Alva Review-Courier -

A summer to remember

• A city boy experiences farm life and solves a mystery


October 4, 2019

LEFT: Dave Eagleston, author of "West of Alva."

Matt Turner expected to spend the summer playing baseball and hanging out with his friends. He'd just finished eighth grade in Tulsa and was looking forward to high school. However a chance encounter between his salesman father and a northwest Oklahoma farmer led to a completely different school break.

"West of Alva" by Dave Eagleston tells the story of Matt's life-changing summer in 1961. Matt's father thought it would be good for him to learn about farm life, and Henry Pierce said he could use some summer help. But the old farmer didn't take the conversation seriously, and Matt's arrival was a total surprise.

The 15-year-old city boy found he'd be living in a cluttered house and sleeping in the attic across the room from the farmer. However, there were benefits such as learning to drive a tractor and ride a horse. Bathing in a water trough was surprisingly enjoyable.

On a trip into town, Matt befriends a beautiful farm girl and an alert young black boy who help him piece together the mystery of his employer's problems. He begins to learn the reasons why the farmer has trouble staying sober and why he is desperate for a successful wheat harvest. Matt also learns about the Nazi prisoner of war camp established in Alva 20 years earlier, and its connection to the farmer's past.

"West of Alva" draws the reader into a homesick boy's adventure among strangers as he gains new skills, courage and confidence. It also provides an interesting look at the interaction among townspeople staffing the POW camp, the American officers and the prisoners.

Author Dave Eagleston will hold a book signing tonight at the Graceful Arts Gallery during the First Friday Art Walk where he'll have copies of his debut book available. The gallery will be open until 8 p.m. and refreshments will be served.

The book draws on his own experience in 1960 when he was sent to work for a summer on a farm west of Alva. Although the book and its characters are fictional, Eagleston's early experience in northwest Oklahoma lends authenticity to the story.

Eagleston grew up in Tulsa and graduated from Will Rogers High School and Oklahoma State University. He worked as a cameraman and vocalist at KTUL-TV in Tulsa before joining the Army. After a tour as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Eagleston traveled the world as a commercial helicopter pilot and aviation advisor. He has lived in exciting locations such as Burma, Russia, Kazakhiston, Thailand, The Philippines, Turkey and three provinces in Canada as well as several beautiful cities in the United States.

Eagleston has flown prime ministers, premiers, poachers, prisoners, movie stars and a few thousand ordinary people. As a combat pilot, he was awarded two Purple Hearts, 22 Air Medals and the Silver Star. As a commercial helicopter pilot, he received the Helicopter Association International Safe Pilot Award.

Now living in McKinney, Texas, with his wife Janie, Eagleston sings and plays the guitar in the Dallas area. He can be seen in plays and musicals as well as on television and in the occasional low-budget short movie. You can watch his music videos on YouTube by simply listing his name.

Eagleston's second book, "A Private Heaven," will be available soon on Amazon.


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