Monday, September 5, 2011

Pioneer, Go Home!

I grew up in a very rural area. Not the ruralest of ruralest. But pretty fricking rural. Rural enough that we had an outreach library service. There was a different term for it, I think, but that escapes me now. What it meant, though, was that we were able to check out books through the mail. Return them by mail, and check out more. It was free and wonderful (Books! And mail!) but also s-l-o-w.

In addition to using the outreach library, my parents subscribed to Reader's Digest Condensed books. Which meant that, several times a year, we got a book in the mail. And that book was pot luck. You never knew what you were going to get, and I loved it! As soon as I could get my hands on the new volume (my parents were both avid readers), I would pick and choose, reading the stories I thought most likely to please. Going either by title or description or first few lines. In the end, I read all of them of course, but never in order.

Pioneer, Go Home! by Richard Powell, though, was in the winter volume of 1960, so I hadn't even been born when it came to the house. I must have come across it when I was combing the shelves, looking for that reading fix. I can't remember how old I was when I read it. I just remember laughing and laughing and loving it. But I didn't hold on to it. My parents moved several times after I graduated and over the years, the Reader's Digest books disappeared. Later, when my own kids were old enough that I thought they might have appreciated that book, I couldn't remember what it was called or who wrote it and without that information, I couldn't figure out how to find it.

Until recently.

I've been in a slump, as a writer and as a reader. I won't bore you with the details, I'll just say that I was trying to find the magic again. I NEEDED to find the magic again. And that got me thinking about the books that turned me into a writer. You know, like you do. And that got me thinking about that one book, that one I read when I was a kid, about the crazy family who built a home on a highway median in a swamp, and the social worker who went in to save them. It was romantic and funny and it was in Reader's Digest and I couldn't remember that darn title, but I was desperate and now we have the internets! Hurray! Of course, even with the magic of the internets, it took some digging, but in the end, I figured out that the book I was looking for was "Pioneer, Go Home!" by Richard Powell and I ordered a copy of it.

AKA, The Magic
I wanted to read the real book this time, not just the condensed version, so I ordered the paperback. It arrived a couple of weeks ago and it is a thing of beauty! It arrived during a family visit, though, so I set it aside and didn't pick it up until this afternoon. (It's so old, it doesn't even have a barcode on the back. Can you imagine?)

This afternoon I sat down and opened it up to the first page and read this:

None of this would have happened if Pop had minded what the sign told him. The sign was on a barrier across a new road that angled off the one we was driving on, and it said, "Positively Closed to The Public." But after all his years of being on relief, or getting Unemployment Compensation and Aid to Dependent Children and things like that, Pop didn't think of himself as The Public. He figured he was just about part of the government on account of he worked with it so close. The government helped Pop, and Pop done his best to keep the government busy and happy . . .

And there it was. The Magic.

I haven't read very much of it. There were other things to do. My spouse-like-boyfriend and I ordered sushi for dinner, and then we had to watch True Blood. And then my iPhone popped up with a reminder that it was my turn to blog for the Rockville8.

Never in my wildest dreams could that child I was--that child checking the mailbox every day on Rt 41 in Upper Michigan--have imagined something like an iPhone. Let alone imagine being nagged by one . . .

Anyway. I'll be savoring my little trip down memory lane when I finally crawl into bed tonight, and then some more tomorrow afternoon, after my writing date with an R8 pal. And slowly, but surely, I'm getting back into the writing.

Or more accurately, the writing is getting back into me.

Photo: a personal photo, taken by the blogger


  1. Lovely post, Yvonne. We had a bookmobile in our area. It was awesome. You'd climb on this bus that had been converted into a driving library. Talk about an awesome thrill for a kid who loved books in a rural community. ;0)

    I'm glad the magic has found you and the writing is getting back into you. You're an amazing writer and the world would be a sader place without your words and your stories. Never give up!

  2. Never give up!! You either!! We are people soup and we are growing wings . . .

  3. What a great post, Yvonne! I love it. Like Candy, this reminds me of the bookmobile, too. I loved that thing. I would have ridden with them to all their stops if I could. I think it is very important to recapture the magic as much as you can so that you don't get burned out. I remember Julia Cameron recommending "Artist's Dates" which are something you do solo once a week to explore something that interests you. I was actually trying to do this for awhile. This was like your "Artist Date," I think, where you explored something that inspired you. I definitely want to read "Pioneer, Go Home" now. And, like Candy, I say we need you as a writer in our world. I would definitely miss you and your wonderful stories!!

  4. Thanks, Lisa. Yes, reading it was like an artist's date for me. Filled the well! I finished the book that next night, stayed up way too late, and it was just as wonderful and funny as I remembered it being! I'll pass it on to you at the next meeting. :-)

    They made an Elvis Presley movie out of it, "Follow That Dream" which I am going to order on DVD. Can't wait to see it, now that I've reread the book.

  5. Thank you!! I can't wait to read it.

  6. Yvonne, I'm so old I don't have a bar code, either. LOL!

    Once upon a time, I found this early 1960's romance on my mom's bookshelf. Sadly, I can't remember the title or author. But, man, it's logline has stuck with me. Wow, I thought when I read it, that's what marketing is all about! Which certainly isn't the same kind of magic as a good book. I view it now as "marketing magic" for the aspiring writer who knows she must be business saavy, too.

    And this logline? It summed up the book perfectly! The novel was all about:

    "A beautiful girl alone with the men of an Alaskan air base."

    It's all there! Romance, adventure, danger... Marketing magic!

    Long live the magical books of our youth!

  7. A different kind of magic, but magical all the same, Nichole!

    LOL about the bar code. :-)