I'll be honest here: I've known former Middletown Journal reporter Ted Pollard since the 1970s, where I got my start in journalism as a summer intern.
In all candor, I wasn't sure what to expect when Pollard sent me a copy of his novel, Grant's Wish. And boy, was I surprised to enjoy his story.
After Pollard retired from the Middletown Journal in 1999, he worked briefly as the overnight desk clerk and "auditor" at the historic Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon – which gave him the idea for the book, Pollard tells me on Around Cincinnati at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, on WVXU-FM.
"It just inspired me," says Pollard, a Walnut Hills High School graduate who grew up in suburban Wyoming. He lives in Middletown.
In Grant's Wish, a man named Lee Nieman is demoted from an Atlanta corporate headquarters to manage a historic red-brick inn and tavern… with a gazebo on the corner… and an ice cream shop across the street… that's in a small town about an hour away from the state capital.
Except in Pollard's book the place is called the Silver Swan, built in 1838 in a small Indiana town, and it's so run down that the company is pressuring Nieman to close it.
Like the Lamb, the Swann had plenty of iconic guests over 182 years – Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abe Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant – who are part of Pollard's story. Some other elements – the tunnel from the basement used as part of the Underground Railroad – came from Pollard's childhood adventures exploring tunnels under Wyoming houses. He was born in the Sharon Road building now housing the Cock & Bull restaurant in Glendale, when it was Pollard's Delicatessen, run by his family.
As Nieman learns more about the former stagecoach stop, the more he's determined to save it. He's helped by a local attorney, Missy Landrew, who until Nieman's repairs had made a living suing the Silver Swan for customers injured due to its shoddy condition.
My familiarity with Lebanon and the Lamb made it easy to visualize the charming light-hearted mystery. As I told Pollard, the book reads like a story you'd see in a Hallmark Channel movie.
After the interview airs, I'll put a link here.
Around Cincinnati airs 7-8 p.m. Sundays on WVXU-FM (91.7) and WMUB-FM (88.5) and streamed at wvxu.org.