Thoughts from Houston

After a late exit from Monroe, I began my trip to the Houston area. I spent an hour at the Leesville, Louisiana library. The director was not only interested in my book, but also wants to book me as a performer for their annual Music Odyssey and some other author/music events this next year. The library there has a wonderful facility.

I arrived at the home of the Frantom’s later than I expected, but at least shortly after dark and having experienced beautiful weather the whole trip. I had not been to Houston in over 14 years. To say the area has changed and that the bad traffic then is worse now would be an understatement, litotes.

Return from a Eulogy

Yesterday in Knox City, Texas, on behalf of the Pittman family, I delivered my aunt’s eulogy. This is a brief tribute to her. When the photos are developed, I’ll post a few, and perhaps the transcript of the eulogy I gave.

In Loving Memory of Mildred Pittman Stubbs

Born Feb. 5, 1925

Passed Away, Feb. 23 2008

Buried in Knox City Cemetery (Texas)

A Poem for My Aunt Mildred

I led the other family members in prayer,

Each of us remembering you in our memories,

None of them the same,

But all of them sacred.

I thought of your prickly pear jelly,

The many books on your shelves,

In one I discovered Edgar Allan Poe,

I thought of the knick-knacks above the books,

Thought of your lake house at Possum Kingdom,

And the day I saved my mother from drowning there,

Thought of how you laughed constantly,

How you made me feel like a true nephew,

How you never criticized me,

Never sighed in frustration at my chatter and questions,

As if you recognized my sprouting imagination,

As I read my copy of Turok: Son of Stone,

Which I had purchased from the newstand

Across from Jones Pharmacy where you worked.

You were my aunt for all those years,

Today, I was our family’s priest,

Giving last rites, giving your eulogy,

We committed your body to the earth,

Your soul to a loving God,

Telling the world that you

Will be remembered and loved.

On to Oklahoma . . .

Sad News:

Yesterday, I found out that my Aunt Mildred, a resident of Knox City, Texas, died Friday night. So, I’m going to my parents house Sunday morning, then early Monday we’re driving to Knox City from Kemp for her funeral. There, I’ve been elected by the Pittman family to give a eulogy for her in a graveside ceremony. I’ve had too much death near me this year. (See June 21-23 entries). My poor father . . . Only he and Alvin are alive now from the Pittman clan. He’s in the best shape of the two left alive, so I look at him as if he were the last of the Mohicans. Every year, I feel the ephemeral nature of life more and more. Please say a prayer for me and my family. Perhaps I’ll be able to see my cousins, the daughters of Alvin, at the funeral.

A Gift: My good friend and publicist (who also works with Region XI Media and Library Services in Fort Worth) Bonnie, knowing my love for Hemingway, recently gave me a very special gift: It was a first edition printing in Life Magazine of The Old Man and the Sea, Sept. 1, 1952. I was speechless. It means so much to me. I now have a story of Hemingway (the reason I’m an English major, the reason I’m a writer) in my hands, first published in the year I was born. Bonnie has excellent technical skills. She designed the current look of my website. She is beautiful and has to be one of the smartest

Friday Thoughts

Book Signing News:

I arrived home to Monroe around 8:30 p.m. A long hardday yesterday, from 3:00 a.m. till 8:30 p.m. Yet, in spite of the long hours spent doing programs and driving, I do truly love what I’m doing with these programs and signings. The Quitman high school and junior high students and teachers were wonderful! Ann Broadway, the librarian, has an excellent library and is doing a wonderful job.

On This Date . . .

As I’m leaving for Quitman, Texas ISD in just a minute, today’s entry will be short. According to my Civil War Calendar, Joseph Shelby (interesting name as that is my daughter’s married name now) traveled to Mexico rather than surrender to the Union at the end of the War. He was appointed United State Marshal for the Western District of Missouri, Feb. 21, 1894.

Language of the Fan & Other Thoughts

Book Signing News:

Another busy week awaits me. I’ll be leaving very early tomorrow morning for Quitman, Texas ISD and returning tomorrow night. Friday I’ll have a signing at the Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge (Perkins store) and at Waldenbooks in Baton Rouge on Saturday, then I’ll likely return home Saturday night. I also found out that my children’s book was nominated for SIBA Book Award by Cherry Books. (Look in list towards bottom),com_fabrik/Itemid,271/ and also for the Cybils Award. See these blogs:

Civil War Program Additions:

After my signing at the Texas Civil War Museum last Saturday, I’ve added some things to my show and tell table for the students who see my program. I now have two packages of Confederate money, a mounted chart of Texas flags during the Civil War, and a friendship fan. According to the museum staff, young girls in the Antebellum South would write the names of their friends on the blades of the fan. I also saw a photo of one on the Internet that looked like it had photos/paintings of friends as/on the blades. However, I couldn’t locate any specific sites that talked about friendship fans. If you know of one, please send it my way. ( I do know that hand fans were common and part of a lady’s attire, and evidently a means of communication. On the site listed below, you can see some Civil War period fans. Below that is the language of the fan:

The fan placed near the heart: “You have won my love”
A closed fan touching the right eye: “When may I be allowed to see you?”
The number of sticks shown answered the question: “At what hour?”
Threatening movements with a fan closed: “Do not be so imprudent”
Half-opened fan pressed to the lips: “You may kiss me”
Hands clasped together holding an open fan: “Forgive me”
Covering the left ear with an open fan: “Do not betray our secret”
Hiding the eyes behind an open fan: “I love you”
Shutting a fully opened fan slowly: “I promise to marry you”
Drawing the fan across the eyes: “I am sorry”
Touching the finger to the tip of the fan: “I wish to speak with you”
Letting the fan rest on the right cheek: “Yes”
Letting the fan rest on the left cheek: “No”
Opening and closing the fan several times: “You are cruel”
Dropping the fan: “We will be friends”
Fanning slowly: “I am married”
Fanning quickly: “I am engaged”
Putting the fan handle to the lips: “Kiss me”
Opening a fan wide: “Wait for me”
Placing the fan behind the head: “Do not forget me”
Placing the fan behind the head with finger extended: “Goodbye”
Fan in right hand in front of face: “Follow me”
Fan in left hand in front of face: “I am desirous of your acquaintance”
Fan held over left ear: “I wish to get rid of you”
Drawing the fan across the forehead: “You have changed”
Twirling the fan in the left hand: “We are being watched”
Twirling the fan I the right hand: “I love another”
Carrying the open fan in the right hand: “You are too willing”
Carrying the open fan in the left hand: “Come and talk to me”
Drawing the fan through the hand: “I hate you!”
Drawing the fan across the cheek: “I love you!”
Presenting the fan shut: “Do you love me?”

According to the link below, there were at least two books published in the 19th century that tutored ladies on the secret language of the fan. Be sure and check it out for yourself and see which of these codes you favor. I suppose men knew about this secret language and made some kind of effort to learn it too.