This is the first of a series of local author spotlights we're going to feature on this blog. To begin, we'll write about authors from the Foothills & Vicinity Writes Group. They came to Read, Write & Brew on September 11th for a meet and greet. For those of you who were not able to attend, read on for information about the writers living in your neighbourhood, and the books they've published.
What Do You Do With The Yolks?
A Happy Childhood on the Prairie of Western Kansas
Carol Devlin started her journey as a storyteller by making up stories to tell her sisters after they’d gone to bed at night. Many of the stories became often-requested favorites, and her sisters still have fond memories of the peace the stories and the sound of her voice brought them at the end of the day. Devlin brings those stories to life in What Do You Do With The Yolks?
This collection of personal memories portrays what life was like in rural Kansas in the 1940s. The stories travel from Devlin’s first memories of choking on a nickel to the final years spent on the family farm before moving to the city. One of five daughters, Devlin tells of surviving nature’s threats such as a devastating tornado, ferocious blizzards, the pestilence of grasshoppers, and the fury of dust storms. From starting kindergarten to getting her first job at an ice cream shop, Devlin shares her fondest memories.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
Does Rubber Burn? Virginia age 5 Carol (me) age 3 1946
I don’t know where that old tire beside the chicken house came from. It just appeared one day or maybe it had been there all along, and Virginia and I suddenly noticed it. It wasn’t on a rim, and if memory serves me, was bigger than a car tire. Standing it up, we looked it over but it was too big to roll around, pretty dirty, and we had to keep wiping our hands on our clothes. We got on top of it and walked around. A little bit fun. Then we jumped up and down, but it was thick and not very springy. Not much excitement in that. We studied the tire like two scientists analyzing a moon rock; there just had to be more to this rubber wonder than met the eye. Several pieces of lumber stacked beside the chicken house made good seats, so we found a comfy piece to sit on and watch the tire. I found a lath long enough to reach the tire from where I sat, and bounced it off of the side a few times, then poked it in the tread knocking chunks of dirt on the ground. Sort of interesting. That’s when Virginia came up with her great idea. “I wonder if rubber burns.” “Let’s find out.” I loved watching things burn. Virginia went in the house for matches. Dried husks in the cornfield behind the chicken house provided nice dry tinder to get the fire started. We stuffed the tire full; Virginia struck the match on the scratchy side of the little box, and held it under a husk. Hot, smoky flames spread rapidly around the circumference, and black smoke boiled high into the sky. Now that I’m thinking about it, I'll bet someone called Dad to tell him they could see a column of smoke near our house. The first pangs of alarm set in as we tried to figure out how to make it stop burning. We hadn’t bargained for the ferocity of the blaze. Using a piece of lumber, we pushed the blazing tire next to the chicken house. Then we found several boards nailed together, so we scooted one end up to the tire, struggled to stand them up, and pushed them like a lean-to over the tire hoping to hide the smoke. Just as the boards made contact with the side of the chicken house, we heard a car door slam; Daddy was home! Thick, black smoke rolled out from both sides of the lean-to, billowing high into the sky. Surely he would notice it, and we were headed for trouble. Dad shot around the corner of the house at an all-out pumping run. “Get back!” he yelled, taking in the situation. He threw our camouflage boards out of the way, grabbed the board we used to move the tire—since he didn’t have time to get a shovel—and used it to throw dirt on the fire until it was out. Thank goodness he knew what to do. We would never have thought of putting dirt on it. Breathing hard, he wiped sweat from his face with his forearm and turned to us. “What’s going on here? How did this fire get started?” It didn’t take a genius to see he was upset, and it looked like we were going to be blamed. I had the feeling this prank might warrant more than a swat, and someone had better come up with a quick answer. Virginia said, “We saw Joey running down the hill. “Yeah, we saw Joey running,” I chimed in bobbing my head up and down. Whew, good idea. “Was he in the yard? Now, are you sure it was him because I’m going to talk to his parents about this, and he’ll be in big trouble? This is very serious. Was it Joey?” “Yes, it was him, and he ran that way.” Virginia pointed in the direction of his house. “Yeah, he ran that way.” I pointed in the same direction, then twisted my fingers together and looked at Dad to see if he bought any of this. He looked me in the eye, and I scooted closer to Virginia. Joey, several years older, maybe eleven, and often in trouble, might as well take the rap for this since he had experience, and we didn’t have time to come up with anything better, like the truth. Dad started down the hill, and boy, was he mad. Both of us stood there watching him go, not knowing what to do or how this might turn out. I remember being relieved that Dad put the fire out. We had a good chance now that we might not get in trouble, but I felt very anxious and huddled next to Virginia. “Are you sure it was Joey?” Dad asked when he returned a few short minutes later. “Yes, it was him,” we answered in unison, nodding vigorously, holding hands. “That’s odd. Joey’s been out of town all week visiting his grandmother. I think you girls had better get in the house. We’re going to get to the bottom of this.” I truly don’t remember what happened after that, and I would remember a spanking since they were so rare. And, after all, the folks never told us not to set a tire on fire. Rubber really does burn, but it’s not a good idea.
About the Author
Carol Devlin is a storyteller and author. After retiring as a computer specialist, she designed craft patterns. She established Mountain Writers in Evergreen, Colorado, to help writers share their writing and publishing knowledge. Devlin is a volunteer, featured speaker, and panelist in Evergreen where she lives with her Lhasa Apso.
Information for this post, and the excerpt from the book 'What Do You Do With The Yolks' were taken from the website http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000110833