The Bud Altmayer Collection

Article Published: Sep. 13, 2012 | Modified: Sep. 13, 2012
The Bud Altmayer Collection

Former Blowing Rock resident Bud Altmayer poses with a copy of his latest book, ‘The Kiwis: Unsung Heroes of World War II.’

Photo by Jeff Eason

On Sept. 12, Appalachian Brian Estates resident Magnus “Bud” Altmayer celebrated his 96th birthday.

One of the things he was celebrating was the arrival of his newest book, “A Valley Called Globe Revisited,” from Create Space Publishers.

“I retired from the automobile business when I was in my fifties,” Altmayer said. “I had been a Pontiac dealer in Homestead, Florida. My wife, Joann, and I decided to retire in the mountains of North Carolina and we settled down in Blowing Rock in a condo at Chateau Cloud.

“From my condo deck I used a telescope to look down into the Globe Valley. I started to get fascinated about the history of the Globe, so I started researching it.”

That research included more than 40 interviews with Globe residents, looking up public records such as old deeds, and even reading personal wills left behind from longtime dead residents of the Globe Valley.

That research led to the publishing of one of Altmayer’s early books, “A Valley Called Globe.” With the help of editor and writer Rachel Ridenhour, Altmayer has re-written the book for the new release “A Valley Called Globe Revisited.”

“The original book was out of print, but Rachel thought it was great and that led us to this project of re-writing and re-publishing it,” Altmayer said. “That book and ‘The Kiwis’ are about 40 percent accurate and 60 percent fiction.”

“The Kiwis: The Unsung Heroes of World War II” is a semi-fictional account of an air support unit of the U.S. Air Corp during World War II. Kiwis, named after the flightless bird, was the Air Corp’s nickname for the ground crews—mechanics, mess hall cooks, bomb crews and others—that helped keep the pilots in the sky.

“Major General Earl Hoag brought me from a bomb crew to become one of his staff,” Altmayer said. “After I got there, he said to me, ‘We can see the end of the war. Germany is close to being defeated. We have many bases now throughout Europe and we’ll have two more when Germany surrenders.’

“So I became his liaison to the new bases in Germany, reporting back to Gen. Hoag on personnel matters, assignments and how good the morale of the base was. The job kept traveling between London and the Pentagon to report to Gen. Hoag.”

Altmayer spent a total of five years in the U.S. Army Air Corp, three of them overseas. “When I was overseas, Joann wrote me a letter every single day,” he said.

Bud and Joan Altmayer will celebrate their 75th anniversary next March.

With Ridenhour’s help, Altmayer has re-written and re-published a number of his other books including “Goin’ Free: A Novel Account of the Perils of Being Enslaved,” “Wild Parsnips: An Appalachian Tale” and “The Blockade Runners.” His other books include “As I Recall: Old Blowing Rock, North Carolina,” “Abraham Estes’ Children, 1685-1865: A Novel of a Stalwart Family” and “A Family History of North Carolina.”

The newly published versions of Altmayer’s books are available through Amazon and by special request by Barnes and Nobles. A number of Altmayer titles are now available for Kindles and other electronic readers.

“Rachel and I are making sure that the Watauga County Library gets the new versions of the books for their readers,” Altmayer said.

“Some of the newer versions are very different. For example, in the new copy of ‘Globe Valley’ the story of a Melungeon character is given more prominence.”

Melungeon refers to a group of people in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Gap who have dark features similar to people from the Mediterranean. DNA research results this year concluded that many Melungeon family lines were the result of children of women of European descent and men of Sub-Saharan African descent in pre-Civil War and Colonial America.

“It’s more of an action tale now,” said Altmayer. “It takes place in the 1800s around the time of the Civil War.”

Altmayer stated that the title of his book “Wild Parsnips: An Appalachian Tale” is based on a plant found in the North Carolina mountains that is poisonous yet used for medicinal purposes.

“It’s a poisonous plant that resembles Queen Anne’s lace,” Altmayer said. “It is used frequently in the book as both a poison and how doctors would prescribe it as a curative using one or two drops in quart of water.”

Another of Altmayer’s books that is set during the Civil War is “The Blockade Runners.”

“That is the story of the British military forces that set up sites in the Bahamas and would ship arms and supplies to the Confederacy,” Altmayer said. “It is one of the books that is now available as an e-book and is being reprinted. I did a lot of research on that one, but like the others, I take a good deal of literary license now and then. It gives the story more impact and action.”

“Goin’ Free: A Novel Account of the Perils of Being Enslaved” is Altmayer’s fictional account of a slave couple escaping to the North during the Civil War.

“There’s a lot of action in that one,” Altmayer said. “It’s about their problems and how they solve them. It is a two-part story: One is about the slave couple and the other is about their son. He is the result of the woman being raped by the slave owner. The son is light enough to pass for white as a young man in Boston and out West. His trying to pass for white and hiding his history is his slavery, so to speak.”

In addition to Altmayer’s newly published collection of books, he and Ridenhour are now re-writing and editing 30 to 40 of his shorter works for a compilation.

“The short stories are like most of my other works,” Altmayer said. “Some are true, most are not.”

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