Sunday, November 4, 2018

Where has the time gone?

Did you remember to 'fall back' this morning?  I have to admit it I am one of those weirdos  who likes Daylight Saving Time.  As a kid, I remember playing outside until 9:30 on our southern Indiana farm.  It was wonderful to play outside with the lightning bugs and whippoorwills adding to the summer senses.  Another memory of the longer daylight hours was the smell of new mown hay and cut grass.  The chigger bites I endured didn't seem to outweigh the fun of jumping in piles of raked grass clippings.

The adjustment to the shorter daylight hours is hard for me.  I think the reason I love summer more than any season is due to that fact.  I need sunlight.  I will admit the change in time messes with my sleep.  Now, instead of waking up at the death hour of 3:00 a.m. and trying to fall back to sleep before the 4:30 alarm rings,  I will be waking up twice before the alarm goes off. When I retire, that won't matter as much as  it does now.  

When I think back to the last time change, my life was busier than usual.  I was trying to finish the final pages of Where the Sweetgrass Grows,  my paranormal suspense novel, and doing research and writing This Dark and Bloody Ground,  my first YA/Adult historical fiction novel.  When "Sweetgrass" was finished, I decided to create my own publishing brand and company.  When I end my publishing contract, I will be adding to my own library of published works.  I'm proud to say Where the Sweetgrass Grows is my first! 

Adding to the summer of fun, my daughter and her family (six folks) moved in with us while their home was being remodled.  Four of my eight grandchildren, under 7 years of age, were here for almost a month.  We were blessed to have that time together!  During one full week of June, we took all our grandchildren on the annual PunkinFest, a week-long camping trip with Mammie and Pampie.  This year, I was pooped by the end!
 I also took on a new character to perform, Martha Washington.  Learning a new script (and writing it) for another character just added to the mix.  I stayed busy with author/book events during this time as well.  So when I ask myself, 'where did the time go?', I guess it left me in its dust.  
With the start of school, I added all that goes along with working and trying to write.
Thank the Lord, I finished everything.  This week, I began another 'new' for me:  my own program on the local cable station called "Historically Speaking, With Lori Roberts".  We have taped two shows so far, and we will be on the road next weekend to tape a 3rd.  
God has richly blessed me with all the opportunities I've been given.  
One day, when I get time, I am going to retire and do these things FULL TIME.  
In the meantime, I'm still teaching United States History and World History.  We still get our grandchildren as often as we can, now that we live closer to them. (Four of our grands live in other towns, but we are closer!)
I need to finish turning back all of my clocks. Until next time...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Where the Sweetgrass Grows

 I started another novel in December.  I don't like to be on a time table when I write.  Each book is different, depending on the subject matter.  The two books that dealt with the War Between the States took less time than the last one, which dealt with a different setting, genre, and period of history.  I'm finding myself in a similar position with this novel, Where The Sweet Grass Grows.  
There are countless hours of research that goes into a book, if done well.  I'm in the writing/research phase. Today, I find myself in the middle of a standstill, until I can get to the library to research.

So, I'll put my writing aside to share some thoughts on the topic of Missing Children.  Not a very uplifting blog topic, but I am writing a novel that involves cold cases/missing children. 
I can't imagine a more terrifying and completely helpless experience than that of a parent of a missing child. I wondered when the first case of child abduction might have happened here in United States.  It didn't take long to figure out the obvious, for the history geek. 

 The first child to 'go missing' had to be Virginia Dare, right?  Of course, she took a whole colony with her.  The Lost Colony of Roanoke, in 1588, is the first case that made the news. I imagine John White, her grandfather, had a feeling of utter despair when he saw the deserted beach off the coast of the Outer Banks.  How terrified he must have been when he realized he had no idea what had become of his daughter and granddaughter. , who was born after arriving in Virginia.  He went to his grave never knowing the whereabouts of the loves of his life.
The next missing child in history (and there were countless, I'm confident) that I studied as a child was young Frances Slocum.
Frances, shown above, had a happier ending.  At age 5, Frances was abducted by the Miami Indians in 1778.  Taken from her Quaker family farm in Pennsylvania, she survived the harrowing experience.  For sixty years, she lived and married among the Indians.  Her mother had begged the Indians to leave her son, whom they originally found hiding under the stairs with Frances, because of a disfigured leg.  Not wanting to deal with his handicap, they ripped Frances from her mother's arms.
It wasn't until her brothers search led them to Peru, Indiana.  It was there that they were led to a woman near death in her late sixties.  Having found their lost sister, they wanted to bring her back to live among her relation.  She declined, being more Indian now than white. Frances had nearly forgotten all of her memory of the English language, but she didn't have some memory of the day she was abducted.

Most abducted children are not returned unharmed.  Sadly, most are killed within the first few hours after being taken.

The most publicized case of child abduction in the United States happened in 1932.  Charles Lindbergh III, son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, was abducted from his crib in 1932. 

 A ransom note was left for the parents, and like any parent, they responded.  At that time, forensics and modern tools of criminal investigations were lacking or non-existent.  Sadly, the child's remains were found, not far from the family residence.  There was a trial, and the accused was put to death.  Some feel the wrong person was arrested and charged, but that is a topic for another day, another blog.  This case prompted many a parent to have iron bars installed on all windows of the home, to protect the sleeping children within.

In the years to follow, thousands of children across the country went missing.  Our attention was drawn to the case of Etan Patz, which puzzled police and his parents for decades.  This month, a jury will be chosen to hear the case of his alleged killer, even though a body was never found.

The most recognized face of the horrors of having a child taken right in broad daylight came with the story of Adam Walsh.
In 1981, this bright, happy, only child of John and Reve Walsh, was taken from a Sears department store in Florida.  I remember the news broadcasts about this beautiful child.  Sadly, his story ended in tragedy.  His severed head was found in a canal, putting an end to the search and dashing his parents' hope of finding him alive.  His body was never found, and the animal who killed him made a deathbed confession to the murder.

If you grew up during the seventies, you undoubtedly were drawn to the faces of missing children each time you bought milk at the grocery store.  A national campaign to bring awareness of children who had been abducted by stranger or family were placed on the back of milk cartons.
Some of the missing were brought home, thanks to the efforts of the National Missing and Exploited Children agency.  Sadly, there were more that were not given a happy ending.  The milk carton campaign led to flies in sale ads and Amber Alerts,

We are drawn to the Lacey Peterson and Caylee Anthony trials.  It is just heartbreaking.  
It is a sad fact of our society.  There are ways to protect the innocents from stranger danger.  Have your children fingerprinted, at the very least.  Parents are having their young children carry cell phones with panic buttons for protection.  It is our worst nightmare, but as parents and grandparents, the safety of our most precious ones is worth whatever must be done.

While writing this book, I am gaining a greater appreciation for the police who investigate and work the cases, the organizations that are in place to aid parents in finding their missing children, and the media outlets who get the word out there.  THANK YOU!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How A Doll Was Created From a Tragedy

   This week, I finished a simulation with my 8th grade United States History Classes.  We spent 3 weeks in various wagon trains traveling along the Oregon Trail in the year 1845.  The classes had to pack a wagon, become part of a wagon train, and make decisions that affected the lives of them and their families.
  It was interesting to see the deliberations at wagon train meetings.  Many lost children to cholera, dysentery, and fevers.  Others were injured in mishaps along the trail, taken from real life scenarios.

   While it was fun and games for the students to take a break from the textbook to learn about the pioneers who ventured west for a better life, it was also sobering for them to realize how hard these pioneers had it.  No modern medicine to cure even the simplest of ailments.  We discussed the lack of modern medicines, immunizations, and antibiotics.
    It is hard to imagine that childhood illnesses that were once deadly have become a thing of the past thanks to immunizations given at birth through pre-teenage years.  That is, until recently.  While I am not going to cast blame on parents who chose not to immunize their children, I will say that many of the diseases we didn't see for years are making a comeback.  That brings me to the jest of this post.
   When I was a small child, my parents bought me Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls.  I had dolls that were my 'baby' dolls, but these were always in my bed at night.  I usually kept them beside me, as it took me awhile to fall asleep.
   I never knew the story behind them, only that there were books about them and they seemed to fall out of popularity as I grew older.  My mother bought my granddaughter one for her first Christmas, and that prompted me to get mine out of storage and display them.
    It was just this week that I learned one of the legends behind the creation of these much-loved dolls.  It will connect the earlier comments of immunizations.  Bear with me! :

      Raggedy Ann is a character created by American writer Johnny Gruelle (1880–1938) in a series of books he wrote and illustrated for young children. Raggedy Ann is a rag doll with red yarn for hair and has a triangle nose. Johnny Gruelle received US Patent D47789 for his Raggedy Ann doll on September 7, 1915. The character was created in 1915 as a doll, and was introduced to the public in the 1918 book Raggedy Ann Stories. When a doll was marketed with the book, the concept had great success. A sequel, Raggedy Andy Stories (1920) introduced the character of her brother, Raggedy Andy, dressed in sailor suit and hat. Gruelle created Raggedy Ann for his daughter, Marcella, when she brought him an old hand-made rag doll and he drew a face on it. From his bookshelf, he pulled a book of poems by James Whitcomb Riley, and combined the names of two poems, "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphant Annie." He said, "Why don't we call her Raggedy Ann?"[1]

Marcella died at age 13, shortly after being vaccinated at school for smallpox without her parents' consent. Authorities blamed a heart defect, but her parents blamed the vaccination. Gruelle became an opponent of vaccination, and the Raggedy Ann doll was used as a symbol by the anti-vaccination movement.[2]
Raggedy Ann dolls were originally handmade. Later, PF Volland, a Gruelle book publisher, made the dolls. In 1935 Volland ceased operation and Ann and Andy were made under Gruelle's permission by Exposition Dolls.
This is an original Raggedy Ann from 1915.

This is an early pair of Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls

1960's Knickerbocker Raggedy Ann and Andy


It is tragic to think of so many children who perished from childhood diseases and illnesses that are now unheard of in the United States.  

It is beyond comprehension the loss of a child.