When Jane Brooks’ 6 year old granddaughter asked her one day what it was like when she was a little girl, the question quickly helped Brooks remember many precious memories of her childhood on a Martinsburg farm in the 1930s.
She begin writing a manuscript but later put it in her drawer for a few years until one of her daughters came across it.
“She said Mom, what’s this?,” Brooks said. “She said let’s get it out and do something with it. I was thrilled she thought enough of it to pursue it.”
With the help of her daughters Lisa Brandt, who runs Finishing Touch Frame Shop, and Melinda Cook, who works with Macon’s “The Scribe’s Closet Publications,” her manuscript would soon be published into a hardback book called “Lilac Lane.”
Brooks said it took a couple of years to fine tune the book before it hit the press this year.
There were 100 books printed and delivered just last Friday.
“That was a thrill when they were delivered to our door,” Brooks said. “…That was a happy day.”
According to the back cover, “Lilac Lane” takes the reader to a “kinder, gentler time as 8-year-old Mary (Jane) and her younger brother (Don) William rekindle true, captivating, and heartwarming vignettes of a bygone rural America. The 100 year old farmhouse with wood stoves, kerosene lamps, evening radio programs like Fibber McGee and Molly, the box-like wall telephone connected to a switchboard, harvest time, farm animals, and city relatives on summer visits, relates to a simpler time.”
Brooks said her title came from how neighbor kids had to walk with her to school during the 1930s as there were no busses.
Their journey included a lane where Jane’s grandfather planted trees and lilac bushes.
“That’s where they all came together,” Brooks said.
“They were beautiful in the Spring, so in early Spring, when the lilacs bloomed, I would pick lilacs when they bloomed fully and take mother bouquets because she enjoyed them and they had a great aroma or smell too.”
Brooks’ goal of her book is to share her memories with future generations while offering grown-ups a chance to remember their own childhood and the things they did.
“(The older generation) will remember these things like churning your own butter and making your own homemade ice cream,” she added.
Brooks said she’s thankful for the support she’s received along with the help from Diana Schwartze.
Brooks will be at the Martinsburg Library on Saturday, November 8 from 10 a.m.-noon for a book signing.
She will also be doing a book signing at the Show Me Shoppe in Wellsville from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, December 6. Books cost $20 and are available for sale during the regular business hours of the Martinsburg Library. The library can be reached by calling 573-492-6254.
“Perhaps our mission to our children is to preserve the past, enrich the present, and inspire hope for the future,” is a statement on Brooks’ book signing form.
About the Author
According to her book, Brooks grew up on a farm south of Martinsburg, where her stories originate between 1931-1940.
She attended elementary and high school at the Martinsburg Public School.
Later she attended Central Methodist College and the University of Missouri, where she received her degree in Elementary and Secondary Education.
She tought at a cerebral palsy school in St. Louis before moving back to her hometown to teach 5th and 6th grades.
She married her husband Howard in 1956 and they had three children together, including the late Randy Brooks.
They later took over the N.M. Friedman Picture Frame Company in Martinsburg when Jane’s parents, Floyd and Edith Riutcel, retired.
Howard and Jane Brooks still live in Martinsburg and have three grandchildren.