I recently read the memoir, “Comfort is an Old Barn,” by Amy Calder, and I wanted to share with your readers of the Journal and Sentinel my take on it, as it was such a refreshingly easy read full of short stories of (my) yesteryears as well as that of Calder’s.

What a treat it was to turn each page and relive, through Amy’s work sharing her childhood in Skowhegan, my own personal experiences living here in Waterville during the 1950s, ’60s, and early ’70s. The freedom we had as children running through our streets, just as Calder ran through her fields and woods, experiencing all the seasons from early spring to the deep snows of winter. There wasn’t a memory of hers that did not conjure up one of my own. Now, I did not experience horseback riding and I do not recall any May basket antics in my little historical neighborhood, but all the rest — sledding, skating, bicycling, games, mom’s cooking and the cooking that wafted from the windows of many of my friends’ houses throughout the year, special foods on special holidays, our church celebrations, penny candies, the Fourth of July at the Waterville airport, and the Skowhegan State Fair — came rushing through and left me pleasantly pondering my days gone by.

What also caught my attention and my heart were these five short stories: “Waving Goodbye to a Friend,” the “Cross Man,” “Farewell to Peter Michaud,” “Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow,” and finally, “A Little Spot of Heaven.” These were about little known folks that many of us passed by daily or saw on the streets as we whizzed by in our vehicles, I did not give them a second thought until I read Amy’s stories,  where she shared a bit of their souls to her readers. She took the time to know them. There is so much more in this sweet, sweet series of “stories from the heart.” Truly they are stories well worth your time.

So go to your local bookstore and ask for “Comfort is an Old Barn,” by Amy Calder. At certain intervals, you will pause, close your eyes, and smile as the memories begin to return from your childhood as well.

Finally, if you’ve a mind to, send Amy a Christmas card this year. She loves them!

Paula J. Raymond


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