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Life is So Good by George Dawson

Life is So Good

by George Dawson

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I am the privileged possessor of several copies of life is so good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman which was first published in 2000. One copy I will keep to remind me of the affirmation in the title and to dip into occasionally. I will pass the other copies on through 'free libraries' for those who want to read it or simply get some peace of mind from the title.
In mid 1959, I had been working in British Columbia (Canada) as a teacher and travelled across USA and Canada during the summer vacation. I saw how Negro Americans fitted into the society at the time and felt that big changes had to happen. In late 1960, I had travelled to England to gain further teaching experience. I sat in Winston Churchill's study at "Chartwell" and was pleased to read one of his quotes that went something like "You don't have to read the whole book. Just pulling it off the shelf and dusting it or reading a few paragraphs or a chapter" can be very worthwhile. As I write this, I have no access to the Internet; you may wish to search the exact quote.
I bought this book at an OP SHOP based on the title and skim reading of Chapter One. George Dawson was a negro who learned to read at 98 and had started to become a man at 10 when he saw a clear extreme miscarriage of justice and yet learned that day to be non judgemental. Since that time I have been inspired each time I saw the title or read a few pages. As I picked up the book to start this article, I read some of the last pages and was particularly comforted, challenged and inspired by the last quote in the book from George Dawson when he was over 100 years old. That quote is "Life is so good and it gets better every day." Over recent years since turning 80, I have been saying, "Life gets better every day" and that seems to make the better life each day happen. Today was the first time I had another human being stating the same thing. It was especially comforting, challenging and inspiring as this was written by a man who lived for over 100 years in situations that many people would consider totally unacceptable.
I have often wanted to hear Malcolm or Tammy Fraser give a talk on Life was not meant to be easy, which was one of their sayings because I believe that is the case and the challenge of life is to live our lives affirming and experiencing the statement and attitude of mind that "Life is so good and gets better every day".
- John Hegarty ( )
  COOINDABHL | Oct 10, 2015 |
Sappy, but valuable. Puts Kerouac to shame. ( )
  librarianbryan | Apr 23, 2013 |
George Dawson is more than 100 years old as he reflects back on his life. He worked on his family’s farm at an incredibly young age. At 12 he was sent to live on another farm so he could help make money to support his family. He has such a sincere and wonderful view of life. The man who wrote the book with him, Glaubman, has “book learning,” but he doesn’t know everything George knows about the way the world works, etc.

He always wanted to learn how to read, but instead he worked so his younger siblings could go to school. The race issues in the book are heartbreaking. He knew how dangerous it was to be a black man growing up in the newly freed south. He grew up listening to the stories of slavery from his grandmother who lived through the Civil War. At one point he meets as soldier that has just returned from fighting in France during WWII. The man tells George that in Paris you could eat in a restaurant right next to a white man, but he couldn’t do that in the country that he was fighting for.

The book is more about his entire life than it is about him learning to read, which is what makes it so fascinating. He worked in dozens of jobs, moved about, tried new things, etc. He just lived such a full and generous life. It wasn’t that he did anything that remarkable, it‘s the sheer fact that he lived such a long life and saw so much. The book is full of the simple wisdom that can only come from a life of experiences.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s a quick read and a beautiful reminder that life really is so good.

“Unless a man asks for advice, he don’t really want it. He isn’t gonna thank you for something he don’t need yet. See, I might think I know what’s best for him, but I don’t know what is really in that man’s heart.”

“People forget that a picture ain’t made from just one color. Life ain’t all good or all bad. It’s full of everything.”

“A man is supposed to work and take pride in what he does no matter what the work is.”

“People that wouldn’t even be speaking to each other can talk on a train.”

“Be generous in your dealings, but always have something saved for rainy weather.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Jun 28, 2012 |
Sappy, but valuable. Puts Kerouac to shame. ( )
  librarianbryan | Apr 20, 2012 |
Born in 1898, the grandson of slaves, George Dawson was raised on a small town Texas farm at a time that was unfavorable to be black. As a child he worked from sun-up to sundown on his daddy’s farm, by the time he was 12 he had witnessed the power of the Klu Klux Klan, and saw his best friend lynched for a crime he did not commit. His parents told him he must keep his head down and follow the rules, but riding on the back of the bus and not being able to sit down to eat with white folk sat poorly is George’s mind. Segregation in the early 1900s was a prominent law black people had to quietly endure or there would be hell to pay.

Until he was old enough to try life alone, he spent his boyhood days picking cotton, and crushing sugar cane, ending each day snuggling up to 7 siblings in a one-room cabin holding one bed that kept 8 children warm. Although George would have loved to attend school, there never seemed to be enough hours in the day as a hard working young man helping his father tend to the crops that put food on their table.

This is the story of an incredible man whose life became memorable as he lived each day to the fullest, always content if he had survived each day with food in his belly and a roof over his head. When George Dawson became a man at 21, he ventured out into the world and spent the rest of his life traveling, working, and experiencing life as if each day was a wonder to behold. This quiet soul saw the dawning of the 20th century and for 103 years, led a diverse and wise life. His resume today would read; dairy farmer, logger, builder of railroads. To tame the mighty Mississippi he built levees, roaming the rodeo circuit he broke horses taming broncos. George Dawson was an amateur baseball player who cheered when Jackie Robinson became the first major league black baseball player. He witnessed the introduction to all the modern marvels such as automobiles and airplanes. He survived the stock market crash, the Great Depression, and saw his friends go off to war. He worked the mill yards, did gardening for white plantation owners, enjoyed the jazz life as he walked down New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, and crossed the border into Mexico where segregation was an oddity. He rode the rails as a hobo, traveling both as vagrant as well as proud ticket holder, and saw the nation drink more alcohol during the prohibition era than they ever did before. George’s nightly radio informed him of Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Hitler’s evil reign, and he listened in silence the day John F. Kennedy was brutally assassinated. His views on Nixon and the Watergate trials, the hypocrisy of all Americans who harshly judged Bill Clinton, and many other newsworthy famous historic events, will have any reader wowed as they read about his amazing long life full of stories to tell and lessons to be learned.

After George retired at 65 years old, his life never stopped. As he continued to work odd jobs and make a living to get by, life had one more surprise for George when one day he was approached by a man who was teaching adult education. From that day forward, at the age of 98, George Dawson went to school for the first time in his life. For three years straight, he never missed a day, and finally made his lifelong dream come true. He learned to read. When his 100th birthday arrived, he could finally read his own birthday cards, sign his own name, and learn about the wonders of the world through the magic of books.

In this charming and insightful biography, George’s narrative awes the reader with his wit, wisdom and charm as he details 101 years of his fruitful life that made him always feel that “ Life is So Good!” You will laugh, cry, and your jaw will drop at the endless pride, dignity and tenacity this man upheld for himself throughout 103 years of his life. Amazing. This book, his story, his life, is just simply amazing. To become an author at the age of 100, after a century of being illiterate, is the stuff of legends. ( )
1 vote vernefan | Jul 10, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141001682, Paperback)

In this remarkable book, 103-year-old George Dawson, a slave's grandson who learned to read at age 98, reflects on his life and offers valuable lessons in living as well as a fresh, firsthand view of America during the twentieth century. Richard Glaubman captures Dawson's irresistible voice and view of the world, offering insights into humanity, history, hardships, and happiness. From segregation and civil rights, to the wars, presidents, and defining moments in history, George Dawson's description and assessment of the last century inspires readers with the message that-through it all-has sustained him: "Life is so good. I do believe it's getting better."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

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One man's extraordinary journey through the 20th century and how he learned to read at the age of 98.

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