On Friday, after lunch, Stan and I drove back through the Ocoee River Gorge towards the new East Polk County Library in Ducktown, Tennessee for a completely different, but equally wonderful presentation. When Stan and I lived in the mountains, Ducktown and Copperhill didn't have a library. Since then, a vacant retail space was donated for the cause and it is so exciting that this area finally has a library of their very own.
The space was a little tighter - we literally squeezed in between the stacks. You can't really see the group well, but we had about 30 5th and 6th graders. Their teachers had been reading A BIRD ON WATER STREET to them, so they were already familiar with the story, which made for the most delightful questions and nodding of the heads. Gads, I loved it!
For this one, I once again talked about the history of the area, but with the important difference of saying "It used to look like this, right where we're sitting - this is your back yard." I then asked how many of them had a miner in their family. Every hand went up. Every single one. Wow.
Local friends stepped in to help and make the event extra special. Doris Abernathy showed up (the book is dedicated to her). Seu Jacobi helped run my slide-show...
then she read an excerpt from the book in front of the group. One of the funniest moments was when Seu leaned over to me and pointed to a word in the book with her eyebrows raised. I smiled and said, "Darn!" Doris, who was standing there too, read it and said, "Damn!" (Which is what it actually said in the book.) Nobody was going to tell this 86-year-old lady to clean up the language! I laughed so hard!
Then a truly special treat - Lisa Jacobi, the lead singer from Playing on the Planet, whose band played at my launch party in Decatur, played "Muddy Road to Ducktown" on her fiddle. The song is over 100-years-old and has been passed down from player to player. It's about hauling copper in and out of the area via mules or oxen on a road that, because of the deforestation, was mostly mud and extremely hard to traverse. I share the history through story, she shares the history through song. It was so wonderful to share both with these kids.
Again, this was the first time the library had hosted an author, and I hope I'm not the last. Denise Burke did a great job of pulling things together. Thank you to the school for bringing the kids in. And thank you to the adults (and reporters) who stood in the back, just as mesmerized as the kids. I will never forget this wonderful event and I'm so glad I was able to share!