Monday, September 30, 2013

Hollyhill has a New Book

October 1, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. 

Somebody has written a book about us here in Hollyhill! Again! Last year there was that book about all the things I found out in the summer, Scent of Lilacs. Now I'm finding out lots of new things in this story, Orchard of Hope. And some of it happens right here at the Hollyhill Grill. Dad wasn't very happy with my part in that. Not because he didn't think I was right, but because he thinks I'm too young. Dads always think you're too young to understand big issues like the Civil Rights Movement.

Of course I know about that. I read about Martin Luther King Jr. leading a march on Washington. I just never realized things were so divided here in Hollyhill until the Hearndon family moved to Holly County and Noah Hearndon started working for Dad. Boy, did he open my eyes to things I should have known but didn't. His mother rode on the Freedom Train, you know, and he was in the Children's March in Birmingham. That didn't go too well for him or his little sister, Cassidy. Then Miss Sally opened the eyes of folks at the church. Sometimes a church needs revival! And sometimes that revival starts with forgiveness. 

But I can't giveaway the story. That wouldn't be nice. I could. I know the story since I lived it, but you'll just have to read it for yourself. And it's got a cute cover. That's me on the front. I wanted them to put a notebook and pencil on the table with me, but I guess they couldn't find the kind of notebook I like. Narrow ruled with a blue back. But they are letting me drink my favorite milkshake. Strawberry. Yum! 

I hope if you haven't already read my story that you'll look for it wherever you get books. I might even look at the library to see if it's there. Wouldn't that be the neatest thing? To see a book about me at the library. Maybe neater would be to see a book written by me on a library shelf. That's my dream. I love to write. I guess I could have written these Heart of Hollyhill books, but I just can't imagine anybody wanting to read about Hollyhill. Nothing ever happens in Hollyhill. At least it didn't till last summer. And then....

Come back next week and maybe this writer will let me give away some books. Actually this book looks familiar. I think it used to have a different cover, but I have to say I think letting me show up on the cover of the new edition is a big improvement. Don't you?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Miss Sally's Old-Fashioned Ways of Predicting the Weather

September 23, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Holly County. We were at Miss Sally's house on Sunday. You remember her, don't you? She was the one who took those chickens I won and then let me visit them. She lives out in the country close to Dad's church. Everybody loves Miss Sally. And everybody listens when she talks. Even me. Dad too. He says a person can learn a lot by listening to older people talk. 

Anyway I found this wooly worm in her yard. She says a black wooly worm means a cold winter coming our way. I'd heard that before, but I didn't know crickets could tell the weather. She says if you can find the right kind of cricket and count the number of times it chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 — the result is the approximate outside temperature in Fahrenheit. Also, if a cricket chirps real loud, you'd better be finding your umbrella because it's going to rain.

Miss Sally says there are lots of old-fashioned ways to predict the weather. She asked me if I remembered how many fogs we had in August because every fog then means a snow in the winter and the heavier the fog, the deeper the snow we'll get. Then there are persimmons. Have you ever eaten a persimmon? One that's not ripe does funny things to your mouth. But Miss Sally says you have to cut open the seed to tell the weather. If the inside of the seed looks like a spoon, that means lots of snow. If it's a knife shape, get ready for bitter cold, but if it looks like a fork, the winter is going to be mild. She says we can look for a persimmon tree next time I come to the farm and check out the seeds. 

She says even the smoke from her chimney can let her know when to expect rain. If the smoke seems to be sliding down the chimney to the ground, then it will rain within 24 hours. A ring around the moon predicts rain too. If there are stars inside the ring, that's how many days before it's going to rain. Tree leaves flipping upside down is a good sign of rain too. She says that's just a few of the signs of rain on the way. 

I asked her if the signs really worked and she said she figured people have been watching for weather signs since Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden and that it's a good thing to pay attention to what the people who came before you knew whether it was about the weather or about how to live a good life. 

On the way home, Dad said Miss Sally was right about that, but the weather signs didn't always work, especially that wooly worm one because you might see a brown one and a black one crawling along together and then which kind of winter were you supposed to have? A mixed one, I guess, but then that's the kind of winters we usually have. Some cold days. Some not so cold days. So maybe the wooly worms are still right. 

I told Wes that, and he told me he had a sure fire way of predicting the weather. A Jupiter rock. I asked him how it told the weather. I should have known better. Here's what he said. "When the rock is dry, the day is fair. When it's wet, it's raining. When the rock is white, it's snowing. When the rock disappears, it's snowed a lot."

I think I could find a weather rock like that right here on Earth. Do you know any signs that predict the weather? Do you believe they're right?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Jupiter Watermelons and Carbon Paper

September 16, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Thank goodness, I managed to stay out of trouble at school this week so that I could write this report. Did you like Dad filling in for me last week? He wouldn't let me read it. Said that was part of my punishment for getting in trouble with Mrs. Jackson. 

I can't believe that of all the English teachers in the world, I had to get Mrs. Jackson. You won't believe what she did this week. She told us we could write a story about whatever we wanted. She said we had to make carbon copies. That it would be good practice. I hate making carbon copies. I put two pieces of paper together with the carbon paper in the middle and immediately I mess up. It's guaranteed. Then you're supposed to somehow correct it and that makes a bigger mess. Then you've got black on your fingers and you touch the top page and well, you get the idea. 

And Aunt Love says paper doesn't grow on trees, but she's meaning money, not paper. Paper actually does grow on trees, doesn't it? Anyway, I'm no good at carbon copies. Zella can type three copies at once and never make mistake one. She and Mrs. Jackson must be best friends. Maybe that's it. Maybe Zella has asked Mrs. Jackson to make my life miserable. 

Anyway, I wrote the story, made the carbon copy, turned it in. She said my story was too unbelievable. She also said I needed to learn to spell occasional/ocassional. Who can ever remember if it's two c's or two s's? Neither one of them look right. Then she wrote in red on my paper that just because a writer knows a word with four syllables doesn't mean she has to use that word instead of one with one syllable. She was just being too picky on that one. I only used inordinately once. Well, maybe twice. Indiscriminately.  

So what was this story about that I was supposed to be able to write about whatever I wanted? Wes, of course. I just wrote some of his Jupiter truths, like if you tell lies on Jupiter you break out in purple spots or how Mr. Jupiter gives all the space travelers up there three buttons to press if they get in trouble on other planets. And how my dog, Zeb, might really be Harlan from Jupiter if Wes can be believed. Zeb didn't mind me writing that, but Mrs. Jackson did. She said it was time I wrote something somebody could believe. You believe me, don't you? So see, I already have. Written something somebody believes. Thank you very much!

Wes says Mr. Jupiter sends people like Mrs. Jackson to one
of the Jupiter moons to raise Jupiter melons. He says folks on Jupiter love Jupiter melons. That they're like our watermelons only blue instead of red and without seeds. Real tasty, he says. I can go for the blue, but whoever heard of watermelons without seeds? Now if I'd written about that, Mrs. Jackson might have been right to say it was unbelievable. 

So now I've got to write something else. By tomorrow. Something boring. Something Mrs. Jackson can believe. Maybe I'll write about Mr. Whitlow and how the man can't be trusted. Of course, I'll have to change his name and pretend he's in Chicago or somewhere. Anywhere except Jupiter. Mrs. Jackson has a problem with anything Jupiter. 

If you could write a story about anything, what would you write about? And did you ever have to make carbon copies of what you wrote? How did you keep the paper from shifting and making shadowy letters? 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jocie in Trouble at School

September 9, 1964

David Brooke here filling in for Jocie who got in trouble at school for eating a Tootsie Roll in class. She claims she just took a little bite in the hallway between classes. It wasn't her fault that Mrs. Jackson picked on her to answer the very first question in English class and that chocolate sort of dribbled out of the corner of her mouth when she tried to answer. She knew the answer, but then Jocie always thinks she knows the answer. That's part of her problem. 

I shouldn't say that. Jocie's a great daughter and I can't find much wrong with her. She works hard at the paper. She helps Aunt Love who is having more and more memory problems. She mostly manages to be respectful to the church people. She's a favorite of several of the members there although I think some of them are just entertained about what Jocie might say or do next.

I'm just glad she's full of love, wants to make people smile, and likes being my daughter and living in Hollyhill. And that she's not much like her mother. Adrienne was beautiful. She knocked me off my feet at first sight, but I should have stepped back and taken a deep breath before we ran off to get married. 

I was home from the war on leave for my father's funeral. I was getting ready to ship out. Well, ship under might be a better way to say it since I was going down in a submarine. I was going to be swallowed in a deep sea of loneliness for a long time and Adrienne was so beautiful. Real beauty is more than skin deep. I found that out. Not sure Adrienne has yet, but I pray for her. I don't love her anymore. I don't know that I ever had the proper love for her. Attraction, that's for sure, but real love that lasts a lifetime takes more than that. It has to grow and wrap tendrils of caring around one another to tie two people together for life. 

I was willing to try to make that happen, but Adrienne wasn't. She deserted us. Deserted Jocie long before she actually left Hollyhill, but that's a different story. One I should tell Jocie before I tell the world. If I could find the right words. Maybe I need to add that to my prayer list. The right words.

Jocie always has plenty of words ready. She's a great writer already and getting better all the time. But I can tell she and her English teacher are going to butt heads this year at school. So I'm trying to nip this problem at school in the bud. Not letting her write last night was the worst punishment for her. She loves writing. She said she had to write this report, that people were expecting her too. I asked her how many people. She said five or six at least, and who knows? Maybe as many as ten or fifteen! I told her that she should have thought about that before sneaking bites of candy at school. 

She looked at me like I'd lost my mind and asked what being hungry could have to do with writing this? And was it her fault that Tootsie Rolls took so long to chew? Hadn't I seen the ad I put in the Banner last week? I asked her hadn't she. She should have known better. I thought she was going to cry when she knew I was serious about not letting her write. I can't stand to see her cry, but I couldn't give in. A father has to maintain a little discipline. So I told her I'd write this piece for her. That way you'd know why she didn't get it written last night.

She's off to school today. No telling what note she'll bring home from the teachers this week. She's really a great daughter and I love her so much. If she gets in trouble again this week, I'll make her sweep the press room. That needs doing anyway. And she won't mind that. She'll get to talk to Wes. Wes would do anything for Jocie. But then so would I. Even try to get her to figure out a way to get along with her teachers!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School - Disgruntedly!

September 2, 1964

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill. Sadly. Disgruntedly. (That word was in my Learn Ten New Words a Day book. Doesn't it sound the best? Like a mad pig or something.) I guess I shouldn't say sadly. The first day of school isn't really a sad day. Dad says I should try to come up with exact words for what I want to say and not just pull out whatever's handy. 

But I don't really know how I exactly feel about starting school tomorrow. Every morning I'll have to get up early and try to get my hair to look like something and see if I can grab a skirt and blouse that maybe match. Leigh says clothes should match, but I haven't exactly figured out what she means by matching. I don't care about clothes, but it would be nice if I could comb my hair into some kind of decent order. 

I don't want to tease it and make it into a stiff beehive like Vanessa. You know, she's the cheerleader all the boys swoon over. I guess they like sprayed stiff hair, but at least if I run into a spider web I can shake it out of my hair with my fingers. The spider would just settle down in blissful happiness in Vanessa's hair and wait for the next bug to come along and get trapped in that beehive cone of hair. No more building webs necessary. Not that Vanessa would ever be out in the woods or anywhere she might run into a spider web. But maybe I'll tell her I see a spider in her hair anyway. Just for fun. Sigh, I guess I'd better not. I might get sent to the principal's office on the first day of school. Dad might find some exact words to tell me that was not a good thing

School's really not so bad. And I have my typewriter now. I can type my themes. Well, I could if I didn't make so many mistakes. I did filch this old typewriter eraser out of Zella's trashcan. I took a picture of it for you up above. Zella got a new one. She doesn't like it when the brush gets all sprangled out. Sprangle is a word, isn't it? Sounds exact to me. It's not easy correcting typing mistakes even with it. But boy, are they easy to make! My fingers stumble all over the keyboard, but Dad says with practice I'll get better. Maybe I'll just save my typewriter ribbons for fun writing and do my school writing the old fashioned way with pencil and paper. Mrs. Johnson, the high school English teacher, is picky about the papers you turn in anyway. Not just the words of the assignment either. I've heard the kids talk about her. No papers torn out of a wire bound notebook. Fringed edges send Mrs. Johnson over the edge. No light pencil marks. No messy ballpoint pens. No red or green ink. No creativity allowed in that class. 

Creativity will conquer though. It'll just get slowed down by back to school. Did you like starting school every year? Ever use one of those typewriter erasers or tease you hair into a beehive? Tell me about your school days. It might jump start a little creativity and give me reason to practice my typing. I did figure out how to make a sideways smile. :) So all that pounding on the typewriter keys accomplished something!