The GI Generation (Paperback)
Frank Mathias was born in Maysville, Kentucky, (pop. 7000) in 1925 and grew up in nearby Carlisle (pop. 1500), where life in his small town was much like that in towns and villages all across America. He came of age in an era of total security; his parents never even had a key to their front door. Daily living was infused with gossip; no one had a secret, and everyone knew everyone else's business. Outdoor life was a vital part of growing up, and teachers and mentors instilled a sense of right and wrong in young people. Raised during the Great Depression, Mathias became a member of a fighting force the likes of which the world had never known, a legion now called "The Greatest Generation." The GI Generation tells Mathias's story of growing up with the sweet whistle of the L&N train and the summer-kitchen smells of hot salt-rising bread and blackberry cobbler, which could instantly halt even the most rousing game of cowboys and Indians. Much of community life focused on the local high school, which, in Mathias's case, was a tiny one with no chemistry courses, no drivers' training, and no guidance counselors. Yet the one hundred students who graduated between 1942 and 1944 became university professors, top executives, military commanders, successful investors, lawyers, and physicians. A vivid portrait of a bucolic pre-war boyhood, The GI Generation takes readers back to an era when boys rustled watermelons under the hot summer sun and young lovers danced to the sounds of farmhouse bands. Whether describing the unfortunate (but delicious) end of his brother's pet chicken, Don, or the ominous clouds of war, Mathias writes with humor, honesty, and compassion.