If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th. In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Who the Hell Are These People? By Carla Damron

Who The Hell Are These People?

My husband is selling his parents’ home in Maine. Part of the property is a large barn that has been used by his mother’s family for over one hundred years. Inside, there is over one hundred years of stuff: Christmas do-dads, magazines, furniture, farm equipment, etc. We found ancient wooden pulleys five-feet wide.  Iron wagon wheels too heavy to lift.  Plates, old glass bottles, not-so-old glass bottles, and shoes that have been feasted on by some barn beast.

In one box, we discovered a collection of old letters, postcards, and other documents that managed to survive with only some damage. It’s teaching me much I didn’t know about Jim’s family. His grandmother Irene, whom I never met, was only tardy twice in 1917 (according to her report card). And she got a score of 80 on “deportment,” whatever the heck that is.

Some relative named “Miss Evie” got two gold fillings in 1905, at the cost of $2.50, by Dr. W. S. Fogg. (A convincing argument for time travel, don’t you think?) That same Evie got straight 100’s on her 1900 report card. Smarty pants.

What’s been frustrating are the pictures. Very old, some crumbling, but each wants to tell a story. And too many are unlabeled. Here in lily-white rural Maine, where my husband never even saw an African-American until he went to college, we find this fascinating photo. Who is she? How is she connected to the family?


Most impressive is the two immense pictures, in heavy gold frames, that must have hung in prominent display in some ancestor’s living room. But we have no idea who they are. (Please, people--- go through your old family photos and WRITE DOWN THE NAMES!)

These two pictures fascinate me. The man has that dapper parted-in-middle, side-poofed hairstyle. I want to call him Oliver. 


Maybe Oliver Merryfield Pendexter. This picture was taken right before he boarded the Titanic. Knowing he was about to die, he herded women and children to lifeboats, and his last words were “I told you that was a damn iceberg!” He left behind a grieving widow, Sylvia Truworth Pendexter, whose portrait is here.

Lovely Sylvia grieved for a while, but then went on to marry a railroad tycoon. They had three children, the middle one a son she named Oliver. The railroad tycoon proved to be a philanderer, so Sylvia left him, sneaking out in the dead of night with her small children, only stopping to steal four hundred dollars from her husband’s safe. She moved to Maine to rebuild her life. She purchased a cranberry farm that remained in the family for several generations.

This is what happens when you don’t label pictures, people. Some writer comes along and creates names and narratives. We can’t help ourselves.

Some documents that Jim and I found did have names. Jim’s mom’s poem, written when she was probably seven. The program for his uncle’s sixth grade recital.

And a piece of history we didn’t know: Irene Cross, his grandmother, worked as a part-time journalist for the Portland Press-Herald. She kept copies of her articles about her little town of Hiram. She worked in a mill, and raised two children, but had the time and talent to work as a correspondent—probably not that common for a woman in the 1940s.

I never met Irene, but I’d love meeting her now. 

What has been your experience with family photos? Any stories that needed to be written?


9 comments:

Jim Jackson said...

I now have the family records and can’t tell you how frustrating it was for my father and now for me (because he did the same darn thing) to see something labeled as “Uncle Joe” or “Aunt Agnes” when we have no Joes of Agnes’s in the family that I know of. Were they more distant relatives, cousins who by they age were called aunt and uncle, or close family friends? I could make up a story and no one would know I had . . .

Kait said...

What a wonderful cache of memories!

Margaret Turkevich said...

What a great source for stories and characters in your family barn.

Shari Randall said...

So true, Carla. We saved a bunch of old photos from my husband's family home. Even though I have no idea who these people are, I cannot bring myself to toss them. Funny that my husband would have no trouble discarding them. He hasn't been bitten by the genealogy bug yet.

Grace Topping said...

We have a joke in our family about how our old framed photos might end up in a Cracker Barrel restaurant. All around the restaurant hangs framed photos of people from long ago. It's a shame that family photos end up there, but at least they are being viewed and not buried in an attic somewhere.

Warren Bull said...

I agree. I've seen family photos that none of us can identify. Grrrr.

Carla Damron said...

I love it that the pictures were treasured and kept. But it is frustrating! But of course, as Margaret said, they can be a source for stories.

LD Masterson said...

When my mum-in-law passed away, we found a box of old photos that had to have been from her childhood in Poland. But since she came to American by way of a Nazi forced labor camp (she was taken prisoner at age 16) and several refugee camps, we have no idea how she still had them, or where they came from. About half had first names penciled on the back but no relationships so my husband had no idea who was who. Very sad.

Gloria Alden said...

How fascinating, Carla. Yes, you can use them for a story someday. My mother died a year after my father, and when my siblings and I got together, we went through the pictures. Many of them we had no idea who they were. If we wanted the picture we put our name on the back. If we were the only one who wanted it. We got to keep it. If others wanted it too, my youngest sister made copies of it so we could each have the picture. There were so many pictures we didn't know. It was the same with letters mailed to my grandmother, that my mom had kept. Some of them we'd heard of, others we didn't.