Boots Launch a Big Success

Thank you to everyone who made the launch of Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hell-Raiser such a big success. Joan and Jerry Knode were wonderful hosts providing an array of refreshments (still marveling at the banana bread, Joan!) and more importantly, a welcoming atmosphere. Indeed, it was like old-home week for those who gathered to hear my presentation on Boots, as many in the audience knew the former big leaguer. (Even as I am writing this, I have received a call from Laco Anderson saying that he saw people there that he hadn’t seen “in 40 years!”)

It was especially heart-warming to see many friends who didn’t know Boots, but came out to support me. There were friends from Charles Town, Winchester, Stephens City, Waynesboro, PA and Columbia, MD, meaning that the greater four-state area was well-represented.

Again, thanks to Joan and Jerry Knode, to Laco Anderson whose heart-felt remarks added a wonderfully personal touch, to Jeff Cline for an outstanding publicity campaign (his Facebook photo album of the event may be found here), and to my wife Martha for handling all the book transactions leaving me free to talk and sign.

In fact, the launch was such a success that Joan has asked me to come back for C & O Canal Days in August. I’ll be signing in the Town Hall from 11:00-1:00 on Saturday and presenting my talk on Boots at 1:00 on Sunday in the Town Museum after which I will also be signing books.

Again, it would be a great help if you would leave a review on Amazon. The more reviews, the higher the book is ranked in Amazon’s calculations and that means the more people who will get to know Boots. You need not purchase anything from Amazon, just have an account. Log in and leave your review. Click here to go directly to Boots’ Amazon page.

As I said in my talk, if the folks gathered at the launch on Sunday feel that Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hell-Raiser creates the sense that Boots has never left, then I will consider the book my biggest success. Of course, the extent to which the book is successful with the public is as much Williamsport’s success as it is mine.

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The Launch Is About to Launch and One Other Tidbit

There seems to be a great deal of excitement building in Williamsport for the launch of Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hell-Raiser. That is rewarding and humbling at the same time!

Just as a reminder, the launch will be held this Sunday, the 27th from 1:00-4:00. I’ll be giving a power point presentation (we used to call that a “slide show”) at around 1:15 and refreshments will be served for as long as they hold out. Looking at the list of people who said they were coming, I don’t give the cookies much of a chance to make it until 4:00.

The event will be held in the Williamsport Town Museum at the Springfield Barn. If you’re not sure how to get there, go back one blog entry where there’s a map.

The book is also available direct from Summer Game Books or through Amazon.com as well as Barnes and Noble.com. For you relative locals, Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hell-Raiser is also available at Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro and at the Williamsport Town Hall during regular business hours (8:30-3:30.)

The “one tidbit” referred to in the title of this blog is an article which I recently posted to Seamheads.com. I discovered a fascinating article in a 1949 Sunday Sun Magazine entitled, “Frontier Story With a Curve” about a Baltimorean who, in 1878 went off to join the cavalry. The boy could pitch, however, and is it turns out, giving preferential treatment to good athletes goes back along ways. You can read it here.

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“Boots” Will Launch on July 27th

We are just about at the end of a process that began in January of 2012. The official launch of Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hell-Raiser will take place on Sunday afternoon, July 27th at the Williamsport Town Museum in the Springfield Barn. I’ll be there from 1:00-4:00 signing books, and I will also give a 15 minute talk about Boots beginning at around 1:15. Refreshments will be served. These arrangements have been graciously made by Joan Knode who is not only a member of the Town Council, but is also Boots’ daughter-in-law! I would love to see all of you there, and it is the best way to purchase an autographed copy.BootsPoffenberger_1400-for-apple

For those of you who just can’t wait, the official release date is July 15th, meaning that both paper and electronic books will be available from Summer Game Books on that date.

On July 22nd, I’ll be on the air with Hagerstown’s own Lou Scally on WJEJ radio at 7:35 a.m. talking about Boots and the book. (You can click on the link and listen live that morning, but that would require most of you to get up early and I wouldn’t get up early to hear me talk.)

For all my friends in the Winchester/Berryville area, I will also be appearing at the Winchester Book Gallery on Saturday, August 16th from 11:00-1:00.

I will be presenting a talk during Williamsport’s World War II Days on October 11th tentatively entitled, “Boots and Baseball During World War II,” a talk which will be given some time that morning. (I will provide the details when they are confirmed!) Naturally, I’ll be signing books then as well.

Many people have been very encouraging during this two and one half year journey from a tub full of scrapbooks to a published book. To the readers of this blog, I say thanks for coming along and that I hope you’ll be pleased with the result. Hope to see all of you in Williamsport or Winchester soon!

To get to the Springfield Barn, take exit 2 off I-81, then head south on Route 11. Turn left onto Springfield Lane, a small road with an unassuming entrance that is easily missed!

To get to the Springfield Barn, take exit 2 off I-81, then head south on Route 11. Turn left onto Springfield Lane, a small road with an unassuming entrance that is easily missed!

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Eating and Sleeping in Bedford

A couple of notes leftover from my trip to Bedford three weeks ago:.

If you ever travel to Bedford, and I highly recommend that you do, just know that there really aren’t many good restaurants in town. With the exception of The Forks, there was nothing in the way of excellent local eateries, which forced me to Ruby Tuesday’s one night and Applebee’s the second. The salad bar was at least quite good at the former, but everything at the latter left an aftertaste. And not one of those, “Boy, that was good!” kind of aftertastes. No, it was a “Boy, this makes me want to shave my tongue” kind of aftertaste. At one point during my stay, I asked one of the volunteers at the Memorial where there was a good places to eat and after a long pause, he answered, “Roanoke.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy accommodations were great, at least for me, but you need an adventurous spirit to stay where I stayed. I won’t mention the name of the motel, because I would stay there again, and a very nice family runs the place. It’s cheap and convenient, and has the best wi-fi of any hotel at which I’ve ever stayed, but it is not exactly modern having been built in the ’60s, by my best guess. I may be off a bit, though. It could have been the 1860s. It was certainly built when people were smaller as evidenced by the accompanying photo of the bathroom. You can stand in one spot and use the toilet, brush your teeth, and shower all at the same time. Ironically, the marquee below the motel sign told people to “check out our new rooms.” Perhaps, the sign intended no irony; perhaps it simply hasn’t been changed since the motel was built.

That little black tab on the sink is actually an old-fashioned door key. Remember how they used to say “Drop in any mailbox in the U. S. A.”? Of course, I had to pull on the knob and push on the frame and disparage the door hanger’s mother before it would actually close well enough to give any utilitarian purpose to the key. Still, the nostalgia of having an actual key rather than a door credit card more than made up for that annoyance.

It’s always fun to experience little things such as these. That’s what turns a vacation into an adventure.

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Reflections on the D-Day Commemoration: There is Hope

The National D-Day Memorial and the town of Bedford should be proud of their commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The moving words of D-Day participants, read during the official commemoration on Friday; the presence of many D-Day veterans; the sounds of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; the showing of Casablanca; the town itself, its center largely unchanged these 70 years, evoked a moving sense of the past.  This weekend, stirred more than a respect for the past, however; it gave me hope for the future.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was thrilled to see a wide range of ages at Friday’s commemoration. Many high school and college students were there, some with grandparents (or great-grandparents), some as spectators, some as reenactors. This last group gave me pause because it occurred to me that they were the most accurate reenactors I’ve ever seen for one very poignant reason: They are the same age now as the boys who saved the world 70 years ago. That ones so young spent their weekend saluting those who had gone before gives me hope.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA little girl in a star-spangled dress, waving an American flag as the parade passed; that gives me hope.

A man with a homemade sign detailing his father’s unit and concluding with the simple words, “Thanks, Dad” gives me hope.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

A couple of gentlemen who stepped out of the crowd at the parade to carry forward a bench so that two veterans and their wives could sit down, gives me hope.

Jack Booth gives me hope. Jack spoke before the showing of Casablanca because his son, Joshua is featured in the documentary, Bedford: The Town They Left Behind, the trailer for which was shown before the movie. Joshua loved Bedford, his grandfather’s home and, inspired by the tales of the Bedford Boys, he enrolled in The Citadel in 2001 in order to pursue a career in the military. He graduated a 1st Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, and was deployed to Iraq in 2005. In 2006, he was killed by a sniper. He had told his father that he didn’t think that he would be coming home and he had two requests: “Make sure my children know who I was,” he told his dad, adding that he was to be buried in Bedford. Joshua’s mother, not knowing of this request, wanted her son to be buried in Arlington. She burst into tears when told of Joshua’s wish because “No one in Bedford knows him.” When his flag-draped casket rolled through town to its final stop in Longwood Cemetery, however, hundreds of townspeople lined the streets. Many carried flags. Joshua might not have been one of the Bedford Boys, but he was recognized as a Bedford Boy. I suspect that there are plenty of Bedford Boys out there yet. Jack reminded us all that America is exceptional and his son and all those strangers who saluted his passing prove it.

Yes, this commemoration of D-Day was about the past, but it has given me hope for the future.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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A Sentimental Sendoff

Bryan Anthony

Bryan Anthony

I went back to the D-Day Memorial one final time last night for the concert given by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. A group of talented musicians led by Terry Myers and featuring outstanding vocalist Bryan Anthony faithfully recreated the music of the man known as the “Sentimental Gentleman of Swing.”

The night was as beautiful as the music, with a half moon appearing high above the Overlord Arch during the second set. Just at dusk, a group of 29th Division reenactors appeared on the Arch plaza looking down at the concert below. At a glance, and for a second it seemed that 1944 and 2014 had become all jumbled together. There was something in their casual, approving pose. Such are the moments at events like this. After all, the past has to be somewhere, even if it is only in our hearts and our imaginations.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It seems unfair of me to talk about Tommy Dorsey without providing a way for you to listen as well. Therefore, I offer my favorite TD song and one that I think is most appropriate to the occasion.

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A Parade for the Home Folks

While yesterday’s ceremony at the National D-Day Memorial was for the nation, today’s parade through the streets of Bedford was for the town. It was small and sweet, just like the town itself. I heard someone remark that everyone in Bedford was there and I believe that to be true. I was standing at the main intersection where absolutely no one was directing traffic. No one had to because there was no traffic; indeed, all of Bedford seemed to be either in the parade or watching it go by.

Before the parade started, I could not fathom why a utility truck pulled up on Bridge Street as if to do some work. As it turned out, the crew backed down a side-street, ran the crane out over parade route and hoisted a giant American flag under which the participants could march. Both American and French flags flew from every lamppost.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe current Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment marched around the corner followed by reenactors portraying Company A from World War II–the Bedford Boys. Veterans rode in jeeps or cars, or in the case of a group from North Carolina in two motor coaches. When those busses went by, I took a quick picture and then simply held up in salute, my little flag that had been passed out to us spectators.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

About 20 minutes after the parade finished, at 11:00 o’clock, the Presbyterian church rang its bell 19 times. A lone soldier played taps in front of the courthouse four times, once in each direction, and the courthouse bell was then struck 19 times, one for each Bedford Boy who was killed on June 6th. No one who had gathered at the courthouse required an explanation as to why the bell was struck or the significance of the number. After all, this parade was for Bedford and everyone in Bedford already knows.

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The courthouse bell was struck 19 times in honor of the Bedford boys who died on D-Day.

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