Sunday, December 11, 2016

Poignant book on WWII penned by Rayville native

             William Davis Cotton was elected to the Louisiana State Senate under the reform administration of Gov. Sam Jones but that didn’t stop him from serving in World War II as a lieutenant colonel. He religiously wrote letters home to his wife and daughter, saying that one day he might write a book. His daughter Carole Cotton Winn, a native of Rayville now living in Slidell, has compiled these letters along with newspaper clippings, photos, WWII correspondence and more in a heartfelt book titled “My Darling, A World War II Scrapbook.” The title refers to her father’s salutation at the beginning of each letter.
            Winn spent a year typing the letters and working with Carolyn Portier Gorman to lay out a book that’s as emotionally moving as it’s aesthetically beautiful.
            “As I read his words in his own hand, his tenderness filled me,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “This first letter strongly reconnected me with Dad in a way I had not expected and allowed me to see clearly through his writing to times and events of which we had only seldom spoken during his lifetime.”
            I read the book in spurts, lingering over old photographs or news snippets that tug at your heartstrings, such as “Mrs. Jones of Britain,” written by Comdr. Stephen King-Hall commending a housewife as “the greatest heroine of the war, and one of the pillars of victory.”
            The book sells for $40, plus $4 shipping, and checks should be sent to Winn, 101 Byron Ct., Slidell, LA 70461. Cotton hopes to have the book in military museums, the Rayville library (where she grew up) and the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
            Winn has served 42 years in United Methodist ministry and will discuss and sign copies of “My Darling” at noon Sunday, Dec. 11, at First United Methodist Church in Houma and at noon Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church in New Orleans. 

Book events for the week of Dec. 11-17
The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) will host Peggy Scott Laborde for a presentation and book signing of her latest book, “The Fair Grounds through the Lens: Photographs and Memories of Horse Racing in New Orleans,” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 533 Royal St. in New Orleans. Admission is free.
            New Orleans author Ethan Brown signs “Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8” at 7 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble Lafayette.


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Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.