Don Rose came to the U.S. from England in 1908, when he was 18, entering through Ellis Island like countless other immigrants. By 1941 he was one of Philadelphia’s best-known newspaper columnists. That year he published his gentle, funny memoir My Own Four Walls, the story of the ramshackle farmhouse he and Marjorie, his wife, bought in 1918 for themselves and their 12 children.
One of his grandsons, Neil Genzlinger, himself a journalist at the New York Times, here brings that book back to life, with the original illustrations, a century after his grandfather had signed the deed. Part diary, part DIY manual, Rose’s unsung classic is a tale of smoky fireplaces, leaky ceilings and unruly gardens, at a time when refrigerators were newfangled and suburban homes were furnished at country auctions. Most of all it is a story of how one man, with persistence, slowly put down roots in his adopted country.