Tuesday, September 10, 2013
I don't really have writer's block - but I am being block from writing. I'm working on making these stories into a book. Yes A Book! So while I format, edit, proofread (much needed) and format some more I decided to let you in on my little secret. I'm on the roller coast ride of learning the publishing world and all that is required, mandated and asked for to get a book published. It has taken me away from what I love to do -- writing for Attic Whispers. I have stacks of photographs begging for a story and a wonderful collection of letters between a WWII navy man and his sweetheart needing their story to get out. But, they must wait until the coaster comes to a halt (or at least slows down) and I can get back to talking with my imaginary friends and writing their stories.
In the mean time you can browse through the stories listed under the decade headings on the right side of the site and please stay tuned for more stories coming from Attic Whispers.
Thank you, Sam
Monday, September 9, 2013
I've always been interested in Darby's history and was told all the Captain Darby stories on my grandfather's knee. But I had a thirst to trace the family name back through the generations to see how it all fits within my family tree. I had found a few bills of sale receipts and ledgers from 1908 through 1932 in the old family store, but that was all. I knew that Great-Grandpa Charles was born on the Murphy farm and had worked the land his whole life. I think he was born in 1880. His father was Ernie Murphy and his mother was Darla Lee Tanner. I'm not sure where my G-G-Grandfather Ernie was from, but was told that G-G-Grandmother Darla Lee had been born on the farm, also. She was very senile at the end but lived to be ninety-eight.
As I was digging through the archives of Darby history at the library I can upon a box that was worn, tattered and splitting at the sides. I carefully pulled it off the shelf to investigate. I had found a treasure of information. There were letters, journals, ledgers, newspaper clippings, old post cards, photographs and notebooks dating back to 1898. I was surprised it was all housed in this shabby box. One of the ledgers traced Darla Lee's family all the way back to Captain Darby in 1760. There were names, dates, marriage and death notations along with notes written in the margins. I recalled a lot of the names from tales Grandpa had told me and recognized names of families that are still living in Darby.
I found a copy of Great-Grandpa Charles and Great-Grandma Sally's marriage announcement in the Gazette newspaper dated 1900. My grandfather was born a year later. There was a picture marked Maurine McDougall. She was married to Mr. Landers. Susan at the library's front desk will be interested in seeing her G-G-Grandmother's photo. Another find was a complete newspaper from 1901. I was pleased to see it had stayed in the Harold family all these years. I saw J.D. Austen's byline all over in print. I never knew she was from Darby. I've read and re-read her books a dozen times.
Near the bottom of the box was a hand full of old, sepia photographs; one was of a Dr. and Mrs. Wright. I wonder if they are any relation to the Wright brothers that own the radio station in town? Stuck in the back of a journal was another antique photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Ward. The journal was filled with notations of performance events, parade diagrams, a list of speakers and dates with a filled calendar from July 1898 along with chairman names. I believe Mr. Ward was mayor of Darby at one time, I knew he later became governor of the state in the thirties. That was a photograph that needed to see the light of day. I came across a wedding photo noted to be of a Mr. Gibbs and Agatha Bertha Clarkson that looks like it was taken inside the Gibbs Theater. I came across a striking photo of my G-G-Grandmother and father. She's all dolled up and putting on a show with a huge, feather hat. Dad will love to see these. The most unusual find I unearthed was a small stack of ribbon wrapped letters. There was a notation on the front that these were lost letters due to unknown addresses or names. As far as I could tell they dated back to over a century ago. A Miss Banks noted that they might make a great story some day and had given copies to Jane and Bitsy (not sure who they may have been).
My finds filled in a few of the family tree branches of the Murphy and Tanner genealogy. When I showed the battered box to Susan, we both agreed the contents needed to be displayed along with the rest of the Darby history exhibition. I volunteered to help with the restoration and display of this rich material.
Monday, September 2, 2013
We weren't sure if Thomas would be greeted warmly when he agreed to the post in Darby. He is so young by doctor standards, fresh out of training and toting a new wife to boot. But, our fears were immediately put to rest. Darby is a young town, by that I mean the population is young and very friendly. We have dined at the mayor's home, been interviewed by the reporter, J.D. Austen, for the town's paper and Thomas had his first patient, Darla Lee (as she likes to be called) on his first day here. I think this town has grown on us both rather quickly. We were only in town a week when I had an invitation to join the ladies reading group and Thomas was asked if he golfed. We both said yes to those enquiries. We were made to feel welcomed. The other resident doctor, Dr. Wilhelm, has taken Thomas under his wing and has been most instructive in setting up his office, introductions and appreciative of another doctor in town. Dr. Wilhelm says the area could actually use an additional doctor to help carry the load.
We were fortunate that the practice included a handsome home with the attached physician quarters on the side. Thomas' father claims there nothing wrong with being a country doctor, he will be surprised when he sees how more sophisticated than country the hamlet is. Although, Thomas does skittle out of town now and then to the surrounding countryside to fulfill his duties. Father will see how well his money was spent with us buying this practice and home. With Darla Lee's appointments alone, we'll be able to reimburse Father faster than he imagined.
I love the tree-lined streets of Darby. The causeway down the center of town with an array of shops lining Main Street leaves nothing to be desired. The hotel is first rate and boasts a fine dining hall, too. The library was recently built at the end of Main Street and I've made a friend in Miss McDougall. The residential avenues are just a pleasing. A quality mixture of opulent and simple homes that house this fair communities occupants. It's an easy walk to Cap Lake, just outside of town. Mrs. Ward, the mayor's wife, has included me in many of her growing calendar events and I take pride to have been asked. With our family on hold for the moment, I like to think I could contribute to the town with my volunteer work at the hand of Mrs. Ward. And, I like that I can be a helpmate to Thomas in his office for the time being. Plus, for now, we can only afford to furnish the main rooms of the house, a nursery will come later.
I think we choose well in this new adventure. We have met very friendly folks, attended a performance at the Starlight Theater, explored the town and had great discussions while strolling around the lake. We both feel that we have found a home to call our own. Well, once Father is paid in full.
Monday, August 26, 2013
I was born with the moniker of Agatha Bertha Clarkson and thus learned my ABC's from my initials at a young age. But, with that mouth full I soon became Bitsy. My students call me Miss Clarkson and I can be caught off guard wondering if my sister is standing behind me. Teaching came naturally to me having been raised in a family with eight brothers and sisters. I'm third in line and only the second to leave the farm. My brothers enjoy farming and most of my sisters have plans to marry farmers alike. I do enjoy going home for the holidays and during the harvest to help out, but I love my life in the city. I've made great friends in Darby and rent a room from Miss McDougal. Mother approves of my renting a room from our town's librarian. Maurine and I walk to work together in the mornings. She heads to the library and I across the street to the school.
There is a wonderful social life in Darby. The mayor's wife, Mrs. Ward, fills the months with a variation of activities and events. We have cotillions, musical recitals, speaking engagements, a town fair, with parades and picnics celebrating the Fourth of July. Our library is extensive and we have a serene lake where one may swim or stroll along its borders. I often get lost in thought walking around Cap Lake. I only need to walk outside to find a diversion of some sort. I enjoy all that Darby has to offer. Although, I'm not much of a dancer and prefer to tap my toe to the music of the dance. Ella has offered to teach me some fundamental dance steps; I shall take her up on her offer before our next cavorting.
We have a wonderful theater that has brought us vaudeville acts that can be down right hilarious and I get laughing so hard I think my sides will split. Mr. Gibbs, the theater's proprietor, has scheduled a large variety of entertainment. Play productions from touring groups out of New York City and Chicago, orchestra and band concerts, too. He's brought to our town a diversity of entertainment. After the renovations to the theater, Mr. Gibbs gave me a personal tour of the new spaces. It was very impressive with soft ivory painted walls and gold gilding accents. He displayed posters of shows from the one-man acts performing selections from Shakespeare to full orchestral assemblies and all the play billboards. A lot of the plays are based on books and I look forward to seeing the stories performed as I might have imagined them while reading the book. Many times, Mr. Gibbs and I have discussed what books could be converted to the stage and who might play the leading role. Jennie Drummond is one of my favorite performers and I never miss one of her plays while they are in town.
Jane Diane, our mysterious reporter and my good friend, has just called on me to walk into town. She fancies a chocolate soda and has invited me to join her. I think I shall, I could fancy a sarsaparilla ice cream concoction myself.
Monday, August 19, 2013
I took over the Starlight Theater when my parents retired from vaudeville, or at least from their permanent arrangement and took their act on the road. They do stop by now and then to fill the bill that brings the house down with their song and dance routines. With the backing of Darby's banker, I expanded the theater to house larger productions for touring groups. With much success I may say. I hire the local band to open every vaudeville act that comes to town and accompany the play performances as well. They also play during the summer out at the lake. It seems to work for everyone all around. Our little community has taken to attending the theater like ducks to water. We usually have a full house every Friday and Saturday night plus the Sunday afternoon matinees, including the balcony seating. I've just added a small beverage and snack bar near the entrance of the theater. I gave Sally and Billy an increase in wages to service this new addition during the vaudeville and single performer repertoires. Sally has made some good suggestions and added a selection of bagged nuts to the small menu.
I've noticed our community enjoys a variety of performances and I try and book different acts throughout any given month. The vaudeville acts are a dime a dozen and I have my pick for bookings. I like to mix in full orchestra concerts and bands, too. Lately, professional marching bands are coming in to perform and liven the place with a boom-ta-da. The audiences love it. With the new renovations I've made throughout the theater, touring play productions are taking notice of Darby. I just received confirmation for a four-act comedy by Sydney Grundy, The New Woman. The touring production will be coming to our fair town to perform their play. The story portrays the shifting views of woman in our society, all done in good humor. Variety is the spice of life and that includes the taste of our patron guests.
Growing up on the road, from one show house to another, living out of a suitcase and never in one town longer than a fortnight, I like the stability Darby has given me. There are quite a few lovely ladies in town and frequent my establishment on a regular basis. They enjoy a little tete-te-tete now and then along with a wink or a smile. I'm actually a little shy around the female gender and Mother says I cover it up by flirting with them all. That may be the case, since I have my eye on a lovely young lady in town that I can get tongued tided just standing next to her. Bitsy is one of our schoolteachers. She's very intelligent and has a fun sense about her. We have had many fine conversations, that is when I can get the words off my thick tongue. I try and seek her out in the crowd come Friday or Saturday night showings and have taken the liberty to sit with her during some of the performances. Having to work most weekends gives me pause to asking her to dine, however an afternoon or early evening stroll around the lake may be just the ticket.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Well, the Murphy's are in the house. Ernie and I have had a long day and it sure is nice to get home, put the feet up and catch a breath. Living outside of town has its drawbacks but the farm is such a relief to come home to. Waiting on folks all day, stocking the shelves and keeping the books can surely bring on one of my headaches. But, one must
do what one must do.
Ernie opening the grocery a few years ago was genius and has been very profitable. With the boys managing the farm, we've been able to devote our time to this new adventure. Murphy's Grocery Store houses: a meat counter to sell our beef, pork and chickens, a small dairy area for milk products and eggs, vegetable aisle for our produce and shelving to stock the can goods we offer, too. Other local farmers and ranchers are profiting as well as we, selling in our store. Ernie loves making the rounds of the store, chatting up the customers and giving a cookie to the youngsters that stop in with their mothers. Elena's cookies have brought many a customer through our doors.
But it does take a toll on ones constitution. The long hours, standing at the counter tallying up the orders and all the time having to grin like the Cheshire cat. I think I may have pulled a muscle this morning lifting Mrs. Ward's grocery order, I should see Dr. Wright about this condition right soon. Of course, she asked about our contribution to the Fourth of July festivities, again. Unlike her, we are not made of money, but will do our part, as usual. The boys are going to set up a pulled pork sandwich and lemonade stand at the lake during the community fourth's picnic. They've heard of such goings on in other towns and want to give it a go. I think it's a jolly good idea.
While Ernie is out inspecting the farm and talking to the boys, I can sit back and relax for a moment. I don't get many as you can see. Me feet are killing me tonight. I'll just add that to the list to discuss with the good doctor. I'm sure it's my bumped toe, or my name ain't Darla Lee. You see while arranging the can good shelves, I toppled a large crate of canned peaches which had the audacity to land on my left foot. It hasn't swollen but is very bruised. Ernie said to just walk it off and I would have if I could have walked at all. Sally Jean was able to take over my duties for an hour and let me have a lie down in the upstairs office. Such a dear that Sally Jean. I say she's worth every penny we give her. Ernie says it's more than a penny we give her. I think she's sweet on my boy, Charles. He could do worse, I say. He should ask her to the play at the theater in town and we'll see how that goes. Think I'll suggest it at dinner tonight. Thinking of dinner, I wonder what Elena has prepared for us tonight. I've a hankering for her pot roast and veggies. I just hope it's not her sliced tongue, again, that kept me up all night last week. I think I'll discuss this issue with Dr. Wright in the morning, also.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Although the mayor and I are immigrants to our fair town, we have made a wonderful life for ourselves in Darby.
Mr. Ward never enjoyed practicing the law, but always had an interest in politics and doing what's right for our community. He has many dusty miles on him, scoping out new industry and enterprises to bring to our town and has been very successful in this endeavor. Just recently he returned from a meeting with a railroad car manufacture to entice them to build a plant here in Darby. We have the manpower, the land to build and the railway is only a few miles away. I chose to design a welcoming brochure for Mr. Ward to take with him on his development affairs. It's a passion of mine, I must say, and he has returned with many compliments on my accomplishment. I do like to think well of myself -- it's a weakness of mine.
I do my part, being the mayor's wife in a town of this size. Mr. Ward may have further ambitions and I'd like to think we are a team in his advancements. I know many in town think that I'm a bit pushy, stubborn, and control most of the social events for the town, and I am. However, I've learned that if one doesn't take the wheel from the get go, nothing will get done nor steered in the right direction. I do like to contribute to the town's progress; it's a small compulsion of mine. There are many little sheep in my flock to delegate, direct and enjoy the fun of a job well done. Miss McDougal, our town librarian, is often involved. I feel she's a great attribute to every event we have planned. Dear Mrs. Wright, our town's new doctor's wife, has recently lent us a hand and I think will become a favorable chairwomen for many of our upcoming functions. Ella, our postmistress, can usually be counted on to liven the group. Such a dear. Most of our town's establishments contribute to our causes and Darla Lee, the grocer's wife, is a major asset to that end.
I'm in the process of planning our annual July Fourth celebration, a true favorite of mine. I've called on my little lambs to start the ball rolling; one can never start too soon for such a wonderful day. We'll have the parade down Main Street with our own secondary school's marching band; we all look forward to their rousing, lively tunes. There will be the community lake picnic and games for both the children and adults alike. We've hired a quartet to sing during the evening hour, an obsession of mine, along with a band staged in the gazebo. Mr. Ward has promised a splendid speech to mark the day. I'll call on Mazy to supply the ample advertising we'll need in the paper's event's column. She claims she is much too busy to collaborate or volunteer with our group, but will do splendidly in placing our advertisements. Bless her heart.
I do like to keep busy myself and if I can provide simple activities for the general public or opulent affairs for our town's nobler folk, I have done my work well. It's just a true passion of mine.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
If I have to sit for one more cabinet card sample, I think I will shrivel up, turn to dust and blow away. Marvin says it's the only way to showcase his photography work in the front window of the studio. He claims he can't use any of his patrons photos, cause they paid to have their picture took - not pose for commercial purposes. I told him, me changing my dress now and then for the sittings isn't much variety in his precious front window display.
Mum liked this photo the best of all that I sent her. She said it showed my serious side. More bored side, if ya ask me. Although, I do like this hat - think I'll nab it on my way out, today. This gig isn't paying me anything and the rent is due next week. Marvin has suggested I use my picture copies to find a job. I saw right through that idea - he just wants me to pass around his samples, advertising is what that idea is. I did see a new notice posted at the diner on my walk over this morning. Wanted: a waitress. I think I could possibly do waitressing. I'd rather not though. My little hiccup is that I haven't much going for me in the way of talent, experience or needed skills. Coming off the farm, I can milk a cow, muck out a barn, help during harvest and swear like a farm hand. Now, if someone needed a smack mouthed, barn mucking, cow milking, nimble handed harvester - then I'm their gal. Marvin says I could be a model - I told him, I was and the pay wasn't that grand.
Gladys's at the rooming house claims I just need a little training and I could be what ever I wanted to be. But, that's the rub -- I have no idea what I want to be or do or train for. Mum says just find the right man and all will be fine. But, Miss Independence wants more than being a wife and mucking out the barn. Sometimes wish that little cricket would take a back seat to Miss Responsible and go get the waitressing job. Well, I think I will have a go at the diner, at least it'll pay the rent for now. Then I'll look at the training catalogues Gladys's gave me and maybe something will peak my interest and get me moving to something exciting and fun. Anything will be better than sitting for one more displayed cabinet card sample for my boyfriend and I'm sure to get a raise in pay right from the start.
Mary A. Sitter ~ 1920
Photo credit: from Maudelynn's Menagerie ~ 1920 cabinet card