Life in the Laugh Lane
Lewistown native publishes book of comical anecdotes
LEWISTOWN — Judy (May) Wentz grew up in Lewistown, until moving in 1980 when her husband, Ronald, enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Growing up in Lewistown and close to her family, her childhood was full of fun memories, mixed in with the inevitable bad times. To document these times, she recently wrote a book, “Life in the Laugh Lane (The Journey),” retelling her family’s history and little stories about them.
Wentz said she ran into some frustrations a little while ago and was unhappy with where her life was headed.
“I wrote the book out of frustration with the way my life was headed,” Wentz explained. “I knew I needed a ‘new normal.’ The book helped me put things in perspective.”
Wentz said she knew she was a good writer after her high school English teacher told her she loved her compositions. Now, she uses her writing skills in different aspects of her life.
“Often times in our marriage I would leave notes and letters to Ron, explaining how I felt when we had a spat. I put them by the coffee pot or in his lunch bucket,” Wentz said.
The author begins the book by explaining how much laughter means to her. It’s a requirement in her life. She tells a story about a man who never smiled or laughed, and touched on how important it is to just find the humor in everything.
“Yes, it’s true, funny things do ‘happen,’ but unless you actually ‘see’ the humor in those things, then they’re not funny,” Wentz writes in the book.
From there, each chapter is about different family members. Chapters are dedicated to her grandparents, parents, cousins, siblings and so on. Each chapter describes how that family member found the happy in the hardships, and some had many tough times.
For people going through hardships themselves, she hopes that they too look for the funny in
“It is important to remember that God said ‘A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine.’ Dark times are met head on one day at a time,” she said.
“Once you gather the strength to face that day–once you square your shoulders–take a deep breath and say, ‘OK, bring it on. I can take it.’ Then, you can begin to look outside yourself and see the needs of others. If you can make them laugh, then you will also laugh.”
It took her about nine months to write the book. “Just like birthing a baby. Ouch,” she joked. It’s not clear whether or not she is planning to write another book.
“Let’s wait and see if anyone likes this book. There are various scenarios running through my head. Some folks who have read my book have requested that I write another,” she said.
Her family has been supportive of her book and, so far, she has only gotten positive feedback. She said her sister, Janet Kephart, of Lewistown, liked it very much.
For those who are looking to write their own books, Wentz offers some advice: “Delivery is extremely important. If you do not write what you know about, that’s fine, but expect to do a lot of research.”
Although she now lives in southern Maryland, Wentz and her husband try to get back to Lewistown as often as they can. They have a lot of friends, relatives and classmates from Chief Logan High School, Class of 1964.
They also come back to indulge in hoagies and Hartley’s chips, of course.
“People in Lewistown will remember I was never a phony. What you see is what you get. If you were a friend or family member, you would have my undying loyalty,” she said. She also said that she is always open, honest, friendly and funny.
“Tough on the outside, gooey the inside,” she said.
“Life in the Laugh Lane (The Journey)” can be purchased online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google bookstore and Dorrance Publishing.