WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published October 15, 2010, 04:25 PM

"Letters To Zerky"

Imagine taking the trip of a lifetime as a toddler. That's exactly what 10-month-old Zerky Raney did with his parents. Now there's a book out about the journey, and the author is making a stop in Grand Forks.

Travelling is something Grand Forks native Bill Raney is used to. Right now he's driving across the Midwest promoting his new book, “Letters To Zerky,” about his trip to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Bill made the trip in 1967 with his wife, Jo Anne, and his ten-month-old son Zerky. The toddler saw places like the Taj Mahal and spent his first birthday in Paris.

Bill says, “Because our son was too young to remember, I came up with a bright idea of writing a series of letters to him, so that he could read them one day when he was old enough.”

However, Zerky would never read those letters. Shortly after getting back from the trip, he and Jo Anne both died.

“She died of a cerebral aneurism in the middle of the night, and then a year after that Zerky got run over and killed by a truck, so these letters had no purpose for many, many years,” says Bill.

Just a few years ago though, Bill started looking at the letters again.

“I stumbled across them by accident, and I hauled them out and started to realize that a lot of them are about the Middle East, and I realized the Middle East is in people's minds these days.”

So now Bill is touring the country, hoping the letters for his lost son will give some insight to others.

Raney is actually originally from Grand Forks but moved to California at age 14.

Raney will talk about his book tomorrow at the University of North Dakota Bookstore at 1 P.M.