Many years ago, as young parents, brothers Ted and Bill Merrill both told their children stories of their childhood days near the Sawtooth Mountains in central Idaho. Even as adults, their children lovingly referred to those stories as "exciting adventures from Dad's childhood."
Retired and in their seventies, Ted and Bill began exchanging their versions of those stories, helping each other firm up and flesh out their memories of those "exciting adventures." That 10-year, on-and-off collaboration resulted in the publication of River Runts, which is now in its third edition.
River Runts is an engaging and unique memoir, a collection of stories told with a wry wit by two brothers who, in their eighties, unabashedly referred to themselves as "geezers."
Their family lived in the small town of Fairfield, Idaho, whose population has hovered around 400 for more than 80 years. Their schoolteacher parents had summers free, and these stories revolve around the two to three months each summer during their growing up years, when they camped and fished on the Wood and Salmon rivers, some 120 miles from Fairfield.
The book paints a picture of a close and functional family, and touches on parenting, history, and society. On its surface, it appears to be isolated vignettes of treasured places and events, but on a deeper level it shows an orderly progression of lessons learned and skills gained, of parenting and culture and values being passed on.
From the introduction: "In comparing our growing up with that of our own children, we have noted that, whatever we or they feel they have missed, the world has changed greatly even in this short span of years, a mere half a lifetime, and the environment in which we had our origins no longer exists. We offer that concern as counterpoint to these stories of the finest of times."