Jim Casada is well known around the country as one of the most prolific turkey editors and writers of our generation. Casada is an avid outdoorsman who grew up in the Smoky Mountains and is a man who embraces the outdoors and readily transmits his love for the outdoors and turkey hunting to all who would listen.
Jim Casada’s latest book, “A Smoky Mountain Boyhood: Musings, Memories, and More” has recently been published by the University of Tennessee Press. The work encompasses 41 chapters and spans 300-plus pages as well as including an extensive section of vintage photographs. Part autobiographical, it is primarily a window into the world of the middle of the 20th century as the author knew it growing up in his beloved highland homeland.
“By nothing more than an awesome accident of birthplace, I was born and raised in the heart of the Smokies, and the region long ago laid a firm hold on a corner of my soul,” Casada said. “I proudly call myself a son of the Smokies, carry the label of hillbilly as a badge of honor and am blessed by a lifelong love affair with my highland homeland.
“As my father once, said, “Son, you’ve had a marvelously misspent life.” He was referring to the fact that I’ve been privileged to hunt, fish and travel all over the world in search of stories, all the time doing something I loved.
“Daddy and my paternal grandfather, Joe Casada, were great tellers of sporting tales and a fair share of any ability I have in that regard is directly attributable to them as mentors. Both also loved hunting and fishing and shared that passion with me in a most meaningful way.
“I was also blessed with a mother who tolerated endless outdoor excursions, small game and fish cleaning in the kitchen sink, served as a sometime chauffeur to destinations too far for walking or biking, cooked everything I caught or shot, and always had an encouraging word or a bit of praise to offer.”
A publisher’s blurb for the book states, “In A Smoky Mountain Boyhood Casada pairs his gift for storytelling and his training as a historian to produce a highly readable memoir of mountain life, with stories evoking a strong sense of place and reflecting richly on the traits that make the people of Southern Appalachia a unique American demographic. Containing a strong sense of adventure, nostalgic tone, and well-paced prose, Casada’s book will be appreciated by those yearning to rediscover their childhoods or imaginatively climb these mountains.”
The book opens with four lines from a poem by an obscure figure, W. M. Praed, “I Remember, I Remember”:
“I remember, I remember
How my childhood fleeted by,
The mirth of its December
And the warmth of its July.”
Said Casada, “That boyhood is indeed long gone, but cherished memories remain. That is in essence what ‘A Smoky Mountain Boyhood’ is about, and recently a good friend of mine, Tipper Pressley, published a guest blog in which the writer offered an absolutely wonderful line: ‘We had it all.’ That was definitely the case in those long ago yesteryears of my youth. The ‘all’ didn’t take the form of money, piles of presents, expensive gifts or indeed much of anything material. Instead it involved family togetherness, recognition of the deepest meanings of Christmas, sharing and caring with loved ones, lots of time spent in the world of nature thanks to a two-week break from school, time-honored ceremonies at church and much more.”
Divided into four sections—“High Country Holiday Tales and Traditions”; “Seasons of the Smokies”; “Tools, Toys, and Boyhood Treasures”; and “Precious Memories,” each of the book’s parts reflect on a memorable coming-of-age in the Smokies. Among the work’s focal points are traditional folkways; hunting and fishing; growing, preparing, gathering and eating wide varieties of foodstuffs; and the overall fabric of mountain life in yesteryear.
The book is nicely done and will make a fine gift for anyone who cherishes yesteryear, enjoys storytelling or wants to take a longing look backward into the magical world of a mountain boyhood.
Copies of the book are $29.95 plus $5 shipping and handling (Jim Casada, 1250 Yorkdale Drive, Rock Hill, SC 29730 or via PayPal through his website, jimcasadaoutdoors.com).
Call Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.