Flagstaff author Eugene (Gene) Munger recently released his sixth book. In his new novel, “Greyhound North,” Munger utilizes his experience as a Shell Oil executive to tell a story about racial inequality. When Munger was transferred as a white District Sales Manager to the South Chicago territory in the mid-1970s, his eyes were opened to the realities of segregation and racial prejudice. The novel, although based on the romance of a 15-year-old white boy and a young African-American girl, provides a backstory of prejudice and bigotry that is written, in part, from what Munger learned from black service station owners and managers with whom he worked.
“I grew up in southeast Missouri. The word segregation meant nothing to me,” admitted Munger, who lived in a small town where, in the 1950s, the “white” high school was one block from the “colored” high school. “The two schools had no relationship at all. Not athletic programs – nothing. That’s the way it was.” It continued throughout his college, military and his early professional career with Shell Oil Company.
It was not until after he worked with independent dealers in South Chicago that he learned about racial injustice. His dealers were essentially all African-American, and his many conversations with them finally helped him understand the realities of segregation and racial prejudice. “Getting very close to them, it finally took me that long to ‘get’ segregation and its inequalities,” Munger explained.
The author dedicated his 178-page book to “…all those who have committed themselves to eliminating racism, intolerance and bigotry.” The novel begins in 1962 and focuses on a teenaged boy, a son of wealthy parents, who is completely unaware of the emerging civil rights movement. A series of events change his comfortable life, and the boy soon finds himself facing racial discrimination, intolerance and bigotry. He sees segregation and the lack of public school integration for the African-Americans now in his life. The experiences change his life.
The book’s prelude introduces the reader to the time period and outlines significant events of 1962. They include: John Glenn circled the Earth in Friendship 7; the Supreme Court banned prayer in public schools and the Beatles recorded their first hit “Love Me Do.”
“One change still had not occurred. Segregation and lack of voting rights essentially remained status quo despite early legislation that addressed our country’s practices,” wrote the Flagstaff author.
Local artist Jim Schroeder designed the book cover and Munger’s wife, Molly, and Flagstaff resident Carol Norris edited the manuscript.
Munger’s previous book, “The Smell of Money,” was also based partly on his experience at Shell Oil Company. In that book, his experience as public relations manager is the backdrop to the story. The author continues to use his expertise in public relations by volunteering for the American Red Cross of Northern Arizona.
All royalties from book sales go to Munger’s mother’s endowed scholarship at Southeast Missouri State University. Royalties are matched 1:1 by the Shell Oil Company Foundation.
Books may be purchased at Fire On The Mountain Gallery, located at 13 N. San Francisco St., in Flagstaff, or on Amazon.com, where the book is available in paperback or Kindle format. FBN
Story and Photo by Stacey Wittig