ATLANTIC – It was not the type of carpet that Shirley Acker would have picked.
The Atlantic resident and husband Duane Acker were living in the president’s home at Kansas State University in the mid-70’s, and when the home was in the remodeling stages, shag carpeting was added to some parts. As president and first lady of the university, the Acker hosted a lot of guests-they ranged from the workers who did the remodeling of the house to comedian Red Skelton to faculty members- and one thing Shirley learned was what happened when so many people walked around on the carpeting.
“Every time you would walk or take a step you would make a print,” she said.
Because the couple was likely to host several events in one day, Shirley got in the habit of “raking the carpet,” to make it neater for the next set of guests.
“We had a lot of facility in, and the first year, we had we them all in before Christmas,” she said. “We’d just get one group out, and I’d hurry up and rake the carpet.”
Years later, she was able to use that experience when she was encouraged to write a memoir about her life.
“She had some interesting experiences, and I thought she should ought to share them,” her husband, Duane, said.
“So it gave me a title,” Shirley said, which is “Ten Minutes to Rake the Carpet: An Unexpected Life of Hosting Travel, Painting and Politics.”
She spent most of last year, researching and writing the book.
“Because I knew I was going to start from the beginning, I call KJAN to find out how cold it was (the day I was born),” she said.
Shirley also talked about working in the White House until the George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan administrations.
“I do copper plate calligraphy,” Shirley said. “I had taken classes for that.
So I addressed all their Christmas cards, or if someone has a birthday or a baby.”
She met both Reagan and Bush prior to that as they both had lectured at Kansas State University.
Shirley also talks about life growing up in Atlantic from being on the farm and attending a one room school house to moving back in to the area and travel experiences to places like Africa’s Serengeti, the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon jungle in Peru, and Southeast Asia.
Duane read one line from Shirley’s book which he think sums up the reason to let reader’s in on Shirley’s life experiences.
“I hope to encourage readers regardless of age to reach out, to be willing to enter new territory, to accept and handle what comes, and be confident and comfortable in new roles that life may bring,” he read.
“That’s important,” Shirley said.
Because, according to Duane, “She was thrust in things she never imagined.”
Shirley’s book can be found locally at the Sweet Joy Shoppe in Atlantic or at the Atlantic Library. It can also be found online as an e-book or as a printed copy at iUniverse.com.