By: Frederic Voss

My House Was Not A Home

Tells of my life on a farm in Northern California under the thumb of an abusive grandmother.

About The Book

Tells of my life on a farm in Northern California under the thumb of an abusive grandmother. The book is not about abuse but rather a tribute to the men and women (and my canine friends) who helped keep me away from the belt and all that entailed. I initially intended the stories for the enjoyment of those readers in their teens, but later began to think the stories maybe entertaining for those of an earlier generation as well. So far, My House Was Not A Home has been well-received; here’s hoping you receive it well also.


Meet Frederic Voss

As far back as I can remember I wanted to write books. I just never got around to it. When the urge really struck me, I couldn’t think of what to write about. Somebody said to “write about what you know.” But what did I know enough about to be able to write about it? Then someone else said to “write about yourself.” Frankly, I didn’t think I’d make an interesting enough subject to fill a whole book. But it got me thinking about it.

At some point about 30 or so years ago I began writing stories about some of the people I remembered growing up around. The more I wrote the more I found there was to write. I had written several stories and thought a Pulitzer was surely on the horizon, but then up popped a fly in the ointment. Life intervened. School. Work. Then kids and all the things parents choose to do to entertain them. So, writing stories had to wait. After awhile, I pretty much forgot about writing. Some time later, while rummaging through a box of stuff that was very nearly tossed in the trash, I came across the stories I had written some years before. Realizing that if I was ever going to finish writing my book, I’d better get busy. It took about a year to finish.

The book consists of 38 stories. Breaking the anecdotes into stories seemed less daunting than scribing a long narrative.

I hope you enjoy reading my memoir as much as I enjoyed writing it – most days anyway.

Excerpts From The Book

Read a few excerpts from the book below!

Dr. Gray took in the whole picture. Slowly he arose and walked toward the elderly woman standing in the doorway. “Mrs. Shriver,” he said softly. It was easy to see that being the bearer of bad news was not a welcome task for this kindly man. For a moment I didn’t think he would be able to deliver the message. Then he said, “I’m sorry, I know of no other way to say this …” “He’s dying, ain’t he, Dr. Gray? My Rusty is leavin’ me, ain’t he?” “Yes, ma’am. He has a large tumor on his neck.”

“What kin we do for him, Dr. Gray?” she asked, tears streaming down her cheeks. She stood before the veterinarian, lips quivering, wringing her hands. “Please,” she whispered in silent prayer that he had a solution that would allow her old friend to stay with her.

“I didn’t know Edgar was dead, Fred,” Mr. H said, a note of apology in his voice. “When was he killed?” “The day before yesterday. I found him with a small hole in his head. Later, I talked to his wife and she said Gary had been out hunting with his .22 rifle earlier in the afternoon. She’d heard a shot from over by the creek where Edgar was found.” “You’re saying Gary shot your dog. But why would he do that?” “It might be because Edgar did his best to finger your hired man as the rustler that was trying to steal two of your heifers, and Gary suspected he was about to get caught.

Mr. Peterson, the school principal, asked me, “What’s this I hear about you chiding Stanley Bater as Master Bater, Freddie?” There seemed to be a shadow of a smile across his lips, so I didn’t think I was in too much trouble. Still, I kept one eye on the ole board of education Mr. Peterson kept in full sight over against the wall. I shrugged as though I had no idea of what I was insinuating by my remark to Stanley. I said, “I also called Mr. Evans Master Evans. Is that why he was so mad?” The principal stared at me for some time, likely to determine if I was really as dumb as I let on. Finally, he asked, “Did you ever hear the story about Stanley?” “No, sir. What story was that?” Figuring it was a good time to appear really dumb. Of course I’d heard the story. “Never mind. A story got around about Stanley I thought you might have heard.” “Nah. I never heard nuthin’ about Stanley.” That is to say, I may have been dim about the meaning of the verb masturbate, but I understood the various synonyms. But I didn’t think this was the right place to let on like I knew of such things. Mr. Peterson asked, “So you don’t know what the word masturbate means?” “The dictionary said somethin’ ’bout stimulatin’. But I couldn’t figure what that had to do with anything.” So the principal explained masturbation. “Oh-oh-oh,” my expression might have said. It was a big word for something we knew about, but called something else! “Understand, Freddie?” “Reckon so,” a snide smile on my lips. “But I wonder if you would do me the favor of not explaining it to Stanley?”

Reader’s Reactions

“Fred Voss’ writing hooked me from the first page. As I read My House Was Not a Home, my heart went out to him. The vignettes just captivated me, some made me cry , some had me laughing hysterically. My heart went out to him for all the things he went through. I have had the opportunity to read other short stories this author has written, and the conversational level at which he writes makes the reader want to keep reading. His writing grabs me at the first page and I just have to see what happens next. I hope he never stops writing. “

Kimberly Graham - Hornell, New York

“I loved Fred Voss’ book “My House Was Not a Home.” Fred has a way of setting up the story line and instantly making me feel like I was there, watching the interactions of his characters. For example, in the chapter titled “Getting Even for My Sins” the storytelling at the barbershop was just hilarious. I could picture the way the barbershop looked, the men sitting around and talking, and Fred trying to be one of the men. His ability to spin the tale made it interesting and pleasurable, and the whole book tends to read this way. Whether Fred was telling something incredibly sad, poignant, or exciting, the accents, the characters, leap out at you as easily as when you turn on an old Andy Griffith show and immediately know what’s going on. This book is just a great read.”

Heidi Robinson, Ph.D. - Head Librarian

“Fred Voss’ “My House Was Not a Home” is a gem. The memoir contains 38 well written short stories that depict his life on a dairy farm in Northern California while dealing with an abusive grandmother. However, the book is not about abuse, but rather is a tribute to those people who help him avoid it. His characters are memorable: who could forget the great storytellers Reg Keetering and Darrel (pronounced Duryl) Campbell, the trickster Clyde Redman, and the bully Stanley Bater. Close to Voss’ heart were the many dogs that wandered from the highway to the family’s door. They were fed and loved and, sadly, many were lost on the road from which they came. The author does a grand job of describing his exploits with his canine pals, some of which were as memorable as the humans. King was one that comes to mind, as does Rufus, and Susie. And who could forget Edgar, who was killed for spotting a cattle rustler. One story in particular, Matches Made on Earth, is quite unforgettable. “My House Was Not a Home” is a delightful collection of stories that will bring hours of enjoyment to readers of all ages.”

Al Bruce - Columnist, The Evening Tribune

“I appreciated the opportunity to read Fred Voss’ book, My House Was Not a Home. I admired his tenacity, determination, and strong will he displayed in overcoming his childhood hardships. I really enjoyed his writing, particularly the way he chose to describe the people who helped him through his tender years. The author has written a book that will please readers of all ages. I truly had a hard time putting it down.”

Carla Barlow - Bountiful, Utah

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