Curious cat delves into familys past
- Ellen Spitaleri
- Clackamas Review - Features
The only cat in the book 'This Cat's Long Tale,' is author Lucille Carver Lowery herself.
'When I first learned to talk I would tell such long stories that my grandmother would say, 'My, my, what a long tale our cat's got,'' said Lowery.
The Milwaukie resident, who taught art and English as a second language for many years in the North Clackamas School District, said she began writing because she wanted 'to put our family history in some kind of order.'
She added, 'I wanted my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to see what it was like to live in those times, [so they could] understand the differences in our beginnings, and see that the eras we went through were very different.'
'This Cat's Long Tale' is a memoir that describes the lives of different members of Lowery's family, from her maternal grandmother's journey from Michigan to Monmouth at the end of the Oregon Trail, to her father's family of shipbuilders and artisans, going back to the Mayflower.
Lowery originally thought she would put together a family tree to hang on the wall with dates and names, and then 'I got into something much larger,' she said.
'I decided to flesh out the people, and it was more rewarding and so satisfying for family members - everyone is pleased with it.'
Part of the book is Lowery's own story about how her family came to Oregon and how she worked in a photo studio in Salem during World War II while her husband, Gayle, was stationed in Belgium.
She used her artistic talent to hand color family photos, many of which were sent overseas to young men serving their country.
Ink and Paper Group an 'answer to a prayer'
Once Lowery began writing 'This Cat's Long Tale' she began looking around for a way to get it published, and said finding Ink and Paper Group LLC in SE Portland was 'the answer to a prayer.'
Ink and Paper Group is both 'a traditional publishing house with four imprints and a professional book packaging company,' said Linda Meyer, chief operations officer, editor in chief, and publisher of Three Muses Press, one of the house's imprints.
'There are so many writers who choose to self publish these days, and often even reputable companies don't give them the product they like in the end.
'Lucille ended up with a professionally edited, professionally designed work that does not look like it was self published,' Meyer added.
'I ended up doing editorial and design work [with Lowery], but Lucille was very involved in designing the book. She chose large print, because she wanted to be sure people could read it. She was also involved in the selection of the memorabilia' to illustrate the book, Meyer said.
Family photographs and drawings by Lowery and her mother, Mildred Woodcock Carver, enliven the pages of 'This Cat's Long Tale,' while the front cover is a hand-colored photo of Lowery as a child and the back cover is a photograph of one of her paintings.
Book a 'labor of love'
'Lucille began this project as a labor of love - she wanted her story to carry on, and she did an admirable job. I found her story to be personally engaging in a historical sense. It had a powerful effect on me. I feel like I'm part of her family,' Meyer said.
Lowery said that she has given copies of the book to family members, but that she has also sold 45 copies of the book to people she knows.
'The response has been tremendous,' she added.
'One lady said although she didn't know anyone else in the book but me, she found the stories enlightening,' Lowery said.
Her advice to others is to write down those family stories 'in a form that is more or less permanent. It is important for the younger generation - it enlarges you to realize things are different. You have an appreciation for others' efforts; the trials they went through and how they overcame them.'
Recently, Lowery learned that 'This Cat's Long Tale' has been accepted at the Oregon Book Company at the Oregon City Shopping Center, where it is currently for sale.
She said, 'I never in the world thought I'd write a book, but it is just one of those things that happened.'