My grandmother was a young teenager when she married my grandfather. She met him when she was only thirteen or fourteen and was married by the time she was sixteen. It sounds amazing these days, but in the day of the Depression when times were hard, money was impossible to come by and tomorrow was not always a better day, that was quite normal. It is easy to say my father and my mother lived in what was possibly the worst of times in our country’s fairly recent history…both had terribly hard lives as youngsters. While mama grew up on a cotton farm, my father’s family was all employed in some capacity with the railroad and timber in his youth. When my grandmother was expecting my father, they followed the work, which in their case, was the Great Southern Timber Company. This company would set up camp near a railway, then the carpenters, millers, lumberjacks, etc. lived in this small camp as they cut and loaded wood in the area. When it came time to move on to another job, the camp simply moved along with the timber company. Living quarters for my grandparents consisted of three boxcars put together to make their home. These cars were removed from the rails to “build” the home. When the camp moved, these cars were again put on the tracks and chugged on down the rails to wherever the company stopped to begin work again. My father was born in one of these boxcar homes back in 1930, in a timber camp located in southern Louisiana.
In my writing, I find that I love to research the time and the places my characters experience. I want their lives to best depict the era. While my father’s lot fell to be a poor kid from the South…where luxuries were having indoor plumbing and electricity….in cities across the country people often lived in lighted homes, with running water as a given. My mother was a girl in her teens before the rural cooperative managed to get electricity to her home.
Now I try to use as authentic history as possible to give my characters true depth. How many characters from 1930 Hollywood, Chicago or New York could say they gave birth in a boxcar? I try to keep it interesting and keep it real,