An Appalachian Boy's Life

A Walk in Three Centuries

by Flem R. Messer


Book Details

A Walk in Three Centuries

In the years since my retirement in 2009, I have taken a great deal of time to look back on the past 81 years of my life. I have had an extraordinary variety of experiences going back to a world of almost no education in one-room schools, which I dropped out of in the fourth grade at age 15. We were totally dependent on the land because that is where we grew and harvested almost all of our food with the help of mule-drawn plows and wood burning stove to prepare what we ate. Even though I was born in 1935, the experiences of my life have spanned three centuries. During the first 10 years of my life, the way we lived was no different than the way my great grandparents lived who were born in the 1860s. There were no modern conveniences of any kind during the first 10 to 15 years of my life. Unlike most of what has been written about the Appalachian communities, ours was a cooperative barter society where people worked together and always helped each other when there was a need. I am extremely fortunate to now live in a world where I can speak my memories into a microphone and my computer automatically converts them into typed text. I have had the opportunity to know and work with many wonderful people down through the decades. Unfortunately, most of my childhood friends never had the opportunity to explore the world the way I have been privileged to do.


About the Author

Flem R. Messer

I grew up in an isolated area of the Appalachian Mountains. I was the oldest of eight children and dropped out of a one-room school in the fourth grade at age 15. When I was 17, I enrolled in a boarding school. 8 1/2 years later I got my college degree. I taught school one year, and worked in The War on Poverty for 8 years. I experienced some serious political conflicts while working during that time. In the 1970s I started an independent small business. We eventually merged that successful business with a local bank. After working there several years with the title of vice president, I retired in 2009.