VAN — Betsy Evelyn Slone Summers graduated from Van High School in 1959.
Though her childhood was molded by her close relationship with her parents and grandparents—particularly her grandmothers — Betsy’s life was profoundly influenced as a college student when she met presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and — although unknowingly — participated in the first civil rights lunch counter sit-in at the Diamond Department Store in downtown Charleston.
Betsy, who now lives in Florida, is coming back home this week to promote her new book, “Daughter of Appalachia.”
The book is a delightful memoir about a coal miner’s daughter growing up in the mountains of rural West Virginia.
“If you don’t write it and can be as if it never happened,” she said.
As a young girl, Betsy was an eager and astute observer of nature, keenly aware of the trees, birds, and animals that surrounded her world. From her earliest years, she helped her family members as they raised their own hogs, grew their own vegetables, and collected Linn honey from backyard beehives. In “Daughter of Appalachia” Betsy will take her readers back to a time before telephones and television, to a time when an only child “made do” with her imagination and the entertainment provided by nature.
“When I was in school I kept a diary,” she said. “Later in life I was also a teacher and taught memoir writing.”
This is Betsy’s first book.
“It took four years to get the book published,” she said. “But I am very happy to be back home in West Virginia and looking forward to sharing the book and stories with those who attend the events.”
The events Betsy is schedule to appear include at the Boone-Madison Public Library at noon on Friday, Oct. 12 and then at the Coal Camp Reunion at Wharton on Saturday, Oct. 13.
On Monday, Oct. 15, she will visit her old school, Van High School.
“I want to talk with the English students,” she said. “I would like to encourage them to write. I want to present it as something easy and that it’s not a homework assignment.”
She said she will suggest students write including the five senses and the who, what, why, when, where and how of a story.
“I will read a couple chapters and encourage them to ask family members about memories and interview family members, especially like their grandparents as an example about their childhood memories,” she said.
Betsy has a BA in Education from the University of Charleston and an MA in Mental Health Counseling.
Betsy lives in Florida, where she teaches classes in memoir writing. Daughter of Appalachia is her first book.
For more information, visit online at www.DaughterofAppalachia.com