Saturday, February 02, 2008

Serenades and Signings at the Illinois Centre Mall

Thanks to Carol Jennings, authors from our area had a fun day signing books at the Illinois Centre Mall today. An administrative assistant in the mall office, Carol came up with the idea of having an early February annual book fair where writers could sell their books to the public. This was the third year for the event, and it has grown and gotten better every year. Authors from here who go to Sturgis, Kentucky, are impressed with the floods of people who come to the fair grounds there all day long for the sole purpose of buying books. There has been nothing like this in Southern Illinois.

However, if the Third Winter Book Fair is any indication, we may someday grow into something even more exciting. Refining the fair every year, Carol outdid herself this year. Attractive posters at the entrances announced our presence. Attractive cloths graced a generous-sized table for each author. Chairs and table name tags awaited us. All we had to do was carry in our books and fountain pens. The cookie store gave each author a coupon for a huge free soda The foot traffic was heavy--perhaps because people were so pleased to have a lovely sunny Saturday after yesterday’s bitter cold snow day keeping the kids home from school. There were twenty-two authors who enrolled to sign and a great variety of books including many poetry books. Judy Askew was up from Brookport, Rick Keisheim from Robinson, and Sheri Richardson was down from O’Fallon, Missouri. The rest of us had less far to drive.

Besides seeing friends and making new ones, perhaps the highlight for me was the children’s violin recital in our midst--bringing a host of parents and grandparents with them. There were tiny children with tiny violins and older kids with large violins. The program was diverse and delightful. Seeing these beautiful children poised and talented performing on difficult instruments was an unexpected treat.

I am sentimental about violins because my father played one. When my sister Rosemary was young living in Jonesboro, Daddy took her to weekly violin lessons from a gentleman in Anna. Thus, she was prepared to play in the high school orchestra. He listened in on the lessons and also learned to play.

When he and Mother retired in Goreville, one aspect of their social life was asking other couples in for the evening. If one of the couple could play piano and it was usually the wife, Daddy would enlist her to play the piano while he played the violin. Mother and the other husband would usually play Chinese checkers together. Daddy became quite proficient at the hymns they practiced, and Mother became quite good on the star-shaped board. I always knew who would win when I played her.

Daddy liked to go with his church group once a month to play hymns and sing at the Vienna nursing home. He was still doing this when he was so old that he was no longer steady on his feet. Naturally, the elderly residents loved for one of their own age to come and play. Daddy would leave the house and smile wickedly at Mother and me and say, “Well, I have got to go play the violin for the old folks.”

That was a long time ago, for Daddy’s violin was silenced first by the ravages of Parkinson and then by his joining a heavenly choir. Yet for my sister and me, a violin is a symbol of our father, and we are quick to choose a Christmas or birthday card that has a violin on it. We each know the other one will remember the same man when it is opened. Daddy loved children, and he would have been even more pleased than I was if he had heard the well-trained youngsters at the mall today

Addendum: Those authors at the mall today were Jim Lambert, Pat Evans, Violet Toler, Mary L. Hackett, Carol Jennings, Dixie Terry, Anne-Marie Legan, Joy King, Harry Boyd, Rick Kelsheim, Ron Schmeck,Patty Morrison, Ernestine Brasher, Sherri Richardson, Judy Askew, David Bond, Roger Poppen, Sue Glasco, Fog Gilbert, Jon Musgrave, Marie Samuel, Jeri Beth McRoy. Did I miss anyone?

No comments: