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Seeing America by [Crocker, Nancy]
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Seeing America Kindle Edition

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Length: 384 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nancy Crocker is an award winning author and a Missouri native who started her career as a singer, having performed alongside Loretta Lynn at age thirteen. Her written work has appeared in the American Heritage Anthology, and she is the author of the picture book Bettie Lou Blue, published by Dial. Her first novel, Billie Standish Was Here, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2007 and was a Booklist Top 10 Novel for Youth, a Kirkus Editor's Pick for Best Books for Young Adults, a 2009 TAYSHA Reading List selection, and a New York Library’s Book for the Teen Age selection. She now lives in Minneapolis with her husband and son.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Seeing America
by Nancy Crocker


CHAPTER ONE

“How about you just stop treating me like a titty baby?”

I thought of that one after I was already out the back door. I’m a regular genius at what I should have said.

But to hell with it. Nothing I’d said in eighteen years mattered to Dad. I couldn’t swallow water to suit the man. Saturday morning, and he’d started in about a hammer he found out back by the shed. When did I use it? Why didn’t I put it back? Would it kill me to ask to borrow his tools in the first place?

Like one of his hammers spending a night outside the toolbox was going to knock the earth off-balance and throw the world into darkness. I walked down the driveway, kicking rocks that belonged to him. Using up air that was his, no doubt.

“Why, hello, John!” Mary Albrecht’s voice whipped my head up so fast my neck just about snapped. She was walking by with her folks. “Are you coming uptown for the spectacle?”

I said, “Why, yes, I am,” and nodded. “Mornin’, ma’am. Sir.”

Something fun came to Wakenda about as often as the thirteen-year locusts. Was I going? Not yes but hell, yes. I fell in behind the three of them. Then they turned up the front walk of a house down the street before I could think of any more to say to Mary. Figured.

But the day promised to be a prize on its own. It was one of those beauties in March that can trick you into thinking spring has picked Missouri as her favorite place over all others. Houses were emptying out all along the street, and every person who stepped outside tilted his face toward the sunshine like he was receiving a blessing.

The town’s two churches would be hard-pressed the day before Judgment to scare up a crowd as big as was gathering that noon. When the old Number 3 engine split the air with a mournful wail and all the hounds in town took up a chorus behind it, it was a little like a church bell and choir: Come, all ye gawkers! Banty Wilson’s about to make a jackass of himself! Made me grin.

Banty had bought the town’s first automobile a few months back and since then claimed the Maxwell could do just about everything but give birth and churn butter. Finally, he bragged it was faster than a MoPac steam engine.

But that had turned out to be one more brag than Curly Weis could stand. So Curly talked his boss into taking Number 3 out of service that Saturday morning for the solitary purpose of shutting the blowhard’s mouth. My guess was, the big shots at the railroad were fed up hearing about automobiles putting trains out of business someday. Nobody with a lick of sense thought Banty had a chance at winning the race, but it wasn’t going to bother anybody to watch his ass handed to him either.

By the time I got to Main Street, I was walking through a cloud of steam. Faces appeared like specters and then got swallowed up again in the mist.

Then one figure appeared out of the fog, looking still as a statue at the sidewalk railing. When I got closer, I saw it was Paul Bricken. Of course. Too many people trying to get somewhere they weren’t, stepping on feet and poking elbows in their neighbors’ ribs, but around Paul there might have been a shield keeping everybody a foot away. Like blindness might be catching.

In the year Paul had been home after finishing high school in St. Louis, I’d watched how folks ignored him almost like they were the ones who couldn’t see. I did have the advantage of being used to him. But you’d think somebody else could at least make an effort once in a while.

I went up and bumped his elbow, and the face that turned could have been carved out of wood. “Hey, Paul,” I said. “John Hartmann. How you doin’ today?”

His shoulders relaxed some. “Fine, John, thanks. You?”

“Aw, been better. Been better.” I bent toward his ear. “Let’s just say when Thanksgiving rolls around, I’ll be thankful I’ve got only two parents.”

He laughed louder than the joke was worth, and heads turned like somebody had rattled off a fart in church. I bet most of them had never heard Paul laugh.

Then he said, “Can I ask you a small favor?”

“Sure. Name it.”

“Would you stand here and tell me what goes on?”

I was hoping to park myself next to Mary Albrecht, but Paul’s face had gone all the way red just for asking, and I couldn’t ignore that if I’d wanted to. I heard myself say, “Sure, I will. Just let me finish my rounds, and I’ll come back before the race starts.”

That seemed to lift his chin a fraction higher.

I came across Katie McCombs running through a forest of legs as I walked on, and I scooped her up and threw her in the air a few times to hear her squeal. My little sister had just about outgrown that. But then Ellen McCombs came steaming my way like a battleship and set in squawking like women do¬—putting on they’re upset when really they just want everybody in the county to hear what devoted mothers they are—so I set Katie down and went on.

I wandered through the whole crowd without finding Mary, and my enthusiasm was severely tempered by the time I went back and started explaining to Paul how little he was missing. “Banty’s pullin’ the Maxwell up next to the tracks and makin’ a show out of linin’ up exactly even with the cowcatcher on Number 3. Curly’s got about a week’s worth of steam goin’, but you can probably tell that.”

I didn’t much care anymore, but Paul’s face looked like Christmas morning. So I filled in some. “Ruby Watts is tryin’ so hard to get Billy Sweeney’s attention she’s just about to stand on her head. Yep, there she goes . . . Dang it! She remembered to put on drawers this morning . . . Whoa! Roy Auptman’s gut is gettin’ so big it’s gonna need its own address before long.”

Paul paid me in chuckles.

And then “There they go” was the end of it for us. Terms of the race were ten miles side by side—Wakenda to Miami Station—so we saw the start, a few others would see the finish, and in between was nothing but hot air.

That was pretty much the story of Wakenda, if you asked me. High hopes when something—anything—was about to happen, then a letdown when the same old people showed up and nothing much went on.

The town was a lot like the Missouri River four miles south. It might be different water running past the bank every day, every month, every year, but it all looked the same. High school sweethearts got married after graduation and started producing the next generation of high school sweethearts. Boys, for the most part, followed their fathers into the fields or onto the river. At any gathering, you could see the past, present, and future in one sweep.

But no matter how little happened, there was always plenty for the men to hash out over beers later on. Thank God. Even if the talk at Charlie’s didn’t rise above the topics of crops and the weather, it beat going home. I asked Paul if he wanted to come along, but before he could answer, his dad showed up.

“Have you had enough foolishness?”

I winced, but Paul just said, “Yes, Father,” and then, “Thank you, John,” with his face a blank mask. I couldn’t imagine what was in his mind as they walked away.

Mr. Bricken spent his days at the bank in Carrollton saying yea or nay on crop loans to all the farmers in the area, and even my dad jumped when Mr. Bricken said the word. But you’d think he could have a kind word for his son. His only kid.

Enough foolishness? Even I had a longer leash than that.

Product Details

  • File Size: 921 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Medallion Press (July 15, 2014)
  • Publication Date: July 15, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00M37QDHW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,363,173 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Such an interesting, nostalgic story, well researched and well written. It's 1910, Three boys (not quite men) on a journey from Missouri to Yellowstone in a Model T Ford. It was like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer on the road instead of the river although I think it was easier to stay on the river than to follow the roads of 1910. I didn't want their journey to end and I miss them. Maybe Ms Crocker will give us another story of the young men in college and teaching.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Crocker’s writing is powerful, witty, and at times quite funny. History comes alive through the eyes of the John, Paul and Henry in a beautiful coming-of-age story. It takes us back to that time in our lives when the world was at our feet and the possibilities were as endless as a dirt road heading west.
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Format: Paperback
Seeing America is a beautifully written book about 3 young men on a journey across the country, in search of their own identities and their place in the world during a tumultuous time in our country's history. They learn about human nature, both good and bad, binding themselves to each other as they discover what is really important. Their trip is never dull and each event leaves you wanting to know what will happen next. It was a real page turner!
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Format: Paperback
Three travelmates--a farm boy, a blind boy, and a bigot--clamber into a brand new Ford Model T and travel from nearly-roadless 1910 Missouri to that paragon of timeless American beauty, Yellowstone Park. But like Old Faithful, tensions inside and outside the car build while a racially-divided United States prepares to bear witness to the Fight of the Century, pitting African American heavyweight world champion Jack Johnson against "The Great White Hope" Jim Jeffries. The resultant geysers reveal some ugly truths about our country then...and now. Ultimately, Seeing America is seeing ourselves.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this book. I couldn't put it down. I fell in love with the main characters immediately and felt as if I had gone on their adventure with them. I laughed out loud. I cried. I hated that it had to end. I really don't know when I have enjoyed a book more.
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Great trip through the country while the horse and car shared the road and our country became more assessable to the average and not so average bear. We all grow when we explore the unknown to see what we will find.
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Format: Paperback
Just finished this lovely book. The journey is rich for the characters and the reader. We get a vivid sense of the challenges of life 100 years ago. So much has changed, and sadly, so much has not. With the background of the big prize fight and The Great White Hope, we get the distinct impression that what's changed most in the last 100 years has more to do with infrastructure and technology than the human heart.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Much more than just a book. Seeing America is a beautifully written journey about three very different boys.
Seeing America is slice of history, some of it not pretty at all. By the end you will see differently-through the
eyes, and ears of a blind man and his friends. I promise you will think about these boys, long after the last page.
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