Old man in autumn of life.

As I trudge down the road of life, passing through the Geezerhood Gates onto a shorter, steeper trail, I find myself more often glancing behind me as opposed to looking ahead.

I say this not to be maudlin—for I’m sure it is a view all of us of a certain age hold—but as a mere statement of fact.

The road to my rear is long and twisting, filled with tangles of memories, some good, some bad.  But it my case, a lot more of the former than the latter.  It’s those I prefer to cling to, not dreams of the future.  It’s not surprising, I suppose, that I seem to find a lot of truth these days in the old Sigmund Romberg/Oscar Hammerstein standard, “When I Grow Too Old to Dream.” 

Again, don’t get the idea I’m bailing out on life.  That’s not the case at all.  In fact, I’ve begun work on another book, another piece of historical fiction set in WWII.  This, after being virtually certain that When Heroes Flew would be my authorial swan song.

I’m beginning to wonder if my shift to writing historical fiction wasn’t a response to some sort of unacknowledged calling hidden away deep within me.  A summons to bring into bas-relief the flat, hazy images of days gone by painted by those I loved.

I was able to do that in When Heroes Flew by using anecdotes my late wife, Christina, told be about growing up in Germany before and during WWII.  And also by reeling in my own memories of visits to the small town she grew up in, Zell, on the Mosel River.

And now, as I begin my new effort, I find myself peering back even further into the mists of decades past.  This time I’m drawing on stories my father related to me about his childhood in a hardscrabble mining town nestled in a deep valley of the Bitterroot Mountains.

The town is literally a ghost town now, but I used my dad’s experiences as a kid there to inform the background of the protagonist in my new work.  He, the protagonist, is a young man whose father, like my dad’s dad, told him to get the hell out of Dodge and get a college education.

My dad ended up as a Naval officer during the war, while the hero of my work-in-progress is an Army Air Corps aviator flying a B-25.  Of course, he’ll have a much more adventurous time during the war than my dad ever did.

So you see, I’m using my over-the-hill memories to craft something other than visions of loss.  In fact, somewhere in the past, there’s Shangri-La.


  1. Pat Werths on May 8, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Another historical novel?outstanding! I recommend your books all the time, and SO look forward to the newest one!!

  2. Buzz Bernard on May 8, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you, Pat. I love your support and the fact you recommend my books to others. I’ll have to be honest, though: I’m trying not to write too fast on the novel I’m working on . . . I don’t want to run out of things to do too quickly..

  3. Tom Burkett on May 8, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    Buzz, I must say, your writing always impresses me. In this short bit, you have really identified geezerhood, love it. Keep those books rolling. Still awaiting a sailing adventure.

  4. Buzz Bernard on May 8, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    Thank you, my friend. I guess we old BHS grads can enjoy geezerhood together. I’ll have to admit my background as a mariner is pretty limited. Only been on a sailboat once, long ago and far away in Buzzard’s Bay. So better not count on a sailing adventure from me.

  5. Ann Bennett on May 8, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    I look forward to reading your book about your father’s memories of Bitterroot Mountain and family. I’ve got a cousin who has been collecting stories of our grandmother’s family. They were a feisty lot. In this SIP time, I think I will treat myself to your book, When Heros Fly.

  6. Buzz Bernard on May 8, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    Hi, Ann. Great to hear from you again. Please stay well. I hope I didn’t give the wrong impression in my blog, but the book I’m working on isn’t really about my father’s memories. It’s another tale set in WWII about an astounding raid flown by the U. S. Army Air Corps early in the war. I used my dad’s stories to create a background for my protagonist, a young B-25 pilot. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy WHEN HEROES FLEW.

  7. Bob Babcock on May 9, 2020 at 6:53 am

    Can’t wait to read it, Buzz. And I enjoyed your view on us old geezers as writers (and as a publisher, I both write and publish). Like you, I feel I have a couple more books in me to write – and lots more that I’ll help old geezers get published.

    • Buzz Bernard on May 9, 2020 at 8:14 am

      Thanks, fellow scribe and Vietnam vet. I hope you enjoy WHEN HEROES FLEW. And I hope YOU keep writing and publishing. For those who might be interested, Bob’s company is Deeds Publishing. Check it out. He’s got some great books on the market.

  8. Sheila S. Hudson on May 9, 2020 at 11:22 am

    Love this – I am so glad you haven’t written your swan song. You are excellent at all the descriptions – I have recommended your latest to our son the pilot. I know he will enjoy it

  9. Buzz Bernard on May 9, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks, Sheila. What I’ve really discovered is that writing is an excellent antidote for loss! Hope to see you and Tim back on SSI one of these years.

  10. Greg Moss on June 16, 2020 at 8:32 pm

    Do not stop writing!!! Best books I’ve read. Michener without the prehistory build-up. And I rank you right there, sharing the top of my list.

    • Buzz Bernard on June 16, 2020 at 8:54 pm

      Thank you, Greg. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written, but you’re setting a pretty high standard when you throw in Michener’s name (I’ve really enjoyed a number of his books). Anyhow, I’m working on new novel now. Hope to have it out next spring (2021).

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