Top Ten Books: When All the World Was Young. The Authors Collection


Fourth in a series.

When All the World Was Young by Ferrol Sams made my list of the top ten books that have influenced my life. Here’s why.

Another book on my list is the Holy Bible (to be the topic of a future blog in this series). A relevant scripture is from the Book of Acts written by the Apostle Paul.

“And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is better to give than to receive’.”—Acts 20:35.

In my lifetime, it has been a wonderful blessing to have given many gifts that meant as much, if not more, to me, than to the recipient.

Few of those gifts can top the one arranged for my father’s birthday almost twenty years ago.

Not sure where the idea originated, but it seemed like something worth trying. If it worked, it would be memorable. It did, and it was.

Dr. Ferrol Sams
Dr. Ferrol Sams

The research to find the author’s phone number was amazingly simple. In the late 1990’s, he was a practicing physician. Why wouldn’t his number be published?

“Hello. Is this Dr. Sams?”

“Yes. This is he.”

“I’m calling because your book, When All the World Was Young, is my father’s favorite novel. He’s one of those veterans that never wanted to discuss the war. He convinced me to read your book and now I know why. It speaks for him.”

“He convinced me to read your book. It was his way of telling me about his experiences in World War II. Something he could never do himself. Today, December 7, is his birthday. If I give you his number, would you call him?”

Dr. Ferrol Sams replied enthusiastically, “Yes! I’d be happy to!”

Had he lived, my father would have been one hundred years old today. Dad died back in November of 2005, the day after Veterans Day. He was ninety-one. By the time of his death, I, too, had read When All the World Was Young several times. In my father’s last few years, we visited often. Sometimes by phone. Many times in person.

The eccentric and inspirational characters created by Dr. Sams had become regular topics of our conversations. Dad and I spoke of them as if they had been family members or friends from our small Northeast Louisiana town. After the birthday telephone call, that had been so meaningful for us both, Dr. Sams became part of the conversation, too. Thinking back on setting up the phone call from Dr. Sams, I realize how much that gift to my father still means to me.

Dad and I referred to the men and women we had read about by their first names. They created an additional bond for father and son. Laughter often dominated our discussions and it was wonderful for him to be able to talk about the war in his own way.

When All the World Was Young has once again found it’s way to the top of my “to be read” stack of books. What better way to celebrate the centennial of my father’s birth than by reading our favorite book again? Spending time with such great mutual friends reminds me of what a wonderful man my father was, the great conversations we shared — and how much I miss him.

Post script: Dr. Ferrol Sams died on January 31, 2013 at his home in Fayetteville, GA. He was ninety years old.

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