Author Marsha Knudsen was a guest speaker of the Vandalia Area Historical Society at a special event held June 12 inside the Genealogy Research Library on Main St. in Vandalia.
Knudsen made her presentation in costume on her book entitled “Sailor’s Mail S.W.A.K.”, which is a true story of newlyweds Homer and Ruth Norris.
The author opened her presentation by recognizing veterans in attendance and thanking them for their service.
She also thanked the family of veterans for their sacrifice as well.
Knudsen said she was an “accidental author” and hopes her presentation might inspire someone in attendance to also become an “accidental author” themselves.
Knudsen then began to talk about her book she wrote on her parents and how their lives were abruptly changed by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Sixty-three years after Homer Norris served in the U.S. Navy, Knudsen discovered an old family trunk filled with memorabilia from the 1940s.
She later used the collection found in the trunk to skillfully recreate her parents’ (Homer and Ruth Norris) World War II journey.
“For as long as I could remember, that old trunk had been stored in my parents’ attic,” Knudsen said. “Mother always said it contained stuff from the war. But when I finally opened it and looked inside, I could not believe the treasures that I found.”
Knudsen said the trunk included scrapbooks, photograph albums, a map, little boats shipped from the Pacific, her father’s Navy items, and a box of over 200 letters in their original envelopes. She read a couple of letters that her father Homer had sent to her mother Ruth.
The book contains 326 historical biographical pages with over 240 photographs and images from her parents personal collection.
“I hope the book will also encourage others to become memory keepers,” she added.
To learn how to preserve the past, honor the present, and leave a legacy, visit Knudsen’s website at www.sailorsmail.net.
Vandalia Area Historical Society President Paul Ray welcomed those in attendance at the beginning of the event and reminded the crowd of the Vandalia Hotel’s Open House on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. Charlene Teague introduced the guest speaker. She said Knudsen has some family ties to Vandalia and is a teacher of English, Acting, Creative Writing, and Speech/Drama. Teague added that Knudsen has presented many programs and teased what the acronym “S.W.A.K.” stands for in the title of Knudsen’s book. The acronym means “Sealed With A Kiss.”