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While renewing friendships last weekend at the Somerton Alumni Banquet, the "buzz" was about a new book of vignettes of life in the Somerset Township community during the Great Depression and World War II.
Appalachia Boy, a small book of 70 pages, penned by retired Wichita, Kansas hand surgeon Dr. George Lucas is a must read for anyone with Somerton connections or any student of 20th century history of the hilly region of Southeastern Ohio.
His father died when George was just 10, leaving his mother with three kids and another on the way. The family was poor his mother observed it was hard to tell when the Depression began and ended for them but George, his friends and siblings made their own fun and forged lasting memories. In "Appalachia Boy," Dr. Lucas shares the boyhood tales that helped shape him.
Lucas came of age in the pre-Internet, pre-television era when a one-street, one-horse town with less than 150 residents was a self-supporting, self-contained community filled with retail businesses, churches, social organizations, an elementary and high school, and post office. It was also a time when many nearby residents were more than neighbors or friends they were aunts, uncles and cousins!
The author's family and the town's merchants, educators, movers and shakers, and characters of all stripes come to life through Dr. Lucas's often light-hearted, and at times frank, memories of decades ago. Topics from the popular Farmer's Institute, church and social life, and daily observations of the youngster, who was the daily newspaper carrier for the village, paint a delightful picture of a more innocent time.
Lucas attended Somerton High School until it closed in 1951 and graduated from Barnesville High School the following year. His exemplary life was highlighted 50 years later, when in 2002 he was inducted into the Barnesville Area Education Foundation Hall of Fame.
He received his BA from Ohio University and medical degree from George Washington University. His medical practice included serving two years as chief of Orthopedic Service at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Memphis (1967-68), private practice in Madison, Wisconsin (1969-84), and finally the hand surgery practice in Wichita, Kansas from which he is now retired.
Dr. Lucas was professor and chairman of orthopedic surgery at the University of Kansas and also a clinical professor at the university.
When he was honored by his high school alma mater, he noted "I measure my success one patient at a time. Each and every time I help someone it is just like receiving an award." Now, Lucas is adding one more "award" to a storied life with the publication of his Somerton boyhood memoires.
Appalachia Boy is available online at Amazon and eBay.