‘78 Buick with less than 12k miles.
The American Weekly - February 14, 1954 - art by Robert Hilbert
Valentine’s Day has always been special to me, especially this one.
1960 Chrysler Imperial
Ummmm… try Dodge Dart Seneca!
Today, I cleanse my tumblr. page.
No offense intended to those of you who have been cut loose from the posts I follow, but I need a place where I can blog. Good old Valves and Roger Wilkerson will stay. They amuse me, although I have not heard from Good old Valves for a couple of months. (Roger just drips with nostalgia).
I am going to try to make this a weekly “thing”, now that I have managed to write and put a novel on the market. My intent (going forward) is to give some insight on my writing. This week, with the release of The Legacy of Miss Annie Darden Coggins, I am going to write a little bit more about Magnolia, Ohio, the setting for most of the story.
The model for Magnolia is Piketon, Ohio, a village on a bend of the Scioto River in Pike County, Ohio. I have been through Piketon a couple of times in the past year or so to help confirm my impressions of the town from about 17 years ago when it was part of my “Territory” as a District Circulation Manager for the Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette.
Piketon sits on the intersection of two main highways, Ohio 32 (The Appalachian Highway) and US 23. The downtown section is roughly shaped like a wedge with Main Street running north and south in a straight line while US 23 arcs to the east before heading south to meet South Street (which runs east and west) on the south side of downtown. There are streets running to the west of Main Street and to the south of South Street… but not very far.
Downtown is mostly dead these days. Most of the commercial activity in Piketon is concentrated along US 23 south of South Street on a service road.
Magnolia is quite like, yet, unlike Piketon. It occupies the same space, yet there are some differences. For one, Downtown Magnolia is a busy hub of activity, most of it centered around a three story Hotel built in the early part of the 20th century. The Hotel never spent much time as a hotel. It was vacant until just after WWII when the title character in my book (Miss Annie Darden Coggins) came to town with her ex husband’s money to set up “Annie’s Coffee Cup”.
The bank, the hardware store, the park and the antique shops on Cherry street are all made up, too. For a small town, Magnolia has a lot going for it… more than the contemporary Piketon. More will be said about the setting as my writing about Magnolia, Ohio continues.
Yes, Virginia… there are more tales of Magnolia, Ohio yet to come. There are characters we have yet to meet with stories which need to be told. I will be getting to those in due course.
Just so you know that I know, yes, there really is a Magnolia, Ohio. It’s just south of Canton if I recall. It’s not unusual for there to be two towns of the same name in the same state… there are at least 2 Bainbridge, Ohios (The one I am familiar with is in Ross County) and at least 2 Fairview, West Virginias (my mother is from Fairview in Marion County, about 10 miles out of Fairmont). In this case, the second Magnolia isn’t on the map; it exists only in the imagination.
So, if you have a Kindle, stop by Amazon, buy the book and come visit Magnolia.
Be seeing you!
If the world is going to end on December 21st (as suggested by the Mayans) or if we really are on a collision course with ‘Planet X’, then it would make sense for us to vote for candidates in the upcoming elections we really don’t like… so that we can blame them for the upcoming catastrophes!
Jackie Gleason and Legs, photograph by Erwin Blumenfeld
Everyone in America should know that an actual candidate for U.S. Senate said this about women who are raped.
Please share this.
“So what do you think of naked women?”
The question came out of the blue, from the mouth of a woman I had known for a good portion of my life at the time; a woman six months my junior; a woman who had been my ‘first date’ some seven years earlier.
“Useful for masturbation,” was the answer which fortunately did not come spilling from my mouth.
“How do I answer that question?” I asked myself. “Sounds like some sort of a trick.”
It was one of those questions which no sane person would dare answer. I knew that the moment I opened my mouth, whatever I said would be wrong.
I didn’t want to risk it with Debbie.
In one sense, she was the twin sister I never had. We had managed to make it through puberty together – yet apart, due to the inconvenience of living nearly 200 miles from each other for six of the aforementioned seven years.
We conducted a correspondence, celebrating our diametrically opposed birthdays (exactly six months apart to the day) and Christmas through the services of the U.S. Postal Service. At other times, we would regale each other with letters detailing little bits and pieces of our personal lives on average of once a month or so.
For me, it was a necessity. I had been torn apart from Debbie, forced into a move to another town by uncaring (in my 14 year-old eyes) by my uncaring parents. I swore that I would never have friends ever again.
Everyone at the new school was hostile. I knew it. I was the 8th grade freak, tapped by the music teacher to blend in with the 10th, 11th and 12th graders on a cold, rainy trip to a different unknown city less than two weeks after being exiled to the middle of nowhere. I was the final piece in that puzzle, a Godsend to a music teacher who was wanting the perfect score in a music competition.
“Outstanding”, read the certificate touting my skills at playing the Cello in an individual competition held in my former haunts less than two months earlier.
“Outstanding”, read Debbie’s certificate for her prowess playing the Violin at that same competition.
Both of us were quite pleased with ourselves.
The girls at the new school who rode on that bus viewed me as some sort of novelty. The other guys on the bus viewed me with suspicion. There were undertones that life past the 8th grade weren’t going to be quite as pleasant as they had been when Debbie was around.
Debbie remained my anchor. The memories I had of her had also slowed me down.
I had a photograph of the two of us taken on the night of the Seventh Grade Party… our ‘first date’. We had dared to dance a slow dance, next to each other, the first time we had had physical contact with someone of the opposite gender who was not related to us in one way or another.
I was very aware of myself. I was one of the earliest of my peers to actually start growing pubic hair… a sign of impending manhood.
I became aware of her, too. She wore a low-cut dress, suggesting that her breasts were her own, not some fabrication fortified courtesy of the folks at Kimberly-Clark.
Both of us were starting to come of age.
That photograph was my touchstone in those years we were fated to be apart. It was my proof that I had enjoyed a woman’s charms.
Now she was mocking me with a question I dared not answer.
“So what do you think of naked women?”
I knew the form from art… the classics, the statuary. I also knew the form from the forbidden photographs, air brushed to improve on perfection, from… sources. The sources would certainly kill me had I revealed where I had obtained the ill-gotten booty.
I could surmise her form as she sat in the passenger seat of the automobile waiting for my answer. She wore a halter top which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that what she was endowed with was real… the only revelation yet to be made would be for her to show me her nipples and aureole.
I started to fight back the urges which were starting at the back of my brain. I was afraid that I would develop an erection and that the erection would embarrass me in front of the woman who had revealed to me earlier that day that we had been in the third grade together. An erection was certainly something I didn’t want to reveal to my spirit-sister… at least not in the car. It would be more embarrassing to me than the erection I had developed when I took out a woman who was not Debbie three months earlier.
Not Debbie and I had connected at Junior College. We went to dinner before heading back to her home where she introduced me to the basics of expressing love toward another person. I left that evening hiding my excitement as well as the emission which had seeped from it.
I wanted desperately to practice what I had learned on the woman I had grown up with. There was a fleeting vision of the two of us going back to the apartment Debbie shared with her mother, where we would throw caution to the wind to explore each other and discover the previously forbidden world of uninhibited sex.
My answer to the question was more of a delaying tactic than it was an actual answer to the question she asked.
I respected her.
My respect was mostly out of fear of the unknown.
I wasn’t afraid of getting caught as much as I was afraid of what might happen when the two of us would copulate. I knew the process. Sperm meets egg, yields child.
I wasn’t ready for the responsibility. I knew that I wasn’t ready for the responsibility. In knowing that I wasn’t ready and by admitting to myself that I wasn’t ready was proof that I was indeed ready.
The question was eventually shelved. We spent the remainder of that summer afternoon basking in each other, remembering ourselves as we were. When it was time for me to take the trip back to where my family lived, Debbie came out with me.
We paused at the car, taking one long last look at each other before we drew into each other’s arms.
I held her for too brief a time.
I thought of giving her a kiss, a kiss to make up for all of the kisses we never had. As it turned out, we were fated never to kiss.
That fall, I returned to College close to home. She went back to the East Coast to finish her studies. Our correspondence was never renewed. I never saw or heard from Debbie again.
Nearly forty years later, I remember that day, that question and that night. Although I am secure in knowing that I love and that I am loved by the woman to whom I am married, my thoughts still occasionally drift back to that time in my life, the razor’s edge in time when I transitioned from my childhood to my adulthood… the dilemma I had on that day being solved many times over.
I would like to think that she feels the same about me.
this is actually my favorite gif on tumblr
Love it. Some great editing!