Honoring Mr. Clemens

He’s a Missouri favorite son. Born in 1835 in the settlement of Florida, MO (not too far from Paris), the two room frame house of his birth has been preserved and moved.

You need to look for his pen name when studying the map. If you look close, you will find Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site, Mark Twain State Park, and Mark Twain Lake.

The park, where the house was moved, was one of the first of Missouri’s State Park. The park began small, but additional land was obtained through the years.

A giant change occurred in 1983 when the Clarence Cannon Dam was completed and Mark Twain Lake formed.

When camping here, if the weather turns foul, just go up the road a bit and enjoy the modern visitor center — complete with the two room house.

For an armchair introduction to Missouri State Parks, check out the sweet romance, Morning Tryst.

Kindle link:


Visiting the Elephants

Have you visited the Elephant Rocks?

No, I’m not speaking of a sculpture park filled with images of the beast. (But that sounds like a cool idea.)

I’m speaking of the red granite rocks – large as elephants – in Missouri.

This relatively small state park makes a pleasant day trip from St. Louis. A paved trail leads a visitor in a loop of just over a mile. Be sure to leave the trail and play among the giants within the loop. The view is fantastic, no matter the season.

The quarries in and near the park acreage supplied high quality granite for buildings and monuments. Be sure to look for the tool marks as well as the initials of many workers.

Want to travel by book? While Morning Tryst, a sweet romance, does not mention the Elephant Rocks, you can be sure our photographer heroine captured interesting features. Check out her story here:

Book birthday, one year since publication, is on June 20 — immediately prior to the summer solstice — the photographer’s favorite day to shoot a sunrise.


A Tale of Three Brothers

Roll back your imagination to the early years of the 20th century in St. Louis, Missouri.

Edmund A. Babler is a young surgeon becoming known for service to the poor and advocate for outdoor recreation. His brothers, Henry and Jacob, entered the insurance and real estate businesses. All the brothers soon began to purchase land near Wild Horse Creek (in St. Louis County) with the aim of creating a park.

Dr. Babler’s sudden death propelled the remaining brothers to honor him when they donated land to the state of Missouri in 1934. More land donation followed until the current size is 2,500 acres.

Intended as a day park, the campground was added on adjoining land at a later date. Currently, the park, features ball fields, picnic areas, playground, and hiking trails. The swimming pool has fallen into disrepair and the trail ride concession has closed. However, the variety of vegetation remains and you may spot a variety of wildlife during your visit.

Not mentioned by name, this park made an excellent base of operations for the heroine in Morning Tryst while she photographed the several parks and historic sites in the St. Louis area. Join Serena and Zack in this sweet, contemporary romance set in California and Missouri.

Kindle edition:


Recommended by Wm. Clark

“A handsome Spot for a Town” thus did Wm. Clark, of the famed Lewis & Clark expedition, describe the point on the Missouri River where Arrow Rock was established a few years later.

Known by the Native Americans as a river crossing, Mr. Clark was correct. The town prospered during the first half of the 19th Century. Two events led to the decline from bustling river town to sleepy village. The first — the American Civil War. The town changed hands several times during this was and while no great battle was fought here, the area suffered. The second — the railroad bypassed the town when rails replaced river as the major shipper of goods.

Today, the town is known for the arts – an excellent seasonal theater – and a scenic camping, picnicking, and fishing site. So grab the cooler, camera, and imagination and set out for one of Missouri’s notable historical sites.

Looks as if the Civilian Conservation Corps ( CCC ) passed this way and built this picnic shelter with a view.

Does your state have a State Park and/or Historic Site department?

For a taste of Missouri’s, check out the sweet romance Morning Tryst. At sunrise, the world displays a moment of hope and promise.

Kindle edition here:


Honor…and Remember

Ready. Aim. Fire.

The retort of the rifles echos back from the hills.

During my childhood, Memorial Day, Decoration Day to some of the elderly, centered around the decoration of veterans’ graves. Our small community cemeteries included veterans of the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. All of the locals who served in Korea returned to continue their lives. And until I was near the end of college, Vietnam did not claim any lives from our community.

Most of the men who organized and marched in those formations are gone now. A smaller number of American Legion post members decorate more graves.

Father and daughter on Memorial Day 1955.

Take a few minutes this weekend to ignore the picnics, swimming, and visiting to remember the men and women who served and defended this nation. Some gave their lives on the battlefield — all were prepared to do so.


Farmyard Green

Full disclosure: I’m prejudiced in favor of one brand of farm equipment due to influences in my childhood. I’m aware others may prefer other colors.

It grabbed my eye on the library shelf. I checked the dimensions and smiled. Yes, I felt up to the challenge.

Regular readers of this blog are aware I grew up on a farm. Yes, this is the brand of machinery both my father and a neighbor favored. I learned to drive on a model like the one in the foreground. The neighbor owned the model on the right. A few years before retiring from farming, my dad purchased a smaller model of the series in the middle.

We, or any in our small community, did not own a sheller (for corn) also featured. Most farms had a pickup truck, and I can’t recall any without one or more dogs.

For a touch of rural/small town romance — try Starr Tree Farm. The farm grows Christmas trees and hosts a few moments of suspense one January.

Link to Kindle edition:


Early Duplex?

The architecture is simple, very practical.

While the length and size of available logs limited the size of a pioneer’s cabin, you could more than double the space and house two families in a dogtrot. (I love that name.)

This looks like ideal housing for a pair of married brothers. (Or another pairing.) Each family would have a fireplace and a large room. Table and kitchen equipment on one side. Put the bed in a corner with a cradle for the baby and trundle for an older child. You may have room for a rocking chair.

Your relative, or business partner, is only a breezeway away. Bonus: the breezeway acts as a covered porch for both families. I can picture the line of heavy boots, or wooden shoes, beside the door. I wonder if the dog used it as shelter to give meaning to the name?

Like many homes, I’ve also seen these cabins where only one side had a fireplace. As the family grew, they built the second portion for sleeping rooms. Brrr when your feet touched even a rag rug on a January morning.

In the sweet romance NEW DREAMS, one of these cabins falls victim to a cyclone. That day was truly terrifying for the recent immigrants. Check the details here:


Before Gasoline

The era of the gasoline engine began before I was born. (By several decades — and I’m old.)

I grew up riding in automobiles, watching trucks, and driving tractors. Trains ran on diesel fuel, as did large ships (except for a few that were coal-powered).

However, in our farming community, the generation ahead of me supplemented all the fossil fueled vehicles with hay-burners.

Water, hay, oats, and corn are needed to keep this two-horsepower engine in top condition. Wearing fancy harness, this duo spends hours each day moving tourists between a castle and a village. I’m sure they know the route well.

Have you ridden in a horse-drawn vehicle? Driven one?How long ago?

In the sweet, historical romance, New Dreams, the hero finds work in a stable. Every day teams needed to be harnessed, stalls cleaned, and equipment checked. The freight wagons, and horses, were vital in the 1850’s.

More information on New Dreams here:


Special Duty

Step back in time with me. Think of the decades when sailing ships brought European immigrants to our shores. Steamboats carried people and freight on the rivers. Railroads and telegraph were new technology.

Households, both rural and village, needed to be rather self-sufficient. Urban areas did have a greater variety of goods and services for sale or hire. But on the growing Western edge of the country, a family was required to do for themselves.

What sort of purpose do you think of when you see this large outdoor kettle waiting for a fire to heat the contents?

In New Dreams, set in 1851 Illinois, Louisa boils the bakery laundry in a similar kettle. Soap-making and lard rendering (after you butcher the hog) are also tasks best done outdoors. What other use can you think of?

New Dreams is available in both print and electronic editions from on-line retailors. Here;s the link to the Kindle version:


Safety — Not Stealth


What is that sound? Not a horse is within sight. Oh, I see my immigrant friend, Hans, will he know?


It sounds like wood against wood. A moment later I glance down and solve the mystery. “You have fine shoes, Hans. Where are you going?”

Excellent for outside work in gardens, construction, and around animals, these 19 Century safety shoes were practical, but not quiet on wooden or stone floors. They were common among Deutsch immigrants, including the characters in New Dreams.

For more information on this sweet, historical romance, click here: