MEMOIRS OF A FARM BOY is an account of growing up in rural Virginia during the years following the Great Depression.

No historic events are related and no world figures emerge. However, it is a story that hints at important changes in a way of life fast disappearing from the American farm scene, if not already gone.

Most of the stories are in some way connected with nature, hunting, fishing, and people whose personalities were molded by their love of the outdoors. It is the interaction of these various one-of-a-kind personalities which is the most important aspect of this semi-autobiography.

There were, of course, tragedies on the Eastern Shore of Virginia as there are elsewhere in the world, but the emphasis is on the more humourous side of country living.

The purpose of this book is to show the effect of the environment on shaping the career of the author and at the same time to immortalize some of the people who were, in a microcosmic perspective, irreplaceable.

"To know Bill Turner is to know he is different. To spend an evening with MEMOIRS OF A FARM BOY is to begin to understand why. It is a look back, told by a marvelous storyteller, at some of the people, places and events which helped forge this unique personality. It is also a look back at a time lost, unfortunately forever, lamented by him more than most."

The Virginian Pilot, Outdoors Editor.


In EAST OF THE CHESAPEAKE Bill Turner writes about characters who might have inspired the likes of Daymon Runyon or Erksine Caldwell. Not that Turner is another Runyon or Caldwell. He isn't. He's Bill Turner. An original. In sculpting terms, a one-off.

In writing about folks like Bill White and Jim Boggs, about Sweetheart, Froggy, Cabell and Mitt, Turner writes about honest-to-goodness characters.

Mostly, EAST OF THE CHESAPEAKE is about the people, places and events which molded Turner into the same kind of character. Had Cabell Mapp outlived the author; he might have been the writer, Turner the subject.

Mix these characters with Turner's fascination of the outdoors and things wild, plus his rooted love of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the title's inspiration, and you have the makings of a promising read. Add Turner's bent for storytelling and you have an entralling read.

Most chapters will make you chuckle. Some may make you laugh out loud. Others, like Froggy's Garden, may bring a tear.

Are all the stories true? Are they all fiction? Are they a mixture of the two? Does it really matter?

The (Norfolk) Virginia Pilot.

"Bill Turner has done it again! Another wonderful memoir of growing up and living in a place wonderfully out of sync with the rest of our one-size-fits-all world. Turner uses his familiarity with Virginia's Eastern Shore much the way that William Faulkner used his semi-mythical Mississippi county to create a cast of character-rouges and heroes alike - whose adventures and misadventures we recall - and chuckle over - long after we've put his books down. "

Author of "The Heron Hill Chronicle" and "Wanderer on My Native Shore".


“I’ve been fortunate to have known Bill Turner for more than half my three-score-plus years. In the beginning, he was my dentist. But he was always more: painter, taxidermist, architect, builder, carver, sculptor, conservationist, county supervisor, and, finally – when he’d lived long enough to have something to say, and heard enough different voices to know how to say it well – a writer.

It’s a good thing he began writing when he did, for his stories capture forever the flavor of the Virginia Eastern Shore for which my wife and I came but which is now rapidly fading away.”

George Reiger
Conservation Editor Emertis

"...Bill Turner no longer pulls or fills teeth. He no longer builds brick ranchers. His sculpting, while not set aside, often takes a back seat to his other interests, including: paintings, drawings, inventions, and his impressive herd of grandchildren.
And his interest in writing books. His next, already in the works, is about building boats. This one, I suspect, will be completely true.
I love boats, having owned more than I wish to admit. But I enjoy more reading Bill Turner’s versions of “Legends.” Like Judge Whedbee, such a marvelous storyteller is he that it matters not that the stories are full truths, half-truths or none of the above."

Robert P. Hutchinson
Virginia Beach, Virginia
August, 2005



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Henry Turner was born on May 27, 1935 in rural Northampton County on Virginia's "Eastern Shore". His parents were Major Evans Turner and Nellie Custis Turner.

After a few years at his birthplace, a hamlet know as "Buzzard's Glory", and the birth of a sister, the family moved to the nearby village of Belle Haven. It was an ongoing struggle to subsist at a reasonable level with little education but no fear of hard work.

The stay in Belle Haven was cut short by World War II, when the family moved to Newport News, Va. Both parents worked at Newport News Shipbuilding for the remainder of the conflict.

In the city, the author was torn between his early love of the country and his desire for family ties. He spent as much time as possible with relatives in his homeland. Following the war, the family returned to Belle Haven. It was then that he began to hunt, fish, explore, observe and enjoy nature.

He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1957 with a degree in anthropology. In 1957 he married Mary Ann Killmon and they had three sons, William II, David and Robert.

After another unsuccessful attempt to conform to city life and to utilize his education, he entered the Medical College of Virginia dental school. Graduating in 1969, he was able to return for good to his homeland.

During this time his interest in painting and sculpture gradually led to his becoming a full-time sculptor.

His oldest son, Bill, now has taken over his dental practice. His youngest son, Bob, is a local attorney. Dave is a sculptor and partner with his father in Turner Sculpture, the largest private bronze foundry and gallery in the United States.

Their works appear in hundreds of museums, universities, art galleries, businesses and fine homes throughout the nation and in several foreign countries.


Song of the Mockingbirds

by Walkley Johnson


This book is better than any of my three. Of course, this doesn't mean a lot. I did the mediocre illustrations and Johny wrote a great book . This was only one of many of our collaborations on serious subjects, such as: gill netting, dynamiting fish, boat building, duck hunting and other things I can't mention at this time - Johny being a respected lawyer and all that.

Johny is a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School and his undergraduate degree was in Literature. I took my degree in Anthropology. That is why Johny is retired and I'm not.

We have been friends since childhood which covers 2/3 of a century.

I hope his wife Julie will let him do another book.



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