“Lost Without the River” by Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic


Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic
She Writes Press (2019)
ISBN 9781631525315
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (6/19)

“Lost Without The River” is an inspiring memoir by Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic, taking place in South Dakota during the 1930s.  During this post-depression era growing up in a large Catholic family was not without struggles. Barbara, the youngest of seven children, didn’t think she belonged in a farming family, but that didn’t stop her from doing what was required of her to ensure the family survived. The author does an excellent job of describing the harsh conditions, providing historical information and drawing readers in with her humor and events which will also sadden readers.

Her family’s house was one of the first wood-framed houses in the Big Stone City area dating back to 1873. There was no central heating, no running water, no indoor plumbing. When unexpected guests showed up, they slept in the barn as there was only the parent’s bed and a single bed in the house. There were years when there was no rain, no crops and no money coming in. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to live in those conditions, where at times the only food to be found were berries, wild mushrooms or game that was caught by the males in the family.

I loved that during these harsh times after chores were done families met at the Farmers Club where each would dress up, discuss practical matters, and socialize with others. Women would make coffee with a cracked eggshell and all, to take away the bitter taste, and each wife brought a dessert. After the end of socializing the men sang “Good Night Irene” and it reminds me of when my dad used to sing it to my mom.

The river played a big part in the author’s family, not only a resource for water and fish, but enjoyable for the children. Although the river was an asset, it could be dangerous as well during flooding and the frozen season.

“Lost Without The River” by Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic is a warm tribute to the author’s family and their dedication to the family. It’s a great indicator that sometimes, leaving home for a bigger city isn’t always that great. If you love historical information and stories that truly show what family means, this read is for you.

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