An Appalachian Boy’s Life: A Walk In Three Centuries begins with the world in which the author was born in 1935. Flem Messer was born in a log cabin, and at the time, his family lived much as they had many generations ago, without running water, electricity, paved roads, or cars. The book continues through the author’s life, including the time he spent working with poverty programs in the 1960s, and describes some of the changes in the region as modern conveniences arrived.
Flem Messer grew up in an isolated area of the Appalachian Mountains. He was the oldest of eight children and dropped out of a one-room school in the fourth grade at age 15. At 17, he enrolled in a boarding school. 8 1/2 years later he obtained his college degree. After teaching school one year, he worked in The War on Poverty for 8 years. He experienced some serious political conflicts during that time. In the 1970s, he started an independent small business, and eventually merged that successful business with a local bank. After retiring as a vice president of the bank, he retired in 2009, and self-published An Appalachian Boy’s Life in 2017.