Author George Windish relives and explains his childhood in memoir
September 20, 2013
Four years ago, George Windish began writing a memoir about his childhood in the mountains of western Maryland.
Although not a professionally trained writer, Windish, who now lives in South Carolina, sat down with an outline and began typing what would become his first book, "My Father’s Mansion."
The prose, mixed with poetry, tells about the writer’s life’s challenges that included dyslexia and a strained relationship with his father who passed away in 1963.
"I had a difficult time with my dad and that’s woven all through the book," Windish said during an interview with The Park Record. "If you read the book’s epilogue, you will understand what my relationship was like with my father and the poem after the epilogue are things I never had a chance to say to him."
Park City will be able to meet Windish when he appears at Dolly’s Bookstore on Sept. 27 for a book signing.
The event, which is free and open to the public, was scheduled spontaneously, Windish said.
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"My wife Linda and I came to Park City to celebrate our 50th anniversary," he said. "We have some friends who offered their home and car."
Just before the couple left home, Windish thought he should send a box of books ahead of time and then look for a bookstore that would host a signing.
They met Dolly’s Bookstore manager Sue Fassett, who agreed to hold the event.
"I just want to get the book out there because it has a story for everyone," Windish said. "I never expect to sell a million books, but I want people to see what it was like to live out there in the mountains in the 1940s and 1950s on a working farm."
While Windish made his living in education, human resources and project and manufacturing management, he also liked to write.
"I really started writing poetry in the early 1990s, and I never wrote a book before, but I had it my mind that I wanted to do it at some point," he said. "I thought I had a unique childhood, so I finally decided to sit down and do this book."
Windish lived in a house on the farm that was built in 1845.
"When dad bought it, it was already 100 years old, and he restored it," Windish said. "We lived on 250 acres and at one point, had 150 head of cattle."
In addition to the cows, the family had horses and chickens.
"We made our own butter and I used to work with the horses until one day when the horse I was working with ran off with a hayrake," Windish said. "That’s when dad bought a tractor."
Windish and his wife went back to the farm three summers ago.
"It had been turned into a bed and breakfast, but it’s closed now," he said. "But we stayed there and more of the memories came back and that’s pretty much how I started writing." Once Windish began typing, the anecdotes began taking on lives of their own.
"Once I got into a subject, it was like opening a door," he said. "Everything seemed to be in this little room, and I had to discover them again."
The essence of the book is twofold, Windish said.
"First of all, it’s about going back to a time that is no more, that never will be again," he said.
Secondly, it shows people who he is.
"When I was in school, I had a lot of problems because I was dyslexic and my comprehension level was very low," he said. "But when I came home to the farm and did all the chores and became part of nature, I had no problem comprehending life.
"I knew all the trees, all the birds and all the other animals," he said. "I noticed everything, like moisture on the rock because of the thaw and things like that. Those lessons stayed with me. And I think that was the most exciting thing for me. I was able to go back into my memories and that gave me a chance to tell my wife and daughter about me."
Author George Windish will be at Dolly’s Bookstore, 510 Main St., on Friday, Sept. 27, from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. to sign his book, "My Father’s Mansion." Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.dollysbookstore.com.
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