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Luverne native recognized with book signing

Lilly Harold has successfully finished her first autobiography,  “Memories to Cling.”

Lilly Harold has successfully finished her first autobiography, “Memories to Cling.”

With the road behind her filled with obstacles and the road ahead looking bright, Luverne native Lilly Harold continues to find joy in her surroundings as she prepares to unveil her newly published autobiography, “Memories to Cling.”

Harold remembers her time in Luverne fondly and dedicates much of her book to describing her experiences and memories of the town.

“I was a tomboy with four older brothers, and we had many adventures that were funny, though not at the time. Several of them are in my autobiography,” said Harold.

At the age of 10, she contracted polio and life began to change drastically for the family.

“I was initially in an iron lung at St. Jude’s hospital in Montgomery after being transferred there from Edge Memorial Hospital in Troy, where they had diagnosed me with having the polio virus via a spinal tap,” said Harold.

“My parents drove the 50 miles to the hospital each day for six months and then I was transferred to Georgia Warm Springs Foundation for further therapy. I returned home on my eleventh birthday.”

At the time, Harold’s father, Lynn F. Ledbetter, was the Luverne School bus shop supervisor and served in that capacity for 23 years. Her mother, Ida Mae Ledbetter, was a homemaker.

“Everyone in Luverne was so supportive. My father spoke to the Lion’s Club and they sponsored a phone line from our home in the country to the elementary school for an intercom system to my classroom for the entire sixth grade,” said Harold. “After that was junior high, which involved many classroom changes and was too expensive. My friends and brothers then transferred on the bus all my assignments back and forth to my teachers. It was sometimes very hard to do the assignments without being in a classroom setting.”

At the age of 12, Harold lost her father, which left her mother the task of caring for a child with polio as well as raising Harold’s four brothers.

While this experience was a difficult one for Harold’s family, The Friendliest City rallied around the family with care.

“I started to write this book in 1982 after I had my child on a ventilator with many complications. I felt it would help others to know it can be done. Also, I have a very strong faith and wanted people to understand how faith in God had kept me strong through many serious situations,” said Harold. “Then, life intervened. I wrote periodically through the next few years. Then this last year I was placed on a ventilator 24/7 and my husband, Ray, encouraged me to finish writing my book. Writing gave me a purpose for each day.”

Once the process of writing the book commenced, Harold contacted a publishing site called Xlibris.com and started the process, which involved getting permission to use old newspaper articles that from The Luverne Journal, Andalusia Star-News, The Montgomery Advertiser and The Birmingham News.

According to Harold, the entire researching process took about six months to complete.

Many memories make appearances in her novel, and Harold reminisces of the glories of growing up in a small, Southern town.

“I loved the small town, beautiful atmosphere of growing up there. I loved getting to go to my high school prom because the gym was wheelchair accessible,” said Harold. “My husband and I went back for years to care for my mother who died in 1998. But, because of health issues I have regrettably not been back for several years. Many things have changed I am sure. I try to keep up with Luverne through The Journal page on Facebook.”

While her future plans are not set in stone just yet, Harold, like all up and coming writers, hopes that the unveiling of her book brings success. After taking a break from writing, she later hopes to turn her attention to either a sequel or to begin writing a children’s book.

“I have four grandchildren now and they provide joy and just living each day with all the obstacles my husband, who is also a polio survivor and also uses a power wheelchair, and I face is challenging enough. But, with our love and our faith we will do fine,” said Harold.

A book signing will be held for Harold today at Easter Seals Central Alabama from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.