What happens when a young girl of the mid-20th century finds a mini mule and hides it on her elementary school playground? For one thing, the mule decides to stay, and stay, and stay… Foreman’s whimsical fantasy [or is it a memoir?] and Hartsfield’s artwork secure a spot for Minnie Mule both on the McDowell School playground and in our hearts.
“Delightfully told and charmingly illustrated, children young and old will enjoy this trip into the imaginary world of a schoolyard playground where everyday life is transformed into something extraordinary.” - Jeff High, Award Winning Author of the Watervalley Books Series
Margo smiles her Miss Perfect Teeth smile. “How do I look, Jill?”
She stands straight and flounces her hair all around her face. The sun coming through the feed room door has her in its spotlight. Her eyes are green today, my favorite of the colors they change to. They’re flirting with me, asking for the right answer.
“You look like a beauty queen,” I say.
The smile turns real. “Thanks. Do you mean it?”
I curve my elbow out like an usher did for me at Cousin Betsy’s wedding. “May I escort Miss Feed Room to the gate?”
“What about my horn?”
“Beauty queens don’t tote French horns. I’ll come back for it.”
We walk off, arm in arm, toward a house with skunks under it. But we wouldn’t be arm in arm if it wasn’t for those skunks. (p. 19, 20)
Mama notices me still standing there and gets this lost look, like I’m somebody she met a long time ago and can’t quite place. Finally she says, “Jill?” She picks up the letter and waves it at me. “Soon as the dew’s gone, let’s see if we can find enough blackberries for a couple of pies. My cousin Hershel is coming for a visit.”
Mama’s kin are pale, educated people. They don’t visit us much. When they do, Mama scrubs and carries on and gets out a tablecloth. We stay out of her way. (p. 95)
Somewhere Along the Way
Printed by CreateSpace
[originally published in The Daily Herald newspaper]
The writings in Somewhere Along the Way were originally published as columns in The Daily Herald in Columbia, Tennessee. Whether read cover-to-cover or ten minutes at a time, the book’s gentle humor, down-home nostalgia, occasional serious ponderings, and quirky characters provide a life affirming and uplifting look at everyday existence.
excerpted from the first column after the 9-11-01 attacks
Is there a U.S. citizen anywhere who is not still reeling from the news?
Three friends from various parts of New York, the state, have been in touch to say they’re okay. Amy, who lives near Syracuse, says:
“On this morning’s news, they ran a list of the known passengers on the flights that crashed. One was a four-year-old- girl. Who can begin to understand the atrocity of a human being who could watch that little girl board that plane, knowing he planned to explode it into a skyscraper one hour later?”
Mary, who lives 20 blocks north of the World Trade Center area, reports:
“My neighbor climbed up the fire escape to watch. All around, people were standing on rooftops with their heads in their hands, staring in disbelief.”
Her husband rushed by bicycle to get one child at the United Nations school (afraid that building might be targeted next) while Mary ran to another school to collect their kindergartner.
On her way: “I saw masses of people all walking north covered in dust.”
Mary alternated between watching the real thing and watching TV coverage. She describes the scene below 14th Street: “All you see are army trucks and fighter jets, police blockades, mortuary trucks.” When Wednesday’s news stated that the constantly swirling dust/smoke cloud was full of asbestos, her family left the city.
A friend in the Catskills and her husband know three people who got out of the World Trade Center. One was on the 89th floor; the plane hit at about the 91st. “She walked barefoot all the way to her dad’s place uptown. Somebody offered her a pair of sneakers.”
On our TV screens, bone-tired rescue workers create human assembly lines to move mountains of rubble, one steel slab/crushed computer at a time. Concurrently, folk hundreds of miles removed from the actual scene are emotionally trying to pick up the pieces, to reassemble. Everything is different. Out of kilter. In the midst of such turmoil, the cat shouldn’t still judge the state of the world by whether her supper dish is full.
At a Thursday evening rehearsal of our community chorus, its director said, “I was dragging myself to a children’s choir practice, thinking how trivial the rehearsal and everything else we’re doing is, in light of what’s happened.”
Then, to the assembled singers, she said, “I was wrong. What we’re doing right now is exactly what we should be doing —— working together at what we love; learning to depend on and trust each other’s ability to do their part; enjoying each other’s company. All this is vitally important.”
Such normalcy has been shattered for us all. E-mails ask “Will we ever be safe again?” “What now?” These great unanswerables roll toward us like the all-enveloping debris clouds on replays of the imploding towers.
Yet, as long as a bystander offers a pair of sneakers to a barefoot passerby as she stumbles away from danger, there is hope.
— September 2001