Wenatchee, Washington, 1905

Mary and I are headed to the Museum to see history come to life in an exciting living history performance. Every year there is a production of People of our Past. In 1905 the good citizens of Wenatchee took their display to the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon. The display was a grand success. Stepping into the Wenatchee Valley Museum today is a treat on its own, but on this day we will meet five characters who lived here in 1905. They stepped on the very same stage that is in the hall today.

We love stepping back in time. The characters answer our questions, but they know nothing past the year of the exposition. Their costumes are authentic as well as their knowledge of the times. They promote the wonderful fruit of the valley, just as we do today. They brag about the town and the exposition.

Mary says, “What a great show…so  glad we came>”

I say. “You know I have some treasures in my curio cabinet that came from the Lewis and Clark Exposition.”

“Of course you do,” she answers. She knows my house if full of antique treasures. Her house is neat and tidy. I think I will ask the producer of next year’s show if they could use my artifacts as props in the next production.

We had a lovely Sunday afternoon interlude from our usual routines.





Eddie’s Time Has Come

Everybody knows you don’t shove Eddie Martin.

For Eddie’s senior paper he chose a controversial topic for 1895, Women Should/Should Not Have the Right to Vote in Oregon. Mr. Payne came down on the side of “should not.” Eddie’s mother thought the “shoulds” were long over due. Eddie had even quoted from his mother’s reading material in his paper.

“Eddie Martin has a bright mind, but I can force him to change his point of view with the stroke of my pen,” thought Mr. Payne. He knew the F grade would rankle the boy, but maybe get him to change his thinking. After all, a teacher should teach more than grammar and organization.

At the end of class, when most students had left school, Eddie stormed to the front of the room to challenge the grade on his final paper.

Mr. Payne said, “Read my comments. The grade stands.” He put his right hand on Eddie’s chest and pushed him toward the door.

“All my papers are correctly written. So is this one! This’ll keep me from getting my diploma. You’re doing this on purpose!” shouted Eddie.

I am doing this to get you to think properly,” began the teacher just as Eddie brought the conversation to a close with his punch to Payne’s nose.

It was a hell of a fight that left Payne motionless in the dirt of the school ground and Eddie clinging to his saddle horn as he rode toward home.

This should give hope to the readers of By the River and Secrets from the Little Red Box who want to know WHAT HAPPENED TO EDDIE?

Newsletter Jae Carvel/Jane Nagler

The second novel in my Strawberry Mountain Series is now published and available in E-book and paperback.
Secrets from the Little Red Box
Jae Carvel
When I discovered a packet of letters written by Harry and saved in a small red box, my historical imagination was so tweaked that I knew I would make them the basis of my second novel in the Strawberry Mountain Series. The first novel, By the River, is the story of the Martin family inspired by information from the Manwaring Wagon Train that arrived in the John Day Valley in 1869.

Secrets from the Little Red Box is set in the early 1900s and centers around Evelyn, the youngest Martin daughter. I have changed the names from those of the real characters because the story is only my imagination of what could have happened. I made an effort to be true to the time and setting and wish I could give thanks to Harry, the primary source of my imagination.

I look at life as a series of connections, some kept, some broken, but all worth sharing in a story.

To Rectify Forgetfulness

Sometimes I get so involved with “old” history that I forget the very important recent history of our lives. This past week has reminded me of friends far and near and especially dear. Yes, my birthday brought wishes by snail and greetings by Facebook and reminded me of my many blessings. I wanted to tell all the birthday greeters that my new book, Secrets from the Little Red Box, is now available. It was inspired by a pack of original letters written in 1910-1914. So now I am reminded again of the history from the  the past, the topic of my blogs, but let me sneak in here a thank you to all, the real purpose of THIS blog.

Jae Carvel

the love of historical fiction

Today I think I will look around my house for some primary sources of history. What I find will not be in the U.S. History textbook sitting on the library shelf.  I often open this book to refresh my memory of things that have happened in the past. It supports the years I think I remember in my family history.

I won’t even look on my computer for information. Plenty is waiting there for me to dig out. But the things that inspire me are the true primary sources from past years. Most recently I have been working with a wonderful pack of letters that were recovered from the attic of an old farm house. They are all dated, carefully written, but not edited. They are all signed by the same man, first name only.

I call them a primary source because of the dates and the places from which they were mailed. No one has interpreted their meaning. They were written a hundred years ago and stored neatly in a note card box that had obviously been used for other storage. The edges were worn so here is where my imagination takes hold.

The box must have ben opened each time a newly folded letter arrived. It may have ben opened many times so the owner could reread the letters. These are the things I surmise might be true and make me think of a story. In addition, the contents of the letters share wonderful descriptions of the mining camps and the travels the author experienced. Occasionally he alluded to marriage, but he never just said, “Will you marry me?”

So we wonder if he was shy, afraid of being turned down. If he were in love, why didn’t he declare himself? Or was it not the vogue of the day to bluntly propose? The letters explain some circumstances of the times. Travel by train, ship, and unreliable autos separated people more than putting them together. Most telephones hung on kitchen walls, waiting for rings to come in.

The imagination from a primary source surpasses all information from the work of the historian who puts it in a book. I plan to locate another primary source tomorrow.







Source: Jae Carvel

Look at that Mountain!

As our snow turns to patches and growing greens peek up, the joy of a white covered mountain, the views, and the skiers’ delights turn to thoughts of spring. We creak our bones as we rake a few leaves and study what we need to do next to get our outdoors into shape. Don’t plant! The soil must be 50 degrees.  The gardener’s column advised to go pull some weeds to put us ahead of the game. I think that is where I left off last fall. I am going back in the house to wait for some more spring things to happen. I guess I will take up blogging again.

WOTR Write on the River

If you live in the Pacific Northwest you might recognize WOTR as the writing conference held each May in Wenatchee, WA. WOTR is celebrating a ten year anniversary this year. I remember when the first writing contest connected with the conference required that the short piece of fiction or non-fiction was required to begin “By the River.”

I worked hard to make my contribution begin with the designated phrase. It was difficult because I had to contrive the story and move it around. I did not like being forced to use the phrase. I’m sure it was meant to inspire and give each writer a starting point. Obviously I did not win, but I did take the written response seriously and did not give up.

I must give credit to the author Nancy L. Turner who wrote a novel inspired by her great grandmother’s life. It was exactly what I wanted to do, so I converted my little non-fiction piece to the beginning of historical fiction inspired by my great grandmother.

I worked, I began again, I entered a first page contest and then began again. Finally my little book is finished, published with a beautiful cover, and containing my imagination of my great grandmother’s life. Readers of historical fiction write nice reviews and I look at it and wonder how I ever came to title it BY THE RIVER. Go figure!

Better yet, go read it.

A Ride on Blondie–A Janie Martin Story

“Here we go. I love riding in front of you in the saddle, Daddy.” Janie and Daddy are riding Blondie, Daddy’s new saddle horse, the prettiest horse on the ranch. She is almost a palomino with a white mane and tail. Six cows and their calves need to go to the hill pasture. “Hurry up, let’s get to the gate.” Grand Dad is herding the small bunch of cattle up the road ahead of his big brown Chrysler.

“I’ll hold the saddle horn real tight while you get off to open the gate,” Janie tells Daddy. “Oh, oh!” Blondie jerks away and the reins slip from Daddy’s hand. Janie holds on tight because she plans to ride right down the road. Bumpity bump. With no doubt in her mind, Janie, the young girl, and Blondie, the young horse, tear down the road past the Chrysler. “Whoa, Blondie,” screams Janie.

Tumbling to the gravel road completely surprises her. The blood trickling from a gash near her hairline, terrifies Mother who comes running from the yard. She grabs Janie fast and gets in Grand Dad’s car to whiz away on the bumpy road to town. When Grand Dad stops the car in front of the hospital, Mother carries Janie up to the second floor, where the emergency surgery is.

“I don’t like that bright light in my eyes,” wails Janie, “and I don’t like people holding be down!” Crying doesn’t make it better, but Janie does it anyway as Dr. Foster picks little rocks out of the gash on her forehead. “I…really don’t like this!” sobs the little girl as she begins to quiet down.

I told Gar he shouldn’t take her on that horse,” fumes Mother. “Nobody ever listens to me!”
“You never leave a small child on a horse while you get off! Especially a colt like Blondie.”

Mother planned to say a lot of things to Daddy when they got home, but after she and her darling daughter finished the three-mile drive from town, all Mother said was, “Janie is going to have a scar.”

The Fighter

You will find this page somewhere in my fourth book.

“Ho, Mick, this bugger’s alive!” Heime stopped the wagon loaded with the bodies of dead fighting men from the Battle of Brandywine. General Washington, General St. Claire, and the other big wigs had moved on, retreating fast from the Pennsylvania battleground. Heime and Mick were left to help gather, identify and bury bodies. They both leaned over to take a look at the scalped soldier, barely wiggling in the mud.

“By God, it’s the fighting Irishman,” Mick identified the muddy man. Few men survive a scalping, but James Hare had a reputation for beating the odds. Heime and Mick were about to help him do so one more time. Their cart, loaded with bodies, had barely enough room for a casualty, but one took the injured man by the shoulders and the other by his feet and boosted him to the top of the pile of bodies.

“That head’s not worth saving. I say we put him out down by the creek. If he rouses, he can scooch for water until someone else comes along with supplies to bandage him up. We can tell the medic about him when we run into him. It’s all I can do to look at that bloody head. We’ll drop one of our rags for him to cover it up.” Heime put forth his solution for saving James.

That doesn’t seem Christian to me. I hear Jimmy studied to be a priest back in Ireland. It gives me a worry to dump him” said Mick.

“I guarantee he won’t survive this trip we are making to the burying spot. We’ll look for Doc John on our way and tell him where we left the bloke,” Heime ordered, and Mick, with his doubts, fell silent.

The spot for James was on the bank of the creek, untouched by the recent battle. It looked like a watering place for the natives of the area, protected by trees and brush. James was hoisted by shoulders and knees from the wagon to the soft earth. He gave a small moan and rolled to his good side, the one not scraped and bloody from the scalping.