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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Columbia author writes about his WWII-era memoir

By Norm Benedict/Missourian Reader
June 14, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

The groundswell began slowly for this memoir, my first book, initially released in March 2011. And then readers began picking it up, with many commenting after reading that it reminded them of their growing-up period, bringing back fond memories of what it was like to have lived in small town America during this time — or that they had discovered a "new" world emerging from its pages and were excited at the thought.

Readers are telling me that "Thumbs Up, V for Victory, I Love You," is reminiscent of a Frank Capra film, of Jean Shepherd, Roger Angell, Booth Tarkington, and even Stephen King in his short story "The Body." Barnes & Noble thought enough of my work to create a regional package, making it available in all its Missouri locations, plus those in Illinois and Kansas.

About the book

"Thumbs Up, V for Victory, I Love You," is available through the publisher, AuthorHouse, via the book site,, at Barnes & Noble and online from Amazon and other sources in hardbound, soft cover and e-book.  The ISBN number is 978-1-4567-2269-2.

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The book opens during the dark days of World War II, but centers more on the post-war boom that followed. It's about growing up in this Midwestern college town, as the history of a changing world revolves around and touches me and those growing up with me. And where I am concerned, I speak of how during this time I broadened my experiences in places like St. Louis, Chicago and New York.

As the book gets under way, I introduce myself, and in the spring of 1942 I am about to have my tonsils removed. The book follows along as I grow, responding to those things that life sets before me — events both common and rare. It ends when, now a young man two weeks into my 18th year, I am preparing, along with my three closest friends, to leave the love and safety of home to attend universities in other states.

The title, an animated phrase my father shared with me during the war years, defines the determined outlook of adults in the early 1940s, and the love and safe feeling given a child, from a difficult and stressful time into a period of incredible growth. It’s about being in the right place at the right time, when the university-directed primary and secondary education my classmates and I received was at a level beyond the norms of the day— offered in an open and vibrant environment.

This history — at times humorous, other times serious, but always perceptive — reflects the melodrama that is life, revealing how the wonders of discovery, communication, education, the opposite sex and a little luck helped mold me, an impressionable child, into a determined young man.

As the reader soaks up the narrative of what it was like to come of age during this significant time in American history, "Thumbs Up, V for Victory, I Love You," will certainly make you smile and might make you cry. Overall, it is my hope to keep my readers enraptured through all 275 of its pages. 

I am a Columbia native. When I left town, I attended and graduated from Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill. Later I returned to Columbia to complete my graduate work at MU, got a job, got married and never left town again. I am today a creative writer and partner in a public relations firm.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.