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Tuesday, 11 December 2007

The Young Authors

By Darlene Costner of Darlene's Hodgepodge

My family owned what was then called a Cottage Court and Trailer Park. One summer, when I was a young woman, I helped out by cleaning the cabins during tourist season. I would run into two young men, Howard Lindsey and James Jones, who shared a small travel trailer on our place. They usually left early in the morning to go to scenic outdoor areas to work on their manuscripts.

I had not been married very long then and didn't own a washing machine so I used the camp laundry room. As luck would have it I chose the same day that Howard and James did their laundry. They used to stand around urging me to hurry and finish so they could get their laundry out of the way and rush off to the Garden of the Gods, or wherever they were going that day.

Being a woman, I sorted my laundry into the usual piles; white, colored, delicates and jeans. Automatic washers were soon to be a necessity, but then we had to use a wringer washer with the accompanying three rinse tubs. Howard and James shortened the time spent by putting their entire laundry into one load and rinsing it in only one tub. When they hung their laundry out the entire wash was pale blue from the dye in their jeans. Curtains, underwear, everything - pale blue.

While they were staying at our place Howard had a story published in the Ladies Home Journal about a little boy who almost hung himself. This was quite a big deal and the local radio station interviewed him and newspapers ran big stories about it. The guys were being sponsored by a doctor's wife and she came from her home town for the occasion. She told me that she always encouraged her young men to write about what they knew and that Howard was the young boy who had almost hung himself when he was a child. She also said James was writing a best seller. I thought, yeah right!

When the weather became cold the young men loaded up their travel trailer to move on to warmer climates so they could continue writing in the great outdoors. If you haven't guessed by now, James was the James Jones who wrote From Here To Eternity, an enormous best seller followed by the movie.

After the book was published, Mrs. Handy, the doctor's wife, wrote my parents telling them to be sure to get the latest edition of Holiday in which they were mentioned. James had written an article about the places he stayed while writing his best seller.

My step-father rushed to the book store to load up on the magazine. We never saw the magazine again after my step-father read the article. James had written that my step-father was the laziest man he ever knew; all he did was sit around all day drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette. Since it was true, I admit I got a perverse pleasure from that article.

James’ last book was, Go To the Widow Maker in which he related an episode when young artists stayed in the home owned by their sponsor. Recalling the words of Mrs. Handy, made me like I was peeking through a keyhole. I won't relate the episode but those of you who may have read the book will probably know what I am referring to. The rest of you can use your imagination.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Darlene,

What an interesting life you have had, and are still having!

I just finished reading about your implant (Good luck with that) and now I read that you were once acquainted with James Jones of From Here to Eternity fame.

On top of all this, you are a wonderful writer who we all enjoy reading.


Thank you so very much for your kind words, Nancy.

Darlene
What a facinating true life story and you relate it so beautifully

Thanks

Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) wrote: “Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life . . . But there’s another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and details.” Seems like some of this must rubbed off on you as you lived around James.

My grandmother had a wringer washer like you describe. I love hearing memories like this. Thanks for sharing your story.

My mom had a washer like that when I was 5-6 years old. This is very interesting, Darlene. How nice that you can say you "knew him when..."

A delightful story, Darlene, and your writing has made the telling so very interesting. Too bad those guys aren't reading what you've written.

Guess this is a reminder we should always be careful when around writers, as we just never know what they may write about us someday.

My mother had a wringer washer on the old tub washer I remember well from childhood. I still have a minature hand crank wringer I played with as a child. I suppose I was in training with my doll clothes for eventually doing the real thing. I don't think I played with the wringer or the dolls much. Guess I was making a statement even then.

Thank you all for your comments and compliments. I do love compliments, deserved or not. ;)

Jorad, James is dead and I think Howard Lindsey was a one trick pony. I never heard any more about him. Maybe he is still alive and will read my story; stranger things have happened.

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