History books provide the statistics and the “big picture” of the Great Depression, but what did any of that mean for a family just trying to make it through those years? A. Cleveland Harrison’s A Little Rock Boyhood provides that viewpoint in this evocative memoir as he captures what Little Rock was like for him as a child in the 1930s. The Harrison family’s experiences and those of their extended family and neighbors bring the tough economic times down to the individual level. The youngest Harrison is an able reporter, relating the memories of an observant though naive child. All was not grim, though, if you were a kid, and Harrison describes those happy times. He remembers his life in the residential neighborhoods of downtown Little Rock when a child could grow up in difficult times without becoming difficult. This book is an insightful look back at a time, a place, and a childhood.
A Little Rock Boyhood
Growing Up in the Great Depression
A. Cleveland Harrison
“Cleveland Harrison is a natural memoirist. He can recall his life with clarity, but more important, he has a knack of recording it in an interesting—even arresting—fashion. A Little Rock Boyhood is a valuable contribution to the historical record of our state, and I urge Arkansans to read this new book.”
—Tom Dillard, Columnist and Historian, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and author of Statesmen, Scoundrels, and Eccentrics: A Gallery of Amazing Arkansans
“In A Little Rock Boyhood, A. Cleveland Harrison (already the author of an unforgettable World War II memoir) offers us not only an earlier stage of autobiography – told with characteristic warmth, candor, humor, and a superb eye and ear for the telling detail – but a personal portrait of a seminal place at the heart of America, struggling through its most dramatic era. Even more, Harrison recounts vividly what it was like for his generation to grow up amid the Great Depression – an eloquent and especially fitting saga for our times.”
—Anthony Weller, a novelist and award-winning journalist, is the author of First Into Nagasaki and Weller’s War
“Cleve Harrison has an eidetic memory and a way of recapturing the past that no one since Proust has been able to do.”
—The late Donald Harington, a Little Rock native and Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame member, is the author of Enduring, Farther Along, and other novels
“If Tom Sawyer had been a real boy and had lived in Little Rock during the Depression, Mr. Clemens might have written a book as telling as A. Cleveland Harrison’s A Little Rock Boyhood. Unlike Tom, young Cleve Harrison is a very real boy, and this memoir, seen through the eyes of a child growing up during the Depression, recalls events that reflect the rough economic times. The number of people who lived during the Depression years dwindles daily. Local history study will depend on books like Harrison’s to show how a national crisis affected people locally. In remembering events from his youth, Harrison provides readers a nonjudgmental look back to an earlier Little Rock, to life in the city’s downtown neighborhoods, and to one family’s experiences during a pivotal time in history.”
—Bob Razer is the editor of the Pulaski County (AR) Historical Society Review
Distributed for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.