A Mid-Century Memoir


“Exacting, unsentimental, and profoundly humane”– Anne Pierson Wiese, author of Floating City: Poems

Mistaken for a King evokes the life of a small-town boy in the middle of the last century. The book distills the essence of childhood in a series of finely honed and often funny essays, recounting memorable events and adventures that occurred between the ages of five and twelve.

Kids roamed free as sparrows in Marion, Iowa, during the 1940s. Untouched by television, they created their own amusement wherever they found it, in backyards, side streets, alleys, and pastures. Some readers will be transported to their own childhoods; others will be charmed by the recollections of young lives lived so spontaneously. Many will ponder what has been lost.

The book “sings with crisp wit and gentle wisdom” writes poet Anne Pierson Wiese. Author Kellams patrols his old haunts, recalling memorable characters and adventures in his neighborhood, in elementary school, at the movie theater, the town park, the swimming pool, and the root beer drive-in.

He writes about gun ownership at a time during World War II when every boy expected to grow up and fight for his country. There are delightful stories about his dog, Spike; about glorious summers at camp, where he swam in the muddy Wapsipinicon River; the tribulations of being a newspaper delivery boy, and the joys of learning sports in backyards and vacant lots.

There are profiles of his parents, patiently dedicated to their two sons, and recollections of such local characters as Old Lady English, who hated to see kids in her yard; Harley Breed, a cigar-chomping barber; Snake Palmer, serpent-catcher extraordinary, and Charlie Carrington, who flooded an entire business district with the seductive smell of popping corn.

“Although the book is about the life of a boy—a rather shy boy—it is in many ways a tribute to my parents,” Kellams says. “They granted my brother and me a great deal of freedom to pursue our interests and supported us even when they didn’t approve of the directions our whims led us.”

The title comes from a triumphant event the author experienced in fourth grade, but also suggests the lasting treasure of a joyful childhood.

“The very stuff of an American experience” – Ben Miller, author of River Bend Chronicle

“Kellams is a wonderful storyteller” – Jim Ecker, Metro Sports Report.

“Rich and beautiful . . . The best self-published memoir we’ve ever sold.” – Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights bookstore

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