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In the classic comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Del Griffith and Neal Page are stranded in the Wichita airport with all flights to Chicago cancelled because of a blizzard. Rather than sleep in the airport, Del makes a call to the Braidwood Motel and lines up a cab to take them there. The cab driver, Doobie, instead of taking them straight to the motel, takes them on the scenic tour. When Neal gets frustrated with the amount of time the trip is taking he says, “Where the hell is the motel?”

Del says, “Doobie, is it much farther?”

“Not much,” Doobie replies.

“Why didn’t you take the interstate?” Dell inquires.

Doobie answers, “Your friend has never been here, so I figured he’d like to look around. There’s nothing on the interstate.”

Neal, under his breath, says to Del, “It’s the middle of the night.”

Del gives this understanding response, “I know, but he’s proud of his town. That’s a rare thing these days.”

When I was a teenager, I was infamous for trapping people in my car and “letting” them listen to my favorite tunes, at a volume which ensured they wouldn’t miss a single instrument, beat or lyric. Every new song it seems was my “favorite” and I wanted to make sure everyone else had a chance to hear it. I was convinced that they would like it as much as I did. Once in the car and moving down the street, they didn’t have much of a choice with the exposure, but even with my best intentions, not everyone had my taste in music.

Now that my first book has been published, like Doobie, I’m obviously proud of it and I want everyone else to enjoy it like I have. Unlike my teen years, I can’t lock you in my car and force you to read it. However, just like my “favorite” songs of old, I’m sure you will love the book. Why? What is it about Little Heathens that I think others will enjoy?

When the publisher suggested I think long and hard about my niche audience, I had a tough time segregating groups of people who might relate to the story. From the feedback I’ve received it seems to have nearly universal appeal. After all, we were all kids at one time and most of us enjoyed similar experiences growing up. A woman who grew up in Puerto Rico was laughing when she told me how the story of walking through the neighborhood on the top of the wall was just like she and her two brothers did when they were kids. Another lady related to the grocery store water hoses in the produce section. A man, fifteen years my junior related to the story of walking on flattened tin cans. A young lady, 24, loved the part about the “witch” house in the neighborhood and told me that she and her sister had one of those houses in their neighborhood. Those buying Little Heathens have ranged from 16 years of age to 93; the story seems to strike a chord with most people.

Little Heathens is the account of four little kids growing up during a time when the “hovering” parent didn’t exist. You played all day without supervision and you created most of your own fun. It’s a book that seems to be able to take people back to a time in their own lives that  elicits fond memories as well as laughter and smiles along with them. One young lady, only half way through the book, told me that she couldn’t read the book at bedtime because it made her laugh so hard that her stomach hurt and she couldn’t go to sleep. Here are some other comments.

“It’s funny. I laughed at you playing in the dirt at the construction site and throwing dirt clods at cars, especially at the police car! Also, you having to break off your own stick when you got in trouble with your brother…”

“Ron, I haven’t laughed at something this hard that I’ve read in a really, really long time! (I too am in the first few chapters). Funny!”

“One guy at church, who is probably around 70, said he was enjoying it because it was bringing back similar memories from his childhood. He even mentioned the ornery stuff they did as kids, such as diving in Big Blue.”

“Honestly, I have to say that your book was the best book that I have read! I am looking forward to your sequel! My favorite section is with the “Witch” house! That reminded me of something that my sister and I use to do, and a little of the book The Mockingbird.”

Why Little Heathens? If you like to read, and you’re tired of the smut and cynicism in our culture today, and if you’re looking for a “feel good” story, you should try Little Heathens. I’m sure you will love it! (just like “Picasso’s Last Words”; great song!) If you would like to order a copy through me, e-mail me at ronbayjr@gmail.com and receive a signed copy for 10 percent off the list price. If you would rather order from the publisher, go to this link: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/notavailable.php

Here’s the trailer that will precede the national release in mid-June: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfqIkAg6TjY

If you aren’t convinced that you will like the book, here are three excerpts to consider:

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