WHAT COULD SHY, STAY-AT-HOME CHESTER, WISCONSIN, LYING SOMNOLENT IN THE SUMMER SUN, POSSIBLY HAVE IN COMMON WITH A RAUCOUS TRAVELING CIRCUS AND SIDE-SHOW, BROUGHT TO TOWN BY A PASSEL OF PALS KNOWN AS THE LOGGING ROAD GANG IN 1939? Junior Coffey, not-yet twelve year-old son of Carl, Sr., and clever, determined mother, Edna, --plus younger brother Perkin-moves from Milwaukee to little Chester in mid-Wisconsin, in fall, 1938. Carl has been named public school principal and basketball coach. Junior's haunting dreams about a dominating woods-boy become a very real Eddie LeBlanc, who tests Junior's patience
and forbearance on his first visit to the Logging Road Woods. In spite of their conflicts, they form THE LOGGING ROAD GANG with two friends to first miss-direct school bullies; then, with fearless Kenny Kowalski added, identify a gossip-monger, fight religious and racial prejudice, and end a historical reluctance to help others. Their highlight is winning a free circus for the town in July, 1939. But the anticipation of its arrival sets off a new chain of
challenges, and when it leaves, a flirty teen queen disappears too. Did Goliath, silent black strong man, abduct her? The town literally divides into camps and Junior, possessor of key information, steps into the breech.
" THE LOGGING ROAD GANG transports the reader to Chester, a small town in central Wisconsin in the late1930s. It is a rollicking tale that evokes laughter and tears as it recounts the adventures of a group of lively ... boys. The author speaks with an authentic voice that reflects the insights he gained while recreation director for the City of Madison."
~ Anne Short, Historian. Instructor (retired)
University of Wisconsin Extension and Madison Area Technical College. Historic Tour Director
" THE LOGGING ROAD GANG is a fi ne coming of age story, full of mischief and adventure, by a writer who knows small town Wisconsin - and the human heart. I liked Buzz Humke's earlier book on Madison's public recreation program, and his storytelling skills are just getting better."
Doug Moe, Wisconsin State Journal
" The whole...fascinating world awaits an inquiring boy after he is moved... to small town Wisconsin. Junior Coffey engages, confronts, and manages characters who use language as colorful, expressions as mysterious, and motives as mixed as any he might have uncovered in Milwaukee...he and his cohort play the parts thrust on them...And confront tension and even violence on the way. THE LOGGING ROAD GANG is rich and ripe and full of expressions that come back to me from my 1950s' small town Minnesota boyhood. We want to encounter characters like the eleven year old Coffey and his pals...Now we all have that chance...to read
this fi ne book about youth, life, loves, and yearnings strikingly and fittingly Midwestern."
Brent M. Haglund, Ph.D.
President, Sand County Foundation, Madison, Wisconsin