On Friday, I accepted an invitation to read selections from Growing Up Ivy to a group of men and women who could themselves have been characters in the book. My audience was the Book Club at a nearby retirement residence.
I was fully prepared to have one or two of them get up and wander off while I was reading. In fact, I'd been warned that this could happen. It didn't. Everyone listened with great interest, and when it was over, several of the group contributed memories of their own about life in the Great Depression.
A couple of residents recalled a man who used to sharpen knives around the countryside. He used to travel from place to place in a horse-drawn caravan, similar to the one Ivy spent the summer months in, with her father.
One woman, who had lived as a child next to a golf course, identified with Charlie collecting golf balls and re-selling them at the golf course. Someone else recalled getting paid to shovel manure from the street after the delivery horse had gone by.
Many in the audience told me that they used to go everywhere on their bicycles. And soon we were all laughing with one gentleman's tale of learning to ride a bike, how he forgot to look ahead rather than down at the road, and ended up ploughing into a woman crossing the street. The poor soul had cursed him out soundly in Yiddish.
It was a very pleasant afternoon, and I was delighted that these elderly people felt a connection to Ivy's story. That, after all, is why we write.