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Seven local men host book launch to celebrate '500 Years of Living'

NEWPORT, R.I. – Six local men and their editor, all over 70 years of age and members of the Circle of Scholars program at Salve Regina University, have published a collection of their memoirs documenting “500 Years of Living,” which they will officially launch during a public/press event on Thursday, July 6 at 2 p.m. in McKillop Library on Salve’s campus.


“500 Years of Living: Memoir Essays by the Men of WriteLife” follows these men as they present vignettes from memorable moments in their lives. The memoirs emanate from “WriteLife,” a writing course in Salve’s Circle of Scholars program for older adults that is taught by Jack Galvin.


Three years ago, Galvin challenged six men who had taken his class a number of times to take on the project, prompting them with questions such as “How did you learn about hard work?” “What fight/argument did you win?” and, “At a crossroads, what did you lose in your choice?”


The group met once a month to work on the project, ultimately creating 24 essays ranging from 3-5 pages each. Their stories appear in three sections: The Early Years; The Family Years; and The Work Years.


“The settings are familiar or extraordinary with scenes that evoke memories of home or take us to distant parts like Syria, Jordan, Iwo Jima, Vietnam and aboard ships,” says Galvin, who edited the collection. “These essays offer remarkably frank insights by men who assess their lives, then tell their stories well.”


The authors include Bob Bledsoe, John Broughan, Raymond Heins, Dick Hunt, George Kassis, and Capt. Gordon Stewart (U.S. Navy retired). Topics include a boyhood bike trip to the cool waters of a swimming area; lessons from a stern father for whom a rule is a law in Aleppo, Syria; the story of Little Lewis, soon to be the best four-legged friend of the policeman who saves him; and a Navy lieutenant’s overseeing of the steady roll of a Vietnamese gunboat off the coast of Phu Quoc island.


About the editor: Galvin has been a writer and teacher of writing for 40 years. With Mark Pfetzer he wrote “Within Reach: My Everest Story,” which was honored as an outstanding book for young adults. For many years he was head of the English department at Rogers High School where he developed and taught composition courses.

Proceeds from sales of “500 Years of Living” ($12.95 each) will go toward the Circle of Scholars scholarship fund.

Galvin has now turned his attention to collecting memoirs from the ladies of WriteLife.