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Barron man's book recalls childhood
[December 07, 2008]

Barron man's book recalls childhood

Dec 07, 2008 (The Leader-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Daniel Van Tassel has warm memories of growing up in Barron in the 1940s and 1950s, and he loves to tell stories about how he and his brothers played on the Yellow River, rode their bicycles through town and slid down the hay chute in the barn.

Van Tassel, 68, has recollected those stories of his childhood and put them in a book, "Back to Barron."

The 140-page book is filled with short essays about growing up in the Heartland.
"This was how I remember my life in and around Barron," Van Tassel said. "It's been a chance to put life in perspective and an attempt to capture what it was like then."

Van Tassel was born in Minneapolis and spent a year in Exeland before his family moved to Barron when he was 5.

"My dad was a Lutheran minister, so he was pretty well known in the area," Van Tassel said.
After working as an English professor at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, for more than 20 years, Van Tassel now lives in Carlsbad, Calif.

He employs his broad vocabulary and uses imagery to tell his tales.
"My dad would read us novels, so us kids were always literary," he said. "When I went off to college, it wasn't long before I decided to major in English."

However, Van Tassel's writings during his career as a professor usually were for scholarly periodicals.

"I did a dissertation, and I have a lot of scholarly articles on Shakespeare, but this is the first popular item I've written," he said. "With this, I felt I was talking to everyday people."

Six years ago, while recovering from an ankle injury, Van Tassel started writing the essays. The subjects included being in the Boy Scouts, competing in spelling bees and going ice skating.

"It came together in the next year or two, but I kept adding and revising," he said.
Van Tassel lined up North Star Press of St. Cloud, Minn., to print the book. So far, he's sold nearly 1,000 copies. Most of the books have been purchased in Barron County, but he's sold some across the Midwest, and said he's pleased with the responses he has received.

"People have written to me saying, 'My experiences were identical to yours,' " he said. "It was fun to have people who could immediately relate to these sort of things. It's a quintessential essay on life."

Van Tassel plans to attend the Barron sesquicentennial celebration in 2010 and bring books to sell. He also plans to keep working on the book, tweaking some of the chapters and adding essays in case the book is re-released.

Vetter can be reached at 723-0303 or [email protected].
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