'Canalou' by Dan Whittle
Demos Steak & Spaghetti Restaurant in Murfreesboro is scheduled to host a “book signing” by author Dan Whittle on Wednesday, April 23.
The writer, well-known throughout Middle Tennessee for his newspaper articles and columns, will be selling and signing his book ($22): “Canalou” at the popular eatery 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
Whittle is a columnist in The Post and Cannon Courier newspapers, plus is a visiting Friday co-host on the popular Truman Jones Show that airs from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays on WGNS Radio.
“I’m deeply honored by the legendary Demos restaurant family allowing me to present my book to my home community,” noted Whittle. “Since being published by the Center for Regional History at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo., the book has been selling well throughout the U.S.”
It’s a book based in Whittle’s native Bootheel in Southeast Missouri, where the nation’s largest dredging and drainage project in history started in 1914, that resulted in today’s 6-county farming region so fertile those counties comprise 30-percent of Missouri’s annual agriculture production.
That massive swamp on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River was the equivalent of West Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake, both swamps partially formed in the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-12.
“Yankee timber barons entered the Missouri swamp in 1902 for the timber. Interviews with original swamp settler Florence Robinson Poe (1898-2012) provide the foundation chapter of our book, since she floated into what became our hometown ‘Canalou’ on a log raft in 1905,” Whittle describes. “This remarkable lady granted me interviews at ages 105 and 110, detailing events such as catching fish out of her bedroom window, her family being endangered by panthers and bears, and going to the post office in a Jon boat.”
The town name Canalou is a French word asking where goes the channel?
The small remote New Madrid County town was first built on poles and platforms for first settlers to be up out of the water when not cutting and transporting logs.
“Those first settlers were tough, brave and adaptive people,” Whittle acknowledges. “The more I researched the book, the more I admired them, along with the awesome hard-working farmers who followed the timber harvest.”