The Minnie Shepherd I knew moved with rhythm in her bouncing step, her white curly head bobbing up and down. Her almost-five-foot frame leaned forward as she walked, the result of back problems. Wrinkles etched her wide smile, decorated with white false teeth.
Minnie was my grandmother. At age 90, she still performed for family crowds with poise as the elocutionist (a person trained in voice and gesture for public speaking) and singer she was. The spunk she had in youth was still there. Her survival probably had depended on it.
An orphan juggled in her childhood among relatives, she ended up with a judge and his wife. There she blossomed into a young woman. Already a writer and performing her poems and songs at the opera house, she graduated from high school in Pueblo, Colo., with a teaching certificate.
Then the judge attempted to abuse her. Carrying a suitcase, she took off down the road toward Florence, Colo.
This is among what I was told about my grandparents by relatives because Grandma was elderly and he was dead before I was born. Grandfather’s papa was murdered. Grandpa also traveled about the country showing one of the first Passion of the Christ moving pictures. My brother has the reel.
Here’s my character, Jenny, in the barn with the judge:
The barn door creaked. The judge’s massive body loomed in the opening, his scowling face crimson. He slid a razor strap back and forth in his manicured hands. “Jenny!”
Her heart thumping like a dasher churning butter, seventeen-year-old Jennifer Louise Parks dropped the curry brush and moved past the buckskin’s large rump toward the side door.
The huge man limped closer. “Didn’t I tell you to quit flirting with those young men at the opera house?” His deep voice boomed among the stalls. “I want it stopped.”
Jenny inched backward. She swallowed. Icy tingles crawled up her back, her neck, and over her scalp.
“But…but…I was just being polite. I was honored they came to hear an elocutionist. They complimented me on my recitations.”
Judge Danforth Schuster, her uncle, stepped closer, looking her up and down in the dim light. When she backed away, he grabbed her wrist and tightened his sausage fingers. He lifted the strap with his other hand.
Click https://www.amazon.com/author/adabrownell to read a free first chapter. Click on the cover and the arrows.
Ada Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six books, about 300 stories and articles in Christian publications, and she spent a large chunk of her life as a reporter, mostly for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado. She and her husband L.C., have five children, one of them in heaven, eight wonderful grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.