Monday, February 25, 2013

Turnip Headlines

February 24, 1964.

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Main Street, Hollyhill. I think I'm going to have to expand my reporting area. Main Street has been more than usually dull this week. Nothing, I mean nothing going on. Nobody even tried to park without putting nickels in the parking meters. The police chief had absolutely nothing to do but drink coffee with the mayor up at the Grill. I told Dad he ought to write an editorial about how Hollyhill should pay the mayor by the hour instead of a salary. And only the hours he actually works. But Dad says more work might be going on than I can see. That sometimes things happen over coffee that might never happen at a City Council meeting. Besides, he's not the kind of editor who stirs up trouble just for the sake of stirring up trouble. 

Wes told him it might sell a few more newspapers. I have to agree with that. Our headline story this week was some guy who brought in turnips that were big as bowling balls. Thank goodness, he wanted to take them home and didn't give them to Dad. The only thing worse than boiled cabbage is cooked turnips! 

See, I told you there was no news in Hollyhill this week. Definitely nothing strange. I've given up finding out who sent Zella flowers. She hasn't. She whips out her red lipstick every time she sees a possible candidate for her secret admirer coming through the newspaper office door, but so far nobody has given the first sign of being "the one." I've about decided Dad sent them to give her something to think about other than new reasons to fuss about me. I have to admit I don't make her think too hard. Wes and I are still laughing about that fit she had over the fake spider in her pencil drawer. 

Dad threatened to not let me come to the office for a week after that, but he relented after I wrote Zella an apology. I'm pretty good with words, so I didn't have any trouble sounding sincere. I hope Dad doesn't read this or I'll be in trouble all over again. He says the Bible is pretty plain on how we ought to tell the truth and be good to our neighbors. He'd tell me Zella was my neighbor, but she lives clear over on the other side of town. Thank goodness!

So things are the same old same old in Hollyhill this week. But it was a great day with lots of sunshine and the wind kept the flags flying pretty up at the post office. Dad says we should look for blessings every day. Guess they would be easier to find than something strange in Hollyhill. 

Remember, this is your last chance to throw your name in the giveaway hat. I'm drawing for the three winners this weekend. Can't wait to send you Scent of Lilacs. Then you'll understand about Zella and about me. And I've been told a newsletter is about to go out with more prizes to celebrate my book. Nothing too strange about any of that, but fun.

See you next week. I think I'll take a trip down to the bridge over the river. Not so strange, but Dad says it's got history. Hope that doesn't scare you off - me threatening to write about history. I wouldn't blame you. History in school puts me right to sleep. We have this teacher we call Round Brown. From what I can see, I don't think he likes history either.      

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mystery Flowers and Secret Admirers

February 17, 1964
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Main Street, Hollyhill. Strange goings on in the newspaper office this week. 

Valentine's Day was last Friday. The day when everybody goes bonkers for love. At least everybody but Wes and me. He says folks are just having "heart" trouble and it's trouble he intends to stay out of. I wouldn't mind having a box of chocolates but not if I have to put up with a boy to get them. Wes says I'll change my mind any day now about boys since I'm thirteen, but I'm doubting it. 

But somebody in Hollyhill must be having "head" trouble. Zella got flowers. On Valentine's Day. Zella! You know Zella. She's the woman who has been working at the newspaper office since forever. Dad says he couldn't get out the paper without her, but sometimes I think he should try. I admit that Zella is a whiz on the typewriter. Not only that, she can tell from the sound of the coins people drop in the dish on the counter when they come in to pick up a paper if they're paying the full twenty-five cents. It's on the honor system, but Zella's stares have a way of keeping everybody honorable.

I'd have thought Zella gave herself those flowers, but I was there when the flower shop owner brought them in. She was as flustered as I've seen her since a mouse made a nest in her bottom desk drawer. She blamed that on Wes. Said he left the back door open too much. And she didn't care how hot it got in the press room. Doors should be shut. I don't think she'll be blaming these flowers on Wes. She must have a secret admirer in Hollyhill. So I guess this proves Wes was right. There are strange things in Hollyhill. Zella having an admirer of any kind, secret or otherwise, is more than strange.

Maybe this is a mystery I need to get to the bottom of. Maybe you can help me out. Have you ever been surprised by something from a secret admirer?  

Oh, and remember to leave a comment so you can get your name in the drawing to win a copy of Scent of Lilacs. If you read that you'll understand why I'm so surprised Zella got flowers. On Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Dog Named Zebedee

Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails.  ~Max Eastman

February 10, 1964. Jocie Brooke here still on the outlook for strange on Main Street, Hollyhill.  It's been a quiet week. That's how weeks in February are if we don't get a big snowstorm. Then if the snow falls deep enough, things can really get slow in Hollyhill. Everybody stays home and drinks hot chocolate. Sounds good to me. No school. But no snow and no strange this week.  Even old Zella has acted almost normal. In case you don't know, Zella works for my dad. Well, Zella would probably say everybody works for her. She thinks she owns the newspaper office.

That's where my Dad works. He's the editor of our weekly paper, and he's always saying that if no news happens like now in Hollyhill, the pages of the paper have to be filled anyway. He doesn't mean you should make stuff up. Now that might be more fun. But he's meaning you have to dig around until you find something to write about that won't bore the socks of your readers. So since I can't find strange this week and it's not snowing, I'm going to hope you want to hear about Zebedee. Who's that you ask? Well for one, he was James and John's father in the Bible. The sons of thunder. If you ever hear Zebedee bark you'll know why I picked that name.

  I've wanted a dog since forever. Every chance I got I prayed for the Lord to send me a dog. It was my dog prayer. Dad says it's okay to pray about everything. And he also says the Lord wants to give us the desires of our hearts. A dog just happened to be the desire of my heart. I WANTED A DOG!! I had dog hunger. I wasn't asking for a poodle or a beagle or any particular kind. As long as it had four feet, a cold nose and a wagging tail, I was going to be happy. No sense making prayers complicated. And somewhere in the Bible doesn't it say God already knows what we need before we ask him? At least I think it does. So if that's true, there wasn't any reason for me to draw a picture for the Lord. He knows what a dog looks like. He created them, you know. 

I prayed and prayed. Sometimes out loud just in case Dad was around. After all, Dad's always saying that the Lord can use his people to answer prayers. So if the Lord wanted to use Dad, I wasn't going to mind. But then I found Zebedee or maybe it would be truer to say he found me. You can read all about how that happened if you read the book, Scent of Lilacs. I've heard it's out there for sale now. On something called the internet, whatever that is. And in bookstores too. We don't have a bookstore in Hollyhill, but thank goodness and this rich man named Carnegie we have a library. 

But back to Zebedee. He likes to follow me everywhere I go, even down  Main Street. Most folks like dogs, except Zella who yells at me if Zeb follows me into the newspaper office. But Wes lets me sneak him in the back door of the press room sometimes. Zella hardly ever comes back there.

Everybody does pretty much agree that Zeb is not a pretty dog. Most folks come right out and say "That dog is the ugliest dog I've ever seen." Doesn't really matter to me or Zebedee. I guess maybe that's the strange for this week. How a dog as ugly as Zebedee can look so pretty to me. 

Did you have a dog when you were fourteen like me? What was his or her name and was your dog pretty?

Remember, if you leave a comment you can have a chance to win a copy of that book, Scent of Lilacs, and find out all about how Zebedee found me and how he taught that Jezebel cat of Aunt Love's a thing or two. I'll be announcing three winners here on March 4. 

And come back over to the Hollyhill Book of the Strange next week. Maybe something strange will happen in Hollyhill before then that I can write about. But I wouldn't count on it if I were you. In spite of what Wes says and that story about Mr. Wilson last week, Hollyhill is a pretty ordinary town with one extra-ordinary dog named Zebedee. A dog that does do a lot of laughing with his tail. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Barefoot Ben Wilson on Main Street

Ben Wilson
February 3, 1964

 Jocie Brooke here reporting from Main Street, Hollyhill. Snow fell yesterday. At least three inches. Plenty to make the county roads slick and so no school. Yaaayy! It's always especially cool when snow happens on a Monday. 

Everybody hates getting up on Monday morning even if they have their homework done already. And I did. I had that science report all written with a carefully drawn illustration of pistils. But why in the world are we studying plant pistils in the middle of winter? We should be studying snowflakes. Do you really believe that no two snowflakes look alike? There are millions of snowflakes. Nobody has looked at them all. Somewhere in the hundreds of years that those millions of flakes have fallen, two could be alike. Don't you think?

Okay, back to Main Street reporting. It turns out that strange does happen in Hollyhill. But sometimes you're so used to that strange you don't pay it much attention. That's how Ben Wilson is. Definitely strange. Or maybe it would be nicer to say different. Dad says Mr. Wilson marches to a different drummer than the ordinary Hollyhiller. But most of us average Hollyhillers are so used to seeing Ben that we just think of him as - well, as Ben.

But I've been trying to do what Wes said and be on the lookout for strange. So when I spotted Ben walking up the street barefoot in the snow, it hit me as to how that might be a little strange. I don't know how old he is. He's not much of a talker at least to kids like me. They say he has a way with horses. And Dad says he went off and had an important job once. I guess he didn't like it because he came home to Holly County and put on his bib overalls and took off his shoes. I've seen him wear rubber boots in the summertime, but never in the snow or cold. His feet bleed sometimes and you can hear him grumbling at them when that happens. "Bleed, darn you, bleed." Well, he doesn't say darn, but Dad would take my pen and notebook away if I wrote what he really said. 

Old Ben carries a walking stick almost as tall as he is and lets his beard and hair grow however they want to. He walks everywhere and takes off to Louisville every year when it's State Fair time. He's made some friends down there among the newspaper folks. Guess you have to get away from home for people to properly appreciate your oddness. Around Hollyhill, we just say there's goes Ben and think he ought to put on boots and a coat when it's snowy and cold like today. 

When I showed this to Wes, he laughed and said he didn't know what planet Mr. Wilson might be from, but that it's one he wouldn't mind visiting. But he doesn't plan to go barefoot in the snow to get there.

So I guess I've found something strange for my Hollyhill Book of the Strange afer all. If I get started on the people here in Hollyhill, then I might have to write two books of the strange. 

Thanks for stopping by, and remember if you leave a comment, you might win Scent of Lilacs. Then you'll know all our secrets, the ordinary ones and strange ones too.