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A Remarkable, “Insignificant” Person

John W. Pinkerton


Alice Hein Schiel called me a few months ago wanting to know what I knew about publishing books.  “Not much,” was my response, but I did know a relative who has published a number of books and encouraged her to contact him.

Alice, when she was Alice Hein, was a student of mine in English classes about a hundred years ago.  She graduated from Somerville High School in 1971.  Through the years, I've run into Alice at homecomings and, I suppose, other events.  She's always seemed to be glad to see me, and I was always pleased to speak with her.  She was, as I recall, a good student, a nice person.

Apparently, Alice has gone on to have a life completely independent of me.  She had a career from which she recently retired as a secondary math teacher.  She chose to spend her life with Bill.  I just met him the other night.  He seems to be a gregarious, friendly person who supports his wife's endeavors, a quality I admire because Linda is so supportive of me and my foolish efforts. 

Apparently the call to my bookwriting relative wasn't a total waste of time because I got word that Alice was having a book signing the evening of November 18 at the Yegua Center, our high school public meeting place in Somerville.   Of course, we planned to attend: it's not everyday someone from our little community has a book published.  The day before the great event, Alice called me  urging us to attend the book signing.  I assured her that we would be there.  Then she added an unexpected note: she had dedicated the book to me and Dr. P. E. Parotti, English professor at Sam Houston State University.

Holy Moly!  I was stunned.  What the heck did I do to deserve this honor?

Of course, the day of the book signing arrived, and Linda and I, along with a friend, showed up and were immediately impressed with the number of folks in attendance; I had no idea how many folks would show up for Alice’s book signing but was pleasantly surprised by the need for more chairs.

Alice's book, Nora Mae, a Remarkable, Insignificant Person is about her mother's life.

As Alice spoke of her mother, I could see heads nodding in agreement.  Unlike me, many of the folks in the audience knew her and respected her and shared Alice's love for her mother.

Alice related what a good experience speaking to several high school classes earlier in the day had been.  She had concluded that for the young the book presents situations which they had never considered before and for the older folks it was a reminder of how things had been in the past.

After her presentation, almost all the folks present bought a book from Bill, and Alice happily signed each copy.  At one point, Alice stood with me before the nice large poster representing her book while Bill and Linda took our pictures.

Once I read the subtitle Alice had chosen for the story of her mother, …a Remarkable, Insignificant Person, I instantly related to those words.   I have met many remarkable and “insignificant” folks, folks little noticed by the broad world but folks who bring joy and order and love into it.

I've read the book now.  I was right years ago when I told Alice that she could write.  It's a good read; I can relate to it.  Although I was born well after her mother, I remember passenger trains, homes without electricity, and flower sack shirts.

Congratulations, Alice.  I count you among the remarkable, “insignificant” folks.


Do yourself a favor and order a copy of Alice’s remarkable book at Amazon.