Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS) recently hosted its first ever Alumni and Parent Author book signing event to showcase the work of 11 local authors in the Presentation Room at Olson Hall on MICDS campus. Nine of the eleven are MICDS alumni, while two are parents of MICDS students.
The room was full of scholars, professionals and writers who shared a few common threads. They are clearly passionate about the subject matter of their books and they are all affiliated with MICDS. The alumni graduation classes represented reached back as far as 1947 and went forward to 1989.
“Many of them (the authors) have known each other, but had not seen each other for a while. They had a good time reconnecting with each other,” said Louise Jones, Director of Alumni Relations.
Although attendance was low to this event, the energy amongst the panel was not. Each enthusiastically gave a brief talk about their book. Some gave tidbits about how they came to write their book.
Adalbert Dietz, author of Snippets of St. Louis said about his book, “This was never meant to be a book.”
Snippets of St. Louis started as a guide of St. Louis for Washington University students. Dietz used them when showing students around the city. He said the book was actually born at MICDS when he showed his “snippets” to a MICDS staff member who asked him to put together a book for new staff members. Reedy Press became interested in publishing his “snippets,” and the rest is history.
Books from each of the authors were available for purchase and the authors happily signed purchased copies. Genres represented were diverse, and included: adult fiction, children’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, instructional and literary criticism. The subject matter of the books ranged from health care, to swing dancing, to history, to great places to visit. Some books were a visual treat with breathtaking photos of bridges, rivers and places. And the beautifully illustrated Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring is a piece of art in itself.
Many of the distinguished authors credited MICDS as a place where it all started and a place that gave them inspiration to write their books and achieve their success.
Susan Elliot, author of Across the Divide: Navigating the Digital Revolution as a Women, Entrepreneur and CEO, talked about how Mr. Beasley, headmaster at MICDS in 1954, influenced her. She said, “He told students we could ‘go as far and as high and as wide as we wanted to.’ All we had to do was put our minds to it and do it. And I have not forgotten that. I have told that to my daughters and all of the young women and people I have worked with through today.”
MICDS alumni and parent authors who participated in the event include:
- Carol Ferring Shepley, Class of '68, author, Movers and Shakers, Scalawags and Suffragettes: Tales from Bellefontaine Cemetery
- Susan Spoehrer Elliott, Class of '54, author, Across the Divide: Navigating the Digital Revolution as a Woman, Entrepreneur and CEO
- Jamieson Spencer, Class of '63, author, Fictional Religion: Keeping the New Testament New
- Adalbert K. Dietz, Class of '52, author, Snippets of St. Louis
- Henry H. Culver Jr., Class of '62, author, Imperial Swing Dancing
- Mary King Swayzee, Class of '47, author, Leaving a Trace: My Garden and Other Art Projects
- Cynthia Dennison Haines, Class of '89, author, The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System
- Quinta Dunn Scott, Class of '59, author, The Mississippi: A Visual Biography
- Richard T. Newman, current parent, poet, Borrowed Towns and Domestic Fugues
- Jan Schonwald Greenberg, Class of '60, author, Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring
- Xiaolong Qiu, parent of former student, author, Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai