BALLINGER– A Ballinger High School graduate and local resident who came back home for retirement has found his way through literature. After spending 40 years making a career in education Dr. Glenn Smith decided to start writing novels based on his own personal experience traveling around the world, and so far he is making it big. Dr. Smith has currently published two novels, and will soon be releasing a third one through Amazon.com
Smith, a Runnels County native who graduated from Ballinger High School in 1957 features in Ultimate Thirst, his third novel, a retired American Airlines pilot who travels the world if he must to help a friend in trouble.
The first novel in this series, titled Erotic Resolution, appeared in 2010. The second, called Texas Tango, came out in 2012. A third book featuring Flint Rock will be issued through the Kindle book store and also will be available in print format from Amazon’s CreateSpace division. The books are easy to find on Amazon.com and are inexpensive. The Carnegie public library in Ballinger has the books as well.
Smith spent 40 years teaching at five universities, including Iowa State in Ames, the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and the University of Houston in Clear Lake City. He retired in 2003 from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb after having chaired for 10 years the largest of 46 departments in the university. Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World listed him in 2004.
What led Dr. Smith to start writing novels? “I had written nonfiction for St. Martin’s in New York and Allyn and Bacon in Boston. Living in Georgia after retiring, I had time to try something challenging. I wanted to draw on my West Texas roots. I had skipped lunch in high school to (secretly) take flying lessons and ended up owning four airplanes,” he says.
Smith has travelled in 33 countries and lived in Latin America. He invented a character named Flint Rock in honor of the Comanche arrow points he found on Elm Creek where he grew up, north of Ballinger.
“Flint was a rifle expert in the U.S. Marines, owns his own plane, wears cowboy boots made by Mike Jass at a boot shop on Hutchins Avenue in Ballinger.” Smith said. “Flint Rock has attitudes with which I identify,” he added, “because Flint grew up in West Texas.”
Smith has his own reasons to come back to Ballinger after an absence of 50 years. “I was living on Mansa Beach in Punta del Este, a resort town in Uruguay. Got an email reminder from Marilyn Moragne that the Class of 57 was having its 50th reunion. I flew back for that and decided to stay. I’d seen a lot of nice places in Latin America and the south Pacific, but there’s no place like home,” he said.
He bought a 63 year-old house on the bluff overlooking the park. In winter, with leaves gone from trees, he can see from his back deck Hugh Campbell’s beautiful statue celebrating native Americans.
“In summer I hear kids splashing in the pool as Waylon Jennings sings from someone’s portable radio. Turns out I travelled a lot of miles and saw a bunch of great spots but none better to live in than Ballinger.”
A career in education, international traveler, pilot and writer is more than the average retiree can tell, but there is a few tricks left under Dr. Smith’s hat. Another of his interests is hypnotism.
He said he initially learned (in 1957) how to hypnotize people from Dr. J. Dexter Eoff, a Ballinger dentist who used it in lieu of anesthesia for patients who feared needles. Smith graduated in 2003 from the National Guild of Hypnotists certification training and he sees clients for individual or group appointments on a limited basis. He uses hypnosis only therapeutically, not for entertainment, and does not charge because insurance rarely covers it.
“I used hypnosis in the story told in Texas Tango, the second Flint Rock story,” he said. “In that plot, a character, a psychiatrist, hypnotizes a woman to foil a diabolical plan and thereby saves a lot of lives.”
Questioned about the Flint Rock sequel, Smith says that the sequel is far from over after Ultimate Thirst.
“The fourth story is called Stolen Gold. A shipment of valuable bullion disappears in Ballinger, and Flint gets involved in sorting out rumors of a cave (or a network of caves) said to lie underneath the town with an entrance on the bluff above the park. After twists and surprises, including lies, ambushes, gun fire, and a Satanic plot, Flint and friends solve the mystery. In the end, Flint sells his house in San Marcos and moves to Ballinger. Because of the people there and because he likes to listen to the bells of St. Mary’s church as he walks down Crosson Avenue for a morning stroll in the park.”
When will Stolen Gold be available from Amazon? “Some time before 2013,” Smith replied, then added, “unless Flint Rock can’t find his way out of the cave under Ballinger.”