Welcome back. Giving Up the Ghost is a book written by my late friend Sanford “Sandy” Doty, a man whose writing career spanned over fifty years. Sandy lived in New York City where he was the ghost writer for the biographies of numerous famous people including Bette Davis, Helen Hayes and Elaine Barrymore along with many others. So just what is a ghost writer you may ask. According to Wikipedia:
“A ghostwriter is hired to write literary or journalistic works, speeches, or other texts that are officially credited to another person as the author. Celebrities, executives, participants in timely news stories, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, memoirs, magazine articles, or other written material. Memoir ghostwriters often pride themselves in “disappearing” when impersonating others since such disappearance signals the quality of their craftsmanship. Sometimes the ghostwriter is acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services, euphemistically called a “researcher” or “research assistant”, but often the ghostwriter is not credited.”
Having published well over a hundred biographical profiles, now I find myself in Sandy’s shoes. In his book he says that for every life story that he wrote, a little bit of him died and friends I know what he was talking about. When you spend hours, days or even years learning everything you can about your subject your life changes and you become the person you are writing about. Your own life becomes secondary and you lose a bit of your soul but it’s what I do. Now let me set the stage for another life story I’m working on, one with a tragic ending that’s sure to bring a tear to your eye.
Act I.: Pawhuska, Oklahoma in 1976 when the town was booming. Houses were being built, new banks and other businesses were opening and many others were looking for buildings to rent but nothing was available in the downtown area. It’s a typical day in June and the weather was expected to be clear and dry.
It was a normal day for District Attorney Bill Hall until around noon when he got the first call from the Pawhuska Police Chief about a missing girl. A runaway Hall suggested. No way replied the chief. Boyfriend problems Hall asked. Again, the answer was no. She was just 15, a good student and a cheerleader from a well-respected loving family.
Bill quickly realized that foul play was involved in the girl’s disappearance and that he needed the assistance of the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation. A purse, a half-eaten donut and the girl’s pom-poms was all the evidence that could be found in the laundromat where she had last been seen before she vanished. By the entrance investigators also found a washing machine half full of laundry with a sack of dirty clothes on the floor next to it but they could not determine if there was a connection to the missing girl or not.
These were the only clues law enforcement would find and the case has remained unsolved for 44 years as I put together another true story, next week Act II of “Give Up the Ghost.”
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…….