It is 1927, Art and Elsie are young and in love. They live on rural farms in Oregon and Washington, and they communicate the best they can, by writing letters.
They write about everything from family coming to visit to canning pickles and green beans to how three calves were born Wednesday.
Decades later, Art”s love for Elsie and his life experiences are bound not by letters, but in the pages of a book written by Idaho native Rosemary Hunt.
Hunt said she first came up with the idea to write a book about Art”s life, “An Ordinary Man during the Extraordinary Time,” while she helped her friend Aliece Reiber clean out her home in Troy.
In some deteriorating boxes Reiber finds a pile of manila envelopes.
Hunt said Reiber opened them and realizeed they held the letters written by Art and Elsie, who lived in a trailer on her land for some time many years ago.
After reading through the letters, Hunt said they found a set of cassette tapes that held recordings of Art”s voice from his 100 and 101 birthday parties.
Hunt said she was mesmerized, listening to Art”s adventures, and as she heard the tapes, a spark went off in her mind.
“The letters and tapes that were found told a story that just needed to be shared,” Hunt said.
Hunt said the letters and tapes contained Art”s journey from hopping on a train as a 14-year-old to work on the wheat fields in Montana to traveling up to Moose Jaw Canada.
From there, Hunt said he made his way to Seattle and Portland before heading up the Columbia River where he was drafted into World War I.
Hunt said hearing Art look back on his life in his mid-90s gave her the impression that he had always been a quiet man who liked to keep to himself, but she couldn”t have been more wrong.
“Art was such a sedate man when I knew him,” Hunt said. “It was hard to imagine that he had such an adventuress spirit to him.”
Hunt said she knew that if anyone was going to write a book about Art”s life it was going to be her, and so she did. Over the span of 5 years Hunt said she did extensive research, dissecting the tapes and letters, searching through Ancestry.com, magazines, books and Internet search engines to find anything she could.
“If the different sources I was reading all used the same information at least 4 or 5 times then it was included in the book,” Hunt said. She said she took every precaution to make sure her book was entirely fact-based.
“An Ordinary Man during the Extraordinary Time” by Rosemary Hunt accurately depicts the all-encompassing effort put in by Hunt, while simultaneously sharing the remarkable life of Art. Hunt will be doing a book signing at the Hastings bookstore in Moscow on April 9 from 1-3 pm.
Emily Sandoval can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org