Saturday, May 03, 2008

Across Five Aprils

'Ellen Creighton and her nine-year-old son, Jethro, were planting potatoes in the half-acre just south of their cabin that morning in mid-April 1861; they were out in the field as soon as breakfast was over, and southern Illinois at that hour was pink with sunrise and swelling redbud and clusters of bloom over the apple orchard across the road. Jethro walked on the warm clods of plowed earth and felt them crumble beneath his feet as he helped his mother carry the tub of potato cuttings they had prepared the night before.'
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

Read as my 6th book for the Back to History Challenge.

Across Five Aprils is a book that our 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Pawlson, read aloud to us. I don't remember actually paying attention to it then, but I have just read it for myself many years later and found it a very good read. As the story opens, Jethro Creighton is a 9 year old boy living on his families farm in southern Illinois. The civil war is starting and there is much heated discussion around the dinner table of right and wrong. All of Jethro's older brothers end up going off to war and the only news is the occasional letter and accounts of battles written in the local newspapers. Five years pass, with Jethro having to take on the farm work at any early age. The story touches on brothers fighting on both sides of the war, desertion, death and politics. It hit home to me with one passage how times have not changed so much in the way that we think and talk about the leader of our country. Read on:

'Ed Turner wiped the sweat from his eyes with an angry gesture. "I got no use for McClellan. I don't know what Ol' Abe means - tuckerin' to him like he was some little sawed-off king."
Then Tom Marin from Rose Hill spoke up. "If you ask my opinion of McClellan, I'll tell you I don't think he WANTS to win. I don't think he's EVER really goin' to move in on the Rebs, because their way of thinkin' is his way of thinkin'."
"Oh, I reckon he ain't THAT low. Ol' Abe must not be quite that pore in pickin' his head men," Israel Thomas objected.
"Maybe Ol' Abe aint' losin' HIS breath to lick the Rebs either - did ye ever think of that? Why is it he ain't freed the slaves? Is he afeared of hurtin' the feelin's of some of his woman's kinfolk down in Kaintuck? Why does he put up with this no-account that's runnin' the Army of the Potomac? Does he LIKE seein' Bobby Lee run over us? I got a lot of questions about Ol' Abe that I'd like an answer to."
"Youre doubts ain't goin' to make me down on Ol' Abe, Tom," Israel Thomas answered angrily. "Things is tough right now, but this war is a big thing. It's middlin' easy fer us farmers and the big editors and the abolitionist preachers to run the job of bein' president. Ol' Abe is doin' all he KIN do, I say, and I'm fer him - all the way."'
Sound familiar?

I was really interested to find in the author's notes that this is the story of her Grandfather, written years after he passed away. A very good read told from the viewpoint of a young boy left to take care of the farm while the fighting raged around him.

I remember this same teacher reading us Up a Road Slowly by this author as well. I think I'm going to head over to Amazon and find it...


Blogger Mary said...


This looks like a marvelous read. I've been reading lots of books on history. At present, I'm reading Mozart's Sister and it is very interesting. Though it is fiction and I'm not sure how many facts are included, it is an enjoyable read.

I have a list of books that I'm wanting to read. Many of them are from your reviews. Thanks for sharing.


4:01 PM  

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