Another signing event, last night at Berkman Books in Fredericksburg, for the Adeslverein Trilogy. Berkman’s is one of those nice little independent bookstores, holding its own specialized little niche against the overwhelming tide of big-box-bookstores and internet sales; Texiana, lots of events with local authors, curiosities, antique and used books. The clientele is a mix of adventurous tourists and local residents who don’t care to drive to San Antonio or New Braunfels in search of their reading matter. And they have two cats on the premises – I promised that I would frisk Blondie on departure, to ensure that neither of them had stowed away to come home with is. Berkman’s in a rambling old house on Main Street, a little removed from the main tourist blocks along Main Street… which, however, is slowly spreading along the side streets, and east and west from Marketplace Square. David, the owner, had ordered ten copies of each volume, and there has been considerable interest – even some notice in the Fredericksburg Standard. Kenn Knopp, the local historical expert who volunteered (kind of glumly, as he is the first to confess) to read the manuscript of the Trilogy, only to be astonished and thrilled as he got farther into it – was going to meet us an hour before the signing started. He had a friend, Annette Sultemeier, whom he wanted me to meet. Ms Sultemeier is also a local historical enthusiast, and still lives in her family’s house nearby. James P. Waldrip, the infamous leader of the pro-Confederate Hanging Band, who persecuted local Unionists during the Civil War was supposed to be buried in the back yard of her family home. Waldrip figures as the resident villain in the Trilogy, and his come-uppance under a tree at the edge of the old Nimitz hotel property was described in Book Three. Supposedly, he was buried in that unmarked grave, outside of the city cemetery, to escape desecration of his resting place. He was an especially bad hat, with many bitter local enemies.
There was a nice crowd at the signing. David had thought there would be many more people at the signing than there were, but I didn’t mind. This way, I had enough time to talk to people and answer questions. Enough of them were coming specifically for the Trilogy anyway, so I didn’t have that awful experience of spending two hours, watching customers come in the door and sidling around the desperate author, sitting at a little lonely table with a pile of books. Almost everyone bought all three books, many intended as Christmas presents. The last customer of the evening was almost the most rewarding to talk to. This was a young college student named Kevin, fascinated by local history and majoring in it, who read about the signing in the Standard, checked out my website and came straight over with his mother. He asked a great many questions about research, and bought Book One… and his mother bought Two and Three. Christmas present, I guess!
Afterwards, Kenn Knopp treated us to dinner at the Auslander Restaurant, which we had eaten at once before, and recalled as being pretty uninspired foodwise, and kind of scruffy on the inside. Apparently it has since been renovated, for now it was very comfortable, and the food was terrific; jagerschnitzel to die for, accompanied by little crispy potato pancakes about the size of a silver dollar. Blondie and I walked back to the car, admiring the Christmas lights, all along Main Street. There seem to be many nicer restaurants along Main Street now – it was quite lively on a Friday evening. Blondie noted there were many more wine-tasting rooms, too. The Hill Country is slowly becoming the new Provence, as I predicted a while ago, or at least the newest Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino, as far as wine production is concerned.
It was a great way to finish up the day – the interest in my books being almost as much of a satisfaction as the food. I have been warned, though; the event at the Pioneer Museum, on January 3rd will be even bigger, and the local history enthusiasts will come armed with even more searching questions.