Snakes, Spiders and Palmetto Bugs - Growing up in perpetual summer

by Rodney DiGruttolo

Lois W. Stern
Author - Creator of the Tales2Inspire 'Authors Helping Authors' contest/project

For the young and young at heart, Snakes, Spiders and Palmetto Bugs is a joyous read.
As the author recalls fond memories of his youth in this collection of well crafted stories, Rod DiGruttolo nudges his readers to experience, recall and reflect upon the joys and tribulations of his childhood as well as their own. Join Skeets as he receives Pappy's quiet rebuke after uttering the word "stupid", for this one episode sets the tone for much of what follows. Clearly Skeets is being raised in a family with unwavering but loving standards, and in a surrounding environment that helps nurture their community of children. Skeets values adult approval, but since "Boys will be boys", this doesn't stop him and his friends from getting into all kinds of mischief.

With boundless energy, imagination and curiosity, Skeets and his boyhood friends lead one another into both fun filled and hair raising adventures. On one of their woodland explorations these boys confront a defensive mama bobcat set on protecting her newborn kittens. While readers clench their jaws with hopeful expectation, they take a sigh of relief in the boys successful retreat, lives intact. Other adventures follow. In the chapter "Reverend White and the Bouncing Ball", and in "The Accident", we see how it sometimes takes a village to rear a child. Reverend White doesn't let the boys off scot free for the damage caused by their errant ball. Instead, with prior parental approval, he has them pay for damages through clean up duty at the churchyard. When Skeets and his bicycle collide with a blue convertible, a policeman imposes a stern warning to each driver, but still steps in to rescue Skeets and his bicycle. By the time he arrives home, Skeets learns that he "can't get away with anything in this town," for his parents already know all the details.

Other stories, less hair raising, yet thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless, include the chapter titled "Bikes" where I could feel both the tension and exhilaration of Skeet's bike race, and "A Fish Tale" where the thrill of pulling in a fish "bigger than he could carry" was palpable. I could go on, touting many more charming stories from this author's youth, but let me save the rest for you to savor on your own.I expect that Snakes, Spiders and Palmetto Bugs will nudge many an adult reader to recall similar moments from their youth with a smile and perhaps even a raised eyebrow and shake of the head as they whisper, "Thank the lord we got out of that one alive."

Customer Reviews 4.0 out of 5 stars  
 August 19, 2014 ​

Russ Heitz, Author of Crosshairs, Dying in Deer Country 

The last day of school was yesterday. Summer now stretches endlessly before you. There's no doubt in your mind that it will be a summer filled with adventures, mysteries, exciting journeys and, most of all, freedom. You remember the feeling well, just as you remember the sweet scent of fresh-cut grass and the sound and feel of the push mower as it turned dew-wet blades into showers of green confetti. You remember the smooth feel and the deliciously pungent smell of a new baseball glove that was aching to snatch countless fly balls out of a turquoise sky. You remember Old Man Tucker down the street, mean and grouchy as ever. No doubt his dusty cantankerous ghost is still glaring through that screen door, just WAITING for someone to whack a home run right through his living room window. You might even remember Sergeant Preston and his faithful lead dog Yukon King on the radio, Buck Rogers and his Space Cadets in Saturday matinees, and Straight Arrow's "Injun-nuity" cards in the Shredded Wheat box. If you remember any of these golden memories you will love Rod DiGruttolo's little gem, SNAKES, SPIDERS AND PALMETTO BUGS. And it doesn't much matter if your childhood was spent in the north, south, east or west. The same things seem to happen to 12 year-old kids growing up everywhere, at least in the United States, as least back in the 40s, 50, maybe even the 60s. ​DiGruttolo's writing is brisk but gentle; the images are solid and sharply drawn but colored with warmth and sensitivity. The pace is leisurely most of the time but also realistically hectic when it needs to be. DiGruttolo's book also contains a welcome addition that is seldom found in other 'remembrance' books that are set during later time periods. That welcome addition is responsibility. When Skeets and his buddies break a window, or make a mistake in judgment, they own up to it. They accept the blame, and then they also accept their punishment without whining or complaining; without trying to push the blame on someone else. Skeets and his buddies also learn how to strive for a worthwhile goal, no matter how difficult it is. They learn how good it feels to help someone who needs help. They learn how to respect their own parents as well as the parents of their friends. They learn how to be courteous. They learn how to be good neighbors. They learn how to be brave and adventuresome. But they also learn that good judgment is always better than foolhardiness. In other words, Skeets and his young friends learn how to become caring and responsible adults. And that's a lesson we all have to learn--and relearn--every day of our lives. ​ SNAKES, SPIDERS AND PALMETTO BUGS is an enjoyable and truth-filled little book that deserves to be on everyone's must-read list.

Are you a story teller?  I am and I know telling a tale is easier than writing the story. Words by themselves often cannot show action because speech patterns and body language are lost. Using words and only words to convey your intended message in print takes time and thought–but it can be done. Potentially moving stories are often written in a style that comes across as a newspaper article. The facts are there, the grammar is correct and the words are spelled right but they have little feeling and no heart; such stories do not move readers. Sometimes too much information can distract readers from the central theme of a story while too little kills a great tale. I help writers find that balance. Some parts of a story might better be eliminated and others expanded. I work with authors to find their voice and thoroughly enjoy the experience. I look forward to helping you as well. You can contact me at: and please, put EDIT HELP in the subject line.

Toys Remembered

5.0 out of 5 stars      Blast from the Past!

Randi O.     July 23, 2013

This is a fun look at toys throughout past decades from the vantage point of actual users--boys! Reading this took me back to my childhood and caused me to reflect on toys that I had forgotten all about. From Thomas the Tank Engine to a Spyder bike to classic marbles, the authors of the stories bring these treasured toys to life, inspiring the reader to perhaps document the stories of their own toys before they are forgotten forever.

5.0 out of 5 stars     Charming Book!
Patricia Cummings (Concord, New Hampshire)     February 7, 2012

"Toys Remembered" is a composite of short non-fictional stories written by men who were asked to comment on favorite toys and games enjoyed during their childhoods. This book provides a look at the experience of being a boy via photos, as well as poems and quotes from famous poets and writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain and John Greenleaf Whittier. If anyone enjoyed "Dolls Remembered" by this same author, they are sure to want to acquire this companion book, published in the same size. Marie Dries Christensen dedicates the book to her grandchildren so that "the ancestral voices will remain through the years" in the accounts written by their ancestors including their "Daddy" and grandfathers. Generously, the author donates all royalties to the Down's Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia. This is a lovely book!

5.0 out of 5 stars     Charming!
Linus&Bubba Books      February 3, 2011

Charming, witty, and packed full of nostalgia. A must-read for anyone still in touch with their inner child! Nice quick reads, too

Tales2Inspire, Sapphire Collection

Just out, this collection of inspirational stories shows how someone can make a difference in this world. My story is about how as a young boy I gave my grandfather a chance to experience one of his fondest memories. Anyone who has a dream can appreciate this story. Because I lived in a time and place it was possible, I could help fulfill the dream of a man who meant everything to me. Read Pappy and the Bandleader in the Sapphire Collection of Tales2Inspire.

Note from Tales2Inspire Creator

I LOVE that story.
Lois Stern     June 2014