Saturday, June 16, 2012

Secret Witness Book Tour – Part 2:

Demonstrating the size and wrapping of the bomb package
In the middle of the week I did a neat session at the Albion District Library.  It has been 25+ years since I was downtown Albion and I forgot just how quaint the town was.  Cyndi and I walked around on the main street for a long time.  Those brick roads reminded me of Battle Creek as a child.  You really haven’t driven a Michigan road in the winter until you’ve driven on red brick roads with a touch of ice. 

There were over 40 people in attendance in Albion.  A number of former Marshallites were there with some interesting theories and memories of the era that Secret Witness is set in (1967-1970).  In at least one case this was where the rumors outlived the truth…she claimed that she knew for sure that Bernice Chism was having an affair with Paul Puyear.  Paul denied this as did Bernice.   And, if true, it does not explain why Enoch Chism would have killed Nola Puyear.  If anything, given his jealousy, he would have tried to kill Paul.  She was unswayed in her thinking despite the facts…such is the power of rumors.   

Also there was a member of the Chism family that was present.  She was very polite and courteous.  Enoch Chism was the murderer I featured in the book and honestly I was a little nervous as to having someone from the family there.  She told me that, in her opinion, I had been fair with the book. 

Later that day it was off to the publisher’s office to film a piece for their web site.  The University of Michigan Press was great to see again and we filmed the video fairly quickly.  I was against a green screen so who knows what will eventually appear in the background!  From there, it was off to Warren to see my wife’s family and our son who’s attending school in the Detroit area.  I managed to do an interview with MLIVE for the Jackson Michigan newspaper with Zeke Jennings.  Zeke had lived both in Marshall and Barryton so he knew the proverbial lay of the land.  Here’s the interview:  MLive Interview with Blaine Pardoe

Friday it was back on the road to Battle Creek and Marshall.  We did a second session at the Marshall District Library and it was packed – another 50 attendees!  Better yet there were some special guests.  Don Damon, the man that delivered the bomb that fateful day was there as was former chief of police for Marshall, Herold Reuss.  What was wonderful was that people were receptive to the book and I wasn’t the only person signing books – so did the chief and postman! 

Don Damon is incredible on many levels.  He told me that the day before he had been baling hay.  His memory of that day is pristine – he can recount every minute of that morning.  Chief Reuss was great because he gave me two tips on other crimes I should be researching. 

Friday night I was off to Kazoo Books in Kalamazoo.  We had a small turnout but I always have a lot of fun with Gloria the owner. 

Saturday capped off the week with a signing at the Barnes and Noble in Battle Creek.  Straight-up book signings are always a little awkward for me.  You sit at a table, smile, try to be engaging without being pushy.  This one was easy.  People were lined up a few times to talk to me and get books – which was fun. 

The highlight of that event was that I met Jim King face-to-face.  Jim is Daisy Zick’s son and he and I have corresponded and talked on the phone, but now we met each other live.  Daisy Zick is the subject of a book I have been researching.  Jim was incredibly nice and kind enough to loan me 25 photos of his mother.  Photos are important when you do non-fiction books, at least for me.  It makes the subject more real, more tangible.  More on this book project in a later posting. 

After a week of events, TV, radio, web and other…we were ready to head back to Virginia.  Of course I have some events planned there too, more on those in some future post.  In the meantime – go buy Secret Witness!

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