Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Team Tedddy Tuesday

To remind us there is nothing new under the sun, I'll share a passage from a book I'm reading, Tiger at the Bar. This story is about an attorney, Charles J. Margiotti about one hundred years ago and his cases in and around Punxsutawney, including St. Marys, Johsonburg and Ridgway in the quiet hills of Pennsylvania, we thought. I'm sharing the newspaper clipping about an abuse case in the  Ridgway Record :
Perhaps the most horrible case of brutality in the annals of inhuman treatment, not excepting anything from the most sordid slums of London or New York or heathen Africa, came to light in Ridgway yesterday and will be aired at the next Criminal Court.
After the death of Mr. Hector, about fourteen years ago, the wife was left in rather destitute circumstances with eight small children. All of these children were adopted or taken by families to raise. Among them was a little girl of six years of age named Julia, a bright, handsome, healthful child, who was taken by Mrs. Catherine Georgel, of Boot Jack Road. Relatives have made efforts from time to time to see Julia, but were repulsed on various excuses. Reports were occasionally rife among the neighbors that the child was ill-treated, but nothing was ever known definitely. The child was never permitted to go out or talk to anyone, and was severely punished if she did.
The first that was definitely known of her condition was about Wednesday when the girl, now about twenty years old, suddenly appeared at the jail with not sufficient clothes to cover her, hysterical and screaming for protection, saying that Mrs. Georgel intended to kill her.
Several years ago, the girl's nose was smashed with a club, and was never properly set or treated, so that it is quite flat. Her mouth has been torn at the sides and healed one-sided. Her eyes are battered almost shut. Almost every inch of her body bears scars and welts due to the cuts with knives and burns from scalding water. Her back is a mass of scars and among them are two fresh wounds caused by being stabbed with a pair of shears. Her scalp is covered with scars and two or three vicious lumps are fresh evidence of the use of a club. One ear is torn and horribly disfigured.
Her breasts are just recovering from evidence of severe scalding, the girl alleging that the woman tied her and then poured the boiling water over her. It would be difficult to place two fingers anywhere on her body that does not have a scar. Viewing these things and drawing on the imagination of what the child must have passed through during the past fourteen years, it is little less than a miracle she has any mind left. Brought up in an atmosphere of terror and fear, cowed, bullied, beaten, pounded out of shape with fists and clubs, cut with knives and scalded, and never permitted to go out, and afraid to talk to anyone, always compelled to sleep on the floor, with no treatment for her cuts and bruises and burns, it is a wonder that she even lives.
In fact, according to the girl, Mrs. Georgel declared that she would kill her, and gave her the means to do it herself in the belief that she would do so and end her suffering.
Mrs. Georgel has never figured as a person of refined instincts. The girl says she boasts of Indian blood. It is doubtful, however, if even an Indian of the most savage type ever existed who would inflict such horrible torture on a child, and continue it for years. It is beyond the pale of the most loathsome brute, and how to account for such a beastly streak in a mature woman posing as a human being befogs the reasoning apparatus of a man of the world.
The response to this descriptive and judgmental reporting is the same as today. "In Ridgway that night, there was talk of lynching Mrs. Georgel." If it weren't so true, this would be funny. The no holds barred reporting lives in another time. The trial is interesting. Times have changed in some respects, the abuser spent only a year in jail and  the attorney against her, said later, she turned into a very nice old lady. Her defense was the girl was lazy, ungrateful, and incorrigible, a girl who needed constant discipline.
Ridgway set up a fund for Julia. A plastic surgeon did her work for free. She married and moved away.
This reminded me some of Teddy's case when I read it. Only he didn't survive. The isolation, the threat to not talk to the neighbors, the "discipline" from the mother's boyfriend are similar.
I only pray that even though child abuse is not new, that people will not keep silent. Keep your eyes and ears opened. May we be as shocked still as this reporter in 1920 at the Ridgway Record.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Road Leads

Life spins, sometimes slowly and sometimes fast, or so it seems. I dragged a lot this summer, longing for summer fun. I haven't visited a beach, yet. I don't believe I got to Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania last year either. I hate to blame everything on a job, but nursing home world and the afternoon shift and working many weekends began to take its toll. I change jobs the Tuesday after Labor Day. I'm returning to the road of home health.
I started journaling again in April and suddenly the need to write in a blog lessened. I spend too much time on Facebook, as it tends to lull me in a trance, maybe. I love to see what is happening all over the world. I suppose that is the excitement of Facebook. I always thrilled at live TV, too, like the Kentucky Derby, Times Square on New Year's Eve, the parades and the Academy Awards. I feel like I'm part of the action, but on my comfortable seat.
A topic I wanted to write about as I read this summer concerned scenes or words I wish I could use. John Steinbeck wrote of June in The Winter of Our Discontent. The words exactly described the sensation of June I want to convey in Last Free Exit. I giggled that I could just say- read these paragraphs and see how June feels.
I'm still reading Pasadena by David Ebershoff. A scene with a horse could be modified for Main Street, if I told it from the oldest boy, Tommy's point of view. The time setting is the same as Main Street and Country. In fact, Linda, in Pasadena is born the same year as Christina in Country. I love the detail in Pasadena, the long explanations, the history lessons. I read the reviews and some didn't like the “rambling,” felt it lacked a good editor, and was one hundred pages too long. I sensed the long hours of research and crave to have that background in my writing. When I wrote Main Street, just knowing the details, even if I didn't include them in the writing, enabled me to tell the story. I need the background in my head.
I decided to go to the West Virginia Book Festival to hear Homer Hickam speak. One of his interviews, I heard this past winter, lifted me from a slump in my publishing dream. He had a story to tell and then some. He also had to find the seventeen year old boy's voice to tell Rocket Boys. Writing is more than words, it shows a picture with a voice.
As I perused the web site for the festival, I noted the other speakers. Neil Gaiman has a spot on Friday evening. We have a few of his books, as my oldest daughter liked his writing. In preparation for this event in October, I grabbed his anthology, fragile things, from downstairs. I read all the introduction on Sunday and in the back of the paperback, my favorite, the interview. I love to hear about the writing process. My favorite quote makes me want to write short stories, “The joy of the short story for me is you can have an idea and it can fall into place enough that you're excited about beginning it. You can settle down and a few hours later, or a weekend later, or a week later, you're done.”
Now, I think, I need to write short stories. I laugh at how I am influenced by voice. I read the beginning of a few stories in this book and two poems, as I dried after swimming yesterday- oh, remember doing that for hours? Now, just too busy, it seems. As I left the pool, words fell at me, but I recognized them as Neil's. The long wait at Sheetz for all the oil guys to get their food chased those words away, as I stood there in damp outline of my swimsuit on my clothes and flat wet hair, glasses and no makeup. At ninety degree weather, I guess I didn't care. Still I made no eye contact with the head teacher from my daughters' high school as he coolly strove in with his preppy shorts and shirt, in pastel colors.
Yes, I should write short stories, too. But not in anyone's voice, but my own. I remain with the novels, as well. Outside of Time sits under the editor's gaze. I never heard back from the photographer of the picture I would love to use, so I elect another avenue for the cover. To go with my philosophy of using local businesses, I will contact my photographer friend for some pictures for the cover and use another young college grad with a film degree working home repair for my cover design.
Dreams take work and they fail without enterprise.
 I admire some authors or learn from the ones I don't like. Out of all the influences, my voice rises. Sometimes I feel inadequate and other times, superior. But I'm traveling on this road, telling my stories. I only hope you come along wherever the road leads.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Do you get tired of pictures of Lake Julia? Unfortunately, you can't see the full moon in the pale sky. The Swan on the platform for the turtles posed for an interesting shot. Next purchase is a better camera. Maybe some photography classes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Team Teddy Tuesday

Published by Mollie Lyon · 23 mins ·
Tuesdays have been busy for me, lately. I need to revamp how I do Team Teddy Tuesdays. Like write before Tuesday and push publish on Tuesday. wink emoticon I'm also in transition between jobs. This process drains me more emotionally than I anticipated. I start the new job next Tuesday, so I will work on a post  before Tuesday and push publish next Tuesday. In the mean time, I again remind you to watch the children. Watch our words. And look for clues as a new school year begins for signs of abuse, physical, emotional or mental. New teachers, new caregivers, new kids on the bus can all be sources of turmoil for our children. Pray and watch.
And on a personal note for me as an author, a poem I wrote will be published in The Way It Was coming out this evening and always the first Wednesday of the month at over eighty local businesses in the Shenango Valley.