Higdon Swatts never considered himself an author, never envisioned a book in his future.
Facebook, of all things, altered his thinking.
Swatts has a memoir, “The Way I Remember It: Tales from a Port St. Joe childhood and beyond” that in snippets reveals the richness of life for a young boy growing up during a dynamic time in the community’s history.
As he summed up near the end of the book, one goal is to cause a reader to reflect on their life, share memories, record history, no matter how informal.
“I am firm believer in documenting history,” Swatts said. “One regret I have is I didn’t ask more questions growing up, I would have more stories.
“It became more important later in life. I spent a lot of time with my granddaddy (community pioneer T.H. Stone) in their house where Hungry Howie’s is. When you are young, you just want your granddaddy to finish his story so he’d give you a quarter.”
It was the thoroughly modern Facebook that ignited the fuel for the book.
Not much for the social media platform initially, Swatts became something of a regular contributor about four years ago.
He noticed that folks were posting and commenting about Port St. Joe history, there was even a page devoted to it, and Swatts began to make comments.
“The comments at some point in time led to stories,” Swatts said. “I wrote a few stories on Facebook and people started telling me I should put them in a book.
“I just said, ‘Yeah, right’ but my daughter (Dana) last December told me to give her the stories and she would take care of getting them in a book.”
Some of those stories were already written, others were penned in the coming months.
There are also a couple that take a bit of artistic license (If Elvis Grew Up in Port St. Joe), a couple of the stories reading as biographical until the end, as Swatts acknowledged in his end notes.
Three entire stories, actually pieces of a long story, detail all the recreational and entertainment opportunities available to youngsters growing up in Port St. Joe.
And, Swatts, acknowledged, some of his memories were not entirely fit to print.
“There are a few stories that are not due to tell,” he said. “There are stories I could have told that I knew I shouldn’t.”
The process of transforming stories on typed pages to a bound volume took a bit of time, but during the last week of June the book was released on Amazon.
“I was concerned about it until it came out,” Swatts said. “I told my wife before that she needed to buy one copy for herself and one for our dog, that way at least two copies would be sold.
“I’ve been pleased with comments I have received, from people I knew and people I never knew about who enjoyed it.”
Additionally, he has provided something to pass on to future generations, of his family and those who roots trace to Port St. Joe.
“Absolutely,” Swatts said, adding the book is about preserving local lore for the benefit of “family, friends and acquaintances.”
“The Way I Remember It” is available locally at The Brick Wall, No Name Café and Books, Joseph’s Cottage, all on Reid Ave., and can be found on Amazon.
The Port St. Joe Public Library will host an upcoming book signing Aug. 14.