Have you ever had a vivid, unusual dream and then woke up and wondered what it meant or if it portended a sign of things to come?
“To Dream of Elephants (and Other Stories About My Old Stuff )” is the title of Berea author Todd Moberly’s, new book, but you’ll have to read it if you want to find out why thoughts of pachyderms may have interrupted your sleep. I simply don’t want to ruin the surprise.
This title is, in essence, a continuation of Moberly’s 2018, “Notes on Cracker Barrel Napkins”.
In that book, fictional central character Clay Hall compiled a series of short stories based on, mostly, antique items and artifacts he had accumulated over the years.
Clay is also the narrator of “To Dream of Elephants” and the set of 24 new stories are mostly placed in fictional Fordville, Ky. and peopled by the same bunch of characters readers loved in the first novel. The same set of old-timers still frequently gather at the old, dwindling, grocery store just before the close of business to tell tales during the so-called “Children’s Hour”, a daily, social gathering where Clay is the only child present. Readers should assume that the language got a little rough when Clay wasn’t present.
Fordville, mostly because it once had a commercial ferry crossing the Kentucky River, could have been modeled after any or all of the numerous, small, agrarian, riverside communities that dotted rural, central Kentucky, before 1960, or thereabouts. Dozens and dozens of little hamlets that thrived economically before the Great Depression of the 1930s, struggled mightily, for the next three decades, but most never regained much resemblance to the industrious vigor they had enjoyed prior to 1931.
Simply put, Fordville was one of those places where the depression never really ended as far as economics are concerned, but there was never anything poor about the communal spirit of the people who lived there. If you took the ferry out of Fordville , it could, just as easily, be Paint Lick, Waco, Livingston, Swiss Colony, Blackey, Isom or any one of several dozen Appalachian Kentucky villages that never quite recovered their former being.
If you are over 50 and have ever lived in one of these little places, I guarantee that practically every single character you meet in Fordville, eccentric or not, will fondly remind you of someone you used to know. If you are younger, you will wish you’d known them. Be it a carved walking stick, a red-handled flour sifter, a child’s little ladder-backed chair, an old pocket watch or one of the other two dozen other artifacts pictured in this book, your memory is bound to spring to life.
You will find yourself laughing so hard that your spouse is ready to kick you out of bed. Two paragraphs later you may be so teary-eyed that he or she commences wanting to know why you got so quiet all of a sudden. “To Dream of Elephants” is that kind of book. If you have already read “Notes on Cracker Barrel Napkins”, you know what I’m talking about, and this one is even better.
The author, Todd Moberly, a retired, popular, Madison Southern High School history teacher, is the most gifted storyteller this writer has come across in decades. I would tell you that he missed his calling but I have some nieces who swear he is the best teacher they ever had.
You can purchase the new book at the John B. Adams General Store in Isom. I understand that store sold 50 copies of the first title, and at least a dozen copies of the new one should be there by the time you read this column.
Purchase either book, directly from the author by sending a check or money order for $20 per title to: Todd Moberly, 2728 Old US Highway 25 North, Berea, KY 40403. Or get both titles as a set for $35. Shipping and handling is included on all purchases.
Email Todd Moberly at firstname.lastname@example.org.