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W.Va. man turns childhood memories into book

Nov. 25, 2012 @ 08:46 AM

ELKINS, W.Va. (AP) — Growing up in Upshur County gave one man many stories to cherish and share with generations of his family, and now he wants to share them with other readers.

That is one reason why Greenbrier Almond, an Upshur County Board of Education member and lifelong resident of Upshur County, decided to collect and preserve those childhood stories.

Through McClain Printing Company of Parsons, Almond recently published "Stories of a West Virginia Doctor's Son," retelling life lessons and experiences about his early life.

"What I was trying to capture is that Buckhannon was a very special place," Almond said. "I wanted to tell that story because I thought it was slipping away from us. It seems like life is getting harder for children now."

Although Upshur County may change with time, Almond's stories preserve a moment in that string of changes that can teach his children, grandchildren and other readers how his childhood differed, or be nostalgic to readers who also may have shared similar moments in their lives.

"Last spring, I realized that Maria, my daughter, was pregnant. I felt like I needed to start telling stories then," Almond said. "I was so excited as a first-time granddad."

Almond said his father, a medical doctor, originally wrote stories about his practice, eventually publishing the book, "Stories of a West Virginia Doctor," which tells 50-55 stories.

"Those are precious to the family," Almond said, "It's been rewarding to follow Dad's tracks."

Almond followed his father's tracks in more than just writing. He, too, became a doctor. Almond is trained in family practice and is a board-certified psychiatrist. He said he wrote a counterpart to his father's book in 2005 because his father had 70 or more additional stories that were not included in the first book. The book was titled "Stories of a West Virginia Doctor, Volume II."

"Truly these are beautiful memories worth reading and lessons of life to treasure and share," Helen G. Reger wrote in her foreword to Almond's book. Reger spent many years teaching in Upshur County, according to the foreword.

"Through his eyes, the author has given the reader a look into the beauty of a family life built on a foundation with love, compassion, learning and trust as the cornerstones," Reger wrote.

After publishing the stories from his childhood, Almond said he is working on another book that will tell stories throughout his teenage years in Upshur County. He and his four sisters are writing a collection of stories about growing up with their parents, Harold and Louis Almond.

"We became enamored, I guess, with the storytelling," Almond said. "I grew up basically without TV. Storytelling was a big part of our lives."

Almond said he remained in Upshur County because he thought it was the best place on earth to raise a family.

"I've always considered us to be a very safe place, where there's wonderful experiences, especially in nature, canoeing, swimming," Almond said. "It just seems perfect to me, I guess, almost heaven."

Almond said his parents met at West Virginia Wesleyan College and were able to buy land on top of a hill in Buckhannon, and later, a farm at what used to be Hemlock near Helvetica.

"We had a wonderful way of life here, and I don't want it to go away," Almond said, adding that writing stories is a good way to preserve the times he once had.

"I think I would encourage any grandparents or parents, uncles, aunts to write down their stories, "Almond said. "Preserve them for the grandkids in the next generation."

Almond's book is available from booksellers and at amazon.com.