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David A. Theobald, author of the book "Cornjerkers," was born in Decatur and lived here until 1961, when his family moved to California. Although the family never moved back, Theobald says Decatur remains an integral part of his memory and in his heart.
Theobald said in a news release, "Living in Decatur and being surrounded by such good friends like Matt Jones, Suzie (Singleton) Fuelling, Susie (Beeler) Brown, Bonnie (Beery) Schnepf, the Jim Basham and Joe Azbell families, gave me a sense of belonging; a sense of security and freedom that could not be found in larger communities.
"Decatur, in the late '50s and early '60s, always gave the feeling that the entire town was one big family that watched out for each other. It was just one of those great places to live."
The former Northwest Elementary School student is now a published author. His first book titled "Cornjerkers" was released June 7, by Black Rose Writing of Castroville, Texas.
"Cornjerkers," the saga of Hoopeston Illinois’ class of 1968, is a story of best friends — Schatzie, Pottsie, Punkinhead and Theo — and old time family values still alive in the tumultuous “Sixties.”
According to a news release, "The fall of 1967 was a time of new beginnings and a time for questioning. Television was filled with the horrors of the Vietnam War, political upheaval, campus protests, and the friends found themselves perplexed teens confronting complex social issues."
Reagan Rothe, CEO of Black Rose Writing, said that the book "represents Baby Boomers who struggled with turbulent civil rights issues and the unrest of the Vietnam War era. It is neither wholly a work of fiction nor, strictly speaking, a memoir. Rather it is a blend of fantasy, adolescent memories, folklore and history.”
Theobald's previous writing career consisted of a personal family history, training materials for life insurance agents and his Master’s Thesis, "Learning the Concept of Trajectory and Performance in the Shot Put," selected as one of the top pieces of research in 1980 by the University of Oregon.
The idea for "Cornjerkers," according to Theobald, came from a few members of the Hoopeston class of 1968, who gather annually (summer) and "as most such functions go – sit around swapping stories of our days in school.
“Another class of ‘68 alum on several occasions said, 'Theo, you ought to write these memories down,' and I thought that was a great idea," Theobald said. "So, while recovering from double knee replacement surgery in 2005, I wrote the book. The accounts are based on fact, they have been fictionalized and many names have been changed to protect the innocent, though several friends agreed to the use of their actual names."
Theobald rewrote the story three or four times and shortened it by nearly 40 percent — to its current 366 pages. He cut out some historical facts and lengthy scene development as a result of advice provided by the Gernert Company, John Grisham’s literary agent. "I was becoming a better writer," he said.
After the story was finished, Theobald spent a few months submitting query letters to various literary agencies and small publishers directly before Black Rose Writing offered a contHe explained that he received a lot of help from people in the Cornjerker Nation, when it came time to create and choose a cover. Theobald’s wife, Wilma, a former art teacher, took about 40 pictures of paintings she had done in an effort to get a cover the couple liked. Then with help from Theobald’s brother, Bob (DHS '61), and a former Hoopeston classmate, Curt (Scooter) Ellis, they were able to get the finished graphic they liked.
"The final product was somewhat a communal effort,” said Theobald. "I was lucky to have such a talented wife and others support in helping me reach my dream.”
Theobald presently works for State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Ill., with plans to retire in 2013. He received a master's degree in physical education at Western Illinois University and is a member of Life Office Management Association and the Society of Financial Services Professionals.
"Cornjerkers" is now available for purchase from www.blackrosewritingbooks.com, Amazon, Barnes & Nobel.com and at Cornjerkers.com/shop; electronic versions are available at Smashwords.com. The book is also available for direct order via the Ingram Book Catalogue, Books in Print and Baker & Taylor.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.blackrosewriting.com.