Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Granny’s fifth year turns into book effort

In September, 1994, I faced Jim Robertson and cautiously asked something like, "You wouldn’t be interested in a column about the old days, would you?" He answered by asking to see what I had in my hands.

"Some true stories I wish to pass on to my seven grandchildren," I said.

Intellectually curious as Robertson is, he said, "Let me see them."

I handed him the folder on which I had scribbled, "Granny’s Notes" and trembled as he read a paragraph of each of several entries. I expected him to agree that he "wouldn’t be interested in a column about the old days." "‘Granny’s Notes,’ " he said. "That’s what we’ll call it."

He suggested that I "sort of introduce yourself to the readers to start off."

Today, for the fifth time, I start a new year and "sort of introduce myself to you readers."

In one of our brief conversations I had occasion to say to Robertson, "The stories are endless — but I’m not!"

That set me to thinking: "book."

Actually I couldn’t get the idea out of my head completely.

Henry Grimes of Chapman and Grimes Publishing Company in Boston read a short piece I wrote in 1936 for a contest. He wrote to say, in part, "If you should ever have enough for a volume, I should like very much, indeed, to see the manuscript."

More than a year ago my family offered to team up to self-publish a collection of true short stories I’d jotted down on backs of envelopes and on yellow sheets with strike-over typing.

They date back to junior high school days when I wrote a rhyme to my English teacher who was home with the flu.

Some have been dealt with in this column, but most have been in my "piling" system for many years.

I chose to call the collection of stories "My First 84 Years — Granny’s Notes." The title does not imply that it’s an autobiography.

The reader won’t need a book mark. Each one of about a hundred stories is complete within itself and there’ll be photographs and maps of two farms.

I’m an unusual person — a native Boone Countian who grew up on a dairy farm and married a great fellow named Walter F. "Chub" Gerard who studied engineering, worked for Boone Electric Coop and later was an inspector of new construction for the University of Missouri.

Our son started Walt’s Bike Shop — now owned by Frank Morris — and our daughter, Nancy, started Boone’s Lick Trail Antiques — now called Friends Together Antiques.

I taught water sports and recreation at Columbia (Christian) College from 1935 until retirement in 1972, except for four years when the children were little. We were a camping family, touring in this country and sometimes abroad, sometimes by bicycle.

Now, we are a family team registered as "Whip- Poor-Will Books," a publishing company.

Our dear friend, Cheryl Riley, editor, researches every minute detail. Nancy, managing editor, is a serious taskmaster who keeps all of us "focused."

Peter Gerard, a senior at Rock Bridge High School, is both designer and publisher.

On Labor Day weekend he put most of the book’s 300 pages on disk. Next he will add maps and about thirty pictures. Then it goes to the printer and is expected back in a month or six weeks.

Five of our grandchildren did artwork and several will help with sales and distribution.

Walt helps wherever needed, which is often.

Chub was the greatest reader of us all and was pulling for the success of the book in spite of his failing health. Two months after our happy 60th wedding anniversary dinner he died at age 88 years.

It set us all back for a while but I think he would be proud of the way we rebounded to complete the book in his absence.

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