Thursday, June 6, 2019

Childhood Memories of Perry, Utah


The New York Review of Books is one of the handful of publications I read regularly and with delight and appreciation; it has wide reach, an international appeal and audience and it is written beautifully and thoughtfully. It was founded by Robert B. Silvers [1929–2017] and Barbara Epstein [1928–2006], in 1963, during a New York City publishing strike. Who says that strikes can’t engender any good? In one case, it did, and perhaps in more cases, as well.

So, without further ado, here is an article that caught my eye, one that I would like to share with you. “Home Where the Heart Is: A Return to Perry, Utah” (NYRB; May 31, 2019), by Danny Lyon, who writes:

My father, Dr. Ernst F. Lyon, immigrated from Hitler’s Germany in 1934. When our country entered World War II, he volunteered and was made a second lieutenant, a doctor in the United States Army. In 1944, he was stationed at the Bushnell General Military Hospital in Brigham City, Utah, leaving behind in Queens his wife, Beba, and two small children, Leonard, age seven, and myself, age three.
Ernst was also an amateur photographer and filmmaker. He carried an 8mm camera West and filmed everything, including the arrival by train of my mother, who’d made a short visit to see him. When, growing up, I would say I remembered something from the West, like finding a railroad spike on the side of a mountain, my parents would say, “You don’t remember that, you remember the film.” Dad liked to project his films on a pull-down screen in our apartment.
In the summer of 1944, my mother, my brother, and I took the train from New York City to Utah, where my father picked us up at the closest station, and drove us to a small farm house in Perry, Utah. Leonard would enter school there, going to the second and third grades. I, a city boy who had never known anything but an apartment on Metropolitan Avenue, with a small park and sandbox across the street, would quickly morph from a city- to a country-boy.
This is a wonderful piece. It is about hearts and homes and memories; it reminisces and tells stories about childhood, about families, about growing up in a place far away, but becomes home nevertheless, as only a memory of childhood can do. It is also about love. Yes, there is innocence in the telling. And, yes, I am partial to the name of the town, Perry, a place of 4,000 persons. Such places have a charm of their own; they exist for a reason. Not only for country folks who like the solitude, but also for city slickers who want to know more.

You can read the complete article at [NYRB].

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