Book Review

During my research for a future book I came across Bruce Catton’s Waiting for the Morning Train. This is his memoir of growing up in Michigan as the lumber industry was in sharp decline.

The people of Benzonia, Michigan struggled to keep their town from disappearing. To give their youth the education needed for a different future. They created, and supported, a college until it went under, then recreated it as a boarding high school.

Catton tells of idyllic times sledding and ice skating during winter, during summer swimming at a local lake. High school plays, concerts, religious revival meetings are also detailed.

His high school years ended shortly before the U.S. entry into World War I.

Catton’s premise is that these years we live between two eras. The one we grow up, and the very advanced technological world we live in as an adult. One is so far removed from the other, that we have a limited capacity to understand it, let alone live in it.

As with all memoirs, there are shared pieces of wisdom that he learned along the way: “Proud that we have escaped from age-old superstition, we have condemned ourselves to live in a world of our own creation, a world which we fondly believe has no mysteries. We are made helpless by our own omnipotence.”

Bruce Catton is a wonderful writer, best known for his U.S. Civil War series, but this book is worth your time. It is a little gem.