Never too old to dream…85-year-old author’s children’s book

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Nightly dreams are a likely occurrence for everyone. But Crawford Square resident Rachel J. Poole turned a vivid dream she had in 2007 into an inspiring and uplifting children’s book.

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HONORED—Rachel Poole is honored by Pittsburgh City Council.

“I had the dream at the age of 82,” recalled Poole, 85. “It was a vivid, heart-warming dream that was about me. I was transformed from an old woman, which I am now, to a young girl who had hair that was made of green beans that hung to the middle of her back. I was happy to see that I was young and I could go outside and see animals that don’t get along. I was able to feed them. I love children and I love animals so it was great.”

“The Girl with Green Bean Hair” is a 30-page book that tells the story of Kay who wakes up one morning to find that she is no longer old and in pain but is in fact a young, vibrant girl who has a head of green beans for hair that she realizes is the perfect thing that can be used to end world hunger. The president of the United States sends Kay throughout the world to feed starving kids with her green bean hair.

Kay wouldn’t take any payment for her good deeds and she was paid in high-fives by those she fed. As a result, the president named her The Best. When she returns back to the U.S. and goes to sleep, she awakens to find out that she had dreamed everything.

“I hadn’t remembered a dream so vivid and I dream every night,” said Poole, who lives with her daughter, Tenanche Golden. “At my age you are just happy to be alive and you can’t remember everything.”

She told Kay’s tale to her grandchildren who told her “Nan, you have a book.”

Listening to them, Nan, as she is affectionately called by her grand kids, sat down and wrote the book in one day.

“The Girl With Green Bean Hair” is illustrated by Julianne Sota, a 21-year-old CAPA High School graduate currently studying at the University of the Arts in London, England.

“Julianne was one of my daughter’s students at CAPA and we had a very wonderful relationship. We got along fine. She is a wonderful girl,” Poole said.

After the book was completed, Poole sent the book to about 10 publishers and got two rejections. I said, “I’m too old to wait for publishers.”

Poole’s daughter suggested self-publishing.

With her daughter’s help, Poole got the book published by Xlibris Corp. last year.

“It was a nuisance, but it worked out well,” she said.

Now, Poole will read Kay’s story at various libraries and bookstores throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Most recently she had a book signing at the Frankstown Road Giant Eagle in Penn Hills.

“I met her in May of 2002 when she came in as a customer and we formed a great relationship because I was on the sales floor,” said Deborah Hickman, owner and operator of the store. “I asked her to have a signing because I wanted to make sure that our community and our people would know about her book. The book shows that you never stop dreaming no matter how old you are.”

And Poole hasn’t.

At the age of nine she saw her mother die of cancer. It was then she committed her life to becoming a nurse.

“Mom was at home in bed and I didn’t know what to do for her. When she died I knew I wanted to be a nurse because I wanted to know what to do at the bedside,” she said.

After graduating as co-valedictorian from Westinghouse High School in 1942, Poole was one of three African-American women accepted into the University of Pittsburgh’s five-year nursing program in 1943. Seven years later she married teacher and administrator Marion Poole and became an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement.

For 10 years she worked as the director of nursing at Western Psychiatric Hospital. She was the first person to hold that prestigious position. Poole retired at the age of 59 as a Dean of Life at the Allegheny branch of Community College. The school is a division of the University of Pittsburgh.

Poole is scheduled to read “Girl With Green Bean Hair” at the Hill House Association March 20 and the Homewood Library April 3.

“I want children to know how great they are and what they have to offer to the world,” Poole said. “Our real task is to get our young kids to develop their egos and help them to assure themselves and build their self-esteem.”

“The Girl with Green Bean Hair” is on its way to making Poole’s dream for children come true.

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