Hometown Hearts: The Lives and Loves of a Great Generation

Hometown Hearts: The Lives and Loves of a Great Generation

Dear Friends and neighbors back home,

Through floods and fire I’ve managed to preserve an old newspaper clipping of a letter my dad wrote from Dutch Guiana to his friends and family in Owego, N.Y. It was written on Dec. 7, 1941; he was 24 at the time. The world was at war, the future uncertain. His homesick heart turned to his life and his loves “back home”. 

I can relate. The events of the past two years, mandates and lockdowns, social and political unrest, nations and neighbors divided, I too find myself longing for the people and places “back home”. 

But my homegrown roots also remind me there is hope. We will find our way back, stronger and better than before! When I remember the way my parent’s generation protected and embraced the things we hold dear, it inspires and challenges me to do the same. 

That’s why I’m pleased to announce, through the collaborative efforts of Town of Owego Historian Peter Gordon, Tioga County Courier’s Mary Beth Jones, and Tioga Historical Society Member and Volunteer Marie Ward, a.k.a. Flat Rat, we have been able to finally publish: Hometown Hearts: The Lives and Loves of a Great Generation. 

The book is 153 pages, and features weekly interviews and stories I wrote for the Courier back in 2013 and 2014. Their voices seem nearer and dearer than ever before.  

Many of the stories are personal accounts of what it was like to grow up in Owego, in neighborhoods like The Flats, Canawanna and Turtle Town in the 1920’s and 30’s. There are shared memories of OFA pep rallies, favorite swimming holes and high school sweethearts. 

While hard working parents juggled multiple jobs and parental duties, it’s hard to ignore the positive influence churches and organizations like the Boy Scouts, 4-H, and the Boy’s Club had on their upbringing. 

News sources like The Owego Pennysaver are the lifeblood of rural communities like ours. They not only support and promote local businesses, but they also keep us informed and connected like nothing else. 

Owego’s Radio Station, WEBO, and the various local news outlets are the kind of ‘renewable energy’ that has kept us going, growing and thriving, generation after generation, through all sorts of change. 

Hometown Hearts: The Lives and Loves of a Great Generation will soon be available at Riverow Bookshop in Owego or on Amazon. I also welcome your emails to Hometownhearts.mkthomas@gmail.com.

Sincerely yours,

M K Thomas

Flat Rats forever!

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