Aug 03, 2016 08:12 am | firstname.lastname@example.org (Michelle Miller)
An Attic = Someone's Story
Hello! I'm absolutely delighted to visit True Book Addict and make new friends today. Thank you so much, Michelle for your warm welcome. There are many themes in my new WWII historical fiction novel, A Moment Forever, that I could expand on, but one singular event put wheels in motion in Chapter One. I think that's the best theme to explore today since TBA is my first Poetic Book Tours' stop.
One of my two heroines is bequeathed a house in 1992, and its contents, particularly in the attic, send her on quite a journey to discover her ancestry – the roots, events, and people deliberately hidden from her knowledge.
In the armoire
Growing up, my childhood home didn't have an attic, but we did have a basement. Half was my mother's cheery art studio (where I loved to visit) and the other half my father's dreary workshop (which gave me the willies.) But in dad's man cave there stood a monolithic orange-colored armoire that, at my young age, I concluded contained all the secrets of the universe. It wasn't until my 24th year that he opened the mysterious cabinet and shared with me old New York City newspapers (some of the Titanic sinking,) photographic glass negatives, vintage cameras, signed photographs of silent film stars, and various other memorabilia and ephemera. In a way, these were the secrets of a microcosmic universe: my family. Within the illuminating discoveries I learned that my grandfather worked as an apprentice photographer for Edison Studios and that as a boy, he collected newspapers reporting on events that he thought would be historical. Without the armoire "attic" those pieces of a family might not have survived to tell a story.
Within the armoire was an embroidered silk 19th Century glove box – another attic of sorts. A mighty discovery on my part because upon closer inspection I was able to construct some pieces of the grandmother I never knew: She was a suffragette and she loved to crochet using the bone hooks and implements in the treasure box. "Carrie" as she was called, was sentimental, keeping a dance card, letters, and cabinet cards of people I'd never heard of. I analyzed these "directionals" on the roadmap to discovering the lives once lived, gathering information as if compiling an FBI case. I framed the images of my namesake grandmother with my grandfather. Also in the box was my great-grandfather's United States Naturalization certificate, an incredible piece of history and perhaps it is in the fiber of my instilled patriotism. My connection to the past formed and these abstract people became detailed portraits of historical significance to me. The armoire began my genealogical search into census records and ship manifests. It became imperative for me to remember – without actually knowing them – the lives they once led.
Frank C. #27967 (both images)
Have you ever heard of the Willard suitcases? It was sort of an obscure archeological find in 1995 but, to history lovers like me, it wasn't obscure at all. Like the above personal narrative, it was the discovery of the most important keepsakes of 400 lives. The suitcases, found in an attic, were attics themselves, and thank goodness they were discovered! You see, Willard State Hospital, an asylum for the "insane", located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, closed in 1995, and in one of the abandoned buildings, workers discovered an anti-room in the attic. Rows of wooden racks were lined with the still-packed suitcases of the committed patients. They were alphabetized by patient name and organized by date between 1910 and 1950. Forgotten, like their owners, and covered by bird droppings and grime, the suitcases remained untouched for decades – since the first day of the owner/patients' arrival. Frozen in time, the personal contents bare witness that these men and women LIVED as sure as you and I do. They once dreamed, struggled; they worked, had hobbies, prayed; they grieved and loved. They had families and cherished memories. Yet almost 6,000 were buried in the asylum's cemetery with only a four-inch circular stone and a number to attest to their existence. That's right – a number – not a name. But the contents of their "attic" paints beautiful, colorful canvases of their humanity.
Mr. Dmytro #32643
Examining the photographs of the opened suitcases, I thought of that old question: "If there was a fire, what would you take?" And it was evident by what had been packed that the personal effects were what they valued most in life. Further, I thoughtfully pondered the lives they once lived (evident by the contents) vs. the lives that were shut away for an average length of 30 years! My heart squeezed and my eyes hurt reading some of the heartbreaking biographies of those who suffered with mental or physical illness and those who became ill through horrible life events. Never mind those whose "disorders" were actual life events: the death of a loved one, a nun's disenfranchisement, post-partum depression, displacement, and poverty. No doubt, there were even a few committed for the secrets they held: much like an attic themselves. And even today, due to legalities and patient privacy, their full names cannot be memorialized, just their first name and their patient number.
After state museum historians thoroughly researched the owners of the 400 attics, the Willard suitcases – scratch that – the men and women of the Willard State Hospital had been honored through a ten-year traveling exhibition in remembrance of who they were, their stories told, their relics shared. They have now found a permanent home at the Museum of disABILITY in Buffalo, New York.
What items would you grab in a fire? Think about your "attic," your family, your ancestors. What stories do they hold? Don't let them fade away into oblivion with nary a thought or mention. Write them down. Who were they and how did their lives influence who you became? Share with me and Michelle your thoughts and two commenters will be entered into a giveaway – one for an e-book – one for a paperback of A Moment Forever. Thank you so much for stopping by!
About the book A Moment Forever (Liberty Victory Series #1) Published by Vanity & Pride Press in May 2016 Kindle and Paperback; 600 pages
In the summer of 1992, a young writer is bequeathed the abandoned home of a great-uncle she never knew. The house has a romantic history and is unlike any home she has ever seen. Juliana Martel felt as though she stepped into a time capsule—a snapshot of 1942. The epic romance—and heartache—of the former occupant unfold through reading his wartime letters found in the attic, compelling her on a quest to construct the man. His life, as well as his sweetheart's, during the Second World War were as mysterious as his disappearance in 1950.
Carrying her own pain inflicted by the abandonment of her mother and unexpected death of her father, Juliana embarks on a journalist's dream to find her great-uncle and the woman he once loved. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a man whose family is closely related to the secrets, she uncovers the carefully hidden events of her great-uncle's and others' lives – and will ultimately change her own with their discovery.
This story of undying love, born amidst the darkest era in modern history, unfolded on the breathtaking Gold Coast of Long Island in 1942. A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot and an enchanting society debutante—young lovers—deception—and a moment in time that lasted forever.
A Moment Forever is an evocative journey that will resonate with you long after you close the book. Romance, heartache, and the power of love, atonement, and forgiveness transform lives long after the horrors and scars of the Second World War have ended.
About the author
Born and bred in New York City, Cat Gardiner is a girl in love with the romance of an era once known as the Silent Generation, now referred to as the Greatest Generation. A member of the National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and Tampa Area Romance Authors, she and her husband adore exploring the 1940s Home Front experience as living historians, wishing for a time machine to transport them back seventy years.
She loves to pull out her vintage frocks and attend U.S.O dances, swing clubs, and re-enactment camps as part of her research, believing that everyone should have an understanding of The 1940s Experience™. Inspired by those everyday young adults who changed the fate of the world, she writes about them, taking the reader on a romantic journey. Cat's WWII-era novels always begin in her beloved Big Apple and surround you with the sights and sounds of a generation.
She is also the author of four Jane Austen-inspired contemporary novels, however, her greatest love is writing 20th Century Historical Fiction, WWII-era Romance. A Moment Forever is her debut novel in that genre.
Giveaway Up for grabs...one print copy (U.S. only) and one eBook (International) - Two Winners! To enter, please leave a comment below about the author's guest post, and be sure to include your email address so I can contact the winners.