Local authors share journeys in new books

Labors of love and journeys are the best descriptions of two recent books by area authors. One resulted when the author could find no other single source for the information he was seeking, and he ended up tracing the sometimes convoluted history of a local railroad. The other was written because the author felt inspired by her Christian religion and the book chronicles her journey of faith.

Center Grove area resident Joyce Long didn’t set out to write a book; but, as she writes in her introduction, she felt increasingly called to share the faith lessons she has learned. She writes: “As my faith has stretched, God has expanded my understanding. In a sense, this book chronicles much of my journey.”

The result is “Trinity: Walk in Love, Forgiveness and Peace” (162 pages, $14.95, Crosslink Publishing).

While the book uses the Divine Trinity as the overarching theme and structure for the book, it is not a work of theology. The work is meant to celebrate the triune aspect of Christian faith and to encourage readers “to walk with Him in love, forgiveness and peace.” The book is like a guided walk back to the path of solid belief and would be especially valuable to those whose Christian faith has become weaker.

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Long is at her best when she relays real-world testimonies to the power of faith. For example, she writes about a group of women in India who felt empowered after hearing speakers talk about God’s unconditional love. The story shows the power of faith in a very real way.

The author’s personal reflections give the book intimacy. Readers get to know her family and experience her journey of faith. Her eye for detail makes many passages come alive, at times in an almost poetic way. For example, in describing the transition from season to season, she writes:

“Bright yellow daffodils poking through soon after snow melts shout resurrection. Dormant grass spikes a plush green after the first April shower. Leaves sprout while redbud trees frame winding roads, and mushrooms sneak into the woods. As lush hydrangeas fade, autumn brushstrokes its scarlet maple leaves, framing clear azure skies. Tart crisp air wakes up the outdoors as days shrink into night.”

Or in this description of her father: “Dad hated the cold. Born on July 6, 1920, he was an energetic firecracker kind of guy who loved to sweat.”

In all, this gentle book is a personal testimony about faith and religion.

Darrell Joel French’s book, on the other hand, is a straightforward story about the not-so-straightforward history of a local railroad. He wrote “The History of an Indiana Railroad: The Fairland, Franklin & Martinsville RR 1846-1973” (238 pages, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, $21.95) because he could find no authoritative work on the subject.

French has packed his book with a detailed history and supplemented it with numerous old newspaper articles, bits of ephemera, such as old fare and time schedules, newspaper advertisements, maps and archival photographs. In the closing chapters, he has included several more recent photographs that show remnants of the old rail lines, an old depot and even an old whistle sign rescued by a landowner.

He follows the rail line as it grows and morphs as a series of ever-larger rail lines acquire smaller ones. Readers will learn how the lines served their respective communities and the forces that shaped their histories.

One of the most interesting chapters focuses on Ambrose Burnside, the Civil War general and later railroad magnate. He was born in Union County, Indiana, but his older brother and other family members lived near Boggstown in Shelby County. This familial connection led to his involvement in the local railroad line.

French also includes transcriptions of interviews with a variety of people recalling their experiences and memories about the railroad. These offer a very personal snapshot of a time now long past.

While an index would have made the book more useful for researchers, it is nonetheless a wonderful journey down memory lane or, in this case, memory tracks.