A friend asked me a couple days ago if I knew Ron–the Ron at Daggett Airport.. A bunch of lovely memories returned, so thought I’d share again …

“If it were a snake, it would have bitten you!” is one of my grandmother quotes I still remember with loving fondness. Along the same line, my husband and I have a modern day quip pertaining to finding stuff right in front of us. We call it, “refrigerator blindness.” You know, when you can’t see the mayonnaise on the shelf right in front of your eyes, or the keys you’ve looked over twice on the desk…

The Barstow-Daggett Airport has been boldly sitting under my nose since I moved to the desert, and I’ve driven by it on Route 66 and I-40 hundreds of times—but never taken the time to stop and look. Shame on me! Recently, hooray, with my two friends Janice Maloney[1] and Mary McGee[2], I enjoyed another “Route 66 day.” This time, right in my own backyard.

At Airport Entrance

First off, I didn’t realize how large the airport actually was—over a 1,000 acres. The airport’s history is interesting and goes back to 1933. Built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the army to modify A-20 “Havoc” light bombers. There’s great information on the internet and in Route 66 books by various authors, including details on current military (helicopter) and commercial activities. But what I like most of all about going to Route 66 points of interest is talking to the people!

So far, everywhere we’ve gone, and without exception, there’s been a palpable passion for The Mother Road, a generosity of spirit of owners/operators/greeters, all delivered with an underpinning of warmth easily shared with inquisitive strangers (like me and my friends!) We also went to the Barstow Route 66 museum the same day, and Debra (a prime example of the Mother Road spirit), as always was most welcoming!

Al and Ron

And at the Barstow-Daggett Airport, Al and Ron, Daggett Aviation Inc., couldn’t have been nicer and more generous with their time. I left in awe. The historical wall pictures and artifacts, the memorabilia, and the stories and pictures of helicopters, airplanes, and celebrity adventures—WOW! Thanks, Al and Ron, it was a great visit. If you find yourself cruising this piece of Route 66, The Barstow-Dagett Airport is a peek not only into the past, but a look at a valuable  piece of current day Mojave infrastructure.

And once again I’m reminded what amazing feats amazing people have done before us–and continue to do.

I wonder….

For my mystery-writing friends–on the airport property there is also a no longer operating community pool in the shadow of a huge, and also no longer used hanger. Law abiding as I am, I couldn’t take a picture of the hanger. Nonetheless, fictional mayhem involving that pool and hanger are a-brewing in my imagination…

“Rulers of the Pond”

Well, we didn’t run into any snakes, but there is a pond, and the pond “rulers”— large flocks of geese (several kinds), and ducks (again, many varieties) came to “greet” us.  For me, it’s the unexpected that makes exploring Route 66 so special!


[1] Owner/Operator of Mojave Gourd and Pepper Farm http://www.mojavefarm.com/

[2] One of the last two teachers at Amboy, CA school before it closed, and current owner of historic Whiting Bros Gas Station on Route 66.

 

Memories. And I think I need another Route 66 adventure soon!!

Whenever I “run into” Victoria, a smile immediately forms on my face–she’s the kind of person that makes you feel good, not matter what. I think we first met in San Luis Obispo, then “ran into” each other at several Left Coast Crime Conferences–and it’s always been a joy! So when I heard Victoria had a new book out, I immediately read, enjoyed, reviewed, and asked her to come visit.

Pearl Harbor Blues is a wonderful story written in a very engaging manner. Consequently, I asked Victoria if she’d satisfy my curiosity. Specifically, why this  story? And what did her research entail?

Victoria Heckman

Victoria Heckman

Pearl Harbor Blues was a labor of love and determination.  The idea came from a friend of mine, over 30 years ago. I lived and went to school in Hawai’i and met a nice HPD officer during my ride-alongs there when I thought about joining HPD.  You talk a lot when you’re riding around for 8 hours.  Anyway, he mentioned he was on the beach at Pearl Harbor during the Dec. 7 attack. He was three years old.  At that time, civilians lived there, too.  Much of the area around the harbor was quite different then compared to now.

That image of a little boy stayed with me all these years.  The book itself took a decade to complete for a number of reasons.  I did a ton of research and got help from Pearl Harbor survivors, museum experts and many visits to the memorial.  When I began that book, I was fairly new to writing itself, having only one or two books published.  I did what a lot of writers do: I wrote myself into a corner and just didn’t know how to get out.  Life intervened; I raised two boys, kept teaching middle school, but all the while, that book stayed alive in the back of my mind. I knew I had a pretty good story, if only I could figure out how to save it.

A couple years ago, I had a window of time and decided it was do or die! I would finish that book.  First, I eliminated a number of characters. I simply had too many.  Then I streamlined the plot.  I needed suspects and twists, but maybe not millions of them.  I reviewed my notes, which were legion.  Post-Its, index cards, timelines—boy I had a mess!  Because the book jumps in time, I had to be sure who knew what when.  I forged ahead.  I had great editors, Sue McGinty and Margaret Searles, amazing authors in their own right, who would not let me get away with anything, despite pleading and bribes.

Pearl Harbor Blues

Pearl Harbor Blues

 

When Pearl Harbor Blues finally came out, I was really proud of it.  All you authors out there know, some books are just plain easier to write than others.  Don’t give up on the hard ones.  I look at my gorgeous cover, and remember all the people, real and fictional who helped create it.  I come from a military family, so all those who serve, past and present, are special to me.  Living in Hawai’i, which is pretty much a giant military base, reminds me of how hard we work to keep our freedoms.  Aloha, and thank you for reading!

 

Link to Victoria’s Amazon.com page and books

http://tinyurl.com/oab47ug

More of Victoria's Books

More of Victoria’s Books

 Thank you, Victoria, for stopping by!

I haven’t finished Rhodes – The Mojave-Stone–yet. It’s written, but it’s not the best it can be I don’t think. But I was also thinking, this is ridiculous, just send the darn thing off to my wonderful and most patient editors (you know who you are!) Then P.D. James died.

P.D. was (still is!) my literary guiding light. I’ve read all her novels several times, and am currently watching the DVDs I have of a few of her adaptations with Roy Marsden. P.D. didn’t give a lot of advice, but one thing I remember most intently was–read often and well (paraphrasing). Reading well for me, means reading her!

But back to my failure on moving my current book forward out of its “literary nest”--it has to be better than the last one. And darn it, it’s not there yet. Several times I’ve said, aloud actually (I talk to my dogs) I’m being ridiculous. Just put the darn thing out there.

But I don’t think P.D would do that. In fact, I’m sure in my heart she was always striving for the very best. And I most assuredly will continue to try to follow what I think my literary rock-star would do…

Thanks, P.D., for such wonderful writing. Rest in Peace.

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