After an approximately 10-year hiatus, Jack Miller, a local writer and newsman, has been bitten by the writing bug once again. He’s had an article published in the June/July issue of Reminisce Magazine and is working on a book of original poetry.
Miller, who is a hard news reporter for Town Square Media on KSIS Radio, is known in the area as Sedalia’s local nostalgia writer, but once he began working as a reporter 10 years ago, he found he didn’t have as much time to write creatively.
“I was out of it for so long, the last story that I had published in Reminisce was probably 10 years ago,” he said. “Writing was something that I was very passionate about; I loved it. But, writing news stories … somehow it kind of dampens down the (creative) part.
“I just decided, well I’m not getting any younger,” he added. “If I’m going to do something here I’d better do it. So that’s why I started writing again. Hopefully I can go from here.”
Miller was born in 1938 in Sedalia and his new article highlights the dusty Sedalia streets he remembers as a child.
“It’s about the dirt roads that used to be everywhere around Sedalia before they were paved,” he said. “(It’s) my memory of walking along those dusty roads.”
In the past Miller has been published with Reminisce and Good Old Days magazines, plus, in the late 1990s, he once wrote a column for the Sedalia Democrat titled “Mid-Missouri Memories.” Miller eventually began working at KDRO Radio and then was hired at KSIS Radio.
He has a weekly show, Mid-Missouri Memories, that airs at 9:30 a.m. each Monday on KSIS.
“They are on every Monday … during Doug’s (Sokolowski) show,” he said.
Miller began writing his memories years ago due to a being laid up with an knee injury in the early 1990s.
“I was working for Payless Cashways and I hurt my knee, I couldn’t work,” he said. “… They had to operate on it and I was out for three months. I’ve always written, but I never tried to get anything published. The first thing I had published was a poem that was in Byline Magazine.”
Miller was paid for his contribution.
“That kind gave me a boost,” he noted.
He liked receiving a check and he began submitting material to other publications. Much of Miller’s work centers around memories of the Sedalia area during the 1940s and ’50s. He not only relies on his memories but on the memories of others in the community to round out the stories.
“I remember things really well, but I get help,” he added. “I have a friend, Dick Prisendorf, and back when he was working for Bill Greer Ford I went in there one day, and he and I got to talking about Coney Island.”
Coney Island was a local downtown hot dog shop owned by an elderly German couple back in the 1960s.
“I hadn’t thought about Coney Island, but he brought it up,” Miller added. “So I wrote about Coney Island and what Dick said, I thought was classic. He said ‘you know the rich people in town wouldn’t go in Coney Island because it was a dive,’ but he said ‘they would (get) take out.’”
Many of his favorite stories and memories are about his mother Virgie Miller and grandmother Dessie Wickliffe.
“It was about clothes that I wore,” he said. “That’s one of the first stories I had published too.”
His grandmother made many of his clothes and he remembers her love for fabric.
“My grandmother was always feeling the fabric on somebody’s clothes,” he said. “I said it was like the fabric of a memory; that your memory has a texture to it just like clothes. I had a column of out it that was called the ‘Hoppy Sweater.’ Hopalong Cassidy was one of my favorites back when I was a kid.”
He said he loved the sweater so much he didn’t want to take it off and was afraid if his mother washed it in her wringer washer it would be ruined.
Since taking up the pen, Miller has published two books and is working on a third.
“They are self-published books,” he said. “One is called ‘Unhurried Days’ and the other is called ‘Looking Back Again.’ I’m just finishing up a poetry book right now.”
The book will have 101 original poems.
“I have that, and many poems that I’ve written down through the years,” Miller said. “More than that, but I think 101 poems is a good number. They are rhyming poetry, and some of them have to do with nostalgia because some of them are about my mother and my sister. Some of them are about my friends and so forth. About everything I do has nostalgic pitch to it.”
In the future Miller hopes to write a couple of rhyming poetry books for children.
“I think children’s books are something that you have to make enjoyable,” he said. “I think they really like rhyming poetry. I always did when I was kid.”