Russell Baker begins Growing Up in 1981 at the bedside of his mother. She has become feeble, her memory erratic, and Baker uses fragments of her memories as a starting point for placing his own memories into context. He ends the book at her bedside as well, and the visits to his mother bracket this memoir. The body of the book takes place during the years between Baker’s birth in 1925 and his marriage in 1950 and may be roughly divided into four sections.
The first section of Growing Up is set in Morrisonville, Virginia, Baker’s birthplace. He was the oldest of three children born to Benjamin and Lucy Elizabeth Baker. His early years were spent in rural Virginia, living among his many Baker relatives. His grandmother, Ida Rebecca, was the matriarch of a family of thirteen children, most of whom lived nearby.
The next section describes his father’s death from diabetes in 1930, at which time his mother moved the family to Newark, New Jersey, to live with her brother and his wife. Later, the families moved to Belleville, New Jersey, and as the Depression deepened, the group was joined by other relatives. Lucy Baker was determined to have a home of her own, but she was unable to save enough to accomplish that goal. As a result, when she was promised by her brother Hal that he could help them acquire a home if they moved to Baltimore, Lucy packed up the children and moved them there.
The third section of...
(The entire section is 417 words.)