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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2009
Philip Gulley can definitely make you laugh out loud with this book. Back in the 1970's when we were "free range children" and allowed to have a childhood, life was much more interesting. Granted, your mom would know your indiscretions before you even hit the back door, but that was the price you paid for having fun.

Gulley tells his tales, he admits that these are the parts that he remembers and that's what he is sticking with, of living in Indiana and that it was pretty much heaven on earth even with the flannel graphs in Sunday school. Maybe that is why this good Catholic boy became a Quaker minister.

Hysterically funny from beginning to end, Gully takes us through his growing up years in short story vignettes pretty much in the same venue as Robert Fulgrum. Gully introduces us to his band of compadres who never seem to have real names, but make life all the more interesting.

And who knew that shooting a can of bug spray is pretty much the equivalent of an Indiana farms Atom Bomb.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Years ago I read both 'Hometown Tales', and 'Front Porch Tales' and absolutely loved them. This latest book of short stories was no different. Mr Gulley has become my 'Master of Main Street'! Every time I picked up this book, I was transported to a simpler time, a place where I would love to have grown up, or have my son grow up. Heck, I even googled Danville, In, tried (unsuccessfully) to convince my husband to retire early from the Navy, and pack up and move to this sweet little town I have never been to!

It was strange though, to read this book from the perspective of a mother. Had I read this a few short years ago, I'd have laughed and shook my head at the crazy antics of young boys...now, however, I found myself saying (to no one in particular)...'Where's you bike helmet??', 'Omg, he's gonna lose an eye!', 'Are these kids INSANE?!?! They're never gonna live to see 20?!' (and I'm only 28!). Also, I just love Mr. Gulley's dry sense of humor. He's funny without trying to be, and he embellishes his stories just enough so you get the gist of what happened, but with a little added amusement thrown in.

I DEFINITELY recommend this book, and any other Gulley book you may be interested in. He's a great storyteller, and it's an absolute joy to read his books. Pull up a rocking chair, grab a sweet tea, and be transported to a time when kids were rough and tumble, bike riding, knee-scraping kids.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2009
Philip Gulley grew up in Danville, Indiana, a town where he currently lives with his wife and sons and where he serves a Quaker church. This book chronicles the coming-of-age adventures of this young Midwestern boy who grew up in the 70's with a sister and 3 brothers. It includes adventures with friends, doing yard work for neighboring widow ladies, and dreary family vacations spent in "resorts" owned by his father's bug spray company. He writes a disclaimer at the beginning of the book which admits to tendencies on his part to exaggerate his childhood adventures just a bit. This is a book for gentle laughter and the remembrance of one's own childhood before computers, video games, and Little League took over the lives of our children.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
but parts of this book are a 3-star and parts are a 5-star. I am a HUGE Philip Gulley fan and buy everything he publishes in hardback since I read it multiple times. When I am old and gray, I will still be re-reading his Harmony series and his various porch tales books. That being said, this is my least favorite of his publications.

The first 50 pages were largely vintage Gulley - dry wit, keen observations, etc. as he chronicles growing up in Central Indiana in the 1960s. Living in the small town of Danville, Indiana he talks about life during a time when doors weren't locked, neighbors took care of neighbors and the sweetness of a slower pace. Somewhere shortly after that he seems to spend a large part of the book fascinated with naked girls, pictures of naked girls and male body parts. The childhood pranks he relates come off as more mean than funny with one or two of them being downright dangerous. I failed to see the humor in all of that -- just seemed juvenile. Since I am a fan I decided to stick with it and continue reading and I'm glad I did. The last portion was totally Gulley's great writing and laugh-out-loud funny.

The first and last sections of the book were a 5 for me with the middle being (generously) a 3. Overall an enjoyable read, but not one I will savor over the years -- a one-time read only.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2010
"When I was twelve I toyed with the notion of becoming a carnie, of drifting from town to town, never bathing, letting my hair grow long, getting a tattoo, and learning to blow smoke rings."

Thankfully, Philip Gulley did not become a carnie. Instead he is a Quaker pastor and a storyteller extraordinaire. His latest book is a clear reflection of the humor and fun he brings to ordinary happenings as he grew up in Danville, Indiana (the county seat of Hendricks County). Growing up in Danville, he encountered all the things that would mold him into the man he is today. Though his parents deliberately made life hard for him (they were way too strict, or so he says), and his friends frequently led him astray (he was totally innocent), he managed to rise above all these childhood pressures and bring us this delightful reminiscence.

Whether he was exploring the town with his brothers on his seatless bike pilfered from the local junkyard, or delivering newspapers, Gulley noticed everything with a writer's eye. Each character is pictured vividly --- from the widows who ply him with cookies and cakes to do their manual labors, to his stern, lovable, hard-working parents. Like any boy, he did not want to do "chores" or work hard. But his father drove him into hard work: "He had a number of interesting theories about character development, most of them involving tedious labor and pointless suffering." As a result, much of his childhood was spent mowing lawns, trimming hedges, delivering papers and packing groceries. Miraculously he not only survives, but lives to write about it all.

Among his best friends are Peanut (he was sort of round and smooth) and Suds (he knew absolutely everything about sex, having read those magazines at the Rexall Drug Store). Peanut was full of fantastic ideas and great suggestions: "Once Peanut made up his mind about something, the facts could not dissuade him." At one point he even convinces everyone that there might be Civil War remnants buried in Gulley's backyard. Hours of digging reveal only a rusted lawn mower blade that Peanut assures them is probably a sword.

When Gulley is nine years old, the family (which includes five children) moves to the rich side of town (his father's bug business is booming). It is a large frame house with no keys to the doors and a kitchen with a peeling ceiling. This is the home his parents will occupy for well over 30 years. The black and white pictures sprinkled throughout the book reflect happy faces, often against the backdrop of the big white house.

Gulley also sprinkles in his witty, insightful observations --- most of them funny, some of them poignant and all of them reflective of his love of family and life.

On original sin (he is raised a Catholic, but explorations lead him elsewhere):

"Original sin wasn't even original when you thought about it. I would sit in church and imagine much more innovative ways Adam could have sinned. He was in a garden with a naked woman, for crying out loud. What guy in his right mind would have taken time to talk with a snake and eat an apple? What a doofus Adam was."

On cars (he inherited his older brother's 1968 Volkswagen Beetle):

"Beetles were notoriously unreliable, hazardous, bitterly cold in winter, hot in summer, and had a knack for breaking down at the worst possible time in the worst possible place. The Beetle was Hitler's brainchild, for God's sakes, and assumed every nasty trait that man ever possessed, inflicting cruelty after cruelty upon its owners."

On adolescence:

"...a good portion of my puberty was spent meditating on naked women...of course, now I know that nudity and lust are sins, causing all manner of problems, chief among them acne and blindness."

And of course, there is Gulley's unrequited love for his sex education teacher, the lovely Miss Huddleston. Driven to adore her and make a fool of himself trying to be with her, he sadly realizes "students and teachers being natural enemies, adversaries since time immemorial." Their love is not to be. When Tim Hadley finds out and manages to make his life even more miserable, he acknowledges that Miss Huddleston, like other females in his life, is simply beyond him. But the experiences surrounding this whole scene obviously touch him for life --- and all to our benefit as we enjoy the wonderful antics.

In his introduction he notes: "It's been said that a miserable life makes for good writing. If that is so, my parents failed to groom me for this vocation. They did, however, prepare me for deep satisfaction." This is the same satisfaction the reader feels finishing Gulley's delightful memoir. Anyone who has read his Harmony series or FRONT PORCH TALES will want to dive into this book. If this is an introduction to his body of work, prepare yourself for a delicious time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2010
If you loved the movie A Christmas Story (and who dosen't?), you'll love I Love You Miss Huddleston... It is positively hilarious, and entertaining. I couldn't stop laughing. It takes you back to a kinder, gentler America. It's a wonderful memoir of childhood in the 70's. I highly recommend this wonderful, nostaligic, entertaining book to anyone who enjoys Nostalgia, and Americana. This book has done for literature what A Christmas Story did for the movies.
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on May 10, 2013
Philip Gulley's sweet-natured 2009 memoir I LOVE YOU, MISS HUDDLESTON tricked me. I first saw this book at the GLBT store Brushstrokes in Atlanta and made a note to order in online, where I saw a cheap used copy. I assumed that since that bookstore was carrying it the tome was a gay-friendly coming of age tale about growing up in Indiana, something akin to A LITTLE FRUITCAKE or MISSISSIPPI SISSY. So it worked its way off my "to read" shelf and I was shocked to discover that not only was the author married with children, but also a Quaker pastor! That being said, it was a pleasant book, filled with good-natured humor and thankfully not in the least bit preachy. It harkens back to the days when religion was not fraught with politics and being a pastor was a career choice, like a doctor or a teacher. Gulley is quite well-known in certain circles for a series of books about a fictitious Quaker community called Harmony and a series of essays collected as the FRONT PORCH series. By all accounts he is a progressive pastor with a level of intelligence not often seen in the current blogosphere. The book itself is a humorous account of life in the 1960s and 1970s in Danville, Indiana. Philip was the fourth of five children born to a Catholic mother and a DDT-selling father. The book chronicles several hallmarks of the coming of age memoir, including family camping trips, paper routes and Halloween. These long-lost reflections of a vanquished small town life are funny and enjoyable with just the right dose of nostalgia and humor. Philip and I are not that far apart in age, so a lot of his upbringing I could relate to, as can most Gen Xers I'm sure. The days of spending the summer outdoors and hanging with your friends until it gets dark without the worry of slow downloads or bounced checks strikes a chord. Gulley captures these moments with style and grace.
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Gulley is a master of "right word at the right place" getting an audible laugh from reading. Giggling from his writing is constant. Reading about Philip growing up in small-town Indiana even tops a Leno show. Gulley must have had a good childhood, but the way he shares his experiences through his writing makes the reader feel like one of his happy neighbors, if not a childhood pal.

Such delightful selection of words, for just the right moment.
About a summer's garden abundance: "No calculator exists that can accurately extrapolate the tons of tomatoes generated by a hundred plants."
Or the footnote on the church dealing with delinquency: "Quaker men, I would later learn after becoming one, are big believers in the redemptive powers of checkers."
And "mothers were soothing our cowlicks with mother-spit..."

One liners infiltrate the story as frequently as salt crystals in a theatre box of Indiana's Weaver Popcorn. The fast-paced story progression and continuous clean, homey, humor is reminiscent of this author's much acclaimed series of Harmony books. This autobiography is the perfect start, followed then with the entire series. Don't forget the two Christmas specials, both so so-o-o funny, they are like Christmas classics. The wife and I actually sent copies out as Christmas cards to special friends.

Yes, I do own almost every Gulley book. His humorous books could potentially be equaled, but never surpassed in fun entertainment. You'd best read it twice because it is packed so full of laughs you'll likely miss some of the subtle humor during just one read. Recommended without reservation, and you don't even have to be a native of Indiana to enjoy. Just a kid at heart.

Even older youth will like "I LOVE YOU, MISS HUDDLESTON".
With Amazon's price--IT IS A BARGAIN BARREL OF LAUGHS.
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on December 5, 2013
I approached I Love You, Miss Huddleston, and Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood with some trepidation. For the most part, books hailed as uproarious coming-of-age memoirs tend to be tedious rather than hilarious. However, I was quite surprised by Philip Gulley’s amusing tales of his idyllic childhood in the Danville, Ind., of the 1960s and 1970s. Gulley was pretty funny throughout, and I laughed out loud several times.

Want proof of how good this book is? My jaded 20-year-old son, piqued when I laughed aloud, asked what I was reading. When I read the passage to him, he squawked with laughter and asked to read it, too.

Whether waxing eloquent about his titular crush on his sixth-grade teacher or Danville’s place as the mouse capital (as in raising mice for laboratories or the pet-store trade) or the insufferable cruelties of middle-class parents (as viewed by their long-suffering children), readers will chuckle — and occasionally guffaw out loud — at Gulley’s highly addictive stories of his youth in a time when children would ride their bicycles into woods and neighboring towns, boys still perused National Geographic magazine in the hopes of a topless native girl, and children lived for the arrival of the carnival each June. Those of a certain age will love the book for reminders — although admittedly embroidered tales — of their own misbegotten youth. However, I am going to especially recommend this memoir to Generation Y and Millennials, who will be amazed —and thrilled — at the freedom and innocence of a Baby Boomer childhood.

I’m thrilled to find that Gulley has other memoirs out there, and I’m going to be sure to find them, too. Highly recommended.
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I'm a sucker for this type of story. In the preface, the author runs through the standard list of what he's changed (names, etc), then has this to say:

"What I didn't change was the sense of freedom I felt as a child. I don't know what today's children will remember. I suspect their recollections will consist mostly of one carefully scripted day after another, of tediously regimented weeks, of dampened opportunities for spontaneity and unbridled fun. I sometimes wonder if my generation was the last one to live freely, before the "child industry" seduced parents into spending vast amounts of money to ensure their child's emotional well-being. The timing of my birth couldn't have been better - with no one guiding my every step, my childhood was one of unrelieved and happy chaos."

I can't tell you how many times I've thought this about my own childhood. This review could so very easily turn into an essay on the evils of scripted "after school activities", but I'll restrain myself and say only that all children should be allowed to play freely and learn to use their own imaginations in ways that will continue feeding their souls even after they 'grow up' and sadly become respectable adults (and if they're lucky, there will always be something slightly dubious about their adulthood).

This is the type of book that makes me want to make a bow and arrow again and hang out in a tree house eating frozen cherries.
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