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January 26, 2014

Life during the Great Depression in an Adirondack hamlet

There are great books, not-so-great books and quirky books.

“Upon a Hill and Thereabouts — An Adirondack Childhood” by Gloria Stubing Rist could be defined as quirky but surprisingly true.

This book is about Gloria’s childhood and early teen years growing up in the hamlet of Chilson, near Ticonderoga. Short chapters and true stories allow the reader to view her life and those of her family, neighbors and the odd stranger, during the Depression years, in small snippets of time.

Gloria prefaces the book with this:

“In the early days of the 1930s, life for kids tucked away in the quiet woodlands of the Adirondack Mountains, in a little hamlet known as Chilson, was rich with nature and filled with human characters.”

Now in her 80s, Gloria, or Yada as she was known by her family, gives a kid-level view of life. She starts out with being left behind with her father and grandmother in the Bronx, at the age of 5. Her mother said she couldn’t take the antics and abuse her father dished out so she was taking her baby brother, Bubby, and going to Chilson where they had family. Her mother reassured Yada she would return for her.

Over the next six weeks, Yada’s father informed her mother that Yada was staying put. She said she knew her father and grandmother didn’t want her; they only used her to seek revenge on her mother. She admits to being scared, lonely and unhappy.

Within a few days after her father‘s declaration, her mother walked in the door and she suddenly felt safe again, that is until her father arrived home and blocked the door. Yada said at that moment she didn’t know what to expect. Suddenly her mother reached in her pocket, pulled out a gun and said, “Yada, take your suitcase and go get in the car. Then said to Yada‘s father, “Ernest, I mean business.” She remembers her father turning ghost white and stepping aside.

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