Monday, July 13, 2015

A Little Boy by Del Hart

I’m always interested in books about Pennsylvania so naturally I felt drawn to Del Hart's A Little Boy  about his childhood experiences growing up on a farm in Central Pennsylvania. I found not only a wonderful time capsule of a past era, but became read more
transported back to my childhood in the 1950s and 60s. The book caused me to think about the importance of family, heritage, and communication.

In his forward and introduction, Mr. Hart relates the emergence of these stories as bedtime tales for his children. He also gives details about his family, their farm, and the era in which he grew up. Some of the stories are funny such as “The Bees’ Nest and Deb’s Shoe,” many are snapshots of a slice of time as in “Throwing Down Silage,” and others describe the good interworking of a family as described in “The New Washer.”

The descriptions in A Little Boy reminded me of the place where I spent my childhood. We, too, had a white two-story farmhouse, barn, milk house, wagon shed, pig pen with fenced in pig lot, wash house, corn crib, long dirt lane, pastures with electric fences, and even a pear tree with rotting pears lying on the ground covered with bees.  

Besides his physical descriptions, Mr. Hart shows the importance of passing down our heritage to our
Former Hart Farm
children. He used the device of bedtime stories instead of the “When I was your age…” statement that emerges from a parent’s mouth when he dislikes something about the younger generation’s actions. Mr. Hart’s story time entertained and created a closeness with his children.

Further lessons from this book include the importance of blending discipline with love and common sense. In A Little Boy is a story of Mr. Hart’s big mistake which ruined a piece of expensive farm equipment. His father and mother handled the situation gracefully. Another priceless picture is of the boys spotting their father having fun swatting bees after he had told his sons to quit swatting bees and get to work. The book describes family togetherness in a story of looking for a missing cow and in the word picture of their banquet attendance. Last of all, Mr. Hart reminds us of the important tool of repetition in teaching by the way he began each story with “Once upon a time, when I was just a little boy, not a very big boy, just a little shaver …”

If you grew up on a farm, you will love Mr. Hart’s stories. If you didn’t grow up on a farm, reading this book will give you a picture of life at its best. The scenario may be difficult to reproduce in this generation, but the important lessons about family, child rearing, and communication are eternal.


  1. You grew up on a farm? Never would have guessed.

    1. Ha, ha, you mean you couldn't tell I'm a farm girl at heart. Just get me near a cow, and I'll feed it grass and talk to it.