Monday, June 1, 2009
A Spark - My Town Monday
Where does the urge to write come from? For me it started with a love of books and great stories. From the time I could read I devoured tale after tale and today's My Town Monday I'm going to go back in time to one of my earliest reading memories.
In the early 80s I was a student at Oakdale Elementary here in Amarillo. And while I always liked school, my favorite class by far was that one magical hour each week when had library time. I must have been in about the second or third grade when our librarian sat us down and read us a a hilariously funny tale about a misguided, and over-serious cowdog. The dog proclaimed to be head of ranch security and while large of heart, he was a bit small of brains. And even cooler, the fictional ranch the dog lived on and guarded just happened to be situated right in the Texas Panhandle.
That dog's name was Hank, and after the librarian read a few chapters I was hooked. Of course I wanted to check out the book, but she only had one copy and with other classes to read to the librarian denied my request. I was desperate to know how Hank's adventure ended, but despite my disappointment I selected another title. Probably an Encyclopedia Brown tale. However, the librarian sensed my dejection and handed me a flyer.
With a kindly smile, she explained," The man who wrote Hank the Cowdog still lives near Amarillo. This Saturday he is going to be at the museum down in Canyon. He's going to read some from the book and sign autographs. I'm sure he'll have books available to buy. Maybe your parents will take you."
Of course I went right home and begged and pleaded to go. Ever the proponent of literacy, my mom quickly agreed, and that Saturday I sat on the concrete floor of the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum and listened to John Erickson read aloud. At the time I believe there was only one Hank the Cowdog book, but over the years the series has continued to grow and flourish and there are dozens of Hank titles now. As well as audio books, cartoon, and other assorted merchandise.
Did that long ago Saturday reading make me want to be a writer? I can't say that for certain, but I do know that Mr. Erickson and Hank built upon my love for books and that he was the first author I ever met in person. He smiled and signed a book for me that day. A book that sadly is gone now along with all of my other signed books that I had collected over the years. The fire took them but the flames did not take my memories or my love of books.
If you have never read any of the Hank the Cowdog series you should check it out. John Erickson still lives in the Texas Panhandle. In the small town of Perryton, Texas which is about 2 hours north of Amarillo. You can check out the Hank website here and read about John's refusal to take no for answer. With a stack of rejections and $2,000 of borrowed money he started his own publishing company, Maverick Books back in 1982.
And I'm also proud to report that this year, my son, a second grader, discovered Hank in his school library and we are several books into the series now. I say we because even though he enjoys reading them to himself, the boys like it even more when I read them aloud using a variety of goofy voices. I do a mean Drover if I do say so myself.
For More My Town Monday posts check back here throughout Sunday and Monday for links from all over the globe.
Lyzzydee -- Scratby, Norfolk, England
Jenn JIlks - Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Cloudia -- Honolulu, Hawaii
Chris -- Hong Kong, China
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Clare2E -- New York City. New York
J Wnter -- Cincinnati, Ohio
Mary -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio