CAVORTING WITH THE AISLES OF AUTHORS

There I was last Saturday (December 2) looking in the bathroom mirror early in the morning, trying to decide whether to attend the popular Holiday Author Fair at the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center on West Ohio Street. As a retired newspaper vagabond and late-in-life book writer with a recent book release of his own (Dialing in on DI-AL-Y-SIS), I was curious to see what real authors look like.

Staged in the Indiana Historical Society Library & Archive, what was promised as “a fun-filled day of mixing, mingling and book signing” was up to its hype. There were dozens of bona fide authors sitting at tables offering their books for public consumption, and some who have been doing so at this annual holiday event for more than a decade.

There were many prominent authors among those whose literary work were displayed at the Holiday Author Fair.

For example, former Indiana legislator Michael B. Murphy caught my eye. Situated in the History book section, Murphy was touting a book titled The Kimberlins Go to War: A Union Family in Copperhead Country. His story centers on a family that sent 33 fathers and sons, brothers and cousins, to fight for the Union during the Civil War. Ten family members were killed, wounded, or died of battlefield disease, a 30-percent casualty rate that is unmatched in recorded Scott County history.

Also in the History section was a likely recognizable name for many. Andrea Neal was offering Road Trip: A Pocket History of Indiana. Neal is a U.S. History and English teacher and also serves as an adjunct scholar and columnist with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. Until 2003 she was a journalist, most recently at the Indianapolis Star, where she served as reporter, assistant city editor, editorial writer, and editorial page editor.

Abe Aamidor, another former journalist (at The Indianapolis News), was found in the Sports books section. He may have had one of the longer titles of the day — Chuck Taylor, All Star: The True Story of the Man behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History.

One interesting chat was with H.W. Kondras, a Terre Haute woman who was found in the Nonfiction section where her primary presentation was titled Indiana Crosswords, 3rd Edition. But what really caught my attention was another of her books on display — Detroit Red Wings: Hockeytown USA Trivia.

Back in the day of black-and-white television (about 65 years ago), when I was an elementary student, the National Hockey League experimented by bringing its brand for viewing to Central Kansas, where I was born and raised. A screen promo was aired between periods that offered information. I responded and was surprised and pleased that the six-team NHL sent me a rule book and black-and-white player cards of every player on all the teams. The teams back then included the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers in the United States and two from north of the border, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Detroit became my favorite team, and the Red Wings’ goalie Terry Sawchuk was my favorite player.

Another quite interesting Nonfiction display belonged to photographers/authors Lee Mandrell and DeeDee Niederhouse-Mandrell and two of their books, Indiana Across the Land and Great Smoky Mountains. Their work is described as breathtaking, with pictures that take those thumbing through the books to many spectacular sites off the beaten path that are both well-known and rarely glimpsed.

DeeDee’s parents, Charlene and Jim Niederhouse, and I visit usually three times a week; Charlene and I are both dialysis patients. I was introduced to DeeDee one morning in the lobby of the treatment center.

Also in view in the Sports section was the work titled Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis. Author Mark Montieth was unable to attend the fair, but seeing his books on a table reminded me of one of his writing efforts that I found particularly compelling. Being an end stage kidney disease patient, I was moved by his personal account of battling cancer, and doing so by opting for treatment other than what is customarily prescribed in the United States. His cancer story is available online at www.markmontieth.com. It’s a very worthwhile read.

And so worthwhile was a couple of hours spent at the Holiday Author Fair, where I discovered there is no stereotype for what these book-writing wizards look like. That is sure a great relief for what I saw in the mirror at the start of the day.