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Words of wisdom: Author weaves fascinating true tales

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Allen Shoffner with his new book, The Adventures of a Tennessee Farm Boy, as he donates a copy to Argie Cooper Public Library.
(T-G photo by Jim Davis) [Order this photo]
The sound of children quietly yet enthusiastically pursuing their next adventure on paper excited Allen Shoffner during his recent visit to the Argie Cooper Public Library.

After all, Shoffner, an 86-year-old gentleman -- gentleman -- who was born near Three Forks Bridge in Bedford County in 1926, understands the value of words, the value of education. Raised on a local farm, Shoffner graduated from Vanderbilt Law School and never slowed down in his desire and ability to practice the law until he closed his office in 2009.

"I'm glad to see the children circulating," he said. "(Reading) is such an important part of basic education. It cultivates (children's) mental attitudes away from digital distractions. They need to know what words mean and how to spell. They need to know how to read."

Newest work

Shoffner has spent the last couple years writing and recently published The Adventures of a Tennessee Farm Boy: A Journey From the Farm to the Courtroom. It's his fifth book, and this one captures the essence of Shoffner's experience in Bedford County while paying tribute to those who helped him along the way.

"If I don't accomplish anything else in my life, I want to appreciate those who influenced me, taught me right from wrong, the value of hard work," he said. "...I tried to write where it wouldn't get stale, I tried to be selective with the events I referenced."

This week, he donated a copy of the book to Pat Hastings, library director.

The book echoes Shoffner's true story about life growing up on a local farm during the Great Depression years and about his practice of law in the courtroom for more than 56 years. It's a 106-page journey that features various chapters of Shoffner's life -- each of the 22 sections is just a few pages long; each a story on its own. Shoffner shares entertaining memories about social life in the countryside, the challenges of starting his law practice, meeting the love of his life (the late Edna Shoffner), caring for her during her illness, finding time for family and many of life's lesson he's learned along his way.

"I spend most of my time writing these days," Shoffner, whose children are Melanie, Esther and Michael Allen. He's also begun painting again and has even learned to cook, in the absence of his late wife, to whom he pays tribute in his book.

Happy memory

An excerpt from section 12 (Leaving the Monastery), about the young attorney finding his niche after law school, reads:

"Grazing the legal landscape in Nashville for legal business had not been very productive. During my first full year of practice my total gross income was $600.00 (This line has been proof read and printed correctly and the decimal is correctly placed). I was always glad to take in on my fee sacks of sausage, ham, roasting corn, turnip greens, and anything I could eat. I decided to try glazing the legal landscape in Bedford County, so I folded my tent and headed home.

"It was at this time that I found the greatest fortune that any man could ever have. In November, 1952 I met a beautiful nurse at the Elliston Place Soda Shop in Nashville ... She was a recent graduate of Saint Thomas School of Nursing on one side of this famous diner, and I was a recent graduate of Vanderbilt Law School on the other side. We met in the middle. We married on December 20, 1953. She was my first, only, and last sweetheart in a love affair which brought us three children, seven grandchildren, and continued for fifty-three years until her death on May 30, 2006."

The book

The cover of the book, shot by Blue Moon Photography, features the Bedford County Courthouse.

"I didn't know what better picture (to use on the cover) than one of the courthouse," he said. "I spent many hours there, and I'd still be there if it weren't for my hearing loss."

Section titles in the book include, Beginning the Journey, Early Food Prints, Growing Up, Farm Work, Farm Food, The School Boy, Boyhood Adventures, Other Memories From The Farm, A Boy Becomes a Man, A Farm Boy Goes to College, Under The Clock, Leaving the Monastery, A Country Farm Boy Becomes a Country Lawyer, Getting Started, Cases From My Legal Archives, Picking A Jury, A Definition of a Trial Lawyer, Pro bono.

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Always such a wonderful gentleman, I hope to read your book, I know that it will be great. The stories around Three Fork and Haley community are all so very interesting and the way that I wished the whole country could share and also go back to a more wholesome and happier time. Thank you and your wife for having such a wonderful and giving life, there is a great lesson in this for all the young people of today. Best regards. Newton

-- Posted by Aesop on Mon, Jul 16, 2012, at 8:32 PM

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