Friday, May 29, 2015

Virtual Tour w/Guest Post for Hurricane Kingdom by Herbert L. Smith

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Book Tour, presented by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, for Hurricane Kingdom by Herbert L. Smith.  Please leave a comment or question for Herbert to let him know you stopped by.  You can follow all of the stops on his tour by clicking on the banner above.  

Simply put, I hated school. I started kindergarten at age four. That was too young for me, and I tried to get revenge for that injustice until I was in my third year of high school.

My mother, who shouldn’t be blamed for it now, had five children at the time, and was expecting the sixth in late September of 1943. That meant she would have three at home after her newest baby was born, one four, and one almost two. She went to work on the problem.

I know why she made the decision to send me to school early, but I don’t know how she worked it out. My legal birth certificate says that I was born in 1938, a year earlier than church records (I have a copy of both) stated. She must have gotten the doctor to sign a retroactive certificate (the document was required for school entrance), but I was legally considered to be five, so off to school I went.

The good thing was that I was able to read. My oldest sister had ‘taught’ me, in a way. She always read the comics to me in the afternoon, and I followed as she read. Through some kind of osmosis I learned to read. When she started working after school, I picked up the comics and read them for myself. It was a perfectly normal thing to do, or so it seemed to me.

School was one disaster after another. The first thing I tired was to run away. I left one morning when we were let out at recess, running down the road toward home as fast as I could. The next day I tried it again, but Jessie and mother loaded me into Jessie’s car and pushed me into the school building, all the way down the long hallway and into the kindergarten classroom. I gave up on running away, but got my revenge anyway; I refused to do any of the classwork or activities. I simply stayed at the table in the place I was assigned and read books and made pictures with crayons. The teacher hadn’t met that before, and despite her attempts, I resisted successfully.

Then came the little ‘tonettes,’ the name they gave the soprano recorders (similar to a flute and a tiny clarinet combined) we were to learn to play. I hated them passionately. They didn’t even have proper keys to push down, like pianos. I tootled along, playing the thing in any haphazard way I wanted, and soon was taken out of the ‘tonette band’ and placed at a table to continue my personal reading and drawing as I pleased, along with two or three other students who couldn’t seem to learn how to play those things, either. It is an interesting fact that out of the entire group of kindergartners who went through the tonette experience, I became the only professional musician.

Even in high school I drifted along, never doing assignments, refusing homework, and all the other classwork students were (and still are) required to do. The only way I passed each semester was my ability to do well on tests and ‘quizes’ – a misnomer for a shortened test. I listened  enough in class to do that. But mostly I read. I went through the selection of plays and dramas from the local library; everything from ancient Greek tragedies to Shakespeare to O’Neil and other contemporaries. Then I started reading encyclopedias in the school library, then some novels and other kinds of literature. I learned a great deal, but not from any textbook or any teacher, which was my own fault, and a rather immature way of dealing with life.

At last I met my nemesis. Latin. I enrolled in Latin one, and I faced the first test realizing that I didn’t know the first thing about Latin. So, for the first time, I took a book home to study. It was a revelation. I worked for a few hours, memorizing the conjugations of Latin verbs, and all the rest of the material that was in the first test, and I passed the test with a decent grade. And I learned a tremendous lesson. Studying at home paid off! Books went home regularly after that, and grades climbed accordingly. Nobody ever knew what had happened to make the change, but I was on my way, and happy to be in school and learning at last.

The moral: You really can’t learn everything you need in life in Kindergarten.
Hurricane Kingdom
By Herbert L. Smith
A Starfire Mystery, Volume 3

Publisher:  Herbert L. Smith
Release Date:  October 14, 2014
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Length:  166 Pages
Format: Print
ISBN: 978-1502527431

Buy Links:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the book:

The Hog Ranch near Hillville, Iowa, is a notorious place. All kinds of illegal ‘business’ prospers there. It’s a known hideout for the criminal element, and its proximity to Omaha is a major plus for the goings-on inside – and outside as well. The sturdy old log structure sits along the shoreline of the Missouri River; that mighty waterway flows just steps outside the back door and provides a good place to dispose of dead bodies. Set in the middle of the 1950’s, the tale of Hurricane Kingdom – who seems (at first) a minor character in the entire scheme of things – twists and forks along the muddy trails of the riverbank behind the Hog Ranch with its gambling Cellar, gigantic barroom, and a well-populated House on the top floor.

The quiet and somewhat dull town of Hillville is nearby but also a world away, exactly as the town and the Ranch both want it to be. Guy LeFevere and Caleb Starfire, the men who shoulder the burdens of the Starfire Detective agency, share the responsibilities of policing the town as well as all of Bogger County with an inept, portly and rather absurd sheriff, Fred Baylor. It’s a mixed match-up, but despite all the fuming and fumbling of the dull-witted sheriff, the detectives prevail, and more often than not the criminal element is subdued or eventually rendered harmless – and sometimes actually imprisoned. Frequently, however, the criminals inflict their deadly punishments upon each other. The 1950’s shine through the novel and offer a fun-filled romp through Hillville and its environs, creating renewed memories for those who survived that time, and a lesson in human history for those who missed all the fun.

About This Author

Herb Smith, the author of eight books and counting, is a native of Glenwood, Iowa, the town that is the prototype for Hillville, which is featured in the Starfire Mystery Series. He has memories of people and events that stretch back to the 1940’s, and his memory is not only long, but detailed as well.

He has recreated the Iowa of his youth in the Starfire Mystery Series. (This is the third book in the series.) The stories are all set in the 1950’s, something of an American Golden Age, and the joys and struggles of life, along with the murders, are evident as the reader becomes ever more beguiled by that world.

Smith’s own life has included places far flung from Southwestern Iowa: Egypt and the Middle East, Argentina, Idaho, and even exotic central California, where he spent thirty five years (except for the time he was working outside the U. S.)

He is a musician – mostly church music – and has worked in all kinds of churches as organist, sometimes doubling as choir master as well. He also taught English as a Foreign Language in California Universities and other schools around the world. Currently, he lives the retired life in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife, Glenda. Their daughter Melanie and her husband William live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area. Theirs is a small but closely linked family, and they spend holidays and many other times together. They don’t have dogs, but Pippa, the colossal cat, reigns unquestionably in her California home.
Smith’s future remains bright. A new series, called the Quest Samson Mystery Series (based in Eugene), is in the works, as well as other  unusual but interesting book projects, and he is considering some musical compositions that will add to his artistic credentials.

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