Hundreds at Brewer grad’s book signing
By Ronnie Thomas
FLORETTE — This time, she held court.
Jan Crawford Greenburg spent more than three hours Saturday at Brewer High School signing her national best-selling book, “Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court.”
At times, Greenburg, 41, the polished legal analyst for ABC News and a 1983 Brewer graduate, found it difficult to control her emotions. Tears flowed when 88-year-old Martha Childers stepped to the table and Greenburg rose to give her a hug. Childers was the author’s first-grade teacher at Ryan School.
“When the bookmobile came, I would check out books so she would have enough books to read,” Childers said. “Those things I had in my room, she was beyond that. She came to first grade reading.”
Carolyn Ellinger taught Greenburg ninth-grade biology at Cotaco, the year before she enrolled at Brewer.
“She was an exceptionally talented young lady with a good personality,” Ellinger said. “She treated all students and teachers with respect. She valued each one of her classmates, and every teacher there respected her. Jan had a mature outlook and could always see both sides of an issue.”
James Tucker, Brewer’s first principal in 1972, arrived from Carlton Cove, a retirement home in Huntsville, driven down by his daughter, Faye Campbell.
“Jan sent him a signed copy of the book for his 80th birthday March 19,” Campbell said. “All the residents are reading it.”
Tucker, principal until 1987, was in a wheelchair after taking a tumble a few weeks ago and injuring his head. He recalls Greenburg working as an office assistant.
“Everyone thought well of her at Brewer,” he said. “She is a wonderful person and very talented.”
Susan Jester, also retired, taught Greenburg math and was majorette sponsor her senior year, when Greenburg served as majorette. Jester brought an old photo showing the student, and cards and notes from her.
“Each member of the Student Council had a teacher as a secret pal,” Jester said. “Jan was my secret pal, and she sent me gifts and presents all along. Of course, I didn’t know who they were from.”
But there was a signed note Jester still has that Greenburg sent. It reads: “Mrs. Jester, I just wanted to thank you for letting me hide in your office and for listening to my crazy problems. I think you are the greatest teacher at Brewer. Merry Christmas!”
Other teachers were among local and area residents who came to help Greenburg celebrate her book, and many well-wishers came from out of town.
Howard Hawk of Arab, who said he is a distant cousin to the Crawfords, brought his son, Griffith, 10. Hawk served six years as an Alabama legislator and six years as a district judge in Marshall County. He became circuit judge last year.
“Griffith and I are backing it,” he said. “My wife, Kathy, is a Navy commander, stationed 40 miles northwest of Baghdad. They’re using Navy officers to back Army commands.”
A line formed quickly in the concourse at Brewer when Greenburg began signing books at 3 p.m., and it remained constant, sometimes as many as 100 people waiting. Books were for sale at the school.
More than an hour later, the line still packed, Brewer Principal Frances Couey gave Greenburg’s hand a rest when she called time out and asked the author to stand. Couey read a congratulatory note from Morgan County Superintendent Bob Balch, who is attending a meeting in Mobile with board members. Couey then asked Greenburg to speak.
“All of you made a difference in my life,” she said, as her husband, Doug, and their four children stood with the crowd. “I appreciate all of you coming today and how much your support has meant to me.”
Her next comment brought laughter.
“My heart is still here until Doug and I move back,” she said. She paused and said, “Doug?” He smiled but did not say anything.
Greenburg was to sign books until 5 p.m. She continued until about 7:15. Couey estimated that more than 500 came.
“I thought it was just amazing,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t expect to see so many, and so much support and love from old friends, family and everyone.”
Greenburg didn’t sign a book for the last person in line, her oldest and dearest friend from school, Deborah Moore Hoenit of Cullman. At least, she didn’t Saturday.
“I told her I couldn’t sign it,” Greenburg said. “I told her I wanted to go home and think about it. I told her I would mail her book.”
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