Jim Casada’s years writing a much-loved column for the Smoky Mountain Times of Bryson City, North Carolina, his home town, have taught him well what most delights readers, so he has arranged his wonderful memoir not chronologically but to emphasize what readers most enjoy. Part 1 is “High Country Holiday Tales and Traditions.” Part 2 is “Seasons of the Smokies,” Part 3 is “Tools, Toys, and Boyhood Treasures,” and Part 4 is “Precious Memories.” Whatever room you wish to leave this book in, even after you have read the whole thing, you can turn to it over and over again to re-read one of the 41 delightful chapters and experience the cares of the day evaporating. The chapters average about seven pages each, so you can easily pick either a short one or one of longer duration depending on your circumstances. Personally, I’d check first for one that includes his Grandpa Joe who Casada describes as “a boy trapped in an old man’s body. Full of tricks as a pet ‘coon, tough as a seasoned sapling, and imbued with seventy-plus years of wisdom accumulated by living close to the good earth of the Smokies.” Of the seventeen books that Jim Casada has written, most deal with hunting and fishing and the great outdoors. He is in many respects a modern-day Horace Kephart except for the crucial difference that Casada has deep roots in the Smokies. He retired from being a professor of history at Winthrop University in 1996.
Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2020. 309 pages with an Index, Glossary, and photos. Trade Paperback.