When I was invited to join the American Mail-Order Brides project, I naturally thought I’d write a story set in Oregon or perhaps Washington, maybe even Idaho.
Unfortunately, those states had already been snatched up.
I browsed through the remaining states and the one that jumped out to me was North Carolina.
Why, you might ask?
I have had a fascination with the Biltmore Estate for years. It is on my bucket list to see someday. I’ve been tormented by friends and family alike who have gone to see it and bragged (much more than was necessary, I’m sure) about how wonderful it was. The Biltmore is located in Asheville, so that’s why I decided to set Dacey’s story there. Since the Biltmore was in the midst of construction during the period of her story, I didn’t mention it, although I really wanted to!
The other reason – the reason that really made me choose North Carolina, is my grandpa.
My grandpa’s family lived in North Carolina before they packed up and moved to Oklahoma in his teen years.
Born in the early years of the 1900s, Dad said he thought Grandpa was around 14 or so in this photo, taken before they moved. Looking at this photo makes me want to ask so many questions.
Like who is in the shadow you can see on the wall?
Why is he wearing a gun?
Did he always run around barefoot?
What was the dog’s name?
By the time I came along in the family, my grandparents were gearing up for great-grandbabies, but Grandpa always, always made me feel special.
Before I get all sappy and nostalgic, I’ll head back to the ponderings about life in North Carolina.
My grandparents had all boys. I think there were eight of them and Grandpa fell in the middle of pack. I often wondered how my great-grandmother, who appeared to be quite the southern lady in the few photographs I’ve seen, coped with all those boisterous boys.
I’ve also wondered what she thought when they left behind the lush, green hills of North Carolina and settled in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Having visited the old home place in my youth, I can attest to the fact that the views offer mile after mile after mile of dirt.
The two photos I’ve seen of my great-grandfather always make me think of a character from Gone with the Wind. He looks exactly how I picture I southern gentleman, in a pale suit (I assume white from the black and white photo) and dapper hat.
I met a few of my grandfather’s brothers when I was a child and what I remember about all of them is their big smiles and friendly personalities – just like Grandpa.
As I worked on Dacey it was fun to imagine seeing things through her eyes that my grandpa might have seen or experienced in his youth.