Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Book’s success owed to family, friends

What a joy! I met many of you readers Jan. 30 at the Tribune’s reception and book-signing event! You were childhood friends, bicycle buddies, swimming students and parents of swimmers. Many said, "You don’t know me but I read ‘Granny’s Notes’ every Tuesday." One takes the paper to the bedroom and reads the story to her husband if he retires without reading it. Some were former neighbors or friends I hadn’t seen in years. Several of you are as old as I am, but one was 75 years younger!

I turned my hearing aid to the max and leaned far over the big table in order to visit with that youngest one who wasn’t much taller than the table. A parent watched this transaction from across the room. I also met the mother of a 4-year-old girl who, on the way out to our farm for swimming lessons, said, "This is where you turn down Wild Kingdom Road." We should have renamed Vemer’s Ford, that day! The child is now 29 years old.

One of you brought a copy of a young student’s two-page book review of "My First 84 Years," An hour later Cheryl Riley, who edited all 105 stories in my book, read young Hilary Shaw’s great two-page book report to our staff.

Some of you visited with my son, Walt Gerard, and his son, Peter, who is the publisher of "My First 84 Years." He was the tall one with glasses and curly hair. Let me tell you more about this fellow.

Pete designed the dust jacket, the black and silver hard covers and brought us suggestions to approve or reject, from time to time as we prepared the book, We liked his suggestions about paper quality, type size and font, page layout, size and placement of the 75 pictures, style and size of print. If he had a question about the electronic submission of disks, he’d call the Michigan printer for information. He did the difficult "pagination" which the rest of us could neither pronounce nor spell. He combined two photos and he cut a large one in half, reduced the size and replaced it without using scissors or glue. He learned a lot of tricks about computers as a student in Jefferson Junior High School.

One day, Valerie Long, our contact person at M&G Printing Co., asked our managing editor, Nancy Russell, to "please put Peter on the line." Nancy replied, "Oh, Valerie, I can’t do that. Peter’s at school. He’s a 17-year-old high school boy." Surprised, the woman told Nancy that she usually works with experienced publishers, repeat customers who often send camera-ready materials, "but I seldom receive material that is as well presented as was Peter’s."

The day we were choosing a name for this family undertaking, I said, "Maybe it could be something about the whippoorwills we see in the road at night, in summer?" Pete said, "That’s it, Whip-Poor-Will Books." Fifteen-year-old Oliver Gerard, with dark eyes and black hair, made a pencil drawing for our logo.

At the Tribune’s reception Nancy Russell opened books and handed them to me ready to sign and whispered, "Don’t talk, Mom. People are waiting. We can’t even see the end of that line." My son, Walt, and our friend, Cheryl Riley, helped in the hall to speed things along. One woman had a list of 10 persons to whom she was sending autographed books, and that saved a lot of time.

I extend special "Thanks" to those at the Tribune who helped with this project, especially Vicki Russell and Jim Robertson who waited patiently as we stayed overtime that day.

For further information about Whip-Poor-Will Books, address inquiries to 2000 E. Broadway, No. 277, Columbia, Mo., 65201; e-mail us at [email protected]

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