Have you ever met a good storyteller? To me, it’s usually not the story itself that is so entertaining, but the manner in which the storyteller tells it. My dad is one of the best storytellers I’ve ever known. He is usually our holiday entertainment as we sit around the table with full bellies listening to him spin a yarn about his hunting buddies or stories from his youth. Some other good storytellers can be found in this month’s books.
Eastern Kentucky native Clyde Roy Pack, author of Muddy Branch, is back with more stories of coal camp life in Coal-Camp Chronicles (Where? Press, $15). While his first book covered more of what it was like to be a child in the coal camp, Coal-Camp Chronicles details the life of the miner and the town’s opinion of the mining company. Pack has included many clips from the Paintsville Herald, dating as far back as 1907, relaying news of such things as mining deaths, measures by the company to improve camp life, and even news of a scandalous trial. As before, Pack tells each story with the warm tone of happily recalled memories being shared. Pack has a way of making his readers feel as though each individual is his only audience. An index is included, alphabetically listing each person mentioned in the book.
Joseph Woodson Oglesby of Louisville shares his boyhood memories in Dinner with D.W. Griffith and Other Memories (Borgo Press, $15.95). Oglesby grew up in the ’30s and ’40s in Louisville enjoying a fairly comfortable childhood as the son of a successful businessman. His life was not without adventure, though, as he lived through the Great Flood of 1937, was bedridden for a year while recovering from a heart condition, and was related to a noted Hollywood film director. He describes in detail these and other major events in his life, and includes photos of several of the key players in these stories. After describing the delights of his grandmother’s lemon meringue pie, he goes so far as to include her recipe for it.
Another Paintsville author, Bryan Auxier, questions Where Have All the Fairies Gone? in his latest children’s book (Where? Press, $7.95). Again done in his trademark lilting verse, this delightful fable tells of fairies coming out to play with children. When they have all lingered too long in the darkness of night, the fairies turn themselves into lightning bugs to safely guide the children back home. Cindy Muncy Ramey of Hagersville illustrated the book in a cartoon style, making it even more inviting for a naptime or bedtime story. Try catching some fireflies with your little ones, then sharing this story. It is sure to add new meaning to a favorite summer pastime.