Long gestation periods for books are hardly uncommon, but Skip Eveleth must surely be a serious contender for the all-time record: at age ninety-one, he has published his first one, Achievers: Memorable Moments and Anecdotes of American Pioneers.
Although 168 pages long, Achievers (Aviation Publishing, $30) reads like a family scrapbook. A grab bag of photographs, correspondence, and newspaper clippings, it includes chapters on Eveleth's relatives, as well as his personal remembrances of such aviation greats as Charles Lindbergh and Igor Sikorsky. The final chapter is about Eveleth's two hobbies, yachting and auto racing.
For years, Eveleth's two sons had been pestering him to compile his memories and memorabilia. "On April 24, 1999," he says, "I got off my rear end and actually started to write. And oh, what a wonderful time I had."
Achievers focuses on such Eveleth ancestors as great-great-great-great-grandfather General Benjamin Lincoln, who, according to Eveleth, was George Washington's "right-hand man" during the American Revolution; grandfather Frederick Eveleth, a Baptist missionary who spent forty years in Burma translating the English dictionary into Burmese; and Eveleth's father, Charles, a vice president of General Electric who during World War I helped to develop the first underwater submarine detector.
The book's second half looks at four famous aviators - Lindbergh, Sikorsky, Jimmy Doolittle, and Howard Hughes - who Eveleth encountered during his sixty-year career in engineering, sales, and customer relations at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and Sikorsky Aircraft.
After spending nine months writing his first book, Eveleth now wants to write an "absolutely fabulous" second one. He's already got a title: The Greatest Weddings of American Industry.
"The guy upstairs hasn't called my number yet," says Eveleth. "I'm having a ball. I had a hip replaced for 55,000 bucks, but I'm all right. And I still love beautiful women. How lucky can you get?"
Eveleth can be reached at 320-G Willow Oaks Dr., Ozark, Ala. 36360; (334) 774-2417.