Capture him!

Hilarious stories
of a zany '50s misfit

Paul Pfarr's wildly funny memoir
breaks into print – get it here,
or from bookstores everywhere!

But what IS Grandma???

It's an intensely-written memoir, beginning when Paul is six with the title story, and ending with his first year of college.

Growing up in '50s Ohio, Paul is a born eccentric. He stands ideas on their heads relentlessly, and is completely opposed to modern times. To him, Indians, the woods life and Robin Hood are reality, and he develops ingenious methods to protect himself from the world's invasion.

"My most elaborate plan for dealing with punks never had to be used, but I came close one January with Lenny Totterhouse. We were to run six miles up the railroad (after swimming the icy creek), following up with my usual workout of rope-climbing, pushups, sit-ups, and hanging by the neck… We would make a glorious end with the fight, if he made it through the hanging."
                     -- Chapter XIV, "Modus Operandi"

Thoughtful, feisty, and fresh as a March wind, it's surprisingly literary but comfortable to read. The book has an odd kick to its gallop – at times momentum rushes on powerfully, catching the unwary reader off-balance. Yet it's ingenuous as Forrest Gump, and the slow-paced rhythms of a small town and country living recall Garrison Keillor. A tour de force!

It was a time when kids could still roam their world freely. Some of us were there, but for those who missed out or want another look, Paul Pfarr brings it uniquely alive in these true stories.

Grandma Does His Duty is a classic of American storytelling, with that timeless feeling of Tom Sawyer and Lake Wobegon. While you're busy with Paul's utterly sincere gyrations, the atmosphere is quietly working its way into your heart.


"Writing in the tradition of such great American humorists as Mark Twain and Garrison Keillor, in Grandma Does His Duty Paul Pfarr does an extraordinary job of recreating a family and community in the fifties and sixties. But it also speaks to more universal themes that resonate deeply, including sibling rivalry, the love of nature and of family, and the challenge of being true to self. Beautifully illustrated with art work by the author's father and brother, as well as other classic illustrations, Grandma Does His Duty is a book to read and reread--a book to treasure.”
     -- Lisa Ede, Ph.D., Professor of English, Oregon State University

"...a fresh and intriguing voice as a storyteller..."
     -- Alison Kilian, Lobster Press

"...a delightful voice..." -- Judy Klein, Kleinworks

"...a fabulous style of writing..."
     -- Catherine Courtade, Pantheon Books

"...a great ear and rhythm for humor and storytelling..."
      -- Judy Mikalonis, Andrea Hurst and Associates Literary Management


from Chapter XII. - "Home on the Range"

My three brothers and I were in the raspberry patch, where a cool breeze played through the thin shade of locust trees. We all knew the rules of picking: begin at one end, and go through systematically to the other, making sure that every bush is picked clean before moving on. The berries were huge, and the bushes were loaded! We were picking as fast as we could with both hands, the buckets strapped to our belts. (Well... not my youngest brother Peter's. He couldn't bear the idea of doubling the work by using both hands.)

Silence prevailed for five minutes or so, except for my ongoing commentary on the berries. "Wow! Look at these berries!" Every time I said it, my older brother Greg grew more annoyed, but I didn't notice. In my own private forge-ahead world, little attention was paid to other people's expressions.

Pretty soon, though, I saw Peter in the center of the patch, lazily picking a bush. "Hey, get back here, egghead!" I yelled. This appellation was not a compliment to Peter's brainpower, but an expression reaching back to our cribs. Our oldest brother, Timmy, had derisively dubbed us all eggheads at some point, starting with Gregory, to make sure we knew our places. This brotherly endearment was usually accompanied by a dope slap and a sound like a spring unwinding, made by the perpetrator: "D-o-i-n-g-erl-erl-erl!"

My mother recently confided that, one day, Timmy had spied Peter, my younger brother Nicky, and me walking out our lane, and been moved to say lugubriously, in a rare moment of brotherly affection, "There goes a head, an egg, and a pig." Mother didn't inquire further – she was a little surprised at this effusiveness.

In continuing to use the term "egghead," we were just keeping the tradition alive, and, uh... "doing to others what had been done to us." Peter being the youngest, we felt that he represented the shallow end of the gene-pool, and had a lot to answer for.

Years earlier, Greg and I had made a discovery: from aloft in a tree, we couldn't see Peter's body while looking straight down at him, but only a head with two feet sticking out. "Wow! Look at the size of that head!" Greg had marveled, his voice tinged with awe and pride. For some reason (and to our delight), nature had authorized the growth of his head beyond that of his body. If that weren't enough, he had another peculiarity: his hair grew at an indecent rate, which, of course, only increased the head's apparent size.

With rare rapport, we proclaimed Peter "Head" on the spot. Peter's head always figured in events. When he was five, he had crowned himself "King Peter" with a conical kitchen ricer, and it got stuck. My mother first tried putting butter on his head, to slip the ricer off, but every time she pulled, Peter was lifted off the ground.

My father was at work, so we called Uncle Lou, who lived next door at the time, and he brought his hacksaw. Being a barber, when he first saw Peter's predicament, he remarked regretfully that it was too bad he couldn't shave his head first – the crown would be easier to get off.

Peter saw the hacksaw coming, and started screaming in earnest. I think he was afraid they were going to try to save the ricer at his expense. He bolted, but the escaped monarch was brought to earth on the front porch, and forcibly (but painlessly) divested of his crown, after a nerve-wracking 20 minutes or so of screaming.

This sort of thing seemed only natural, for him. Another time, he got an aspirin bottle stuck on his finger (it wouldn't fit on his head), and we prevailed on Uncle Lou again...



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Paul Pfarr, author of GRANDMA DOES HIS DUTY


Wild for an opera career, Paul Pfarr won a voice scholarship at 18 to the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He was caught there by his wife Justice (Molly!) (still in captivity), caught by the Army during the Vietnam War (paroled), and caught by the back-to-the-land movement in the 1970s (exorcised).

With Justice, he wrote Build Your Own Log Cabin, Winchester Press, 1978. Suspect has two computer-related degrees, and is webmaster of But writing, especially humor, seems necessary to keep him away from the cliff. Paul is still not a joiner, but no longer hangs himself by the neck (even by request).

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--> Are you a fan of Mark Twain, Garrison Keillor or Forrest Gump?

--> Want "funny" but not "R-rated?"

--> A ’boomer paroled from public or Catholic school?

--> A lover of Americana?

--> A ’50s and ’60s country kid?



Buy GRANDMA now!

306 pp.
33 Illustrations
ISBN-13: 978-0615473406
ISBN-10: 0615473407


Table of Contents

Chapter I.....Grandma Does His Duty
Irritatingly, Grandma had developed a mind of his own. He didn’t even reply, but just laid his ears back, and kept right on going.

Chapter II.....The Grand Inquisitor
Sister Geraldine saw the world as an unending procession of rules and crimes against them. Every child under her authority was a lawbreaker – it was just a matter of degree and discovering the particulars.

Chapter III.....The Pied Piper
At the core of Jimmy’s adventures was Rudolf, an omnipresent, omniscient threat, and bad clean-through… the Moriarty of our world. None of us had ever yet seen Rudolf, but that only meant he was more dangerous than ordinary criminals.

Chapter IV.....School Days
On this particular day of wrath, we were going to be treated to a double-feature: first a “trial” and diatribe by Sister Geraldine, and then singing school songs together, a regular weekly part of our curriculum.

Chapter V.....Pirates, Indians and Treehouses
Of course, there was always a lowdown, sneaking cheat who wouldn’t play by the rules and die… But it seemed fitting, anyway, that the bad guy should die more than once.

Chapter VI.....The Carnivore at the Carnival
The accordion man welcomed everyone to come into his parlor and celebrate. I didn’t go in… I was afraid it was a land of no return, and I wouldn’t be able to climb out again.

Chapter VII.....Let the Races Begin
“Get in!” said my older brother. “You steer.” So... It looked like I was the getaway driver in a heist.

Chapter VIII.....Watching TV
My brother Timothy was faced with no small challenge: how could he keep this TV to himself, and not let anyone else watch it?

Chapter IX.....Sam's Moral Duty
We realized that the only way out (if we ever wanted to walk again) was to somehow flip ourselves out of the hammock, and land face-down on the ground.

Chapter X.....Sunday, and Born Again
Ours was not to reason why, beyond the borders of ordinary situations. Past that point, blind faith was required. But my mind flew immediately to those borders, and stood there, looking over the fence, thinking about pole-vaulting.

Chapter XI.....Outward Bound
It would take days to burn down a tree for our canoe, and if it were “bootleg,” even our slow County Sheriff would be on to us, after we’d been sending him smoke signals for a week…

Chapter XII.....Home on the Range - FREE CHAPTER!
Peter spent his afternoon in a small room that used to be the pantry in Grandmother’s time, but now contained the necessary apparatus for his condition... a commode.

Chapter XIII.....The Sled Jump
Some unskilled incompetents were going into the drink today, but the Chosen would shoot straight across the ramp, go up a little rise on the other side, around the curving trail, and end up in our back yard.

Chapter XIV.....Modus Operandi
My most elaborate plan for punks never had to be used, but I came close one January with Lenny Totterhouse. We were to run six miles up the railroad (after swimming the icy creek), then follow up with rope-climbing, pushups, sit-ups, and hanging by the neck... The fight would make a glorious end, if he made it through the hanging.

Chapter XV.....The Code
The Code was invoked as smoothly and quietly as an electric motor, and was adhered to without complaint… When we came up with the grit to follow its dictates, it increased our self-respect (like Klingons, of whom we knew nothing at the time).

Chapter XVI.....Peter's Harvest
While we’d been anticipating camping and fruit, so had the animals and insects – the yellow-jackets wanted the rotten apples, while the ticks wanted the blood of whatever showed up to eat them. Everyone was waiting for night to fall.

Chapter XVII.....Making Maple Syrup
After we spent a couple of hours gnawing through a 2-foot elm trunk, we learned that axes are for green wood. SAWS are for dead wood. Once we had made this discovery, the devil pointed out a saw we could use.

Chapter XVIII.....The Bacon Chicken
It transpired that the veteran campers from Dayton had forgotten to provide breakfast. Red told us cheekily, “You know these parts – go out and kill a chicken, and get us some bacon!”

Chapter XIX.....The Sound of Music
Now I was being stalked by the affable Mr. Jones to participate in his productions. The only thing I could think of was protecting my musical virtue from assault, so I declined, as quickly as savage civility would permit.

Chapter XX.....The Smiter is Smitten
Greg and I looked at each other meaningfully. Petrov was a marked man. Punishment would somehow find him, in the natural course of events.

Chapter XXI.....Home for Christmas
From a great distance, I heard a shriek that sounded more like a mad hyena than human, and fairly exploded out of that icy pond, coming closer to levitation than ever before or since…

S e a r c h   h e r e!