About the Author
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.
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.
When I was seventeen, Mother took my brother and me to Jackson after Christmas to visit and shop. I bought fabric 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 car.
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. 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.
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. My home economics teacher tutored me so I could sew at school.