Shannon here: Ada Brownell shares the inspiratation behind her upcoming release, Following the Tracks. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for an e-copy of her Historical Romance, Love’s Delicate Blossom. Deadline: November 30th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Ada:
Following the Tracks by Ada Brownell:
I thought I was going to retire. After all, I’ve been writing for publication since I was in my teens.
I was bored with retirement in a hurry, and I still had things I to do. When I told people about some of the adventures we had working for the Rio Grande Western Railroad, they asked, “Why haven’t you written that story?”
So, I kicked retirement aside, and made my way back to my desk.
We married in October 1953. Les asked me out when I was barely 15 and he was 19, but already working for the railroad. Daddy would have chased him off, but he was my brother-law Junior’s brother.
I wasn’t any ordinary 15-year-old kid. I’d been cleaning houses and taking care of children since I was in the sixth grade. I was helping my aunt manage her small motel, even painting and updating rooms and the exterior.
When Les asked me for a date, he had about a half dozen girls chasing him because our church didn’t have many guys. I was the youth leader. Sometimes I sang solos during services so I was noticed for more than my red hair and freckles.
I was surprised when Les asked me out, and kept being surprised at how determined he was to make me his wife. My older sister had been engaged five times, so when he asked me to marry him, I thought, “That’s once.”
He sent me telegrams that I picked up at Fruita’s railroad depot every week when he worked out of town. He wrote letters too.
So we had a beautiful wedding and began living all over Colorado’s majestic mountains.
We spent our first anniversary at Pando, near the top of Tennessee Pass, and lived in a log cabin across from the depot.
We lived in the depot in Avon, close to Vail, in the agent’s quarters, but within reaching distance of the dispatcher’s phone and we could hear the click of the telegraph key’s sounder from the living room. The bay window where Les worked sat only about ten feet from the tracks.
When a train headed up the mountain, you could hear the locomotive’s wheels grinding and pushing for miles. Often the train had a helper engine behind the caboose. The monster locomotives pulled probably sixty cars then, more than 100 now. But downhill was different. Loaded boxcars jostled against each other like huge creatures trying to be first in line. The locomotive whistled for the crossing, shook the depot like it wanted to make all the nails rattle, and then disappeared down the two shiny steel ribbons.
In Malta, we lived in a railroad boxcar, with a lean-to mud-room and living room built on. Junior and my sister Joan came to visit there, with Linda, their tiny daughter. They were fascinated by our home. We bought a beautiful white Maytag gas range for the kitchen, and purchased a propane tank to haul around with us for fuel. The kitchen part of the boxcar house still sat on wheels.
When we turned off the lights that night, a shaky little voice said, “Mama, is a train going to come in the night and take us away?”
Some little railroad towns had no company housing and few rentals available, When we arrived in Thompson, Utah, only one house was up for rent—a dilapidated shack covered with wind-blown tar paper on one section, and rusty corrugated metal on the remainder. No bathroom, only an outhouse. We had a pipe with running water in a little cabinet in the kitchen, but no sink. An ancient wood-burning cook stove sat in one end of the two-bedroom building. We used it for heat and cooked on our gas range.
I scrubbed the flowered linoleum floor and waxed it until it gleamed. I put up curtains, colorful shelf paper on the kitchen cabinet, and when we brought in our furniture it didn’t look too bad.
My rich Uncle Bill dropped by to see us there. I was mortified.
He looked around and grinned. “I could build a house like this for about fifty bucks. But take a picture of this, and when your kids grow up and want to borrow money tell them, “We started out the hard way.”
Before a year was up, we bought a beautiful 50 X 10 mobile home and parked it on railroad land.
I started a Sunday school in the five years we lived in Thompson—population 98, four bars, no church. I became a newspaper reporter and freelance writer while there.
While living in two-mile-high Leadville, Colo., one night our water froze. We had at least two feet of snow on our mobile home roof. I have more than 7,000 words written in the new book Following the Tracks, you’ll find out what happened when I went out at 2 a.m. to thaw the water pipes. It should be out in three to six months.
I have no regrets about marrying a telegrapher or going from town to town. Les worked for the railroad more than forty years and I worked seventeen years as a newspaper reporter. We moved twelve times the first three years we were married, and since chalked up thirty-some moves. God sent amazing people into our lives, and He walked with us every step of the way.
We’re in our 80s now, married 66 years.
God’s faithful love and promise to direct our footsteps has been amazing. I look back today and marvel at the Lord’s plans for our lives and how He fulfills them.
*Copyright Ada Brownell 2019
About Ada: A redhead and the eighth child in her family, Ada Brownell looks at things from a different angle. Ever thought about what’s in a fertilized egg? She knows when she eats her breakfast egg, there’s the DNA for feathers, the rooster’s crow, the scratchy feet, the capacity to grow, walk, peck, fly short distances, digest food, and even create eggs and other chickens.
So when Ada wrote Love’s Delicate Blossom, she took a good look at peach flowers and noticed they’re as amazing as a fertilized egg. Like the egg, the most important thing in a blossom is life, if it’s still attached to the tree. That’s just the beginning of the awesome blossom and it’s a lot like love.
Ada is the author of nine books, fiction and non-fiction that reflect her brand: Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She has written hundreds of articles and stories for Christian publications, and even more news articles when she worked as a journalist at The Pueblo Chieftain, the last seven years as a medical reporter.
She’s been married sixty-six years, has five children (one in heaven), nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Ada has played the piano and organ for churches, sang in choirs, trios, as a soloist; plus taught church youth for at least thirty years. Learn more: Ada’s Amazon Author Page
About the book – Love’s Delicate Blossom: The week before Ritah leaves for college in 1917, she tries to rescue Tulip, whose parents are dead and their hired hand is trying to enslave the young lady, only age fourteen, in prostitution.
Ritah has a wealthy beau, Edmund Pritchitt III, who has proposed marriage, but she says no. She’s going to college so she can teach widows how to survive and keep their children from becoming orphans. Then she meets a handsome farmer who turns her head. But she can’t allow herself to fall in love. Many school districts forbid teachers to court or marry.
Will Ritah save Tulip? Will Ritah teach? After she works in a World War I health clinic, will disease take her life, or even a bullet from the hired hand’s gun? Will Edmund Pritchitt III or farmer Joe Nichols win her heart?
Question for Readers: Where’s the strangest place you or someone you know has lived?
Come back November 26th for Janalyn Voigt!