If you’ve written a book, the day will probably come when you attend a book festival, full of hope and glory, dragging along a box full of copies. Like dozens of other aspiring authors, you figure you’ll come home in a few hours with a few sales to brag about. It turns out that you’re more likely to come home with some stories and a few new friends.
On Saturday, while attending Kensington, Maryland’s ‘Day of the Book,’ I met author Dick Ellwood, a retired Baltimore City policeman who has written two books that are drawn from his experiences. (He has also written a children’s book.) His display table and mine were side by side and he told me that when he was walking the beat one night around 1965, Mickey Mantle came stumbling out of a bar and fell onto the sidewalk right in front of him, dead drunk. Dick and his partner picked up the future Hall of Famer and took him to the station house. It was universally agreed that one did not simply arrest Mickey Mantle. So they let him rest, fed him a little something and got him back to his hotel. He played in the field against the Orioles the next day.
Author Dennis McKay is retired from the concrete business and has written several books that draw on his boyhood, spent mostly around Bethesda, Maryland. We are certain that in the 1950s, he sat elbow-to-elbow at the coffee counter at the Hot Shoppes on Wisconsin Avenue with my grandfather who ate breakfast and lunch there almost every day for 15 years and enjoyed flirting with the waitresses.
Author Alan Orloff is a mechanical engineer who has written and published seven mystery novels. Why mysteries? “My brain feels most at home wallowing in the world of crime,” he said with a curious grin.
There was the nice woman from Silver Spring who bought the first book I ever sold myself. For the first time ever, I whipped out my brand-spanking new card reader, attached it to my iPhone and rang her up for a cool fifteen bucks. It didn’t take but about 23 seconds. It was the most liberating thing I’ve done in months. The woman’s father writes articles for Golf Digest, a fellow I hope to hear from someday.
There was the guy walking around in a wolf suit that was leaking sweat, high-fiving kids in the crowd.
There was the guy with the bright red comb-over who danced like a man possessed while the blues-rock band, ‘The Nighthawks,’ played the event.
Then there were all the people who stopped by to ask questions about ‘Church of Golf’ and couldn’t figure out a graceful way to leave without buying a copy. I tried to let them know that their interest and their company were the most valuable things they had to share, but am pretty sure I failed.
More to come soon, no doubt.