FULTON, Ill. – After retiring from a teaching career at both secondary and post-secondary levels, Fulton native Mike Woods penned his first book. He was 70 at the time.
Woods will sign copies of his second book Saturday at Krumpets bakery in his hometown.
"I grew up in Fulton, and the family moved there from Clinton in 1942," Woods said Monday. Even the venue for the book signing has ties to the Woods family. The building was formerly a drug store run by his father, Woods said.
"I think Dad retired in the 1970s," Woods said, and couple of other people owned the building before it became Krumpets.
Woods' first book, "The Game," chronicled the history of the Fulton High School basketball team. His second book, "The Family," tells the story of the Woods clan.
The former editor and owner of The Fulton Journal paid tribute to Woods' parents on their 50th wedding anniversary, Woods said, "and that gave me the idea to go after a book about their life."
It's a very American family story, Woods said. "They were part of the greatest generation, according to Tom Brokaw's book."
Florence and Tommy Woods raised eight children in Fulton. The book discusses the Woods family against the backdrop of national events and cultural issues of the time.
"I'm a retired social studies teacher," Woods said, "so I tried to integrate the national events... and then what they were doing in their lives."
Of the seven Woods boys (only one of the eight children was a girl), six played basketball for the Fulton Steamers, Woods said.
"There was a Woods boy playing basketball [for the Steamers] for 17 straight years. 'The Game' really picks up on the late 40s and through the 50s," said Woods. His youngest brother, Larry, graduated high school in the 1960s.
Woods played basketball at the University of Illinois before transferring to Western Illinois, where he earned his degree in education, he said. He taught in Sterling, Illinois for four years and then taught high school in Champaign, Illinois while earning his master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Illinois.
When Woods retired from teaching in public schools, he spent 13 years teaching at the University of Illinois, after which he retired and began writing.
"I've got two close friends who are retired English teachers. They helped me," Woods said.
Woods published "The Family" through Tales Press. "'The Family' is the story of a Midwest American family during the 20th century," a blurb on the Tales Press website says.
"At night when the weather was warm, we could have a game of Kick-the-Can or Hide-and-Go-Seek," Woods wrote. "During the winter, we went a lot of time with our sleds on the Ninth Avenue hill, just one block from our house....
"There were days when we carried buckets of water to the hill after a snow hoping the water would freeze overnight. When the hill had good ice coverage, we could start at the top and with some luck slide all the way to Fourth Street...."
Woods is currently working on his third book "It's going to be about my teaching career," he said, and how that career was affected by what was happing in the nation during that time.
Woods will sign copies of "The Family" from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Krumpets bakery in Fulton.