Max Yoho was born 18 June 1934, in Colony, KS, and died 24 April 2017 in Topeka, KS. He graduated from Topeka High School and attended Washburn University, where he began to write features for The Washburn Review. He set writing aside for thirty-eight years while he worked as a machinist and raised a family. In 1992 he retired so he could give more time to writing.
“One of Topeka’s finest authors,” the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library lauded him, with an “off-beat sense of humor and mind boggling leaps of logic.” He was a favorite among the Kansas authors who gave public readings. Laughter always accompanied his readings.
His characters are unforgettable. For instance there is the eleven-year old boy, Edwin J. Stamford who cut his toe while trying to learn to shave. Learning to be a man is so hard! And, there is his sister, “Irene the Rat” (but you didn’t hear me say that!). And another, the same age, Jefferson Davis Johnson, who has been “sentenced” by his parents to a summer of “moral rehabilitation” under the watchful eye of his great aunt, Queen Isabella of Spain Johnson. No joke, that is her name. She turns out to be a very unreformed flapper with a mind of her own regarding what is proper and what is not. Then there is baby Harry, who is watched over and mentored by Wyatt. Wyatt just happens to be an owl, but not just any random owl, an owl with taste and refinement. Wyatt always carries a toothpick in his mouth, er…beak, but only toothpicks from a specific kind of tree. As one of his boys, Wally Eugene Gant, said, “I had learned, long before, the truth of that old saying: Ignorance is bliss. I had learned that the more ignorant my mom was about my comings and goings the more blissful I was likely to remain.”
Boys of a certain age, teetering between boyhood and adolescence, are Max’s specialty. They are becoming aware of, and trying to figure out, the adult world, but don’t quite have all the pieces yet. One piece they are working on are words, big words, words that are not used every day. What the heck do they mean? The boys practice, and we find out.
Max was a member of my writing group for years and years, yet not enough years. He’s gone now and a special light has gone out of my life. His sense of humor carried him everywhere. My grandmother grew up with the name Yoho, and all Yoho’s in this country are descended from the one (or was it two?) who came from Germany so far back, I can’t remember. Johanns Yoho, yet Max asserted that he was adopted – so he and I obviusly could not be related. Right!!!
Thank you, Max. I will miss you forever.
Max published five novellas, all following his motto to “never let reality limit your life,” and one collection of poems, essays and short stories. They are:
The Revival, (2001)
Tales from Comanchee County: The Peculiar Education of Max Freeman, (2002)
Felicia, These Fish Are Delicious, poems, essays and short stories, (2004)
The Moon Butter Route, (2006)
The Wisdom of Owls, (2010)
Me and Aunt Izzy: Doing Time at the Jesse James Hideout and Coal Mining Company, (2011)
Several won awards:
The Revival, novella – J. Donald Coffin Memorial Award: 2002.
Felicia, These Fish Are Delicious, poems, essays and short stories – “Ten Best Reads”: 2004.
The Moon Butter Route, novella – Kansas Notable Book: 2006, and J. Donald Coffin Memorial Award: 2007.
The Moon Butter Route and The Revival – two of twelve “Kansas Favorite Books” by the Kansas Center for the Book, a division of the Kansas State Library: 2007.