Monday, October 7, 2013
Hometown Monday - E, F, and G this week
Hometown Monday - E, F, and G this week
We are continuing this series of posts of excerpts from the novels, novellas, and short stories of "The Homeplace Series" Family Saga story-telling, with a new twist. We have adopted a format from the: "Blogging From A to Z Challenge." Each week we will share a published except related to a person whose name begins with that letter.
This series of posts is to provide an insight into the story lines that may not be clear from other promotional pieces about "The Homeplace Series." These will also be coordinated with the content of the developmental Wiki, "Beyond the Books" - to expand the information available there, as well. [Links in the text, below, provide more information on that person or entity]
Today we look at E, F and G. For E, F, and G, we have (with an excerpt, below):
Emily Winslow - dau. of Matt & Susie Winslow
Erin (Winslow) James - daughter of Jason and Karen (Bevins) Winslow
Frank Bevins - deceased (father of Karen Bevins)
Gary NLN - owner of four-plex where Doug Johnson lived in 1987 - in MBTHP (Novella: "Murder by the Homeplace")
George Chambers - outside trustee of Bevins Trust; see excerpt below
Grover and Hedda Inman - parents of Travis - Oak Springs Realty - they actually first appear in the forthcoming "Christmas at the Homepalce" set in the last quarter of 1996
A George Chambers excerpt from "Back to the Homeplace" from Wednesday, February18, 1987:
Jason Winslow wrapped his hands around the warm mug of coffee. Maggie Jennings had just set the mug in front of him. She had been the waitress at the North Side Cafe for at least twenty-seven years, Jason reflected. She served them when he first came here with Frank Bevins, Karen's father. Karen and Jason were married later in the year. That was twenty-seven years ago last November 27. George Chambers, Frank's best friend over the years, was with them that day. Now Jason was waiting for George to join him today.
"That hot coffee sure looks good, Jason." George hung his tan topcoat on the peg on the wall behind Jason. He shook Jason's hand and moved to the chair opposite. A stately gentleman in appearance, George had always looked out of place in Oak Springs, Jason felt. The 'drooping' pipe he smoked gave him the appearance of a rural Sherlock Holmes. He hadn't changed a bit in ten years, Jason observed.
"I haven't tasted it yet, but it sure is nice and warm. February in Missouri is colder than I remember it." Jason sipped the hot liquid. "It is good. Thanks for meeting me, George. Real nice to see you again."
"The pleasure is all mine. Frank was my best friend. You and Karen and the others have been like part of the family to me." He stoked the pipe, relit it, and continued. "I wish there was more I could do for you all. It seems like there have been tensions building since Mildred passed away. Is there any way that I can help?
Jason smiled. "You are very perceptive, George. I really can use your help, the benefit of your experience. Karen and I made the decision to come back here because we thought it was the right thing for us to do. But, each day that goes by, we feel more inadequate. We've been away from here for over twenty-five years. We talked about it last night. Did we make the right decision, coming back?"
"You never know for sure. I suppose I should have come out to Arizona when I retired. But I still love it here. Even during the winters. How did you and Karen convince yourselves to come back here anyway?"
"It wasn't an easy decision, by any means. How well do you know the terms of the will Frank and Mildred left?" Jason sipped more of the coffee.
George took a moment before he replied. "Well... bits and pieces. Bart and Diane have not kept their opinions to themselves, of course. Rumors are they might contest it. You'd know about that, I suppose. Everyone in town has some knowledge. It hasn't been published in the paper yet or anything like that, but it might be a good idea. That might put some rumors to rest and let people get on with their lives."
Jason nodded in agreement. "This thing about us all being required to come back and actually live on the Homeplace for two years was the hardest part. For us, I had my partnership interest in the financial planning firm; Karen was in her sixteenth year at Good Sam hospital. It was hard to leave the desert we had grown to love." Jason looked to the east, seeing only a bare wall. "But the Homeplace is special, too. It has been home, our other anchor, for many years… all of Karen's life, of course. It's been a vital part of my life for these twenty-seven years that we’ve been married. My parents never had any land of their own. They always rented. Dad worked in town the last few years before he died. Coming back here to visit is always special. We just couldn't see letting it go. We also didn't know how the others would respond. Peter and Beverly coming back was a surprise to us, but we're glad they did."
George was listening intently. Jason realized he was rambling and that George was letting him get it off his chest. George continued to putter with his pipe then re-lit it. He reminded Jason more of an old college professor than a retired farmer… the tweed hat on the table beside him, the brown sweater, and the pipe...all very collegiate. George had been involved with the County Conservation Commission in recent years, Jason knew. Also served on the bank board. He was well respected in the community. Rock solid.
"Did you talk with Frank and Mildred about their will, George? I am really curious where they came up with some of the provisions." Jason decided to plunge ahead with some questions that just had to be asked.
"Not really, Jason. We were very close friends, but we were also very private about our personal affairs. I do know they were anxious for their Homeplace to be kept together and not broken up among their children as they had seen happen in other families. I'm sure they wanted to be fair to everyone, as well, but I'm also sure some of the provisions were to try to keep the whole intact. Does that help?"
"Some, yes. That explains why we each get eighty-some acres to use as we please for the two years, but do not get ownership. That seemed strange, but now I understand better. Karen and I feel like we only have half the information we need, only part of the operating rules of some game. We are being asked to make some crucial decisions on very limited knowledge."
George drew on the pipe and lit it again.
Jason noted that the pipe seemed to go out at the most convenient times.
George finally responded to Jason's concern. "Perhaps it was intentional. To see how each of you would react; farmers rarely have enough information to work with. Weather is always unpredictable. You have to just do what you believe is right and make the best of it. All decisions require constant review. Do you replant a washed out crop or wait until next year. That kind of thing."
"But we really know so little, when you come right down to it. I thought, when we were in Arizona, that I knew what we would want to do. Now that the reality is here and now, I feel very inadequate."
"When you had a problem with a financial plan that seemed insurmountable, what did you do? What approach did you use there?"
Jason hesitated only a moment. "I would research the facts, determine alternatives, and review them with people I felt could assist me in understanding all the key possibilities. A good solution would always show up, sometimes several." A smile came on Jason's face. "The same applies here, doesn't it? I've let the fear of the unknown throw me out of normal problem solution approaches. Thanks, George!"
"Frank and I used to have some pretty interesting 'discussions' about farming techniques. He farmed by instinct, what his father had taught him, what he learned over the years. I was more apt to learn from 'expert sources' such as farm magazines, radio shows, newspapers, agriculture school reports, or the extension service. One of my favorites has always been Leonard Hall. He had a column in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. I used his ideas for a "Balanced Farming Workbook." It has the soil maps and field maps of the farm. I list work to be done in each field. Things like terracing, building waterways, and planting fences of multifloral rose. Also, ordinary tasks like the seeding to various crops and amounts of lime and fertilizer to be used. I still keep the notebooks and discuss plans with my tenant farmer. It even includes the dates of pasturing and harvesting. Frank said at first that was silly. One year I got him to start writing things down. He was real surprised how useful it was the next year. I think Bart still keeps the notebooks. You might want to ask him about them."
“I will do that, George. Thanks!” Jason replied.
"May each of us have a Homeplace to hold onto, if only in our minds."