In the 1930's and 1940's, a young boy named Glenn Tompkins and his family lived in a house on a farm north of Campbell, Mo., on a ridge called "Riddle Hill," so-named because a family named Riddle had once also lived there.|
Glenn and his family struggled to make ends meet, and lived a life quite similar to most of us farm kids who also lived on or off that ridgeline which is generally known as "Crowley's Ridge."
After Glenn retired, he began to think about writing about some of the events in his life, there on the farm. In 1994, Glenn started writing short stories about his life on Riddle Hill. Dr. Frank Nickell, professor of Regional History at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, read one of the stories and encouraged Glenn to continue recording the stories, for eventual publication as a book.
As Glenn wrote, around 130 of these short stories were published in a local weekly newspaper, the Campbell Citizen, from December 1994 until August 13, 1997. I was working part-time at the newspaper during that period (until February 1997), and it fell my duty to type most of those stories.
Now I should warn you that Glenn has the powerful capability to interject strong emotions into his writing, both humor and sadness. I am not ashamed to say that many times, as I was typing Glenn's stories, I had to laugh; and sometimes I had to cry, like when his old dog Queenie died, or his faithful horse Prince died -- and, certainly, when Glenn told about how a newfound friend was run over and killed by a truck on a road in front of Glenn's house, before Glenn had known the lad for even an hour.
Living on a farm in those days, we lived with life, as we saw baby calves born into the world. We also lived with death, as we slaughtered hogs and cattle to feed ourselves. That is just the way it was in those days, on a farm.
Well, over the years, Glenn recalled lots of things for us, like how hot it was to have to sleep in the attic of his house at night, during summertime. And he told us about the ghost that his brother thought lived up in the attic, too. And about the fortune-teller who told about the two pots of money which were supposed to be buried on the farm. The fortune-teller also told Glenn's father, Van, that they would be picking money off the trees on that farm. Glenn's father just laughed.
But when Van Tompkins stopped trying to raise cotton on that old red clay soil, and planted a peach orchard, they DID pick money from the trees, and the Tompkins family could live a little better from then on.
Well, I'd better not tell too much about Glenn's stories, but I will say that Glenn has not only created a great historical book which "tells it like it was" back in those days, but he has told the stories of hundreds of boys and girls whose families were just barely able to eke out a living on the little farms around here, in the 1920's through the 1940's.
The stories were published in a soft-cover 274-page book in May of 1997, and Glenn now keeps busy at book-signings, around the St. Louis area (where he lives) and elsewhere.
I am glad Glenn has written those stories, and I am proud to say that these two old farm boys have finally met up, and are now friends!
|-- Hal Miller|