“An Orchard of Educators”

sale and book signing


        On Saturday, September 14, 2013 , a special sale and book signing will be held 9 a.m. to noon at the Thomaston-Upson Archives, 301 S. Center Street .  Educators featured in the book are:


Louise Traylor Scott      Dorothy Odom Blount            Martha Peay Bentley

Doris Ritch Watson       Betty Cox Gill                         Beth White Newman

Saleeta Adair Roberts    Grace Harris Salter                  Clarence E. Whatley

Thad B. Blount              Margaret Brinkley Johnson     Robert L. Corley


                                      Claude M. Walton

                                      Ronald R. Johnston

                                      Mimi Minor Duncan

                                      Susan Salter Moon


Limited first printing will be available.  Reserve your copy for September 14 by calling 770-567-4113 or email (subject: Orchard) info@thegospeler.org.  Some educators will attend the event to sign their own photo page in the book.  Cost of book: $20.


Project History: Back in 1985, while pondering the possibility of entering the full-time ministry, author Dwain W. Penn felt inspired to visit his fourth grade teacher, Louise Scott, in her North Del Ray home in north Upson.  It turned out to be a rewarding afternoon of sharing an early supper prepared by Scott in her kitchen and reminiscing about school days at Atwater elementary.

        Years after the visit, Penn felt Scott’s impressive career was worthy of sharing with the community through a newspaper feature.  Without seeking permission from the Times editor, Penn sat down and wrote his first story from information gleaned during his visit.  He submitted his story in early January 2000 and Editor Kim Madlom was delighted with the feature and the unique voice Penn used to convey the story.  Extremely edited for length, the story appeared before the first calendar page of the new year was turned. 

        Three years after the Times feature, Penn was anticipating the thirtieth anniversary of his high school class and he desired to honor the collective memory of that group’s experiences at R.E. Lee.  God dropped into his heart the name of Doris Watson, his senior English teacher at Lee.  Penn smiled as he recalled previous prose he had written about Watson for his 2003 book “Give Me Time and I Will Tell You” in which he passed the time in his English class thinking that Watson was a secret Russian agent sent to spy on the academics of American students.  Her spy name was “Sirod Nostaw.” 

That same year, 2003, as Penn was composing his next “teacher feature,” he had an extremely humorous encounter with Watson at the monthly meeting of the Retired Educators Association luncheon.  Penn was telling Watson of his plans to publish a new book to mark his fortieth year as a published writer and most of his compositions he wrote in Watson’s class were to be featured.  Intrigued (like a good Russian spy), Watson inquired about the title of the book.  “Give Me Time and I Will Tell You” said Penn, unfortunately raising the hackles of Watson as she felt the aspiring author was being impertinent.  She arched one of her eyebrows in disdain.  Seeing the gathering contempt, Penn quickly countered with “No, that’s the title of the book.”  Watson expired with a hearty laugh and praised Penn for his wit.

The Watson article appeared in the Times just weeks before the reunion to the delight of many of Penn’s fellow classmates.  And since Watson was a Barnesville resident, Penn submitted the story to the Herald Gazette and it was published to enlighten and entertain the folks in Lamar County .  From that point forward, there was no turning back.  Penn decided to launch a series which took over 13 years to complete.

Along the way, an additional half dozen or so educators were contacted about becoming a subject in the series, but for one reason or another, they refused.  One was Eugene Rogers, an outstanding Physics teacher at Lee.  He was just too modest feeling that readers would not find his story interesting.  He did praise Penn for his work and confessed that he enjoyed Penn’s unique talent for coming up with the most difficult “first paragraphs” of each article.

As the series reached beyond its halfway point, Penn ran into educator Susan Salter Moon at her church, Smyrna Baptist, and she quickly heaped high praise on his stories adding that many of his subjects were teachers that taught and inspired her to enter the profession.  Everything clicked and Penn felt Moon would be the quintessential subject to close out his series and be the final “chapter” in the anticipated book.  Unfortunately, he missed conducting an interview with the subject by a mere two months.

Around mid-summer 2012, Penn called Moon’s resident to set up an appointment and got the family’s answering machine.  The voice did not sound like Susan’s and he felt he had dialed the wrong number.  His postponement of a second attempt to contact her was detrimental to the success of his plans as Penn learned the evening of Tuesday, October 9, 2012 that Susan had passed that morning.  He was devastated.

Desiring to honor his agreement with Moon, Penn contacted the family during the spring of 2013 and Susan’s husband, Richard Joe Moon, agreed to allow a story to be written posthumously about Susan.  The result will thrill the most dedicated student of academics and of life.  And somehow, Penn feels that Susan is pleased to be a part of such an impressive and spiritual project.

        Since June 1998, Penn has operated a successful publishing company using binding skills that God taught him.  To date, he has been blessed to bind and distribute (sell or give away) 1,500 books.  Please be patient with Penn if this project turns out to be more popular than he anticipates.  There will be at least fifty books available for sale and signing on September 14.  If orders keep coming in, future books will contain “published” signatures of all subjects as Penn plans to collect autographs from the educators participating at the initial book signing.  Signatures of recently departed teachers have already been incorporated in this first printing.

        Your understanding is greatly appreciated.