For sale/signing, author Michael Cameron Ward's biographical account of his father Harold E. Ward’s life and times -
A Colored Man in Exeter, Saturday, July 21st, 1:00 - 3:00 at the 2018 Beyond the Sea Book Festival at Lincolnville Beach
About A Colored Man in Exeter:
It begins with Harold's maternal family’s slave origins on Zachary Taylor’s Plantation in Virginia in 1852-54. It proceeds through his childhood, his WWII US Navy career, and his post retirement in the Exeter, NH. hospitality trade.
From the Author:
My name is Michael Cameron Ward. I am the author of “A Colored Man in Exeter”, the first of four volumes in the “Sketches of Lee” collection. Before he passed at age 94 on June 9th, 2015, my father Harold E. Ward made a request.
“Michael will you do me a favor? Will you please write down our family history? I want my Grand (seven) and Great-Grandchildren (9) to know from whence they came.”
Two years later I have. Over generations, black families have handed down their oral histories, and the Wards of Lee, New Hampshire are no exception. Our family’s place in local (Lee, Newmarket, Durham and Exeter, New Hampshire) history is notable. We left Brooklyn, New York to escape gang violence in the summer of 1957, ending up on a dirt road in Lee. In so doing we became the “Index of Integration” for Lee and the Oyster River School District in Durham, New Hampshire. After my first day of kindergarten, I went home and watched the integration of Little Rock on Television.
In 1959, my father retired from the United States Navy as a Petty Officer 1st Class, Commissaryman. Once “retired” he began his civilian career, supporting his wife, Virginia, and their four children. And just like us, he too became the, “Index of Integration”, in his case in the Exeter restaurant trade. Those experiences are captured in this first volume, “Sketches of Lee: A Colored Man in Exeter”. None of these stories have ever been told outside of our family. Some of them have an edge, some are funny, some are not, but all of them are real. In some cases, what was learned was not revealed to his children until much later in life. The crux of many of these accounts was how race affected or not, his life and the progression of our relatively “normal” family. The story subtitling encapsulates his guiding principles and life lessons. And like him, they are un-buffered, direct and honest. It has been wrenching to recount them. Some will be equally painful for you to read. But it is okay to cry, for you can take solace in the fact that not only did he survive, but he prospered.
I feel that the unique perspective presented by “A Colored Man”, has lasting historical as well as literary significance. Here’s hope that my recounting meets your standards.
With regards and appreciation for your time, I thank you.
Michael Cameron Ward
“A wonderfully told story about an African American family that relocates to New Hampshire in the late 50's and the trials and tribulations of dealing with the practical problems of life but also more saliently the overt but more commonly underlying racism that permeates the culture. Mr. Ward takes you through the story of his father's life from his early years, his time in the post WW2 navy, his time as a chef till his last days in New Hampshire. It covers his experiences, difficult and otherwise, his struggles as an African American within these contexts and his social ascension in the community. I would highly recommend the book, but (emphasis) I would also highly recommend that the book be required reading and discussion in high schools. It is both a "sweet read" and an eye opener, (particularly for folks who either don't know this history, and/or folks without insight into this type of experience) as it humanizes and therefore makes understandable the life of a Colored Man in Exeter. (NH).... (and almost certainly in many other places and times including now).”
I loved this book! So heartfelt and extremely interesting to read these stories that had only been shared before his father died. I cracked up sometimes, and at other times I cried my heart out. Highly recommend. Thank you for this gift, Michael.