Sunday, September 21, 2014

UCD emeritus’ depiction of Kansas farm life earns high honors

Arnold Bauer, a professor emeritus of history at UC Davis and longtime Yolo County resident, wrote his coming-of-age memoir called "Time's Shadow: Remembering a Family Farm in Kansas." Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | January 11, 2013 |

The passages within Arnold Bauer’s “Time’s Shadow” awaken memories of a long-forgotten style of life: steering work horses through a rural terrain; trapping muskrats in the cold; and learning in a one-room schoolhouse.

And thanks to some unexpected national recognition, the now 81-year-old Davis resident’s account of growing up on a 160-acre farm in Kansas won’t go as unremembered as the nostalgia it contains. “Time’s Shadow” was listed under The Atlantic Magazine’s top five books in 2012.

The well-received memoir recounts a childhood typical of family farms of the time, the 1930s to the ’50s, when the young labored alongside the old. It also captures an eventual decline in viability in smaller agriculture on the Great Plains — when technology, laws and the market shifted drastically, and permanently.

“It’s a world that is now lost; not only in the United States, but many parts the world,” Bauer said of the family farming that cultivated him.

While Bauer’s self-portrayal primarily focuses on the early portion of his life, it also follows his pursuance of studies in Casablanca, Mexico and Berkeley. This path led him to a career teaching Latin American Studies at UC Davis, where he served as a professor for more than 30 years.

During Bauer’s time with the university, he produced books related to his academic specialty. In 2005, he received the “Order of Merit Gabriela Mistral,” which is the Chilean government’s highest recognition for contributions to culture and education.

Bauer tasked himself with writing autobiographical letters to Lily and Frank, his two grandchildren in Brooklyn, after retiring from his position at UCD. This minor project became the impetus for “Time’s Shadow.”

“I thought I’d tell ‘em something about their grandfather,” Bauer said. “I got into it. After writing several of those, I thought that maybe there was something to it. I wrote a bit more, then decided to send it off to a publisher.”

Bauer began by pitching his story to the University Press of Iowa, but it was denied due to its “limited market appeal.” The same reaction came from the next publisher he propositioned.

Even what he believed to be the likeliest source of acceptance for publishing his memoir, the University Press of Kansas, replied with a rejection letter.

That, obviously, was not the end of the story. Bauer countered the Kansas-based publisher’s dismissal with stubborn persistence:

“I wrote a letter saying, ‘I reject your rejection,’ and explained why I did. The editor of the press wrote back, ‘You’ve made me very grumpy, because I’ve been an editor here for 40 years, and I’ve never once in my life changed my opinion on a manuscript’

” ‘But,’ ” the editor wrote, ” ‘I will, this time. I’ll send it out for two reads, if they’re favorable, we’ll go ahead with it.’ ”

After Bauer’s memoir successfully made it through the review process and reached the shelves, his personal remembrances were met with positive feedback from readers.

“It has been a fulfilling experience,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of comments from people in the United States who have undergone that same experience.

“Several people were brought to tears, because it has poignant sides to it. Others, well, most wouldn’t write to you unless they were enthusiastic in favor of it.”

It was certainly appreciated by the literary editor of The Atlantic Magazine, who Bauer said shocked his editor by naming it one of the best books of 2012.

“I was surprised by the honor, as I wrote it for a very local reading public,” he said. “The memoir had sold out, and is going into extra printings to respond to the unexpected demand.”

The Atlantic’s writer, who also recognized National Book Prize winner Hilary Mantel and other notable authors, cited Bauer’s compelling writing and reflections on a disappearing way of life in the year-end list selection.

Bauer said he hopes his introduction to a vastly different lifestyle — and the elimination of it — is something that can resonate with everyone.

“Where there were 10 farms when I grew up, there is now one huge agriculture business,” he said. “So, that’s the drama … I’m hoping readers get a picture of that 160-acre family farm, and the obliteration of it by modern forces.”

Bauer’s memoir is available in a hardcover edition on and through some local retailers.

— Reach Brett Johnson at Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

    Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Davis Community Meals needs cooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Send kids to camp!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Wise words

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12



    Awareness is key to this fight

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Where is this going?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

    We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

    Options for protection come with flu season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

    Don’t sell city greenbelt

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino project is flawed

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Archer will get my vote

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Mike Keefe cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    Building something at schools’ HQ

    By Our View | From Page: A10

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Maybe David can beat Goliath again

    By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery



    DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

    Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    ‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

    Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery





    ‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3



    UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Styles on target for November debut

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

    MBI hires VP of marketing

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

    By Rob White | From Page: A9



    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8