CHEYENNE - Sometimes a story needs to be told, and it's just waiting for the right people to tell it.
Franklin Macon wanted to tell his remarkable story, but dyslexia created a challenge he wasn't sure he could overcome. However, Macon doesn't let life hold him back, and he happened to meet the right women to help him.
"I Wanted to be a Pilot: The Making of a Tuskegee Airman," by Franklin Macon and Elizabeth Harper, will hit shelves in November.
Stephanie Prescott, one of Harper's partners in this venture, said, "I think it's just the Lord saying, 'This story needs to be told.' I guess we're the ones who are going to tell it."
Macon narrated his story, while Harper did most of the writing, with help from Prescott and Deanna Dyekman. Prescott and Dyekman live in Cheyenne. Harper lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and previously lived in Cheyenne.
The three women own Joyful Traditions LLC, a company for sharing history with the public, including Macon's story. Dyekman handles the photography and artwork, and Prescott handles marketing and business.
Harper said she met Macon through mutual friends in Colorado. She and her husband, a member of the U.S. Air Force, lived at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and they arranged an Honor Flight for his 92nd birthday in August 2015.
Harper explained, "On the way home, he said, 'Everybody asked me to write a book, but I'm dyslexic.' And I said, "Well, do you want to do it?'" He said yes.
Although Macon's status as a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen is important, his story also is interesting for a variety of other reasons.
"He's dyslexic, so he had to repeat second grade. He was raised by two great-aunts because his birth mother was only 14, so he came from what today would be considered a broken family, although he would never say that because he was very dearly loved," Harper said.
Additionally, he is a relative of Frederick Douglass, a famous American social reformer. His grandfather was a buffalo soldier during the Civil War. "Buffalo soldiers" is a term that refers to black Union Army soldiers in the war.
His great-uncle by marriage, Macon's only father figure, was a slave born on Confederacy President Jefferson Davis' plantation before moving to Colorado, Harper said.
If that weren't enough reason to read Macon's book, Harper said the first time Macon went to Tuskegee, Alabama, he would hang out in George Washington Carver's lab. Carver was a world-famous botanist and chemist who made strides in recognition for black scientists. He taught at the Tuskegee Institute.
"There is all this history, and Frank is just like, "Hmmm. You know, I wanted to fly," she said.
Dyekman said Harper researched significant historical events as Macon brought them into his story. "So, there are paragraphs throughout that just really give you a good feeling for what is going on in the world or what was meaningful to Frank at that time," she said.
The three women originally planned to write a book series about 1970s life in the Big Horn Mountains. They created Joyful Creations during that effort in 2010. The women met when all three were members of the Mothers of Preschoolers group at First Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne.
When they met, Prescott wrote children's stories about the Big Horn Mountains. Her great-grandfather homesteaded land in the mountains and built a cabin with his sons.
"It's my favorite place on Earth, so I was just writing little stories," Prescott said.
She approached Dyekman at church and asked if Dyekman might want to illustrate her children's books. Prescott still plans to publish those books someday.
The women temporarily set aside their plans for the Big Horn Mountain series to tell Macon's story while he's still healthy enough to tell it.
All three of them agree that the opportunity to bring Macon's story to the world is a treasure that brought excitement and energy to their lives.
Prescott said telling the story of meeting Macon and creating this book gives her goosebumps.
"The fact that I walked up to Deanna at church one day and asked her to illustrate some stories, and now here we are sitting talking to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle about Tuskegee. You don't know where your life is going to lead, and it's the process that gets you there that is amazing," she said.
Harper said the book is written, the cover is designed and the back cover is in progress. Although the book will be available in brick-and-mortar bookstores in November, an electronic version will be available Aug. 7 for download.
Macon also visits schools to tell his story to students. He spoke to local students Thursday at Cheyenne's Afflerbach Elementary. Students from Cheyenne's Cole Elementary and Triumph High also attended the event.