COVINGTON - Some believe he's the oldest writer still publishing books, but Frank Smith, 95, said that bit of trivia's not that important. What is important, however, is that Smith, who is also affectionately known as the mayor of Milstead, has a brand new work ready to go just in time for Christmas gift-giving.
"Princess" is his second work of fiction and the seventh book he's published. When he relates the story line, it's understandable why it took him a while to finish it.
Set in the Antebellum South, the book details the life of a young man who Smith described as "overly intelligent."
After college his family decides he was too smart to work on a farm, so they give him some money and tell him to go see the world for a year and decide what he wants to do.
The book tells his adventures of going to Broadway shows and other enchantments, and finally fulfilling his boyhood dream of going on a cattle drive through the West. Danger and peril await him during the drive, and he finally finds safety in what he believes is a deserted fort. But it is there he meets his ravishingly beautiful "Princess," and Smith said they encounter all sorts of thrills and experiences.
"It's on the market now, but it's such a big book, I have to charge $9 for it," he said. "It cost me $7."
Smith said the best way to get a copy of the book is to call him at 770-483-8642 and he can ship as many as you need.
Smith's books are self-published and one has sold more than 1,000 copies.
"I guess I'm proudest of 'The Covered Bridges of Georgia,'" he said. "I went to all 15 bridges scattered all over the state. We drove 3,200 miles and it took me about five months to do it. I had a photographer with me."
Much of his other work is a historical account of life in his beloved Milstead, where he still lives. He worked as chief electrician for Callaway Mills until the plant closed in 1960. He was there for 31 years.
"I had to keep 756 motors running. That was a big job. We had our own private water system, too, and I had to help maintain that. Being a linthead wasn't such a bad thing after all," he quipped.
When the mill closed, Smith went to work for MacGregor Golf in Covington and stayed until he retired.
He has long been a proponent of keeping Milstead vital and dates his efforts to that end all the way back to 1924. The village ball park is named in his honor.
Smith still isn't letting any dust settle around him - he's helping a Columbus woman compile a historical account of a literary and sporting meet held for those who attended the private schools belonging to Callaway Mills. Her father was Professor Jones, who taught in the Milstead School. Smith said he's the only surviving member of 80 students who made up the class the year Milstead won the meet, and since he can still name all the winners, he's going to help her finish her article.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.