He told us that his publisher had told him to write about his memories growing up in a small Hoosier town. That was 15 books ago. There are eight in the Harmony series, several Back Porch Tales, and some volumes on theology. I loved the first one, Living in Harmony. My Aunt Christine Clark and I teamed up to each buy two. We will trade and read the first four Harmony books. By that time, the author will probably be making his rounds again. He writes faster than we finish reading.
When Gulley was writing, he was really talking about Danville, Ind., but had to come up with a fictional town name. He invented Harmony. Later as he drove to Terre Haute, he discovered we do exist, but the publisher said it was too late to change it. The first book had gone to the presses. The make believe town is on Highway 36 and has a Dairy Queen, Hardware Store, and the Herald. Although it is not about our town, it could be any Indiana community.
In what I have already read, you know the characters but they have different names in every real town. The Ellis couple can't have children and take in a niece to raise because her parents are drunks. There is Dale Hinshaw, one of the church elders, that seems to ramrod his ideas by being louder and more overbearing than anyone else. The newspaper editor is Bob Miles, Jr. He really wanted to travel the world but is stuck in Harmony doing a job he doesn't really enjoy. Most are good people.
The main charactore Sam Gardner, is the Quaker minister returned to his hometown because he didn't cut it in the city. He faces the same problems as any small town pastor. Gulley takes us on a humorous journey through these people's lives. Almost every chapter has moral and or ethical points woven into the smiles.
Luann Grey said her grandmother is the Mrs. Draper in Back Porch Tales. LuAnn often spent summer visits with her grandmother in Danville. She called her Maga because she couldn't say grandmother. Another lady attended the Gulley reading because her aunt, Mildred Harvey, is a character in one of the books. Gulley used to mow Mildred Harvey's grass when he was a kid. Several folks talked about knowing someone or someplace in one of the books. Some shared particular paragraphs.
One of the chapters Gulley read to us was about the carnival coming to town. Everyone looked forward to the time but most were afraid of the strange carnie folk. All doors were locked tight. This mystery was the prime attraction for 12-year-old Sam Gardner and his friend Peanut. They had visions of winning a bullwhip at the bottle toss. They would be powerful then. Three ringers would win but Sam never made it past two. All he ever won were troll dolls. A guy could get beat up carrying a troll doll. He and Peanut ran over the hairy creatures with their bicycles. No trolls had survived.
The grown up Sam Garner, Quaker Pastor, laments the fact that more people show up for the Noodle Dinners and self-absorbed evangelists than show up for worship meeting on Sunday morning. I wonder what Gulley, the author, would think if he knew we had more people out to see him on a windy Tuesday night than we usually see on Sunday morning.
Pastor Bob Kumpf thanked Philip Gulley for coming and gave him a special surprise gift: a troll doll. Gulley left clutching his troll and sporting one of Erie Bell's coconut cream pies on his right arm.
The proceeds of Harmony United Methodist book sales will go to the Mexico Mission Project. There are still a few volumes left on a table in Fellowship Hall. The group will be working in Mexico from Mar. 20-28.
Pastor Bob showed a PowerPoint about the conditions in the area where the mission group will be going. The structure they plan to build for medical care, schooling, and religious activities will be a first for the area. It will be about 20' X 20'. The next closest building is 10 miles away. The people in the village of Carabalin live in structures of piled up scrap metal and other found materials. The temporary structures look almost like the cardboard box houses made by the homeless in larger cities. There are no jobs. The town has no electricity or plumbing. The mission group hopes to build a latrine, too, but probably will not have enough people to complete it this trip.
Harmony Methodist has plenty of Mario's Restaurant cards. Mario will donate 50 cents of each receipt to the Mexico mission if you hand in a card when you pay your ticket. This ends after Feb. 28. I may have forgotten to congratulate Mario. I thought I put that in an earlier article but someone recently suggested that I should, implying that I didn't. If I did not, I apologize. Mario became a U. S. citizen around the middle of January. He quizzed us and beat us on facts about our government. Good job, Mario.
Harmony United Methodist Women will meet Monday evening at 7 p.m., in Fellowship Hall. All ladies are invited. Debbie Gottsche will be the hostess and Gail Roach will give the lesson. Ladies are reminded to bring their current RADA knife orders. Ideas for the Mother/ Daughter Banquet theme, Basket/ Pie Fundraiser are to be discussed. We still need volunteers to do a lesson and/or be a hostess during the year. The booklet for the organization has arrived and has possible lesson suggestions for those who need help.
We received a few extra RADA knives in the last two shipments. These items have prices marked and are displayed for sale in Fellowship Hall.
The Canyon Inn at McCormick's Creek State Park is hosting a Quilt Show and Retreat on Feb. 21-22. Phone (877) 922-6955 or go to www.indiana-inns.com and click on Canyon Inn. Some of the quilters from Harmony are planning to attend the retreat. They can tell us all about it when they get back.
The Maple Center in Terre Haute is sponsoring a Celebration of Life on Saturday, March 7 at the Holiday Inn in Terre Haute. This free program is for patients and survivors of breast cancer. Registration is requested. Phone the Maple Center at (812) 234-8733 or go to www.themaplecenter.org.
Serving on the Streets is having a Dessert Fundraiser and Silent Auction at North Clay Middle School on Friday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. Reservations needed.
Cousin Jim Jenkins and his helper Adam have been helping me with the inside walls of the sun porch. It will be a nice place to sit and watch the birdfeeders and start some plants for the garden. They are doing a good job. I debated on drywall but decided I just did not want the expense or the mess of it. I still want it to feel like we are outside but shielded from the cold winds and hot sun. Maybe we can start our own Back Porch Tales sitting out there drinking iced tea and laughing. Yes, I remembered to get a building permit from Don McCollister even if we are not building anything.
A rottweiler dog was stolen from the Clay County Humane Shelter during the cold icy weather. The workers had given him the name Rocky. Normally, the cages are locked but the weather was freezing those locks and the workers were having difficulty getting the dogs out in the mornings. It is hard to explain to a barking, prancing pouch that the lock has to be de-iced before you can do your business.
The Humane workers decided to leave the padlocks in place but not pushed in to make it easier on the dogs first thing in the morning. Sometime during the night, the thieves took the animal and the lock. The sad part is that Rocky was already adopted, and waiting to have his surgery, before going to his new home. No one knows where he is now. It was obviously a robbery according to the Shelter person that called to let me know about the dog. Please contact the Shelter if you know anything about Rocky. Pictures of the dog can be seen at ClayHumane @aol.com. The Shelter wanted folks from Harmony to know because they had originally picked up the dog in this area. If turned loose, he might return. He was a really sweet animal. The new parents wanted him very much. Help if you can.
Harmony United Methodist Calendar:
Feb. 19 -- Worship Comm. 6:30, Admin. Bd. 7 p.m. (Wesleyan Study was Wednesday but will be back to Thursday next week)
Feb. 22 -- Worship Service 9 a.m., Sunday School 10:45 a.m.
Feb. 23 -- United Methodist Women 7 p.m.
Feb. 24 -- Bowling Leagues at Brazilian Lanes 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 25 -- Lent begins, Women's Bible Study 9-10 a.m., C. C. Christian Quilters 9 a.m.-3 p.m.