Author's tales from the Plains a hit at library
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
Writing a book wasn't high on her priority list when she retired from teaching math at Fort Hays State University a year and a half ago.
But Mary Kay Schippers did indeed write, and publish, a children's book during that time.
"I've always, always loved Ellis County history," said Schippers, a native of Ellis County. "About 10 years ago, I wrote a family history book, but it wouldn't be entertaining for little kids."
So she wrote a children's book about events in her own life, "A Year on the Family Farm and the Life Lessons Learned," which centers on events on a family farm in the mid 1960s.
All proceeds from sale of the book will go to the Ellis County Historical Society and to her home parish, St. Fidelis Catholic Church in Victoria.
"I'm not in this to make money," Schippers said. "This is an opportunity to get some history written down and to give to a couple of good causes."
At first, Schippers just wanted to document her memories for her family.
"I was just going to print it off and give it to family," Schippers said.
But after some friends and family read her draft, they encouraged her to put her memoirs into a book; thus the 152-page paperback, complete with copies of old photographs.
Schippers, the youngest child of Herman and Sophie Berens, grew up on a farm south of Victoria with six other siblings. She said her three most vivid childhood memories were those involving family, church and holidays.
One chapter in her book talks about a choir incident; others include stories about Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday and midnight Mass at Christmas.
"Church was such a big part of my life," she said. "I cannot separate my childhood from church and holidays."
Saturday was the first of three scheduled book readings and signings for Schippers. While the book was written for children in mind, Schippers said adults also have told her they enjoy reading it.
Schippers read a chapter at the Hays Public Library about "new arrivals," which talked about the birth of new baby puppies.
She brought along a bunny named "Salt," much to the delight of the children in attendance.
The book can be purchased for $13 at two locations in Hays, the Ellis County Historical Society, 100 W. Seventh, and The Messenger, 2512 Vine, and at St. Fidelis Church in Victoria.
Schippers also will appear at The Messenger, a local Catholic bookstore, from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
She also will have the book available for sale sometime during FrostFest weekend in Hays on Dec. 7-8 at a time and location that will be announced later.