Pontiacs, Chevrolets and Fords lined the parking lot of Cumming Upper Elementary School on Elm Street, the trunks of the sedans casting dark shadows on the ground below.
That’s how Scott Douglas Vaughan remembers it and his first grade yearbook illustrates the scene, the black-and-white photo taken of the school sometime in the early 1960s.
The photo serves as the cover of Vaughan’s second book, “Elm Street: Memories of a Home,” which details the south Forsyth County native’s experiences as a young boy growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s and the memories he has of school, downtown Cumming and daily life.
Written as fiction but based in fact, “Elm Street,” along with Vaughan’s first book, “Brookwood Road: Memories of a Home,” follows Frank Wilcox, a fictionalized version of Vaughan, through the book’s chapters.
While “Brookwood Road” was not a linear storytelling, Vaughan said “Elm Street” is intended to illustrate the growth of the boy and the journey of his maturation from first through eighth grade.
“This one’s very linear; you see how the characters grow up and start to be more conversational,” Vaughan said. “For anyone who grew up in Cumming in the 1960s and ’70s, this is real step back in time. Forsyth County residents will have more affinity to [Elm Street] because the first [book] is about my life growing up; this centers on school and the city of Cumming.”
Vaughan emphasized, though, “Elm Street” is not a sequel to “Brookwood Road,” rather, a “parallel,” he called it.
“The first one, ‘Brookwood Road,’ was dedicated to my dad, who was very ill at the time,” he said. “It fulfilled a 40-year promise to him and was very emotional for me to write. ‘Elm Street’ was not — I didn’t have the emotional pressure of the first [book]. [This] is simply a project fueled by my love for my hometown.”
Each of the book’s 40 chapters originate from stories from Vaughan’s life as a youth and his fellow students at Cumming Upper Elementary.
The school changed its name years after the book is set.
“After [Brookwood Road] came out, I just started visiting with friends from elementary and junior high and some are still my best friends,” he said. “They became like family to me — they were like brothers and sisters all the way until when we graduated.
“I’m still friends with fourth grade friends on Facebook and sometimes when writing Elm Street, I sent out group messages asking what they remembered and it was sometimes surprising how much more I remembered than they did. But sometimes I got details they remembered but I didn’t.”
Vaughan said the chapters describing fourth through sixth grade are the book’s “sweet spot.”
“We were starting to be a little more independent; I was starting to spend more time with friends and step out into relationships with those friends, and that’s when the book got fun,” he said. “I’m too close to it to make an evaluation, but I did have a lot of fun writing it and I have an easy time making fun of myself.”
One critic, who gave “Elm Street” five starts, called it “a sort of love letter to Vaughan’s teachers and educators everywhere.”
Vaughan said there may be a third book in the works — a sequel to the first two.
“I might do another in a few years about Frank in high school as the third and last in the series,” he said. “That would be about how he started working for the [newspaper].”
Vaughan wrote for the Forsyth County News from 1974-81 while attending Forsyth County High School and the University of Georgia.
He will be in Cumming for a book signing on Saturday, Dec. 3 from noon to 2 p.m. at Humpus Bumpus and will speak at the Cumming library Sunday, Dec. 4 from 3-5 p.m.
More information about the book can be found at elmstreetmemories.com/.