Stories I’ve Been Told – Volume 1
25 Portraits of Rural Texans
Courage in the face of daunting challenges. Lives of quiet dignity. The satisfaction derived from hard work. Love of family and community. Joy and despair. Hope and faith. The Great Depression. World War II. Post-war prosperity.
These enduring themes (and more) emerge in this anthology of 25 stories that Elaine Thomas captured through in-depth interviews with rural Texans on their porches and at their kitchen tables.
Featuring the stories of: Leroy Bennetsen * Donald Cernosek & Margie Cernosek Seidl * Lorenza & Myrtle Crosby Jr. * Harvey Dippel * Fritz Finke * Otto Fuchs Jr. * Franklin Guettermann * Gladys Holub * Doug Janda * Milton Koenning * George Koudelka * Susanne Kraege: Renate Meiners * Olen Glenn Lacy * Robert Lehmann * Cordell Levien * Bennie Lueders & Kate Null Asbill * Helen Mikus * James (Speedy) Niesner * Dean Pape, Thelma Dopslauf & Marilyn Petrich * Jo Lynn Petras & Dennis Petras: Millie Petras * Evelyn Ripper & Dorothy Ripper * Melvin Schilling * Martha Tauch * Norma Webb * Mary Zigal.
“By sensitively and beautifully capturing the stories she has been told, Elaine Thomas enriches each of us. We turn the pages of her book and find these stories are our stories and our parents and grandparents stories. They are real and they are timeless.
“Memories are the movies of our mind, rich reminders of the challenging times we have faced and the beautiful and lovely occurrences that have spoken to our hearts. Our memories acknowledge who we were and reinforce the individuals we have become. They richly connect us with those we have known, those we have loved, and all who peppered our lives in so many ways.
“In Stories I’ve Been Told, Elaine Thomas invites us to encounter our friends, our neighbors and our families, and shows us the threads of living that have woven the fabric of their lives. True stories always have been and always will be the best!” – Sally Reynolds, author of Round Top Next Stop
Thomas & Garlick Spotlight
Other Stories I’ve Saved
Veterans Voices and Home Front Memories
In Veterans’ Voices and Home Front Memories, 63 World War II veterans and women who waited for their return share deeply personal stories. Coming of age during the later years of the Great Depression and the early 1940s, they willingly put their personal lives on hold to defend their country from December 1941 to August 1945. They all have ties to Fayette County, Texas, but their recollections represent an entire generation that pulled together in the greatest manifestation of patriotism this country has ever seen, doing whatever was asked of them despite the personal cost.
” Veterans’ Voices is a superbly written work that will fill the reader with total admiration for the veterans of World War II. Against a backdrop legacy of courage and sacrifice, the author has conceived and crafted a unique history of veterans from a single county in Texas. This work is a vivid examination of history from the individual point of view. It covers what was important and things that mattered: country, family, faith, loss, hope for the future and memories of the past. This remarkable account of 62 people is touching, refreshingly honest and will add to the history of previously published material. Elaine has given history a gift that speaks from the heart about a generation that has given so much to our nation.” – Ron Green, Pinehurst, Texas, Colonel, Infantry, U.S. Army, retired
“This is a candid and emotional compilation of interviews and stories told by World War II veterans and civilians in their own words. The photos of then and now gives it a an additional real world touch.” – Maire Albiol, Houston, Texas
Same Moon, Same Stars – The Life of Renate Macherauch Meiners
Same Moon, Same Stars is a love story and history lesson that takes readers on an unforgettable odyssey that begins with the carefree childhood of German-born Renate Macherauch Meiners. She came face-to-face with the horrors of World War II under Hitler, but a chance meeting with an American GI would change her life.
“The way Elaine handled Renate Meiners’ story is amazing. She distilled a lifetime of memories into a cohesive and moving account that I’ll always treasure. No matter how many stories she writes, Elaine never fails to make a personal connection with her subjects. She approaches each person’s experiences with empathy and respect.” – Elizabeth Rowden
” Same Moon, Same Stars, a story about a German war bride’s trials and tribulations, the love that she found and the love that she lost, is skillfully told by Elaine Thomas, a creative storyteller, who relates the memories of Renate Macherauch Meiners, in a moving first-person narrative. Thomas takes the reader along on Renate’s remarkable journey through life that echoes with courage of conviction, strength of character, love of family and deep faith. The authenticity of this story makes it an important documentation of life as it actually was in the shadow of Nazi Germany, a tumultuous existence of fearfulness and deprivation.” – Carolyn Heinsohn
Saddles and Service – Winston Parker’s Story
Winner of the Independent Publisher Association’s silver medal for best Western Canada regional non-fiction, Saddles and Service is the life story of Alberta’s Winston Churchill Parker. As a young cowboy, he drove cattle through the city streets to the Calgary Stampede. Shortly after a private audience with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II, he spent four years in a German prisoner of war camp. He survived and afterward devoted his life to ranching and building strong communities. At 100 years of age, he still plays bridge and views his world with wisdom, humor
“This is a captivating story, well worth the read.” – Hugh A. Dempsey, Editor of Alberta History and Chief Curator Emeritus of the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta
“What a delightful book! I didn’t want it to end. Winston and his family are a wonderful example of how to sacrifice time and energy for the good of your friends and neighbors, community and country.” – Valerie Walker, Author, Calgary, Alberta
Promises to Keep – Cecilia Taylor’s Story
A beautifully illustrated history, Promises to Keep, traces the history of Cecilia Fendall, a first generation Canadian farm woman and pioneer in her own right. In the early years of the 20th century, her parents, British newlyweds Arthur and Emily Fendall, joined the great immigration tide that swept across Western Canada to communities such as Okotoks, Alberta. Cecilia’s father was a refined middle-aged gentleman and her mother a plucky servant girl. The story explores what drove immigrants to Western Canada and how the family fared in a very different world from the one they had left. Despite the hardships they endured, Cecilia and her parents never lost faith or hope, planting deep roots for their descendants.
“What a legacy Elaine Thomas has created in Promises to Keep. I absolutely love the detailed stories, the format with side panels of information and the great photos. The grades four and five students will definitely use this as a resource as they research how pioneers overcame obstacles and persevered to make new lives as Canadians.” – Loretta Stabler, Millarville, Alberta
Proceeds from book sales benefit an endowed student scholarship at Blinn College, Schulenburg, Texas.
“Elaine demonstrates intelligence, sound organizational skills, strong work ethic and dynamic writing skills in her storytelling. She has the talent to listen and pull all of the pieces together – the essence of storytelling – while maintaining high standards for quality and accuracy. Elaine tells each subject’s story concisely and beautifully with the individual’s voice coming through loud and clear. For Elaine, it is a labor of love.” – Elizabeth M. Ivers