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ARCHER DI PEPPE never thought of American life as a birthright. He always knew he had to get involved and live to tell the tale.
From his malaria-stricken Peace Corps days in Africa to his outspoken preservationist stand in Fredericksburg, Di Peppe venerates the things he holds dearest--his family, his community, his connection with nature and history.
"All the things you need to be happy, you were born with," Di Peppe said.
At 52, the former schoolteacher and antiques dealer-turned-writer has recently shaped his thoughts into a book. "Quiet Moments: Commentary on the Extraordinary Ordinary" is a collection of 31 slice-of-life annotations originally published as columns in the "Front Porch," a regional magazine in Fredericksburg.
"He makes you think about all of the things that are in your life," said Front Porch editor Rob Grogan. "He's saying 'Here is your world in front of you. Here are the people in front of you. Embrace them. Laugh at them. Love them.'"
Known for his op-ed writings and historical pieces in The Free-Lance Star, Di Peppe draws breath from the familiar. The settings in his book are real; the characters are alive. And readers will easily find a little of themselves in this straightforward, homespun prose that humorously mirrors the life of a baby boomer and his loved ones.
"We all share this common experience of being on the planet at the same time," said Di Peppe, a native Virginian who lives in Stafford County. "This book tells about what really happens to people."
Growing up. Growing older. Growing closer to others. Di Peppe weaves his tales into casual commentaries that make good, relaxing reading without the complications of tangled plots. His comments connect with everyone who has attended school, owned a dog and had a mother.
"When I was growing up, I use to believe that Mom could analyze the lint in my pockets and know everything I'd done for the last 48 hours. I didn't realize that she also knew everything I was going to do for the next 48 hours," he writes in his book.
From his revelations of fatherhood to his grass-roots fight for preservation, Di Peppe's words and photographs recount a proverbial journey of the lessons learned in life.
"You can't make it up as good as what really happens," he said. "Describe life truthfully and it resonates with the reader."
Published by Olde Towne Publishing Co., "Quiet Moments: Commentary on the Extraordinary Ordinary" is available in paperback for $10 at the Wounded Bookshop and Beck's Antiques & Books in Fredericksburg.
CAROL THOMAS HORTON is research director/copywriter for The Star Radio Group.