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Special to the News
Author James Brown has now released his most recent self-published effort with a book about his father, Junior Brown, his life and his family.
The author’s grandparents lived in Coosa County, where they were married in 1906, and the book details some of that lineage and time spent on the Coosa property. It provides information and insight into his lineage with the Brown and Hilyer families, among others, and mentions the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, traveling by ferry and other events from that time period.
Ultimately, however, the book is a man’s attempt at telling his father’s story and reviewing his life as a tribute to him.
Before his father’s death in 2001, James spoke at length with Junior Brown. There were stories the author knew he wanted to tell.
He began his work in the spring of 1998 with the opening page. Twenty-four years later, he continues to feel uneasy about those lines.
“I’m not sure I’ve gotten it right yet; that page has been a struggle,” Brown said. “Years ago a friend of mine suggested I was too close to the material, but I am the only one I know who can handle this task.”
The opening page of “Junior Brown: A man and his Family” is the backdrop for the first chapter. In this chapter Junior Brown, the author’s father, loses his left leg in a tragic accident that is described at length in bloody detail, leaving the reader exhausted and baited for more.
Once completed, this story found a comfortable spot on the end of the family couch. For 15 years those file folder boxes and the notebooks that held the longhand version rode the northern most end of this Andrew Lloyd Webber sofa.
After his struggles with another effort, the author turned his attention to this unfinished work.
“Years ago as I interviewed family and friends, as well as former employees and co-workers about certain areas of his life, my aunt Geraldine suggested I be careful what I put in that book,” Brown said. “She told me, ‘You will have that to chew on for a long time.’ With time I think I understand some of what she was attempting to explain.”
After resting in those boxes for 15 years, Brown ripped apart and reexamined each sentence one line and then another, dissecting every paragraph. This material was painstakingly rewritten in an attempt to tell his earthly father’s story as best he could and still hold on to some of the truth.
“This effort is not meant to be a tell all,” Brown said. “As was suggested to me, we have left out most of the spicy language, and there are several chapters that did not make the book.”
While editing this material not only was certain language removed and chapters omitted, but most of the pontification fell to the wayside.
“What we tried to do was make this something everyone could read and still be entertained,” Brown said. “Those who would like a taste of how life was, once upon a time, can enjoy a stroll down memory lane as we visit on the porch, along the sideline at a football game, or somewhere at work whether at the county shop, the watermelon market, or on the road repairing equipment for those with breakdowns.”
The book also contains ample lines of life on the farm and at home in Autaugaville with Junior and his second wife, Virginia. Those two were married for 40 years after having each lost a spouse prior to their nuptials.
Of course there are Junior Brown’s youthful experiences at home with his parents and at school prior to his enlisting and his time as a tank commander in the sands of North Africa while attached to the British 8th Army during World War II. Two chapters of the book are dedicated to his service at home and abroad.
Additionally, there are some 9,000 words on his siblings, and many of those include their time while living on the 100 acres just off Pinchoulee Creek down what is now Ward-Hughes Road, not far from where Green Hill Elementary School once stood, just out from Kelley’s Crossroads.
While Junior Brown was a young man he fueled his interest in machinery the best he could. In the days prior to World War II, the fourth son of Mollie Bea Hilyer and Herman Brown was encouraged to enlist.
During his service at home his mechanical inclination led to his M.O.S. He sailed from a New York harbor during the early months of 1941 on through the Suez Canal to Cairo, Egypt, with the rest of his task force.
His job would be to teach the British and other allies how to maintain the gyro-stabilizer and the electric traverse. This piece of electronics held a tank’s gun level while advancing over uneven terrain. Once the United States declared war those members of the task force there on the ground in North Africa took part in whatever became required.
Copies of “Junior Brown: A man and his Family” are available for purchase at “The Coosa County News” office and at Verbena Pecan Company on Alabama Highway 22 for $20.