Book Reviews of Barns of Yesteryear.

"Barns of Yesteryears is a charming book--the kind you want to keep out on the end-table, in the waiting room or anywhere one might be looking for a pleasant, quick 'read'. This book can be picked up, read a bit, put down, and up again until complete, and even over and over again!

"Barns of Yesteryears is a collection of stories, descriptions, essays and poems accompanying a delightful series of black and white photographs of old barns. Explored within its pages are round barns, round-roofed barns, unusual barns, barns with pitched roofs, barns with single and double wings, large barns, storage barns, very long barns, and dilapidated barns. The photographs are the collection of Dale Watkins, a Midwest advertising salesman who took them as he made his rounds traveling the rural roads of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota. Many of these barns no longer exist. These photographs are a record of a time which has passed; they represent a statement about our history. As Barbara Black puts it, 'No building seems to evoke as much nostalgia of the past as the barn. Barns are a symbol of our heritage, for there are few of us that do not have some roots going back to the family barn.' They represent a rural lifestyle--one that seems to be diminishing and for those llama owners who are establishing, continuing, or re-establishing this rural way of life, this book will remind us of the past, and present ideas for the future.

"Dale Watkins states, 'In some parts of farm country, particularly in more affluent areas, each farmer tried to surpass his neighbor in constructing a bigger and better barn. All were built for utility, but many were craftily constructed with an eye toward appearance. The carpenter would identify his skill in some way, from the many roof lines to the cleverly hewn door and window moldings.' These barns can be seen over several pages interlaced with descriptions of not only the functional parts inside the barns, but of the equipment ancillary to the barn, as well as processes for keeping ice and water.

"Dale Watkins' writings are enhanced by thoughts penned by other folks who grew up in and with these 'barns of yesteryears'. Bernard Dowling writes, 'This barn's been here all my life anchoring me to four generations of family and to this patch of ground. It's a big barn, long and wide; in fact it has the appearance and even the attitude of an old broody hen, whose business it is to provide protection and shelter for life, often new life....In the winter, I could spend all day in the barn tending livestock, recognizing the smell of rain or snow in the air, different kinds of hay, pitch from some of the wood, fresh manure still steaming in the chilled air, listening to the storm outside, feeling snug.' To this 'California girl' this is awesome imagery! I'm sure it speaks out loud and clear to most llama owning people.

"Take a look, the price is really fair. For a little over ten dollars all this nostalgia can be delivered to your door! Read more, and get into the mind-set of contributing author Donald Clark who says, 'If privies were the 'yin' of rural America, then barns had to be the 'yang', for together they certainly represented a balance of things--the power and the glory. Privies were the ultimate in humility, both in design and function. Barns were just the opposite. Next to the architecture of churches, sometimes even more than churches, the architecture of barns in the Midwest was the most awe-inspiring sight on the horizon. Farming is a precarious business--always has been. More than anyone else, farmers know that they are exposed to every possible kind of natural and man-made calamity. They need all of the help they can get. Sometimes they are compelled to plead alternately to God and to the government, and to be grateful for any relief that comes from either.' Entries such as this draw a picture that sits beautifully, even without the photographs--but with them, one is transported back a little to a time when things were simpler, and our struggles more basic.

"The last portion of this sweet book contains photographs of miscellaneous rural memorabilia such as mailboxes, bridges, outhouses, school houses, stores, places of worship, and even cemeteries. Consider this soft cover, easy to roll up book when looking for those 'stocking stuffers' this coming holiday season!" (Francie Greth-Peto, Llamas Magazine, Nov-Dec. 1995)

2. "Outdoor enthusiasts won't want to miss Barns of Yesteryears, which presents fine black and white photos of old barns, coupled with old-timers memories of barn activities. An excellent browsing title which entertains and educates." (Midwest Book Review, Oct. 1995)