WILMINGTON — Rita Haley Butcher and her brother, Pat Haley, will be hosting a book-signing event and selling their respective books — “Growing Up in a Place Called ‘Port’” and “The Danes Murders: Lost Innocence in Lees Creek” — on Saturday, Nov. 30.
It will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at the Sonny Collins Massage Studio, 34 N. South St. in Wilmington, during the HoliDazzle. You’re invited to stop in for conversation and to enjoy the book signings.
Rita’s memoir is about her childhood in Port William, a close-knit community of 350, that helped shape the lives of its residents growing-up in the 1950s. It was a simpler time before cell phones, laptop computers, Facebook and Twitter. It was a time when families still enjoyed eating meals together at their dinner table, not in front of the TV set.
Rita tells the following story about her mom, a trip to a nearby grocery store, and an ill-considered joke by her two brothers.
“We lived in a small house next door to Sanders Market in my hometown of Port William. One evening when I was 3 years old, my mother sat me on the kitchen cabinet then placed a white, porcelain wash basin beside me for my bath. Realizing she didn’t have a cake of Ivory soap for my bath, she asked my older brother Jimmy to watch me carefully while she quickly darted next door to Sanders Market to buy the soap. She was no more in the store when both of my brothers, Jimmy and Jackie, age 6 and 7, told me, “Mommy isn’t coming home. She moved to New York City!”
They loved to tease to tease their little sister, Rita Ann, just to see how long it took the tears to flow down her cheeks.
“What’s wrong with Rita Ann?” my mom asked the giggling boys when she returned home. Sobbing, I answered, “The boys said you weren’t coming home!”
“You just wait until your daddy gets home,” was all Mom said to the boys.
Rita also remembers “The Lone Ranger” and “The Adventures of Superman” from early television, and the milkman who delivered milk every day except Sundays. Milk came in a glass quart bottle with a bulge at the top containing about a quarter pint of cream.
The bread man stopped at our homes every couple of days. A loaf of bread cost a dime, or a cent or two more if you wanted to buy it already sliced.
But change is inevitable even in small towns in Clinton County.
Pat Haley was Clinton County Sheriff when, on an overcast day in March, 1984, the tragic murders of several members a family occurred in Lees Creek. Pat authored the book about the crime, called “The Danes Murders: Lost Innocence in Lees Creek.” The book has been out of print until now.
“After all these years, I still hear people talking about the Danes homicides. The story is a historic event that former Sheriff Haley has carefully documented for generations to come,” a local resident said.
The books each cost $19.95. Please contact Rita Haley Butcher at 937-382-8054, and Pat Haley 937-205-7844 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.