Midway, located midway between Lexington and Frankfort, is a treasure trove of boutiques, antiques and great food that belies its tiny size. Like most small towns, the sense of community is strong, and neighbors help one another out. Author Bob Rouse captures this perfectly in his collection of Christmas short stories, Christmas in the Bluegrass: Hometown Holiday Stories, (Butler Books, $24.95), all set in his beloved hometown where he and his wife, Mary Beth, still live.
Stories such as “Getting Past Christmas,” about a widower and his daughters receiving a supernatural Christmas gift or “Merry Christmas Kitty,” about a classroom effort to comfort a lonely and beloved teacher will warm the reader’s heart. Other stories such as “The Bad Shepherd,” about the judgments of a curmudgeon or “Will Work for Toys,” about a reformed Christmas Scrooge might produce a little introspection while entertaining the reader with their colorful characters. “I’ve been in Midway every Christmas for nearly six decades, and with each story I write,” Rouse explains, “I walk through our town in someone else’s shoes.”
Ten stories in all make up Rouse’s first published book, each one originating with a morsel of truth, a good bit of humor, and his love for the town in which he grew up. Midway artist Susan Tucker provides the stories’ illustrations. Those familiar with the town will enjoy the mention of Midway hot spots such as the Corner Grocery and may even recognize the blending of local names into new ones. “The characters are wholly fictitious,” Rouse notes, “but the emotion, the drama … and the revelation are real.”
Rouse also serves as the editor of Courier, the official magazine of the National Tour Association, and while previously working for the Lexington Herald-Leader, his serial children’s stories were nationally syndicated. Around town, Rouse often reads aloud one of his stories at local events, making him somewhat of an eagerly anticipated celebrity. He can usually be found observing and writing at one of Midway’s many eateries, perhaps crafting plots from the lively goings-on he witnesses.