For those of you who don't know the name Dolly Freed, you might be interested in learning a little about her. If you know the name you most likely have read her book, entitled Possum Living, and you may be interested to know she has finally resurfaced, sort of.
Dolly was born circa 1960 and lived in Florida for her first eight years. Her parents divorced around 1974 and she quit school (encouraged by her dad because he knew she was the self-educating kind) with a 7th grade education. Her mother Marie kept Dolly's younger brother Carl, and remarried. Her father, Frank, found himself an unemployed “electronics technician” and circumstances led he and Dolly to a ½ acre lot outside of Philadelphia, where the majority of her book takes place.
Dolly and her father lived on that ½ acre for five years making very little money, yet living very well because of their self-sufficient and extremely frugal lifestyle. Her book detailing the experience was published in 1978, and has since become a homesteading and self-sufficient lifestyle underground classic.
I came across a digital copy online a few years ago and enjoyed the storyline as much as the frugal tips and recipes. She wrote the book with a refreshingly open, street (and garden) smart and occasionally precocious point of view, no doubt a reflection of her self schooling. It is a gem of a read, even the long pork part.
After a short documentary by Nancy Schreiber and an appearance on the Merv Griffin Show she for the most part disappeared. As the years passed speculation swirled about her whereabouts, if she was still alive and if Dolly Freed was even her real name.
A top Amazon reviewer claims to be her brother, while it seems her mother stuck with her candle making business. But not a word from Dolly.
After 30 years the long out of print Possum Living is being reprinted by Tin House Books, with an afterword by Dolly herself. According to the About Dolly section of the web page promoting the reprint “Following her success as an author, Dolly Freed grew up to become a NASA aerospace engineer. She aced the SATs with an education she received from the public library and put herself through college. She’s been an environmental educator, business owner, and college professor. She now lives in Texas with her husband and two children.”
The contact page even gives an email address for her, and the site says a blog is coming soon. Considering all of that I would consider Dolly “lost' no longer.