September 17, 2015
This re-dux post is my way of saying goodbye to Henry McGee–no longer with us–honored to have known him for a little while.
In a previous Route 66 blog I talked about opening my eyes and seeing what was right in front of my nose. That blog was about the Barstow-Dagget Airport. Well, even closer to home is the Newberry Springs Whiting Brothers Gasoline Station. Not only is it in the area, but the owners, Mary and Henry McGee are also friends!
I’ve been slow to talk about Whiting Brothers because I’ve been afraid I couldn’t “do it justice.” My main concern was not finding the right words. I know, I know! I’m a writer, “words” are my medium for goodness’ sakes. But one of the main aspirations/challenges for me as a writer, is to find words that evoke compelling mental pictures—and most importantly—heart touching emotions.
With this old Whiting Brothers, there are vibrations from the past that have often jumped out and grabbed me when I’ve driven by. And to actually explore the property—up close and personal! Sure, I could blab on and on about the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I touched the old pumps; read the faded lettering; peered through the aged windows; felt the awe and respect that comes with knowing how rugged the desert was (still is); remembered how little infrastructure existed then, compared to now; felt the heart tugging sense of loss knowing so much has gone with time…but all that makes for a really long, puffed up, and gushy sentence that requires a bunch of semicolons—or should it be colons? (Editors among us, please let this paragraph slide!)
Instead, here’s the sentence I finally came up with to describe the Whiting Brothers Gasoline Station on Route 66 in Newberry Springs, CA.
It is a really cool place!
There are articles on the Internet with history, station details, and pictures of the entire station. But, like the other places I’ve so far visited, the station only became alive when I talked to Mary and Henry, touched the pumps, squinted to read the faded and almost gone Tony’s Café sign up close, and ran my hand across the building’s railroad-tie and stucco framework. It is very difficult to convey the feelings of how the past became part of my present through those experiences.
Mary graciously shared how she bought this Whiting Brothers property in 1982, which had started its Route 66 life as Tony’s Café — Italian American Dishes. There now remain three gas pumps – two regular, one diesel. Together we read the last gas pumped prices, 33.9¢ for Super, and 36.9¢ for Ethel Supreme! The gas contained lead, there were 11¢ in taxes, and the pumps were made by the Bennet company. I couldn’t help but imagine the last car filling up at this station. Did the attendant and customer realize they were becoming part of Route 66 history? Or was it just another day on the road?
Mary and Henry also told me about interest in the station over the years by movie makers and schools; and with a touch of sadness, Mary also wanted it mentioned that Danny Marks, a good friend, and a person of “desert rat” legendary, was a wonderful steward of the property until his death in 1997.
It was a beautiful morning, a regular pale-blue Mojave sky—a perfect temperature and a perfect time to step back in history. Mary and Henry were very kind and generous hosts; and for my canine loving friends, their dogs were wonderful! So, I have to say again,
It is a really cool place. And, the McGees are really cool people!
Rest is Peace, Henry
September 15, 2015
I just love it when Marilyn¹ starts here blog tours with me! In the past I’ve gone on and on about what an inspiration this hard-working and talented lady is (for me and all writers)–and when needed, a helping hand. But yes, I’m saying it again–you couldn’t ask for a better guiding light!
So Where Do Real People Fit in Your Mysteries?
Madeline asked me this question, and it’s a good one. Over the years, there have been various essences of real people in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries.
Tempe is a combination of a Yokut woman that I met, a resident deputy and a police woman I went on a ride-along with one night years ago. All three were strong women and share personality traits with Tempe.
A teacher who taught grandchildren of her first students and didn’t quit teaching until she was in her late seventies became a principal in one of the earlier books. The character didn’t look like the teacher, but I definitely thought of the real person as I wrote her into the story.
Because I live in a small town much like Bear Creek with people who’ve lived here all their lives and those who have moved here to get away from the big cities, I’ve gleaned a lot from both experiences. Like any place, we have people who have a lot and those who don’t—all I’ve had to do is pay attention to what’s going on around me to come up with interesting characters with stories to tell.
I actually used a real person as a character, not her name, but at her request, her description, her pets, and her personality quirks. She’s actually appeared in two books, and I might use her in another one day. She loved it, and all of her friends said I truly captured her.
In my latest, Not as It Seems, most of the characters have appeared in my imagination just as I depicted them. None are based on anyone that I know, except for the fact that each one has bits and pieces of folks I’ve met along the way of a long life.
Not as It Seems
Tempe and Hutch travel to Morro Bay for son Blair’s wedding, but when the maid-of-honor disappears, Tempe tries to find her. The search is complicated by ghosts and Native spirits.
Character Naming Contest:
Once again, I’ll name a character after the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs.
Tomorrow I’ll be stopping by Evelyn Cullet’s http://Evelyncullet.com/ and telling where the idea for Not as It Seems came from.
¹Bio: Marilyn Meredith now lives in the foothills of the Southern Sierra, about 1000 feet lower than Tempe’s Bear Creek, but much resembles the fictional town and surroundings. She has nearly 40 books published, mostly mysteries. Besides writing, she loves to give presentations to writers’ groups. She’s on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association, and a member of Mystery Writers of America and three chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter.
Thank you, Marilyn, for another enjoyable Tempe adventure!
July 5, 2015
Patricia Gligor has headed out, it was great visiting with her! If you missed her visit, just go back one post.
I’m back to writing, but thought I’d take a moment to talk about my Raven’s trilogy. I’m working on the final leg of Hugh’s Mojave adventure at last. It started as a standalone, Reticence of Ravens, then several readers said, more from Hugh! So Counsel of Ravens followed. Then I opened my big mouth and said, I’m writing a trilogy! Ha! During all this, I’ve written several other standalones, Lies of Convenience (I especially like Margo’s story), and Rhodes The Mojave-Stone. This may sound like a promotional commercial, it isn’t meant to be, but to point out how hard it is (for me) to pick up characters and circumstances I’ve left as continuing “what ifs” in my fictional worlds, and take another step forward in their lives. I’m very fond of mystery series–but to write one, now that’s another matter. For sure, I’m a snapshot writer, not a saga writer. But I told someone, you might know who you are, Ravens was a trilogy–and I’m trying to keep that promise! Thank goodness for making commitments…
Off to writing…
In the meantime, if you haven’t visited any of these role models below…many of you know Lou Allin is no longer with us, but I continue to post our conversation in remembrance and honor.
(if the link doesn’t work–just put the name in “search.” )