Most people look at non-fiction books as self-help, biography, or autobiography. That’s not the case for Coffee-Drunk Or Blind. I wrote this book after becoming obsessed with the letters and journal my mother wrote in the mid-twentieth century when we, as a six and later seven member family in 1959, began our travels across the United states to homestead in Alaska. This was the hare-brained idea my father came up with after reading ‘Go North Young Man’ by Gordon Stoddard.
Yes, I bought Stoddard’s book last year and read it because it caught my eye when Mother talked about it in her journal. Mr. Stoddard did not paint a pretty picture of life in Alaska’s wilderness, so why this impressed my father, I’ll never know. But, Daddy managed to convince Mother it was a good idea and six months later we were on the road. A two-ton truck with a Vernon-made camper on the bed, pulled an eight by forty-foot house trailer with two adults and four children under the age of seven, the youngest not completely potty-trained, making up the captain and crew.
The journal, written in my mother’s hand, accounts for our unforgettable time on the road as we traveled across many states from Louisiana to the state of Alaska in fifteen days, without any major catastrophes or major illnesses – unless that case of poison oak I broke out with could be listed as one.
The rest of Coffee-Drunk Or Blind, contains numerous letters written from my mother to various family members and remembrances from myself and my siblings, aunt and cousins. Also included are a few letters from relatives in Louisiana. The pictures we had from this time in our lives are mostly poor quality and few and far between, though many were included in the book. Film was expensive and developing was also. Most of our pictures are memories in our minds.
My parents went through hardships on the homestead that most young families tried to steer away from. They were strong and resourceful in all the right areas. The 1960’s was the decade of change with many conflicting social, political, intellectual, and artistic forces and many thought we were missing out as children in social interaction and education.
Hare-brained idea or not, this adventure shaped our family into what we became. It was a positive in our lives and thinking about it now, we were probably far better off where we were. But families have a way of pulling you in different directions as you try to keep your feet on the ground and your head clear. ‘The grass is always greener’, as they say, and ‘you never know until you try’.
Coffee-Drunk Or Blind is listed under diaries and journals, and letters and correspondence – not under self-help. I doubt you would get any help from this non-fiction book unless you wanted to be talked out of homesteading in the wilderness, or wanted to learn how to have a loving family relationship while teaching your children that perseverance and hard work usually pays off.
So why did I choose the name Coffee-Drunk Or Blind?
I guess you’ll have to read to find out the answer to that question!