Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Back to School




Every year while the summer heat is at its most exhaustive temperatures my thoughts turn to Fall and returning to school. I love the anticipation and excitement of the children in my life despite their claims that they don’t want any part of school.
As a writer I am all but addicted to pristine notebooks, colorful pens, reams of paper, and folders. Shopping for school supplies is one of my most treasured activities. 

I volunteer at my granddaughter’s school helping teachers, reading to the kids, and just passing out hugs and words of encouragement. The little ones make my heart swell. They don’t know how much good they do me when they hand me a perfectly colored picture or something they’ve written for me.
I will share some of my favorite school memories in the blog post, but I hope you get as excited about the process of school as I do. Children are our futures, we owe them a few special words every now and then.

The quote for the month on the blog is one I kept taped to my desk when I was in college. It is attributed to Pearl Bailey who turned down several honorary degrees in order to attend college and earn the degree. Her fame never humbled her and her take on knowledge and learning was simply magnificent.

Until Next Time......Journey onward, my friends—
NONA

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When I was a young girl preparing to return to school at the end of the summer I looked forward to purchasing school supplies. It wasn’t as extensive or expensive as the supply lists these days, but it was just as special to be sure.

First, we had to find an empty cigar box at the grocery store. The best ones still smelled of sweet tobacco. The typical supplies included an eight pack of waxy crayons with their unique scent, a jar of thick white paste that wasn’t our own until we pulled the little paddle out and ate some of the sticky goop, two pencils, a pair of blunt tipped scissors, and a red Big Chief tablet. It was so hard not to write on any of the pages until the first day of school.

Every year until I graduated from high school my mother made me five new dresses during the summer. One for each day of the week. As I grew older I was self-conscious because they were homemade rather than store bought. I got one new pair of shoes. And, a Toni home perm that I detested. I looked like a blonde Little Orphan Annie.

During the earliest years I walked to West Elementary in Levelland, Texas. On the way, I passed a florist shop. It was like finding treasure each time the window displays were changed. I remember each season being represented by the flowers and greenery. The walk seemed endless, but it wasn’t likely as far as it seemed.

When I was in the second grade I had some coins in my pocket and the school store across the street called to me like a siren. I was forbidden to go to the store, it was for the junior high students. But . . . I was in the crosswalk on my way to buy some candy and my dad was driving home for lunch. Oops! He picked me up, took me home, spanked me, and took me back to school. I was devastated. It was the only spanking Daddy ever gave me. It was also the time I learned that I never wanted to disappoint him again. 

I was ten when we moved to a new house. I don’t remember if I had to change schools, but I had many new friends in the neighborhood. When I was twelve we moved from Levelland to Lovington, NM where I would graduate.

I always enjoyed going to school. Probably still would if I decided to take a few more college courses.

I imagine all of us have special memories of the end of summer and the return to school. 

Do you?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Firecrackers, fireworks, flags, and our Independence.


Hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and family. The title Independence Day truly says it all to me. I hope your day was filled with salutes, patriotism, and thanks to those who serve and have served the country. 

This month the newsletter is going to introduce you the trials and tribulations the pioneers of the Westward Expansion experienced. These brave emigrants sought independence, prosperity, and plenty in the west. Many achieved it, many did not. They all had a dream. 

Following more setbacks than I want to describe the novel, JOURNEY OF HONOR (JOH), is finally moving along again. I can “see” the end of the trail. JOH is the novel of my heart. It began about 18 years ago as one of the first writing projects I considered after I was hurt. It was lost in a drawer for many years. Finally, four years ago I pulled it out and started over. The novel you will see has been through many changes. Most you wouldn’t want to read. But, I do think readers will feel the love I have for the Oregon Trail on every page.


The early spring image is what Missouri must have looked like on leaving day.
 


THE OREGON TRAIL

Most emigrants made the decision to travel west a year before leaving day. The man of the family almost always made the decision and the women were put to work. A year wasn’t nearly enough time to be prepared. Supplies had to be laid in, wagons built and covered, livestock bought and prepared to pull heavy loads, clothing for varying temperature extremes needed to be made, and the most difficult decisions had to be made.

Astute travelers paid close attention to the directions and handbooks provided by the wagonmasters and left behind heavy furniture, iron stoves, heirloom china, and other sentimental objects. Poorly chosen items often ended up on the side of the trail when the livestock teams couldn’t pull the weight. I imagine the heartbreak of having to toss something personal and precious on the side of a dusty trail was profound. 

Sarah Pierce, the mother in JOH, chose not to take her mother’s entire set of delicate china, but she did pack a teapot, two saucers, and two cups in a small barrel of corn meal. The rest she sold to the new owner of the general store she had owned with her husband.

What were the pioneers required to pack in the 10 foot by 4 foot wagon bed covered with a water-proof canvas? They needed four to six head of oxen or mules to pull the load. Most included several head of cattle in the herd and a milk cow. Hunting was important for the addition of food on the trail.
600 pounds flour
120 pounds biscuits/hardtack
400 pounds bacon packed in barrels of bran
60 pounds coffee/4 pounds tea
100 pounds sugar
200 pounds lard
Beans/Rice
Eggs packed in a barrel of corn meal
Dried fruit
Wheels of cheese
Potatoes
Dutch Oven
Skillet
Coffee pot/Coffee Grinder
Eating Utensils
Butter churn
Water pail
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Rifle/Shotgun/Hunting Knife/Axe/Whet stone
Saw
Mallet
Horse shoes/Oxen shoes/Nails/Rasp
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Clothing and shoes for every family member including coats
Mattress/Bedding/Tent/Waterproof pads
Medical Kit
Journals/Pencils
Toys/Books

Leaving day and the days before were times of great sadness. The time came to tell friends and family good-bye for what would probably be a lifetime. But, when the wagons began to roll forward on the 2000 mile journey the emigrants became excited by the promise and the hope for achieving their dreams. Early spring was the best time to leave because the grasses were beginning to grow on the prairie. They hoped to arrive at their destination in the middle of October. 

Routine, weather, lack of forage for the livestock and water, disease, accidents, and illness stalked the emigrants. Death occurred too often. The stamina and courage required of the early pioneers would make us in this day and time tremble with fear. What brave people. They arrived in the Oregon Territory exhausted, hungry, cold, wet, and ready to begin clearing the new land they acquired.

Leaving you with images of the trail.


 

Hope you enjoyed this voyage into the History of the Oregon Trail and that you'll check back monthly to see what's going on with Journey of Honor.

Until next time....Stay cool this summer and Journey on toward your own quest.


Love,

Nona