Deon: Fresh Air Son

Rose Marie Staton, University of Southern Maine


The memoir Deon: Fresh Air Son tells the story of an eight-year-old boy who travels from the Bronx to Maine through the Fresh Air Program. He visits Lexington, an environment that is nearly opposite to his New York home, except for the care and love that he enjoys in both places. Deon becomes a part of a family who lives on a gravel road in a very small community. This courageous child visits every summer for eight years. When he can no longer come to Maine through the program, the decision is made that he will come to the country to finish high school. Over the many visits, Deon learns to swim, forge streams, locate constellations, catch frogs, shoot guns and drive a car. He is both an ambassador and a racial target in the white world he chooses to make home.

The author credits him for helping her family recognize and appreciate the beauty of their place. Through his eyes the ordinary world became new. He brought humor and joy. Deon graduated and returned to his New York family. He became a father, a college graduate, a soldier, an American hero, an inspiration. Deon is greatly loved and missed by his New York and Maine family.