LOGAN — Some pictures are worth much more than a thousand words. Such was the case with a childhood photo of Logan County author Kathy Manley. That image became the inspiration for Manley’s new book, “Don’t Tell’em You’re Cold: A Memoir of Poverty and Resilience.”
After seeing the picture of Kathy as a 4-year-old, Mountain State Press publisher Cat Pleska urged Manley to tell the stories behind the girl in the photo.
Logan High School’s Little Theater was the setting Thursday evening, Oct. 24, as the author entertained an audience of about 25 people with stories from the book, answered questions and signed copies of the new release.
“Don’t Tell’em You’re Cold” describes the author’s experiences between the ages of 6 and 19, as she overcame many challenges ranging from abject poverty to her mother eventually abandoning the family when Kathy was 14 years old.
“Daddy’s Leg” is the working title that Manley originally had in mind for her book. The first chapter recounts the story of Kathy helping her father scavenge at a garbage dump, in an effort to find material needed for making the wooden “peg leg” that he relied on.
Editors discouraged Kathy from using that title. The author struggled to choose another name until being inspired one morning with the phrase “Don’t Tell’em You’re Cold,” a reference to growing up in an era when children such as herself were much less likely to complain to their parents.
The book, recently released by Mountain State Press, has received positive reviews from sources such as “Rocket Boys” author Homer Hickam, West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman and noted Southern writer Lee Smith. Smith wrote that “Manley’s compelling memoir ought to be required reading for every person in America today — especially every person in high school.”
Manley has been traveling the region and introducing her work to the public at places such as the West Virginia Book Festival, the Folklife Center at Fairmont State University and several local schools.
Kathy will be joined by Wirt County native and former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch in speaking to an audience of high school students from Mingo County on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Eleventh grade girls from Mingo Central and Tug Valley high schools will attend the event, to be held at the Williamson campus of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
Manley is a 1971 Logan High School graduate who earned degrees from Marshall University, the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies and West Virginia State University. She is an educator who retired from Logan County Schools in 2011, but has continued to be active as a substitute teacher.
Kathy and her husband, David, are residents of Chapmanville and the parents of three children — Angela, Ashley and Zachary.