Former Marquand Teacher Publishes Book
Shirley Gilmore, a former history teacher at Marquand-Zion and the author of the contemporary fantasy series, “Bucky and the Lukefahr Ladies,” will be at the Marquand Depot Historical Museum on Saturday, May 25, from 11:00a.m. — 2:00p.m. for a book signing. She will have copies of both of her books to sell that day or, if you already have a copy and wish to have it inscribed, you’re welcome to bring it. The first book in the Bucky series, “Walking the Labyrinth,” came out in 2017 and Ms. Gilmore published the second book, “Songs of Three,” this past December. She hopes to have the third book, still untitled, out by this December.
Ms. Gilmore drew on her background in public education and her eclectic interests, including ancient history, paleontology, geology, geography and Methodism, and her experiences of living in Madison County to weave together a tale which speaks of mastodons and Minoans, Hittites and healing springs. She tells the story through the eyes of ten-year-old Bucky Carter and her father, Simon, and the elderly ladies of the Lukefahr Ladies Bible Class.
A major theme in the book is change—how people can change and how towns can change through the influence of a single person. Ms. Gilmore lived in Marquand for twenty-five years, from 1974-1999. She was one of the founding members of the former CROP organization which oversaw the development of the Marquand Historical Park on property that was abandoned when the railroad no longer needed it. Over the years the small town in southeastern Madison County experienced a revival as more features were added to the park, including a two-story log cabin, a pavilion, a thirty-foot section of the 1924 Lett bridge, a playground, and a museum as well as the planting of numerous trees and landscaped areas. A broad sidewalk and streetscape lighting encircle the park. Other improvements in the town include The Gallery, which features displays by area artists, and the restoration of the Homan Building with its Homan Hall Performing Arts Center. Today there are two Bed and Breakfast inns to welcome visitors. Every year on the last weekend in September, several thousand people visit the small town during Pioneer Days. It took over two decades for Marquand to transform into the beautiful small town it has become. Ms. Gilmore compresses that into one summer for the fictional town of Turn Back in her novel. (Marquand suffered a devastating loss last October when a fire caused heavy damage to the Henry and Jane Bess-Sites log cabin which had stood as the centerpiece of the town for nearly 30 years. Plans are progressing for the restoration of the homestead.)
One of the reasons Ms. Gilmore began writing the series was to honor the memory of the elderly ladies of the Talley Bible Class at the Fredericktown United Methodist Church. She was their Sunday School teacher for ten years. While none of the characters in the novel are drawn from any single person, the women of that class inspired the creation of the characters that make up the Lukefahr Ladies.
There are other inspirations from real life that are found in the pages of the book. Ms. Gilmore’s childhood home in Willard, Missouri was near the ruins of the town of Bethesda which was founded because of a spring that was reported to have healing powers. Turn Back in the novel also had its beginnings as a result of several healing springs in the area which resulted in the town becoming a resort community for those seeking relief from their ailments.
An incident from over forty-five years ago also found its way into the book. In one of her undergraduate history classes at what is now Missouri State University, Ms. Gilmore heard from another student of a stone that was discovered about three miles from her Willard residence that supposedly had Minoan Linear A symbols engraved in it. The stone was never authenticated by reputable scholars and there is no evidence that Minoans visited Missouri 3500 years ago, but it was the inspiration for The Hollow Stone in the story.
A synopsis of the first book reads like this: When a mystery writer and his ten-year-old daughter move to the small town of Turn Back, Missouri, strange things begin to happen. Simon Carter moved from New York City to sleepy Turn Back, a town in the rugged hills of southeast Missouri on the road to nowhere, to find some peace and solitude. He thought it would be the perfect place to protect his daughter, Bucky, and her secret and to shield her from the world. Little did he realize that when Bucky befriended the elderly women of the Lukefahr Ladies Bible Class, it would set in motion events which would transform the town and lead to discoveries that would attract world-wide attention. What or who was behind the events that unfolded that summer and why was everyone dreaming the same dreams?
Shirley Gilmore’s debut novel, “Bucky and the Lukefahr Ladies: Walking the Labyrinth,” and the second book, “Bucky and the Lukefahr Ladies: Songs of Three,” are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. There are also copies in the Ozark Regional Library. You can read more about the book and receive updates on the progress of Book 3 on Ms. Gilmore’s website, ShirleyGilmore.com or her Facebook author page, “Shirley Gilmore, Bucky and the Lukefahr Ladies.”
Shirley Gilmore retired from teaching at Marquand in 1999 and currently lives near Willard, Missouri in the southwestern part of the state. You can contact her through her website or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.