Each time I begin a new mystery about a small, Midwest town, I notice once again the quirks and benefits of my own town. Some of these episodes I use in my books just as they happened, and others I embellish. I have lived in a one million+ city so I’m not immune to the charms or drawbacks of large places. All the same, I love living in my small Midwest town, and, frankly, it provides great fodder for the settings of both my Endurance and Sweet Iron mysteries.
Just recently, I was daydreaming at the stoplight on my way to the bank. Several cars were behind me, and I don’t know how long I sat there oblivious to the light. Eventually, I looked up, saw the green light, and drove into the intersection. Ordinary, you say. So what? You think. If I were in a metropolitan area, I’d have at least six people honk their horns to move me along. Several would literally lay on their horns. But here in my little town, not a horn, not a road rage incident, and not a single person yelling out the window or making an obscene gesture. This is a great snippet of information for the book I’m working on where people from a more cosmopolitan area visit my little town. Its lack of speed will drive them crazy. Tee hee.
At the time I was daydreaming, I was on my way to the bank because I needed to get ten crisp one-dollar bills to put in my grandchildren’s Halloween cards. [Thank God they are still young enough to
|Photo by Jen Theodore at Unsplash.com|
In Three May Keep a Secret, I used a situation in my town and exaggerated it a bit. An intersection in our town, just off the Square, was a through street with stop signs on the east/west streets. People driving north and south went straight through. East/west had to stop. It has been this way for decades. The town fathers—what were they thinking?—decided to change the intersection to a four-way stop. They put stop signs in the middle of the north/south street between lanes so people would notice them.
As Jill in my book said, “Drivers knocked over and splintered three sets of signs. Obviously, the four-way stop wasn’t working. So then they voted to put a sign in the middle of the intersection saying, “Stop if pedestrians are in the walkway.” This resulted in people slowing down to read the sign and getting rear-ended. [This part is a true story.]
As Jill continued, “Great day for Bert’s Collision Shop. And one of the casualties was Mayor Blandford’s wife, Polly. She was arrested for causing a public disturbance because she got out of her car and marched back to Genevieve Blackburn, who was talking on her cell phone when she rear-ended Polly’s car. McGuire [the policeman] had to pull the two away from each other, and Polly took a swing at him too.” [Well, so I exaggerated a bit.]
Right now I’m looking out my front window at the fire hydrant in my yard. For years I asked the fire department to paint it because it was an eyesore. They were “too busy.” I decided to buy the red paint and do it myself. I think there must be a story in this little incident. I’m working on it…