Welcome Guest: Patty Smith Hall


Georgia is Golden

I’m thrilled to be with you today to talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s the place I’ve lived for most of my life and where my family roots run deep into the famous red clay. It’s my home state of Georgia, and while you may be wondering what the Peach State could possibly have in common with the rootin’, tootin’ wild west, let me tell you—more than you’d think!

At one time, in the early years of our country, Georgia was considered just as wild and free as the western states to come, and it became more untamed when gold was discovered in 1828.

That’s right, Georgia had its very own gold rush!

In the summer of 1828, Auroria, Georgia was a quiet little town nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the waters of the Etowah and Chestatee Rivers met. Across the river lay the Cherokee nation, led by Chef John Ross. Under his direction, the Indians had acclimated themselves in the ways of the new country, living in houses and educated their children with the help of Quaker missionaries. A border dispute between the Cherokee and the state of Georgia had sent John Ross to Washington D.C. in January of that year. Both communities had been on edge, but things had settled down with the spring planting and summer harvest.

It is said that the Georgia gold rush started one August evening when a young man by the name of Benjamin Park stumbled on a rock as he was walking along a deer path. He had just left a friend’s house after celebrating his birthday and didn’t think much of it until something sparkled at his feet. When he bent down to inspect it, he realized he hadn’t tripped over a rock but a large nugget of gold.

Word spread, first to adjoining counties then throughout the state and the southern region. People began pouring into the area—miners from the first American gold rush in North Carolina, gamblers and thieves. Plantation owners sent their slaves after the crops were harvested, some promising freedom for gold. Over the next year, people from the northern states as well as the Irish, Scots and English invaded the small community, setting up their stakes along the riverbanks. Food was scarce, but liquor was plentiful and with it, crime and fighting.  Some towns had sheriffs but most left law and order up to the Georgia Guard. Most miners panned at night because the state had declared ownership of the rivers’ mineral rights though in truth, it belonged to the Cherokee.

For ten solid years, miners dredged the river of significant amounts of some of the purest gold ever recorded on earth. In 1838, Congress decided to establish a mint in the area. Auroria and Dahlonega were both considered but Dahlonega was awarded the mint. The mint signaled the beginning of the eviction of the Cherokee from their native land and sent west on what is commonly known as the Trail of Tears, one of the saddest chapters in Georgia history.

In 1840, the gold along the banks of the Etowah was almost gone and with it came the demise of Auroria. The mint in Dahlonega produced gold coins well into the 1860s when the confederates took it over, printing gold confederate coins instead.  After the war, the mint was closed down permanently.

The gold rush continues today in the area. Every weekend die hard miners are in the water, some with pans, a few with sluice boxes. It’s mostly for fun but hard work! I tried it once and my muscles hurt for a solid week! But I did manage to find a few flakes of gold!

Gold Dust BrideAbigail Matthews’ lifelong ambition is to run her family’s iron mines alongside her father. With the company in trouble, she heads to the north Georgia mountains where iron and gold are rumored to be found. Abby is certain the mountains hold the iron ore their mining company needs to survive but the task is made more difficult by the influx of miners and the interference of Micah Anderson, the town’s blacksmith and acting sheriff who hinders her progress. . .and steals her heart.

Micah Anderson doesn’t understand the mad rush of people searching for gold. He sees them as gamblers no better than the father who lost him in a card game. That someone as lovely as Abigail would take such a risk grates at him but doesn’t diminish his attraction to her. Working alongside her to provide food for his adoptive mother’s boarding house, Micah discovers the hidden depths of Abigail’s character. But when Abigail is put into danger after witnessing a crime against a Cherokee Indian, will Micah be willing to gamble his heart on the woman he’s come to love?

Giveaway!

Patty is giving away a copy of Crinoline Cowboys to two readers who leave a comment today. What is something you love about your home state?

Multi-published author Patty Smith Hall lives near the North Georgia Mountains with her husband, Danny, her two daughters, her son-in-law and her grandboy. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.

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The Hoover Dam

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

I subscribe to the This Day In History calendar. It’s always fun to read about all those little nuggets that pop into my inbox from this site every day. One day last week the construction of the Hoover Dam popped up. The entry reminded me of a trip we took several years back. My mom had always wanted to visit Las Vegas so for her 80th birthday me and all of my siblings, along with various spouses and other extended family members took her for a multi-day trip there.

Those of us who weren’t much into what the casinos had to offer took a day trip out to the Hoover Dam.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to admit I was blown away by the size and scope of the structure. So today I thought I’d share some history and fun facts about the dam along with some of the photos from that trip.

 

  • You may have heard the dam also referred to as the Boulder Dam. That’s because back in the early day’s of the dam’s history there was some controversy over what it would be called. The original plans called for it to be built at Boulder Canyon so the project was dubbed the Boulder Canyon Dam Project and it was still called by that name when the proposed location was moved the Black Canyon. But at a ceremony in Sept 1930 the Secretary of the Interior announced the dam would be named for newly elected president Herbert Hoover. However, when Franklin Roosevelt assumed office in 1933 the new Secretary of the Interior announced the structure would return to its original name, the Boulder Dam. In the ensuing years the names Hoover Dam and Boulder Dam were used interchangeably, the choice often depending on the political leanings of the speaker. It wasn’t until 1947 that the name was officially declared through a congressional resolution to be the Hoover Dam.
  • It took tens of millions of pounds of steel and approximately 4.3 million cubic yards of concrete to build the dam, including the power plant and other features. According to the Bureau of Reclamation this is enough concrete to pave a road that’s 8 inches thick and 16 feet wide from New York to San Francisco.
  • There were 112 fatalities associated with the construction of the dam, including three suicides. Strangely, the first official recorded death occurred on December 20,1922 and the final fatality occurred exactly 13 years after on December 20, 1935.
  • More than 582 miles of one inch thick steel pipes were embedded within the concrete. The reason these pipes were included was rather ingenious.  Normally it would take over 100 YEARS for this much concrete to cure properly. But by circulating ice water through the pipes, they were able to dissipate the chemical heat the concrete generated as it set. Once they had done their job, the pipes were later filled with concrete to provide added strength to the dam.
  • Workers, called high scalers, were suspended at heights up to 800 feet over the canyon floor armed with 44 pound jackhammers and metal poles to clear the canyon walls of unwanted and loose material. As you can imagine, this resulted in quite a number of casualties from falls and from being hit by falling equipment and rocks.
  • The dam is situated in a spot where the Colorado River forms the boundary between Arizona and Nevada, states which happen to be in two different time zones. So by simply stepping across this boundary at the top of the wall you can almost instantaneously go forward or backward in time.
  • Statistics:
    • The Hoover Dam is 726.4 feet tall – as tall as a 60 story building. It is 1244 feet long or almost a quarter mile.
    • The top of the Hoover Dam is 45 feet thick, comparable to the width of a 4 lane highway. But the base is wider still – at 60 feet it’s wider than the length of a pair of football fields placed end to end.
    • It has an installed capacity of 2080 megawatts and as of 2018 generates about 4 BILLION kilowatt hours of hydroelectric power annually.
    • Lake Mead, the reservoir formed by the damning of the Colorado River encompasses 248 square miles and has a capacity of about 28.9 million acre-feet or more than 9 TRILLION gallons. That’s enough water to cover the state of Connecticut with a sheet of water ten feet deep. That also makes it the largest reservoir in the U.S.

 

And now for the promised photos.

The first set below were taken from the road that leads into the actual dam area – this access road is actually much higher than the dam itself.

 

 

 

These next photos were taken standing on top of the dam itself

 

And this last photo is taken at the spot that marks the state line – my hubby is standing in Nevada and I’m in Arizona. (as you can no doubt tell, it was quite a windy day!)

 

We also had the opportunity to look around the inside of the dam but unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of that portion of our tour.

So what about you? Have you had the opportunity to see this marvelous engineering feat in person? Or perhaps you’ve seen other national treasures like Mt. Rushmore or Seattle’s Space Needle or the Golden Gate Bridge or the Empire State Building or any one of dozens of other man made marvels to be found in this country. Share in the comments and you’ll be entered in a drawing for your choice of any book in my backlist, including the newly re-released titles Handpicked Husband and The Bride Next Door in a single volume.

 

Handpicked Husband (Texas Grooms Book 1)
Regina Nash must marry one of the men her grandfather has chosen for her or lose custody of her nephew. But Reggie knows marriage is not for her, so she must persuade them—and Adam Barr, her grandfather’s envoy—that she’d make a thoroughly unsuitable wife. Adam is drawn to the free-spirited photographer, but his job was to make sure Regina chose from the men he escorted to Texas—not marry her himself!

The Bride Next Door (Texas Grooms Book 2)
Daisy Johnson is ready to settle in Turnabout, Texas, open a restaurant and perhaps find a husband. Of course, she’d envisioned a man who actually likes her, not someone who offers a marriage of convenience to avoid scandal. Newspaper reporter Everett Fulton may find himself suddenly married, but his dreams of leaving haven’t changed. What Daisy wants—home, family, tenderness—he can’t provide… 

 

Click on cover image for information on how to order

Fun with Western Swing and a Give Away

I’m so glad to be here during the Boot Scootin’ Special Week! Today I’m here to tell you that you can’t scoot those boots if you don’t have music to scoot them to, and I’m going to specifically talk about Western Swing.

What is the difference between Western Swing and good old country music?

All music evolves and changes over time as it is influenced by other musical genres and the people who play the music. Not everyone is satisfied with playing the same song the same way and look for ways to jazz it up a little. That is literally how western swing came to be.

Western swing evolved from the cowboy and country dance music played in dance halls and parties during the early part of the last century. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, classic western music played in the southern and western US states was influenced by the blues, jazz, folk, polka and eventually swing itself. The instruments started changing, too. Classic western music is played on a fiddle and or/guitar, but the western swing movement added piano, drums and, of course, the steel guitar, which gave the genre its distinctive sound.

Unlike big bands and swing bands of the same era, which tended to follow a set score, western swing bands tended to improvise, giving them a fun and unpredictable quality, but it was a quality people liked. Dancers loved western swing, which could be danced with a variety of styles. Thanks to its tempo, it was possible to do round dances, two-steps or even the jitter bug in later days. Before World War II, recording companies had a hard time coming up with a marketing name for western swing. They called it hillbilly music, old time music, and hot string music. Many of the bands that played it called it simply “western music”.

In 1933, Bob Wills organized The Texas Playboys, one of the iconic western swing bands, with two fiddles, two guitars, a banjo, drums, and of course the steel guitar, played by Leon McAuliffe. If you listen carefully to some of his songs, you can hear him call on “Leon” to play. Other western swing bands were The Fort Worth Doughboys, Brown and his Musical Brownies, Light Crust Doughboys, Spade Cooley and His Buckle-Busters and Billy Gray and His Western Okies.

In the mid-1930s Fort Worth was the center of Western Swing, but California would soon catch up. During World War II western swing reached the height of its popularity with promotors creating circuits of dance halls for the bands to travel to. Bob Wills played a dance at Venice Pier in Los Angeles attended by 15,000 people. Riverside Rancho, also in Los Angeles, had a 10,0000 square foot dance floor and hosted huge dance parties.

Western swing began to ebb in the 1950s, however the genre influenced rock and roll and rockabilly during that decade. One of Bill Haley’s early bands was known as Bill Haley and the 4 Aces of Western Swing. In the 1970s, western swing experienced a revival thanks to groups such as Asleep at the Wheel, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen and Lyle Lovett.

In case you aren’t familiar with the western swing sound, some classic western swing songs are Pistol Packin’ Mama, San Antonio Rose, Stay All Night, Stay a Little Longer and one of my favorites, which you can listen to below, Big Balls in Cowtown.

Are you a western swing fan? If so what’s a favorite western swing dance song of yours? I’ll choose two commenters to receive a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

 

Going Courtin’

“Goin’ courtin’, goin’ courtin’…” 

Can’t you just hear a trail-dusty cowboy humming a tune, thinking about the dance that night and the girl he’ll twirl around in his arms? 

Community dances, barn dances, harvest balls, and the like gave people who didn’t often make it into town or have time for socializing a chance to connect, laugh, reminisce, and court.  

In my historical romances, I just love the idea of a community dance. I’ve included everything from formal balls to a dance in an empty warehouse. It’s so fun to think about the decorations, the refreshments, the clothes, and the music.

But especially the participants. It’s the hopeless romantic in me that sees these dances as a perfect opportunity for romance to blossom.

One of my favorite dance scenes is from my sweet romance Lightning and Lawmen. Two deputies both like the same beautiful girl. 

Think some sparks (or fists) might fly?

 

Dugan danced with every woman over sixty in attendance and several females under the age of ten, but he never once danced with any of the single young women in attendance. He certainly failed to ask her to dance. She’d just finished a rousing polka with a man she knew worked for Thane in one of his mines when she turned to her next partner and found herself swept into Dugan’s arms.

Suddenly, the rest of the dancers ceased to exist, the music faded into the background, and there was no one else in the world except Dugan.

“Delilah,” he finally said in a raspy tone that rendered her limbs languid.

Nearly tripping on the hem of her skirt, he kept her upright and swung her outside the door. In a few steps, he’d positioned them around the corner of the building where the dusky evening light wrapped around them in an amber-hued glow.

“Why are you dancing with doting grandmothers and little girls?” she asked, hurt by the fact he’d ignored her even if she didn’t want to give voice to her thoughts.

“Because I don’t wanna dance if it ain’t with you, Delilah. I don’t want to draw another breath unless you’re beside me.”

Even in the muted light, she could see his eyes darken while his nostrils flared. His lips parted, and she knew she was a goner.

“Dilly,” he said, giving her a long, thorough look as his hands bracketed her face. “What are you doing to me? Delightful, darling, delicious Delilah,” he muttered as his head descended toward hers.

Her eyes closed, anticipating the impact of his kiss when cool air suddenly spilled around her. She opened her eyes to see Seth shoving Dugan against the wall.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Dugan growled. His jaw clenched in anger as he glared at his friend.

“Leave my girl alone,” Seth warned, raising a fist with a threatening scowl.

“Since when is she your girl?” Dugan asked, removing his suit coat and handing it to Delilah.

Without thinking, she took it, appalled two men she admired were about to engage in fisticuffs over her. It was unthinkable!

“Both of you stop this nonsense right this minute,” she said, stepping between the two of them.

“Delilah, honey, I’ll settle this,” Seth said, placing a hand on her waist and kissing her lightly on the mouth.

If she hadn’t been so shocked by his improper advances, she would have slapped his face.

Dugan didn’t give her a chance to, though. He stepped around Delilah and grabbed Seth around the neck, pulling him backward.

From that point on, fists began flying while the two men…

 


For a chance to win a copy of Lightning and Lawmen, just answer this question:

Who are you cheering for?

Dugan or Seth? 

 

And just because the song is now stuck in my head, how about a little Goin’ Courtin’?

 

Next Generation Cowgirl!-AND A FREE BOOK!!!

BEFORE I SAY ANYTHING ELSE!!!

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Just so you all know there are always new generations coming up that like all things western!

Case in point, my granddaughter. This is cut from a video–which I could NOT get to load on here, and in it she says, among other things YEEHAW. 

I’ve watched it about fifty times already. She’s 19 months old and talking up a storm.

Now that I’ve given you all a free books.

And let you see my beautiful granddaughter (as if that isn’t enough!!!)

 

I had an outing this week, not so usual anymore. I went to Fort Randall in Pickstown, South Dakota.

Some of these old forts are preserved, some are all new and reconstructed.

This one is largely gone.

Almost all that’s there are these sign posts telling about what was located at each spot.

The signs covered all the main points about the fort. What women’s roles were.

Some were officer’s wifes. Some were employed there. The picture within my picture shows a snapshot of life for women at the fort.

How they got supplies…which, being right along the Missouri River, well duh, send supplies up the river. Except the Missouri River, that far north, was unnavigate-able during parts of the years.  And the river was very broad and shallow, often with sandbars just barely under the surface, easy for ships to run aground.

We walked a half mile circuit around the edge of the parade grounds and saw signs like this. And there was foundation stone left here and there, or depressions in the earth.

Funny to think how close the soldiers lived to the commanders and yet they lived very differently. The commander, and the lower ranked officers, in much nicer digs than the rank and file.

They needed medical care and not just for injuries in battle. The lost a large group of soldiers the first year to scurvy. Meanwhile the native people around them, mainly the Sioux Indians, found, with no scientific or medical help, a well rounded diet on land the soldiers were surrounded by.

I hope you can enlarge these pictures to see them well. Read them. When I go to a museum, I want to READ. I want to see what it’s all about, set it in history. That’s what I love. So signs about the bakery, the doctor, what the soldiers did for fun, how they lived, are perfect for me. Maybe better than the buildings. I found it solemn and fascinating and a little big spooky.

Being blessed with a vivid imagination, I can see the soldiers marching around. Feel them overheated in the summer and freezing in the winter. Wonder how women coped with all the hard work they had to do…and do it all wearing a skirt.

It was a wonderful, if madly hot, day.

The only building still standing was a church

It..was..being..rebuilt.

My day at Fort Randall. Do you go to museums? I actually love them, though it seems like I do most of my research online these days.

I came away with story ideas, but also I felt like everything I learned and saw and imagined helps ground my stories in how things really were back then. And hopefully that brings my work authenticity rooted in solid research.

Tell me about your favorite museum. And go grab a free book!

http://www.maryconnealy.com

Kickin’ up Yer Heels

Step back in time—how do you celebrate a barn raising in the Old West? A wagon train coming to town? A wedding? The end of a cattle drive? Or something as regular as a Saturday night?

Dancing!

The towns in the West were full of independent, rugged people, looking to make a mark on the world or at least on their own pockets. Town dances invited all to attend; cowboys and miners, outlaws and lawmen, bankers and merchants, cultured women and soiled doves. Dances were important to bring a community together for courtship and friendshipping. It was also a vehicle that mixed the social classes, giving people opportunities for advancing one’s class. America’s class system wasn’t as rigid as had been the countries of Europe and the attendees of the dances proved this especially in the West.

Immigrants found it easy to hoe-down with their neighbors as many of the dances originated in Europe and changed very little from the folk dances people already knew. The Polka was a favorite in the new West, but other common dances were the Quadrille, Grand March, Waltz and Scottish Fling. As dances evolved, new steps became incorporated and a dance master would call out the steps to keep the group in sync. This evolved into an American original, the square dance. It seemed to fit the American ideal of a mixture of people and ideas that work together to create a new culture.

In many western towns, women were scarce. And just as in Shakespeare’s plays, men would assume the female role. “Heifer branding” solved the problem as burly men would don a piece of fabric tied round their arm or strap on a bonnet or apron to take the place of the fairer sex and the party continued.

Hurdy-Gurdy Girls traveled to western towns in a group of several women, chaperoned by a married couple, often with children. They hired out for dances and then traveled on to another town.

Saloons found that dancing brought in more men and more money, and employed women as dance hall girls. These women were looked down upon by “proper” ladies, but they were not prostitutes as they were accused. Men would buy a dance ticket for a dollar, then spend it on a partner of his choice, dancing together for a quarter of an hour. The interaction allowed for dance and conversation with men starved for female companionship.

The women generally earned half the price of the tickets they claimed. If they took the man to the bar after the dance, they received a commission on the drinks as well. The dance hall girls could make more in a week than most men made in a month. They also made more money than the prostitutes did, and when given an opportunity, the soiled doves made their way into the dance hall ranks.

Towns also sponsored regular dancing events. In Albert Benard de Russailh’s travel journal, Last Adventure, published in 1851, he wrote of dances in San Francisco. “I am occasionally reminded of our balls at the Salle Valentine on the Rue St. Honoré. There is one important difference: Parisian rowdies often come to blows; but in San Francisco hardly an evening passes without drunken brawls during which shots are fired.”

Dance in the Old West is part of the mystique of the era and was as vital to building their culture, as it is today. It was used to release energy, bring together neighbors, socialize, and provide recreation. So come on out to the barn—let’s dance.

One lucky commenter chosen at random will receive her choice of one of Jo Noelle’s ebooks! To be entered in the giveaway leave a comment on your favorite dance or your favorite dancing memory.

To follow Jo Noelle on on Facebook at Loving Sweet Historical Romance click here. To visit her website click here, and to buy her books, click here.

Works Consulted:

 

A True American Hero, John Trudell, Lakota Indian & Free E-book Gift Download

Howdy!

Well, today I thought we might look at the poet, philosopher and performer who was — in his younger days — a political activist for his tribe.  That man is John Trudell.

John Trudell’s life was so full and he accomplished so many things that I don’t believe I could really do his story justice with one simple blog.  But I’ll try.

John Trudell was an Indian Activist who was the spokesperson for the Occupation of Alcatraz in the early 1970’s.  One of the quotes from his first wife that I found so stunning was when he told his wife that they were going to the Alcatraz Occupation, she told him she was afraid she’d get cold feet.  His response was, “Wear socks.”

He was also a part of the American Indian Movement, also in the 1970’s.

He tells the story of his father and how he and his father and mother came to be married.  His father was Lakota and his mother was Mexican.  John said in an interview that his father literally stole his mother and rode away with her on horseback.  But they loved one another and the marriage worked.

John was briefly in the Navy, but it didn’t appear that this held great interest for him and he soon returned to the reservation.  He met his second wife, Tina, in 1971 and in 1972 they became a couple.  It was a troubling time to be on an Indian Reservation.  There had been some shoot-outs and tensions were high on the Pine Ridge Reservation in So. Dakota.  In February of 1979, John was engaged in protests in Washington DC.  On the 11th of February, he burned an American Flag on the steps of the FBI building in protest of the injustices to the American Indian people.  Within 12 hours after that event, his wife, Tina, and their three children and Tina’s mother were killed in a sudden fire in their home on her reservation in Death Valley.  Tina was also pregnant at the time.

John said in interviews that he had to die, too, in order to get through each day after his family’s death.  But he also said that Tina’s parting gift to him was the gift of her poetry.  She was the poet in the family.  He said in interview that it was she who encouraged him to write down his thoughts, and to write them down using poetry.  It was her parting gift to him. 

And so he did begin to write.  His poems were often heart-felt and sometimes they were fiery and full of passion for life and for his people.  He became involved in reading his poetry in public places, and on one occasion, he met Jessie Ed Davis, a Kiowa guitarist, who said that he could put John’s poems to music.  And thus began the poetry from John Trudell’s heart and the many concerts that you can still see online.

John has influenced many Native American artists.  I’ve only recently discovered John’s work, but I have found it profound.  So I’m going to show you some quotes of his that I find inspirational.

You can still find his concerts and his talks and interviews on the internet.  John became, or perhaps he always was, philosophical, and his wisdom was often sought after by many people of all different races.  This last quote, off to the left here is probably my favorite of his quotes, if only because I find this very profound in today’s world, which has become more than a little strange.

I’ve said this to my closest friends, and I’ll tell you this today in this blog.  Whatever else we as a people are involved in, I believe we are in a spiritual war against some dark forces.  I admit that I’ve heard this saying over and over and over, but I never really understood it until recently.  But I believe that this is what John was saying when he said “protect your spirit”:  In this life, one has many choices, but if one chooses the path of violence, theft, and the stripping of another’s God-given rights and happiness, all in the attainment of some materialistic goal, one is looking at one’s eternity as though one were painting oneself into a corner — and, it seems to me that in doing those things which bring harm to another, one is not “protecting one’s spirit.”  I guess he was saying that one has the choice spiritually…and maybe that’s what he means by “Protect your spirit….”

John Trudell died in 2015.  He left behind him a legacy of beauty, of music and poetry.  He also left behind him a philosophy that I believe enriches one’s soul.

Well, that’s all for today.  I hope you enjoyed the blog.  Often, I think of the American Indian Hero as having lived in the long ago past.  But John Trudell was a modern hero.  At least that is my opinion of him.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear from you.

Am offering a free download of the book, LAKOTA SURRENDER today in honor of John Trudell, a wonderful poet, philosopher and a Lakota Indian.  This is a download from BookFunnel and will be up only for the next fews days.  Grab it while you can:  https://dl.bookfunnel.com/uq6ti9a1kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Carroll-Bradd researches Nineteenth Century Health Resorts

Before I started writing An Agent for Dixie, book #73 in the popular Pinkerton Matchmaker series, I had a rather contemporary view of health spas and resorts. Of course, I had read about the waters at Bath in Somerset, England, from various regency titles over the years. But those books don’t go into much detail about what people actually did while they were there. I always assumed Bath was more like a popular destination where people went to be seen or to make connections.

Public baths were popular in Roman times and were often not located at a natural hot spring. Under the level of the pool, water was heated in boilers with wood fires. The location usually had three rooms with pools of different temperatures. A bather could use each in his choice of order or soak in only one. The warm pool was called the tepidarium. The caldarium contained hot water, and here slaves would rub perfumed oil over their masters and then scrape off oil and loose skin with a knife. The cold bath, where bathers swam, was called a frigidarium. 

Over the years, public baths went in and out of fashion, related to fears of catching certain diseases, as well as times when they were seen as places where political dissidents met. In the 16th century, ancient medical texts were recovered in Italy containing information about balneology, the science of the therapeutic use of baths. Chemical composition of the water was analyzed to determine which natural spring might help which ailment. More and more, “taking the waters,” or balneotherapy, became a doctor’s directive for the patients who could afford to take time away from their daily live for “the cure.” Another reason was that doctors didn’t have other remedies, before the invention or development of modern medicines, to recommend for certain maladies. Better to prescribe something than to admit their lack of knowledge.

In the 1800s, especially in mountain locations, health resorts sprang up throughout Europe and the United States (more so in the 2nd half of the century) where thermal pools had been discovered. Some people experienced an improvement in their health by drinking the mineral waters (usually from cold springs). Others were told by doctors that the hot mineral waters helped conditions like gout, arthritis, muscle strains, skin conditions, rheumatism, and lumbago. Often, mud treatments, massage, or restricted diets became part of the regime.

Owners of the natural pools hoped people would come to the location and linger, so hotels and/or boarding houses were constructed near the thermal pools. In the grander hotels, entertainment and activities were offered for the times the guests would not be partaking of the waters. The amenities ran the gamut from nature walks to game of croquet and shuffleboard to concerts and balls, depending on the clientele. Because of the variety of offerings, some enthusiasts made a circuit of visiting several locations during the summer months.

Health resorts that appealed to the citizen possessing modest means offered camping spots or minimal shelter
and advertised the benefits of sleeping outdoors. Some churches conducted their revivals at certain resorts, and annual traditions were born.
 Armed with this research, I had great fun in inventing a resort town with a spa in the grand fashion of an Italian bathhouse.

Foreign diplomacy is the Zivon family business but Alexei resists the polite constraints, not lasting a year in law school. The four successful years working as a Pinkerton agent prove he was meant to follow a different path. Now, he’s faced with the biggest challenge of his career—training a female agent who has no practical skills. Alexei figures he can convince her to just observe as he solves the case, because nothing will interfere with his success rate.

Since childhood, Dixie LaFontaine lived in her older sister’s shadow but applying to become a Pinkerton Agent is her first major decision. Being matched with confident Alexei is intimidating, especially when the assigned case involves them pretending to be brother and sister at a health spa where jewelry has gone missing. Dixie has no qualms about pretending to be a French heiress needing care for her arthritis. Soon, she falls victim to Alexei’s charm and realizes that hiding her feelings might be as hard as ferreting out the thief among the spa’s clientele.
Will Dixie focus on learning the skills of an agent, or will she concentrate on turning her marriage of convenience into a lasting love? You can check the book out on Amazon.


Have you ever been to a health spa or read about them. I’m giving away an e-copy of An Agent for Liana, book #63 in the “Pinkerton Matchmaker” series.

Loner Dale Claybourne is not afraid to face down thieves, swindlers and even murderers. But he quells at having to train a female agent. Gregarious Liana LaFontaine yearns for a taste of the adventurous life of being an agent. Impulsive by nature, Liana jumps into situations she doesn’t have the experience to handle. Dale fights his growing admiration for this French beauty while keeping close to guard her safety. At odds over almost everything, the pair has to solve the mystery of who is stealing from a Virginia City saloon—a task made even harder because of the wild attraction that shouldn’t be present in a marriage of convenience.

 

Mother’s Day History and Trivia

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. It’s Mother’s Day as I write this and even though Mother’s Day will be over by the time you see it, I thought it would be fun to share some history and fun facts that surround this special occasion. And yes, I know that for many of us, this Mother’s Day was celebrated differently than what we might have liked

HISTORY:

Mothers have been celebrated throughout history.

  • In one of the earliest celebrations was in ancient Greece. In the spring they would honor Rhea, mother of the gods and the goddess of fertility, motherhood and generation.
  • In ancient Roman there was also a spring festival celebrating a mother goddess named Cybele. It was held on the Ides of March, lasted three days and was called Hilaria. It involved having her followers make offerings at the temple, hold parades and masquerades and play games.
  • In England the day coincides with an observance called Mothering Sunday. Originating in the 17th century, it takes place on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Traditionally, families who had moved away would return home to the original church they attended. A prayer service honoring the Virgin Mary was held and then afterwards children would present flowers to their own mothers.
  • In America, the celebration had a different origin.
    In an effort to honor her own mother Anna Jarvis, who was not a mother herself,  wanted to establish a day to celebrate mothers in an intimate manner. She tirelessly campaigned to that end and in May of 1913 President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day, thus making it a national day of celebration.
    Unfortunately Anna’s story does not have a happy ending. She quickly became disillusioned with the holiday, declaring it had become overly commercialized and that this detracted from the personal aspects she had envisioned. She began staging boycotts and walkouts. Anna eventually spent all her money fighting her cause and died, destitute, at the age of 84 in a sanitorium.

GIFT GIVING

  • In 2017 approximately $23.5 billion was spent on Mother’s Day gifts and the average consumer in the US spent a little over $185 on their moms.
  • Mother’s Day holds the record as the third highest day for flower and plant purchases Only Christmas and Hanukkah rank higher. In fact, approximately one fourth of all flowers purchased annually are bought for Mother’s Day. Something that may account for why Mothers love getting flowers is that a study conducted by Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D of Harvard Medical School, found that that when fresh-cut flowers are around it generally makes people more compassionate and happier in general.
  • It will probably also come as no surprise that Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for folks to eat out, beating out even Valentine’s Day for that honor. In 2018 approximately 87 million adults visited restaurants on Mother’s Day.
  • And for those who can’t be there in person to take their mom to a restaurant, Mother’s Day is also the day that ranks as the highest for number of phone calls made. That number  reaches something around 122 million.
  • In 2018 Approximately $4.6 billion was spent on jewelry during the Mother’s Day buying period.
  • And of course the most popular item to give Mother on her special day is a card. Every Mother’s Day about 152 million cards are sent.

TRIVIA

  • During the 1920s France handed out medals to mothers who had large families. This was done to signify gratitude for helping to rebuild the population of the country that was devastated by the loss of so many lives during WWI. The practice was eventually discontinued and today the more common gift for a mother in France is a cake shaped like a flower.
  • The record for the oldest woman to give birth is held by a retired schoolteacher in India. Satyabhama Mahapatra gave birth to a boy at age 65.
  • The record for the shortest length of time between births is held by Jayne Bleackley whose two babies were born only 208 days apart.
  • On the flip side, the woman who holds the record for the longest interval between births is Elizabeth Buttle. Her first child was born in May of 1956 and her second in November of 1997 when Elizabeth was 60. The infants were born 41 years and 185 days apart.
  • The record for the highest number of babies born to a single woman is a whopping 69! The woman was a Russian peasant living in the 18th century. She gave birth to 16 sets of twins, seven sets of triplets and 4 set of quadruplets.
  • And did you ever wonder why the word for Mom in nearly every language starts with an “M” sound? It is likely because the first sound an infant learns to verbalize is the ma sound. Since babies only need to open and close their lips to make these sounds – no teeth or tongue are needed – it comes more easily to them than other sounds.

There you have it. Did any of these facts surprise you? Also, how do you normally celebrate Mother’s Day and how was it different this year?  Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.

 

 

Ever Hear of The Travelers Aid Society?

 

In this pandemic, most travel is prohibited, especially international. But I can’t imagine how frightening it would be to be stuck somewhere and have no resources. And double that fear if I found myself in a strange country and be unable to speak the language.

So organizations founded just to help travelers are a godsend, no matter when or where.

The Travelers Aid movement began in 1851 with Bryan Mullanphy, a former mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, who bequeathed half a million dollars to assist “bona fide travelers heading West.”

This organization furnished provisions and the means with which to make the trip for men and women in good health who showed the stamina required for the journey. I can only imagine how many adventurous settlers they helped.

Until recently, I had never heard of this organization and never knew anything like this existed!

Once the West was settled, the Travelers Aid Society moved into providing protection for women and girls traveling alone. Such a beneficial program that kept them from falling victim to the white slave trade and other criminal enterprises.

By the early twentieth century, they served all people regardless of gender, age, race, class, or religion. It truly became an organization for everyone.

Image by 272447 from Pixabay

 

It morphed into the National Travelers Aid Association in 1917 under Grace Dodge. They welcomed immigrants to the U.S. and provided assistance and a safe place to stay for anyone needing one. The organization set up offices near all the ports of entry and stood ready to dive in and assist anyone with a problem.

During the 1920s and throughout WWII, they were a prominent fixture at railroad stations, helping soldiers, unaccompanied minors, and assisting stranded travelers.

There are still around 40 Travelers Aid programs in the U.S. with offices at major airports to assist where there’s a need. In 2010, they assisted 7 million people in getting to their destination.

Now there’s an international branch for world travelers. There will always be a need for someone to help the lost, the desperate, the confused.

For an organization that’s 169 years old, that’s pretty darn good.

Have you ever traveled to a strange place and needed help? Would you ever reach out to The National Travelers Aid association if you were in a bind? I’m giving away a signed copy of The Mail Order Bride’s Secret so leave a comment to enter.