ONE SNOWY CHRISTMAS EVENING
A Story Was Born
A Story Was Born
In the 1970s, Mark Mendonsa was piloting his 18-wheeler in a foot of Alaska snow when he noticed a melodic ringing from his tire chains. “They sounded like sleigh bells ringing,” Mendonsa said. With that, an idea was born. Nearly 30 years later, the idea has come to fruition in the form of a children’s book called “A Semi for a Sleigh” about a truck driver on Christmas Eve. The book, which turned into a family project, was released in December 2004.
“I don’t know of any other books like this—a children’s book about a truck driver,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe how this story has mesmerized both kids and truck drivers and everyone in between. I’m just in shock over how well it’s going over.” Mendonsa was a Teamster for 29 years with Local 959 in Anchorage. He now lives with his wife on a lake near Wasilla,Alaska.
A Family Affair
After coming up with the initial idea nearly 30 years ago, Mendonsa said he plugged away at it, piece by piece,f or many years—often pulling over and writing down an idea if it occurred to him while on the road. When he had a draft of the book, he showed it to his mother who said it was a great story and she wanted to work on it with him. “This book wouldn’t be on paper if it wasn’t for her. She wrote at least a third of it,” he said. “The book comes with a CD of music to go along with it. My brother, who lives in Nashville, did the music.”
His mother, Mary Mendonsa, also lives in Tennessee. She and Mark spent most of their co-writing time on the telephone going back and forth trying to get the meter right on the rhymes in the story. His brother, Charles Victor Mendonsa, has been making music for more than four decades.
“The book is basically a story about people helping people, which is what the Teamsters Union is all about—and it’s what I’d like to do with this book,” he said.“I want to tie this book in to a charity and raise money, possibly for my favorite charity, the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
Article from Teamster, March/April issue, 2005