Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November Ever After author: ‘It’s an amazing story’

Book author is a former defensive back for the Thundering Herd

       Editor’s Note: The following article appeared on the Life page of the Herald-Dispatch newspaper in Huntington, West Virginia on October 30.

For The Herald-Dispatch

       The story of the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people, including most of the Marshall University football team, has been told many times. But while films like “We Are Marshall” and the documentary “Ashes to Glory” focused on the events of the crash itself and its immediate aftermath, writer Craig Greenlee saw an important side to the story that wasn’t being told.
       “When you think about it, there were a lot of people who could have written this story, and I don’t know why they didn’t,” Greenlee said of his memoir “November Ever After,” a book that claims to tell the story of the Marshall plane crash as no one has before. “It’s an up-close and personal look at the Marshall plane crash and its aftermath as told by those who were left behind.”
       Greenlee, who played defensive back on the Marshall football team and quit just a year before the crash, counts himself among those who were left behind. For his book, he interviewed about 20 people who had some connection to the crash – girlfriends of the players who died, team members who were pulled from the plane at the last minute to make room for boosters. Woven through the book is also Greenlee’s story of grieving and helping rebuild after the tragedy.
       And Greenlee is an apt person to tell this story. In addition to his personal familiarity with the subject and those involved, Greenlee is a long-time sports writer who’s spent most of his career working in Atlanta and North Carolina. The idea for the book came when his editor at the Winston-Salem Journal (NC) asked him to write a story on the Marshall plane crash.
       Forty-two years after the crash, why do we need another account of what has become a well-documented event?  “It’s an amazing story. For most of us who were there, it was like it happened yesterday,” said Greenlee.
       He notes the little-known tales of how the crash altered lives, like that of a black preacher (Ed Carter) who was affiliated with the team. In the aftermath of the crash, his association with the Marshall football program allowed him to speak at churches that had previously barred black preachers from speaking.
       Greenlee also recalls students coming together to attend the far-flung funerals of deceased team members. “Maybe 55, 60 students, they chartered a bus and went to as many funerals as they could,” Greenlee said, noting that their caravan took them from Bluefield, W.Va. to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and back again.
       “November Ever After” is available now at Barnes & Noble stores around the country and locally at the Marshall bookstore and library, as well as the libraries of Cabell and Mingo counties and of West Virginia University. It is also available as an e-book (Kindle and the Nook). More information can be found on Greenlee’s website NovemberEverAfter.com

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