A Washington Court House man, Steve Greer, has joined with author Saundra Crum Akers to bring Fayette County from the early 1900s onto the page.
Recently, a new book titled “Born to Serve” was released on Amazon by the duo. The book portrays Washington C.H. nearly 100 years ago through the eyes of two different characters. According to Akers, she started writing mysteries in 2005, setting them in southern Ohio where she lived. After years of new mysteries being published — even one which was set in Washington C.H. — she met Greer who had some great ideas for a book but no experience writing.
“Steve has never written anything before, but has made ideas for writings and I knew it was important to him to put them together,” Akers said during an interview Thursday. “But he hadn’t written a novel before so I said, ‘We will put it together and we can make a book out of it.’ Steve visualized the concept as a movie in his head and said he could see the old trains, the old horses and wagons and such. So we put our efforts together and came up with this.”
Greer is a local who has lived here since he was born in the 1940s, according to Akers, and owns a book full of his own ideas, which include the two main characters in the new novel. Akers, who currently resides in Hillard, said she has roots in Highland County, Adams County, Pike County and Brown County, and studies a lot of genealogy, which led her to this area for different reasons and has been an inspiration for her novels.
“I live in Hillard and I read a novel set in Columbus talking about places I knew, and then I started wondering what it would be like to put some of these stories in small towns and based on their personality,” Akers said. “I felt it was very nice for small towns in southern Ohio, and that they would be more inclined to read a story with references to businesses and places they could recognize.”
Akers said Washington C.H. was selected for this particular novel because Greer was the one to come up with the characters. The first is Naomi — a bi-racial woman left on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. She eventually becomes a doctor and is raised to be a nun, however when she begins to feel out of place, she leaves the convent and travels to Ohio to find her unknown father who ran away before she was born.
The second character is “pigeon George,” an African-American World War I veteran who made a living through odd jobs in Washington C.H. He was known for collecting pigeons from locals to sell for pies to local restaurants. Though the characters are usually fictional in her stories, Greer based these characters on his own experiences from his life being raised in Fayette County and serving in the military. The book even includes a picture of Greer’s grandfather.
“This book is more historical and starts in 1900,” Akers said. “During the novel you move through the things that were happening in the country around the time, such as World War I, the Spanish Flu and the Great Depression. Steve grew up living near three stockyards in Washington Court House and he saw the person they called pigeon George catch pigeons with a gunny sack at the stockyards and at the feed mill. His uncle told him about riding around in a horse-drawn wagon driven by a black man who went from restaurant to restaurant picking up grease. So George in the books is really a jack-of-all-trades that is based on the man known as pigeon George that makes money doing odd jobs. He also loved the steam trains and so he wanted the railroad system to be a part of the book. Regarding the nuns, Steve was in the service and in Germany, he saw many German nuns. He is not Catholic but he was impressed by them. It was a great experience helping to put this together.”
The book is now available on Amazon under “Saundra Crum Akers” or “Stephen Greer.” Additionally, books are available by contacting Akers by phone at (614) 219-7222 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, locals can find a copy of the book for purchase at Our Place Restaurant in Washington C.H.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.