Book delves into 'Lives and Times of Clarence Showalter'

Andrea Rose

A long walk and a decade of conversation have turned Stephen Lynn Meyers of Hagerstown into a two-time author.

Meyers, whose first book was "Walking in Water, a History of and Tales from the Conococheague Creek," recently penned "Growin' Up Country, The Life and Times of Clarence Henry Showalter."

Showalter was a minister who served at Shanks Church of the Brethren near Greencastle for more than 50 years. In his younger days, he worked on the family farm, Eden Plains Dairy Farms delivering milk in the Hagerstown area. He also worked for about 20 years at Mack Trucks in Hagerstown until his retirement.

*** 'Story after story'

"Fifteen years ago, I was in the habit of walking in the countryside and came across this old fellow and his wife sitting in the front yard and he was carving a cane," Meyers recalled.

He stopped and chatted with Anna Ruth and Clarence, who lived near the Hagerstown Regional Airport off Showalter Road. The road, Meyers noted, was named after Clarence's grandfather, Moab Showalter.

"We got to be friends," Meyers said.

Each time Meyers took a walk, he'd stop by to visit with the Showalters. "(Clarence) would tell me story after story of what it was like growing up in the countryside," Meyers recalled.

With Showalter's consent, Meyers started writing down the stories and, three years ago, began compiling them into a book.

"It was me sitting across from him 2 to 3 feet apart in his little den, me with an ink pen and notebook and him in his recliner," Meyers said. "It was 15 years worth of visits until he was 95, so basically, he told stories of a century of life in the countryside."

"Everybody knew him," Meyers said. "He was never at a loss for something to do."

He reflects that in his book. "Every chapter is different," he explained. "They cover all facets of his life."

After Showalter's retirement, he had several hobbies, such as cane carving and grafting nut and fruit trees.

"The biggest challenge in writing the book was delving into every fascinating aspect of this guy's life, from the time they stuck him on a horse at age 5 and sent him off to a general store or mill with a note pinned to his coat saying get this or that, to all the things he did in his retirement. And it was all interesting," Meyers said.

But it was the conversational style to the stories that helped.

"Clarence really made everything very easy," Meyers said. "He was so down to earth. He became like a grandfather and uncle to me and developed into a true friend."

Showalter passed away in October, just a month before the book was released.

"It's left quite a void in my life," Meyers said.

"Growin' Up Country, The Life and Times of Clarence Henry Showalter" may be purchased for $19.95 at Country Dry Goods in Greencastle; Earl's Food Market, State Line; and Schindel's Pharmacy and Gordon Grocery in Hagerstown.

Contact Andrea Rose at arose@therecordherald.com or 717-762-2151 or on Twitter @AndreaCiccociop.