Our main objective in coming to Dallas was to hear Jeff Guinn speak. Guinn, the former award-winning investigative journalist and the bestselling author of numerous books, has been generous to LEAP students, and we were excited to hear about his latest book.
The trip brought us to the Highland Park United Methodist Church, where people were as nice and accommodating as can be. The church partners with the “Friends of the Highland Park Library” and the “Friends of the SMU Library” for a program called “Authors Live!” It is a wonderful program that brings authors to the community–free of charge–to discuss ideas worth contemplating.
While there, we met Amy Berry (HPUMC Library Coordinator), Suzanne Lanksford (HPUMC Wellness Ministry), Michael Merschel (author), Richard Stanford (HPUMC Senior Ministry), and Janet McLeod (Hauteur Public Relations), all of whom were more accommodating to us than we had any right to expect.
A main point of this trip was to learn more about the adventures of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and other celebrities, detailed in his latest book: The Vagabonds.
This book is special to us, because several LEAP Ambassadors had a chance to assist Mr. Guinn (in a small way) with the book. Brian Aldaco, Ryan Brim, and Paul Oliver traveled with Mr. Guinn to Detroit and looked through archives at the wonderful Henry Ford Museum. It was a fun, educational trip, and we were eager to hear the results of Mr. Guinn’s impressive research.
When we arrived, Guinn was sitting with a crowd of fans eagerly awaiting to meet him. His face lit up when he saw us, and he immediately stopped what he was doing to greet us.
While he had never met any of the current LEAP Ambassadors, he generously acted as if we were all well acquainted, and he soon introduced us to the gathering, while saying nice things about the LEAP organization.
After having our books signed and chatting with Guinn…
…we all made our way into the auditorium for his talk.
Amy Berry, Suzanne Langford, Richard Stanford, and Michael Merschel handled introductions…
…and when Guinn took the stage in front of an audience of 900 (!)…
…he spent the first five minutes expressing his gratitude to specific individuals who had helped put the event on and otherwise encouraged the act of reading.
It was a thoughtful and professional way to introduce himself to the audience.
The rest of the discussion was filled with interesting anecdotes and information regarding The Vagabonds and all the research that went into it.
Walking the stage like a boss…
…Guinn entertained, informed, and joked. He introduced the little-known inventor Oliver Evans, who invented an early (1805!) version of the car, discussed the backgrounds and personalities of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison…
…and took questions from the audience.
He even engaged in a little audience participation…
…interacting extensively with the audience…
..and answering questions, some of which were head scratchers.
When he ended, the audience erupted in applause and just about everyone filed into the church lobby to either buy the book or have their copy signed.
If you did not know Jeff Guinn before you entered that church, like us, you surely left admiring him.
LEAP Ambassadors enjoy getting to meet with friends, but it was time to eat — we were all famished from our road trip. We ended up at The Biscuit Bar. Much like Huntsville’s Potato Shack, this restaurant makes one staple food the central component of their entrees.
Even though we arrived late into the night, the service was expeditious and soon the table was cluttered with our biscuit dishes. Among them was The F.A.B.B (sweet fig preserves, arugula, brie, bacon), Hot Hot Chicken (southern fried Nashville-style hot chicken, dill pickles, house made ranch), The HOSS, and for dessert, the Hot Chocolate Biscuit, topped with chocolate fudge and marshmallow fluff.
Everything was soon devoured. Enough said.
After dinner, we tucked into the hotel and awaited our road trip back in the morning.