|Dead Man's Clothes is a collection of anecdotes from author Dale Davidson about growing up next to a line of the Milwaukee Railroad and the State of Washington Convalescent Home, known to the locals as the bum camp. In 1935, King County opened a convalescent center in Tolt, Washington for the purposes of removing homeless alcoholics from the street. If a man was found on the streets in the northwest cities of Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle and Everett and didn't have a job, he would soon be on a bus and headed east to the town of Tolt, home to this state-owned camp. This camp became the favorite place of young Dale Davidson and he learned many life lessons from his time spent there. He learned the value of hard work, how to listen, how to make friends and how to be a friend. He also learned the importance of accepting others, regardless of their differences.
Written in a down-home, conversational style, the book openly depicts the rough and tumble life experienced by so-called winos and other less fortunate members of society. But it also shows how kids are able to look beyond those labels imposed by people higher in the social order and see the fascinating characters that exist in all walks of life. Accompanied by numerous charming cartoons, the book also offers sketches of life on a farm in the rural Snoqualmie Valley. By turns entertaining, amusing, ribald and even earnest, this book is sure to be enjoyed by all.
The book is made up of two parts and presents the stories in a chronological order. The first section mostly involves anecdotes about the goings-on in the bum camp and the author's interactions and fascination with the individuals who lived there. The section ends with the closing of the camp.
The second part of the book focuses on the author's life on the farm, working at the family sawmill and other personal and familial experiences and adventures. It also celebrates the rural way of life, particularly in the northwest region of Washington State. The book ends with some words of wisdom and final thoughts on life and how to live it.
There are cartoons throughout the book that relate to the various anecdotes.