Tag: One Magic Night

REMEMBERING OUR ANCESTORS–by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryln100000149781632_8303How will we remember our ancestors? In these days of hectic living, when there is very little oral tradition–much less written documentation–of our family history, what can we do to preserve the memories of these people who came before us? For their life experiences were so different than ours, yet the same–births and deaths come to every generation, along with the happiness and sadness those events bring with them. But learning about our family and the events that brought us to the place we are, as individuals, NOW–is a precious gift that is slipping away from us.

Every so often, (and it’s been a while now!) I teach a class called “Writing Your Life Story.” Most of the people who are there for classes are senior citizens, who, for the most part, have been urged by family members to come.

As they introduce themselves, it goes something like this:  “I’m Jane Doe, and I’m here because my children keep telling me I need to write this all down—but I don’t know where to begin.”

My first assurance to them all is that they don’t need to write like Laura Ingalls Wilder—their families will be thrilled with anything they put down on paper.  It’s amazing to me how many people don’t feel they have anything of interest to tell their descendants!

This is a picture of me and my aunt, Emogene (my mom’s sister) on one of her visits. She was one of the funniest, sweetest, and MOST REBELLIOUS people I ever knew. I loved her with all my heart, and I do think maybe I got a bit of that rebellious attitude of hers! I was 6 here. There was never a dull moment with her–and I have some wonderful memories to cherish.

Cheryl and Aunt Emogene 1964I want to tell you about my parents, because they were the epitome of opposites when it came to this. My mother told stories from the time I can remember about her family, about her friends, the small town she grew up in. These were details of an ordinary life that gave me insight into the way times were during the Dustbowl days in Oklahoma. It told me about her life in particular and life in general, and it also brought people I never knew to reality for me through her memories.

Mom had a dear friend, just her age, named Mary. They were both the eldest of their respective families, each with many younger siblings that they were responsible for. Mom mentioned how she and Mary both longed for an d cherished the few times when they could be alone to talk “girl talk” without each having two or three little ones they had to look after.

One of their favorite places to go was the cemetery. They’d both been born in Albany, so they knew the stories of everyone buried there in the small cemetery: The Taylor family, whose six children went berry picking, only to take shelter under an oak tree when a storm blew up suddenly. Lightning struck the tree and killed all by tow of them. The oldest boy crawled to a nearby farmhouse for help, but died later. Out of the six, only one survived. There were no markers on their graves, but Mom showed me where each was buried.

A drawing I found when going through my mom’s things after she died. She did this in 1939–she would have been 17. Of course, it’s faded and blotchy, but I can’t help but marvel at the talent she had for someone with no artistic training, with only a pencil and piece of paper. My daughter inherited this from her…I can’t draw to save my life!

El Wanda's art about 1939 woman with rose sash

Another grave she showed me was that of a young child who, at eighteen months, crawled under the porch and drank tree poison his father had believed was well-hidden. Mom told me how his lips were stained purple She and Mary had gone to the funeral and it was imprinted in her mind forever.

Christmases were sparse in that time. It was a good Christmas if they each received and apple, and orange, and some hard candy in their stockings, and maybe a doll, in addition, in the better-then-most years. I wrote a story called SILVER MAGIC for an Adams Media Christmas anthology about something she told me. They’d brought home a Christmas tree that particular year, and one of her younger brothers had suggested maybe they could have some tinsel…My grandfather went into the shed and hand-cut tinsel and a star from the foil covering of an old battery. What a thrill that was for them! Yet, who would ever dream that was something that could be done, now, in our world of buy-it-already made?

GENEALOGY STALLINGS AUNT JOYCE487347_384127544966584_100001080247175_1016691_1728302232_nFrom Mom I learned about our family ancestors—where they’d come from and who they were. As a child, I thought of them as a story she told, but as I grew older, they became real people to me.

I learned about her, too—how, as a teen, she’d pool her hard-earned money with her younger sister, Joyce, to buy the newest Hit Parade Magazine with all the lyrics to the latest songs. They had sung together from the time they knew how, adding more harmonies as more sisters came along.

 

My aunt, Joyce. She was something else! She was in the Navy during WWII where she met and married her husband, Bill. Remember the expression “cuss like a sailor”? She could, and did–regularly. My mom always gave her the “big sister look” and said, “Joy-y-y-c-ce” in that shaming voice. She always just laughed. And she could cook like nobody’s business. Her heart was huge.

 

MOM AND DADScans 009My dad never talked about his adolescence much. Even though he and Mom grew up together in the same small community, he never had much to add to the conversations. What I know of his family, I learned mostly from my aunt, his younger sister–and my mom, who had known him from the time they started elementary school together. Their was a love story for all times–they grew up together, married, had their family, and were married over 60 years–and they died within 3 weeks of one another.

Why write it all down now? Because most people never believe they’ll run out of time. “Someday” never comes. My mom had such fascinating stories, filled with tenderness, charged with emotion—stories that made it seem as if I was there along with her as she spoke. She was a painter, an artist, and she could paint pictures with her words, as well.

 

El Wanda and Fred Moss, my parents, newlyweds in 1944–ready to take on the world!

Mom told stories of my great grandparents, who I never met–who eloped and ran away from Tennessee in the dead of night. (He was a high-tempered school master…and she was one of his students.) Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

This is my great grandmother, Josie Belle Walls McLain Martin,  the daughter of the Indian boy who was stolen by the cavalry (see story below). In this picture she was only about 25 years old, and already getting gray hair. She had 4 children, very young, and her husband had been killed in a freak accident. She married a man with children and they had more between them, for a grand total of seventeen kids before it was all said and done! Mom loved her “grandma”–I did get to know her when I was very young, but she passed when I was in elementary school.

GenealogyJosieBelleWallsMcLainMartin1882-1972made1907542164_386610498051622_691310310_nAnother story of my great-great-grandfather, a young Indian boy, who was stolen by the cavalry from his village and given to a white Presbyterian minister to raise, and “assimilate” into his family (my story One Magic Night is based on this–he finally got his happy ending). His name was changed, and I don’t believe he ever saw his real family again, once he was adopted.

And my dad’s grandmother, who stopped beneath the shade of a tree long enough to have her third child as she and her husband made their way to a new life in Indian Territory? He must have been a typical man–they stayed two nights and moved on, her with a new baby and two “stairstep” children just a little older.

I treasure these stories now, but oh, how I wish I’d had my mom a little longer, and that I’d been a little older, to be able to ask her questions that now overrun my thoughts. Mom always had good intentions, but like so many, never found the time before it was too late, and Altzheimer’s took away that ability.

I will write it all down…all that I can remember of it. But I can’t help thinking how I wish she had written her story, with all the vivid details and description she used in telling about it. There is so much I won’t know. So much will be lost, simply because this was her life.

My mom (the oldest) with some of her siblings. Dustbowl Oklahoma–taken probably 1935 or so–she’s on the far left in the back. Hard, hard times.

Genealogy Stallings kids484279_386540661391939_100001080247175_1022301_589553159_nThe memories are hers: the hard times, as well as the good—the days in an everyday life…and, the nights, when entertainment was nothing more than the beautiful harmonies of the four little girls, floating in the summer stillness for miles as they sang on the front porch…in a much simpler, slower time.

 

 

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

Here’s an excerpt from my story ONE MAGIC NIGHT, based on the life of my great great- great- grandfather, David Walls (his name after he was adopted).  I’ll be giving away a digital copy to one lucky commenter! Leave your contact info in your comment so I can reach you if you win!

PRP One Magic Night WebONE MAGIC NIGHT EXCERPT:

As Whitworth’s hand started its descent, Katrina turned away.  But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word.  He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by.  Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel.  Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath stares of the townspeople of Talihina.  What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare.  It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all.  How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later.  It was always this way when he drank too much.  These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before.  But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that.  He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though.  She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone.  “I will overlook your behavior toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter.  She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth.  Never that.  You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her mistake.  ‘Shay,’ she had called him.  As if she had known him forever.  As if she was entitled to use his given name freely.  As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter?  Not, ‘Dr. Logan’Shay.”  He spit the words out bitterly.  He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face.  “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you.  And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end.  Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored.  “You understand me, Whitworth.  You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart.  As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you?  Threatening me?”

“Truman.”  Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina.  “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?”  He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm.  “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her.  She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers.  “I, for one, am ready to eat! How about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time.  She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear.  “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor.  If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”

If you just can’t wait to see if you’ve won, here’s the Amazon link to buy!

http://www.amazon.com/One-Magic-Night-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00I1MINT4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1412054656&sr=1-1&keywords=One+Magic+Night+by+Cheryl+Pierson

SIGNING THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE–by Cheryl Pierson

Declaration of IndependenceWhat does July 4th mean to you? A day off work? An appliance sale you can’t pass up? A day the banks are inconveniently closed?

In today’s fast-paced world, we sometimes lose sight of what this patriotic holiday means to each and every one of us—because the real reason for it occurred so long ago…over 200 years in the past.

In the “big picture”, 200+ years is not really so far away—we’re a relatively new country, compared to so many others. But because of the frenetic pace our contemporary society keeps, the past is something that’s easy for us to forget.

But think of what the men who signed our Declaration of Independence faced for putting their signatures on such a document…Treason.

united-states-flag_2188_130213397[1]Here’s a little bit about the fifty-six rebels who came together during those hot July days so many years ago, and created the document that could have made or broken a new nation…

Five of these men were captured by the British during the Revolutionary War. Though the signers’ homes were not specifically targeted for looting, twelve of the signers’ homes were occupied, ransacked, and vandalized in the process of the war.

Abraham Clark’s two sons were captured and incarcerated on the prison “hell” ship, Jersey. They were treated with special brutality because of who their father was. When offered their lives if he would recant, Clark’s answer was an anguished, resounding no. John Witherspoon’s son, James, was killed in the Battle of Germantown, 1777.

Francis Lewis’s wife was held prisoner for several months before being exchanged for two British prisoners.

Lewis Morris and Phillip Livingston lost several of their properties. Morris’s home was taken over and used as a barracks for soldiers—by the Continental Army, first; and then, not long afterward, it was “appropriated”, looted and burned by the British.

united-states-flag_2183_58326922[1]The youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence was Edward Rutledge, age twenty-six. Benjamin Franklin, at age seventy, was the oldest. Eighteen of them were under forty—three of these in their twenties. Almost half of the fifty-six men who signed—twenty-four—were lawyers and judges. Eleven were merchants, twelve were doctors, ministers and politicians. The remaining nine were landowners and farmers.

 

Two future presidents signed—John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President).

Those who were not there to sign? George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Patrick Henry.

John Hancock signatureJohn Hancock was one of the richest men in America at the time. There was also a price on his head—500 pounds. He signed with a mighty flourish, in letters so large “that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward.”

I wish I had room to go into further detail about these remarkable men who came together and, in three hot days, hammered out the Declaration of Independence for this great country or ours to be born and recognized.

These are 1337 of the most important words ever written—the birth certificate of a nation.

As we cook our hotdogs and shoot off our fireworks tomorrow, let’s remember the real reason for the Fourth of July holiday, and the other name we call it: Independence Day. And please remember these men who took such a chance with their property, their families, and their lives. They had much more to lose than they stood to gain—but they saw the love of their country sacred above all else.

One Magic Night WebWhat are some of your favorite memories of Independence Day? Leave a comment below, and I will draw two lucky winners for my novella ONE MAGIC NIGHT that takes place in Indian Territory at a 4th of July picnic!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

A REAL LIFE STORY BEHIND THE STORY–ONE MAGIC NIGHT

Have any of you ever incorporated your family history into your writing? Do you like to read books that are based, however loosely, on factual happenings? 

My mom was the oldest of eleven children. She knew everyone in our family and how they were related. Because she and my dad grew up together in a tiny little town in southeast Oklahoma (their high school had a graduating class of twelve), she also knew quite a lot about his side of the family as well.

But when I was younger, I was not interested in the stories she told me.  It was only later, when I
was grown and had children of my own, that I began to wonder and ask questions, and by that time, her memory had already begun to decline.

If you have ever read the book, The Education of Little Tree, (by Forrest Carter) or seen the HBO movie, this story might sound familiar. When Andrew Jackson decided that the Indians were to be assimilated into the white man’s world, he put lots of plans into action that would take years to snowball and evolve into what they eventually became—a truly shameful period in the US governmental policies and procedures. One of Jackson’s plans, besides Removal, that was carried through into subsequent presidencies, was the idea of assimilating Native American children in white homes to integrate them more completely. The Native American children were taken from their villages
and given to willing white families (along with a tidy little government stipend for their troubles) to raise.

My great-great-great grandfather was one of these children.  We don’t know his real name. It was changed when he was delivered to his new “family,” a Presbyterian minister and his wife.  Their last name was Walls.  So his name was changed to Walls, and he was given the first name, David. Forbidden to speak his language, he was forced to forget all the ways of his People, and dress in white man’s clothing, go to white school.  But he was never going to be white, and his place in the world was divided so drastically that he could not fit in anywhere.  Eventually, the Rev. Walls sent David to medical school in Missouri.  When he returned to the small town where he’d been raised, he was a doctor who rode to his patients on horseback. Later, he married and had children, but it was not a happy union and his son, my great-great grandfather, became an alcoholic whose own children, in turn, left home as soon as they possibly could. My great grandmother, his daughter, married at 13.  Her older sister left home one day and never returned. No one ever knew what became of her.  This is a picture of my great grandmother, Josie Belle Walls McLain Martin (1882-1972). She was around the age of 25 when this was taken in 1907. (Not a lot to smile about–she had four children and her first husband had been killed in an accident. She married a man who had 6 children of his own, and they eventually had 7 together…times were really hard.)

I’ve often thought of these children that were abducted by our cavalrymen, and taken away to their white “families”, forbidden everything familiar and forced to adopt completely new and different ways, even down to their speech and childhood games—and their own names. Can you imagine it?  To never be allowed to see your mother and father again. Siblings separated and “given” to different families, their heritage and connection with one another lost forever.  How many tears must they have shed? And how lonely and separate they must have felt, how isolated, even into adulthood…so that most of them, I imagine, never were able to fit in anywhere in the world.

My story, ONE MAGIE NIGHT, first appeared in the 2011 SUMMER COLLECTION, available through Victory Tales Press. It is based loosely on what happened to my long-ago ancestor. I’m very happy to say it will also be available  (as of June 15) through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER’S “dime novel” gallery  as a single-sell e-book publication for only .99! I don’t have a buy link yet, but if you check my Amazon link it should be on my page shortly after the 15th. I’m very excited about this story because of the personal meaning it has for me, and I’m so glad to see it come alive again in this great .99 e-book venue.

Thanks for stopping by today! I will leave you with an excerpt of ONE MAGIC NIGHT, and a look at the brand new cover (which I am in love with!)

BLURB:

Dr. Shay Logan has just returned to Talihina, Indian Territory, from medical school in Missouri. Shay
hopes to settle down and make a life for himself, but how?  He doesn’t belong to either world, Anglo or
Indian He’s made the acquaintanceof Katrina Whitworth at the July 4th town social, and the attraction is mutual from the very beginning. Shay begins to have hopes and dreams that may be out of the question…but Katrina seems to have stars in her eyes for him as well. Will she risk everything to be with him?

THE SET UP:  Katrina makes a social blunder, and Shay follows her into the woods to apologize to her, but when they return, Katrina’s drunken father humiliates her.  To make matters worse, her former beau shows a side of himself she had not seen before. Can Katrina and Shay have a life together that they so badly want?

FROM ONE MAGIC NIGHT:

As his hand started its descent, Katrina turned away.  But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

“You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have
toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word.  He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by.  Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel.  Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my
daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath
stares of the townspeople of Talihina.  What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare.  It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all.  How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later.  It was always this way when he drank too much.  These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before.  But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that.  He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though.  She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone.  “I will overlook your behavior
toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter.  She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth.  Never that.  You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her
mistake.  ‘Shay,’ she had called him.  As if she had known him forever.  As if she was entitled to use his given name freely.  As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter?  Not, ‘Dr. Logan’Shay.”  He spatt the words out bitterly.  He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face. “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you.  And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end.  Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored.  “You understand me, Whitworth.  You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart.  As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you?  Threatening me?”

“Truman.”  Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina.  “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?”  He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm.  “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up
for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her.  She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers.  “I, for one, am ready to eat! How
about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and
friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time.  She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear.  “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor.  If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015