Wednesday, December 22, 2004

More shameless self-promotion...

Books Alive is coming up and I've managed to get listed on the Web site. This link will take you directly to my little corner of their pocket universe. There's other nice stuff on there too about good people you're liable to know, like Michael Lister and Janis Owens and Sammie Garnett, and others too numerous to list. Please explore. And if I don't get back online before then: Have a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Dazed and Raving in the Undercurrents... now listed at Books A as this:

"Dazed and Raving in the Undercurrents
by Tony Simmons
Available: Print-on-demand title. Ships within 5-15 days.
Our Price: $20.85
Millionaire's Club Price: $18.77
Members Save $2.08 ! (10%)"

and it's listed at Barnes and with a cover photo as well and the follwing information:
"B&N Price: $18.95
Member Price: $18.00
Available for Pre-Order
This item will be available on December 28."

Still not showing up at Amazon.

A recent Undercurrents Column about Century:

(The following appeared as my "Undercurrents" column in The News Herald on Nov. 28, 2004. It ran with a photo contributed by the youth minister of Northside Baptist Church.)

Home is where the heart is

He had sat on the very same front porch and eaten lunch from a paper plate. He had worked in the same yard, toting limbs, cutting grass, digging roots, raking leaves. He had played among the monster azaleas.

He would never have expected to stand in a city nearly 120 miles away and see pictures of other people sitting on that same porch and eating their lunches, working in that yard, toting limbs and raking leaves, moving among the stunted azaleas.

But there he was, and there were the pictures. There was the house, worse for wear and the passage of years, leaning like an old woman, its windows dark, its paint wrinkled and peeling. And there were the other people with their lunches, and limbs and leaves. There they sat on the porch where he had sat so many times and in different seasons.

The house still stands, though parts of it stand straighter than others, off Hecker Road in Century. It was his grandmother’s house, and after her death last year it was occupied for a time by his father. It now belongs to the Escambia County School Board, and it stands between Century Elementary and the former campus of Century High School. The school district leased the high school building to a local church and recently added the old house to the lease.

When Ivan did his worst to flatten Century, the winds knocked over magnolia, pine and pecan trees in Grandma’s yard (because, no matter who holds the lease, it will always be Grandma’s to him). The church asked for help cleaning up debris, and a youth group at a Panama City church responded.

A couple of weeks later, and quite by chance, the man paused in a hallway of that church, North-side Baptist, and looked at photographs tacked to a bulletin board. Here he found a crowd of people caring for a stranger’s house, a house he never had expected to see under these circumstances — one he had anticipated seeing only from a distance, if ever again at all.

In fact, he had expected the district to bulldoze the place, certainly not to allow a church to use it to house visiting missionaries and such-like. He thought of how he missed that front porch, and those days of play and work, and the old woman who had lived there, who always had been an old woman in his memory.

And he wondered if the people in the photos had any idea how their afternoon of sweat could have rekindled a lifetime of memory and years yet to come of appreciation for the work they did for strangers.

And he thought, perhaps, Grandma would be pleased.