Always a master storyteller, LaVerne Thornton entertains readers with his down-to-earth tales of growing up in “The Bend,” an isolated settlement of about thirty families on the Virginia/North Carolina border on the Dan River. Although they technically lived in Virginia, the Bend people were “largely ignored or unknown by Virginia and not totally accepted by North Carolina.” It was a rustic life that is hard to imagine today. People in The Bend were poor, strong, resilient, and self-reliant, and Thornton paints their portraits with humor, love, and compassion. From stories about his snuff-dipping, straight-talking grandmother, “Shotgun Essie,” to memories of his Methodist Youth Fellowship group’s annual trip to sing for the folks living in the poorhouse, Thornton’s engaging collection is funny, poignant, and full of warmth for people and a time long gone. Readers will be fascinated and amused by the pranks and adventures of LaVerne and his buddies. Throughout the book, the author’s deep love for his mother is a common theme. As a young boy, LaVerne was fascinated by the moon and stars. When the after-supper chores were done, he would often tug at his mother’s skirt saying, “Mama, let’s walk in ’e moon.”
LaVerne Thornton earned an Engineering degree at Virginia Tech. His business career spanned a variety of areas including engineering design, construction, and consulting, development of alternative energy systems, and construction of animal feed facilities (including crab farming in the West Indies). He has also worked in residential and commercial real estate and owned women’s fitness centers and flower shops. Traveling in all fifty states, Thornton has met scores of people who started out as strangers and ended up as friends. He says he has “accumulated more wealth in rich experiences than I have in dollars.” He and his wife Lucille live in Sanford, North Carolina, with their dog Freckles.