by Herb Hyde
Innocence and wonder become mischief and delinquency in this boisterous romp through childhood. As the youngest of four boys in a family of ten kids, Herb Hyde's unique perspective about growing up poor in a Depression-weary world shines through. His tale begins in the mid-1940s and carries you through the early 1960s.
As a little boy he never knew he was poor. But when he got older, it became abundantly clear. Being so diminutive, he didn't quite fit in with his older brothers -- who were rarely home -- or his neighborhood buddies who were older, bigger and often picked on him because of his size. He eventually wins over his older buddies and becomes one of the gang, as they blithely cavort through the streets. With Troy landmarks as a backdrop, their capers would range from swimming at Bare Ass Beach, to stealing Spaldeens from Cahill's Sporting Goods in order to play a game of stickball. Gang Fights, real or contrived, become their obsession. The Bowery Boys have nothing on these guys. This book is uniquely conversational, utilizing the voice of the protagonist at various stages in his development.
Herb Hyde is a retired former autoworker, union activist, avid college hockey fan and local-history buff. He received his bachelor's degree from Regents College, now Excelsior College. A resident of Cohoes, New York, he has served on the board of directors of the Friends of RPI Hockey and the Green Island Federal Credit Union. Additionally, he served as the chairman of the Cohoes Citizens Party and ran for mayor of Cohoes in 1983. He currently serves as a member of the Cohoes Historical Architectural Review Board.
"Hyde's book is an insightful and nostalgic return to a Middle America when home-delivery milkmen, horse-drawn bread wagons and 15-cent movies were familiar. His story of growing up poor and white in what was once a vital industrial city is an alarming reflection of the epidemic of urban blight that has become the profile for so many American cities -- in this case, a town known as the "Collar City" -- Troy, New York. The initial offering of his trilogy evokes memories of Baby Boomers who discovered that lost innocence and family values came from work ethics and interpersonal experiences. It was called "living," and it sure seemed like a lot more fun in this book."
-- Matt Graves, freelance writer, Times Union