“Tubob,” by Mary E. Trimble. High praise from my father!

This book should be required reading for all Peace Corps Volunteers!–Erwin A. Thompson, my father
praising Mary Trimble’s new book “Tubob” (

My father’s written 40 novels. At almost 97 he delights in reading these on his computer screen, which helps with his failing eyesight. He rarely reads books written by others. And so it was with fascination that I watched him deeply immersed in Mary Trimble’s latest book “Tubob”–a memoir of two years in West Africa with the Peace Corps.

During my five years in Africa in both the Western and Southern parts of the continent my parents came to visit three times–much to their delight and my friends and colleagues.

So, it is with knowledge and appreciation of Africa that he wrote this glowing note to Mary. You also have to factor in that my father’s version of praise is of the old-school country Midwestern variety where you have to know what you’re listening for to know that it’s praise. He writes:


I am deep into your book about your time in Africa. You did an excellent job with experiences that were difficult to live through and to explain.

My sincere compliments on several things. Not necessarily in the order of importance, for they all go together to show the kind of person that you are. “First of all, to thine own self be true, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”(Even after eighty years, a bit of Shakespeare jumps out.)

The opportunity was there to serve, and to challenge some of the local practices and beliefs. Rather than taking your time in Peace Corps as an opportunity for a paid vacation, you stepped up to that opportunity to serve.

Janet did too. Her first Peace Corps assignment she taught in the little Northern village of Maun, Botswana. We visited her in Botswana in 1973 and again in 1976. I happened to meet two of her former students on the main street of Gaborone, the capitol city of that country. They told me that they had two of the best jobs in the country, due to the teaching that they had received from the little school where Janet taught and from the personal help that she had given them. We often do not know how much we have helped people. This was one of my most moving experiences.

During World War II I was badly wounded and spent a long while in a hospital in England. One day I met a man that I had trained for the Army in Texas. He gave me what I consider the highest compliment I ever got: “Sergeant, I am alive today because of the things you made me learn!”

Your book brings out your philosophy of improving conditions, even if they have been accepted for generations. It took “vision” and courage. When I use the word “vision,” I always think of my wife’s father. He was an unusual individual. When he should have been in the fourth grade he was sent as a “loaner” to his cousins in Oklahoma to ride fence. He never got back in school.

But one of the words he used was “vision.” He had it. At an age when the going plan was “retirement” he moved onto an abandoned farm and turned it into a place that was the envy of the neighborhood.

I applaud your courage, your determination to better the conditions that you found, and your ingenuity to find ways to make your ideas work!

You have found a way to include the truly personal things that really make the story. This book should be required reading for all Peace Corps Volunteers! Thank you for including us in your circle of special people to share it with.

Erwin Thompson

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