Saturday, August 25, 2007

Past is Present

One of my zero-number high school reunions just passed. I won’t say which, but it is a depressing number. I graduated from Nathan Hale High in Tulsa, in a very large class. (Nathan Hale is the guy who, while about to be hanged by the British as a spy during the American Revolution, said, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” which I always thought was one of history’s great instances of bravado in the face of death. If it had been me, I might have done my patriotic duty like Nathan did, but when it came time to die, my last words would have been along the lines of , “For the love of God, please don’t hang me.” Of course, nobody would have named a high school after me, either.) I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t be able to go to the reunion. I was speaking at a Sisters In Crime meeting in Scottsdale on the very day. However, one of the organizers was an old high school friend of mine, and she asked me to send her some posters and promotional material about the books. I was overjoyed for the opportunity. It always surprises me how one’s past keeps rearing up.

Awhile back, I got a message from Poisoned Pen Press informing me that they had received a call from a cousin-by-marriage of my father’s, who had read The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, and was anxious to get hold of me. Of course, rather than give out my number,the press contacted me with the information so that I could call her if I wanted.

I haven’t seen my cousin for almost forty years, but I did certainly remember her and her family, and called her. As it turns out, my father’s cousin is living in my great-grandfather's house. Though not exactly the same, this is the very house, Dear Reader, that I use as the model for my heroine Alafair's house in my books. My great-grandparents, George and Alafair, and their kids (including my grandmother ), moved from Hayden, KY, into that house outside of Boynton, OK, in 1911, and lived in it for the rest of their lives. The house stayed in the family after my great-grandparents died. I hadn't seen the house in twenty-five years, until my cousin invited me to go out and have a look at it when I went back to Oklahoma for the Hornswoggled book tour. It is much improved since I used to run around in the yard with all the other barefoot little great-grandkids, eating boiled chicken feet and jumping off the roof of the hen house.

My brother-in-law was somewhat amazed at my assertion that I had eaten boiled chicken feet as a child. He noted quite rightly that there nothing much edible about chicken feet. So I feel I should clarify that my great-aunt Mary boiled entire chicken legs below the joint, feet attached, and gave them to the little kids to eat. I expect she thought the little kids would enjoy the fact that they looked rather gross. I certainly did.

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