Chuck Smith, a native of Flint Hill, has written and released his first book, “Stories from Potomac County — Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies from Rural Virginia and Someplace Else.”
The collection of nine humorous and bittersweet short stories brings to life a range of characters from a first-grader to an eccentric old man and his dog. The longest, at 122 pages, is an account of a young woman’s search for a place to call home.
According to Smith, Rappahannock County’s rural environment and rich diversity of places and people strongly influenced the settings, situations and people of the fictional Potomac County.
“Growing up in Rappahannock County with a population of just over 5,000 gave me the opportunity to observe the peculiarities of rural life in many forms,” he said. “Everyone associated with everyone, from the landed gentry to the working-class poor. Our friends were from every walk of life, including farmers, bankers, laborers, teachers, hunters, janitors and auto mechanics as well as the county ne’er-do-wells.”
His father, Galley W. Smith Jr., was in the hardwood lumber business, which involved operating several saw mills in the county, and served many years on the Rappahannock County School Board, including as chairman. His mother, Eva L. Smith, worked in the Clerk of the Circuit Court office, retiring as deputy clerk. She was active in the Flint Hill Methodist Church and an array of community activities including the parent-teacher association. His brother, Galley W Smith III, was a successful athlete in high school, university and the Army, and made a career in trucking and transportation.
While in high school, Smith worked summers and weekends at Big Meadows on the Skyline Drive. Then known as Charlie, the 1963 Rappahannock County High School graduate notes that, “I went on to have a short and totally unsuccessful college experience, and, then, like many of my contemporaries, was drafted into the U.S. Army and given a free trip to Southeast Asia.”
His writing has been enriched by exposure to people of diverse backgrounds and interests. After serving two years in Vietnam, he embarked on a series of occupations: long-haul Teamster truck driver, radio announcer, broadcast engineer in radio and television, Emmy-nominated sound mixer and satellite uplink operator for broadcast programming. He retired in February 2016 from Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s educational television department to write full-time.
According to the author, “I’m fascinated by people who are — like me — a little off-center. I enjoy imagining how they got that way, and those ideas may work into a story.”
Says his editor and publisher, Claire Gould, “With an economy of words, Chuck weaves vibrantly drawn characters and surprising plots into stories that are hard to put down.”
Smith and his wife Sharon and their two dogs live in Williamsburg. They have two adult children — Emily in Hampton, Virginia, and Jeremiah in Rosedale, Mississippi — and many grand-dogs.
“Stories from Potomac County: Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies from Rural Virginia and Someplace Else” is available in print or as a download through the author’s web page at authorchucksmith.wordpress.com.