By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer
A magical summer in Gainesville in 1935 is recalled in Betty Bradley Junkin Guest’s book “Once Upon a Falling Star.” The book was featured at a Friends of Cooke County Library book signing Thursday.
In the book, Guest identifies herself as Bettina, the six-year-old narrator and main character in the story. With a child’s point of view, Guest writes of a time when a trip to the Majestic Theater and ice cream sodas at the local drugstore and soda fountain were the social highlights of the day.
“I loved to go to the picture show,” Guest said. “We would dress up and spend time watching the main feature which was usually a Shirley Temple movie at my age. The TV was not invented yet but we saw images of the world through black and white news reels,” she said. “Sometimes on the stage in front of the screen a pianist would play and entertain the crowd. Of course there were always cartoons.”
Although the book was set in Kalenda, a small North Texas town, Guest draws on her experiences and memories of her visits to her grandparents Gainesville home in 1935.
“People ask me how I could remember all that I do in my book and I simply say that I was writing it all my life,” Guest said.
Recalling other memories of Gainesville, Guest spoke of having lunch at the Turner Hotel and going to the old post office where her grandmother would buy three cent stamps and penny postcards.
“I also loved reading the Uncle Wrigley stories in the Gainesville Daily Register,” she continued.
Guest was born in 1929 and has always lived in Texas. In the simpler times of the 1930’s she remembered being entertained through the stories told by those around her.
These tales piqued her imagination and she said she dreamed of putting the family lore in a book for others to enjoy.
She also said she wanted to leave her stories as a legacy for her children and grandchildren.
Guest finally published her book at the age of 80 and said she believes it is a fitting reminder that one is never too old to accomplish dreams.
Guest has some advice for aspiring writers.
“Just start writing about something you want to remember,” she said. “ Then write about another incident. You will eventually see a common thread that courses through your stories. If you wait to have the whole thing visualized, you may never write it at all.”
Guest taught English and was a high school guidance counselor for 27 years. Now retired, she lives with her daughter and son-in-law and five rescued animals including two Pomeranians, one terrier, and two house rabbits.