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Running on Red Dog Road: And Other Perils of an Appalachian Childhood
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Running on Red Dog Road: And Other Perils of an Appalachian Childhood

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  968 ratings  ·  135 reviews
“Mining companies piled trash coal in a slag heap and set it ablaze. The coal burned up, but the slate didn’t. The heat turned it rose and orange and lavender. The dirt road I lived on was paved with that sharp-edged rock. We called it red dog. Grandma told me, Don’t you go running on that red dog road. But I do.”

Gypsies, faith-healers, moonshiners, and snake handlers wea
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Zondervan
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What a delightful, warmhearted book about a family living in the the Appalachian Mountains or so I thought for the longest time. The author, Drema Hall Berkheimer, paints a romantic view of her family life back in the 1940s, and who’s to say that it wasn’t like that? Her grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher, a word I could never spell but one that I am familiar with from my own childhood. If it were not for the preaching in this book, I would have loved being part of her family, but now I woul ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
"Scratch any West Virginian a few layers down and you're bond to find a vein of coal. Yours runs deep. You were born in a coal camp at Penman, West Virginia, on November 17, 1939. I helped you into this world. Good thing. By the time the doctor came you'd been looking around all big-eyed for more than an hour."
Remember, The Waltons? I thought I was getting a biographical insight into coal-mining West Virginia, and instead I got The Waltons, a long-running television series about a rural Virgini
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
My first religious publisher imprint. I was about a third of the way through, went to pick the book up, and saw the Zondervan icon on the back, and if I weren't enjoying the book so much, would've stopped at that, like a vampire faced with a head of stinky garlic.
I'm glad I kept reading. Berkheimer has created a lively, warm homage to her Pentecostal grandparents, who raised her and her sister and brother in East Beckley, WVA while their widowed mother was employed in NYC as a Rosie the Riveter.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book, a memoir by Drema Hall Berkheimer, was like sitting at the kitchen table with the author, having a cup of coffee, and hearing her childhood story. I usually don't read memoirs but this was a sweet story of growing up in Appalachia, her brother and sister, friends, her mom and most of all about her love for her grandparents. It's about love, working hard to get by, mischief and fun and growing up in the mountains.
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Running on Red Dog Road is the story of author Drema Hall Berkheimer’s idiosyncratic childhood in 1940’s West Virginia. Filled with odd and yet lovable characters like the hobos that visited and worked for a free meal, the gypsies that set up camp in town each year, and the snake charming church her grandmother makes her swear to avoid, Berkheimer’s memoir is an unusual blend of bizarre, hilarious and heartwarming memories. Reading much like a real life rendition of The Truth According to Us, R ...more
Connie D
I loved the voice of this memoir about a childhood living with pentecostal grandparents in West Virginia during and after WWII. The story is told from the author's childhood perspective, but with the added humor of an adult looking back on the craziness and sweetness of life. The details of life in a "simpler" time are quickly and beautifully included; mostly this is about a child learning about herself and relationships and an adult returning to her roots. This book snuck up on me -- it's certa ...more
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Completely heartwarming. Takes you down a red dog road into 1940-50's West Virginia and treats you to grandparents and an upbringing that will bring snippets of your own childhood back and the rest will make you smile. Written as a story about the love of her family and her upbringing, she wrote this for her grandchildren and great grandchildren but luckily, let us have a glimpse as well.
Kathleen Rodgers
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while, a voice comes along that makes you yearn for a childhood you never lived. Author Drema Hall Berkheimer invites you to skip along with her, big sis Vonnie, and best friend Sissy into the coal mining hills and hollers of West Virginia, at a time when gypsies and hobos were as common as doctors who made house calls.

My husband is a longtime fan of Drema's work. Tom calls Running On Red Dog Road "The Waltons meet Little House on the Prairie told with Mark Twain’s humor."

We bot
thanks to netgalley and the publishers for a free copy for an open and honest review.
found this book very interesting but didn't really stand out though maybe it was the language used to portray her childhood and in parts felt very run of the mill
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Don’t know which aspect of the book I liked more, the time period or the setting. The time period caused memories to tumble into my heart. The setting brought my mother alive again through Drema’s mother and grandmother. The author’s writing elicited giggles, cringes, and tears as her memories bonded with mine. I believe this is a heart book for me from throwing apple peels over my shoulder in my grandma’s kitchen to the gypsy caravan in the field every spring and fall. Not saying anything about ...more
I absolutely loved this book.

Drema Hall Berkheimer has written a treasure with this publication.

Drema's life during the 1940's in the Appalachians is not an easy one. Her father is killed in the mines, where nearly every man works. Drema was all of 5 months old. Working in the mines was, as we know, extremely dangerous and the miners' safety was not always a priority. To compensate Drema's mother's loss, she was paid $1,000. No one questioned if this was fair; it just was. Iva used the $1,000 t
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Put simply, I adored this book. It reminded me of Sally Morgan’s novel, My Place, and I consider this high praise indeed. I was totally unaware that it was published under a Christian imprint, but frankly I didn’t really notice anything overtly preachy or prosthyletizing that would have tipped me off. The narrative voice is at once childlike and sage, the storytelling often giggle-out-loud funny, and all in all, I found the author’s style deeply enjoyable.

Reading this book, I felt like myself at
Julie Davis
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book makes me think of To Kill a Mockingbird. Or maybe I'm thinking of Tom Sawyer. Although these are vignettes of Appalachian life instead of a novel, the reader is carried into 1940s West Virginia through a mischievous child's vivid memories of what was then "everyday" life. Drema's stories pull us into her world with turns of humor, poignancy, love and discovery.

Above all, I came away loving her Grandma and Grandpa. Their common sense, resilience, ingenuity, and steadfast faith were the
May 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ahna-book-club
2.5. A series of vignettes from a 1940s Appalachian girlhood. The author's choice to tell her story from a child's point of view and with a child's vocabulary naturally limits its scope. This one will come down to personal taste. The molasses covered Hee Haw hoke did not appeal to me, but others will no doubt find it charming.
Francisco Hilario
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I recently posted that I had gotten an advanced reader copy of Running on Red Dog Road by Drema Hall Berkheimer. Here is what I posted:

Now I am not one to read memoirs but so far this book has caused me to genuinely smile at the recollections Mrs Berkheimer has in terms of her relationship with her grandparents growing up in World War II era coal country: West Virginia. The book so far has also elicited feelings of envy and longing for the same kind of memories of grandparents that Mrs. Berkheim
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As someone who grew up in WV and now writes stories set in the first half of the twentieth century, this book was a GOLD MINE. But never mind the wealth of true stories. This book was exceptionally well-written, entertaining, touching, and simply a delight from beginning to end. There aren't many writers who can pull of an autobiography with this level of success. Loved it!
Elyssa DeAngulo
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
This story creates great visuals and allows the reader to experience the history of the Appalachia through the eyes of someone who lived it. The reader allows us to see from both a young and old point of view.
Diane Standish
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Though I wasn't born in west Virginia, I lived in northern Appalachian country of western pa. Much of this book rang true in my heart
Angie Fehl
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
When author Drema Berkheimer was just 5 months old, her 29 year old father was killed in a mining accident in the mountains of East Beckley, West Virginia. Her mother was given $1,000 in widow's pay and two days to move out of the mining camp. Berkheimer's mother packed up and moved Drema and her two siblings in with their grandparents. Drema's mother got a job in Buffalo, NY building war planes during World War 2. This memoir covers those war years (and shortly after), looking at Drema's upbrin ...more
Lynne Spreen
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Back when the author, now 76, was a child growing up in an Appalachian coal town, life was simple and good. Grandma and Grandpa helped raise her and her sister while mom worked. Most of the adults in this story were good, hardworking, trustworthy individuals who had their faults but not many. The pages are filled with references to long-gone familiar old brands, like the Sears catalog standing in "when money and toilet paper were gone," and Grandma's preference for Rumford over Clabber Girl baki ...more
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teens and women
Recommended to Darkslyric by: netgalley
Shelves: netgalley
I would like to thank Netgalley for offering me this book to read for on honest review. I loved the thought behind the description of this book. I have always been a big fan of the Little House Series and Ann of Green Gables. I thought this book might figure somewhere in those genres. The book is a very easy read but I sometimes got lost in the story. The progression of age for the main character was hard to keep up with, which made the book hard to conceive at times. The character starts off at ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Most interesting memoir by a woman who grew up in coal country of Appalachia, living mostly with Pentecostal preacher grandparents whose life was defined by their church. The book was full of sayings from the region: " Might help some and won't hurt any. Make sure it's your good side you're showing to the world. There's no sense to be made of it. Keep high hopes and low expectations. No use adding foolish talking to foolish acting. Safe is a whole lot better than sorry. Enough to be thankful for ...more
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Running on Red Dog Road brought back so many memories that I had to keep reminding myself that I was not reading about my own family. Speech, food, church (I actually broke out singing some of those old hymns as I read read them.), the landscape all took me back to a time when life was easier. More than anything I could sit on my own sweet grandmother's porch for a bit.
To Drema Hall Berkheimer - you are a natural born story teller, please don't stop.
Jeanie Loiacono
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
From the first sentence, I heard Drema’s voice, telling the story family gone before her begged to be told for so long. You cannot help but say, “Just one more page before I go to bed, just one more,” until there are no more…then you wish there was. Thank you for sharing and making me yearn for my childhood days once more. We must never forget.
— CJ Loiacono
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Running on Red Dog Road was a very enjoyable book about growing up in 1940's West Virginia. I read it as a nice form of escape from the 21st century fast paced lifestyle. It is a charming tale of a little girl growing up with her Christian grandparents. Her mother, is off in New York as a part of the war effort.
The grandparent's hard work for their family, and non family (wandering hobos) is an admonition to those of us who complain for doing much less. The sheer volume of meals the grandmother
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wsbcga
Good story of life in the Appalachians during the war, when families might be separated as women took men’s jobs for “the cause”. A girl comes of age while living with her grandparents when her mother and aunt take jobs in New York. The coal mines took her father and threaten to take her grandfather. She lives a sheltered life with her older sister and brother in a deeply pious Pentecostal family. She envies the Methodists and lives in constant fear of having her sins, such as playing cards, exp ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was truly funny and poignant at the same time! I loved the setting in WV in Beckley about 100 miles from us! The characters in her family are truly that - characters living and loving life in a GOOD old fashioned way! I had so many chuckles having experienced so many of the same things - great memories. Grandpa is a Pentecostal preacher, and Grandma makes homemade biscuits every single morning and cooks all day. Mom is in NYC at a Rosie the Riveter job after father is killed in the coa ...more
Margaret Elder
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This memoir was familiar territory. Although the author writes of people and places in West VA, this could have been my memoir of Southside VA. I loved getting to know the characters: the Pentecostal grandparents, the Uncle who liked moonshine, etc. But most of all I loved the first-person author's reporting of the scenes of her youth. Her memories match many of my own. I loved the descriptions of clothing, the canned foods, the carnival, and so much more. I only wish that the work had flowed mo ...more
Janet Morrison
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you’re looking for a book that harkens back to rural and small town American life a few decades ago, this memoir is the book for you.

The author grew up in West Virginia and writes humorously but lovingly and respectfully about her childhood there in the 1940s. Although I grew up in the piedmont of North Carolina in the 1950s, I could identify with many of the things she wrote.

Ms. Berkheimer and I grew up in a simpler time than the one we’re living in now. Home-canned produce from the garden,
Sandy Watson
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This memoir leaves you entranced by the author's Pentecostal grandma and grandpa who lovingly raised her and her sister in their meager home in Beckley, West Virginia. I love true stories about growing up in Appalachia; life was so simple in the 1940's and Drema came to realize with time how greatly her grandparents shaped her life forever. Her childish resentments melted away when her grandpa died. She moved away to Florida to be close to her grandma but upon her death, moved her husband and fa ...more
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“Some things thrive if you take them way off and transplant them.” 0 likes
“Fourth avenue was a red dog road. Red dog is burned out trash coal. If the coal had too much slate, it was piled in a slag heap and burned. The coal burned up, but the slate didn't The heat turned it every shade of red and orange and lavender you could imagine. When the red on our road got buried under rutted dirt or mud, dump trucks would pour new loads of the sharp-edged rock. My best friend Sissy and I followed along after the truck, looking for fossils. We found ferns and shells and snails, and once I found a perfect imprint of a four-leaf clover.” 0 likes
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