James McKenzie

Biography

I was born in 1947, the first offspring of a young sailor just returning home at the conclusion of the Second World War, and a head-strong girl too young for marriage, and much too young motherhood. The marriage didn’t last long, and I proved to be a difficult child, nearly as stubborn as my mother. For the most part, my school years were a miserable experience and my life at home barely tolerable. As a pre-teen I had spent many long hours mowing the neighbors yards for pocket change, and later a paper route and summers picking strawberries and raspberries. I was only fourteen when I heard about the job working the apple orchards and the chance to leave home. The experience proved to be life-changing.
I completed high school via correspondence courses, eventually attending several years of college. Most of my working career was related to machinery, beginning as a service technician for the Excello Corporation of Detroit. The last 27 years spent working as a Stationary Engineer in Spokane, Washington, and then in Portland, Oregon. After retiring, I returned to the Spokane area and once again returned to my passion for motorcycles. A great many enjoyable miles were spent touring throughout the Northwest. While riding down those long forgotten and obscure roads of the Indian Reservations I began to recall the many experiences I’ve had with Native Americans. Realizing this was a part of my life that my children and grandchildren didn’t know, I began making a few notes, and eventual result was the publication of Summer with the Indians. We sometimes forget there are important lessons in life that should be shared with your offspring, and I hope to some degree I have achieved that goal.

Smashwords Interview

Why did you write Summer with the Indians?
As a child in grammar school I made the acquaintance of an ancient old man known as Uncle Pearl. His delight was to share his stories and adventures with young listeners. These tall tales were great entertainment, and quickly forgotten. The only one I remembered was about catching fish so large that a mule was used to pull it ashore. Many years later I discovered confirmation that this story was accurate in every detail. By then Uncle Pearl and his stories were long gone. I couldn’t help but wonder if some of his other stories about cowboys and gangsters and holdups and lost loot might have had an element of truth. I decided that I wanted to preserve a portion of my own history for my kids and grandkids.
Do you consider yourself an “expert” on Indians?
Not hardly! I wrote about my experiences and from personal knowledge and opinions of selected small Tribal groups, families and individuals. It was never my intention to offer a definitive work on the American Indian culture.
Read more of this interview.

Books

Road Riders Survival Guide A Motorcyclist Handbook
Price: Free! Words: 12,760. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Motorcycling
Road Riders Survival Guide offers half a century of experience with an emphasis on safety and preparation to provide the necessary skills, training, and experience to survive the challenges of motorcycling on today’s highways.
Summer with the Indians
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 31,040. Language: English. Published: November 16, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir
Summer with the Indians is my personal memoir as a boy working in the migrant orchards of the Okanogan in 1961. The book also provides an opportunity to see the Native American from a different perspective as I share some additional insight and experiences in the years that followed.

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