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A Writer Comes Home

A Writer Comes Home

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Published by Cathlene Smith
An article written after my book signing in my Mother's hometown. Going home again - wow!
An article written after my book signing in my Mother's hometown. Going home again - wow!

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Published by: Cathlene Smith on Sep 27, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/27/2010

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A Writer Comes HomeBy Cathlene SmithSaturday, September 12
th
, 2009, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was slated todo a book signing at the Helper City Library; promoting my thriller, "Slivers of Reality." I had attended many book signings and readings in the previous months;but not in Helper.My excitement grew as my husband - Don, Mother - Rose Rachele Gillespie andSister- Jennifer Gillespie drove down Helper's Main Street. I reached back fortyyears to the days when I traveled this same path with my Dad - Dan Gillespie,Mom and Jen.Helper, population, 2025; 1.8 square miles, is not my place of birth; but it is mymother's. The Rachele family has graced this immigrant, mining and railroad townwith its: Swinging Bridge, Balancing Rock, and rich western history for decades.My Uncle Raymond, Aunt Shirley and Cousin Eldon still call this quaintsettlement, home. My precious Aunt Vee, or Iola Cobain as she was known tomost; was the Helper City Librarian for fifty-five plus years.Yes, while not my birthplace; Helper was always considered "home." My familyand I spent a few weeks every summer: lazing on the porch of my grandparentsSam and Rosina Rachele's house, listening to the sounds of train whistles. Weshopped at Cornet's Five and Dime where candy was truly a penny and paper kiteswere a ten cents. We drank sodas at Veltri's Drug, went to church at St. Anthony's,and traveled the eight miles to Price to Checkerboard Grocery to eat licorice whipsand gulp down Orange Nesbit; Uncle Guido refusing to take any money.Life was simple in Helper. You got up, watered the garden, swam at the old poolacross from my Aunt Helen and Uncle John Bradley's home, and helped Aunt Veeat the Helper City Library. I loved those memories, they flooded me as we arrivedfor my book signing.Amanda Holley, a young, attractive librarian with an adorable personality to match,went to much detail in preparing the event. A folding sign announcing my arrivalgreeted me. It stood under the watchful gaze of the enormous statue of the CoalMiner; affectionately named "Big John." Jenny and I used to run through his legsand sit on his enormous feet as we ate ice cream or popsicles; the drops of childhood hanging from our chins.
 
The library has changed. It was once the small building attached to the recreationhall that jutted out towards the street. Now, it replaces the old coal miningmuseum which once housed some of Helper's scariest exhibits in the coal black basement. The museum has also relocated across the street to the Old Helper Hoteland renamed, the "Western Mining and Railroad Museum."Amanda rushed about carrying plates of cookies and drinks. Her assistant, LeilaAndrews greeted me with home town charm. I had just finished a rather largebook signing event in Salt Lake at the People's Market, surrounded by other localauthors, the Utah Humanities Council, the Salt Lake City Library Association andother celebrities and institutions of note. I was a tiny minnow in a sea of wordsmiths; a bit out of place. In Helper, I was treated as a celebrity, which bringsa shy smile to my face.Amanda arranged several chairs in the hall with a speaker's table and receptionarea. I was delighted and touched by her efforts. I asked if I could sneak a peek inthe library before my scheduled event. My mission was one of guilty pleasure; Iwanted to touch and smell the books I used to dust. I wanted to look at the yellow-aged pockets where the checkout cards were meticulously signed and dated.Jennifer and I delighted in pasting many of these pockets, then rolling the rubbercement into a ball before being caught by Aunt Vee.They were all there: The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Boxcar Children; all of thebooks so lovingly enjoyed by our generation and the ones that came after. Thecard holders were there too and even with faded print; I could make out thesignature of a child from 1957. I fingered the small, stiff card and envisioned thechild who checked out the book under the watchful eye of my aunt.The book signing was sparse - but when you figure the population; I'd say about2% of the town showed up that day. Not bad; a much higher ratio than the book signings in Salt Lake.I took my seat; as my Mother and Sister explored the town. Don was there, asalways; a tremendous support. Amanda and a delightful woman, Anna sat downand for an hour, they interviewed me. Yes it was just the four of us at first; but thequestions, the interest and my ability to relax made it the most delightfulpresentation of my book to date.Later, my mother and sister returned from their adventure. Several others stoppedin to welcome us and purchase a book. Mark; the caretaker of the library and his

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