Anoka woman pens book on her life adventures

Barbara Thurston can cross one more item from her bucket list. She is now an author.

Barbara Thurston has written a book on growing up in rural Oak Grove titled “Childhood Adventures of Baby-boom Sisters.” Photo by Elyse Kaner
Barbara Thurston has written a book on growing up in rural Oak Grove titled “Childhood Adventures of Baby-boom Sisters.” Photo by Elyse Kaner

A lifelong resident from the rural Anoka area and an amateur historian, Thurston recently penned and published a book titled “Childhood Adventures of Baby-boom Sisters.”

“It was one of the things I had always wanted to do,” she said. She wrote the book with the help of Evie, her younger sister and constant companion.

Thurston will hold a book signing July 13 as part of Anoka’s annual Riverfest activities in historic downtown Anoka.

The 160-page book, with about 50 photographs, is packed with short stories of Thurston’s childhood adventures and growing up in Oak Grove in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, a time she recalls as kinder and gentler. The stories, including mentions of trips to town (Anoka), are intended to conjure up childhood memories of the Anoka area and

the readers’ own memories as well.

Among episodes in the book are stories of Thurston’s summers at her grandparents’ farm, outhouses, baking bread and doing household chores at the age of nine when her mother fell ill.

Other adventures include a train trip to Chicago, Ill., visiting the Minnesota State Fair, marching in the Anoka Halloween Parade and her first crush in kindergarten.

“We worked hard and we played hard,” Thurston said about her days as a youth.

One particular story paints a picture of her excitement at buying an ice cream cone in Anoka while shopping with her mother.

Another poignant story tells of the time her dad thought she had been playing with matches. As a punishment, he singed her fingertips.

The book is nostalgic and therapeutic, Thurston said. A goal of hers was to write something that people could relate to.

“Reminiscing the story with Evie was kind of fun,” she said.

In addition to Evelyn, Thurston grew up with two older brothers, also included in her book. She was the second from the youngest of four children in the family.

Now an Anoka resident, Thurston retired last year. She had worked as a rural mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service for 34 years. As a child, she attended Washington Elementary School, the former Anoka Junior High School and she graduated from Anoka High School.

Thurston is active in the Anoka County Historical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, Anoka Chapter, and the Historic Preservation Commission of Anoka.

The book is dedicated to her brother Carl, who recently died.

Thurston is married to her husband Joey Norton. They have three children Bjorn (former mayor of Anoka), Anja, Erik and two grandchildren, Everett and Henry.

Thurston is getting positive feedback from her debut book, which is inspiring her to write a sequel, she said.

“Everyone says you have to write a second book. I want to know what happened,” Thurston said.

“Childhood Adventures of Baby-boom Sisters” by Barbara A. Thurston is available at the Anoka County Historical Society, 2135 Third Ave., Anoka, or email Thurston at Barbt2010[email protected] Cost for the soft cover book is $12. For young adult and adult readers. For more information, call 763-421-1844.

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]