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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.