|By Lori Szepelak|
WESTFIELD For many recent high school and college graduates, the memories of senior year are still vivid in their minds. For Judith Foard, now in her 70s, memories of her senior year at Steelville High School in Steelville, Mo., are fondly etched in her memory and heart.
Foard recently self-published "Senior Year" which brings 1940's optimism to today's readers.
Foard, a 1956 high school graduate, loved her senior year that included visits with her girlfriends to drug stores which featured the old-fashioned soda fountains, and, of course, a movie theatre in their downtown.
"I lived in a small town of about 1,000," said Foard during an interview with Reminder Publications in her cozy living room, which doubles as a favorite writing space.
"It was a custom that every year the senior class got to go on a week's trip either to the East Coast or to the South," she said. "Starting as freshmen, class members held various fundraising activities to pay for this senior trip. The trip that my class made to the South was the most enjoyable experience of my senior year."
Foard said her visit to New Orleans in particular seemed "so romantic and mysterious."
Foard uses experiences from her childhood, as well as her time as a teacher, to tell the story of Ruth Ainsworth, a high school student based on Foard's memories of a movie star from her childhood.
"I loved watching Esther Williams on screen," she said.
In the book, Ruth grows up during a romantic and thoughtful time, the late 1940s. "Senior Year" is the story of one young woman living in Massachusetts in 1947 who learns to face the beginning of adulthood confidently.
"Ruth's friends and family help her throughout her senior year," said Foard, adding that Ruth learns "it's OK to stand up for your values and follow the dream that you have."
Readers of all ages will relate to the themes of romance, rejection, independence and coming-of-age in the book, according to Foard.
"I think many young people today live in a pressure cooker world," she said. "With this book, I wanted to bring some of the optimism of the 1940s to the teens of today."
Taking on issues like social class, teen pregnancy, social isolation and feminism, "Senior Year" tells a story that spans generations, intriguing readers of all ages.
Foard is also contemplating whether she wants to write a sequel to "Senior Year."
"I have some ideas in mind," she said, quickly adding a book on meditation might take precedence.
Foard also encourages others to consider writing if they have a message they feel strongly about.
"The challenge that comes with writing, I think, makes my life richer and more fulfilling," she said. "Writing makes me focus intensively on a subject."
Foard added that she finds the process of writing and editing "deeply satisfying."
"My brain is challenged as I search for the right words to express an idea I have," she said. "Then when I find the right words, I feel a sense of accomplishment."
In the end, Foard feels good knowing that the ideas and images of her dreams "can now be shared with others."
When Foard isn't writing, she is an active member of Second Congregational Church, serving as a deacon and in mission outreach programs. She also tutors for Educational Incorporated, a program for pre-GED and GED students, conducted at the Westfield Athenaeum, and serves on the boards of the Gillette Fund and the Samaritan Inn.
A lover of history and languages, Foard notes she's also learning Italian in her spare time.
"I'm fascinated with languages," she said.
"Senior Year" retails for $22.95 and can be purchased at www.barnesandnoble.com and www.amazon.com.
For more information, call 562-2642, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Foard can also be reached through her website, www.judithfoard.com.
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