In the valley below the Gravelly Spur Mountain, author Randall Franks spins the tales and adventures inspired for â€œA Mountain Pearl: Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes,â€ by his late mother â€“ Pearl Franks.
â€œMy mother was a wonderful storyteller,â€ Randall said. â€œFrom my earliest bedtime stories, she mesmerized me with mountain legends, struggles for survival, leaving me often hanging waiting for what the next installment would hold.â€
Franks, who played “Officer Randy Goode” on the television series “In the Heat of the Night,” shares stories spanning over a century of Appalachian reflections and experience much of it intertwined hopes and dreams in the almost fabled valley where the tales were spun from the people that called it home.
â€œIn this book, I play tribute to my folks who came before and endured the hardships that came from carving a living out hills and hollers of the mountains,â€ he said. â€œIt reflects on my motherâ€™s life and the lessons she shared with me that she learned in that valley and applied to life when she left it.â€
“I really enjoyed working on this book,” she said. “It was a very entertaining hearing and reading the childhood memories of Randall’s mother, Pearl.
“It was fairly easy to do the paintings and sketches, because Randall had already painted the pictures in my head with his wonderful stories,” she said. “It was a pleasure to work with him on this project and I hope the sales from these books assist many students, to further their music careers.”
A portion of the proceeds from the book benefits the Share America Foundation, a Catoosa County non-profit, that presents the Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarships for musicians continuing the traditions of Appalachian music, Franks said.
The 202-page softbound book also includes 39 authentic mountain recipes, most from his mother and grandmotherâ€™s favorites.
â€œWhether itâ€™s a snack like Honey Tastes, Pearlâ€™s Fried Chicken or Oatmeal Pie, there is a recipe here that cooks will sure want to try,â€ he said. â€œThe featured recipes often reflect something interwoven within the stories.â€
Randall also features over 50 light-hearted country funnies depicted through some of his best-known comedy characters such as Uncle Elige Doolittle and his twin boys Will Doolittle and Wonâ€™t Do-a-Lot, he said.
â€œThese reflect the spirit and whimsy of Appalachian humor that have made generations crack a smile,â€ he said.
Franks is a syndicated columnist featured in newspapers in a dozen states in the South and Midwest. He authored three other books including â€œStirring Up Success with a Southern Flavorâ€ and â€œStirring Up Additional Success with a Southern Flavorâ€, both with Shirley Smith, and â€œSnake Oil, Superstars and Meâ€ with â€œDocâ€ Tommy Scott and Shirley Swiesz.
In the latest of his five upcoming films, now on DVD, – â€œDecision,â€ Franks starred with Natalie Grant, Billy Dean, Mike Rosenbaum and Rusty Whitener.
“A Mountain Pearl” may be ordered online at http://randallfranks.com/ or via mail from Randall Franks, P.O. Box 42, Tunnel Hill, Ga. 30755 for $25 including postage.
(photo: â€œA Mountain Pearlâ€ is available in Catoosa County stores, online and by mail. Cover art: Randall Franks)