On your porch, your grandmother or mother holds a metal colander in her lap, filled with snap beans or butter beans ( the true gem of the south ). Her hands stay busy, snapping the ends of the beans or gently pushing the seam of the butter beans open to extract the tender offering inside. The heat and humidity lulls you to a half sleep state. The sound of the rocker on the white washed porch boards is hypnotic. But, while she is working, she is talking. The southern tradition of story telling or departing family history begins on those lazy summer afternoons.
Typically, your grandmother will be the keeper of the "bible". She 'pretends' to be talking to your mother, forgetting that you are at their feet, because as we all know southern children learn at an early age to be seen and not heard unless spoken to, of course. She may start with the local gossip. "You know, Mrs. Nelson, over on Popular Avenue, her daughter...." Then the tales will go deeper. "You know, that family never had a lick of sense." and the whole history from the time the family moved to the town.
The reason I'm speaking up on our southern traditions, is because Miss Muriel is at it again. In my fictional town of Rebel's Crossroads, Miss Muriel is one of those ladies that feels she must be the moral compass of the city. We met her first in Random Acts of Kindness when she came out of church and spied poor Dan Brown in an unkept state. Right then and there she decided that it was her mission to find him a wife. (That's another required duty for older southern women - matchmaking) Of course, she has about as much tack as an open barn door, but that is part of her charm.
In Winning Her Heart, Miss Muriel is holding court at the beauty parlor. Yes, every southern woman has to go to the beauty parlor on Saturday morning, because they have to look their best on Sunday morning. Southern beauty parlors are a thing of beauty. They tell more gossip than any tabloid sold in the super market. My heroine, Stevie Darden ( Stevie - short for Stephanie ) is a young widow. Her husband died in a plane crash. To forefill his last wish, she takes the 1956 T Bird for a trip to Daytona Beach for a stock car race. After which, she plans to sell the car to take care of bills. But before she goes, she makes a trip to the local beauty salon. Where Miss Muriel and her fellow cohorts pick up on the subtle hints that she's coming back to life. She cuts her hair, puts in highlights, and sheds her grief. Of course, Miss Muriel is right, Stevie will find love.
I'll leave you today with a snippet from Winning Her Heart in the summer anthology put out by Victory Tales Press, Those Summer Nights on sale now at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobles.
Winning Her Heart....
Saturday morning meant all the ladies of Rebel's Crossroads went through the door of the Fancy Lady on the corner of Stonewall and Jackson. Mrs. Muriel Lowe was no exception. Only today her walk was a bit more brisk than usual. There was news to share. "Morning ladies," Muriel called as she hurried through the front door.
"Morning Miss Lowe," Amber Bell called out as she ran a comb through the selection of hair and wound it around the curler. "Just have a seat and we'll get to you as soon as possible."
Muriel moved to the line of chairs in front of the plate glass window with an antebellum lady painted in the center. She placed her pocket book on her lap. She could not contain the excitement bubbling up inside. Studying the faces, she zeroed in on Eddie Cox.
"Morning, Muriel," Eddie Cox murmured as she looked up from the latest copy of The Rumor. "Did you hear, Kate Middleton is pregnant again?"
Muriel huffed. "That isn't true and you know it. If the Princess of Cambridge was expecting, the Queen would be making an announcement."
Eddie folded the small print magazine open to the article she was reading. "It says so right here." She pointed. Muriel gave it a sideways glance and huffed. "That's not news." "You got something better?" Eddie demanded her nose turning up at the insult.
Muriel's eyes brightened. "I saw Stevie Darden open up the garage out back of her house."
Eddie's eyes widened. "You didn't."
Muriel bobbed her head. "I did and even better, she went off and brought back a gas can. Next thing I know, I heard her start that car up."
"Her husband's car! The T-Bird?"
"One and the same," Muriel replied, her expression smug. "Looks like our favorite widow is trying to come out of retirement."
Eddie thought for a moment. "What do you think she's going to do with it?"
"Well, we all know that she's got debt. I bet she's finally given into her daughter's wishes and she's going to sell that car."
Eddie gave a low whistle. "I bet if you go the cemetery and put your ear to the ground, you can hear her husband, Bobby turning over in his grave."
"Ladies, you aren't spreading gossip are you?" Eyes wide, both women turned to see Amber's scolding face looking down at them.
"Why no, Amber," Muriel smiled. "I was just telling Eddie what I saw out my kitchen window this morning."
Amber stared at them. Muriel caught the slight tick in her left eye. As Amber opened her mouth to condemn them both, the door to the shop opened and every eye turned to watch Stevie Darden walk through the door. "You keep your gossip to yourself," Amber hissed before she turned to greet her customer. "Stevie, this is a surprise!"
To read more and see the other fantastic stories from the authors in this anthology, be sure to clink on the link below
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