By Susan Bromley
Once a week, at a cafe in Clarkston, Bill Haney gets together with 10 friends and discusses the issues of the day over coffee.
Out of this gathering has emerged a book, “One Cup at a Time: Why a Gaggle of Geezers Gathers Every Monday Morning to Solve the World’s Problems,” with 11 chapters, one by each friend.
Haney, a Brandon Township resident, contributed a chapter, and offered guidance to his friends, most of whom have never been involved with a book, but the task was not daunting. Rather, it was rewarding. He was well-qualified to help, as this is the 409th book in which he has had a hand in some form— as author, co-author, ghost writer, editor, publisher, or consultant.
“I didn’t want it to be homogenized, I wanted it to be contrary,” said Haney of the book. “I was trying to help each author unlock his or her own voice… It’s varying degrees of work, but it went very well. We decided if we wanted to do the book, it has to be an enjoyable experience for everybody.”
The book evolved from the original idea of capturing stories of each writer’s experience growing up to give readers a window into dramatic decades in history— the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The authors write from a personal perspective about events that altered their lives, and millions of others, including the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. The book also has a Michigan flavor as all the authors live here.
They share in these chapters what it was like to live through the McCarthy witch hunt trials, and to see John F. Kennedy appearing in the wee hours of the morning at the University of Michigan and announcing the formation of the Peace Corps. What it was like to live under rationing of food in World War II, or to serve in the Vietnam War, or to participate in a sit-down strike in Flint.
“They are not moaning about how tough it was, they are in their own chapters and words, sharing their own experiences of what it was like,” said Haney. “There is humor and poignancy in the book. There is no self-pity or anything approaching that. It’s not just straight reportage, but how these events, facts and experiences, colored and shaped these lives. Readers can draw their own conclusions, we don’t go into detail to tell the significance and say here is what you should take away.”
A public book launch party is planned from 7-8:30 p.m., Oct. 19, at Deer Lake Athletic Club in Clarkston. The event is free and copies of the book will be available for purchase at a price of $29.95, all signed by the authors, who won’t make a profit from the book. Instead, all proceeds will benefit “Reading Works,” a non-profit organization that promotes literacy.
“One Cup at a Time” is also available for sale locally at South St. Consignment, 92 South St., Ortonville; as well as at Brioni Cafe and Deli in Clarkston and Troy Historic Village.
“It is definitely written and shaped to be an enjoyable read, not just a dry recitation, warmth and humanity pervades this book,” said Haney. “Anyone who reads this book, it will enrich their life and they will learn some things, too.”