To sit down with Jack Rodgers is to sit down with a man who knows his history and his heart.
Rodgers – who many around Richmond Hill know as “the waving man” from his years of greeting motorists on the morning school route along with his Jack Russell Terrier, Jocko – has penned a historical novel that combines ten years of research and a lifetime of love.
“I found out that my grandfather five generations back was in the American Revolution,” the author explained. “The research that I’ve done (for this book) is the period from 1735 until 1753, and those are the settlement days, pre-Revolutionary War.”
Rodgers, 70, was directly connected to another aspect of local history.
“I was married to a Salzburger for 25 years,” he said. “We had two daughters, and that’s their heritage.”
“Salzburg Pirate” follows the Heidt family, who, like their fellow “Salzburgers,” came to live in the Georgia colony in the 1730s to escape religious persecution in Austria. Eric Heidt, the family’s young son, becomes the central character as he is bamboozled by a pirate captain and forced to live as an outlaw on the high seas.
It is, according to Rodgers, “an epic love story told from a man’s point of view.”
The novel is woven of factual detail and historical characters, but is also peppered with the people and events of Rodgers’ own life or imagination. A detailed character key is provided within the book for clarification.
Although this is his first book, Rodgers has written many pieces for newspapers and magazines over the years, drawing on experiences from his life.
“I used to write pretty regularly,” he said. “I have a poet that lives in my heart and I have to express myself.”
A native of Oglethorpe, Rodgers enjoys giving back and making people happy. Last year, he won the WTOC “Hometown Hero” award in recognition of his role as “waving man.” He has served as Santa Clause at the Richmond Hill Montessori Preschool, Savannah’s Oglethorpe Club and the Richmond Hill Hometown Christmas Parade.
“One of my main philosophies is, rather than try to figure out another way to hate your fellow man, figure out a way to love him,” Rodgers said. “And I believe that hugs are more valuable than words. I want to be a good person and this is the way I’ve tried to live my life.”
Copies of “Salzburg Pirate” cost $18 and are available by calling Rodgers at 756-2098 or emailing him at email@example.com. The author is happy to sign copies upon request, and will mail books for an extra $3 shipping fee.