Johnson brings her stories to Selma

Published 12:03 am Friday, January 14, 2011

Rheta Grimsley Johnson signs a copy of her book "Poor Man's Provence" during the Lunch at the Library on Thursday. -- Chris Wasson

Rheta Grimsley Johnson has taken the time to tell the stories of Americans for more than 35 years.

On Thursday, she was in Selma telling the story of her life during the Lunch at the Library.

Johnson has always told stories whether through her nationally syndicated column, books or newspaper articles.

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“I’ve been a newspaper person in spirit for a long time,” Johnson said. “In the eighth grade I worked for my school newspaper and in high school.”

Johnson was born in Georgia and raised in Montgomery before moving off to college at Auburn University, where she honed her trade for the university’s newspaper.

From there, she and two friends traveled to St. Simons Island, Ga. to start their own paper.

“We had a professor at Auburn tell us that all you needed to start a newspaper was a typewriter,” she said. “So we took him at his word and went down there in a Volkswagen van with a U-Haul.”

Weeks later and one broken down VW later, the business venture was at its end and Johnson was back in Alabama writing in Monroe County.

During her presentation, Johnson told the stories from her journeys across the states looking at the regional differences in America, her time with Peanuts cartoonist Charles Shultz and coverage of the Olympics in Los Angeles.

Johnson was at the library to promote her newest book, “Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming.”

“It’s a straight memoir,” she said. “It came out in March of last year, so far it’s been a lot of fun. This one has been harder to talk about, but I have warmed up to the task.”

Becky Nichols, director of the Selma-Dallas County Public Library, said the event, which had more than 70 guests in attendance, was a great success.

“It was great,” Nichols said. “It was a good time. We are already looking forward to our next event.”

The next Lunch at the Library will be with Mark Leslie, author of “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language and Life with an Italian Family” on Feb. 17.