Friday, February 5, 2016

Episode 19, January 1999 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace


Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999


This series of posts on each Friday, moving forward during 2016 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We are now in January of 1999, in episodic serial format…



Episode 19 - Christopher, Bevins family

[From Episode 18:

“That was Christopher. He has called a meeting of all the Bevins Trust family trustees for 3 o’clock this afternoon, at the law office conference room. It seems very important. I told him I’d tell you.” Karen had an ashen, very official demeanor.

“That is very unusual. He didn’t say what it was about?”

“No. He said he would explain when we were all together. I guess we’d better get ready to go. I’ve got some things to arrange. I’m sure you do, as well.”

“Yes, I sure do. I’ll see you there.” Jennifer gathered up the journals to take with her as she left.]


Right at 3 o’clock, Christopher welcomed the group in the law office conference room: “Thank you all for coming on such short notice. I felt this was important enough for everyone to hear it at the same time, so I’ll get right to the point. I have been visited by a man named Bruce Randolph, from New York City, who claims he is a first cousin of you four Bevins siblings. He says he is a son of Ethel, a sister of Mildred McDonald Bevins, your mother. He saw the $800,000 state grant to the McDonald Conservancy in a newspaper, he said, did some research, and now wants ‘his share of his inheritance’ from the Trust. He comes across as a serious, a very cool character. I am not yet certain of his true intentions, but I am taking him very seriously at this point. I’ve asked him to come back on Thursday with his proof of identity. In the meantime, I knew we’d all want to do our own research, as well.”

“First, has anyone else had contact with this Bruce Randolph?”

Christopher had invited Beverly to attend, because she was family, even though technically no longer part of the Bevins Trust. She was the first to speak. “Actually, I think I likely met him last evening at the library, but we didn’t speak about this. We were both looking at old issues of the Enterprise.”

“That was probably him,” Christopher responded. “I assume he is staying nearby. Especially if he really is ‘real,’ I’m sure he is continuing to gather information on the family, and ‘his past.’ What do we know about the sister, his mother, Ethel? I assume that is true?”

Karen replied, “Yes, Jennifer and I have identified her in the 1920 U.S. Census, but we’ve seen nothing else about her. I had assumed she had died. It appears I was wrong. I’ve meant to talk to Virginia about this, but just haven’t gotten around to doing that. I certainly plan to now.”

“Is she able to talk to you?” Christopher knew of her recent health issues.

“Yes, I believe so.” Karen added, “I’ll go by the nursing home and see what I can learn as soon as we are done here. What else do we need to know?”

With no one else speaking up immediately, Christopher continued. “I have already pulled the records here in the office that my father kept from Frank and Mildred’s wills and setting up the trust. I am very confident that they had clear ownership of all their property at that time. Notices were published. No claims were filed. Legally, we should be solid on solid ground on that front. I hope Virginia can tell us more about Ethel. Karen, find out as much as you can. I know Virginia has often been reluctant to talk about ‘the old days.’ Use your best ‘bedside manner,’ please.”

“I’ll do what I can, and let you know.”

Bart finally found his voice. “I don’t ever remember any talk of Mom having a sister. Why would she never have mentioned it?”

Beverly couldn’t help her self, “She kept lots of secrets; you surely remember that!”

Christopher quickly replied, before the sibling rivalry revived. “Let’s each take some time to reflect and see if any old memories come up that we hadn’t thought of before. Perhaps there is someone else in town besides Virginia that might have memories we haven’t considered. Please keep me apprised of your thoughts, and I’ll do my best to keep everyone updated. We all have email now, so I’ll likely give you regular updates.”

Christopher allowed a few moments for further comments and then dismissed the group. As the folks left, Christopher thought to himself, “I’ve never seen this group so quiet. They are all stunned, obviously. I wonder what will come next.”

To Karen, he said, “Please let me know right away what Virginia will tell you. That can be really critical to inform us as to our next step. Thank you, very much.”

“I certainly will.” Karen smiled ruefully and left to see if she could talk to Virginia.




[To be continued - next Friday]



"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."


Dr. Bill  ;-)


Friday, January 29, 2016

Episode 18 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace


Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999


This series of posts on each Friday, moving forward during 2016 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We are now in January of 1999, in episodic serial format…



Episode 18 - Karen and Jennifer, Tuesday noon

Jennifer and Karen had lunch at Karen’s apartment at the Homeplace Country Inn as they planned. As they ate their chicken noodle soup and turkey sandwich they chatted about Beverly’s arrival and Jennifer’s Ashley prior to getting to discussion of William’s journals. By this time, Jennifer had scanned all four journals and realized that perhaps they were not quite as ‘exciting’ as she at first had thought they might be. While Karen had seemed very interested in seeing them, and looking at them, her underwhelming level of interest had continued to puzzle Jennifer.

Sitting in Karen’s living room, Jennifer laid the four plain journals out on the coffee table in front of Karen much as she had with Brian the night before, to let Karen approach them in her own way. Karen picked each one up, flipped through the pages to see the handwritten entries, and went on to the next one, looking at each one of the four, briefly, in order. As she looked, she said “William, my great-grandfather, was living alone, on his farm, at this time, wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” Jennifer replied, “both his mother and his wife had died in the flu epidemic a couple of years before this first journal was started in 1920. Your grandparents were living down the road, here, with their two daughters, according to the 1920 census. I looked that up, again, just to be sure.”

“And, that was the only mention we have found of a second daughter, Ethel, was it?”

“Yes, and I didn’t see her mentioned in what I’ve read of the journal, either. I was also surprised how few specific comments he made about the family, at all. I was disappointed, actually.” Jennifer picked up the first journal, again, as if to confirm what she just said.

Karen was pondering what Jennifer had said, it seemed, for an extra moment, it seemed to Jennifer.

Then, Karen spoke, almost to herself, “I really need to talk to Virginia. Surely she has some memories, even random ones, that might be helpful to know what those days were like.”

“Yes, we should have already done that. How has Virginia been? Time just slips by.” Virginia grew up just down the road from the McDonalds, and was best friends with Mildred, Karen’s mother, her entire life. Virginia was now living in the local nursing home, in her mid-eighties, having suffered a mild stoke a while back.

“She is still in recovery mode. I really need to go visit her.”

Jennifer had been thumbing thru the journal she picked up, and casually scanning a random entry or two. “I did notice that William occasionally mentions a “Snookie” from time to time. They are brief entries. I didn’t recognize the name. Couldn’t tell if it was a person, a pet, or a farm animal. Do you recognize that name?”

“No, I don’t. They didn’t really have pets, back then, I don’t think. But, they got very close to some of the farm animals, much as we do with pets, today, I think. I don’t really know.”

Jennifer could tell Karen’s mind was far off somewhere. But, before she could say anything else, the phone rang. An extension was right beside Karen, so she picked it up. She listened, intently. A few moments later, she said to the phone, “Jennifer is with me here. I will tell her.” She listened a few more moments, and hung up.

“That was Christopher. He has called a meeting of all the Bevins Trust family trustees for 3 o’clock this afternoon, at the law office conference room. It seems very important. I told him I’d tell you.” Karen had an ashen, very official demeanor.

“That is very unusual. He didn’t say what it was about?”

“No. He said he would explain when we were all together. I guess we’d better get ready to go. I’ve got some things to arrange. I’m sure you do, as well.”

“Yes, I sure do. I’ll see you there.” Jennifer took the journals with her when she left.



[To be continued - next Friday]



"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."


Dr. Bill  ;-)


Friday, January 22, 2016

Episode 17 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace, January 1999


Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999


This series of posts on each Friday, moving forward during 2016 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We are now in January of 1999, in episodic serial format…




Episode 17 - Christopher; Tuesday morning…

{From the close of Episode 16 - Bruce Randolph speaking:

“I have an interest in the Bevins Trust and the McDonald Conservancy of which you are probably not aware. My mother, Ethel, was a sister of Mildred McDonald Bevins, and I am here to claim my half of the inheritance of her estate.” Randolph said this with no change of expression.}

Christopher maintained his calm exterior, but inside, his mind and his guts were churning. “That is certainly an interesting revelation, to be sure. You understand, of course, that the family, the Bevins Trustees, will not accept that claim on your word, at face value?”

“Of course.” Randolph allowed a hint of a smile to show on his face. “Were you aware there was a sister?”

Christopher took just a moment to gather his thoughts. “Not personally, no. But, I was not involved back in 1986-87 when Mildred Bevins died and the Trust was created. I was still in high school. My father was the family attorney at that time. I am confident that those kinds of issues would have been carefully considered then.”

“Well, I can assure you that it is true. She died, in New York, shortly after I was born, and never had the opportunity to return to Missouri to claim her birthright. I am now here to do that.” The smile was gone. A look of fierce determination took its place.

“What factual documentation are you prepared to offer us, Mr. Randolph, to substantiate your claim? That would, of course, be our first request. Your name is not even Bevins. But I assume you also have an explanation for that. Perhaps a birth certificate with your mother’s name on it? That would be a good place to start.”

“I don’t have that with me, today. I first wanted to establish whether you would take my claim seriously, or if you would try to throw me out of your office.”

He seemed sincere in saying that, Christopher observed. “This office, I, adhere to the rule of law… and documentation. My current ignorance of facts you claim I actually see as useful, at this point. I have no prejudice one way or another. I’ll look at your documentation; listen to the rest of your story. I’ll check with the family, examine documentation we have in the files here, and we’ll see where it leads us. That is my approach. Is there anything more you’d like to share with me at this point?”

“No. I’ll give you some time to take this in, and talk to the family. I’ll return on Thursday morning. Will that work for you?”

“That will work well, Mr. Randolph. I’ll look forward to seeing you then.”

Bruce Randolph rose from his chair, and left the office.

Christopher sat at his desk, following Randolph’s departure with his eyes. He wondered to himself, “What proof does he have? What documentation do we have? What will happen next?”

Joan’s appearance at his doorway brought him back to the present. “Good. Joan, we have work to do.”




[To be continued - next Friday]



"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."


Dr. Bill  ;-)


Friday, January 15, 2016

Episode 16, January 1999 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace


Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999


This series of posts on each Friday, moving forward during 2016 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We are now in January of 1999, in episodic serial format…




Episode 16 - Christopher, Tuesday morning…

The new day did not spare Christopher the foreboding feelings of the previous day. Coming into the office, earlier, the temperature had been near freezing and it felt damp, but there was no precipitation, thankfully. Each day in this Ozarks mountain valley could bring changes in the weather, but this wasn’t a day of change. It was more of the same.

Sometime mid-morning, a buzz from Joan brought Christopher back to the present moment from where ever his mind had been, certainly not here. “There is a Bruce Randolph out here. He is not on your schedule. He says he wants to talk to you about the McDonald Conservancy.”

Those words put Christopher on full alert. He took a deep breath. “Please bring him to my office.” His thoughts included, “No more waiting for another phone call.”

Joan was followed into Christopher’s office by a man in a dark business suit, late fifties, early sixties, grim expression, salt and pepper hair, dark eyes. Joan said, “This is Christopher Ogden.”

“Bruce Randolph,” he shook Christopher’s extended hand, without changing expressions, and took the chair he was offered in front of Christopher’s desk.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Randolph?” Christopher had seated himself behind the desk, and maintained a calm demeanor to match that of Randolph. He was not able to read anything from his visitor’s personal appearance to give a hint as to his intentions. He waited for Randolph to speak.

“Am I correct that you are the attorney for the McDonald Conservancy?”

“Yes, our firm represents the McDonald Conservancy.”

“You also represent the Bevins Trust, which is primarily responsible for the McDonald Conservancy?

“Yes, we represent the Bevins Trust. The Bevins Trust has a relationship with the McDonald Conservancy.” Christopher was impatient to understand where this was going, but remained calm, and answered each question Randolph asked.

“I have an interest in the Bevins Trust and the McDonald Conservancy of which you are probably not aware. My mother, Ethel, was a sister of Mildred McDonald Bevins, and I am here to claim my half of the inheritance of her estate.” Randolph said this with no change of expression.




[To be continued - next Friday]



"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."


Dr. Bill  ;-)


Friday, December 18, 2015

Episode 15 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace


Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999


This series of posts on each Friday, henceforth, moving forward during 2015 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We are now into January of 1999, in an episodic format…




Episode 15 - Beverly (from Chapter 8 draft); Tuesday morning…

Beverly was pleased when Don Kirk, in the Ogden & Kirk Law Office, said he would be happy to see her at 11 a.m. She was waiting in his outer office to see him as she remembered her earlier conversation with motel General Manager Brady McClellan. It had gone well, and he seemed pleased that she had taken the time to talk to him about their new situation, and that she had expressed full confidence in him. They had a good working relationship, and she wanted to assure him that her new presence in town was to have no reflection on their working relationship. She was now living in Oak Springs as a personal choice, not a business imperative.

Don came out to greet Beverly, and they walked back into his office together. After they got settled in, she broached the subject of her visit, the possible name change. She wanted both to understand the local procedures that would be required, and what his reaction would be.

He listened very carefully before he took a few minutes to explain the local procedures. There was an Assistant County Clerk in the County Building that housed a single courtroom and several branches of county government. A County Judge was present most every week for a day or more on a scheduled basis. Paperwork could be completed any time and filed with the clerk. It would then be put on a schedule for an appearance before the judge. That part was relatively routine, he said; it just normally took a week or two to get through the process. There was no need to go to the County Seat in Eminence. It could all be done here in town.

The decision to change her name, however, he said was entirely up to her, of course. She had asked his opinion, so he said, after some reflection, and a couple more questions that she answered, “Here are my thoughts.”

Don continued, “The Bevins and the Gates names do both have meaning in this town, each with certain associations. The Threshold name is only generally on the fringes of discussion, about your late husband and yourself. I suspect most people, to the extent they think of you at all, still think of you as Beverly Bevins... married two times. That being said, I feel there are a couple of things to consider, perhaps. Should you talk to Karen, Bart, Peter and Paul before you make the change? Should you ask them about it, or should you simple tell them what you plan to do? Again, only you can decide how to approach that. Those are my thoughts. I hope they are useful to you. I suppose the other question might be simply timing, but I’m sure you’ve thought about that.”

As a good lawyer, Don then sat and waited for Beverly to speak the next words. He had said his piece that he had been asked about.

He was not surprised, then, when Beverly simply said, “Thank you, Don. That was exactly what I needed to hear.” She seemed to take a deep breath, which ended the formal conversation, put on a smile, and shifted to her southern charm, friendly approach, “I don’t think I’ve spoken to you since you and Linda married. It’s been a while, but I hope congratulations are still in order.”

Don smiled, shifting his own demeanor ever so slightly, and replied. “No, never to late. Thank you very much. We have each found a new, and very happy, life together, I’m pleased to say.”

Linda, of course, was the widow of Carter Odgen, Don’s late law partner, and Christopher’s mother. She had started going to see Don in some plays he did at the community theater at the local college, a couple of years earlier, and those “get-togethers” had surprised each of them when they flourished into a very real romance. They had gotten married the previous summer. As a result, Don had moved in with Linda at her house, and Brian and Jennifer had moved from her apartment into the condo full-time, that Don and Brian had shared, earlier, before Ashley was born in the fall.

Don continued, “It was musical chairs with our housing, for a time, but everyone seems happy the way it all came out.”

“I’m certainly pleased to hear that,” Beverly replied. “Well, I really shouldn’t take any more of your time.”

“I’m pleased to talk with you anytime, Beverly. Never hesitate to come see me.”


Beverly stopped at McDonalds for a Fish Fillet combo that she ate in the parking lot at the City Library. As she ate the fries, she couldn’t help but think to herself, “No matter how many gourmet chef banquets I’ve eaten at, I still enjoy McDonalds’ french fries, now and then!”


[To be continued - after a holiday break, on Friday, January 15, 2016]



"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."


Dr. Bill  ;-)


Friday, December 11, 2015

Episode 14 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace


Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999


This series of posts on each Friday, henceforth, moving forward during 2015 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We now move into January of 1999, in novel format…




Episode 14 - Jennifer, Monday evening, at home with Brian and Ashley

Arriving home, Jennifer knows her first responsibility it to feed Ashley and get her ready for bed. She talks to Brian about the journals as she feeds Ashley, and he reminders her it is important to let Karen know she has them. He even says “I’m surprised Harry didn’t give them to Karen before telling his wife, Sarah, about them.”

Jennifer replied, “I think our work together at the Oak Springs Historical and Genealogy Society asking folks to gather old family history information played into that. Harry knew that, and knew that Sarah would know what to do. She knew from our work together, there, that I would take good care of them.”

“I understand that,” Brian said, “But you have been sharing everything you find with Karen, who was your mentor, and you need to talk to her before Sarah or Harry do.”

“You are right, of course. I’m finished feeding Ashley. Can you start getting her ready for bed? I’ll call Karen, and then come help putting her down. Then, we’ll look at those journals, together.” They went about doing that.

Karen was surprised to get Jennifer’s call. She asked if Jennifer would bring the journals over to Karen’s for lunch on Tuesday, like they used to do with Jenifer’s earlier genealogy discoveries. Jennifer said she would be happy to do that and thanked Karen for the invitation.

A bit later, talking with Brian, Jennifer said she was a little surprised that Karen didn’t seem especially excited about the discovery of the journals. Jennifer added, “Actually, she seemed to be totally distracted, like she had something else very important on her mind. Maybe she is more concerned about Beverly being back in town.”

“Beverly back in town? When did that happen.” Brian hadn’t yet heard that news. Jennifer related what she knew, and they talked about that issue for a bit. Before long, however, they had each picked up one of William’s journals and were reading.

Shortly, Jennifer got up and went to her computer to open her family history database. “William’s wife and mother had each died a year or two before this first journal started on January 1, 1920. Karen and I assumed those deaths were related to the flu epidemic.” Then, she was looking at a copy of the 1920 U.S. Census. “In the 1920 census, William, 56, was living alone, on the farm. Joe, 32, Beth, 32, Ethel, 9, and Mildred, 3, lived on the farm next door. This is the only mention of the ‘Ethel’ we ever found. We need to check that out better sometime. I’d kind of forgotten about that, from our earlier research. I wonder it she is mentioned in the journals at all.”

“William is very good at recording the weather conditions, each day, and what he did with the crops,” Brian said. “He certainly doesn’t mention family stuff everyday.”

“I noticed that in the few pages I’ve looked at, so far, as well.” Jennifer was back to looking at the first journal.



[To be continued - next Friday]



"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."


Dr. Bill  ;-)


Friday, December 4, 2015

Episode 13 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace


Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999


This series of posts on each Friday, henceforth, moving forward during 2015 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We now move into January of 1999, in novel format…



Episode 13 - Lori, from Chapter 7

Lori was on her way to a business appointment, including supper, on Monday evening. The Jensen & Watkins Construction Company office was only a few miles from the Homeplace Country Inn. As Lori turned north on State Highway 37 from State Highway 24, she thought back to what she knew of this company. Gary Jensen had been in residential construction for more than ten years. He was in his early 70s, but still looked trim and fit, with a well-trimmed mustache. He had been joined, about two years earlier, by his nephew, Trace Watkins, who looked like he could be a son, in his early thirties. Some people around town also compared him to Trace Atkins, the country music singer, including Lori, who had met Atkins in a concert in LA. Since Trace joined the firm, they had built an office and shop out on Highway 37 and expanded the type of work they took on.

Gary Jensen had a house back in the woods, over a hill and behind the office, but Lori had never been there. Apparently Trace lived there with him, as well. Lori had been to the office, before, and had been impressed that they had built in a small kitchen and a stone pizza oven. It appeared both men spent most evening going over plans and blueprints... and eating pizza.

As she entered the office, Trace moved away from the charts on the table he had been examining to greet her. Gary was taking the pizza out of the oven. They each greeted her heartily, and offered her a choice of drinks: beer, wine or soda. She chose Diet Coke, tonight, but welcomed the choices. They sat at a table for four in the corner and enjoyed their pizza, before getting to the work at hand.

Conversation ranged among their earlier life experiences. Although they had met together on several occasions, they still did not know that much about each of their backgrounds, and they were each happy to respond to questions. Lori enjoyed talking about the people she spend time with in Los Angeles when she wasn’t in the air as an airline flight attendant. She also shared how much she liked to talk with passengers, on her usual long flights, about their homes at either end of the flights. She had learned that folks loved to talk about their home, their preferences and their longings. Back home, she would share this information with her friends in the residential development business. “Sure beats reading a magazine on those longs trips,” she liked to say.

She learned that Trace was the son of Gary’s sister up in the Kansas City Area. He had worked construction through a combination of jobs since high school and classes at the local community colleges in project management and construction techniques. He had been happy to get away from the larger winter snows of the Kansas City area to the somewhat milder climate of the Ozarks.

They each enjoyed hearing Gary’s stories of his earlier years as an over-the-road long haul truck driver. They came with no end, and he rarely repeated a story, very unusual in Lori’s experience. As folks got older, they generally repeated stories, over and over. Gary didn’t seem to do that. It made spending time with him very pleasant.

Eventually, they got around to their current project, the proposed "Homeplace Estates housing development. They talked in generalities, at first, and then began to get into specifics on the latest updates to the concept plan. They were soon circling the tables and drawing boards, looking at and asking and answering questions about the specific details of each. They were looking to build in as much flexibility as possible, without running up the costs too much. Finding the best balance of type of housing units along with appropriate activity sites was crucial.


[To be continued - next Friday]



"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."


Dr. Bill  ;-)