Please welcome Jeff Salter to Fuel Your Creativity!
I’m grateful to Joselyn for inviting my entry in her series on authors’ creative endeavors (other than writing). Let me say out front, mine is a lot more than a hobby — I consider it a calling.
I collect and display military gear and uniform items. Mostly American, but also some from other nations. Mostly WW2, but I also have a lot from WW1, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam era, and Desert Storm. Over my final several years working in a Louisiana public library system, I mounted nearly a dozen displays at HQ and five other branches, with a wide array of thematic presentations.
But what I do is not as significant as WHY I do it.
My “collecting” began innocently enough, as a youngster, when I began buying army surplus items – like canteen, mess kit, pouches etc. – for camping. At some point I loaned several pieces to a friend but never got them back. Decades later, I decided to recreate that small collection via eBay. I did. And kept right on collecting.
Eventually I had accumulated quite a variety of items from nearly 100 years of military activity (including five wars or major conflicts). And I resolved to put those items to some practical USE… by sharing them with other people. After mounting several well-received displays at our Headquarters building, where I worked, I ‘branched’ out to several of the newly-constructed facilities with locked display cases.
As I carefully arranged the items for a new exhibit (or re-packed them after the display period), I often attracted sightseers… and many were veterans. Seeing my items brought them recognition and memories… and several of them shared their experiences with me.
One of the most notable was an old gent who’d been with a howitzer battalion in the campaign of St. Lo during WW2. After seeing one of my displays, he called me and asked me to visit him in his home. I had no idea why, but I went. Turned out he wanted to show me his remaining uniforms, some battle maps, and other printed materials he’d saved from that time. As I was preparing to leave, he offered those uniform pieces to me.
I replied, “Those should go to your children or grandchildren.”
He shook his head sadly and said, “Nobody wants them. You take them.”
Which I did, and informed Mr. Clifton Farrar that every time I displayed any of his pieces I would include his name and where he fought.
I have items from several other individuals – including my own relatives (and in-laws) – and whenever I display them, I also feature their names and where/when they served.
That’s why I consider this a calling. It honors those specific individuals and it reminds and appreciates the others who view it. Plus, it educates and inspires the younger generations to remember that freedom is not free — it has to be fought for and protected.
When I began writing fiction, one of my earliest manuscripts featured a group of senior citizens from the Greatest Generation… once again rising to the challenge. Quite appropriately, it’s titled, “Called to Arms Again.”
Needing only a fresh angle to write her Veteran’s Day special, Kelly discovers first-hand that the Greatest Generation still has enough grit to fight back. While all the authorities are occupied during a massive Homeland Security drill, an urban gang of thieves targets an isolated retirement subdivision … figuring the crippled geriatrics would offer no resistance.
Though Kelly’s widowed boyfriend came along only for a post-funeral luncheon, Mitch soon finds himself leading a mis-matched flanking team. Kelly’s good friend Wade has his own assignment, with a home-made mortar and lots of illegal gunpowder.
Maybe it’s difficult to remember everyday things like taking pills, but these octogenarians have never forgotten it was up to them to defend family, home, community, and country. The outcome of their courageous stand depends on the resolve and resourcefulness of an unlikely ensemble of eccentric elderly neighbors, several American Legion members, and others spanning four generations.
My newest novel is “The Ghostess & MISTER Muir” released by Astraea Press in Oct. 2014. My other published novels (with Astraea) are: “Hid Wounded Reb” (Aug. 2014), “Called to Arms Again” (May 2013), “Rescued By That New Guy in Town” (Oct. 2012), and “The Overnighter’s Secrets” (May 2012). Also released through AP are the short novellas, “Don’t Bet On It” (April, 2014) and “Echo Taps” (June, 2013). Also, “Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold,” a screwball comedy released by Dingbat Publishing in December 2013… and its prequel, “Scratching the Seven-Month Itch” (Sept. 2014).
Romantic comedy and romantic suspense are among nine completed novel manuscripts.
I’m co-author of two non-fiction monographs (about librarianship) with a royalty publisher, plus a signed chapter in another book and a signed article in a specialty encyclopedia. I’ve also published articles, book reviews, and over 120 poems; my writing has won nearly 40 awards, including several in national contests. As a newspaper photo-journalist, I published about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos.
I worked nearly 30 years in the field of librarianship. I’m a decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote tour of duty in the Arctic, at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland).
I’m the married parent of two and grandparent of six.