Ever wonder how someone comes up with names for their characters? I do. Also, being a professional genealogist I have learned that I can use any number of combinations of names just going through the database I have created over the last 32 years.
Even though this novel was not based on my grandmother I did use her first name and coupled it the surname of another grandmother. I would like to take a moment and dedicate this book to my dad’s mom, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting. Her mom, was an amazing woman and I can only hope to be half the woman my grandma was.
John Adam Lords, who was the son of Utah and Idaho pioneers, moved his family to Salem, Massachusetts to get away from his estranged in-laws who disowned their daughter for marrying him. Monica let them know that she and Harold were against their daughter, Louella, marrying her first cousin and they would not be attending any such wedding. Monica was really upset because they had already set in motion plans for Louella to marry another man, a wealthy older man by the name of Oliver Woodrow Benson.
The decision to go against her parents’ wishes was heart wrenching to Louella but she was madly in love with John and just couldn’t go against her heart. As much as she wanted her family around her that just wasn’t the case. The morning they announced their engagement started out beautiful with the birds singing, the wonderful breakfast smells wafting through the air, and the humming of the dishwasher as it ran. When the young couple left the sky was a clear blue with some white wisps of clouds floating high above. By midmorning the sky had turned dark and gray. The clouds were heavy and full of moisture. There was a light drizzle when John and Louella made their way to the front steps of the courthouse in Power County. They hurried into the building where they purchased a marriage license and was seen before the Justice of the Peace. Within an hour they were married and on the road leaving Idaho as far behind as they could.
Earlin was born on May 22, 1929, which was approximately one year from the time they moved to Salem. Three years later John and Louella were blessed with another daughter, Lily. They were so excited to have a new baby in the house. She slept in a crib in John and Louella’s room. Louella knitted her a matching set of booties to go with her dress. Earlin constantly watched over her while their mom was taking care of the house and their dad was at work. They seemed to finally have overcome the darkness that followed them from back home to Salem, but that wasn’t to last long because six months after Lily was born John lost his parents in car and train accident. They were on a single lane dirt road when they and the diver of another car both decided to try and beat the train. The road was so narrow they ended up in a head on collision almost dead center on the railroad track where they were then struck by the train killing all involved. John was devastated with the loss of his parents because even after all of the family drama they were still real close and supportive.
John worked as a ranch hand for the Clark family who owned a large spread on the outskirts of town. This was where he met William Bruner and they became fast friends. William had traveled throughout the United States and Mexico living the life of a drifter. No one, not even William himself, knew why he finally decided to settle down in one place. It could have been many different things. Some people say it was a woman. Some say a job. Others think maybe he just grew up.
William was always welcome at the Lords home. In fact he spent many a night there telling stories of his travels. One such story went like this: On a hot sunny day I was walking along a dry dirt road that had a sign saying “Bear Valley” this way. No cars nor horse nor horse and carts came by. I was starting to feel dehydrated as the last of my water was drunk up four hours earlier. I walked and walked finally coming to a small town nearing extinction. Only the sound of the wind rustling through the windows could be heard. There was a man standing on the other end of town, about six blocks away, just looking at me. He wasn’t a tall man, looked to be maybe five feet two inches. He was wearing loose fitting corduroy trousers with black suspenders, a black cotton shirt with a leather double breasted vest over it. His waders looked old and worn.
I took a step toward him and he seemed to match me step for step. Then with hardly a movement his gun had been drawn from the holster and aimed directly at me. I was never so scared in my life. “What do you want mister?”
“Just a drink and I’ll be on my way,” I said.
“You sure you aren’t here for the gold?”
“Ah ha! You are here for our gold! Get out and never come back!”
Slowly reaching for my empty canteen I said, “Sir, you’ve got it all wrong. I just want a drink.” I turned toward the saloon where I could hear the music playing and started toward the door when a shot rang out. Looking back at the man who had addressed me earlier and asked, “Can I buy you a drink?”
The man nodded slowly and followed me into the saloon, holding his gun in my back. Much to my amazement there was no one in there and the music died away when we reached the door.
Still holding the gun in front of him he moved around me and went behind the bar where he poured the drinks. He said, “If you really have come for the gold you’re a bit late.” Some men came through the town a couple of days ago and took it by force leaving most of the remaining residents dead or dying. Can we trust you?”
“Trust me to do what?” I asked.
“To just get your drink and leave without causing any more problems for the towns’ people,” he said. “We’re tired of your kind and want you out of our town.” He then walked out of the saloon and disappeared into thin air.
I finished my drink, filled my canteen and searched the entire town only to find it was completely deserted and the man to whom I had been talking to was nowhere to be found. I did found newspaper in the deserted hotel lobby that was dated May 10, 1859 with a picture of him in the street in front of the local butcher shop in which he owned.
William always told fascinating stories but this one topped them all and even Louella wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not. John clapped him on the back and said, “Good one! I’ve never heard such a story in my life.”