Torch Club hosts authors at inaugural book fair

June 26, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Christina Button of Appleton, Wis., a member of the Torch Club, attends the club's first book fair, held at the Hagerstown Hotel and Convention Center on Dual Highway outside Hagerstown.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Jim Hassinger’s first published novel was inspired by the naval Battle of Balikpapan in which aging U.S. destroyers were sent on what was believed to be a hopeless mission to intercept a Japanese convoy shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

The historical fiction novel also was inspired by his wife of 18 years, Brenda.

Full of action, adventure and mystery, there’s also romance in “Sea of Deception,” which features lead characters named Jim and Brenda.

“I guess I’m just a romantic person at heart,” said Hassinger, 65, of Hagerstown.

Hassinger was one of several authors at the Torch Club’s first book fair, held at the Hagerstown Hotel and Convention Center on Dual Highway outside Hagerstown.

About 150 people from approximately 70 Torch Clubs across the country were expected at this weekend’s annual Torch Convention in the Hagerstown area, according to the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Torch Clubs endeavor to keep learning alive, said member Mike Parsons, a retired Hagerstown Community College teacher and dean. Members listen to presentations and participate in discussions, according to the Frederick, Md., club’s website at

Parsons was selling “Promoting Community Renewal Through Civic Literacy and Service Learning,” which looks at how churches, schools and community colleges can help determine what communities need and how to accomplish those goals, Parsons said.

Parsons, 69, of Hagerstown, was donating the proceeds to Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused, an organization that helps people affected by domestic violence.

Frederick residents George DuBois and Allan Joseph were sitting side by side in the convention center’s foyer while their books stood next to each other on a nearby table.

DuBois was just as adept as Joseph at promoting Joseph’s book, “Masked Intentions.” DuBois edited the true story about trying to broker a deal for the first large-scale computer shipped to China. The computer was the size of a room.

Joseph was part of the IBM team that negotiated the sale starting in 1976, when there was an embargo on the sale of computers to China, Joseph said.

“We sidestepped the issue,” said Joseph, 81.

DuBois’ book, “Cross-Class Alliances and the Birth of Modern Liberalism” is about the history of American labor, including its ties to the Liberal movement, said DuBois, 77.

“I tried to make it as readable as possible,” said DuBois, who was inspired by his doctorate studies.

DuBois said he illustrated his point with area unions, including coal miners in Garrett County, Md., and unions in Baltimore.

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