“A fly-on-the wall account of making a television show, and a great examination of country living . . .”
- William Kowalski, Author of Eddie’s Bastard and The Hundred Hearts
Finalist, USA Best Book Award, 2007
The Past Ever Present
I wrote this narrative nonfiction book relying heavily on stories from my son, Clay Jeter, and my father, Clifton Coleman. Clay was cast as the mischievous Creed Allen in the CBS series Christy, based on the Catherine Marshall novel, at a time when both my husband and I were working full-time. My dad, Clifton Coleman of Murray, Kentucky, served often as his on-set guardian. The series brought a flood of memories of his Depression-era childhood in Calloway County, Kentucky, to my father as he watched his grandson at work. He began tape recording these memories, and the tapes compelled me to write this story. I think it will appeal to people who either grew up in a very different world from the one we inhabit today, or who are fascinated by tales of such a world.
Although my dad was on the set much of the time, I was there often enough to get a flavor of the making of a television show. I won’t claim that this experience was representative, however. We were fortunate in that Clay was always treated with kindness and respect. When a death in the family necessitated my father’s sudden departure, the producer Ken Wales and his wife took Clay into their own apartment and looked after him. Making Christy had been a lifelong dream of Ken’s, and the entire series was filmed on location in eastern Tennessee, resulting in beautiful cinematography but a fairly expensive operation. I hope my book will prove engaging to fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, of Spencer’s Mountain (or The Waltons), as well as of Catherine Marshall’s Christy.
Three voices tell the story of The Past Ever Present: Clay Jeter (this experience as a child played a pivotal role in Clay’s later decision to attend film school and direct film); Clifton Coleman as a child; and Clifton as a grandfather. Director and co-writer of Jess + Moss, Clay won the 2011 Governor's Award at the Nashville Film Festival. But don’t let me mislead you. The book is just as much about Clifton and life in the 1930’s rural south as it is about Clay.