Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
It took Ann Farrell Bowers, a former student of Perry’s now a teacher in Wisconsin, when he taught English at Hinton High School in the 1960s, to convince the teacher-lawyer-farmer-philosopher-renaissance man to collect 30 of his essays in a beautifully printed book “Mann & Nature: A Collection of Essays” (Kettle Moraine Publishing Co., Delavan, Wisconsin, 156 pages, $20.00 from the publisher www.kettlemorainepublishing.com).
Ann Bowers considers Perry Mann to be a major influence in her life. She wrote in an email:
“Public education in America bears the brunt of public scorn because so many seem to carry baggage from their experiences and are quite eager to discuss the few, I have found, incompetent teachers in their lives.
“I too had those experiences, but it has been said it takes only one good teacher to change a life forever, and mine was Perry Mann who arrived in my high school in the turbulent ‘60’s breathing fresh air and new ideas into all of us who hungered for knowledge of the events shaping our nation.
“Motivated by him, I went off to college armed with my list of college bound books he gave me, and inspired by him I became a teacher.
“I lost track of him, but I never forgot him, and in May, 2011, we were reunited through a comment I made on social media and posts from former classmates who told me that at 90 he was still practicing law in my hometown. I wrote him to tell him I turned out okay and to thank him for his profound influence on me in my teenage years of confusion. He responded, and we have been in daily contact since.”
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‘I like to think she wings to a hemlock forest shaded in day and dark at night. Her nest, formed with the gossamer of milkweed and dyed purple with the juice of elderberries, is in the fork of a hemlock where a limb leaves the trunk and touches the clouds. An outgrowth of bark serves as her canopy. The queen of flowers lies there for the night looked over by fairies and guardian angels sent by the Maker to protect this delicate, beautiful, and innocent creature, one that preys on nothing but just purloins pollen from zinnias.’
So,dear readers — and all readers are dear to this English major! — get a copy of “Mann & Nature” and enjoy the thoughts and lifetime reflections of a truly great writer and philosopher. He’s our own living John Muir, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
Perry Mann was chosen as one of fifty Americans who tell the truth and was featured in Robert Shetterly’s book of the same title. His connection to nature through his gardens and mountains is the substance of his truth. A resident of Hinton, West Virginia at 90, still practices law with his daughter Amy. For past columns by Perry Mann, use the search engine on www.huntingtonnews.net. It’s at the top right hand side. Publisher’s website: www.kettlemorainepublishing.com