Join me in welcoming Carol Morgan to Highlighted Author!
Thank you for joining us today, Carol. Please tell us about yourself.
I’ve always been a writer and a voracious reader as long as I can remember. In a little classroom in Lubbock, Texas in 1960, my second grade teacher, Mrs. Moore used to have pictures in manila folders for us to write about after we finished our regular class work. I am guessing that was her best attempt to keep little minds busy and out of trouble. I used to rush through my English, Social Studies and Math so that I could pick from those treasured folders and write stories. I could spin the wildest of stories out of a simple picture from a magazine.
As I developed into that inevitably obnoxious stage as a tween (although we didn’t use that word back 1964), my friends and I regularly sullied magazines in the classroom, by adding word clouds to people’s pictures and filling them with sarcastic and toilet humor, keeping the class in stitches for hours. We thought we were so clever when we added less than dignified comments to pictures of Barry Goldwater in Life or made the naked fakir on a bed of nails in the Saturday Evening Post sing a Leslie Gore song.
As a teenager, I excelled in creative writing, was the editor of the junior high newspaper and went on to journalism and yearbook in high school. I was always writing it seemed.
While others moaned and groaned about writing assignments, I relished in them all the way into college. It was the most pleasurable activity for me “that challenge of plucking thoughts out of the air and transferring them to paper.
Even as I became a teacher, I wrote. I wrote lessons, I wrote skits for faculty spoofs, I wrote poems for people’s children, I made humorous clip art books for friends’ divorces and operations.
So you see, writing and reading has been in blood forever.
During my professional years as a counselor, most of my writing was mainly technical articles about careers and colleges and about life planning. But after I retired from public education, I began to dream about writing stories like the ones I used to craft as a six-year old. This time I had the advantage of maturity, insight, and 30 years of observations about people.
And so in the Summer of 2009, I began writing the novel Of Tapestry, Time and Tears. I have no idea where this story came from. I began to create it in my head as I took my dog around the lake for her walk each day. It grew and it grew and after endless researching and reading about World War 2 and the 1947 Partition, the story began to take shape and took on a life of its own.
And so there you have it. I’ve caught the writing bug again. But this time, I’m keeping it close; not letting it slip away from me and become obscured in the mundane routine of life. I’ve realized it’s a gift, an emotional outlet, a method of introspection that allows me to dissect the how’s and why’s of people’s behavior, a way of creating order and purpose out of the chaos of history.
Edwina was only twelve on the October day in 1929 when the stock market crashed. She had no idea what a stock market was or what it meant that it hit bottom, but she did understand the hushed voices of her father and mother, who spoke in terms of need, want, money and fear.
Sunday afternoons at the Sevens were spent sitting on the floor next to the radio, drawing or reading while her Father and Mother read the Sunday paper and talked about what they read. Sometimes their conversations turned into a heated debate because of their differing opinions, but Edwina learned much from their spirited dialogue.
I don’t think most people realize it will take time to trickle down to Texas. They’re lulled into a false sense of security that Texas is immune to the crash, but it will come, it will come, Mary Margaret.
I disagree with you, Joe. Texas will never be affected by what happens in New York or Washington. I mean “good grief! Look at Beaumont and Spindletop. We’ve created a whole new industry and one that people must have! Texas produces everything the nation needs’ food, oil, gas, even cotton for people’s clothing. The rest of the nation might be in dire straits, but Texas will prevail. Why, we could be our own country, we’re dependent on no one.”
“But Texas tried to be her own country in 1865, during the Civil War and it didn’t work then, either. But, we shall see. Only time will tell if you are right.”
Edwina didn’t fully understand the financial banter between them. What she did understand was that more and more entire families came to the Sevens asking for work. Wave after wave of ancient, broken-down vehicles converged upon their home. It was a curious sight with entire families jammed into a car, hanging out of the windows and the top of the car cradling all their worldly possessions. There were pots, pans, mattresses, clothing and some times, even a single chicken in a cage. It was like a travelling circus, but there was no sense of amusement in this parade of the disenfranchised, only despair and loss of hope. There was a never ending flow of solitary men who drifted along the highway, looking forlorn and lost. When they went to town, she saw the itinerant souls who sought refuge on the street corners and parks of Fredericksburg, contemplating their strategy for survival.
In addition to the financial hardships, the weather in the Hill Country seemed to change simultaneously with the fortunes of Texas. The summers were hotter and more intense during Edwina’s teenage years. The rain simply stopped. There was talk of drought and the imminent death of the sea of wheat and cotton in other areas of Texas. Edwina heard stories about the dust storms in the Panhandle and on the plains of Oklahoma and Kansas. Those stories of rolling black clouds marching across the terrain like a window shade drawn to blot out the sun were the constant topic of conversation. She heard the muted whispers of adults that the world’s economic problems coupled with heat, drought and dust storms were signs that the end of the world was coming. The end of the world and Edwina hadn’t even lived her life yet. She hadn’t made it to China or South America or anywhere. Even though Joseph was a rancher, not a farmer, it affected him and the other ranchers of Gillespie County. With no rain, the livestock had nothing to graze upon, just hard, desiccated, cracked ground where nothing grew, as barren as a widow’s womb.
The regular herd of Gillespie’s men gathered on the front porch of their house just as they had always done. Now, Edwina was too large to fit under the tables of the porch where the men sat, but she continued to eavesdrop on their conversations, just as she did when she was six. These days the men didn’t talk of operas and the old country, but of economic devastation. A vague thread of fear and apprehension meandered through their conversation and Edwina could tell each of the men was worried about his family’s survival.