I love learning historical tidbits, and getting to see pieces of history still standing is even better. Last month, my daughter and I met in Waco for a girls getaway weekend. Now that Bethany is working on her PhD at Texas A&M, I don’t get to see her very often, so we started a tradition of getting together for a weekend each semester.
She loves history as much as I do, so we skipped the shopping at the Magnolia Silos in favor of touring historic homes and walking along the Brazos River to visit the Waco Suspension Bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge was closed to the public for refurbishment, but we still managed to get a few pictures.
What is really fascinating about this bridge, however, is it’s history. It wasn’t built for man, you see. It was built for cattle.
In the mid-1800s, cattle was king in Texas, and cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail were essential for bringing those cattle to market. However, crossing the Brazos River was a difficult endeavor. No bridges spanned this river across central Texas, so trail bosses had to find shallow places to cross. With the unpredictability of Texas weather, those places became moving targets. One of the most stable locations to ford was Waco.
At the Civil War, Texas granted a charter to a private company called the Waco Bridge Company and promised them a monopoly on transportation across the river for 25 years if they would build a bridge. No other bridge could be built within five miles. The company hired New York civil engineer Thomas M Giffith to begin plans for the bridge in 1868. Griffith was a skilled engineer, having designed the first bridge to span the Mississippi in 1854. Griffith opted to build a suspension bridge and brought parts in by oxcart. His bridge was completed in 1870, and at the time was the longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi.
The Waco Suspension Bridge wasn’t only used for cattle drives, of course. It became the main crossing point for travelers of all sorts and allowed Waco to become an economic capital for central Texas. Not only did the bridge bring merchants, farmers, and ranchers into Waco, but the bridge itself became an economic boom. The charter granted the Waco Bridge Company permission to charge a toll. Pedestrians paid five cents, and those on horseback or in carriages were charged ten cents. Any loose cattle or livestock cost five cents per head. The Waco Bridge Company reported that it made approximately $25,000 each year in collected tolls and paid off its mortgage in the first year of operation.
Tolls were collected from a bucket that would be lowered from one of its towers. If you look at the bottom right of the above photograph, the brick section with steps leading outside was where the toll keeper and his family lived. As one would expect, this toll quickly became unpopular. The county eventually bought the bridge for $75,000 and then sold it to the city for $1 with an agreement in place that the city would eliminate the toll and maintain the structure.
Eventually, the monopoly time frame expired and other bridges sprang up. Bethany and I saw remnants of a railroad bridge platform as well as a trestle bridge that was built in 1901. The trestle bridge had a section open to foot traffic, so we walked across that bridge and got some lovely shots of the river.
With all the traffic coming across the suspension bridge, enterprising local merchants figured out how to take advantage of this prime real estate. As you can see in the picture below, large advertisements hung from the the brick walls.
In 1913, citizens decided they no longer cared for the unattractive bridge since other options were available and asked for it to be torn down. Thankfully, the city preserved this historic bridge, choosing to beautify it by stuccoing over the brick and replacing the wooden trusses with steel. Cars were permitted over the bridge until 1971. Since then, it’s been open to pedestrian traffic only.
In 2010, however, cattle once again made their way across the Waco Suspension Bridge. During the Chisholm Trail Festival, cowboys herded 40 longhorns across the bridge to commemorate this fascinating piece of Texas history.
Do you find old bridges romantic or nerve-wracking?
Have you ever wondered what goes into an American Indian’s name? One of the first things I do when starting a new book is name the hero of the story. But, why are “eagle,” “hawk,” “horse,” “buffalo,” “bear,” good names for a hero? Well, there are some rules and I thought I’d talk about them.
The Sioux had three different classes of names. The first name would show the order of children…like First Child, or First Born Son. The second class of name (at least in the Lakota society) was the honor name or public names. The third name was a nickname (sometimes an unflattering name). Sometimes a man might gain a honoring name different from one of his childhood and this is sometimes called a “deed” name. And sometimes childhood names remained with a person for all of his/her life.
An honoring name is given usually by the clan medicine-man in a public ceremony. In the story I’m writing currently called, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, the opening scene in the book is a scene where a boy is being given an honoring name. His grandfather bestows his own name on the boy, BLUE THUNDER STRIKING.
Trivia question: did you know that Crazy Horse was given his name by his father, who then took a lesser name? The name Crazy Horse was given to him because of a great deed he performed.
Many years ago, when I was adopted into the Blackfeet tribe in Browning, MT, I was given an Indian name, but it was bestowed on me by the chief of the tribe, Chief Old Person.
In the story, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, the boy had been given a nickname prior to his honor name, and that name was somewhat unflattering…Little Skunk.
Deed names usually require some act of courage and so the courageous act is celebrated by giving that man or boy a name from some fear-inspiring animal, like a buffalo, a bear or wolf. A noble sort of name might be given to a man from one of the nobler birds, like the eagle, the hawk the owl. Sometimes the character of the courageous act is given along with the name. For instance, swift or strength or endurance and these give the name a descriptive element, like Challenging Wolf.
Here are some honoring name for boys: White Eagle; Black Buffalo; Red Wind; Storm; Kills the Man; Shadow Hawk.
What about names for girls? Well, there were some rules here, as well. No Indian girl was permitted to wear the skin of a bear or a wolf, a cat, etc. Nor could she wear eagle feathers as these were masculine representations. Instead a girl could wear the skins of a doe, ermine, mink, etc.
As far as names were concerned, girls were usually called after the fawn, mink, beaver. While only boys could have the names of the fiercer animals. Both boys and girls could be named after the wind or water or sky, but not by the name of Fire. At least these were the rules in Lakota society.
Here are some names of girls: White Bird; Sky; Jingles; Earth Maiden; Laughing Maid, Swan Maiden.
Also, often in the stories I write, the hero will give the heroine an Indian name, sometimes flattering and sometimes not. In the story THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, the hero first named the heroine, “Deceiving Woman.” Later, it changes, of course.
So, I thought I’d leave you with an excerpt from my most recent book, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, and I’ll be giving away a free copy of the book today. So do please leave a comment.
IRON WOLF’S BRIDE
Iron Wolf followed her. It was time to learn what was happening here. Who was that man?
He intended this to be his first question to the woman who should be, and still was, his wife. His second question to her would be why she believed he, her husband, had betrayed her. But this could wait.
He noted that she had fled into a maze that was flanked by fragrant bushes which were taller than a man, and, were he not the scout and tracker he was, he might have become lost within these high shrubs, for the paths intersected one another and led in multiple directions. But he didn’t lose his way. He found her soon enough.
Once he had discovered her, he spoke out softly, so she might become aware he had followed her. “What is going on here? Who is that man you were touching, the one who sat next to you? What is he to you?”
Jane spun around, the look of surprise on her countenance quickly turning to anger. She didn’t pause an instant, though, as she accused, “How dare you follow me!”
“I am your husband. It is my duty to follow you.”
“Well, you can go away now. I came here to be alone.”
Iron Wolf didn’t leave. Instead, he repeated his question, for he intended it to be answered, and he asked once more, “Who is that man?”
“The one you touched. The one who sat beside you tonight.”
“He and I were to be married today.”
She turned her back on him and Iron Wolf didn’t speak; he couldn’t, for he felt as though she had punched him in the gut.
She added, “We didn’t marry today, as it turns out, because I would like my sister to be a part of the marriage ceremony. So we have postponed our wedding for the time being. And now you see that I, too, might marry another, as you have.”
Although he wished to speak out loudly, to rage the truth at her, he found it impossible to find his tongue, and so he paused until at last he was able to say, “My wife, you have become like a wild pony in my absence. How can you marry another when you are already married to me?”
“Am I? Do you forget you divorced me? And, how dare you call me ‘wild,’ when you…when you…” Her voice caught.
He ignored the insult and said instead, “You have now accused me of this too many times. Who has told this to you?”
“No one has ‘told’ it to me, as you say it. It was written up in the newspapers, and I have the divorce papers that you signed, or have you conveniently forgotten that? And, how dare you seduce me in front of all these people tonight; you, who are married to another. Is she here tonight? Does she care that you looked at me as you danced as though you were making love to me?”
She spoke so swiftly that he took a moment to understand all she had said, and then he asked, “Do you speak of the white-man’s newspapers where you saw my ‘wife’?”
“Who showed this to you?”
“Does it matter?”
He sighed. “Hau, hau, it matters. I would ask you again, who has said this to you?”
“My uncle, if you must know.”
“Your uncle who owns this house?”
Iron Wolf took a moment to collect his thoughts, then said, “You are wrong to believe these people, even if they be family.”
“So you can say easily enough. But, my uncle is beyond reproach and I am certain he wouldn’t lie to me. Besides, you forget that I have evidence of your betrayal of me.”
“No,” he countered, “what you have is ‘proof’ that is a lie. And, now I say that it is good you did not marry that man this day, for had you done so, you would have committed a grave error, one I could not easily set aside. So now, you must decide and choose between one or the other of us: me—your husband or that man. For, even in my society, a woman may have only one husband.”
“I have already chosen, and that man is not you.”
“Hau, then I will go.”
“But before I go, I wish to see these papers you have mentioned to me many times. I would witness these lies with my own eyes.”
“They are not lies.”
He raised his voice. “I say they are, and if you continue to tell me these untruths, I will say that you are a woman of no honor, who tells lies, as well.”
“How dare you shout at me, and how dare you say I am not honorable!”
He blew out his breath in an attempt to control his temper. At length, he said, “I am a man who must be convinced. Show me the papers you speak of, for I tell you true: I did not place my written name on anything. I have no other wife, but you. Why would I want another woman when the one I have is the sweetest, the most beautiful woman I have ever known or seen? I ask you, why would I throw away the woman of my heart, for, if I were to do that, would I not destroy her and myself, too?”
He noted that the compliment, spoken as it was from his heart, might have found its target. However, she did not respond favorably, and she turned her back upon him.
He encouraged, “Show me.”
When she turned around, she was crying, and his heart sank to realize that his raised voice and unkind words might have caused her grief. Still, what he’d said had been true.
“Do you really think I stoop to tell fibs? That I don’t have these things in my possession which show you betrayed me and then married another?”
“I would see them.”
She paused, as though she seriously considered his demand, even against her will. At length, she said, “I suppose that might be a fair request. So follow me. I will show you, although I am certain you are already aware of what I am talking about.”
He nodded, but he said nothing except, “Show me. I will do as you ask and follow you.”
She turned around then and stomped out of the maze. And, Iron Wolf, astonished again by the obvious—that this was no act and that his wife truly hated him— trailed after her.
Each year. the residents of Fredericksburg, Texas enjoy a tradition that began with the town’s founding in 1847. On the night before Easter, residents dress up as settlers, Comanches, and Easter bunnies to commemorate a peace treaty the town signed in 1847.
When the early German settlers arrived, they were greeted by a harsh land full of fierce native people. The Comanches were not happy with this latest intrusion on their territory–and for good reason. They had experienced violent encounters with immigrants moving in from the East and Mexico from the West
It didn’t take long for the German settlers to realize that if they wanted to survive, their first job was to strike a treaty with the Comanches. As such a thing had never before been accomplished, it must have seemed like a daunting task.
Just before Easter, the town’s founders rode over the hill to negotiate with tribe leaders, leaving women and children behind.
While the men were away, Comanches scouts stood atop the hills surrounding the town. Even scarier, they sent up smoke signals.
Not knowing what had happened to their men, the women feared the worse. This caused a near panic in the town, especially among the children who were convinced of an attack.
According to legend, one woman came up with a story that calmed everyone down. The fires, she said, had been started by the Easter bunny so he could boil his eggs to deliver the next day.
Not long after that, the men returned, treaty in hand. it was a unique treaty struck by the two different cultures, and it turned out well for both sides. It is reportedly the only North American Indian treaty not to be violated by either party.
Now, every year, the town celebrates the occasion with church bells, bonfires, and pageantry.
What is your favorite Easter or Passover tradition?
Please give a warm welcome to Pepper Basham, our guest today!
I think it was Mary Connealy who once said, “If things in a story start getting slow, bring out a man with a gun.”
Well, I haven’t written a whole lot of ‘gunslinging’ stories. Sinking ocean liners, trench mustard gas, or the Spanish Flu, maybe, but not a whole lot of gunslinging. Until now.
And I’m kind of surprised it’s taken me so long, because, evidently, I come from a long line (and a community) where there was gun slinging aplenty. Appalachia. Known for its horse thievery, moonshinin’, and Revolutionary War snipers. Oh, and it’s awesome accent and Andy Griffith 😉
So, when I had the opportunity to write a book about a courthouse shootout in my hometown, I thought I’d give it a try…after all, I could just channel my inner Mary Connealy, right?
Not as easy as it may seem, though Mary is incredibly inspirational, because the “shootout” wasn’t fictional, and a century later people still had strong feelings about which side of the Hillsville Courthouse Massacre was right and which was wrong (and those sides didn’t always agree).
The opportunity to write about my own hometown’s shootout came in The Red Ribbon, a historical suspense novel based on the Virginia Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912. This tragedy made national headlines—including a nationwide manhunt—from March 14th to April 12th, when it was overshadowed by the sinking of the Titanic.
Writing about a hot topic that still resonates with the community you grew up in is a tricky business. People still take sides, and many folks don’t want to talk about what happened (even a century later). What’s even more difficult is taking a story that has VERY little hope in it and turning it into a book that brings hope.
I don’t know about you, but maybe those stories with gunslingers and outlaws and suffering and tragedy…are the ones that need hope the most. This one sure felt like it. And it was a great reminder of how God uses difficulties and situations that leave us asking “why”, to draw us closer to Him and create in us character (Romans 5).
Visiting the historic courthouse that still stands in my hometown and running my fingers over the bullet holes still carved in the walls brought this history to life and (I hope) infused this story with setting. (You can see some of the videos from the courthouse here http://www.truecolorscrime.com/red-ribbon.html)
By the way, the coolest part of this REAL story was that the shootout all started over a KISS!!! (I really don’t know a better way to start a gunslinging, family feud-like story, do you?) So thanks, Mary. I brought in a few guys with guns, some dirty cops, a really smart granny, and an awesome dog. Some of the characters were real folks and some emerged from my imagination, but all contributed to making of The Red Ribbon.
Does your hometown have any significant, interesting,
odd, or exciting history?
Post your answer below for a chance to win a digital or paperback copy of
The Red Ribbon.
I wrote my first story when I was a nine-year-old, freckled-faced tomboy in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains (my earlier writings wouldn’t have been considered “books”, more like short stories). Coming from a long line of oral storytellers, weaving a good yarn seemed a typical part of my life. It wasn’t until I finished college, had two children, and a full-time job before I began to study the ‘craft’ of writing (you know when I had plenty of time).
My music-director turned pastor husband took his first senior pastor position eight years ago, moved the 6 of us to Tennessee, where we added our fifth and final kid to the Basham crew. And now hubby is a music minister in Asheville, NC. Yep, we love the Blue Ridge Mountains.
So…now I’m an older, freckled-faced mommy enjoying life, learning to write, and laughing often. My mom says that I must have a small bit of insanity because I don’t realize how stressed I ought to be.
I’m also a speech-language pathologist who spends her time hanging out with kids who have social communication and language difficulties! It’s a challenge and a blessing – and constantly teaches me about the importance of thinking outside the box!
Welcome to a wacky Wednesday. Well, not too wacky.
LAKOTA PRINCESS, the 25th Anniversary Edition, is just out in e-book and print. The book has been re-edited and an updated Anniversary Edition cover given to it and best of all, it’s on sale for $.99. Yay!
Let me tell you a little about this unusual “Western” romance. First, it’s set in England. So, we brought the West to that little island empire, England. Next, it’s set during the Regency period (early 1800’s) and so it has a bit of that time period within its pages, as well as the customs of the Lakota Indians before the Europeans came into their country and changed things. Then, it also entails some interesting facts about the Royal Family, and indeed, the Royal Family becomes a character — so to speak — in the book.
Hope you’ll enjoy the following blurb and excerpt:
A love that defies the ocean. A secret deeper than blood.
Lakota Princess, Book 3
Driven from her home in England by hostile political forces, Estrela was little more than a girl when she came to be raised by a far western Lakota tribe. On the wide, sweeping plains she grew tall and strong, and won the love of a handsome warrior.
But on the eve of their marriage, she is torn away from her native family, torn from the man she loves, and forced to return to a place that feels more like a foreign country than her home. There she merely exists, haunted by her love’s sweet kisses and heated embrace, yearning for his unforgettable touch.
Black Bear has braved the ocean to find the woman whose beauty has captured his soul. But no sooner has he arrived in England than he is called upon to save her life. Who in their right mind would want to murder such a gentle spirit?
As Black Bear comes between her and death time after time, Estrela wishes they could both just disappear back to the plains, and bury the secret she has long hidden –- even from him. A secret from which only their love, truer than blood, can save them.
Warning: Sensuous romance that contains separated lovers who will let nothing come between them…not oceans, her mysterious past, or a murderer bent on destroying their future.
LAKOTA PRINCESS, an Excerpt
She wore the pink, transparent creation into the breakfast parlor after all, and was rewarded for her efforts by a frown from Black Bear. The gown’s lines trailed downward from an empire waist, and Estrela smoothed the outer filmy material down with a self-conscious gesture of her hand. She hadn’t wetted down the undergarments as was the current custom, it being thought by those who ruled fashion that if the material beneath looked wet, it would allude more to the feminine form; something which, it would appear, was most desirable.
Her shoes of soft, pink satin peeked out beneath the hemline of the dress as Estrela paced forward, and all at once, she felt the heat of Black Bear’s piercing scowl.
She peered down at herself. It didn’t matter if she hadn’t wetted down the undergarments; the dress still made her look practically nude. She looked up then, and away, her cheeks awash with unbecoming warmth; she felt suddenly inadequate.
It also didn’t help, she realized, when she looked at the other women seated around the breakfast table and found them to be dressed in a much more risqué fashion than she. They didn’t appear to bother Black Bear.
He scowled at her alone.
She advanced into the room.
“Ah, Lady Estrela.” The Duke of Colchester arose from his seat and smiled at her. “So good to see you this morning. Did you enjoy your morning of exercise?”
“Yes, Sir, I did,” she replied, sweeping her lashes down over her eyes to study the Duke without his knowledge. The man had been most kind to her. Did he mean more by his question? She couldn’t tell.
“Ah,” the Duke continued. “I must admit that I was concerned after that dreadful event yesterday. But, I see that you have recovered most splendidly. Jolly good of you to join us, I say.”
Estrela smiled. “Thank you, Sir,” she replied, and, treading down the long length of the breakfast table, took the seat that a servant held out for her.
She smiled at the servant, then at the Duke as he, too, sat down.
She glanced around the table noting that the Duchess of Colchester chatted gaily with her daughters and with Black Bear, who, after his initial glare at Estrela, hadn’t looked again in her direction.
There were other people here, too, women she did not recognize and a few other men. The Royal Duke of Windwright must have spent the night, for he sat just opposite her at the table.
He glanced at her now, and, clearing his throat, said, “So good of you to join us, Lady Estrela. I say, did you sleep well?”
Estrela smiled at him. “Yes,” she said, “quite well, thank you.”
Black Bear glowered at her down the length of the table, but he said nothing and Estrela wondered if Black Bear intended to discipline her—and if he did, what form would it take?
Well, she wouldn’t think of it now. She had done the right thing for him. In time, he would see this. She only wished that time would elapse quickly.
“I daresay, old man,” the Duke of Windwright addressed the Duke of Colchester. “Must retire to the country soon now that Parliament is out of session. Can’t afford to miss the fox hunt, you know.”
The Duke of Colchester chewed upon a long cigar, not daring to smoke it in the presence of ladies. As it was he bordered on committing a social faux pas just by bringing a cigar into the same room as a lady.
He leaned forward across the table and leered at the other Duke. “I say,” the Duke of Colchester said, “geese are in season now. Do you fancy hunting geese? Could make a trip to the country, we could. I say, there, Black Bear.” He turned his attention to the Indian. “Have you ever hunted geese?”
Black Bear glanced down the table, glaring first at Estrela, then turning his solemn gaze upon the Duke. He didn’t smile and his features revealed nothing at all. At length, he said, “Geese are many in my country. I have hunted them, yes.”
“Well, I say, old chap,” the Duke of Colchester said, “would you quite fancy taking to the country with us to hunt geese?”
Black Bear didn’t scowl, but he didn’t smile either. He stared at the Duke of Colchester, then at the Duke of Windwright. And, as he studied the two men, his brows narrowed. At length he answered, saying, “I would greatly honor the chance to hunt with you. But it is autumn, the season to make meat, and I think we would do better to hunt deer or elk so that the women can fill the food stores for the season when the babies cry for food. Does your country have—tatá?ka—buffalo?”
“Make meat?” It was the Duke of Windwright who spoke.“I daresay we have no buffalo, my fine fellow, but the deer are aplenty and we could hunt them, too; however, shooting geese or any fowl is more the sport this time of year.”
The Indian nodded. “Then we will hunt geese,” he said, returning his grimace once more to Estrela.
Estrela glanced away.
And Black Bear, after a quick survey of the people sitting around the table said into the quietness of the room, “There is old Indian legend told in my country about geese.”
“Is there?” It was the Duchess of Colchester who spoke. “Oh, how exciting. Won’t you tell it to us, please?”
“Oh, do tell us.”
Black Bear smiled, and, shooting Estrela one last glare, began, “It is said that—”
“I say, young fellow,” the Duke of Windwright interrupted, “what is ‘making meat’?”
Black Bear’s gaze leaped to the Duke.
“Oh, do be quiet,” the Duchess of Colchester said, perhaps without thinking first. “Can’t you tell that…?” She stopped, and, glancing quickly at the Royal Duke, carried on, “Oh, so sorry, Your Grace. It’s only that the Indian is telling us a story and I thought that you were my husband or that—I mean—perhaps I—”
“’Making meat,’” Estrela spoke up, thereby “saving” the Duchess, “refers to the necessity in an Indian camp to ensure there is enough food in store to get the people through even the harshest of winters. Usually in the fall, there is one last buffalo hunt during which the women will take what meat they get and dry it and pound it into wasná, which is a mixture of pounded meat, fat, and chokecherries. It is an important venture since, if there is not enough food to get through the winter, the people will starve.”
Estrela glanced at Black Bear, and nodding, returned her attention to her breakfast.
The Duke of Windwright snorted.
The Duchess of Colchester fluttered her eyelashes and her husband, the Duke of Colchester, brought his attention onto the Indian.
“I say,” the Duke of Colchester started, “I believe I would like you to tell that story you were about to begin—the one about the geese.”
“Oh, by all means.”
“Please do continue.”
“We want to hear it.”
Black Bear smiled. “There is a legend,” he said, relaxing back into his chair, “about the geese in my camp. For you see, the geese tell us much.” He gazed at the Duchess a moment before sweeping his attention around the table. And, seemingly satisfied, he fixed his glance once more upon Estrela, his stare a sulky glower. “Those birds’ habits announce the season change,” he continued, “and we look upon the geese as good food when there is no buffalo to feed our women and children. But, their meat has too much fat, though the taste—good.” He paused, and, with his glance clearly on Estrela, said, “It is well known that geese mate for life, something a wise person will study.”
Estrela choked on the bit of sausage she had just swallowed while the Duchess of Colchester exclaimed, “Oh, how endearing. Tell us more!”
“Yes, please, tell us.” The women’s enthusiastic voices re-echoed the plea around the table.
And Black Bear, ever ready to continue, said, “This story is about the female goose who could not select just one mate.” He stared directly at Estrela, who, in turn, moaned, closing her eyes.
Obviously enjoying her reaction, he continued, “Once there was a family of geese.”
“I say, young man.” It was the Duke of Windwright speaking again. “Do you force your women to work, then? You have no servants, no slaves? You make your women—”
“Your Grace,” the Duke of Colchester interjected. “This young man is trying to tell us a story. Perhaps you could ask your questions later.”
“So sorry, I didn’t mean to—it’s only that—well, who would hear of it, after all? Forcing women into physical labor? I mean, after all, are all their women merely servants?”
“The women,” Estrela spoke up, if for no other reason than to stall for time, “work, but the work is not great and there is much time to talk and to tease. Mayhap one could compare it to the fine ladies at work over needlepoint.”
And, although the Duke of Windwright merely “humphed,” and scoffed, he said no more.
“Yes, do continue.”
He smiled. “Most geese have many children,” he said, satisfied, “all of them dedicated to the continuation of their race, and…”
Estrela glanced away, trying to concentrate on something else besides Black Bear. She knew the story was told for her benefit, alone. He believed he spoke about her; this form of storytelling was probably one of the more severe forms of discipline he would administer. The Indian, regardless of Western belief, rarely punished his children. Estrela realized that most people who did not know the Indian in his own territory, did not understand Indian logic: that he did not scold his children, did not physically punish them in any way, and did not even raise his voice to a child, a mild look of disapproval sufficing to correct any bad behavior.
“…but this female bird was beautiful, her feathers most fine, more colorful than any other, her squawk more pleasing to the ear,” Black Bear was saying. “She did not wish to have only one mate, it is said, and she did not feel she should be confined to merely one husband. Nor did she have to. There were several young ganders who sought to have her under any condition.”
And, Black Bear did not take his gaze from her.
“There was one gander, one male who loved her more than any other…”
“Why don’t you,” the Duke of Windwright cut in, “hunt for two or three years at a time, or raise the animals for slaughter, or…”
All the rest of the table groaned except for Estrela, who was only too glad for the interruption.
“The Indian does not wish to disturb the balance of nature,” Estrela said. “And so, he takes only what he needs and leaves the rest.”
“Bad show, I say. Jolly bad show.”
“Yes,” she said, “we could discuss the economics of the Indians and—”
“Wí?ya? Ho Wa?té,” Black Bear snapped at her. “I am telling a story.”
“Yes, well, I—”
“I want to hear more.”
“Yes, pray, finish your story.”
Black Bear grinned, the gesture not sitting well with Estrela. “The goose,” he carried on, “the beautiful goose could not decide on just one gander. And, the one who loved her most of all was but one among the many and she wanted many. And so, she took many to her, not realizing that the gander seeks only one mate.”
He paused, and his focus on Estrela was such that he didn’t even notice the gasps from around the table at so delicate a subject.
But no one stopped him. All, except the Duke of Windwright, seemed entranced with him. And, whether it was his deep baritone or the unusual content of the story that mesmerized them, Estrela could not tell. She only knew that he held the attention of most all seated around the table.
“Yes, she had many,” he continued.
“Bad show, I say,” the Duke of Windwright spoke. “Jolly bad show, making your women work—actually work—why I’ve never heard of such a thing—except servants, of course, but then—”
“The gander,” Black Bear continued as though the Duke weren’t at that moment speaking, “will allow no competition with the mate that he seeks and so one by one the males vying for this beautiful goose’s favor fought among themselves until not one male bird lived. And, she looked in vain for the one gander who had loved her more than any other. But, he had gone to seek his mate elsewhere believing that she, like the sparrow, could not be satisfied with only one mate. And so died out her race, not because of man hunting her, not because of the wolf or bear who would seek her meat, but only because the female goose sought to have more than one mate.”
He paused and glanced around the table. “And so it is,” he said to his entranced audience, “that we learn from the geese that a woman must seek only one husband. And, the more beautiful the bird, the more careful she must be to ensure she chooses only the one.”
“Dare I ask, young man,” the Duke of Windwright plowed right in, “are all your women servants?”
Black Bear ignored the Duke as did the others.
“Oh, that was lovely.”
“Tell us more!”
“Yes, please, more!”
Black Bear held up a hand. “I will gladly tell another story tomorrow at the morning meal, if you are all here again.”
And, while exclamations of joy and wonder resounded around the table, Estrela groaned.
It would be the same story, told again, a bit differently, said over and over until Black Bear determined that she’d been suitably chastised.
And, Estrela made a mental note to ensure she missed each breakfast meal in the future.
“Well, it is my belief,” the Duke of Windwright carried on, “that the Indians must be saved from themselves. Yes, I believe that—”
“I think the gander acted most irrationally.” Estrela’s quiet statement, said amid the Duke’s meanderings, had the effect of silencing all other chatter at the table, including the Duke’s, and, as Estrela glanced down the table’s length to peer at Black Bear, she noted that every single pair of eyes were turned on her.
“And what would you have him do?” Black Bear asked, each person at the table looking to him. “Wait until the silly goose decided she wanted him more than any other?”
“He could have waited,” Estrela countered, recapturing the attention of everyone present. “Had he truly loved her, he would have waited.”
“Waited for what? She was taken. Before he even had a chance to take her, she was taken.”
“Who was taken?” the Duchess of Colchester intervened. “Did I miss something in the story?”
“He could have understood,” Estrela replied.
“Understood what?” the Duchess interrupted.
Black Bear nodded in agreement, repeating, “Understood what?”
Estrela snorted. “If he believed in her, he would have known—he just would have known.”
“He’s a bird,” Black Bear said. “He’s incapable of thinking.”
“Known what?” It was the Duchess who spoke.
“Then why tell the story if the gander is such a fool?” Estrela asked.
All heads turned back toward Black Bear.
“Because the story has a moral,” Black Bear said, each word clipped. “We are supposed to learn from such a story. Most people do unless they have the morals of a sparrow.”
Estrela flushed, and, looking down the length of the table, saw that each person present gazed at her as though they watched a fox surrounded by hounds.
“Well,” she said, “I think you should pick a more intelligent bird in the future, unless you want your characters to act so…so…stupidly.”
And with this said, she jumped from the table, upsetting her plate and knocking over her cup of tea.
“Oh! See what you’ve done?” she addressed Black Bear.
“I’ve done… You are the one who—”
“How could you?” Estrela threw down her napkin just as a servant came up behind her. “Why don’t you use swans next time, or wolves—at least they have a certain intelligence that I find sadly lacking in the gander.”
She spun about, upsetting the servant, his tray of food and the tea. But the servant was well-trained and caught the tray before any damage could be done.
Black Bear watched her leave, but only for a moment before he, too, arose. And, though his movements were slower than Estrela’s, he still moved quickly to follow her.
The servant stood behind him. The tray of food and tea crashed to the floor, most of its contents spilling innocently, except for the tea, of course, which landed on the Duchess of Colchester.
And as she, too, jumped to her feet, wiping at her dress and holding it away from her, one could hear her say to an oddly silent room, “Oh my, oh my, did I miss something from that story?”
The only response to her question was complete and utter silence.
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I actually had a completely different post in mind for you today, and had it half written, but other obligations and procrastination got the better of me. I did some research earlier in the week but didn’t get started drafting the post until this afternoon and got to feeling, shall we say, a bit under the weather before I could complete it. So instead I’m reviving a older post on a fun topic. And by way of apology I’ll be giving away multiple copies of my books (I haven’t quite decided how many yet).
Once again I was trying to come up with some activity or thing the children in my current WIP could use to amuse themselves. One idea I thought of was paper dolls. But how common were they in 1894? So off I went to do some research. And here is a summary of what I found
First of all, identifying the date of the appearance of the first paper dolls depends on your definition of what a paper doll is. As early as AD 900 the Japanese were using paper figurines in purification ceremonies. In the thirteenth century the Chinese used large stick-mounted figures in their puppet shows. But most historians agree that paper dolls as we currently think of them originated in the late eighteenth century when French dressmakers employed them as a way to illustrate the latest fashions to their customers. Today you can find a rare set of hand painted figures from the 1780s housed in the Winerhur Museum in Delaware.
In Europe, many of the early sets of paper dolls depicted actors and actresses of the stage and there were separately crafted toy stages to go with them.
In Pioneer America, however, paper was a prized resource and any child lucky enough to get paper dolls treasured them greatly. They were carefully pressed between the pages of books or placed in a sturdy box.
In 1810, the S&J Fuller Company of London produced the first commercially popular paper doll. Named ‘Little Fanny’, the two-dimensional doll was printed in a 15 page book that boasted seven distinct figures. In addition to the various poses and outfits, the book included a moral tale for the edification of the children to whom it was presented. Two years later, J. Belcher of America printed a similar doll with accompanying moral tale, this one named Little Henry. Within ten years paper dolls were a popular toy for children in both America and Europe.
In the early days, basic paper dolls were created in various states of dress. Some came modestly dressed with permanently painted on clothing, while others were attired only in undergarments. Also, the early versions were missing the tabs for affixing the clothing that are common place today. Before these came along, children carefully applied tiny drops of sealing wax to the paper ‘clothes’ as a temporary glue.
Before chroma-lithography came into common usage, paper dolls were colored by hand. Civil War widows often supplemented depleted incomes by embellishing the printed dolls . However, even after the advent of lithography, some of the manufacturers continued to print in black and white for children to color themselves.
In 1856, Anson Randolph published the book Paper Dolls and How to Make Them, A Book for Little Girls. Inside the pages were illustrations of dolls and clothing to cut out and play with. According to The New York Evangelist:
“Paper Dolls and How to Make Them, is a book of a thousand for little girls. It contains instructions how to make those ingenious and beautiful little paper dolls, clothed with every variety of costume, and every style of appearance, which are sometimes sold at the shops. The instructions are so plain, and the plates giving illustrations so numerous, that every little girl can learn the art, and in learning it, will have a perpetual field for the exercise of taste and ingenuity. The study is exceedingly attractive, and will furnish means of enjoyment to the nursery and fireside that may well alternate with books and plays. The author has displayed great tact in giving the descriptions, and a genial loving desire to promote the happiness of children — a trait which we place among the highest virtues, in anybody. As there is nothing of the kind in market, and opens a boundless field of occupation and enjoyment, the little book must become a favorite.”
(Ah-ha – this is something I can use in my book!)
In 1859 Godey’s Lady’s Book became the first magazine to include a paper doll in its pages. Other magazines quickly followed suit, including Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping and Women’s Home Companion. These dolls carried such names as Lettie Lane, Polly Pratt, and the famous Kewpie Dolls, and often included figures comprising full families, including servants and pets. The most popular of these ‘magazine dolls’ came along in 1951 from McCall’s Magazine – Betsy McCall.
As paper dolls grew in popularity, manufacturers of household goods saw them as a great medium to promote their products. Some of the products advertised include Pillsbury flour, Singer sewing machines, Hood’s Sarsaparilla, Clark threads and Lyon’s coffee. These dolls were produced either as die cut items or as printed cards to cut out. They were produced in large quantities and many examples can still be found today. J&P Coats company (now Coats and Clark) took this a step farther when they came up with a unique take on the paper doll. There were five different dolls available to purchasers of Spool and Crochet Cotton. The unique feature of these dolls were that they had mechanical heads. The head piece was separate from the body and was actually constructed in a wheel formation that contained three heads painted on both sides, so that the doll could be viewed with any one of six expressions, and even some slight variations on hairstyles. This head was attached to the body of the doll at the neck with an eyelet, The clothing for these ‘mechanical paper dolls’ were constructed with a fold and slipped over the head in the same fashion as a ‘real’ dress.
Another group that jumped on the paper doll band wagon were newspapers. In the 1890s the Boston Herald printed two paper dolls, a blonde and a brunette along with instructions for ordering additional dolls. They kept the interest alive by printing clothing for the dolls in subsequent issues. The Boston Globe, not to be outdone, began printing their own series of dolls and clothing. After the turn of the century a Teddy Bear paper doll series made an appearance in the paper as well. By 1916 several other papers had begun following suit. During the Great Depression, newspaper produced paper dolls enjoyed a huge comeback. Many of the characters were pulled directly from the comic papers, characters such as Dick Tracy, Li’l Abner, the Katzenjammer Kids and Brenda Starr.
The 1940s and 1950s was the advent of America’s romanticized love of the Wild West and this was reflected in paper dolls as well. Many sets of paper dolls were crafted after characters from western movies and television shows, and of the imagined life at a dude ranch.
By the early 1960s, Barbie had appeared on the paper doll scene and quickly became the most popular paper doll among American children of all time, a title she still holds at the time of this posting.
I admit, despite the popularity today of all the electronic gizmos, I have fond memories of the hours of creative play my sister and I had with paper dolls and fashion dolls exercising our imaginations to bring the toys to life.
So what about you? Did you play with paper dolls as a child or is there a child in your life who did? Do you have a particular memory you’d like to share?
Leave a comment to get your name tossed in the hat for a chance to win your choice of any of my books.
Hello from wacky weather Texas! The last of the snow melted here in Dallas on Friday. By Monday, our temperature was 81 degrees. Today as I write this, it’s 48, but that’s Texas for you. A weather roller coaster ride!
Here’s a picture of my view after the first snow.
What my family went through during Snowmageddon Texas Edition was nothing compared to what others endured. We only lost power for a day, and we never lost water service. Others were without power for a week or more. While our house pipes didn’t freeze, our pool froze over, though. My youngest son had fun doing a photo shoot with his penguin, Tama, to memorialize our adventures. The only damage we sustained was broken pool equipment pipes. Unfortunately, so many others have not been as lucky. Houses have been destroyed by burst pipes and for some safe water is still an issue.
My small adventure brought back memories of my grandparents’ northeastern Iowa farm and reminded me how difficult daily life could be in the past. My grandparents’ house had electricity but lacked running water and indoor plumbing. A gas heater warmed the downstairs. I can still picture it—a giant brown rectangle that stood in the living room. It had a glass window through which we could see flames. It was the monsterish kind that scared poor young Kevin in Home Alone. Upstairs we went without heat.
A simple task such as bathing a preschool me and my brother Saturday night to attend church on Sunday was a major project. My grandma would pull a dented round galvanized tub into the kitchen. Water had to be hauled from the pump by the milk house. After that, she boiled water on the stove to mix with the colder water to eventually get bath water. No wonder folks in the past only bathed once a week and didn’t have to worry about exercising! Daily life provided all the workout they needed. Sleeping upstairs in the winter meant wearing the warmest jammies possible and sleeping under mounds of blankets. And don’t even ask me about the outhouse…
I’ve always loved reading historical romances, but the recent snowstorm reminded me how we romanticize 🙂 the past. My small taste of life without electricity during Snowmageddon reminded me how past generations had to be strong, determined, and tough or they didn’t survive. Our favorite historical authors incredibly weave the feeling of the time period and daily life into their stories. They transport us to a time we often wish we could visit. After my recent short technology deprived stint , I’m thankful they don’t make the trip too realistic, and now I appreciate their talent of knowing what of past time periods to leave out even more. The past is a nice place to visit in a novel, but as for me, I wouldn’t want to live there!
Please continue to pray for those struggling to overcome the effects of the snowstorm. For many recovery will be a long, expensive process.
To be entered in today’s giveaway for the thankful, grateful, blessed sink mate and llama chip clips, comment on this question. What would be the toughest modern day item or technology for you to do without if you lived in the Old West?
Ah, February — a true month of love. At least for me. My husband and I just celebrated the 25th Anniversary of our first kiss. So very, very special and I hope you’ll bear with me as I tell you a little about our personal story of finding love.
The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing. As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that. This is the story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.
My own tale began with a kiss. But let me backtrack. I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California my home. Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons. After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again. Sigh…
So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own. One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date. I didn’t want to go and told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….
But she insisted for a while (several days) and I found my self consenting to one date. That was in January of 1996. GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.
So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date. The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great. He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.
The date was good — okay. I think we were both a little shy of each other. We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me. So, I put it behind me. He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening, so after about a week, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing. To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me. She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.” and I said, “No, no, I don’t think so. Let’s just relegate that date to the past and go on from here.” And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”
I had no idea that she would call his brother. I am told they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date. Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends. He was divorced. I was divorced. We could do things together. (Mind you, he was also very good-looking.) So I accepted.
Goodness! Little did I know what was in store. On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends. He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me. Now, this was quite a kiss. He meant it. And I became very aware of that. His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world were spinning — but in a good way.
Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man? This man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”
Well, that was that. We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him. He proposed to me in March and we were married in May 1996. Our first date was February 3rd 1996. So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY. Well, a lot, I’m afraid. As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing this book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course this love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY. That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work. Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book. His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.
Did I mention that one of my earrings (the night of that first kiss) fell off during the kiss — and I have pierced ears…!
In May of this year, we will have been married 25 years. Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 25 years more or less have gone by now. People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile. To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day. I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows. He stole my heart with that first kiss. (I’ll knock on wood here.) As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” — it has always seemed to me that it started with a kiss.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message. I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.
Will I be giving away GRAY HAWK’S LADY today as a Valentine’s Day Gift? You bet I will. I’ll be gifting that book to 2 (two) lucky readers today, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Please know, also, that all rules for Giveaways apply — they are listed off to the right here of the page — at the very top.
A while back I read a little historical footnote that in 1804 President Thomas Jefferson attended a public party at the Senate where an enormous loaf of bread, dubbed the “mammoth loaf” was part of the food offering.
If you know anything at all about me you know I couldn’t just let this intriguing bit of information go without digging into it further so of course I did some research. And oh boy, did I ever find out more than I bargained for – in fact in the process I came across an even more intriguing bit of trivia.
It seems that enormous loaf was baked to go with a mammoth wheel of cheese that President Jefferson had received as a gift two years earlier. And for the record, I’m using the word mammoth deliberately, because that’s how these items were described at the time. I found a notation that stated Americans of this period were enamored with the term due to their fascination with the then recent discovery of the skeleton of a giant woolly mammoth in the state of New York.
This massive wheel of cheese was the brain child of John Leland, the Elder of a Baptist congregation made up of the staunchly Republican citizens of a farming community located in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. The goal was to recognize and commemorate Jefferson’s long-standing devotion to religious freedoms. Leland asked every member of his congregation who owned even one cow to bring all the milk and/or curd produced on a particular day to a local cider mill.
It was reported that the milk from about 900 cows went into the making of the cheese and that the cider press they used measured six feet in diameter. The final product, once cured, measured more than 4 feet in diameter, 13 feet in circumference and 17 inches high. I read one report that said it weighed in at 1,235 pounds and another that reported 1325 pounds but in either case it was BIG. In fact it was so big it couldn’t be safely moved the entire distance on wheels. The logistics in and of themselves were interesting – it traveled by sleigh from the town to the Hudson River, from there by barge to New York City. Then it was moved to a sloop which carried it as far as Baltimore. The final leg of the trip to Washington D.C was accomplished via a wagon pulled by six horses. All in all, the approximate 500 mile trip took over three weeks to accomplish.
President Jefferson praised the people who had donated the extraordinary gift for the for their skill and generosity Because he believed he should refuse gifts while in office, he paid Leland $200 for the cheese.
The cheese lasted for quite some time as it was gradually consumed at various White House functions over the next couple of years. Finally, on March 26, 1804, the President attended the above-mentioned party designed to rally support for a naval war with the Barbary States. A Naval baker created a huge loaf of bread to accompany the remnants of the mammoth wheel of cheese as well as large quantities of roast beef and alcohol. It’s assumed that the last of the cheese was consumed during the event. An alternate theory is that after this party, the remnants were disposed of in the Potomac River.
Is this bit of historical trivia something you already knew about? And why do you think people are fascinated by things of an unusual size? Is it perhaps the novelty of it all or is it something else entirely?
I recently moved about 20 miles away from Fort Worth. I’m excited to discover more about this epic historical town, and will, the minute it’s safe to do so.
I’m putting together a list of little known places I want to see, and I thought I’d share it with you, in case you ever visit (this may even entice you to!)
Jesus BBQ – This quaint shoebox on South Main has been in business since 1969. A sign hangs over the sidewalk – “Jesus BBQ and Mexican Food.” The reviewer loved it.
Pick Your Own Strawberries 3010 S. Bowen Road, Arlington Pay $10, get a 1-pound strawberry basket and spend a sunny day picking strawberries. Better get there early as sometimes the berries are picked over before closing.
The Blue Hole, Dinosaur Valley State Park 1629 Park Road 59, Glen Rose
The swimming hole in Dinosaur Valley State Park offers visitors a chance to cool off in 20-feet-deep clear water surrounded by 100 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur tracks. Before you go, check out the Texas Parks & Wildlife website to learn how to map nearby dinosaur tracks because some may be hard to find.
Ayres Cemetery2500 Block of Scott Avenue
A tiny, antiquated cemetery hides one block off Interstate-30 in a motel parking lot in East Fort Worth. Crumbling gravestones tell a story of one of Fort Worth’s first families. Nestled next to a few of the gravestones are markers indicating that some were citizens of the Republic of Texas, which ended in 1846. The last time someone was buried in this family lot was in 1955. The Ayres Cemetery remains as a symbol of the area’s early settlers.
Bonnie and Clyde Shooting Dove Road, Just East of Hwy. 114
This power couple frequented North Texas reportedly because relatives lived here. However, their career as robbers and gangsters slowed and halted when they played a part in killing several Texas patrolmen near Grapevine.
Northside Street Art Intersection of 21st and Roosevelt streets
An enraged gorilla sits on the side of a nondescript building in an otherwise colorless part of town at the corner of 21st Street and Roosevelt. The artist is unknown.
The Stockyards – Lots to do there:
Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive
Cowboy Hall of Fame
Filthy McNasty’s Saloon
I don’t know about you, but I love the quirky, the obscure, the unknown. I plan to visit several of these places!