A week ago yesterday, I was one of the ten authors in the Old Chatham depot for the second annual Pittsylvania County Public Library's Book and Author Festival
. I'd really enjoyed last year's festival
, so I was delighted to be invited back. This time, besides selling books and chatting with readers and other authors, I did a presentation on "Confessions of an Under-published Author." Here I am at my display.
The festival is held inside the old Chatham depot that's now restored and is used as the Pittsylvania County History Research Center and Library
. This is a wonderful place for a festival—it's easy to find, not far away (only 27 miles for me), and has convenient parking. Plus authors can unload right at the entry door. Plus it has an interesting history.
For years the depot stood in ruins before being restored and reused as a research center. This picture gives you an idea of its transformation.
A miniature display shows how the depot looked in its heyday.
Just inside the door is a statue that used to be at the Chatham Library. The horses caught my eye right away.
The festival is about local authors and their books, and the ten authors at this year's festival offered an interesting variety of books. Returning for the second year was Larry G. Aaron who's written a lot of local history books.
, a children's minister at Chatham's Cornerstone Church of Christ, had Rescued
, a new Christian book for children illustrated by her brother.
Since I am a fan of both memoir and regional history, I looked forward to meeting Sarah Coles, who was there with her late mother's book, All Grown Up: From the Plantation to Washington, D.C. Mary I. Coles self-published her memoir when she was 90.
I started reading All Grown Up on last Saturday night and finished it on Sunday. It's only 61 pages, but it covers a lot of territory.
The book begins with a 1901 obituary from the Danville Register—an obituary of Philip "Uncle Philip" Hearne who lived to be a hundred and who was once a slave owned by Thomas Jefferson. Walter Coles I., who was a member of Congress and owner of a plantation near Chatham, bought 26-year-old Philip from Jefferson's estate in 1826.
Philip "became part of the Coles family, and his descendants, as well, took on the Coles' last name." Mary, a fourth generation Coles, "was born on the Coles' plantation when it belonged to Walter Coles III." From what she's written, it's obvious that Mary's family was hard-working, industrious, responsible, and had a strong sense of family. Even when she was little, she had chores to do, such as milking the cow and tending her little brother. As a young adult, she helped support her widowed mother.
Mary apparently had a sense of adventure as well as responsibility. In 1942, her brother who'd moved to D.C. told her that she could make more money there than in Chatham. Mary boarded a train and soon had a job working for two sisters. During the years she worked for many others whom she fondly remembered. Eventually she was able to buy her mother a house.
I really liked this account of Mary Coles' life. I was impressed by how much she remembered and her enthusiasm for life. I only wished the book had been longer.
I'm already looking forward to next year's bookfest.
Labels: book festival, Chatham, reading. writing