Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Writing Retreat Ends with "Hayfields"

My wife gave me a fantastic Christmas present this year: permission to go away on my own writing retreat. I picked a location, loaded up my popcorn and veggie drinks, and disappeared. 

My goal was to have time to pray and write on a collection of short stories I’m wanting to get published in 2014. Over the course of those three days, I managed to edit and rewrite 13 short stories. I wrote one completely new story and I left with only one left to edit and update. When I’m done, the collection will have 15 short stories in it from my first effort in 1982 to my most recent short story. 

All of the stories have a character or theme in them connected to my home town of Ash Grove. Most of the stories include events that I actually experienced. Although the book will be fiction, the collection seems autobiographical. And yes, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. I can’t promise the same for the guilty.

I ended my retreat today by finishing my short story “Hayfields.” When I wrote it in college it was named “Cornfields” but I always felt like it was missing some things. So I altered the main character, shifted his farming interest to baling hay because I know more about that, and changed the ending of the story. I wrote the last paragraph before leaving my retreat: “The sun sinking lowly into purple clouds hesitated for a moment. He looked up briefly, and as he did a glint of pink sunlight flashed momentarily off the little 1939 Prize Hay tack on the brim of his cap. It was good to be adventurous sometimes, especially in pursuit of a passion.”

Be watching for “Short Stories from the Ash Grove” in 2014.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Summerscape Skit: Seymour and Roscoe

I remember those summers when I worked at Summerscape on the campus of Drury University. One year we had a talent show, and a fellow camp counselor and I wrote a skit modeled after the Liar which was popular on Saturday Night Live at the time. Here it is:

Seymour and Roscoe
"Hello Seymour. How's the wife?" asked Roscoe Bransetter, a 20-year veteran of the janitorial staff at Forty Acres College, as he approached his best friend.
"You mean Moran Fairchild?" said Seymour Corn with a Cheshire grin and a touch of sarcasm. "Oh, she is as sexy as ever. How are you doing Roscoe? What about your family?"
"Oh, carried off by wild dogs," said Roscoe, demonstrating his ability to be a compulsive liar. "Other than that, not bad, except for last night."
"What happened last night?" asked Seymour.
"Well, I was at my house over on. . . . "
"Sunsleive and Cornita, third house from the light?" said Seymour, finishing the sentence for Roscoe.
"Yeah. I was painting my house with some of that . . ." Roscoe waved his hand in the air trying to remember the brand name.
"Pratt and Lambert All-Season Latex Paint?" said Seymour, demonstrating his uncanny ability to read Roscoe's mind.
"Yeah. And I was painting the overhangs on my house, when all of a sudden, out of the clear blue sky, completely by surprise, I painted, I mean accidentally painted, my eyelids shut," said Roscoe demonstrating how it happened. "How painful. So I had to take some of those. . ."
"B and D pharmaceutical rubbing alcohol pads?" asked Seymour with sadistic excitement.
"Yeah, that got the paint off, but I couldn't see all day," said Roscoe with a hint of glee.
"You know, that reminds me of the time I was at my house in the bathroom, on the toilet," began Seymour as he picked up his cleaning supplies and headed across campus with Roscoe.
"Ah, yes, quality time is what I like to call it," laughed Roscoe.
"I was reading a copy of the. . . "
"Pulitzer-prize winning novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" written by Harper Lee and published by Doubleday press?" said Roscoe, finishing Seymour's sentence with an uncanny exactness.
"Yeah. And I was bored, so I took one of those. . . "
"Six inch replicas of the Empire State Building?" said Roscoe.
"Yeah. And I shoved it up my nose. I could only get it to the 97th floor," said Seymour, adding to his lie. "So, I got. . ."
"One of things where you shake it up and it snows inside? The ones with felt bottoms?" asked an excited Roscoe.
"Yeah," said Seymour continuing on with his exaggerated tale. "And I gave it a couple of good whacks. Pretty soon the needle came out the top of my head and I looked like one of those. . ."
"Unicorns from the Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Circus?" laughed Roscoe.
"Yeah, that's it. Oh that was painful, I hate it when I do that."
Roscoe and Seymour were halfway across campus, headed to Wallis Hall for their first assignment of the day. All over campus the limbs of the mature trees rhymaticly banged together in the brisk fall breeze. The campus's crisscrossing sidewalks were hidden from view under a carpet of orange and red leaves. Students walked to and from class but most of them stayed clear of Seymour and Roscoe. Their sadistic humor had earned them an unwanted (but deserved) campus reputation.
"Now that you bring up that unicorn episode, I am reminded of that summer when we did some special projects for Ron Martin and the kids at Summerscape," said Roscoe. "Do you remember Martin?"
"Sure. The man ran full tilt into the side of the Breech School of Business Administration and Economics," recalled Seymour.
"Boy did that hurt, but he killed that pesky..."
"Northern African Tsetse Rain Forest Mosquito?" filled in Seymour.
"Yeah, flat as your head he was," laughed Roscoe.
"I have a good reason for having this flat head," said Seymour taking off his hat and patting his flattop.
"Oh, what could that be?"
"Well, the other day when I was down at. . ." began Seymour.
"Sam's Twenty-four hour bowling alley and game room emporium," said Roscoe.
"Yes. You know that little machine where those. . ."
"Bowling balls come up the feeder and rest until you pick them up," finished Roscoe.
"Yeah. Well, I set my head down there and just let those fifteen-pound bowling balls slam into my head over and over again," said Seymour demonstrating the way his head was hit.
"Oh, that is painful," agreed Roscoe. "I hate that almost as much as what I did the other day, I stripped down to my underwear and …"
"Got some of the Wal-Mart supreme extra long push thumbtacks first didn't you?
"Yes, that is right Seymour," said Roscoe. "I laid them all out on the floor. . . ."
"Points up?" asked Seymour.
"Absolutely," said Roscoe, looking astonished that another way was even possible. "Then I just rolled back and forth across the points embedding them into my body, but that was only half the fun. The best part was when I. . ."
"Soaked in the hot Campophenic, alcohol and salt mixture?" asked Seymour.
"Oh boy did that ever burn. I hate it when I do that," said Roscoe opening the door to Wallis Hall for Seymour. The wind flung the door open wide and the two stepped inside the dormitory with their supplies. It had been a long walk across campus.
"Time for some morning coffee wouldn't you say," said Roscoe as he poured from his Thermos a steaming hot cup of Java.
"That hot coffee reminds me of something I did yesterday," said Seymour. "I burned my nose."
"Yeah, I noticed that nasty scar and Curad bandage," said Roscoe with some curiosity.
"I got a little carried away," laughed Seymour nervously. "I took some of that..."
"Four-inch triple point, five strand American Eagle steel barbed wire?"
"Yeah. . ."
"I used some of that once for a pair of woven underwear," said Roscoe matter-of-factly.
"What? You're lying," said Seymour, using a word the two of them seldom repeated.
"I never lie, now finish our story," said Roscoe.
"Well, I strung that barbed wire through my nose -- very carefully mind you -- and then handed the four-foot strand to the Forty Acre College Monster."
"Wait, don't you mean that you gave the barbed wire to one of those African bread Brazilian Gorillas with five foot arms and a potbelly?" asked Roscoe.
"Yeah, that's it," said Seymour. "Boy, but the mistake was when I fired that 22 caliber, ah 80, I mean 94-caliber pistol off right behind his head. Boy, he took off like a shot and literally tore the front half of my nose off."
"That sounds more painful than my barbed wire trick," said Roscoe.
"Same type of barbed wire?" asked Seymour.
"Absolutely. I took of that and stapled it to the nipple of by breast."
"Ouch," said Seymour rubbing his chest.
"That's only the start. I then twisted it in a counter clockwise motion until it was tight and then let it go."
"I bet it looked like the propeller on one of those World War II fighting tiger planes," said Seymour, nearly spitting out his coffee amid a laugh.
"Sure did, and it tore half of my face and breast off to boot," bragged Roscoe. "Want to see the scars?"
Seymour ignored the question and kept talking. "Speaking of getting things tore off, I don't think I will ever forget the time I was using some of that. . .
"Elmer's amazing super crazy glue?" guessed Roscoe.
"Yeah, I guess I forgot. Anyway, I was using to repair my...."
"Broken teacup?" asked Roscoe.
"Broken picture frame?" guessed Roscoe again.
"Broken bike?"
"No," said Seymour scratching his head.
"I don't know then. Broken stainless steel Dolerena racecar?" asked Roscoe.
"Yeah. I was fixing my rear view mirror and trying to get that glue to come out. So, I tilted it up and poked a needle in the bottle, but when I pulled it out it squirted in my eyes and when I used my hands to wipe the glue out my hands stuck," said Seymour demonstrating the accident.
"Wow. What did they do to fix that, I have no idea," said Roscoe with a tone of awe.
"Had to pull all of my eyelashes out," said Seymour.
"That must of hurt. That reminds me, I'll never forget two years, months, weeks, days ago when I took one of those. . ."
"Stainless steel six-inch carrot scrapers?" asked Seymour.
"Yeah. Boy, I took that and pushed it up my nose while turning it and really scrapped out all of those mucus membranes," said Roscoe demonstrating the motion. "Then I got one of those..."
"Twelve-hour decongestant nasal sprays?"
"Yeah, did that ever burn when I snorted it, but it didn't leave a scar like. . ."
"You mean like the small suction cupped elephant head that Ron Martin put on his forehead to entertain his children with?" asked Seymour.
"Absolutely, you know the camp director still has a scar from that."
"Yeah, and he will scar our butts if we don't get to cleaning up his office," said Seymour as he unlooked the door to Martin's head-resident's office in Wallis Hall.
"Yeah, okay Seymour, I'll get all of the M&M's off the floor," said Roscoe.
"That's fine with me Roscoe. I'll take out the trash and then it's off to have lunch with my . . . my senator, ah. . . I mean the President of the United States."


Short story collection includes "The New Neighbors"

I'm working on a collection of short stories entitled, "Short Stories from the Ash Grove." At this point, it is going to be a collection of 16 short stories that I wrote between 1982 and 2000. Each story is getting a make-over, or at the very least, some editing. I even made some changes to the short story I wrote for senior English way back in 1984.

Here are the first few paragraphs of, "The New Neighbors."

I was dashing about my room, simultaneously dressing for breakfast, picking dirty shirts off my furniture and socks off the floor, when a glimmer outdoors caught my eye. I stopped to glance from my bedroom window toward the road. There sat a large moving van at the curb being emptied of its contents. I stopped dead in my tracks.
“Thank you Lord. Someone is finally moving into the old Cellini house next door. Lord, hear my prayer, I hope they have a pretty 16-year old daughter,” I said in a moment of honest communication with God.

I moved closer to the window and studied the scene. Scurrying around the yard was an elderly man. He was an odd looking man, with a pointed nose and a humped back. His white hair was pulled back off his forehead and his black horn rimmed glasses protruding on the side. His young friend was also unusual in appearance. He was extremely small but surprisingly sturdy looking with his long beard and large head of hair. He had a leg injury of some sort that caused him to drag his leg. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Students Close Encounter of the Other-Worldly Kind Makes Her a Believer

David Burton
October 1987, Drury Mirror

In my quest for an answer to whether or not the ghost of Clara Thompson is fact or fiction, one source was continually suggested to me as the most authoritative student source--Robin Holmes Fowlkes.

"I used to be skeptical about ghosts also," said Robin. "I wasn't skeptical though after the first time I experienced the presence of this ghost--it was so good and warm."

Robin Holmes, a 1986 graduate of Drury College and a very talented musician, currently lives in Fort Worth, Kansas, and is married to Bruce Fowlkes, also a Drury graduate.

For Robin, her ghostly experiences are not a joke.

"I feel very strongly about it," said Robin. "I was shocked when it first happened. I was also really excited. I didn't believe it at first, but now it is a very special period of events in my life."

Robin says she is unable to remember the exact time she first experienced the ghost because she didn't think of most things as ghostly episodes.

"I always had to practice after 10:30 because it was about the only time I had left," said Robin. "I can tell you, there were lots of times when I heard doorknobs turning and rustling sounds, like hands rubbing on jeans, after the building had been locked up."

Still, Robin says she realizes some of the things she heard could have been because Clara Thompson is such a big and old building--but not all of the sounds can be explained in this fashion.

"I do recall one of the first experiences that I recognized as a legitimate experience with a ghost," added Robin before she related the story.

One weekday, after midnight, Robin was practicing on the stage of Clara Thompson.

"Security came in and told me to get out," said Robin, "but I begged to be able to stay and practice. The stage lights were the only lights left on. The security guard said that it would be all right but to remember that I was the only one left in the building. He was locking me, and only me, in the building."

After security left, Robin continued with her practicing. Two pianos were on the stage at the time. The Stienway, on which Robin was practicing, was setting behind the partition on stage.

"I was practicing, and then between playing, I heard a noise in the balcony," said Robin. "It sounded like a doorknob turning. The lights were out, except on stage."

According to Robin, she looked out into the auditorium from around the partition and saw nothing, only black.

"I heard footsteps though. Not clomping steps but more like a rustling or shuffling. I followed the steps from one end of the balcony to the other as the rustling continued. I strained my eyes to see someone but I couldn't. There was no one there. Then there was a big rustling, almost a sigh, and the ghost sat down. I knew what I heard. I have no doubts. It was a ghost."

But this story doesn't end there.

"I was really scared after listening to this, especially since security said I was alone," Robin said. "Then a feeling, a warm feeling like a gust of wind, hit me. It wasn't a breeze, it didn't blow my hair or anything, it was just a warm--almost chilling--breeze. Then I wasn't scared anymore. It took care of my fears even though I KNEW someone was watching."

Robin said she continued to practice and the whole time felt as if she was making someone very happy. Then, Robin was touched.

"After playing for a while, something came up from behind me and expressed its appreciation for my music by hugging me," continued Robin. "It felt warm, but it was also scary because it felt as if someone was hugging me. It felt like an old man or an old couple who were very attached to the building."

The only time Robin said she was really scared was when she said "Hello" into the audience after she heard the rustling.

"I only did that once," said Robin. "It really scared me."

The entire time, however, Robin felt certain that the ghost was very benevolent.

"I think the ghost is someone who really loves music and loves that building," said Robin. "I never felt like I was in danger. I always thought that maybe I was making this ghost very happy with my music."

Possibly most significant is the fact that these same events happened to Robin 9 or 10 times.

"It was the sweetest, warmest feeling. It always gave me goosebumps," said Robin. "It was all very exciting. I have never felt anything like it since. It is really a special time for me."

However, the two events that made Robin really believe in the ghost of Clara Thompson were things that happened to other people.

On one occasion, Robin attended a Count Basey concert at a Springfield High School with her friend Randy Luna. Before Count Basey performed, a female singer named Carman Bradford opened for him.

During the performance of Count Basey, Bradford walked in the back doors of the auditorium. Robin and Randy saw her and decided to go speak with her about the performance.

"I wanted to tell her how talented she was," said Robin. "During our conversation though, she discovered that I was also a singer. For some reason she decided that she really wanted to hear me sing."

So, after the concert, Robin, Randy, and Ms. Bradford looked for a piano in the high school. They were unable to locate one in the building, however.

"Carmon then suggested that maybe we could come back to Drury," said Holmes. "I told her how beautiful Clara Thompson sounded at night, and she got it in her head that she really wanted to hear me."

Robin also added that Bradford was happy to be away from the 18 men she was traveling with in the Basey tour.

"She was wanting some girl-talk," said Robin.

These three performers went to Clara Thompson and Robin and Bradford both sang while Randy played the piano. Nothing unusual happened until Carmon Bradford felt something very unusual.

"Just out of nowhere she said, `Oh, my! Did you feel that? It was like a warm draft, a rush of warm air. I've got goose-bumps.' I knew it was the ghost," said Robin. "I hadn't felt a thing but she had. I never mentioned it to her, but I know it was the ghost touching her."

The second event that made Robin even more confident about what she had experienced came during an afternoon piano lesson with Dr. Sidney Vice.

"During practice, just out of the clear blue sky, Dr. Vice said, `I know this may sound strange, but after practicing late at night, do you ever think there is a ghost in here?'

"Well, my chin almost hit the floor," said Robin. "I had never mentioned my experiences to anyone before, and now, here was the head of the department asking me about a ghost. I knew then that there was definitely something to this."

Robin also discovered that this ghost has some special quirks.

"When I would come back from breaks, I wouldn't experience him again right away," said Robin. "I had to be practicing in Clara Thompson for a while, and it always happened when I was on stage."

Then, as expected, Robin would again experience the rustling, the sitting down, and a warm feeling.

"Every time I would hear that rustling I would get scared, but it wouldn't be much longer before I felt the warm rush or the hug," said Robin. "I really feel like I was fulfilling a dream of someone."

One other curious event happened with Robin and Steve Siebert. They had been waiting for a chance to record a song together; so, late one night they went over the Clara Thompson, taking with them Robin's "jam-box." Robin placed the recorder out in the chairs and taped their performance.

"When I played back the tape there was a tapping on the recording in time to the music. This was something neither of us heard while we were recording," said Robin. "My recorder had never done that before and hasn't since. The taps began with the music and then just sort of fade out towards the end of the song. The tapping was very clear, as if someone was tapping a pencil on the chair in front of them as they sat right next to the recorder."

One significant personal side note here. Steve Siebert also related to me exactly the same story.

According to Robin, she began to look forward to these types of experiences.

"I loved that rushing feeling and started looking forward to it," said Robin. "On three or four occasions I just stood alone in the middle of the stage and sang. Each time I could hear the rustling sound walk across the balcony and sit down."

It is important to remember that each time, Robin says that she knew that she was the only person in the building.

"Every time, security would tell me they were locking me in," said Robin.

Each time, it was the same thing.

"It happened so much that I felt like they really knew me," said Robin. "It happened repeatedly, and I could also tell the difference between just odd sounds, and the sounds of the ghost."


Professor Believes Ghost Lives in Clara Thompson Hall

By David Burton
October 1987, Drury Mirror

"I am not ashamed to tell you," began Dr. Sidney Vice, "I have felt for a long time that there is probably a ghost in Clara Thompson."

Dr. Vice, the head of the music department, has been an instructor at Drury for 22 years. Now someone has finally asked him about the ghost of Clara Thompson. "It is exciting, and I've been thinking that for 20 years," said Vice.

Dr. Vice has frequently experienced the ghostly events on weekends. During the weekend Clara Thompson Hall is completely locked up. Dr. Vice, however, has a key to the doors and occasionally will come over to the building--when there is no one there.

"I have had repeated experiences with what I believe is a ghost," said Dr. Vice. "Too many times when I have been here on the weekend, with the building completely locked, I have heard banging, rustling, and moaning sounds which can not be explained."

Dr. Vice says that he understands students feeling a little unusual in the building, as if there is another presence,

"I have little doubt, however, that it is a benevolent ghost," added Vice. "I don't believe it is threatening at all; rather, I think it is watching over our program."

As a matter of fact, Dr. Vice considers this ghost so seriously that he has developed his own theory as to the identity of the ghost. "I have often thought that it could be Dean Skinner," said Dr. Vice.

Thomas Stanley Skinner, the man credited with founding the Drury Conservatory of Music, was the Dean of Music for 3 decades at Drury, 1920-1950. "I understand that he was a tremendous musician," said Dr. Vice.

The only problem with this theory may be the fact that Mr. D. Wayne Johnson, a 1950 Drury graduate and a student of Dr. Skinner's, says that students were telling ghost stories about Clara Thompson Hall when he was a student.

"I haven't had any personal experiences," said Johnson. "I've heard a lot of stories about rattling and creaking though."

It would have been impossible for Dr. Skinner to have been the ghost during Johnson's time since he was still alive and teaching during this period.

However, Dr. Vice suggests a possible solution to this apparent dead-end. "Could it be possible that this ghost vacated Clara Thompson in order to show his respect of Skinner? Perhaps this building has had two ghosts," said Dr. Vice.

Ghost experts, in fact, do suggest that spirits will occasionally vacate a certain location in order to allow a different spirit into a location where its interest would be greater.

"I am quite certain that this is a musical ghost," added Dr. Vice. "I know it is gentle, and I feel like it watches over us."

Dr. Vice even suggested what he believes the ghost is looking for. "I believe activity, especially with music, makes it happy," said Dr. Vice. "For example, the only times I have ever heard the moaning sounds have been over breaks or weekends when the building is deserted. It was at those times I felt that maybe the ghost was lonely and unhappy."


Students Recount Strange Experiences in Clara Thompson Hall

Written by David Burton
October 1987

Everyone loves a good ghost story, but what happens if you happen to be living that story?

Several Drury students claim to have had unusual encounters in Clara Thompson Hall, leading some people to speculate that the ghost of Clara Thompson roams the halls of her building nightly.

However, some present music students as well as alumni, suggest that these "ghost stories" are only a passing fad.

Senior, Steve Siebert, remembers one unusual experience he had last year when practicing with Robin Holmes Fowlkes, a Drury alum. Steve was playing the piano and Robin was singing.

"Robin and I were taping our performance," said Siebert. "When we played it back, we could hear tapping on the tape, like someone tapping a pencil. The strange thing was that it was tapping in time to the music and didn't start until the music began and then ended as soon as the music stopped. Neither one of us had been tapping."

Siebert mentioned that it could have been a tape defect, but still he is unable to completely erase the feelings Clara Thompson Hall gives him.

"I always feel uncomfortable or creepy in there practicing," said Siebert. "I always feel like someone is around. It's very weird. It's very cold."

Robin Holmes Fowlkes, who is now living in Fort Worth, Kansas, related some things from her own experiences.

"I always felt like it was a nice ghost," said Holmes. "In a way I always felt as if I was making it happy when I sang."

According to Fowlkes, the ghost is a music lover and shows itself only to those people who truly love music.
However, not everyone who works and studies in Clara Thompson has had close encounters of the ghostly kind.

Dr. Julian, a 1981 graduate of Drury who now instructs in instrumental music, admits that she is not personally acquainted with "Clara."

"I never heard of a ghost being in here the whole time I was attending Drury," admitted Dr. Julian.

Even Darlien Dill, the secretary for the music department, has not experienced the ghost.

"I have heard students talk about it," said Dill, "but in the 18 years I've been here, I haven't ever had contact with "her." As a matter of fact, I don't remember hearing that much about it until the last couple of years."

John Johns, the custodian in the Mabee Center, acted surprised when asked about a ghost in the building.
"I've never heard of there being a ghost," confessed Johns, "but we have bats in the attic."

Junior, Amy McCann works in the music department and is also a talented musician.

"I've never heard or experienced anything unusual," said Amy. "I do, however, remember hurrying through an upstairs closet once one evening because I felt like someone was watching me."

Gail Sheridan, a 1984 graduate of the Drury music department, admitted that she had never personally experienced the ghost but had heard several stories.

"My understanding was that it was the spirit of a former music student at Drury," said Sheridan. "I can't say that I ever saw it, but I sure heard an awful lot of strange noises when I would practice over there at night."

Sheridan said that she remembers several students during her years at Drury talking about hearing pianos playing late at night when no one else was in the building.

"That place always gave me the creeps," said Sheridan. "It always felt cold. Just cold and dead."

Interestingly, most ghost experts will tell you that people who come in contact with ghosts always describe them as cold. In addition, buildings in which ghosts reside are typically described as cold.

On one occasion, Sheridan admits that she mistook a slurring trombone player for the moans of the ghost.

"I looked around until I located the moaning. I found a student practicing slurs on his trombone in one of the practice rooms. That was the moaning I had heard," said Sheridan, "still, it is fun to think about there being a real ghost over there."

Seniors Trisha Wiggins and Vicki Spourle believe there is a ghost in Clara Thompson.

"The whole place scares me," said Vicki. "I have always been too afraid to go over there at night by myself."

"It is an awful cold place," added Wiggins. "I don't like to be over there, but I don't feel like it is evil. I almost always feel like someone is behind me or watching me though."

Both Vicki and Trisha related a similar experience, at separate times, about the lights in Clara Thompson.

Apparently, both students have been in Clara Thompson at night when the lights were on. After security comes in and secures the building, the lights are usually turned off. Both Vicki and Trisha recall two separate times when they asked security to leave the lights on, only to discover them turned off a short while later.

"I talked to the security man once," said Wiggins. "I asked him to leave the lights on and he did. I went back to practicing in one of those small rooms, and when I came out later, all of the lights were turned off. That was after security had secured the building.

"That was also the last time I stayed there by myself," Wiggins added with a smile.

Bob Tillery, a senior music major, admits hearing creaking sounds in Clara Thompson late at night, but he feels that these noises are nothing more than settling noises.

"I have a good feeling about that place," said Tillery. "I am not scared to go in there even though I do always feel like there is someone behind me, watching me."

David Peebles, a 1982 graduate of Drury College who now lives in Springfield, admits that in his four years as a music student he never heard anything about a ghost.

"I don't know of any stories, and I never experienced anything unusual," said Peebles. "I guess I could make some stories up though if you really need them."

Despite the fact that several students have experienced "unusual" occurrences in Thompson Hall, the majority of people seem to be skeptical. Maybe that is the way "Clara" would want it.

Saturday, March 01, 2014


Still working on my collection of Ash Grove short stories

I hope by the middle of this summer that I am able to release my book, "Stories from the Ash Grove." There has just been a lot going on so this project has been moved to the bottom of the list. But, I'm looking forward to taking a little writing retreat soon (gift from my wife) to work on some story updates.

So far, the short stories I'm reworking and plan to include in my book are as follows:

I've got three novels outlined as well and two of those will draw heavily from the stories and experiences that influenced me in the Ash Grove area.

James Joyce once wrote, "If you have had a childhood you have experienced enough to be able to write stories for the rest of your life." I never realized the truth in what Joyce wrote until I began to gather stories for this book. Every short story in this book was inspired by a person, place or event during my childhood. That is evident in the name I chose for this book since I grew up in Ash Grove, Mo.

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