by Richard Esler

Richard Curry Esler traveled the world but called Tarentum, Pennsylvania, his heart’s home. “I have lived in great and wonderful cities, from Boston to San Francisco, from Chicago to Seattle…Dallas to Miami, but I never felt truly at home until I came back to the Allegheny Valley. Tarentum Country is my place.” When he spoke of Tarentum Country, Richard, or Dick, as he was known, was referring to much of the west bank of the Allegheny River from Springdale to Freeport and all the surrounding woods, farmlands, villages and milltowns that stretched all the way to the great city that lay at the confluence of three massive rivers.

In this, his fifteenth book, Dick Esler celebrates this place he loved as it was in the time between the two world wars. These were his growing-up years—a time when entire families would stroll the downtown Tarentum streets on a Saturday night, shopping and socializing. He gives readers the sights, the sounds, the smells and the very taste of it.

Oh, the exotic odor of Bill Chantler’s grocery…the smell of fresh ground coffee and cinnamon sticks…bakers chocolate…Japan tea…nutmegs…and floor wax.

He paints a summer of great and wonderful fish pulled from the clear Allegheny and a Fourth of July of fried chicken, watermelon and skyrockets over Tarentum. Christmases with real sleigh rides up Bull Creek Road, sled riding down Porter Street and the annual trip to Pittsburgh for shopping at Kaufmann & Baers, Joseph Hornes, Rosenbaums, and Frank & Seders.

Dick Esler’s Once Upon a Time in Tarentum is his final gift to this place he loved and it is a lasting one.

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