Monday, December 29, 2014

Do You Love Stories?

December 29, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky for the last time in 1965. In a couple of days I'll have to start trying to remember to put 1966 on all my papers. I can hardly believe it's almost a new year. I'll be 15 next year. 15! That's a while away since my birthday isn't for months and months, but still, 15. That sounds so much better than 14, don't you think?

Christmas was last week. I love Christmas. I told you that last week. And guess what I got under the tree? Books! I love books. And a new ink pen. I loved that too. Now if I could just get a new typewriter, but Dad says I'll have to just keep using the one I have. That I don't need one that plugs in. I can hit the typewriter keys. It'll be good for my finger muscles. Zella says, yes, indeed, if anybody gets a new typewriter, it will be her! 

But I'm the one writing a book. Of course, Zella is the one working for Dad at the paper. And my book is just for fun. So I guess I'll be happy with the typewriter I have.

See those book covers up top. That's my story. Not the one I'm writing, but the one I lived. It's free right now if you've got some kind of modern something or other that lets you download, whatever that means. I feel like somebody is visiting me from the future. ( But I've been told it might not be free after a few days, so if you want to read about what happened to me last year, this is a really good chance. 

By the way, which front of the book do you like best? You can probably guess the one I like best. Right. The one I got to be on. Same book. Different front. 

Gee, I can't wait to have a book published with my name on it too. That would be even better than my picture on it. I'll have to think up a good cover for Bailey's Bug. I guess it's time to see what they're up to. Last time, they'd just crossed the road and were heading into the dark beyond. 

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
   (Continued from a couple of weeks ago. See the whole story under the Bailey's Bug link up top.)

   Once Bailey was away from the road, the dark stopped being so black. He didn't have any trouble picking his way through the trees. He hurried up in front of Lucinda to lead the way. After all, it was his hum that was telling which way to go. Even so, it was nice having Lucinda and Skelley close behind him.
   "Hoo. Hoo."
   Bailey stopped in his tracks and Lucinda and Skelley caught up with him. 
   "What's that?" Skelley lifted his head and cocked up one of his ears.
   "An owl," Lucinda said.
   "Are they very big?" Bailey couldn't imagine what sort of animal might go with that noise. "They sound like they could be very big."
   "Big enough." Lucinda peered up toward the tree tops.
   Bailey heard the owl again. The sound made him shiver. "What do they eat?"
  "Mice." Lucinda kept walking. "Maybe even cats if they could catch one which they couldn't. Never a dog as big as you so stop walking on my tail." Lucinda jumped to the side to keep Bailey from stumbling over her. "What would eat a dog?"
   "My master used to warm me that lions and tigers would." Skelley spoke up. "Boa constrictors too."
   "Boa constrictors?" Bailey's voice came out in a squeak. He had no idea what boa constrictors were, but they sounded scary.
   "Snakes big as tree trunks." Skelley lowered his voice as though one of the snakes might be listening from up in the trees. "They swallow whatever they eat without chewing and squeeze it to death inside them. Awful things, they are."
   A bush rattled and Bailey almost jumped out of his skin. He looked around. "Are they here in the dark?"
   "Oh no, they live in zoos," Skelley said. "Nothing out here but owls and such. Right, Miss Lucinda?"
   The cat muttered under her breath. Skelley, not knowing Lucinda as well as Bailey did, took that as encouragement to keep talking. 
   "Owls and mice and raccoon and skunks," he said. "I crossed paths with a skunk once. Looked a bit like a black and white cat, but begging your pardon, Miss Lucinda, it had a horrible odor. Worse than anything ye can imagine and he turned tail and squirted his nasty stink all over me. Me master dunked me in tomato juice before he'd let me back in his tent. A nasty business, it was."
   Bailey stared around him. The moon had come up to make shadows that shifted and swayed under the trees. Horrible things could be hiding out there in the night.
   Owls that hooted. Skunks that stunk. Raccoon. Bailey was afraid to ask what raccoon did, but whatever they did, he wanted to wait until the sun came up to face them.
   "I think we better rest here until morning. It might be better to cross rivers of cars at night, but we need light here in the woods."
   Lucinda was more than ready to stop. She jumped up on a fallen tree trunk and curled into a ball in a spot of moonlight. Skelley and Bailey scratched out a hole beside the log and snuggled down together. 
   Bailey had no more than closed his eyes when howls brought him to his feet. "What's that? Dogs?"
   "No dog that I've ever heard." Skelley was on his feet beside him.
   The hair on Bailey's spine inched up as the yips and yowls went on.
   Even Lucinda was on her feet, her tail straight up. "Coyotes." 
   She sounded really scared for the first time since they left the Robinsons' house.
   That scared Bailey more than the howling. "What are coyotes?"
   "Something like dogs." Lucinda stretched her head up to listen. "Only wild and smart. My mother warned me about coyotes. Told me to get right up in a tree or the top of the barn if I ever saw one."
   All at once, as if on cue, the howling completely stopped, and the night around them went silent. It was almost as if everything in the woods was holding its breath to listen the same as Lucinda was listening. 
   "Don't worry, Miss Lucinda." Skelley edged over to stand in front of her. "We won't let the varmints get close to you."
   "That's gallant of you, but I think it will be safer for all of us if I do what my mother said and climb a tree."
   She was on the bottom limbs of the nearest tree before all the words were out of her mouth. As she climbed higher, there was a crash of wings. A bird that seemed almost as big as the bulldozer monster had that morning, swooped down out of the tree. It fixed its great shining saucer eyes on Bailey and dived straight at him.
(To be continued)


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Hollyhill Christmas

December 22, 1965

   Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky at Christmastime or almost Christmas, anyway. I am so excited. Are you? I love Christmas. 
  What do I love about Christmas in Hollyhill? I like the red and green lights the county workers string up on the street light posts. I like the pine tree in front of the courthouse with a star on top and lights draped around it. I love the Christmas parade with the sirens and at the end, Santa waving from the firetruck. I used to sit on Santa's lap and wish for things Santa could never get in his sack. Like my mother and Tabitha coming back. 
    But then Dad told me that wasn't the kind of thing to think about Santa doing. That it was the Lord I needed to be talking to. I'm so glad the Lord is there to talk to any time and that I can just look up and ask him about things anytime. That's another thing I like about Christmas - that it was when Jesus was born. I like singing the carols at church even though we squeak a little on those high notes. I like seeing the Christmas pageant with the angels in tinsel halos. I liked being one of them when I was a little kid. Now I get to watch and take pictures. 
    I like that about Christmas too. Getting to take pictures. Film and flashbulbs are always on my Christmas list. I don't know which I want to be most - a photographer or a writer. Dad says I don't have to decide yet since I'm only fourteen. Good thing because I couldn't. Tabitha warns me that sometimes life pushes us down paths we don't expect to walk, like her here with little Stephen. But that's okay. I guess I was pushed down some of those paths before I was old enough to know about anything, but it turned out okay. Dad says the Lord had a lot to do with that. (You can read more about that in Scent of Lilacs - still a free download, whatever that means.)
   But back to Christmas. I like our cedar tree that we cut out on Miss Sally's farm and decorated with things we've had forever. Aunt Love has a bell that belonged to her mother. We put it up high so Stephen can't reach it. But I look at that bell and try to see back through the years to when Aunt Love was my age. That's hard to do. And then I think about someday somebody in my family, some kid sometime, might look at one of the ornaments I'm putting on the tree and wonder about how I was right now. I like wondering about things like that.
   Mostly I like how we all get together and give gifts to each other. Not because we have to but because we want to. Some of them homemade. Some of them from the store. All will be wrapped in love. Wes will give me a big chocolate candy bar and tell me a Jupiter story. Dad will get me a new notebook and pen and shoes and stuff. Leigh will get me a blouse that is way fancier than anything I ever wear. Tabitha will get me a book and books always make me happy. Aunt Love will give me a muffler she's knitted. It's okay that I have three already. She can't remember that she knitted them last year. 
    I love Christmas. I love that baby Jesus was born and brought joy to the world!
   Merry Christmas to all of you! Tell me what you like about Christmas. Now or when you were a kid like me.  
   (I didn't have time to write more about Bailey, Skelley and Lucinda this week, but they are heading out into the dark unknown on the far side of the road. I'll figure out what happens next and write it next week.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Loving December and Christmas on the Way

December 15, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. About Christmas. Don't you just love December? Christmas comes in December and there is so much to love about Christmas. First no school for a couple of weeks. All right, that shouldn't have been first. Jesus being born should have been first. But He knows I'm ready for a break from school. All those tests and homework papers and teachers talk, talk, talking. I don't guess everything about school is bad. There are my friends. I like getting to talk to them. 

What else is fun about Christmas? Church programs and Sunday school times. See the card. Janie made this for me in Sunday school. Isn't it the sweetest card you ever saw? Janie is eight. So she's not in the Beginners class that where I help Miss Vangie keep all the little kids happy. Or at least sort of occupied and quiet. Thank goodness, Miss Vangie always brings vanilla wafers. Little kids love cookies. But Janie is in the Primary class. Miss Sally teaches that class. Janie does like to sit with me in church sometimes and so she made me this card. I like the presents under the tree, don't you? 

That's another thing that's fun about Christmas. Presents. I guess I shouldn't say that. People are always saying it's more blessed to give than receive, but I see that most everybody starts smiling when somebody hands them a present. But the giver is usually smiling too. And I do like getting presents for the people I love. I'll have to write Janie a little story about Christmas and give it to her. She'll like that.

Do you like getting presents or cards that people make especially for you? 

I'm writing this story especially for you. Maybe tonight we'll get Bailey across that road and into the dark beyond. Do you think he's going to be scared? 

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke
   (Continued from last week. The whole story is under the Bailey's Bug title up top of the page.)

Chapter 9

   When Bailey said go, they raced across the first road to the middle. There they sat a while gathering courage to challenge the second road. Cars whooshed by on both sides of them and it was easy to imagine being stuck there on that narrow strip of grass forever. 
   Bailey stared toward where the lights always showed first on the road they still needed to cross. He could barely count to five from the time he saw the lights until they zoomed past. Would they be able to run fast enough? 
   "Well, are we going or not?" Lucinda demanded.
   "Going." Bailey stood up. No lights coming. "Now." He ran as fast as he could across the hard blacktop. Skelley passed him before he got to the other side. 
   Suddenly lights shone out and then a huge truck barreled down the road toward them. It blasted its horn when it caught them in its lights. The two dogs leaped into the ditch even though they were well off the road. 
   Lucinda stood her ground at the edge of the road and yowled at the truck. The sound was lost in the rush of its many wheels and the clatter of its trailer. She glared after it until the red lights on its back disappeared down the road.
   "Forget about him, Lucinda." Bailey jumped out of the ditch with Skelley behind him. "He didn't get us. We made it across."
   "Across." Lucinda looked back at the road. "Yes, we're across." She sounded very tired. "I guess we'll have to go on now." 
   Without another word, she marched straight toward the thickest dark under the trees.
   Bailey looked back at the road too. Back that way were lights and houses and people. Not Reid, but other people who might feed them. While on this side of the road, there was nothing but dark. What if the hum in his ear was wrong?
   He felt anything but sure as he followed Lucinda into the woods with his tail dragging the ground. All of the sudden, the road seemed easy compared to the spooky darkness under the trees. Even the big yellow bulldozer he'd fought that morning didn't seem so bad now when he thought about it. At least he could see it and know where it was. Anything could be hiding in the dark woods.
   Skelley didn't seem any more eager to enter the woods than Bailey. The baton rattled around in the old dog's mouth, and his bones gave a tremble under the hide stretched tight over them.
   "Just a bit of a chill," he said when he noted Bailey looking at him. "Me master used to say somebody had walked across his grave when he had a shake like this."
   Talking about graves didn't make Bailey feel a bit better. He laughed to hide his nervousness but it sounded shaky even to his ears.
   With eyes shining golden in the reflection of a passing car's lights, Lucinda glared at them from the edge of the woods. "Don't be scaredy dogs!" she said. "Nothing here but trees and bushes and a mouse or two."
   "How do you know?" Bailey caught up with her.
   "Cats can see better than dogs. Cats do everything better than dogs."
   With that, she turned and her black body blended in with the dark and practically disappeared.
   "We better be after her, lad," Skelley said. "We'd never forgive ourselves if any harm came to Miss Lucinda while we were back here dragging our feet."
   From the dark shadows ahead of them, they heard an exasperated meow. Bailey and Skelley scurried after her. 

(To be continued) 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hollyhill Christmas Parade

December 8, 1965.

Jocie Brooke reporting from Main Street, Hollyhill, Kentucky. Well, I'm not actually standing on the street right this minute. I'm at home in my room, but a few minutes ago I was standing out there in the chilly air ready to cover the news. 

We don't usually do the parade at night, but Dad says the mayor is trying to shake things up a little. One thing for sure, the police car bubble lights look way more impressive in the dark. I took my camera to take pictures for the paper, and got some good ones while it was still daylight. You might see some of them in the Banner next week. But after dark, the flashbulbs weren't quite enough to capture great images. Still I liked this one of a couple of kids seeing Santa riding on the firetruck to finish up the parade. They looked like they knew it was a long way down here to Hollyhill from the North Pole. 

But I love parades. Well, most of the time. There was that one parade back last summer where some unwelcome guests crashed our 4th of July parade and brought Hollyhill some trouble. You can read about that in Orchard of Hope. But that was last year and this is now. Everything was peaceful for our Christmas parade. That's the way it should be. I mean, didn't the angels proclaim "peace, goodwill toward men!" when they told the shepherds about Jesus being born. 

I love Christmas stories too. Too bad I didn't have a Christmas scene in Bailey's Bug. But it's the middle of summer for them and Bailey, Lucinda and Skelley have to get across that great river of cars. Do you think they'll be brave enough to try to make it? I guess it wouldn't be much of a story if they aren't or if they don't make it. That would spoil everything, wouldn't it? 

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
   (Continued from last week)

   Bailey ignored the dark on the far side of the roads. Instead he watched the river of cars. There were two stretches of blacktop. On the side nearest them, the cars always came over a hill and down toward them. On the other side, the cars' lights seemed to appear from out of nowhere as they raced each other up the hill without slowing a bit. 
   They never changed directions. Never. Best of all, what looked like a narrow park with grass and bushes was smack in the middle of the two roads. They could hide out there for a while to gather courage to chase across the other road into the darkness beyond.
   Bailey stood up. "If we watch the top of that hill over there and wait until it's very dark with no lights coming, we can make it to the middle." Bailey pointed with his nose toward the hill. 
   "That we can, lad. Easy as jumping through hoops." Skelley flashed a grin, then picked up his baton to trot toward the road. 
   Lucinda stayed where she was, staring at the road and beyond. 
   "Are you too afraid to try it, Lucinda?" Bailey asked.
   "I'm not afraid of anything." Lucinda snarled at him. "I'm thinking."
   "It's good when you think." Bailey lowered his back haunches to the ground. "Let me know when you're through." 
   "Dogs!" Lucinda turned to glare at him. Her eyes glowed green in the lights of a car flying down the hill toward where they sat. After the car passed, she stood up, her tail straight up in the air. Then as if to convince herself to move toward the road, she said, "I suppose there will be sunshine in the morning wherever I am."
   "Indeed, Miss Lucinda," Skelley called to her over his shoulder. "They say there's worlds of sunshine in the country. For a truth, I've been many a place, but I've never been anywhere that didn't have its fair share of the sun's light." 

(To be continued. Do you think they'll get across the road? Read the whole story so far under the Bailey's Bug link up top of my report here.)

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Thankful Heart Except for Pumpkin Pie

December 1, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Thanksgiving was last Thursday. We had turkey and thank goodness, Aunt Love hasn't forgotten how to make dressing. Leigh made some kind of cranberry salad. I pretended to like it, but I would have rather just had the jelly roll of cranberry sauce from the can. Don't tell Leigh that! 
    Then Aunt Love said we had to have pumpkin pie. Don't ask me why. Maybe because everybody at church has a bumper crop of pumpkins and they are all giving them to Dad. I told Aunt Love that nobody expected us to actually EAT them. Just set them on the porch for decoration, but Aunt Love says she lived through the Depression years and believes in "waste not, want not." Sigh. 
    I guess I just should be glad the folks out at church have apples too. Aunt Love made an extra pie crust and let Tabitha and me peel apples to make a deep dish apple pie. Now that's a pie I can be thankful for.
    Dad preached on being thankful again on Sunday. He says a person should be thankful every day for his or her blessings and not just think he can throw up a thank you one day a year. He says a person should have a thankful heart all the time. He stopped preaching right in the middle of the sermon time and asked people out in the pews to say why they were thankful. Out loud. In church. Sort of surprised everybody, but Miss Sally stood up and said she was thankful for her church family and after that other people got over being shy and spoke up too. I even stood up and said I was thankful that my dog prayer and my sister prayer were answered. I figured everybody would laugh at that. Some of them did, but if you've read my story in Scent of Lilacs, you know what I mean.
    Even after we came home, I thought about reasons I should be thankful. Most of all, of course, is Dad. I don't know what I'd do without Dad. Then there's Wes and Tabitha and Stephen and Aunt Love, even if she is cross with me most of the time, and Leigh and Miss Sally and all the people at church. Well, most of them anyway. And my friends at school. Plus there's Zeb, my dog, and Cat at the office. Okay, maybe even Zella. Gee, I don't know about that. I'm pretty sure Zella isn't saying she's thankful for me! 
    What are your reasons for being thankful? 
    I guess I should say I'm thankful for my story about Bailey. It's fun to figure out a story and write it down.

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
   (Continued from last week. The whole story so far is under the Bailey's Bug tab up top.)

[Last week, Bailey just asked Lucinda if she wanted to go home without finding their boy.]

   Lucinda opened her left eye. "I said I'd go with you to find Reid. But I'm not joining up with any circus where I have to ride on your back and act like an idiot."
   "Skelley and I were just talking about the circus. I wasn't going to join one." Bailey tilted his head a little and added. "Unless Reid did. Do you think he might have joined a circus?"
   "Dogs." Lucinda groaned and turned her back to Bailey. "I don't know why I put up with them."
   "She'll feel better after she's rested a wee bit," Skelley whispered. "As will we all."
   Bailey settled down and tried to sleep, but either the bulldozer monster was rumbling toward him or he was tumbling through hoops with cheers echoing in his ears. Finally he put his paw over his head and blocked out everything but the hum. The hum and Reid. At last he dozed off.
   When Skelley nudged him awake, it was near dark. They nosed around the park and found a sack with some crusts of bread and a hot dog. 
   By the time they got to the big road, it was very late. Cars zoomed first one direction, then the other. Their lights made flashing trails in the dark. 
   Bailey felt a little shaky inside. "There's still a lot of them."
   "Aye, that there is." Skelley's head turned back and forth watching the cars. "For a truth, we'll have to pick our times and be mighty careful, but if we want to get to another state we have to go across this road." 
   "What's over there on the other side?" Bailey peered across the road. He couldn't see any lights past the cars.
   "Can't say for sure. Never actually been across this road before, but looks to be country, pure and simple. Nothing that looks like a town," Skelley said. "What about you, Miss Lucinda? You know about the far lands?"
   Lucinda stepped up beside them. "I like towns with nice houses and windows full of sunshine. Not country."
   "Country," Bailey said. "I met a dog once who was from the country. He was forever talking about how great it was to run in the fields chasing rabbits. He wasn't happy his people moved to the city."
   "I suppose country suits some well enough," Skelley said. "But there be no trashcans and but few houses. I've even heard tell of strange animals that don't take kindly to them who cross their paths."
   "I can't believe our people would live in that kind of place." Lucinda looked at Bailey. "Are you sure your bug is pointing you in the right direction?"
   All of the sudden, Bailey wavered. The land on the other side of the road was dark. He'd never seen dark like that. It was easy to imagine those strange animals lurking behind trees waiting to jump out at them with gnashing teeth. Something maybe worse than the lions and tigers Skelley knew in the circus. 
   Bailey's feet were sore and his neck hurt. He wanted a full bowl of crunchy dog food instead of bits of bread and nearly empty cans to lick. Over there in the dark country, there might not even be that to eat. His stomach growled and he sat down to think things through.
   Skelley sat down beside him. "Never a mistake to mull things over a bit. Me master used to say it wasn't any good rushing into things. That has to be especially true with that thing is crossing a river of cars."
   Lucinda made a noise of agreement as her tail twitched back and forth like the pendulum of a clock. Bailey figured she was thinking about the sun in the windows back at their old house.
   He sort of wished he was curled up on his bed there too as the cars swooshed past, their wind ruffling his ears. A great huge truck, bigger even than the bulldozer monster, lumbered over the hill. The ground shook under Bailey as it barreled past. He could never stop one of those.
   But even worse than the cars and trucks was the dark in the far country. Just thinking about what might be in that dark sent a shiver through Bailey.
   He stood up and gave a shake like he'd just had a bath. All of the sudden, the hum that he hadn't been able to hear while he thought about the dark began sounding in his ears louder than ever. His feet tingled and his heart bounced around inside his chest the way it did when Reid called him. He couldn't stop now. Even if he had to go into the dark far lands by himself. 
(To be continued.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Same Old Same Old

November 24, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky where as usual NOTHING is happening. Well, the sun comes up in the morning and goes down at night if that counts. Plus there's school, but that's the same old same old every day. Get up. Catch the bus. Ride forever. Have homeroom. Go to classes and try to stay awake to  listen to the teachers. Ignore boys doing silly stuff. Sneak time to talk to friends. Ride the bus home. Do homework that steals any time to read or write. Go to bed and get up the next morning when the sun comes up to do it all again. Sigh. 

Dad says I should be thankful. That the same old same old is good. He says I should be counting my blessings instead of complaining and wishing for something that I might be sorry happened. He said he remembers wishing for something to happen and then something did. The war. The next thing he knew he was far from Hollyhill and wishing, even dreaming that he could be home with the same old same old happening to him each day. 

I guess he's right. I mean Dad's always right. He's a preacher. He has to think about what's right and what's not all the time. And then figure out a way to tell the people at church. I guess I sometimes give him inspiration on those sermons because last Sunday he preached about Adam and Eve and how Eve was bored with her same old same old in the Garden of Eden. She shut her eyes to all the blessings around her and just wanted something different. Then along came the serpent with his temptation basket of apples to upend her world. 

That's not exactly the way Dad told it. His version sounded more Biblical and sermony. But I heard the lesson he was preaching right at me. When I told him that, he laughed and said he wasn't preaching at me directly. He was simply delivering the sermon the Lord laid on his heart and that if I felt like the words were for me, then that was the Lord's doing too. That's how sermons are supposed to work. How the Lord intends things.

It did work. I'm thinking about my blessings this week. Guess that's a good thing since Thanksgiving is this week. Wes will come to dinner and Miss Sally and Leigh. Leigh will come early to help us cook and Miss Sally is bringing pies. Pecan and pumpkin. I can't wait. So maybe this week won't be the same old same old. All week I'll keep count of things to be thankful for and maybe write about that next week. 

Wonder if Bailey is wishing for some of his same old same old instead of having to face off bulldozer monsters. But then he has to find his boy. Here's what happened next. 

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke
  (Continued from last week. The full story up to now can be found under the Bailey Bug link in the menu up top.)


   Bailey pointed the direction with his nose and Skelley let them through alleys and twisting short cuts that kept them away from the streets choked with roaring and honking cars.

   Even with their roar, the cars weren't so scary to Bailey now. After all, he'd faced down with a bulldozer monster. When one zoomed up close to them, he stood his ground and barked to warn it away.     
   "They aren't so big." Bailey looked around at Lucinda and Skelley when it honked and then went on past. "Not like that bulldozer."
   "True enough,lad." Skelley bumped Bailey's side with his head to push him back from the road. "That bulldozer was a mighty masher, but these others have plenty of mashing power of their own. Besides, they're speedier than the bulldozer. It's best we don't tangle with either one."
   Lucinda growled and swiped her paw at Bailey's nose. "Dogs! Stop one bulldozer and you think you're invincible."
   She walked away, her tail high in the air. Bailey and Skelley followed her. They walked and walked until their feet were sore. Here and there they knocked over a trashcan to find a bite or two of food. 
   At last they came to a park with a big pond of water and nice big boulders around it. Lucinda stretched out on top of the rocks in the sun and went right to sleep while Bailey and Skelley settled down in the shade below her. 
   Skelley said if they kept going the way Bailey pointed, they would run into some big highways with rivers of cars. 
   "Best to wait for the dark of night to try crossing them. While they never really stop, the car rivers slow some at night. Makes crossing a bit safer." 
   "Are we safe here?" The high pitched scream of one of those cars with flashing lights sounded nearby.
   Skelley looked around. "A dog on his own is never entirely safe, but it appears nobody much is around to take notice of us. So we should be fine for a spell."
   Bailey rested his head on his paw. His neck still hurt, but he guessed it was good he had a neck to hurt after the tussle with the bulldozer. 
   To keep from thinking about his neck or how far they still needed to go, Bailey looked at the old dog and asked, "Have you been on your own a long time, Skelley?"
   "It seems so. Not sure how long. Lost count of the months some time back."
   "I'm sorry." Bailey thought about Reid and how good it would be to see him again.
   "For a truth, I miss me master." Skelley sighed. "But I have me memories of him and I've made my way." The old dog laid his paw gently on the painted stick.
   "Did that belong to him?" Bailey sniffed the end of the stick. "Is it a circus stick?"
   "Ye could call it that, I suppose. Me master used it when we were out in the ring doing our tricks. He'd tap it on the hoops I was to jump through or point it toward me when I'd done a trick so the folks would clap."
   "Did they clap a lot?"
   The old dog's eyes got a dreamy, faraway look. "That they did, Bailey lad. That they did. Folks are different when they come to the circus. Ready to laugh and have fun. For a truth the circus is a fine place when the show is going on."
   "Were there clowns and lions?" Bailey tried to remember the things Reid had talked about when he came home from the circus.
   "That and more. Clowns that made the little tykes laugh and lions that made them gasp. The Martino family flew through the air on trapezes and leaped from one to another. Our elephant, Anne Marie was her name. She could balance on one foot and stand on her head. Aye, it was grand, it was."
   "I'd like that. To be in a circus."
   Lucinda raised her head up to look down at him. "What trick would you do? You remember when Reid tried to get us to do that awful trick after he'd been to the circus." Lucinda shuddered. "You couldn't even make two circles with me on your back without falling on your face."
   "Miss Lucinda has a point. A dog has to know some tricks to be in a circus. All the animals do. Even the lions and tigers jumped through hoops and sat on stools. Snarling to be sure, but they did it. Very exciting it was too."
   "I'm not too good at tricks." Bailey thought about the plastic toy that he could fetch and brightened. "But I can make people laugh. I could be a clown dog."
   "That I can believe." Lucinda snorted and lay her head back down on the rock. "But if you're going to join a circus, tell me now so I can head back to the Robinsons' house."
   "Do you want to go back, Lucinda?" Bailey sat up and waited for her to open her eyes. "If you do, maybe you should go now. Because we're not going to get there before night again. I think it's still a long way to wherever Reid is."

(To be continued.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Church People Stories from the 1910's

November 17, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from the Mt Pleasant Church in Holly County, Kentucky. We had a big day at the church on Sunday. The church women had a dinner for this couple who have been going here to church since before cars. Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries tell me they showed up at church in a buggy when they got married fifty years ago.

That was 1915. Wow! I can't even imagine 1915. Right before World War I. But Mr. Jeffries says they didn't call it WW I. They called it the Great War that was going to end all wars. He had to go over to France in 1917 and fight in that war. 

Right after he left, Mrs. Jeffries found out she had a baby on the way. She has some great stories to tell about that time too. She went back to live with her parents out on the farm. They went here to church too, but they've moved on up to heaven now. Anyway, she talked about how worried she was for Mr. Jeffries and how the church had prayer meetings to pray for the soldiers. Then the influenza epidemic broke out and everybody was afraid to go anywhere. Those that weren't sick already. Dad says a lot of people actually died from the flu. That sounds awful, doesn't it? Anyway, Mrs. Jeffries says she stayed out on the farm and tried to keep her baby from getting sick. Her mother made these garlic amulets, necklace like things, for her to wear to ward off the germs. Mrs. Jeffries laughs and says it was pretty stinky perfume, but she didn't get the influenza. 

Mrs. Jeffries laughs a lot. Dad says she's not really all that old, but sixty-six sounds pretty old to me. She got married when she wasn't much older than I am now. Sixteen, but she says that wasn't so unusual back then. It was just hard when the war broke out and then later they had to make it through the Depression years. They have a lot of stories and Dad says I should listen. So maybe I'll take my notebook with me next time we go see them and get her to tell me more. 

But right now, I'm going to tell you a little more of Bailey's story.

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke
  (continued from last time - read the whole story so far up top under Bailey's Bug in the menu line.)

{Bailey just escaped from the bulldozer monster but he's worried they're still too close. The thing is roaring at them.}

    Lucinda must have agreed that the monster was too near. "I think you both need to quit yapping so we can get out of here."
    "Right ye are, Miss Lucinda," Skelley agreed. "Two narrow escapes in one morning is more than enough. We might be a bit shaky to outwit the dogcatcher as well. I'll see you safe out of the neighborhood, then start hunting a new place to live." He gave the pile of rubble that had been his house a sad look.
    "Why don't you come with us?" Bailey said.
     Skelley's eyes lit up. "Ye mean share your adventure? It's been many a day since I've been on a real adventure. And for a truth, just thinking about yours was making my feet get a little itchy."
    "Adventure," Lucinda muttered. "I'll take a nap in the sun over adventure any day."
    Bailey barely heard her. Even the monster bulldozer's growl behind him didn't sound so loud anymore. He was hearing the hum inside him again. 
    "This way," he said.
    He headed off down the street, all of the sudden feeling so free that his feet barely skimmed the walk and his tail swooshed back and forth.
    "What's the matter with you?" Lucinda hissed as she dodged his tail. 
    "I feel good. Really good." He paused a second to figure out why. "Because I don't have to drag that nasty leash along with me now."
    "But you lost your collar too. Makes us look homeless for sure."
    Skelley spoke up. "Don't ye be worrying, Miss Lucinda. The lad and will see to it that no harm comes to you."
    "Humph." Lucinda snorted. "The lad does well to keep from tripping over his own feet."
    "Aye, there could be truth to that," the old dog admitted. "But he did stop the bulldozer before it knocked the house down on us."
   Bailey's feet felt even lighter until he was almost floating at the old dog's praise.
   Lucinda brought him back to earth. "Then the bulldozer stopped him."

(To be continued.) 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day in Hollyhill

November 11, 1965

Jocie Brooke reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Veteran's Day. That means a lot in our house because my dad is a veteran of World War II. In fact, our whole town is full of veterans of that war and some of World War I too. Then there's the Korean War veterans too and now the Vietnam War. I told Dad it seems like some kind of war is going on all the time. He said the Bible talks about wars and that maybe true peace won't be possible here on earth but that we can have the "peace that passeth understanding." You know like that song we sing in Bible School. "I've got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart." 

That peace that passes understanding line is straight from a Bible verse, you know. I'll have to ask Aunt Love to tell me where. She knows where every verse is, I think. She says I would too if I spent more time learning Scripture to keep forever in my heart instead of reading those Hardy Boy mysteries. Sigh. I guess she's right. 

But back to Veteran's Day. We always treat Dad really good on Veteran's Day in thanks for serving our country. He was in a submarine through most of the war. I can't even imagine that. Being down deep in the ocean and having to worry about torpedoes that might keep the submarine from ever surfacing. I am so glad Dad did come home. He's the best and I love him bunches and heaps. 

So thank you, veterans, for keeping America free. Dad says we should never forget our soldiers and he's right.

(I didn't have time to write about Bailey and Lucinda this week. Maybe the teachers will give us a break on homework this next week and I can get back on the road with them to see what happens next. I'm finding something out. It's not that easy to write a story!!)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Little Golden Tree

November 3, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Ahh, Autumn! A lot of the trees have lost their leaves. We had a windy rain last week. I had to rake leaves all day on Saturday. Then Sunday I raked Miss Sally's yard. 

Dad says it's okay to work on Sunday if it is to help somebody and besides raking leaves is more fun than work. I just love jumping in piles of leaves. 

And look at this cute little golden tree. Miss Sally says it's a pawpaw tree and that maybe next year it will have some fruit and I can eat one. Dad says it tastes sort of like a banana but Wes says more like a Jupiter bababa. Whatever that is! 

Makes me want to write a song. Did you ever dream up a song? "Little golden tree. Little golden tree." Uh, now I'm stuck. That makes me remember poor stuck Bailey. Guess I better try to rescue him from the bulldozer monster. 

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke

(Continued from last week. The nasty leash has got caught in the bulldozer wheel and is choking Bailey.)

   "You're going to have to pull harder, Bailey." Lucinda's voice was right in his ear.
   He was glad she had come back for him, but he could only gasp while brown spots floated in front of his eyes.
    "Come on, lad. One more good jerk." Skelley was there too. "Miss Lucinda and I will give ye a bit of help. Ready? Heave Ho!"
    Skelley grabbed Bailey's tail in his teeth and Lucinda hissed at him to pull harder. Bailey tried, but it wasn't any use. The leash had him and the leash never gave up. He was doomed. The leash was going to feed him to the monster. 
   Then just when Bailey thought his neck was going to break, something popped. Bailey fell back from the bulldozer as the monster wheel chewed up the leash. 
   Bailey scrambled to his feet and scooted away from the bulldozer. Lucinda streaked ahead of him. Skelley grabbed his painted stick and was two steps behind. A loud cracking sound stopped them. They looked back to see the old house fall with a booming whoosh.
   Skelley laid his baton down and stared at what was left of the house. "'Twas as fine a place as I've had for many a moon, but for a truth, it's gone now. And lucky we are that we aren't gone with it." He looked at Bailey and Lucinda. "I have the two of ye to thank for that."
   Bailey was easing his head to the left, then the right. No matter which way he moved, it hurt. Besides that, his insides were shaking because the bulldozer monster was still growling. Way too loud. He eased back a few steps. 

(To be continued)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Saving Skelley

October 27, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Wow, what a week. My teachers have been crazy this week. They must think we have nothing to do but study. Tests and homework and who has time for all that. 

I know. I'm in school. I'm supposed to have time for all that. But I have to help Wes at the newspaper office. And help fold the papers to deliver. And try to keep Aunt Love from burning down the house by forgetting that she put something on to cook. And make sure Stephen doesn't try to escape through the hole in the backyard fence while Tabitha takes a nap. He hasn't been walking long, but let me tell you, that little boy can get away quick. 

All that and homework too is making it hard for me to get Bailey's Bug written. I have to find out if Bailey can rescue Skelley, and the only way I can find that out is by writing the next scene. Homework just gets in the way. But I hurried through it tonight. It was easy. Well, except for those algebra problems. Sometimes all the x's and y's run together and who cares what x equals anyway. Words. That's what I like. 

I did get part of the next scene written. I couldn't leave Bailey facing down that bulldozer monster for another week. So here goes. Remember, you can find the whole story (so far) under the Bailey's Bug link up top. I'm not exactly sure what a "link" is, but maybe you do.

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
   (Continued from last week)

   "Aw, come on, boss." The man who'd been up on top the bulldozer monster stepped closer to the boss. "These guys must be friends. Let me go get the poor old dog."
   "You're crazy, Joe. This old house is going to fall down any minute."
   "We got to do something. I can't knock down the house with the dog trapped in there. It wouldn't be right."
   The boss muttered something under his breath. "Okay. I guess we'll have to call the dogcatcher. Let him shoot the old dog."
   Bailey didn't like the sound of that. He pushed past them and tried to leap up on the window where Lucinda had been sitting. His feet slipped on the broken glass and he fell back with a thud.
   Joe grabbed at the leash as Bailey tried a second time, but he missed. This time Bailey's toenails found some wood and he scrambled through the window. The leash slithered in behind him.
   Inside the house, the dust was so thick Bailey couldn't see. Then Lucinda was meowing. He picked his way through the debris toward the sound.
    "What took you so long?" Lucinda demanded.
   "Never ye mind, Miss Lucinda. He's here now and that's what counts." 
   Bailey stared at Skelley's foot trapped under the big board. It looked stuck good. "Are you all right?"
   "Does he look all right?" Lucinda snarled.
   Skelley spoke up. "I'm in a fix, lad. That's for certain. But if ye could put your nose under that plank there and lift it a wee bit, I think I might be able to free meself."
   Bailey pushed his nose as far under the plank as he good. Dust got in his nose but he didn't sneeze. He lifted until his neck hurt. 
   "You did it, lad." The old dog pulled his paw free and gave it a lick. "We'd best be making our escape now. Me thinks I heard some mention of the dogcatcher. We don't want to be anywhere near here if he shows up." He gabbed his painted stick and pointed his nose toward the window.
   Lucinda was already up there. "Will you two quit yapping and come on?"
   Bailey jumped up into the window after Lucinda disappeared outside. The bulldozer monster was still there, glaring at him but at least it wasn't rumbling. Bailey looked back at Skelley. "Can you make it?"
   "Can I make it?" Skelley said around the stick in his mouth. "I used to jump on old Asaph when he was trotting. One bum foot won't be slowing me down."
   Bailey leaped off the window directly in front of the bulldozer. Then Skelley was up in the window and a cheer went up from the men standing around. Skelley paused in the window to give a bow.
   "Whatever is he doing?" Lucinda muttered.
   "I don't know." Bailey was glad when Skelley jumped down to the ground to scramble after them on three legs.
   Lucinda kept her pace dignified, but Bailey couldn't keep from running as they passed the bulldozer. The worm wheels were higher than his head as they crawled past toward the house.
   Bailey was glad he didn't have to stop it again when all at once the leash jerked him off his feet. His collar tightened around his neck until he couldn't so much as yelp to let Lucinda and Skelley know the leash had grabbed him. They kept walking.
   The nasty leash was teaming up with the bulldozer monster pulling him toward those worm wheels. Bailey dug his paws into the dirt and tried to hold his ground, but the leash yanked him closer to the monster.
   The bulldozer monster slowed when it rammed against the house, but the leash wouldn't turn loose of Bailey or the monster. Bailey jerked and twisted but it held tight.

(To be continued.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

What Would You Do with Lamb's Ear?

October 20, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Well, actually this weekend I've been out visiting Miss Sally on the farm. It's been great October weather. The sun has been shining and the trees are gorgeous. I'm hoping it won't rain for a week so the leaves won't fall off. It's always sort of sad when the leaves fall off. At least until you get used to all the bare branches and the cold weather. 

But look at the plant I found. Miss Sally says it's mullein or lamb's ear. I like the name lamb's ear best. Whoever way back when, maybe even Adam in the Garden of Eden, must have touched one of the leaves and thought it felt like a lamb's ear. The leaves are all soft and fuzzy. Miss Sally says that's why frontier folk used it for toilet paper. At least that's what she heard. Plus, she says it made a great bandage when somebody got hurt out in the wilderness. I think that's really neat, don't you? 

Miss Sally knows all about plants and what they're good for. She says you can even make a tea out of these leaves or boil it for dye. Doesn't sound like something I'd want to drink!! 

Do you like learning about plants and the funny names they have? What's a plant that you think has a funny name?

Now it's time to check in to see what's happening with Bailey and Lucinda. Last week the old dog, Skelley was running back into the abandoned house the bulldozer was about to knock down. Remember, if you missed part of the story, you can read it all so far by clicking on the Bailey's Bug link up top of my article here. 

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
  (continued from last week)

Chapter 7

   "Stop him!" Lucinda yelled at Bailey.
   Bailey looked from the cat to the hole Skelley had slid through. 
   On the other side of the house, the bulldozer monster rumbled deeper, and the house shuddered and groaned. Bailey dodged a shingle flying down from the roof. He stuck his nose close to the hole and barked, but if Skelley barked back he couldn't hear him over the bulldozer's growl.
   Lucinda slid up beside him. "Do something!"
   Bailey pushed his head into the hole, but he couldn't wiggle through. "I can't get through the hole. Not without Skelley holding up the plank for me."
   "Dogs!" Lucinda shook her head. Suddenly she perked up her ears. "Listen. That thing sounds like it's backing away. I'll go find that crazy dog."
   "You can't go back in there, Lucinda. The bulldozer might come back."
   "If it does, you better stop it." Lucinda glared at him, then ducked through the hole.
   Stop the bulldozer! How could he stop that monster? 
   "Lucinda," he called, but she was gone. He whipped his tail around in a circle and tried to think. He had to do something. And fast. The bulldozer's growl was getting louder again.
   Bailey raced around the corner of the house and froze in his tracks. The yellow monster was inching closer, its enormous metal front a hungry mouth. Bailey looked behind him. If only he could see Skelley and Lucinda crawling out of the house, but they weren't anywhere in sight.
   And the bulldozer kept coming. He couldn't let it bite into the house while Lucinda and Skelley were inside. He couldn't. 
   Barking as loud as he could, Bailey ran at the terrible bulldozer mouth and attacked. His teeth wouldn't grab on the slick blade. He slid to the ground and landed on his side.
   He couldn't let it beat him. He scrambled up and charged again, barking louder than he thought possible. Nothing had ever been afraid of him or his bark, but he was sometimes scared of other dogs barking at him. Like the huge, black dog the day before. 
   Bailey tried to sound every bit as fierce. He crouched down close to the ground in hopes that would make his bark deeper, more ferocious.
   He was about to retreat when all of the sudden the monster stopped moving and simply sat there and stared at him with an angry rumble. With trembling legs, Bailey stayed where he was.
   "Hey, I didn't tell you to stop!" Whoever was yelling sounded as mad as the monster. 
   Bailey peeked out the corner of his eyes at a man waving his arms at the bulldozer.
   Someone, maybe even the monster, yelled back at the man on the ground. "A dog's in the way."
   "A dog! You stopped for a dog!" 
   That made Bailey growl.
   "I ain't mashing no dog," the bulldozer said and stopped rumbling.
   With the monster silent, Bailey's barks bounced off the metal mouth and pounded into his ears. But he was afraid to stop because between barks, he could hear the house creaking and groaning. 
   Where were Lucinda and Skelley? They should be out by now and he really wished he could stop barking.
   The man and the monster kept shouting. Then the man grabbed a plank and swung it at Bailey. He barely dodged in time, but he didn't turn tail and run. Even if he wanted to. Instead, he rolled over on his back and stuck his feet up in the air. That had to make the man know Bailey wasn't going to bite him. 
    But the man kicked Bailey in the side anyway. Hard. "Get out of here, you dumb dog."
   Bailey could keep from yelping.

   "Aw, don't hurt him, boss," the bulldozer said. "He's sort of cute. And look there. He's got a collar on with a leash. Somebody must be in the house."
   The boss stared from Bailey to the house. "Guess we'd better check it out."
   Just then Lucinda appeared in the gaping hole that had been a window a few minutes ago. She meowed her best.
   "Look, a kitty cat." A man climbed down the side of the monster. 
    He must have been doing the talking instead of the monster. Maybe all it could do was growl. But it was quiet now.
   "I hate cats," the man who kicked Bailey muttered. Bailey bounced up on his feet, ready to attack again. He wasn't about to let the man kick Lucinda. 
   But the cat disappeared back into the house before the men got to her. The man who'd been on top of the monster stepped up on a rock and peeked through the window. "Hey, boss. There's an old dog in there with his foot caught under a beam."
   "We can't just knock a house down on top of him."
   The boss looked in the window too. "I don't know why not. From the looks of him, it would be a mercy killing." 
   Bailey growled and scooted closer to them. He didn't know what a mercy killing was, but it didn't sound good. Not good at all.

(to be continued next week)