Thu. Jul 18th, 2024


by Ana Grarian

I’ve just finished reading “Consulting the Genius of the Place” by Wes Jackson. Please check out my previous post where I shared part of a book review by Chris Smith at the Englewood Review of Books, and a link to the entire review.

In chapter 15, Wes tells the story of Leland Lorenzen, who lived for 29 years in a shack six foot by sixteen feet, and lived on less than, $500 a year. Or I should say he tells – part of the story.

Leland had served seven years as a merchant seaman. Traveling the world he noted the differences in the cultures of the places he went, and specifically noted how little other folks lived on. While working at an oil refinery he read Thoreau’s “Walden”, which changed his life.

But it didn’t just change his life. Leland had a wife Bernice, and three children ages four, eleven and thirteen. Leland, in what seems to me true male style, threw the book on the kitchen table saying, she’d better read it, because it was going to change their lives.

What did Bernice and the kids think of that? How did their lives change, and how quickly?

This is the story Wes leaves out.

We learn that Leland died at age seventy-nine, so he apparently lived in that shack from age fifty onward. Wes tells us that Bernice lived in a bomb shelter type house seventy feet away, and felt that she needed slightly more a month to live on, so Leland shared his Social Security check with her.

I would like to know so much more about their lives. A simple Google search has not revealed anything. It so often falls to Mom to carry out the plans decreed by Dad. I want to know the nuts and bolts of that change. How do the kids live today? Did they follow Dad’s path?

Perhaps one of them will tell the story.

By AFarmer

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