A Nashville-based author will visit Chattanooga to sign copies of his new memoir, “Kept in the Dark.”
J. Ronald M. York will be at Artists on the Loose at 1401 Williams St. Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.
“Kept in the Dark” follows the true story of York’s discovery of a shocking crime committed by his father in the 1950s. As the book’s title suggests, he didn’t learn about the crime until years after both his parents had died.
The book follows York’s uncovering of the crime through a series of letters written by his mother, Joyce, and his father during the time of his incarceration.
From the official synopsis:
This was a secret my parents, family and a few close friends took to their graves. No one ever told me, and I was too young to remember. And yet, a box containing the letters, yellowed newspaper clippings, faded photographs and cards of encouragement from friends was left for me after everyone was gone.
After much thought and reflection, I am ready to share this story. Controversial and uncomfortable, it is still deeply rooted in unwavering love. A horrific mistake was made, leaving a family to heal, rebuild their lives and, hopefully, forgive.
In anticipation of his visit to Chattanooga, York has also released two supplemental blog posts about how the city has shaped his life experiences. The first entry follows the story of his maternal grandmother’s arrest here in 1920 because of her decision to wear men’s clothing as they hitchhiked. And the second entry highlights his feelings about Chattanoogaafter all these years.
Despite being “kept in the dark” about his father’s crime, York said he didn’t feel betrayed at all.
“I can’t see how knowing would not have changed our relationship, especially if I had learned at a much younger age,” he said. “I truly think the letters were left for me to one day find. With so many people in my life knowing about the crime . I would think my parents would always be fearful of me finding out.”
His father, Bob, pleaded guilty to his crime in November 1955. A scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts, York was accused of molesting a 13-year-old member of his church Boy Scout troop.
An assistant scoutmaster, Guy Cutulo, was also charged with three offenses involving boys of the same troop.
The book opens with a bit of family experience, but it’s the letters-published as written-between York’s parents that are the most revealing.
For an eight-week period, at least 100 letters were sent between the two.
“If I had learned of the crime after their passing without having the letters, I might have a whole different take on it,” York said. “However, by having the letters, I now know what they endured and how they coped with everything. There was so much more to their lives than the crime.”
Copies of “Kept in the Dark” will be available at Saturday’s event. The book is also available through Amazon.
As an artist and musician, York has worked with many Chattanooga artists and currently represents three artists from the area, including one from Ringgold. He is the founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery in Nashville.