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Former teacher from Bentley shares true stories in new book

Rick Cookson-Hills wrote ‘In the Barley Field Where We Used to Hide’
Rick Cookson-Hills of Bentley compiled some true stories from his life in a book, ‘In the Barley Field Where We Used to Hide.’ (Contributed image).

A Red Deer native and former teacher has collected true stories he used to tell his students in the new book, In the Barley Field Where We Used to Hide.

Rick Cookson-Hills was a substitute teacher for many years at schools throughout central Alberta. He said he chose this option so he could stay home, as needed, with his oldest daughter who had some health troubles as a child.

But the father of four admitted it wasn’t always easy entering an unfamiliar middle school classroom. “If you make a living as a substitute teacher, you have to get the kids’ attention and stories worked well for me,” said Cookson-Hills.

His compiled tales have a homespun quality that’s in keeping with his book’s subtitle: Storied Reflections of Mid-Century Life and Lessons.

They range from Short Cuts — a humorous recounting of Cookson-Hills’ boyhood and a hard lesson learned about how the fastest route isn’t always the best, to Shut Up Eccles, about moving to Australia with his wife-to-be Heather in the early 1970s and finding a car in the middle of a hurricane.

Cookson-Hills, a long-time Bentley resident, confirmed all five stories in the book are true: “This book is not a work of fiction.”

So far, he’s received a lot of positive feedback on this slim, self-published volume— good enough that he’s now mulling over other stories that he can compile into future publications.

Cookson-Hills and his short-story collection, In the Barley Field Where We Used to Hide, can be found in a stall near the skateboard park at the last Red Deer Public Market of the season this weekend.

For more information, or to order a copy of the $10 book, please write to Cookson-Hills at P.O. Box 314, Bentley, Alberta, T0C 0J0.