Orient author chronicles decade

Messenger photo by Sandi Latimer
Orient area resident Clyde Henry relates stories of his childhood in Alexandria, Minn., in a book "Stanley James," published by Xlibris. Although many of the incidences are true, the book is a work of fiction.

The 1950s is a decade all to itself, coming on the heels of World War II and before an age of turmoil in the 1960s. It holds special memories for those who lived those years.

"I had to watch the Dinah Shore TV show just to see the new car commercials," said Orient area resident Clyde Henry of the program sponsored by Chevrolet. "We guys loved to get the brochures from car dealers and spend our recess oohing and aahing over the cars."

Henry has chronicled a lot of other episodes of that decade of his life in a small Minnesota town into a book – "Stanley James."

"It’s a story that takes place in the small town of Alexandria, between St. Cloud, Minn., and Fargo, N.D.," Henry reminisced of the work that took him a year to write and another year to edit and rewrite.

Alexandria is a good two-hour trip from Minneapolis. It lies among some lakes.

"We had modern resorts," he said. "That meant indoor plumbing."

Many of the episodes that happened to Stanley James and his classmates at a small Catholic school really happened, Henry admits. And that’s where Henry, a retired architect, becomes Henry the author.

Incidences were attributed to different characters and in some cases, Henry combined several people into one character.

"You write what you know," he laughed.

Stanley James is a young boy, a little on the developmentally challenged side. Even a new Monsignor had difficulty getting the name right.

"It’s Stanley James, not James Stanley," the young boy corrects the Monsignor.
Those who know Clyde Henry knows he probably went through something similar.
Shifting stories to other characters didn’t fool his sister when she read the manuscript, he said.

"She took a red pen and wrote the names of the real characters on it," he said.

What about those who have enjoyed the remembrances? The divisiveness of religion, for instance. When Henry read bits and pieces of his work at the weekly gatherings of Ohio Writers Guild, many could recall what parents told their children about not associating with children of other religions.

"You got it. That’s the way it was," says people in Henry’s age group.

"And the kids whose parents grew up in the 1950s can now understand what their parents talk about," said the author, a father of three adult daughters.

"Now I know what my parents went through, they say," he said.

Just as Stanley James doesn’t really fit a mold of society, neither does the book fall into a specific genre. He describes his work as a combination of "Huck Finn" and "One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest."

Henry sought out Xlibris to publish his first work. It is available through xlibris.com and will be available through Amazon.com early in 2009.

He cautions that when ordering the book from the Xlibris bookstore, it will take a couple of weeks to get it since it is published on demand.

The print-on-demand feature was attractive when he was looking for a publisher. It also means he doesn’t have to purchase hundreds or thousands of books and store them in a spare room or outbuilding while trying to sell them.

While he’s out there talking up his book and saying "I did it," he is also writing regularly from the third floor corner offer of his home.


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