emphasized along with a few personally troubling aspects of Christianity as preached in those days. College days at Louisiana State University occurred in the aftermath of the Huey Long era and the shadow of Long and his cohorts lingered long over the institution, resulting in a college atmosphere unlike any other. Work at 20 cents an hour enabled the completion of a degree and a career choice in the profession of Plant Pathology. The chapter on his life in the military as a draftee into the Army Medical Corps describes the frustration of adapting to army discipline and protocol, but also the satisfying opportunities for providing medical care to the sick and injured. Some elaboration of medical prescriptions in the days before the discovery of the sulfonamides and antibiotics is also furnished. He writes of special friendships formed, and the haunting reminder of friends and the thousands of others who did not survive the great conflict.
Robert Aycock was born on a small farm in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana in 1919. He grew up during the years of the Great Depression, graduated from LSU in 1936 and entered graduate school at North Carolina State University in 194O. While in graduate school he married Elsie Johnson. Drafted into the army in 1942, he served in the Medical Corps for three and a half years. After discharge he returned to North Carolina State to complete his Ph. D in Plant Pathology. He served 32 years in this profession, the last eleven as Head of the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University.