The novel that I’ve written is a love story based on my father and takes place in the 1920s. What a fascinating time period!
My Father and a Model T
Sometimes my research tried to overtake my ability to stick with writing the book. In particular, the 1920s Model T caught my attention, maybe because my father was wild about them. He was kind of a dude—I think I can say that. What do you think? He’s the good-looking one on the right.
And check out those two-tone wingtips and the knickers. I’m told he wore a size thirteen and a half. It isn’t so remarkable given that he was 6’-4”.
But the car thing—I must have a dozen pictures of him looking quite proud of the vehicle he owned at any given moment.
Life in the 1920s
The 1920s ushered in dramatic social and political changes, and for the first time, more Americans lived in cities than on farms. At a time when Henry Ford started his trade school in Highland Park, Michigan to train teen-aged boys about car engine design and drafting (among other skilled industrial trades), my father was finding his way at nineteen in the city of Detroit, far from the farm he grew up on.
Baseball was the national pastime in the 1920s, and the spirit of the Twenties is marked by famous names like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, the distinctive date of the Wall Street crash and the beginning of the Great Depression, illegal booze and gangsters, flappers, the Charleston, and the Jazz Age.
My Debut Novel
Daddy was a colorful guy, stern and serious, but very flamboyant. Maybe that’s why I chose to write my entire debut novel Eastbound From Flagstaff about him in the 1920s Era. He seemed to fit in perfectly with the frivolity and style of the day. Whether in Model T or Packard—either One Was Styling. I thought you might enjoy this excerpt:
The next day dawned with a threat of snow, and as the morning hours passed, the sky grew increasingly overcast.
Sitting on the passenger’s side of a police car was as close as I’d gotten to sittingin the driver’s seat until now. From headquarters I roared out of the garage in a shiny black Packard, past two Studebaker Commanders—obviously ours, their powerful beams blinding me for a split second—and pulled into position in front of the row of twenty-odd other low, flat cruisers. All sported huge, bulbous headlights straddling chrome-encased grills. All were parked and idling. I felt like a peacock ready to strut as I imagined the Detroit Police motorcade passing through the city’s streets.
The spitting snow hadn’t deterred the onlookers, and dozens stood on street corners while officers held back the traffic. Standing at the 1300 block of Third Avenue was Celeste, who waved her purple-gloved hand like she was hailing a cab—her coat-collar flipped high against her neck. I couldn’t have missed her had I tried.
When the appointed time came for us to roll, pedestrians rushed to cross the streetcar tracks, running this way and that to get a look at the newest and finest of Detroit’s police cars. Our vehicles followed behind the lead motorcycle cop. If it was prideful, the notion didn’t cross my mind. I basked in the glory.
* * *
How my father got from styling in Detroit to styling in Albuquerque is only part of his compelling circuitous route—that of a young man coming of age during an amazing period in American history.
He was an actor, once upon a time, and had a part in a play with Vivian Vance on stage in Albuquerque. If you don’t recognize the name, Vance is best known for her role as Ethel Mertz, sidekick to Lucille Ball on the American television sitcom I Love Lucy.
That was not his real claim to fame. I think he would say it was being the father of my three older brothers and me. But he was modest to a certain degree. I never heard him tell that he played football for the semi-pro football team that was later to become the Detroit Lions, but I did hear a few juicy tidbits about the “gangsta” infiltration in Detroit while he was a policeman there.
He drove the most influential car of the 20th century—the Model T, the first affordable car—would have paid less than $300 for it and would have driven it at 35-40 miles per hour.
What about the Bus?
So why and when does the Bus make its entrance in Eastbound From Flagstaff? My novel is being released on September 17th, 2019.
I hope you will get a chance to read it!