The Little Boy and His Stars
A review and commentary by Joe Laufer
On Wednesday, December 14, 2005, the 200 year home at 39 Mill Street, Vincentown was demolished — one of the victims of the July flood of 2004. Lifetime Vincentown resident Henry Moore, who was born in the house, watched as the home was demolished. The FOX News helicopter flew overhead, and a Courier Post reporter captured the moment for posterity. While that significant piece of history disappeared from the landscape of historic Vincentown, Henry Moore made sure that many of the memories that emanated from the family that called the structure “home” are preserved in a 197 page memoir he penned and which has been published by Vantage Press.
The notes on the book jacket provide a glimpse of what the reader can expect: “Henry Moore grew up in a small New Jersey town during the Depression with his four brothers and widowed mother. His boyhood was a virtual almanac of life in the United States after the stock market crash of 1929: rampant unemployment, dearth of bard and shelter, and lines of destitute men at the soup kitchen. Recounting both the warm moments of his boyhood adventures and the colder calamities of the Great Depression, The Little Boy and His Stars: A Memoir of a Little Boy is his first published book.”
For long-time residents of Vincentown, the book will bring back many vivid memories of dozens of colorful individuals whose children and grandchildren still live in the area.
The book begins in 1935 when Henry was about 7 years old and recalls a ride in a horse drawn wagon to Red Lion with farmer Harold Joyce. All the stories are told from the perspective of the young boy during the period spanning 1935 through 1948 (when Henry turns 20). The latter half of the book (chapters 14 through 21) is a chronicle of baseball in Vincentown and the Merchants Athletic Association.
Henry introduces us to Miss Helen (Joyce), the friendly telephone operator who worked a few doors from his home. He describes the Memorial Day parade of 1936, when the parade went down Mill St. and he was among the kids who scrambled for the spent blank cartridges shot by the color guard — a custom which continues in Vincentown till this day! We meet Jack Poinsett, Jimmy Mears, Mrs. Rogers and her Ice Cream Parlor and learn all about Mr. Francis Stokes and his Canning Factory.
Henry’s home was across the street from the Grist Mill on Mill Street. Life along the creek and the Mill Pond is described as it was experienced by the youth of Vincentown. Because the time frame of the book extends from 1935 through 1948, world events such as the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II and the immediate post-war period are filtered through the eyes of this young man from a Southamtpon Township/Vincentown perspective—showing how real lives locally were affected by these events.
Henry speaks lovingly of his mother, Mary Elizabeth McDonald Moore, to whom he dedicates the book. Her husband, Alexander caught pneumonia and passed away at the age of forty-four leaving Mary with four boys “to raise all by herself, with one yet to be born”. Alexander had been the town cobbler.
Anyone who may have lived through the period covered in the memoir will identify with many of the people, places and incidents related in each chapter. Local residents who were not around from 1935 through 1948 will also find the book fascinating. I was left with the impression that Vincentown never really changes — and despite the void on Mill Street after the demolition of the Moore home, Henry’s memoir fills the gap with his simple, folksy narrative.
The hard-cover book is available locally through Barnes and Noble at the cost of $22.95, but can be purchased at the book signing at the Vincentown Library on February 11 for $20.00. The publisher is Vantage Press, Inc., 419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016.
Author Henry Moore will autograph copies of his book:
The Little Boy and His Stars: A Memoir of a Little Boy
Saturday, February 11, 2006—10 AM to 2 PM
Sally Stretch Keen Memorial Library
Corner of Main and Race Streets, Vincentown
Books available for purchase @ $20.00 each Proceeds benefit the Library