OSWEGO, NY – Climbing aboard a bookmobile decades ago helped launch a little girl on a lifelong love of reading and a successful career as an author.
“My earliest access to books was when the bookmobile visited our little one-roomed school located on the corner of our farm in Beech Creek Township, Pa. Those were red-letter days that occurred once a month, or maybe it was every six weeks. I loved climbing into that little vehicle lined with about three shelves of books. It was hard picking out just one,” said Hope Marston. “It was that early introduction to literature that convinced me that anyone who could write a book was special. I decided right then that someday I would write a book. The Lord has answered my prayers. Right now He’s helping me work on three titles!”
Marston will be the featured speaker at this month’s meeting of the Oswego Reading Council at Tavern on the Lock, Fulton, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. April 13.
Her books are for all ages with some biographies, animal books and historical fiction.
The cost to attend the dinner and author presentation is $20 for Reading Council members and $30 for nonmembers.
Dinner choices are chicken parmesan, Boston baked haddock, bistro sirloin, and grilled liver and onions. All dinners include soup and salad bar, choice of side, homemade breads and ice cream with chocolate sauce.
For more information or reservations, contact Wynnette Dohse at [email protected] or 343-6097.
Her mother was a reader, “but access to books was quite limited in our family of nine kids and a hired hand,” Marston recalls.
They didn’t go to town (Lock Haven) very often because dairy farmers in the mid-1930s and 1940s were pretty self-sufficient, she said.
“The Ross Public Library in Lock Haven was a fine one. But, my mother was fearful if we borrowed books, we might not get them back on time. However, when I entered junior high school and was bused to Lock Haven, I used to sneak down to the library on my lunch hour to borrow books,” she said.
Of course by then she had access to a good school library.
“I spent lots of time there reading and as a student assistant. One of the joys of the latter was that we junior librarians could sign up to read the new books first. I still remember the pleasure of reading a book called Throw Me a Bone. It had a subtitle: What happens when you marry an archaeologist. It was written by Eleanor (Bachman) Lothrop and published in 1947. I loved that book and would enjoy reading it again,” she said.
The author also credits her sister, Shirley, with stirring her interest in books.
Shirley graduated from high school when Marston was three.
“She bought me my first two books and more thereafter on my birthdays. I still have the first books. One was in the Little Golden Books Series. It was My First Book of Prayers, or maybe it was A Child’s’ First Book of Prayers. It was the one with the purple cover,” she said.
Marston has a constant, furry reminder of the second book.
“The other was Heidi and that title remains my all time favorite children’s book. In keeping with my interest in Switzerland, my husband and I have had four St. Bernard dogs. We named the first one Heidi,” she said. “We now have a six-year-old, wonderful Bernese Mountain Dog named Heidi.”
“Moving ahead about 60 years, I am grateful to the Lord that thus far I have 32 published books. A new one is coming out in the fall. I mention it on my website, in Works-In-Progress,” she added.
The new biographical book is scheduled for fall release. Its working title is Eye on the Iditarod: A Young Musher in Training.
Hope is a Pennsylvanian by birth.
“Born in the North, educated in the South (Tennessee),” she said. “So, I ended up teaching in a border state – Maryland. I taught in Aberdeen for five years; until I met my future husband, Arthur, who is a Maine-iac farmer who became an artificial inseminator of dairy cows.”
She then taught in Buckfield, Maine, for five years.
“Because of the declining cow population in Maine, Arthur was asked to transfer to the Watertown area,” she said. “We moved to Black River, right on the edge of Fort Drum. We live a mile from the original main gate in Felts Mills.”
They made the move in 1967 and she taught at Case Junior until 1990 when she retired so she could spend her time writing children’s books.
Her husband retired in 1992, from the North Country Library System.
“He had to give up breeding cows because he developed an allergy to barn dust, etc.,” she explained. “Lord willing, we will celebrate our golden wedding anniversary on Aug. 28.”
“Much to our dismay, we were unable to have children. Coming from a large family, that was hard for me to accept. But, I don’t question the Lord’s control of that in our lives and we have had opportunity to help kids along the way when they needed some financial backing,” she continued.
When Hope met Arthur, he had a boxer named Venus. She fell in love with her, “after I got over being scared to death of her,” she said.
They left her in Maine with Arthur’s dad, then a widower, when they moved to New York.
“Thereafter, we had several cocker spaniels before we purchased a boxer puppy that we named Princess. Lovely dog. Since then we’ve have many dogs, including a beautiful Akita, but mostly we had boxers. Tanner was our last one. We got him after I retired so we had lots of time to bond,” she said. “Along the way we adopted my sister’s golden retriever, Molly, when she could no longer take care of her.”
One fall, she went to northwestern Vermont to do some research for a manuscript she was writing at the time.
“My friend and I stayed at a B & B where there was a Bernese Mountain Dog. I had never seen one of them, but I was smitten. She was the first one that I ever saw and thought it was as nice a dog as a boxer,” she said.
Sometime the next spring Arthur surprised her with one of her very own.
“We named her Heidi and she has become the love of our life. We still had Molly and Tanner when we went to Pennsylvania to purchase Heidi. Unfortunately, both of those dogs had health problems and eventually we had to take them on a one-way trip to the animal hospital.”
Marston said she can’t offer any profound prophecies or telling comments from her teachers.
“Only thing I can recall from my student days is that my Spanish professor at Milligan College (Tennessee) wrote in my yearbook that he hoped his little girl would grow up to be just like me. Hmmm,” she said. “I graduated from Milligan more than half a century ago and have long since lost track of him so I don’t know how his little girl turned out.”
A more recent comment that sticks in the back of her mind was made by a young lady, middle-grade, who told Marston she was going to write a book some day and dedicate it to her.
“When I asked her why, she said it was because I was the first person to tell her she could write a book,” she said.
Readers who wish to be notified when her latest book is released can be added to the mailing list by sending their mailing address to [email protected]
For more information, check out www.HopeIrvinMarston.com