J. David Bamberger spends time every morning reading the New York Times, and spreading the pages out around his favorite armchair as he finishes. Pam LeBlanc photo

I spent a few hours this weekend at Selah, hashing over book titles with J. David Bamberger.

I’ve filled spare weekends and days off for the last few years holed up at the ranch, listening to the 91-year-old conservationist tell me stories about his childhood, his days as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, co-founder of Church’s Fried Chicken and, most importantly, his life’s work pumping life back into an overgrazed, worn out patch of land in the Texas Hill Country.

Now I’ve compiled those stories, along with a little bit about my friendship with Bamberger, into a book being produced by Texas A&M University Press. We’re hoping for a spring 2020 publication date.

J. David Bamberger shows off an old family photo of him and his brothers. Pam LeBlanc photo

Bamberger didn’t want his name in the title of the book. “It sounds egotistical,” he told me.

I reminded him that the book is about him, a collection of his stories, and that it’s important to let readers know what’s on its pages. Besides, I told him, his name will only appear in the subtitle, not in the main words splashed across the front cover.

J. David Bamberger, his girlfriend Joanna, and Chris LeBlanc shoot the shit at Selah, Bamberger Ranch on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. Pam LeBlanc photo

We’ve still got lots of work to do – designing that cover, copy editing the text, blurbs for the back cover, and planning a marketing strategy. Thanks to Shannon Davies for shepherding me through the process.

It’s taken me so long to get to this point that sometimes I felt like I’d never finish. It’s an amazing feeling, knowing now that this project is really going to happen.


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