In 2018, just about a year ago, I spoke at the Yalobusha County Historical Society for the first time. I had been asked to give some insight on the topic of what it was like growing up with Arnold Douglas Dyre. I was also asked to share with the group the plan to complete my brother’s partial manuscript of DARK SPOT, the fourth novel in the Jake Baker Mystery Series. The second request was simple: The partial manuscript had been located and retrieved from a badly damaged computer by Arnold and Beverly’s nephew, Blake Hankins. At the time of the YCHS speaking engagement, I was reading and re-reading the first three novels, plotting time lines and characters and had started the writing that would ultimately finish the now published novel. However, the first part of the speaking request was a bit more involved. Exactly where does one begin to adequately describe the “growing up” years with Arnold Douglas?
Apparently, I shared the big brother experience adequately enough, for people lined up to rehash some entertaining detail I had just shared with them, or to offer up one more “Arnold Story”, or simply to spend a few moments in our shared grief and love of someone we were all missing.
I saw familiar faces and also met many new people who had indeed enjoyed Arnold. One such person was Dave Hovey. He started off the introduction telling me of the many times that he and my brother had talked of their mutual love of writing. He vividly recalled all the hours they had spent together at the Yalobusha County Historical Society in their rather impressive library. Before I truly recognized the trap that I was about to step into, Dave Hovey, much like Arnold would have done, had me “knee deep” in stories of the annual Duck Hill Mountain Climb. Without fully understanding what I was agreeing to, I was entering the date of the climb into my phone as I shared contact information with Mr. Hovey. I did climb Duck Hill Mountain in February 2019, carrying on my brother’s tradition. When I got conned into climbing that “mountain” twice in the same day, I am fairly certain I heard both Arnold and Dave laughing out loud.
I enjoyed my time at the Yalobusha County Historical Society. However, I have perhaps treasured even more getting to know this rather impressive group through their social media presence. Unfortunately, I am aware of many such societies that have either closed down or may manage one or two meetings a year. Instead, I read of regular monthly meetings from this organization in Coffeeville, Mississippi. With 445 members, interesting monthly presentation topics include the Batesville Mounds and the 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic. It is common to see someone posting tin-types in hopes that help with identification can be found. I have seen posts come in from around the country as people seek to track down the grave of a family member. The society is actively involved in Genealogy Trails. Perhaps most impressive is the way this group reaches across county and state lines in the effort to preserve history.
The Yalobusha County Historical Society has graciously asked me to return on October 17, 2019, to speak for a second time. Yes, once again I will divulge even more stories about growing up with my brother. If you knew Arnold Douglas Dyre, you will understand that I will never run out of such tales. I will also be introducing and sharing from the now finished fourth novel, DARK SPOT. And, yes, there will be time for book signing and, of course, some delicious refreshments. Please plan to join me in Coffeeville. You just may want to become a member of this impressive group.
Comment: This story was previously published in the Grenada Star (Grenada, MS) and the Coffeeville Courier (Coffeeville, MS)
Mary Jo Dyre
September 21, 2019
Yalobusha County Historical Society, Coffeeville, Mississippi