Monday, September 14, 2015

Inspiration for The Dream Bucket: When I Was Seventeen . . .

The Dream Bucket is fiction. Memories bring pain and joy. The truth may be more or less than the fiction. Stories also come from nothing that ever happened.  (NOTE: The Dream Bucket is now available at Amazon in paperback, Audible, and Kindle editions.)
iStock 08-15-07 © Pyast
Here's the truth that inspired the novel. No one is left who can verify my tale. It is my story, and I've lived long enough to tell it.
iStock08-05-15 © davelogan

When I was seventeen, Mother took my brother Buddy and me to Jackson after Christmas to visit my John, Sue, and their children (John was my oldest brother.)  We also wanted to shop. I bought fabric at Kilgore's with my Christmas money.

Dad didn't go. He seldom left the farm. The stated reason was that he had to milk the cows. The larger reason was that he was tied to the land.

When we returned home, a pile of smoking ashes stood between the chimneys. We didn't know whether Dad was alive. I dissolved into a screaming heap in the back seat of the Pontiac.
iStock 10-01-14 © krzysztofdedek

Dad appeared finally and said he heard an explosion while he was milking.  He went into the fire and removed a thin mattress, a dresser, and a blanket. These items he risked his life for. 

The mattress was to sleep on in our sharecroppers' cabin, which was vacant and exactly like the one in The Dream Bucket, even though the novel is set fifty years earlier than the reality. In front of that old dresser, my mother, sister, and I had applied our makeup for years.  The blanket represented his mother, who practiced the Native American customs of our heritage. She farmed her own sheep, carded the wool, spun the thread, dyed it using black walnut shells, and wove the striped cloth.

 (He thought it was caused by the Christmas tree lights. At any rate, he never allowed another Christmas tree in our house, although he'd loved having a Christmas tree all my life until then.  Eventually he decided the explosion of the butane tank caused it, but I think the fire caused the tank to explode.)
 iStock 07-01-13 © MartinaVaculikova
For months after the fire, he lived in the cabin. I lived in an apartment Mother rented in town two blocks from school. Mother alternated between the two locations.

I withdrew from everyone, even though it was the last semester of high school.   Staying in the apartment, which had twelve windows in the long bedroom, frightened me. My sister purchased a large box of remnants from a garment factory. I sewed and sewed and sewed. I stayed awake the nights I was alone because the bushes beat against the windows. Miss Grimes, the home economics teacher, tutored me so I could sew at school instead of going to the study hall.
iStock 01-09-15 © Jag_cz

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