Recently my son Bradford Rogers, owner of Worldsongs, Inc. and publisher of my book Depression Baby, asked me to do a podcast with him. He asked me the question “How did you get started writing?” I had never given this a lot of thought.
On reflection, a writer may have this inclination in his or her genes. My father, Frank L. Rogers, liked to write. However, he had little time to pursue this endeavor, having to put food on the table for a faithful wife and six children on the salary of a school teacher.
My brother, Mark Twain Rogers, entered a speaking contest and asked Dad for advice concerning choice of a speech to recite. Dad wrote a speech for Mark under a pen name, never telling Mark who wrote the speech. Well, Mark won the contest! This confirms our father’s talent for writing. Also note my brother’s unlikely name, Mark Twain, reflecting Dad’s appreciation of a great writer, whose real name was Samuel Clemmons.
An aunt of mine, Elizabeth Rogers Rutledge, was very talented in writing poems. My sisters, Jane Rogers Hyatt and Dale Rogers Dotson, are talented writers. My niece, Sharyn Hyatt Wade, is a talented poet as well as a recognized artist and teacher. We have a great uncle, Clark Medford, who published about half a dozen books, one printed after his age eighty.
Also, Uncle Clark wrote a column in the Asheville Citizen newspaper for many years aptly named “Uncle Abe,” playing on his having some resemblance of President Abe Lincoln. Therefore, there is some documentation of writing being in the Rogers and Medford genes. My apologies to other family writers not mentioned.
When I was in the eighth grade, I enrolled in a new school, the Waynesville Township High School. I came to realize that there was no school newspaper, so me and four of my buddies starting publishing “The Campus News.” We called ourselves The Big Five. One of the Five later became my brother-in-law, Aaron Hyatt. Aaron had a distinguished career as a College President and an International Leader of Rotary Clubs.
George Wallace “Wally” Brown became a prominent physician in Waynesville, North Carolina. Tommy “Jeep” Norris was an inventor, baseball coach and a lay religious leader despite being paralyzed from a diving accident. Bill Richeson was a corporate executive. It was my lot to be owner of an insurance agency for 57 years.
Little did The Big Five realize what hand the cards of life would deal them, but there were some good hands dealt and I am proud to be a member of The Big Five.
Later on in high school, I wrote a couple of poems for my English teacher. She submitted them to The National Poetry Anthology and they were published, one being “The Fox Hole,” which was written in the mid-World War II era. A few of my writings were published in a Mars Hill College literary publication.
While on the board and as president of the National Association of State Farm Agents, I contributed regularly to our monthly publication, the “Mirror” magazine. During this time frame, the “Mirror” received an award for being the best in its class of magazines.
My sister, Jane, was putting together a loose-leaf booklet for a gift to our sister, Sara, who had Parkinsons. Jane asked me to contribute, so I wrote a couple of stories about my experiences on my grandfather’s farm when I was ten years old.
I later came to realize that these experiences on the farm of John and Mary Rogers would be lost forever if I did not write about them. So I have attempted to capture a bit of the culture of the mountains of Western North Carolina, and what life was like during the Great Depression and World War II.
These stories were originally intended to be passed along to my large extended family hoping that they would come to know and cherish their family roots, and have some knowledge of the culture from whence they came.
After I had written several stories, friends and relatives encouraged me to publish these stories that were on my blog site. Bradford has been the driving force in publishing my first book, and my second book will soon become a reality.
Click HERE to order Ray’s book Depression Baby: True Stories from Growing Up During the Great Depression in Appalachia — and Other Things…
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