Eighty-nine-year-old Corbin native Ruth Claxton did something she never thought she would be able to do. Despite constant encouragement from friends and family members, Claxton — who describes herself as an avid reader — finally released her first book “The Early Years: A Memoir” in 2015 under the pen name Rachel G. Carrington.
“I’ve always wanted to write a book, but never thought that I could. My husband encouraged me for years to do so because we had lots of things happen in our lives that were interesting to people,” said Claxton.
That wasn’t Claxton’s intentions when she first started writing her story. At first, it was meant to be a history or reference for her family. However, when she contacted iUniverse publishing company for information on printing the book, they convinced her to let them publish her story.
Before publishing her story, Claxton spent the first 17 years of her life in Corbin. The oldest of 11 children, she says that she didn’t play sports in high school, but was very active in other school clubs and functions. This is where Claxton fell in love with reading, as she would travel to other places through different stories she read.
“My family didn’t even have a car. So we had to do all of our going on foot. You don’t get very far away from home if you’re on foot,” she explained. “I was so interested in what was going on in the world. I know that I would write to cities around Corbin — bigger cities, Cincinnati, and so on — to their Chambers of Commerce and get all kinds of material, just to sit and read it. I never thought I would ever travel. Well, I’ve done a lot of traveling in my lifetime and done a lot of things I’d never thought I would be able to do.”
Claxton says she would have earned a college scholarship, but ended up turning it down.
“I turned it down because during the time that it took to get the confirmation, I had met this young man that I realized I didn’t want to leave Corbin. I didn’t take the scholarship, nor did I go to college until later in life. I did take some course work, but never had a degree.”
Claxton would go on to marry that young man and their love and relationship became the focus of her book “The Early Years: A Memoir.”
“The Early Years” presents Claxton’s life experiences that showcase the struggles, disappointments and joys of her multifaceted life and the inspiring love story between her and her soulmate whom she was married to for 62 years.
“There were all kinds of things that happened. He was a World War II veteran. He came home to a failed marriage. I met him during the time he was trying to straighten up his mess and got into the mess myself,” she said laughing. “Not really, together we were able to help solve some of the problems that he had. I knew then he was the love of my life and for 62 years we were married before he passed away in 2009.”
Claxton says she and her family have a lot of stories to share, so much so that she was only able to fit the first 10 years of their life together in book number one. As a result, she is working on the sequel to her book now.
“We’ve just done so much in our life that was interesting and had so many experiences that he just thought it would be something that other people would be interested in. He wanted me to publish it from the start, but I just wanted it for my family. I didn’t have as much faith in myself that I could do it, but I found that I could.”
Claxton’s family traveled a lot, lived in numerous places throughout their lives, has done numerous things that could fill pages future books. For example, her family of nine once had a water skiing troupe and would perform on numerous lakes in the Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee region.
“My husband was, you might call him a dreamer, but he worked towards his dreams. He had several men that would help him run things, and he would dream up these tricks,” Claxton remembered about her family’s troupe. “The other guys would fight him on it saying ‘It won’t work’ and ‘it’ll never work.’ He would say ‘alright if you don’t want to help me with it, I’ll get my two sons and we’ll do it', and he’d show them that it would work whatever it was.”
Claxton says she is giving herself a year to write the sequel to “The Early Years,” but says that is her own deadline and her publishing company is not pressuring her to finish.
“It’s been a delightful process, I’ve enjoyed it. I did most of my writing in Hawaii. We had a winter home in Hawaii where every winter we’d stay for six months. That’s where I did most of my writing because I felt more free to take my time to anything when I was away from home.”
While most of Claxton’s experiences in writing her book have been positive, she did share that she started at a disadvantage when she began writing. Claxton had been keeping journals all of her life starting with her diary in high school. However, in 1989 while her family was living in Somerville, Ohio, the city experienced massive flooding.
“The water came up, it had never came up into the area it came up into and filled our basement and 18 inches up into our house where it sat for three days because it didn’t go back down," she said. "So all my journals were ruined, I couldn’t use any of them. I was amazed when I sat down and started writing how much memories would pop up. Some so fast I couldn’t keep up with them really.”
Claxton now lives in Florida and is writing her second book. She says she still visits her home in Ohio and even makes time to visit her brother here in Corbin.
Copies of her book are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through iUniverse’s website. For more information on Claxton or her up coming work, visit her website www.rachelgcarrington.com.