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HA P P Y  4th of  J U L Y,  AMERICA !

Enjoy a look back at AMERICA from the coming novel HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings by D.J. Houston

Faith In America by Donald Zolan

Before the second half of 20th Century America happened to her citizens, most kids who weren’t beat up too much for their choices were fairly capable — able to focus their attention on the world in front of them long enough to finish a task and get something done on their own.

Even in the cities, even during wartime, people looked out for each other’s kids . . .

As for what happened to the nation and to the minds and morals of her people in the decades that followed  . . .

C L I C K   H E R E  to READ

“Common Sense Freedom – Heartland America”

Copyright©2007, 2013 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.

Mystery Novel – Historical Fiction – Intrigue – Social Commentary – American Literature Treasures

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HA P P Y  4th of  J U L Y,  AMERICA !

Enjoy a look back at AMERICA from the coming novel HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings by D.J. Houston

Faith In America by Donald Zolan

Before the second half of 20th Century America happened to her citizens, most kids who weren’t beat up too much for their choices were fairly capable — able to focus their attention on the world in front of them long enough to finish a task and get something done on their own.

Even in the cities, even during wartime, people looked out for each other’s kids . . .

As for what happened to the nation and to the minds and morals of her people in the decades that followed  . . .

C L I C K   H E R E  to READ

“Common Sense Freedom – Heartland America”

Copyright©2007, 2013 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.

Mystery Story – Historical Fiction Books – Intrigue – Social Commentary – American Literature

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Excerpts from HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings

by D.J. Houston

~ Honoring My Father on Memorial Day  ~

.

My first pearl appeared the summer I turned six, not long after Daddy and Uncle Arthur returned from the Second World War . . .

It was a time of new necessity for Man.  For despite any halt to the march of evil, that war had turned humanity inside out when the white-hot specter of an atom bomb shocked and awed a pre-dawn New Mexico desert and twice carried death to Japan.

Yet no one could begin to grasp the consequences; it was too impossible to confront that such a thing as an atom bomb could ever happen in the first place.

Even after the war, top-secret scientists kept right on with the military to convince each other, time and again, that bombs do, indeed explode, while regular Joe civilian had no clue of such experiments.  And anyone who might have been aware felt powerless to stop them.  So they did nothing.

Post-WW II Heartland America

Families were reunited with their military loved ones the world over, and did what they could to reorient them to whatever became of their lost years at home.

Most made the transition; all were scarred.  But I’d like to think it was easier for the battle-weary to recover in a place like Havenwood . . .

Livestock and chickens and barns and crops and bank accounts needed tending, leaving little time to ruminate about the war.  And with new enterprises springing up as manufacturing shifted to producing wares and gadgets for the new Consumer Age, earning opportunities outside the home soon grew abundant for adults and young folks alike.

Not that play wasn’t fun and important to youth back then; if anything, a crippling Great Depression with a Second World War on its heels had led Americans of every age to value their freedoms and pleasures more than ever.

But work is its own reward.  If you don’t believe me, ask someone who has none.  And with more choices that come to a freer people, we could enjoy work more than ever, too.

All the kids I knew did chores, before and after school.  And those who had already proven themselves as volunteers for war efforts on the home front had a long leg up when it came to getting hired for the paying jobs.

With no TV screens to spectate at for hours on end, and decades yet before the advent of ubiquitous shopping mall arcades, video games, and personal phones and computers, young people tended to play hands-on at the game of growing up.

They practiced the real deal with real people, in an insular world without internet . . .

~

Author, D.J. Houston

Copyright©2007, 2014 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.

Historical Fiction – Memoir Novels – Life Journey – Coming of Age – Social Commentary

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PILGRIMS and INDIANS

~ Thanksgiving 1946 ~

Maybe my next big break in life would be on the stage. Maybe it wouldn’t.

But it promised to be a hallmark moment for Havenwood.

On the Friday night before Thanksgiving, to entertain our parents, siblings, other family, friends of family, friends and family of their friends plus teachers, older students and their entourages and anyone else we could recruit, my classmates and I scrunched together on a platform stage in the school cafeteria — under a huge, hanging, paper mache’ cornucopia stuffed with eight hundred pounds of real vegetables — and put on a Thanksgiving play.

The invitations read:

~

You Are Cordially Invited

To Attend

The First Annual Thanksgiving Play

Havenwood School Cafeteria

Fourth Friday of November

The Year Nineteen Hundred Forty-Six

Seven O’Clock in the Evening

~

I was cast as a Pilgrim woman cradling a baby doll that was swaddled in an itchy Indian trading blanket.

I even conceded to wear a Puritan dress with a huge, white, stifling collar and a bonnet tied under my chin, just to please Miss Greenlee. It was completely out of character for me, of course, but at least I didn’t have to pretend to have a husband.

I wished she’d just let me play Squanto, though. Nobody else came close to looking like him. And thanks to Miss Greenlee’s research, we’d grasped the sense of honor it must have taken for Squanto to persuade all the tribes to help the Pilgrims, considering how he’d been tricked away to Spain to be sold into slavery and then had to escape, and finally returned to America only to find his own people gone.

But his was another story . . .

Nobody played Squanto, we just said good things about him. So I sucked it up, tucked my braids inside my bonnet and held my tongue . . .

Clifford Buck wore some beaded moccasins and his granddaddy’s fringed-sleeve buckskin jacket, beating a ceremonial tom-tom while the audience gathered, to pay his tribute to Squanto and the Indians. I was grateful to see that.

Little Betsy Alcorn played a Pilgrim child standing next to a lanky farm boy named Percy Miller, who was happily dressed as a minister, collar and all.

Clayton Cox played a turkey posted next to the cornucopia. He’d been stuffed into a burlap sack filled with tissue paper, and had a red-beaked mask on his face and tree twigs sticking out the back for an avante-garde tail feather look. Since he couldn’t see with his mask on, his not-so-secret admirer, the Indian Princess Prissy Schwartz, kept inching closer to center stage, trying to get next to Clayton despite his bulky costume.

Other classmates wore more Pilgrim and Indian costumes. And Miss Greenlee had even let Bobby Blackstone and Teddy MacDougal be Indian braves, so long as they agreed to wear pants, left their tomahawks at home and checked their war cries at the door . . .

And when the lights were dimmed, we knew we’d waited nervously and long enough.

It was SHOWTIME !! 

As we streamed single-file onto the stage, the whole place erupted in cheers and applause, so when I crossed through the glare of the spotlight, I forgave Miss Greenlee completely for not casting me in such a prominent role as Squanto.

Since she hadn’t let Bobby and Teddy wear war paint, none of our Indians looked particularly savage, and I didn’t see any old veterans in the audience to get riled up about it if they had. I figured the churchgoers could favor the Pilgrims, regardless, and nobody would be reluctant to bow their heads for the Thanksgiving prayer. Surely family and friends would still like us, no matter what happened.

Prissy and Minister Percy served as the narrators. Others had their lines. All I had to do was to not drop my baby doll, say “Dear Lord, we appreciate all the help these fine Indians give us,” on cue, and remember to smile at the end when Bobby and Teddy started dancing to Clifford Buck’s tom-tom.

We were good to go . . .

Most of the vegetables stayed in the cornucopia. The cornucopia stayed more or less where it was, except for when blind turkey Clayton got his tail feathers caught in the rope while he was wiggling around trying to scratch himself.

But the audience finally quit gasping and holding their breath as soon as the cornucopia stopped swaying, and nobody ran from the stage. Nobody got hurt and nobody sued, nor would they have thought to back then. And hardly anyone forgot their lines — if they did, Miss G was right there in the wings to remind them before they ever had a chance to feel embarrassed.

The show was a hit! Our Thanksgiving play would be remembered, hands down, as the highlight of Havenwood School’s Novembers for years to come.

And as teachers go, I wasn’t the only one who wondered that night if Miss Lucinda Greenlee might be the best kept secret in America.

~

From HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings 

Magical Mystery by D.J. Houston

Copyright©2010, 2013 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.

Funny Stories – Social Commentary – Historical Fiction – American Literature Treasures

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A peek at the novel HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings by Author, D.J. Houston

Family Secrets . . .

I was only just getting to know my father then.  Or at least what he’d become.

Trudie's Tiny Nursery LampHe’d been away to war so long, I’d even begun to wonder if I’d only imagined the times when the uniformed man in the picture frame on Mama’s dressing table lingered next to my crib to play with me by the light of a tiny nursery lamp, tickling my toes and fingers until we laughed out loud at each other.

As the years blended one to the next, the promise of his constant presence in my life dwindled to little more than a mist of wishful thinking, if I thought of him at all.

Envelopes with foreign stamps and the feelings that broke in Mama’s voice when she read passages from his letters to Timmy and me helped keep Daddy alive for us.  The scene I caught of Timmy in front of the chiffarobe, sniffling and blowing his nose on his sleeve while he tried on Daddy’s hats, made its mark, too.

But our father was home now, home to all he’d fought for.  And I was letting the strength of his quiet nature spread around me like calm on a morning pond.

He reminded me of a sycamore tree with his tall, lean build and sturdy limbs.  His skin was white when he rolled up his sleeves to wash his hands in the wintertime.  And his hair was as shiny black as a raven’s wing, only curly . . .

He had a sort of handsome face, I thought, with a strong jaw and a high forehead like Timmy’s.  His eyes were the hazel, Irish eyes my own eyes echoed.  But I was just beginning to see him as something more than a stranger who’d been smart enough to marry my mother.  And she said the war left him with troublesome things on his mind.

I figured he wasn’t ready for me to tell him about Mister Walling.

As for Mama, she must have been quite a catch for anyone.

She was a pretty, plump brunette with light bronze skin and dark violet eyes, who liked to wear aprons with big pockets and her shoes as seldom as possible — a rare free spirit, inclined to practice the time-honored values of her Native American mother over those of her English father.

And while I knew she would hear with her heart whatever I had to say without belittling my reality, some innate, protective instinct prevented me from giving her reason to have to mention Mister Walling, or suffer undue concerns about my comings and goings.

WW II Victory, Freedom and Apple pie. . .

My sweet, brave mother had found balance in her life and I didn’t want to upset it.

She was grateful to be home in her own big kitchen, cooking and baking . . .  with all the sugar and spices and herbs she needed or wanted — away from the hard times she’d endured at the Sand & Gravel plant after Daddy went to war and the money ran low, when rationing of everything from milk to nylon stockings was in full swing and we could no longer survive on barter from our Victory Garden yield alone.

But those times were behind us now. . .

Timmy and the boys at school didn’t have to collect used paper and metal and rubber for the war production scrap piles anymore.  And I didn’t have to stay with that overbearing woman who smelled like pork cracklings and made me call her “Aunt Millie,” while Mama worked long hours at the plant with too many ladies who wished their men were home.

And freedom reigned!

FATHER’S DAY TRIBUTE:  C L I C K  H E R E

Excerpts from the novel HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings

D. J. Houston, Author

Copyright©2006, 2013 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.

Historical Fiction Books – Mystery Novel World War II Veterans – Social Commentary

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From the Mystery Novel HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings by D.J. Houston

Faith In America by Donald Zolan

Before the second half of 20th Century America happened to her citizens, most kids who weren’t beat up too much for their choices were fairly safe and capable — able to focus their attention on the world in front of them long enough to finish a task and get something done on their own without fear of harm. . .

Even young children could be sent to run an errand, trusted not to meet an early end by a generation of parents and grandparents whose worst fear was that a youngster might actually starve to death if he didn’t learn some skills and self-reliance. And even in the cities, even during wartime, people looked out for each other’s kids . . .

Everybody knew their neighbors, anyway, at least around Havenwood. Scum didn’t stand much of a chance.

As for what happened to the nation and to the minds and morals of her people and their leaders in the decades that followed, it wasn’t television or movies or video games or computers, not guns or even the internet wars and poison food and water that turned out to be the real hidden culprit — as folks in a new awakening would come to realize.

And though the bigger story of who and why and how the money trails connected still lurked behind the scenes . . .

Suffice it to say that, when I was a child, the art of dumbing down humanity with drugs and glorifying violence to masquerade as “culture” under the guise of “human nature” and “news of the day” had not fully taken hold yet as the modus operandi to convince folks life was dangerous, so they wouldn’t look too deep.

People in places like Havenwood could still seek solace in their churches.  And there was still contentment to be found in the plain, old-fashioned friendliness of small town life, and common sense in family.

That the grownups in my early youth weren’t terrorized by a constant barrage of televised bad news sandwiched between phony-baloney commercials was a godsend.  The ominous newspaper headlines and spurious hawkings of must-have wares and miracle cures on the radio were bad news enough back then.

Bad News, School Shootings and “Happy Pills”. . .


 
But we didn’t have a TV yet.  And we didn’t subscribe to the newspaper.  And by 1946, the radio no longer had a war to report.

No one at my house was very interested in bad news, anyway.  And except for old Miss Hickey, nobody at school cared much about it, either.

We didn’t even have school shootings when I was a kid.  No student would dream of bringing a gun to school in the first place, now that the war was over, unless they needed it to shoot some supper on the way home.  They could just store their guns in the principal’s gun case, next to his.

As for the day of fearing one’s child might fall prey to some counselor dispensing make-you-crazy “happy pills” to adjust their behavior if they wiggled too much or (god forbid) they thought outside the box, the idea of turning children into zombies was so far-fetched, it would have been hard to imagine even a Nazi Germany could have thought that one up. . .

Which is all to say that during those fleeting years between wars, in mid-20th Century Heartland America, life was safer for a child for awhile — especially a curious and outspoken one like me.  And able to live a life less influenced by artificial style and false opinion, with plenty of worthwhile work to go around, kids enjoyed a lot more freedom in general.

And so it was, in early summer 1946, that I could wander off unfettered from our family picnic at Silver Bear Lake on a gorgeous Saturday morning, leaving my brother Timmy to fish and run wild with our stair-stepped trio of freckle-faced, farm boy cousins while the grownups played their dominoes.

And with my little belly full of fried chicken and buttery biscuits, I set out to investigate a rare and fascinating day, indeed . . .

Excerpts from the Coming Novel HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings

D.J. Houston, Author

Copyright©2007, 2013 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.


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