Back Then
Simple Pleasures and Everyday Heroes
5 x 7, 152 pp.
17 B&W Photographs
Pub Date: 08/19/2005
Price:        $17.95


Published by State House Press

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Winner of the 2006 Catherine Munson Foster Memorial Award for Literature

Back Then

Simple Pleasures and Everyday Heroes

These stories by a noted Texas historian recall a time when a kid could go to the picture show with fifteen cents in his pocket, purchase admission for nine cents, and have money left over for popcorn. Those times were not necessarily better—"It was simply my time," says the author.

In Back Then, McDonald draws on his reservoir of experiences to write about shoe shines and men's hats, corner drug stores and neighborhood groceries, first cars and full-service gas stations, favorite hymns and Vacation Bible School, house calls and hometown heroes, John Wayne and the Big Bopper, war rationing and spinster aunts.

He tells about presidents and teachers he has known, music and books he has enjoyed, his first garden and his first time to eat in an integrated restaurant.

Admitting to being "older than dirt," McDonald remembers Butch wax, Howdy Doody, Studebakers, Packards, mimeograph paper, and other icons of days gone by. "What seems to emerge," he says, "is a kind of report of what it was like to live in Texas, or the South, a half century ago."

ARCHIE P. McDONALD was the author or editor of forty books and monographs. He lived in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he was a Regent's Professor of History at Stephen F. Austin State University, executive director of the East Texas Historical Association, past president of the Texas State Historical Association, past vice chairman of the Texas Historical Commission, and weekly commentator on Red River Radio, southeastern affiliate of NPR. The more than forty short essays in Back Then were adapted from those Friday commentaries.

What Readers Are Saying:

"Back Then takes the reader on a wonderful journey . . . a little book with a whole lot between the covers." --Journal of South Texas

". . . a little book with a whole lot between the covers . . . Never have I read a book that I could relate to in so many ways, . . . One does not have to be of McDonald's age to enjoy reading of his experiences back then." --Victoria Advocate

"From shoe shines to the corner drug store with soda fountain, . . . McDonald brings it all to life." --Round-up Magazine

"This is the sort of reading that will keep you going right on to another chapter . . . Charles Kuralt would have loved it, and so will you!" --Glenn Busset

"Back Then is a delightful little book. It's the kind that once you start reading, you can't put it down. It is too much fun. I challenge you to get a copy and not finish it in one setting." --Mexia Daily News

"delightful small book. . . . His description of summer evenings lets onesavor the cool breeze, listen to the crickets or locusts, catch a fewlightning bugs while playing outside until full dark. . . . Older readers will delight in being propelled on their own memory trip while younger readers will be informed about life in an earlier time." --Review of Texas Books

"Since I am a member of a generation who remembers these things, I enjoyed these commentaries as a trip down memory lane, but for younger readers, it's a visit to a whole different world." --Brazosport Facts

"Back Then will provide a pleasant evening's worth of reading, whether one actually remembers those simpler times or has only heard about them from folks who describe themselves—as does McDonald—as being 'older then dirt.'" --Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel


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