Welcome to my website and blog. I hope you have read “The Burlington Agreement,” or plan to, and have some comment to make about the book. I know I do. If you're interested in purchasing the book, please visit my site on Amazon by clicking this link.
First of all, why did I write it? That’s really simple. My wife asked me to write it. One day after telling her yet another story about my childhood she said “You should write your stories down so your grandchildren will have them to read after you are gone. Don’t you wish your grandfather had done that for you?”
I protested, “I don’t know how to write. I have no education or experience in writing.” Her response was at first perplexing but then it made sense. “I am not asking you to be a writer. I am asking you to tell your stories so your grandchildren can read them.”
I said, “Okay but where do I start?”
She thought for a while and then said, “Remember your 50th year high school reunion dinner? One of your classmates, who is now a college professor of African American Studies, got up and said he was grateful that you went to his home, in a black section of Huntington, West Virginia, the day before he was to integrate your school and told him to see you if he had any trouble or needed any help. He said you gave him confidence that he could make it in the white man’s world. He said that was the beginning of his distinguished career and his many accomplishments. But later you told me that you didn’t remember doing that. I think you should start there and explain to your grandchildren how, at such a dangerous time in American history, you could do such a remarkable thing so cavalierly that you don’t even remember doing it.”
With a lot of time on my hands, I tried to remember. I tried to remember things I had all of my life tried to forget. I tried to remember my ancestors, Burlington, and my childhood. I couldn’t do it. Finally, I gave up. I decided to write a historical fiction.
Jeanette Wall had previously encouraged me to write. I was honored to have lunch with her on March 13, 2010 at Washington and Lee University, where she was speaking at the seventh annual Tom Wolf seminar on “Hardship, Resilience, and the art of the Memoir.” We discussed the similarities of our past and she encouraged me to write about my experiences growing up in Burlington, Ohio.
But before you open the book, you will enjoy that remarkable pencil drawing by Willard Gayheart. He is a fantastic artist and a wonderful man who seems decades younger than his age. Born in 1932 near Hazard, Kentucky, he attended Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. Eventually he moved to our area where his remarkable talent has preserved in drawings the ways of the people of the mountains, especially the musicians. I was honored when he agreed to create the cover for me. The original hangs in my study, but if you wish to see more of his work, there are several book compilations of his work in print.
Let me tell you about this man. When I picked up the original, I was really impressed. I asked him “What do I owe you?”
He responded, “Just pay me whatever you think it is worth.”
I wrote a check and handed it to him. After looking at the check he appreciatively said, “No one has ever paid me that much. Thank you.” As far as I am concerned, his work is priceless. I wish I had paid him more.
Now you need to know that you would not have read “The Burlington Agreement” if it were not for Marguerite Williams. She is “the Marguerite Williams” who is the author of the entertaining thriller “Madame President.” Look at your bookshelf. Do you see it there? If not, put that on your “to do” list. Get it. You won’t regret it.
Margo lives in Davidson, North Carolina where she owns A Way With Words, a business that provides editing and consulting services to writers and others who wish to communicate via the written word. She did everything for me, except write the book. Actually, she even consulted on that, too. Without her, there would be no book and I would be minus a few toes. She saved me several times from shooting myself in the foot.
Finally, I hope, from time to time, to add relevant pictures. Coming in the future will be a photo of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. For more information, see the article about the church in Wikipedia. Also, I have obtained permission from Mary Louise Holt to copy her painting “Ambush from Hanging Rock,” which shows three Shawnee Indians on Hanging Rock overlooking the Ohio River valley. Craig Cox of Cox Colvin has agreed to let me to show you his aerial photo of the South Point plant, mentioned in the book.
If you are already a reader, thank you. If not, I hope you will pick up the book and let me hear from you!