Time for a book tour

If you're a book author — I am — and if you enjoy the open road and long road trips — I do — can there be a finer prospect in these troubled times than what's in store for me?

Early this Thursday (June 11), I'm leaving Billings on an extended book tour that will take me through four of Montana's neighboring states. With my travel trailer hitched to my pickup truck, I’ll drive through Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho before returning to the Treasure State about two weeks later.Along the way on this 3,000-mile jaunt, give or take, I hope to connect with as many independent bookstores as possible. In at least one case, Salida, Colorado, I’m doing a physical event, affording me the opportunity to converse with readers and hand them signed copies of “Midway Bravery.”

My itinerary includes overnight stops in the following places: Colorado, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Salida, and Glenwood Springs; Utah, Richfield, St. George, and Salt Lake City; Idaho, Boise, and, tentatively, Moscow. I'll swing through Missoula to visit my middle sister before returning to Billings.

If you’re anywhere in the above locales and want to say hi, or perhaps share lunch or coffee, let me know. You can find me on both Linkedin and Facebook. Drop a line privately, and perhaps we can work something out.

This morning (June 6), James Healy, a friend from our days together as members of the Big Sky Toastmasters club in Bozeman, was kind enough to record a Zoom session with me. We chatted for 40 minutes about the book. After James edits the video a bit, he’ll share it with me, and I will share it with a bookstore in Fort Collins, Colorado, to use on the store’s Facebook page.

That’s part of the virtual aspect of my book tour. As is a scheduled Zoom event on June 18 when the owner of a bookstore in St. George will interview me while I'm parked at a local RV campground.

Meanwhile, something very good will happen tomorrow (June 7) here in Billings. I’m making an early morning phone call to KGHL Radio for a taped interview with Ed McIntosh. Ed is a longtime Billings TV personality; currently he’s the weatherman for the local CBS affiliate, channel 2. Ed also hosts a country music radio program every Sunday morning, “Lonnie Bell's Classic County with Ed McIntosh." The interview will air during the program.

Briefly, and this is the core of Chapter 20 in the book, Lonnie is a legendary country music DJ and a member of the County Music Broadcasting Hall of Fame in Nashville. He's 95 years young, with his 96th birthday coming up in July.

Bell, a World War II Navy veteran was stationed in the Pacific, starting in 1942. A West Virginia native, he forsook a possible future in coal mining to spin records, first for a radio station in Honolulu during the post-war part of his Navy career, and then for stations in Washington state before he came to Billings in 1964 and became a Magic City icon.

In the 1970s, Lonnie wrote a song called, “Midway,” which he intended to honor veterans of all 20th century American wars. Especially Vietnam, which claimed the life of his son-in-law, an Army cook.

Lonnie's song contains a line that specifically refers to Jim Muri's famed flight. Except the line in the song calls Muri’s B-26 by its official name, No. 1391, instead of Susie-Q, the nickname Muri chose. That also was the nickname of Alice Moyer, the Riverside, California, woman he married on December 25, 1941, during the dark early weeks of U.S. participation in war on both the Pacific and European fronts. What’s remarkable is that Bell wrote his song without knowing who piloted the famed bomber he referenced. In fact, it wasn't until early in the 2000s, after Jim moved to Billings to get better medical care for his ailing wife (she died in 2001, just before her 80th birthday), that Jim Muri and Lonnie Bell met. Pure chance brought the two veterans together, and they became close friends, a friendship that lasted through Jim's death in 2013.

Ed and I will be discussing my book, Lonnie Bell, and who knows what else. Lonnie told me a few days ago that he sent 25 CDs with the Midway song to KGHL. They’ll be given away to listeners during the June 7 program.

And the song, now almost 45 years old, will get air play again. It’s part of Ed and Lonnie’s plan to commemorate the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, which occurred from June 4-6, 1942.

You can listen to the interview by streaming the broadcast several ways. Go to www.mighty790.com. Or, get the KGHL radio app for Android or IOS phones. I plan to make my chat with Ed worth your time. Thanks in advance.

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