My Note: I met Jockie while doing research for my new book, For the Love of Clotheslines now on Amazon. You can see my earlier posting about my book with this link:
or just go directly to Amazon with this link:
Many of Jockie’s folk art pictures are in my book, and her memoir, reviewed below, has even more. Check it out!
Valley Child: A Memoir, Recounted in Story and Folk Art
by Jockie Loomer-Kruger
Most memoirs, biographies and autobiographies that I have read include photos, usually in black-and-white. Valley Child steps away from this model and includes folk art by the author herself. At first glance, the book looks like a children’s book, because of the folk art pictures with children as well as adults, but it is an adult book of memories beginning with the author’s quote:
I began painting in 1991.
As pictures filled the walls of my studio I noticed a little pigtailed girl in a red smocked dress would show up in my art pieces. I soon realized I was painting myself in a dress I always wanted but never had….
This interesting introduction to Jockie’s vivid memories in Falmouth, Nova Scotia, accompanied by her delightful artwork imbue the book with joy, compassion, and hilarious pranks or incidents that stand out in Jockie’s childhood.
Here are three examples with the paintings that accompany each true story:
In Earthworms and Magic, a memory in the first section entitled “A Place to Start,” Jockie is nine and her older sister Hope is 10, although they look enough alike to be taken for twins. It involves their father who liked to do magic tricks, such as pretending he was swallowing a dinner fork, which actually went down his shirtsleeve. Only in this incident Mr. Loomer, Jockie’s Dad, pretends to swallow an earthworm to impress the neighbor’s child, Benny, commenting that it was delicious. Benny thought he swallowed it and he followed suit, only he actually swallowed the worm. Mr. Loomer’s mischief backfired and Jockie doesn’t remember his doing it ever again!
In the section entitled Sister Stories is another story called “Little Things” in which Jockie and her sister Hope writes about the Depression and WWII, when toys were scarce. The two girls had some toys, of course, but they made up their own games from trinkets around the house, and in this story, the trinkets were spring-clothespins that they “pinched” from the canvas bag hanging below the clothesline pulley outside. Taking the spring-clothespins apart, they used them to outline floor plans for two homes, adding dominoes for furnishings, a red checker for a dining room table, and made people from spools of thread, hats from shank buttons, and all sorts of ingenious ways to create a private game that gave them hours of pleasure for free.
The last example is my favorite from the section called And the Cousins. It is called “Butting Out” and starts with: “I remember grade two; it was the year I quit smoking.” What follows is Jockie’s and her sister’s first experience with cigarettes with their cousins in a nearby orchard. It’s almost too funny to believe: their antics in learning how to create a cigarette, finding tobacco, and then trying to smoke, only to cough and choke. As Jockie ends the story, she writes:
Ah, yes. I remember grade two—a rendezvous in the orchard, a half-full tin of Old Chum Pipe Tobacco, and four cigarettes rolled in double-sided insulation paper with a layer of tar in the middle.
That was the year I quit smoking for good.
The more than 30 stories are written with good cheer, as Jockie remembers growing up with her sisters and cousins, their innocent antics, and their experiments with life. It is a delightful book with wonderful paintings as well as line drawings at the bottom of many of the pages.
While it is an adult memoir, the stories are about her childhood, so I can easily see it as a book that an adult would read to children, because the stories are heart-warming. And the pictures that accompany them add to the fun of reading the true life stories that Jockie writes with humor and joy, reminding many of us of our own childhoods. Her art is an added bonus to an already wonderful memoir.
For a personalized copy, contact Jockie through her websiute: www.jockie.ca
Valley Child is also available from Amazon: