Rock Candy Mountain

A Memoir: A young boy's adventure in the rough and tumble times of Eastern Kentucky in the early 1900's

Non-Fiction - Memoir
195 Pages
Reviewed on 03/25/2018
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Author Biography

Earl Davis was a kind and empathetic father and person. As his daughter, I watched him pen this true and amazing adventure story night after night in the late 1950's and very early 1960's. He wrote diligently until it was done covering the time of his birth to age 14. He wrote about this most interesting time in his life that he fondly remembered and wanted to have it documented and one day published. By profession, at the time, he was a hair dresser in San Francisco. A very popular one, with wealthy clientele.

He used to tell his young children the stories of what he wrote about that were appropriated for our age. We'd much rather listen to our dad tell a story than watch TV! He was an excellent story teller that captivated our attention and as he does so well in his memoir.

He always wanted his "book" to be published but died before seeing that dream realized. As his daughter, I took the baton from him to see his dream come true. He lived such an interesting childhood in the early 1900's that, in part, shaped him into the man he became. He was an optimist at heart as he expresses so well in his book. He saw beauty all around him even in dire circumstances. His motto, after a hard or difficult day, was to say, "Tomorrow will be better!" That was my dad. His story is a not to be missed experience!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Rock Candy Mountain by Earl Davis is quite a different type of memoir in that it focuses on just a short period of the author’s life, up until the age of fourteen, with most of the story revolving around a two-year period from the age of thirteen. Born in the back-blocks of Kentucky, Earl Davis just wanted to experience the world and, at the age of thirteen, in the early 1900s, he headed off from his shanty home, leaving behind an alcoholic, but hardworking father and a loving mother to see what was beyond the mountains of his Kentucky home. Using the time-honoured method of the day, jumping freight trains and blinding passenger trains, Earl managed to crisscross the United States, and even briefly made it into Canada, finally ending up in Texas, lured by dreams of being a cowboy. Along the way, Earl grew up very quickly and realised the harshness of life, as well as the incredible kindness and heart of many people.

This book gives us a fascinating insight into life at the turn of the last century in a dirt-poor state like Kentucky. The author's descriptions of the beauty of his home state and especially his home town, with its freezing winters and its stifling summers, was a simple joy to read. Seeing all of this through the eyes of a young boy and watching him develop, grow and learn many of life’s hard lessons, is what lifts Rock Candy Mountain above most memoirs I have read. Earl Davis invites us into his own private world and we are privy to the thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams of an often scared and lonely, but always game young man. I found the style of this telling refreshingly simple and a pleasure to read. The highlight for me was the realisation that even in the depths of poverty, many ordinary people would go out of their way to help this young waif. Earl learnt many important lessons on life in this two-year sojourn that would undoubtedly set him up for his future. I can highly recommend this read. It is a deeply personal and touching insight into a time and ways long forgotten.