The Family

Book Summary

by Michael J. Woods

The Family"The Family" is the story of a Midwest American family during the 20th century. Parents Tommy and Florence Woods traveled through World War I during their teenage years and the "Roaring Twenties" when they, too, were in their 20s. They went through the '30s and '40s with their fellow members of Tom Brokaw’s "Greatest Generation."

The Great Depression of the '30s and World War II in the '40s took their toll on many Americans. Tommy and Florence moved to Fulton, Ill., from Clinton, Iowa, in 1942 and by the end of the decade, their two oldest children were graduating from Fulton Community High School, with the third oldest, Dave, graduating in 1950.

The '50s became the affluent '50s for many Americans, including my parents. And then the uproarious '60s was a decade when we lost President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Malcolm X by way of assassinations. By the end of the 1960s, the Woods kids were departing from the family home and moving on with their lives. And then along came the grandkids and the great grandkids.

“No one ever had more fun growing up than the Woods boys and many of their friends. The Woods family lived it, loved it and used the lessons to enrich their lives.”

                        -- Gary Herrity, The Clinton Herald

The Author: Michael J. Woods

Retired from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and from a career as a public school athletic coach and social studies teacher, Mike Woods wants to encourage other families to start telling their own stories. There are many families out there who have persevered, overcome obstacles and achieved all kinds of greatness, he said.

Read an Excerpt

At night when the weather was warm, we could have a game of Kick-the-Can or Hide-and-Go-Seek. During the winter, we spent a lot of time with our sleds on the Ninth Avenue hill, just one block from our house.

If we rode our sleds through the yard of the Leahy sisters located on the south side of the hill and across the street from our house, we could slide all the way to our garage. There were times when we went through the sisters' yard and found them waiting for us on the porch or sidewalk ready to try and hit us with their brooms. We had to go right past them. We thought the whole scene was pretty funny--but I don't recall the folks knowing what we were doing!

There were days when we carried buckets of water to the hill after a snow hoping the water would freeze overnight. When the hill had good ice coverage, we could start at the top and with some luck slide all the way to Fourth Street. Those little American Flyer sleds were great! During the day, there might be 10 or 15 kids on the hill. We were always looking for new ways to create new trails.