SCOUTING AROUND: Ogreeta author makes Civil War era rhyme
The hum and activity of mowing lawns gives Jack Montgomery of Ogreeta opportunities to connect with his thoughts. In May 2015, his thoughts created a short rhyming story about a farmer in the Civil War, a topic his family discussed at a reunion.
“I thought just writing that would be the end of it,” Montgomery said.
Six months later, more stories came to his mind. He decided he better get to the library and research to make sure his stories, although sometimes fictional or mostly true, were historically accurate. When he finished his 33rd story, he decided his new book, I Want My Story to be Told: Short Stories of the Civil War Era That Rhyme, was complete.
Historical stories that rhyme – he doesn’t like calling it poetry – are a new experience for Montgomery. He is known for his writing on natural health, through his former column in the Cherokee Scout and first book, What’s Good For That? A Natural Approach to Today’s Common Ailments. For that, he had stacks of material on natural health that he organized and researched before writing.
“This one is completely different,” he said. “This one just kind of happened.”
Montgomery described it as a strange process. He would get an idea or words, then start asking himself questions to learn more of the story. He used a voice recorder as he talked to himself and paced in circles.
“When I started it, I had no clue where it was going to go,” he said.
Stories come from various people involved in the Civil War on both sides of the conflict, including that farmer who didn’t want to fight, women who wore disguises to fight and a doctor who saw the worst of injuries. Stories based on real people are followed by an editor’s note.
As Montgomery was writing the stories, he shared a few in recitals where he read aloud while wearing a Union or Confederate hat, depending on whose story he was reading. After he read the first story, people started clapping.
“I was astonished,” he said.
As he listened to himself, Montgomery realized there is a best way for people to absorb this work.
“These stories should be read slowly,” he said. “The reason is that will allow the reader to experience the events that took place and what the people faced.”
Montgomery’s favorite story is “The State of the Heart,” a fictional Christmas tale of a 12-year-old boy who chooses to give the meat from a 10-point buck he hunted for his family to his neighbor, who had lost her husband in the war.
“It demonstrates very dearly how it is best to give than to receive,” he said.
Montgomery’s first book has sold 270 copies, and 25 copies of I Want My Story to be Told sold in the first three weeks of release.
“I never dreamed that was possible,” he said.
Those who have read his newest book have given him positive feedback. Montgomery said even a 10-year-old neighbor has enjoyed reading it.
“I am quite surprised by the reaction from people,” he said.
While Montgomery doesn’t know what he will write next, he is considering recording an audio book for I Want My Story Told.
A book signing will be held from 2-5 p.m. Friday at Skyway Computers in Murphy. The book is available for purchase at Skyway, Lotsa Memories, Jan’s Needful Things, on Kindle through Amazon or by calling Montgomery at 837-2872.
Dancers draw actor’s attention
While waiting to board their plane to return home from the Dancing America Rapper Tournament in Boston, John C. Campbell Folk School’s Magic Rapper team started practicing some new steps they learned over the weekend.
“We were just having fun,” said Monica Gatti, one of the dancers.
Their fun inspired another passenger to film Monica Matthews, Wes Carl Dreher, Wes Bryan, Olivia Barry, Sarah Lavon Chris, Caleb Dodson and Dawn Davis as they danced to music played by Hosanna Sherman. The man – who had a scruffy, unshaven appearance and was wearing a hat and sunglasses – asked them a few questions, and as they boarded the plane to Atlanta informed the dancers he was posting the video on Facebook.
When they got home, the dancers learned that man was Cary Elwes, an actor they admired from films like The Princess Bride.
“We’re just so excited,” Gatti said. “We didn’t really recognize him.”
Elwes tagged the folk school in his post, commenting, “Sometimes I feel this way when I get upgraded!”
The video had 8,100 views by Monday morning. The actor was in the Boston area for his tour of “The Princess Bride: An Inconceivable Evening with Cary Elwes.”
Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, email@example.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.