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We’ll Always Have Paris: New Book is Poignant Look at Small-Town Life in 1930s and 40s Paris, Illinois

Austin, TX, May 27, 2008 --( Paris, Ill. is a long way from the more famous “city of light.” But images of Dan Hall’s childhood home burn just as brightly in “The Gooseberry Hedge: Growing up in America’s Heartland in the 1930s and 40s,” the new memoir from Outskirts Press that’s a nostalgic trip back to small-town America.

Now available through the author’s Web site at, “The Gooseberry Hedge” hearkens back to an era of milkmen, “huckster trucks” and railroad tramps – and their secret language of “marked houses” that meant a free meal ticket. Told in the form of discreet, bite-size tales, “The Gooseberry Hedge” showcases Hall’s keen wit, poignant storytelling and a remarkable eye for detail. The picture that emerges from these “memory nuggets from the treasure chest” is of a small-town childhood before TV, video games and organized activities for kids—but still a heck of a lot of fun.

It was a time when Saturday night meant heading to the town square in front of the Edgar County Courthouse and talking with neighbors (and talking about them, too); when the arrival of the exotic coconut at the general store was a curious event indeed; and when a neighbor’s thorny gooseberry hedge marked the edge of the world.

But it was also a time of world-altering events, and the impact is felt acutely from the Illinois prairie to the rolling hills of southern Indiana. At age 7, Hall recalls listening to President Roosevelt’s speech following the attack on Pearl Harbor—with “a lot of screeches and static in the background,” he writes—and how the town came together almost immediately: “In all the schoolyards in town, temporary fences were erected in big circles and the townsfolk would throw metal items over the fence to be recycled into military equipment,” Hall remembers. “It was amazing to see what items were donated. Aluminum was the metal they really needed badly for planes and there were nearly new pots and pans in the piles. It was almost like a contest to see who was willing to throw in the best stuff.”

But then came peace and the changes it brought to Paris. Hall describes the boom years and the subdivisions and pop culture that followed, lingering just long enough to find the essence of what was rapidly disappearing. Through it all, “The Gooseberry Hedge” reminds us why towns like Paris occupy a special place in the American consciousness. In the process, Hall’s book serves a valuable function—preserving for posterity the memory of a simpler time’s innocence and customs.

“The Gooseberry Hedge” is now available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor,,, and the online bookstore of Outskirts Press, at

About the Author: Dan Hall was born in Paris, Illinois, graduated from Paris High School and, after a stint in the U.S. Navy, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Indiana University. After a successful career in earth science, he published a medical magazine and is currently an associate in the newspaper business. He and his wife, Twila (née Bridwell), live in Austin, Texas, and are the parents of four children and grandparents of six. The Gooseberry Hedge is a result of encouragement by his family to record some of his colorful memories for posterity.

ISBN: 978-1-4327-2145-9
Format: 6x9 paperback/6x9 hardback w/jacket Pages: 216
SRP: U.S.$13.95/CAN$14.95 / U.S.$24.95/CAN$25.95 Genre: Miscellaneous

Author Contact: Visit him on the Web at


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