After teaching for fourteen years in American universities and lecturing abroad both in Europe and the Far East, Charles Boewe took his family to live in South Asia, where he directed academic exchange programs for the U.S. government in Iran, in Pakistan, and in India during the next sixteen years. Following his retirement, he returned to his earlier interest in local history, believing that extensive foreign residence would now give added perspective to his writing about the recent past. Though he now lives in North Carolina, in this memoir the author profiles the Middle Western market town of his youth that, despite the rigors of the Great Depression, afforded a quality of life since vanished. Most small-town enterprises got spun off there to larger municipalities as an unintended consequence of post-Depression economic recovery. Since similar events occurred elsewhere, this detailed sketch of West Salem, Illinois, has relevance to many small towns in the region stretching from Wichita to Wheeling, from Minneapolis to Memphis. Ever in the interest of greater efficiency and economy of scale, the same centrifugal forces irrevocably altered village life in Middle Americaanot always for the better.