Wednesday, April 20, 2011
The Boy Who Looked Like Shirley Temple
By Bill Mahan
Billy and his family leave their home for the greener pastures of California in the 1930s, hoping for better times there. They find a place to rent in Culver City and are down to just a few dollars. The dad is a hopeless hypochondriac and the mom finds a job only to have her boss skip town without paying her for two weeks of work. Looks like it's up to the two kids to support the family, which they manage to do pretty well by stealing lima beans from a nearby farm and selling them on the street. The customers are lining up for the discount beans but then the mom finds out what her two kids have been doing and puts a stop to it, despite the fact that the family is on the verge of being evicted from their crummy little house. But then cute little Billy gets discovered by Hollywood and things start to look up...maybe.
This was a fun and enjoyable read, a great trip back to a time that makes our current economic struggles look like child's play. It was a real hand-to-mouth existence but Billy and his older sister managed to keep the family going despite their parents' incompetence. I really enjoyed this very amusing story of a Depression-era family coping with hard times.