KING’S POINT, NL — Jerry Rideout’s recently-released book will likely prove a great read not only for people living in rural communities in this province, but in small towns, nooks and crannies across the country and beyond.
The King’s Point native, who has been a long-time resident of Halifax, recently self-published “My Life in Short Form: Stories from my early life in King’s Point, Newfoundland.”
He is now spending time visiting his home community promoting his book.
Rideout is a retired college instructor. His wife Dawn is from Moncton, but lived in St. John’s for the first five years of her life.
Rideout says he never set out to write a book, but to share with his children — David, Matthew and Jayme who live and work in Toronto — his stories about growing up in a small town in the 1950s and 60s.
“I would be telling my kids about my experiences as a kid in King’s Point with no electricity, no running water, no indoor (bathroom) facilities,” Rideout said. “Of course they grew up in a nice neighbourhood here in Halifax.”
You drink in the aroma of his mom’s bread baking in the old cast iron wood stove oven. You’ll bite into a hot, juicy slice of that bread and taste the Good Luck Margarine and molasses that have melted into that delicious family favorite, not to mention how a Sunday jigs dinner feeds and fills the belly of even the reader.
Terry Kelly, motivational speaker and musician
Because his children couldn’t fathom life in rural Newfoundland decades ago, Rideout set out to publish a story about his memories.
Several of his initial stories had previously been published in “Downhome” magazine. In December, 2014, he posted his first story on Beautiful King’s Point and Rattling Brook Facebook page.
The feedback was positive, he said, which led him to set another writing goal — to write one story a week for a full year.
“I imposed a deadline on myself,” the 66-year-old said. “I would write and post one story every Sunday.”
By Christmas 2015, he’d written and posted 52 stories.
His yarns are now held between the pages of his book.
From memories of his mother baking bread to recollections of him and his buddies making whistles from alders and guns from discarded wood to twirling buttons on strings, the stories tell about a way of life that current generations never experienced.
Well-known Newfoundland author and activist Helen Fogwill Porter often told her creative writing class at Memorial University to write about what you know. Doing so is the key to Rideout’s success as an author.
In writing the foreword to Rideout’s book, accomplished musician and motivational speaker Terry Kelly wrote that, within minutes of beginning Rideout’s book, he was “magically transported into a community in rural Newfoundland, where I felt as though I was learning, larking, laughing, loving, working hard, sometimes tempting the hand of fate. I was living side by side with Jerry, his family, his buddies, his sweethearts, and acquaintances. I was a welcomed visitor and didn’t feel for one moment like an outsider.”
From what Kelly wrote, it’s obvious Rideout takes his readers along for the adventure, painting pictures with his words.
“You drink in the aroma of his mom’s bread baking in the old cast iron wood stove oven. You’ll bite into a hot, juicy slice of that bread and taste the Good Luck Margarine and molasses that have melted into that delicious family favorite, not to mention how a Sunday jigs dinner feeds and fills the belly of even the reader,” Kelly wrote.
From the feedback Rideout is getting from readers — which he has posted on his website — Kelly isn’t the only one enjoying the book.
Cathy from Parrsboro, N.S. told Rideout that, while she felt her father (who is in his 90s) would enjoy reading the book, he hadn’t read anything other than obituaries for the past five years. His health hadn’t been good, she told Rideout, and he hadn’t read a book in over a decade.
That changed when her father and sister visited her recently at her cottage.
“I mentioned the book, explained what it was and how it reminded me of his stories,” the woman wrote. “Low and behold, I found him out in the sun porch reading the book and laughing. He had the book in his hands and shared many of his own stories all weekend long. It certainly put many smiles on my sister’s face, and mine.”
To contact Rideout visit www.mylifeinshortform.com, where his book can also be ordered.
Meet the author
Jerry Rideout will be at King's Point Library Aug. 15 from 7-9 p.m. for a book signing. He'll also be attending "Night on the Point" on the King's Point waterfront Aug. 18.
A reading is also planned for the library in Harry's Harbour, but a date has yet to be confirmed. Rideout is also hoping to hold a book signing in Springdale, he said, if there is enough interest.