Sunday, December 14, 2014

Another from Henry Beston's Northern Farm:

“If we are to live and have something to live for, let us remember, all of us, that we are the servants as well as the masters of our fields.”

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Aunt Bea's Plymouth

Part One, "The Dress"

It developed when my Aunt Beatrice retired from the college, she assumed a status she called “selectively engaged.” 

“I’m not out to pasture, just standing at the gate,” she would tell those who asked. Her retirement dinner had been well-attended and speakers there were effusive in their praise of “Miss Cotton and all the fond memories many of us hold here tonight.” It also developed, though no longer a fixture on and about campus, she was becoming such at church. She had already “engaged” a position unofficially. 
The minister had become immobile through a bad fall and long convalescence. Parishioners filled in and took on various new duties. Aunt Bea became the Visitation Caller and every Sunday bulletin reminded folks: “Miss Cotton remains available for call and contact should need arise.” 
“I find I gain more from these visits than those I call on,” she confided to us once. “Aunt Rae used to say, ‘It suits me right down to the ground,’ and this does,” she said of it, adding the travel around the township dovetailed with her interest in ancestry.  Local history and connections, cemetary trekking, and interviewing the community’s oldsters kept full retirement at bay. 
“There are so many blanks to fill,” she would often tell me. The church provided a stipend for fuel and any expenses. And I would often ride along. 
By this time, I was in my early teens, just a couple years younger than the black 1939 Plymouth Road King coupe Aunt Bea bought from a Mister Lamb and drove during the war years. “It’s been well-cared for,” said Mister Lamb. “Well, I should know,” he laughed, “I’ve done all the maintenance on it. Thought once, we might keep it for Mother, but she said she’s read about these ‘new automatic shifter gears, and I want one of those.’”
And I learned how to shift through 1-2-3 from the lever mounted on the floor. The knob was rubber with a plastic cover displaying a photograph of my brother and me digging out from the blizzard of ’48.

One of our early calls took us to a family we’ll call the Steadman’s. Like many of the neighborhood, they lived rural on remnants of a larger farm broken up to give all the offspring a base of some kind if not a livelihood. They would attend the local church or occasionally, the mother church in town for an annual event or dinner.
We’d no sooner settled in the cluttered Steadman living room, when the daughter came home from high school, burst in the door, brushed past us, and declared: “Mom! I gotta have that dress by Friday.”
Mrs. Flora Steadman tried an introduction but it seemed guests played second-fiddle to this dress crisis.
“We’ll tend to it, hon. I’ll get your Aunt Irene to help. Don’t panic.”
Daughter stormed up the stairs and her mother tried an apology this time. “I’m sorry, but this dress thing has her in a stew. She . . . forgets her manners some times.”
Out in the Plymouth, we pulled down the lane and Aunt Bea had to laugh. “Oh, my. Manners were never a long suit with the Steadmans at best. A rough lot even back in my day, and it doesn’t seem the new generation shows much promise. Blood will tell.
“Nothing like good country manners. Such serve one well.”
I would hear a lot about manners, as she traveled for the church and around the country during those years. And, more about “showing promise” later. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Softbound Edition goes "Live"

The Boys of Summers Run is now published in a softbound edition!

Here's the Link . . . . The Boys of Summers Run

And here's an excerpt:

         For we were but country kids from the farms and tiny crossroads of our community. We’d be playing seasoned teams from the city of Meadville and Crawford County. We’d meet cool guys who had been around the game and were beginning to swagger a bit. Would they look down on us? Were we the country bumpkins? Would we lose all our games? Would we be laughed at and become discouraged and “soured out” on Little League Baseball? 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chapters and Excerpts

Full-length chapters from The Boys of Summers Run are being posted regularly. Click on the "Summers Run" blog from the list on the right. This chapter introduces the Mennonite girl, Mary Anne. Remember, the new e-book version of this third in the series is available on for those of you with the Kindle readers.

There are links to Amazon throughout our family of blogs here.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Boys of Summers Run

It’s “Live!” says 

The Boys of Summers Run, the third novel in this series about farm boys and Little League Baseball is now published and available for purchase. Currently, it’s $2.99 and formatted for all your different Kindle e-book readers. Set in rural P. A., this work is what Barnes & Noble used to list as a “Heartwarmer.”

Written from the country and back roads of rural America, it honors old-fashioned values and manners yet presents timeless and pertinent insights for today’s families, especially those concerned with raising well-grounded boys into leaders and true gentlemen. 

(Yes, there are some chapters set in Montana, depicting how not to do such.) 

Here’s the link:  The Boys of Summers Run

Monday, May 5, 2014

Excerpt, Chapter 4, When the scene ended

It developed most of the boys in my new class seemed strongly interested. Jeff Linch, though, declined the invitation to join, saying: “Guess I’d better not. I never played a lick of baseball, ever. Right now, I gots too much to do with my pap ailin’ an’ such.”
I didn’t ask about Mr. Linch’s condition, but I learned later he’d been “laid up” after piling the front of his pickup in the ditch, breaking his wrist and ankle. It was reported he was so drunk, he sat there, enraged, spinning his wheels until the tires melted and burst into flames. Then the wheel rims cut two deep grooves in the road surface, dropping the truck to its axles. Such behavior confirmed the area’s opinion of the “Linch Mob,” as Uncle Albert, Nathe’s father, pegged the family and its branches. 
I also learned both he and Nathe considered Jeff redeemable and were trying to inspire him to break free from the cycle of alcoholism and poverty. Both the Summerses and the Kinkades were hiring him for various jobs and projects and helping Jeff learn how to reach higher. “A sorry lot and a blight,” said some scorners in the community concerning the Linches. Though I’d known him for less than a month, I could sense when Jeff’s shame became readable.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Excerpt, Chapter 3, If we could see the wind

Nathe ratchets the vent so we can bleed off some altitude in preparation for our landing ahead. I return to the binoculars, wondering if I were viewing the land from The Turnip as my father might now, from some vantage I cannot imagine. Viewing spiritually, from a place where there are no dimensions or boundaries such as time. I shall wait and learn patience. Yet I know I will continue to lie awake at night, pondering:

Does he ever think of me?
Does he know of my sorrow?

Before she left for Nevada, Mom and I, family, friends, neighbors, and some of Vic’s group from Las Vegas, gathered for a memorial service at The Pillars. Dedicated were a flagpole, a shelter, and a bronze marker inscribed and secured to the most prominent spire. Benches were placed in the grove and around a stone fire pit where the embers of centuries of campfires warded off the chill and kept vigilance through the night. The day’s cheery fire snapped and popped while Nathe spoke at the ceremony. He recalled the many hours he and Blake spent sharing their boyhoods and exploring the wonders of Summers Run.
“On a sunny day like this, we’d wile away an hour or more watching the planes turning toward the airport. The bigger ones would lower their gear, feather the engines, landing lights switched on, port and starboard wing lights blinking red and green. Here’s where Blake caught his fever and came down with a condition that couldn’t be cured without getting behind the instrument panel and placing his hands on that yoke.
“As much as he loved this farm and this life, he had to leave ‘for a spell,’ as we say here in P. A., so he could return home to Summers Run and Shadeland for good, forever, and satisfied he’d seen and touched The Rooster.”
Nathe paused and regrouped and as a tear escaped his composure, he told us: “We knew them all. DC-3s, Convair 220s, Beech 18s, the Bonanzas, all the Pipers, the Cessnas, Ercoups, Stinsons. We knew them all. This is . . . sacred ground.”
After much deliberation and consulting with the family who warmly approved, my mother had the plaque inscribed: 

In Memory of
Blake David Kinkade
Look for Him in the Sunshine and the Shadows all around
for He is the Keeper of this Sacred Ground.

Read CHAPTER 3, The Boys of Summers Run at this link: The Boys of Summers Run

Friday, February 28, 2014

Excerpt, Chapter 2, The Rooster

“We were re-roofing the barn . . . summer of ’52. There were scaffolds and ladders about, of course, and Blake––the little pill––decided he could climb to the top of the barn just like the men and the big boys.
“I was bringing coffee-time to the crew and suddenly there was no Blake to be found. Then we all looked up, and there was that little tow-head on the very top rung of the highest ladder and about to crawl out on what sheet metal was left up there! 
“I’m surprised I didn’t swoon dead away, I was so frightened. There he was, shining in the sun––he looked like an angel. And he could have become one had he tumbled, the little devil, him. . . ."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Excerpt, Chapter 1, The Flight of The Turnip

We whisper on, drifting across the Pennsylvania farmscape passing slowly under our basket. Nathe’s altimeter registers “300 ft.,” and The Turnip seems to be enjoying the early morning as much as we are. Sunny but cool; a bit misty over the ponds and streams flowing beneath us toward Summers Run. Creeks and brooks are known as “runs” in rural Pennsylvania. Runs lace the countryside together.
The Turnip is a hot-air balloon, a giant pear-shaped thing turned on its top. Turnip’s colors and nylon fabric are painted to resemble a turnip one might find at the grocer’s. When airborne, it looks like a huge root dug from the garden. Its color scheme follows a deep violet at the very top turning gradually to a buttery cream at the bottom where the basket dangles, carrying the two of us.
Painters at the factory also sprayed some cracks and crevices as imperfections and added a few clumps and seams of dirt to create the effect Nathe wanted. So, what one sees floating majestically above is indeed a giant vegetable, uprooted, surprised to be magically sailing aloft over the earth it has just escaped. . . .

Read chapters of The Boys of Summers Run blog where we post such.  Click below.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What Actress Greer Garson Said

Here's a statement by Greer Garson, highly acclaimed and award-winning actress (Mrs. Miniver) expressing her preference toward "Feel Good" endings:

"I think the mirror should be tilted slightly upward when it's reflecting life -- toward the cheerful, the tender, the compassionate, the brave, the funny, the encouraging, all those things -- and not tilted down to the gutter part of the time, into the troubled vistas of conflict.

"I think producers felt that after playing a long series of noble and admirable characters there would be quite a lot of shock value in seeing me play something altogether different. But I prefer upbeat stories that send people out of the theater feeling better than they did coming in. It's my cup of tea." -- Actress Greer Garson

Ours too.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Get acquainted with Ruffy by clicking the Summers Run blog on the right.