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Fulton County history weaved into tale

December 29, 1997

Fulton County history weaved into tale

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - A student in a one-room school house in the early 1920s, Clifford M. Hixon remembers when his teacher complimented him on a story he had written and handed in for a grade.

Several weeks ago, Hixon, now 85, sold a copy of his first book, "Valley Drums," to that teacher who is now in her 90s.

"I'm afraid to ask her what she thinks about it," Hixon said, who attended school to the eighth grade.

A retired farmer and sawmill owner and operator, Hixon has lived in Fulton County's Buck Valley his whole life.

Now he's come up with a short, fictional story about American Indians and pioneers set in the still rural and remote area Hixon knows and loves.

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"If you're going to write a story you might as well write about an area you know about," Hixon said.

Although it's a fictional tale, Hixon weaved the area's early history - a topic he said has always fascinated him - into the 100-page paperback book, written after hours of research in southern Fulton and northern Washington county towns.

Based in 1760, Hixon highlights the customs, skills and hunting prowess of the local Indians and their later relations with the incoming settlers in his book.

The author also relied on his own knowledge and experiences to add vivid descriptions of the plant and animal life in the area to the story.

"You've also got to have some humor in a book," Hixon said, along with action, death and romance, which are also included.

But there's nothing contained in the book that would prevent him from standing up and reading it in church, he said.

Had someone told Hixon 10 years ago that he would publish a book, he said he would have laughed.

But as he slowed down his businesses, Hixon said he began jotting down some ideas on the back of an old calendar and would run them by his son, Larry, who lives in New Jersey, when he came for a visit.

"He always told me I should write it down," Hixon said.

Hixon gives his son and daughter, Judy Slaughter, of Williamsport, Pa., credit for editing his book for him.

The author admits writing the book - which he did in longhand with a pen in a notebook - wasn't easy.

He dedicated the work to his wife, Ruth, "in consideration of all the lonely hours she tolerated while I was writing."

"It was a job to write that book ... To write is like doing any kind of work. You get it in your head you're going to do it and you just keep at it. You've got to have a desire to do it or you won't do it. It takes determination," he said.

Now with one book down, Hixon has started another and has ideas for even more. But he takes his time, writing only when he feels like it.

"I'm 85. I turned 85 last summer. I don't know, maybe I'll never get it done," he said.

Hixon is selling his book for $6.25 plus tax out of his home near the tiny village of Amaranth, Pa. on Pa. 731 South just off of Interstate 70.

To request a copy to be sent by mail for $8.50, call 1-717-294-3640 or write C&R Publishing, RD2 Box 450, Warfordsburg, Pa. 17267.

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