Gresham man spins yarns from rich life in lively book
Lloyd Slagle says he has always had a way with words.
Sometime around his 90th birthday, he decided to commit to paper some of the hilarious, touching and unusual events in his rich and lengthy life and compile them into a book.
"Short Stories from a Long Life," which he self-published last year, is the result.
"I'd always wanted to write, but I never had the time," says the 93-year-old Gresham resident, sharing a chuckle. "It suddenly seemed like the thing to do."
The book is not a comprehensive autobiography, but a collection of yarns and anecdotes from Slagle's many adventures.
He's already working on a second book, but isn't sure which of his exploits will be included.
One that might go into the next book is his story of surviving the great Alaska earthquake in 1964, which occurred at 5:36 p.m. on Good Friday, March 27. With a magnitude of 9.2, it is still the most powerful earthquake recorded in North American history. The quake and resulting tsunami are thought to have killed 131 people.
Slagle was on the third floor of an eight- or nine-story building getting a gift wrapped for a friend's baby shower when the quake hit.
"The writing desk I was using to write the check suddenly decided to go airborne, and I was riding it like some crazy surfboard," he says.
After the shaking stopped, Slagle helped several people down the rubble of the stairs and into the parking lot. He remembers that he was kind of rough with one of the women.
"We had no time for negotiation," he says.
"Short Stories from a Long Life" includes one charming story about how Slagle, a 17-year-old Navy enlistee, couldn't swim and his attempts at passing the service's swimming test.
Slagle, who lives with Parkinson's Disease, dictates the stories to his editor's daughter.
"I couldn't read my own writing now," he admits.
"He's told me a lot of the stories over the last 20 years," says Marianne Ott, his editor and longtime companion. "He has a way with words."
The duo didn't charge for the books, but if someone wanted to contribute to research for Parkinson's, they gladly accepted the donation.
"The stories come easily to me," Slagle says, "although I've never had any schooling in writing."
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