By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
MONROE CITY, Mo. -- Thomas R. Thurman never learned to print at his country school, but that missing lesson didn't stop him from publishing his first book more than six decades later.
Thurman's grandmother had taught him script at an early age, so when Thurman began school at the one-room Kincaid School House in Warren, Mo., the teacher let him skip the printing lessons. He used the longhand method to pen his first book, "Three Lives Left?" which preserves 1940s country schools without rigorous curriculum, boyhood memories of climbing through caves and fragments of Northeast Missouri history.
"I decided to write down a bunch of information because my parents and grandparents didn't write down a lot of things I'd like to know (about them)," said Thurman, 70.
For more than 10 years, Thurman has handwritten his recollections. As he preserved his personal history for his family, he noticed the deep themes of country life and religious gratitude lacing his memories. In his book, Thurman tied these childhood tales with six life-threatening experiences. He credits his faith in God to the three lives he must have left.
"Every winter, I would sit down and write by hand different things that would come to my mind," Thurman said.
After 10 years of writing, he typed his musings into his first manuscript. Thurman published his book through his publishing company, Warren Springs Publishing. He received his first copies of the book in early November and has distributed them to 35 retailers throughout the region.
Kathleen Wilham, Shelby County Historical Society president and museum curator, said Thurman's book provides an accurate and compelling portrayal of rural Missouri life in the mid-20th century. As Wilham read it, the book evoked memories of her own childhood. She speculated that Thurman's tales of getting his first bicycle, exploring the caves of Warren and later in life visiting the Grand Canyon would interest readers across generations.
"Most of the (older generation) have passed on, and if this information isn't written down, it's lost forever," Wilham said.
Now that he's published his first book, Thurman is considering using his publishing company to publish other books about the area. He's currently reading a blog about a man who drove a motorcycle from Monroe City, Mo., to the Arctic Circle. He hopes, eventually, that rider will consent to have his blog turned into a book.
Thurman's book can be purchased at Hy-Vee stores in Quincy and at the Mustard Seed. Books may also be purchased by sending an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.