The Star-Herald

Leisure Village Writers release second volume

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A group of local writers recently marked the release of their second book to inspire future generations.

On Sunday, Aug. 5, the public joined the Leisure Village Writers in Presque Isle as they celebrated the publication of their second anthology “More Gifts: From the Leisure Village Writers and Friends.”

Autographing their book for friends and neighbors were writers including Donna Cyr Pelletier, William McConnell, Marjorie Bishop, Rachel Burden, Leonard Hutchins, Marilyn Chase, Maxine Smith, Vaughn Smith, Larry Park, Gloria Flannery and Lloyd Archer.

Participants in the afternoon gathering also enjoyed music by Larry Park, his daughter, Donna Park Martin, who played oboe, and grandson Joey Park on trombone.  

The writers’ first volume, “A Gift to the Future from the Leisure Village Writers,” debuted in December 2016. Writers shared their takes on the history and culture of the early 20th century.

On Jan. 30, 2017, writing facilitator Martie Pritchard visited the classroom of Mrs. Kimberley Wright, fourth-grade teacher at Mapleton Elementary School, to share that first book. This exchange of ideas led to the students interviewing the writers and publishing a follow-up volume in 2017 they titled “A Gift From the Future To the Leisure Village Writers.”

The books have all flowed from the idea of elder writers sharing stories with future generations. “More Gifts” includes selected quotes from the children’s interviews.  

After the launch of “A Gift to the Future,” one of the authors commented, “I guess we’re done writing,” Without thinking Pritchard responded, “Oh, no. You keep writing. We’ll publish another volume.”

On board from the beginning, Martie’s husband Jim Pritchard became publisher, book designer and photography editor of the new volume, with Martie editing the stories, essays and poetry. For this second book, the Leisure Village Writers welcomed other local authors to submit stories and poems.

“More Gifts” is dedicated to Kathryn J. Olmstead, honoring the nearly 30 years she and her team published Echoes magazine.

“Many of our Leisure Village Writers first saw their work in print in Echoes,” Pritchard stated.

Olmstead told the group at the book launch that her goal is to establish a searchable database that covers every author, story and photograph from all 117 issues published from 1988 to 2017.

“More Gifts” takes on a new format, spotlighting each author with a recent photo and a short biography.  The stories, poems and essays cover a wide range of interests, from the history of a family cookbook, to tales of wilderness camps along rivers, lakes and streams including the great Allagash River and Portage Lake. The book includes stories of Loring Air Force Base, Presque Isle Air Base and Aroostook State Normal School; autobiographical sketches of a local music great, potato farmer and others; an old poem or two of Aroostook; and even some reflective tributes to The County’s unique countryside. There is one fictional story of some real-life Cub Scouts of the 1960s and one poignant memory of a stranger encountered on city streets.

The book closes with a tribute to the Presque Isle Library Association, which began in 1874. As a bonus, several pages of vintage photographs belonging to Leisure Village Residents are included.

The book is available from Merchants on the Corner, Ben’s Trading Post, Goin’ Postal or from Amazon. Any profit beyond publishing costs will be donated to local charities.

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