If You Don't Like Worms,
Keep Your Mouth Shut

Written by Linda Loegel

Book Review by Dennis Moore

Linda Loegel, president of the Alpine Writers Guild, and Board member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild, certainly has a way with words, and the ability to entertain and inform while telling a story. This San Diego East County resident followed up on her charming book about two senior citizens travelling across the country, "Bumps Along The Way," with another salt of the earth book, that retraces her upbringing in Vermont, "If You Don't Like Worms, Keep Your Mouth Shut."

As she did with "Bumps Along The Way," which I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing, this book is written honestly, sprinkled with humor and skillfully told, and at times self-deprecating. That is an art that the author has perfected, which endears herself to readers such as myself. An example of that self-deprecating style is when the author states in the book: "I entered the world backwards as a breach baby and I've been backwards ever since. While other people come down with a cold, I would tell my mom that I was coming 'up' with a cold. I have an uncanny knack for tying twist ties backwards and when I make a bow from a ribbon or shoelace it usually ends up vertical instead of horizontal. And you don't want to know what I do to seat belts."

Having had the pleasure of being in her presence on a number of occasions, be it our monthly meetings of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild, and at book signings, you get to appreciate and understand her storytelling, and actually feel you are there yourself in the moment.

"If You Don't Like Worms, Keep Your Mouth Shut," just by its title, actually suggests what type of literary ride Loegel is going to take you on. It actually starts with her ancestral history, as she takes you all the way back to September 6, 1620, as she indicates in her book that one hundred and two passengers climbed aboard the Mayflower, and headed west to a new land. How many of us would think to include something like that in a book? It just demonstrates to me how important family and history is to the author. She further states in the telling of this ancestral history, that among those brave and hardy passengers was church elder, William Brewster, with his wife, Mary, and their two sons. The seed that the Brewsters planted in the new world became part of the trunk of Loegel's sturdy family tree. Also on board the Mayflower was Edward Winslow, whose relative became the other half of the author's particular tree trunk. From there, the story unfolds, starting with Loegel being born in what she describes as "peaceful" Windsor, Vermont, at a time when World War II was raging in Europe and London was being bombed daily.

The author talks of a time growing up in a cozy neighborhood, before the proliferation of television as we now know it, astronauts, and Rock N Roll, a time that certainly resonates with me. Loegel paints a picture of simpler times, full of nostalgia of life seemingly without a care in the world.

This was a time, before TV, computers, and Game Boys, when kids in their pajamas would curl up on the floor on a Saturday morning in front of the radio, a cup of hot chocolate in hand, listening spellbound to shows like Let's pretend. I recall that to an extent in my family. A time when parents were parents and not play date arrangers, taxi drivers, or pals. Kids were expected to find their own entertainment, respect their elders, and enjoy their childhood. The author and her sister, Donna, found all this, growing up in Vermont on a little street called Rita Street, and seemed to have enjoyed life to the fullest. Although it was a time of black-out curtains, ration books, and air raid alerts, the girls were too busy trying to get each other in trouble to pay much attention to world affairs. And when a feisty little black girl from the Bronx was added to the mix as part of the New York Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund, everyone learned something about acceptance.

Typical of what the author shares with us in her book, is a particular passage that states: "The real treasure at 10 Rita Street was not the map Donnie and I made and hid under the wobbly porch post; it was what went on inside the house - the warmth, the giggling, the love that Mom, Dad, Donnie and I, and Cookie, had for one another. There's no map that can lead you to that kind of treasure."