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The Dirty Work of Illumination

We take lighting for granted.

The sun goes down; we flip a switch. Instant illumination. Sure, sometimes the power goes off and we have to “rough it.” Candles or hurricane lamps for a few hours, a couple of days, sometimes longer if you live on the Gulf Coast and it’s hurricane season (there’s a reason they’re called hurricane lamps).

And while urban America was almost completely electrified (eek! that sounds painful) by 1929, it would be well into the mid-30s, and even the early 40s, before electric power found its way to the farms.

So poor Rose

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A is for…

One of the tools in a writer’s arsenal to develop a fictional character is the Character A-Z exercise, where, beginning with the letter A and working your way through to Z, you write from the character’s POV (point of view) about whatever topic comes to mind for the letter at hand. Because, there comes a time when research has to stop and you just have to get into the character’s head to see what makes them tick.

Rose and I are embarking on just such a journey. Care to come along? Continue reading

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Gorgeous George

 

Rose has a little story to tell us. About Gorgeous George. Get a cup of coffee (or whatever your favorite beverage might be) then sit down and enjoy!

Poor Gorgeous George.

The sun was already halfway to the horizon by the time I finished hanging out the laundry. I would have liked a few minutes rest, but George was waiting and that would take the better part of the afternoon if I wanted to be done by the time Harold got home from the fields.

“Here, Georgie,” I clucked, pulling a biscuit from my pocket. “You know you can’t resist my cooking.”

Poor George. The hapless bird came strutting to me, completely unaware I was the enemy. I held out my hand, and let some crumbs fall at his feet, then scooped him up after he’d nibbled the lion’s share of them, smoothing his roughed up feathers as I walked.

“Such a handsome boy, George,” I whispered. “I’m sorry I have to do this.”

I coddled the rooster, granting him a reprieve of sorts as I petted him, pouring as much love as possible into his tiny, soon-to-be-complete life. I was grateful for the delay as well. I needed time to prepare mentally .

I hated this murderous part of farming. My first execution had taken three attempts to complete; my mistake: not holding the bird down firmly enough. I still sported the scar from the gash he gave me thrashing to get free, a reminder of the lesson I learned: hold them close, whisper soothing things to them, then shove them head first into the cone and pretend to be Marie Antoinette.

Of course, killing the bird is just the beginning. It has to be scalded, then the feathers plucked, feet chopped off, innards extracted, excess fat removed. I am faster now, but not that day–with George–and still not as quick as the other farm wives here. But this day, I needed to hurry if I had any hope of having a carcass cooked by supper.

I swiped a tear from the corner of my eye. Even now, I cry every time I have to kill one of the cursed birds. “Shhh, it’s alright, Georgie,” I said, brushing my lips across his head in a final goodbye. Then, without thinking too much about what was to follow, I grabbed the axe, upended George into the cone, and struck.

If only I’d listened to Harold. It would have been so much easier if I’d never named the beasts.

 

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Snow Cream

This diary¹ entry intrigued me:

1929 Thursday January 10

Nice day. Roads were drifted full again. LAS met here today. Not very large crowd but not so bad for the roads. Took in over $5. Snow started to blow about 4:30 and had another blizzard all night again. The wind blew just terrible. Francis, Ruth, and Oscar were here and spent the eve. We made ice cream and played cards. Jack Nolte died this noon. Mama is better.

The new year really wreaked havoc on the midwest in 1929. The diary entries for the first two weeks of the year consistently Continue reading