He was the preacher in his kindergarten’s production of “The Tom Thumb Wedding.” In first grade, his mother scolded him for being Chairman of the Entertainment Committee. To his credit, the post was merely honorary, he served without compensation, and as the title “Chairman” implies, he always collaborated. He sang and bet Phileas Fogg he couldn’t circumnavigate the world in eighty days in his senior class play. He’s presently learning to play banjo. But he sings, dances, acts, tells jokes too poorly to make a living at it. The same is true of golf and poker.
His vocation, income tax, taught him how people behave under stress.
My wife, a schoolteacher, is my hero. She taught underprivileged kids to read, and her devotion to literacy inspired elements of "Three Links Of Chain."
My daughter was valedictorian, graduated college summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa. But actually everyone within earshot already knows that.
I'm teaching myself to play the 5-string banjo. I don't play "Scruggs style," instead I'm learning an old-time style called "clawhammer."
I'm left-handed but always played baseball right-handed. I have an unfit shoulder and my golf suffered so I had to re-learn the game left-handed. I still putt righty and play the banjo righty.
I don't drive much. My main wheels are a pickup truck that's 18 years old and still has less than 100K miles. The tranmission is manual and it has no air conditioner.
I sold stuff door-to-door starting when I was in fourth grade, mostly tomatoes I grew myself. I don't like tomatoes all that much.
Two summers in a row, I worked in a grain elevator during wheat harvest. Among my duties, I was supposed to yell "WHOA-oo" when the haulers' end gate was over the floor grate. When harvest was over, I baled hay and plowed. None of these occupations required me to exercise my trigonometry skills. Machines have rendered all these jobs obsolete, except maybe the part about yelling "WHOA-oo."
Growing up in small town Kansas, the first African Americans I ever went to school with were two boys, both freshmen when I was a senior. I suspect "whites only" water fountains were around, but I'm just lucky. I never saw them.
Blanche thinks he has it good. He has risen above the field hands to a position helping run a printing press. He’s well fed, never physically mistreated, and he has taught himself to read, though he keeps the illicit skill a secret. Most importantly, he has been promised a chance at emancipation. Then, in a single bloody morning, his world is overturned, his master lies dead, and his widow has no intention of following through with her husband’s promise to free him.
Blanche would never have considered running away from his old life, but faced with the prospect of being sold as a laborer or worse, he forges his free papers and flees north, a fugitive, to create his own future. Only a few steps ahead of the slave catchers, he travels hundreds of miles across the violent backdrop of “bleeding Kansas” in the 1850s, a land torn by apart by two very different visions of humanity.
This richly researched work of fiction weaves actual historical characters and institutions into the gripping story of a young man born into slavery but resolute in his quest for freedom.
“...an excellent piece of children’s literature and a summer read that parents will approve.”
-Jerry Vannatta, co-author of The Chief Concern of Medicine
“Both the story and the main character had my interest from very early on in the book. The events and emotions did come across splendidly..”
-Margaret Faria, author of The Literary Chanteuse Book Blog
“This quest for freedom by a slave boy is a great story… thumbs up to Dennis Maley.
-A Journey With Books Review
“Three Links of Chain is more than a story about a slave boy who wants to be free. It is also a story about people trying to change a system… either way, the main thing is that it is a great story and you should read it.”
-Reading… Dreaming Book Review