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Larry Suek Memoir 

Willow Grove:
A Boy, A Family, A Farm

Willow Grove: A Boy, A Family, A Farm is author Larry Suek’s ode to the family farm of post-war America. Set on a dairy farm in rural West Virginia, Willow Grove abounds with good-humored tales of sibling rivalries, the rhythm of daily chores, and a generous dose of American history going back to the pre-presidency days of George Washington.

For those of us who grew up in small towns—and even those of us who didn’t—Larry’s stories of epic schoolyard battles with Ravenswood marbles, supportive teachers, and early athletic endeavors met with mixed success—will strike a familiar chord. If, however, you did not grow up on a farm—and most of us didn’t—Larry takes us back in time to the world of his youth, and a world filled with hog slaughtering, winter nights spent pouring over the latest issue of Hoard’s Dairyman, and the seasonal imperative to “make hay while the sun shines” will sparkle like fresh paint.

Fascinating, too, is the march of technology in American life, both in the home and on the farm. In the world of Willow Grove, electricity and indoor plumbing are recent advances. Draft horses have largely given way to mechanized equipment. Cross-country interstates are being built. With the Great Depression still in the minds of his parents and grandparents, the theme of Larry’s childhood is simple: Make do, or do without.

And everywhere in Willow Grove, there is family: devoted parents, younger brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Larry’s life is awash with cousins of all shapes and sizes. Larry’s grandfather is a dairy farmer. Larry’s father is a dairy farmer. Larry’s uncles are dairy farmers. Will Larry be a dairy farmer too? 

“Willow Grove is a lively, tour de force look at American family farm life in the ’40s and ’50s, told with grace, sensitivity, and honesty.”

About Larry Suek

West Virginia native Larry Suek is the author of Willow Grove: A Boy, A Family, A Farm, his memoir about growing up as a third-generation dairy farmer in post-World War II America. After attending Ravenswood Elementary and Ravenswood High, Larry graduated from Parkersburg High. He went on to receive his undergraduate degree from Ohio University and enjoyed a successful and challenging career as a thermoplastics polymer chemist and technical sales specialist.

Now retired, Larry lives in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.


About the book.

In Willow Grove, author Larry Suek deftly combines lively boyhood experiences with his family’s history and sets both against the backdrop of rapid and profound technological advances in the dairy industry. Americans of all ages will be entertained and informed reading well-told stories about hard-fought battles with Ravenswood marbles in the schoolyard, hobos riding the B&O, and the family’s annual hog slaughter.

My third-grade classroom was on the first floor in the front of the building, adjacent to the big kid’s playground. Memories of my third grade are plentiful, and I can’t adequately express how much I liked and appreciated Mrs. Hughes.

After supper, when my father retired to the comfort of the family room couch, he would reach for his handy Hoard’s Dairyman. Each copy was read from front to back, so often that by the time a new issue arrived, the current copy would be tattered. Dad would scour the magazine for information about dairy farming and new products and equipment that would enhance farm productivity.


Bob and I were too young to be of any help in the hayfields, yet we were old enough to know that in the hayfields was where we wanted to be. We wanted to be with Dad and watch the men with their pitchforks load hay on the wagon, and later unload the mammoth loads in the dairy barn hay loft.

Yet, there was one silver lining from our extended visit with our grandparents: Bob and I finally got our fill of delicious Karo syrup.

The pond provided our animals with a second source of fresh drinking water and was a perfect spot for us to cool off during hot weather.

Besides, I’m not a coward, and I really shouldn’t be afraid of a bully chicken that wants to peck me on my hand. Suddenly, it dawned on me! That’s it! I bet it’s just a little love peck! Of course! Of course!


Seeing a western movie was a special treat for my brothers and me. So special that Mom could rely on us to behave like little angels, at least for a week or two before the movie arrived at the Alpine Theatre on Washington Street. The mere suggestion that we might not be allowed to go to the movies was a huge club that Mom held over our heads.

Larry Suek is available to speak about his experiences, books, and how to work with an editor/publisher.