On Spreading the Word

Edith here, packing for a trip west.

We authors never want to fatigue you, our dear readers, with a constant barrage of “Buy my book! Buy my book!” Still – we want you to buy our books. So, beyond building community on places like this blog and our social media sites, and sharing each other’s happy news when it happens, we try to get creative about spreading the word.

Last year I wrote a post here about an article I’d written for Friends Journal, which reached many Quakers across the country. I also wrote about my interview published in the Indiana University Alumni Magazine, spreading the word about my Indiana-based series.

My trip west this week is in part to reach still another audience – readers in and near my home town in southern California. I was born in Pasadena, home of the Rose Parade, and I grew up a couple of towns south of there. Every February Temple City has the Camellia Parade, a mini version of the Rose Parade. Children’s groups like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts build the hand-pushed floats made up of only camellia petals, stems, and leaves. Yes, camellias bloom out there in January and February.

Our driveway was usually a float-building site. My father would rig a couple of floodlights and the parents would put on the finishing touches far into the night. The next day I would march, uniformed and white gloved, with the rest of my scout troop behind our float.

Debbie and Edith as Brownies marching in the parade, circa 1961.
I’m second from left in the front row, with Debbie Becnel at far left, circa 1961.

The royal court for the festival is selected from the first grade, Well, guess what? Yours truly was a Camellia princess back in 1959 (yes, I am that old).

The 1959 royal court on the parade float.
Debbie leftmost princess, me on the right – couldn’t handle sun in my eyes even back then.

I’d lost touch with Debbie Becnel, my fellow princess, but we reconnected a few years ago on Facebook. She’s one of my biggest book fans, and we made a pact to ride in the parade as returning royalty this year.

Pictures of Edith and Debbie as princesses and now in ad.

No, we’re not going to wear gowns, but tiaras with our blazers and slacks is in the plan. Debbie designed an ad for us to put in the program book (above). Will it get me a few more readers and her a few more real estate clients? We hope so. And I know I am going to have fun reconnecting with Debbie even before we ride on the back of a convertible through town. I’ll also get to see a number of old friends and a few new writer pals, and refill the nostalgia well with the sight of mountains on the close horizon every day, something I still miss.

If you live in the Southland, I hope you’ll come to the parade and give me a wave and a shoutout!

Afterwards Hugh will fly out to join me and we’ll spend a week in Santa Barbara warming our feet. It’s actually a research trip for me to collect details, flavors, and views to enrich the manuscript of Nacho Average Murder, set in that fair city. And get more mountains!

Santa Barbara coastline and mountains
Photograph by John Wiley, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5618491

Finally, Kensington has arranged for me to sign copies of Murder on Cape Cod in both the Glendora and Ventura Barnes & Nobles. All in all, I expect it to be a good trip. Now, where did I stash those sandals?

Readers: What about your home town? How do you feel about it? Do you live there, or go back? Sometimes, frequently, never?

63 Thoughts

  1. What a great trip idea! And Debbie’s flyer is perfect. I love “still princesses after 60 years.” I hope you enjoy a lovely reconnection.

    My home town–oh, it’s a hoot and a half. My mother still lives there, so I go down a few times a year. I’ve been reading the town history in a book put together by the local church. It includes a lot of family histories, which is wonderful, but it is so sanitized. The church left out all the good scandals! Luckily, I hear those from my Mom.

    Enjoy your trip out West, Edith.

    1. I’m so excited about the parade.
      Miss Temple City when we moved to Arcadia but moved back to Temple Cityin 1973 when George and I had our first child Anthony. We lived on Pentland until we moved to Glendora in 1979. Sold a house on Pentland a few years ago for $625,000.00 in one day. Our old house sold for $700,000.00 and was torn down for a mini mansion and sold for over 1 Million!

  2. It’s lovely to see your past through fresh eyes. It should be a wonderful trip. I’m not sure I have a home town, or maybe I have many. My sister and I did make a pilgrimage to the town where I went to high school (waving at Hugh!), and it was like walking into a time warp: nothing about the high school had changed at all. We also stopped by several other houses where we had lived in the distant past. The current homeowners must have thought we were crazy.

    Should I worry that I recognized Tom Tryon before I even read the caption?

    1. Of course you shouldn’t worry! I won’t have that time warp if I venture into Temple City High School – they did a huge rebuild recently. It’s in the same spot but looks completely different. As does the house I grew up in – I saw it once and that was enough.

  3. As an Army brat, I never felt I had a “hometown” until my Dad retired after 29 years of service when I was 14. We moved back to my Mom’s hometown in Arkansas. Can’t say I liked it much at the start because there is a BIG adjustment in going from military life to civilian life even as a dependent. I did come to consider it my hometown and lived there or around there (within 40 miles) until hubby and I took the leap to downsize and move to our dream destination – the Ozark Mountains. Now this is my hometown in every sense of the word. Love the area, love the town we live just outside of but consider ourselves resident of, love the daily critter visits, love the small town feel but with lots of things to do, and like you I love the beauty of the mountains and the peace of just being able to see them.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Air Force Brat here. When people asked “Where are your from?” I’d say, “Nowhere.” They couldn’t handle that answer but that’s what it felt like. Finally I’d just tell them the last place I was at. When I decided to go to Alaska, I was living in California at the time. People would ask, “Is that where your from?” and I’d say, “No, that’s where I’m going.” Still here 37 years later.

  4. This is so awesome. Your smile and head tilt are still the same. 😀 What a fun trip and the opportunity to reconnect in person is wonderful. Have a great time Edith.

  5. Princess Edith – What a hoot! Enjoy every minute of your drive down memory lane. Have a fabulous time!!! Researching Santa Barbara is a tough assignment, especially testing all of those nachos. We all wish you and Hugh well.

    I grew up not far from you at about the same time.I have a photo of me in a similar Girl Scout uniform. I, too, loved looking up to the nearby mountains that surround the LA area. I had a very quick trip to my home town in April 2018 and loved every minute of it. Culver City was the home to MGM Studio, Desilu Studio, Hal Roach Studio, and many more. My elementary school was across the street from Desilu studios. Bumping into movie stars was not uncommon. I drove by the small house where I grew up. The house and yard have shrunk considerably since I was a kid. My husband and I stayed at a fancy boutique hotel that is just a few blocks from the old house. The hotel was a low budget hotel when it was first built. The munchkins stayed there during the filming of the Wizard of Oz. Other actors stayed there over the years. The hotel was converted to an office building. My mom worked there when she was pregnant with me! Not long ago the historic property was upgraded to a boutique hotel. It overlooks my old haunts. Fun!

    1. What great memories, Melinda! In my day we couldn’t even see the mountains many days because of the smog – I think they’ve cleaned it up a bit since then.

  6. Floats! I love floats and am in awe of the people who stay up all night assembling them, and the artists who design them. Have a grand trip!

    1. I do, too! We grew up near a Rose Parade float assembly site and would go down late on New Year’s Eve to watch them put the final touches on them.

  7. What a great trip! I love the photos and the history. I confess I am a parade junkie and the Rose Bowl is my hands down favorite. Have a great time, Edith.

    I recently connected with my hometown folks on a Facebook group. Since I haven’t seen my hometown since 1970 or anyone from there, it’s been fun, and sometimes sad. Funny to see how much is the same and yet different. Would I go back for a visit? Not that brave.

  8. This is the first I’ve ever heard of you. Sounds like a great reunion to come. I am going to check out some of your books

  9. Have a ball, Princess Edith. It sounds like so much fun. I didn’t like my hometown as I was growing up and like it much less now. Haven’t been back in 17 years and have no desire to go back. Instead, I have embraced where I live now (and have for 12 years) and love it. Mentioning the Rose Bowl floats reminded me that my daddy helped decorate them back in the 1930s. He said he loved doing it.

  10. I recognized Tom Tryon too. Instantly. I go back to my hometown somewhat often. Lowell and Tewksbury Massachusetts up in your territory and usually make the trek down to the beaches-Salisbury and Hampton. I love New England so going back is always a fun time. This past summer I did NH, VT, MA and a tiny piece of Maine! All my old vacations and dating places! I usually turn the radio dial for the 50’s and 60’s music when I first hit the Massachusetts turnpike! It revs me up!

  11. I love that you’re a princess, Edith! Although I’ve always known you’re royalty! And I LOVED Tom Tryon! How cool!

    As for hometowns, I still live in mine!

    1. The parade is Saturday at ten, Mark. Otherwise there isn’t a set time for the signings – neither store wanted to host an event (grrr…). I’ll hit Glendora Friday during the day and Ventura the following Friday on our way back to LA. Sorry!

  12. How flipping cute were you? I can’t wait to see pictures of the parade–have a blast. And the rest of your trip sounds like heaven. Safe travels!

  13. How do I feel about my home town…. well I still live here!! I’ve lived in Tahlequah since I was born, other than two years when I was in grade school when we moved to Coffeyeville, Kansas for my mom to teach at a school there. I like my hometown pretty well, but sometimes wish it weren’t an hour to good shopping stores. I consider Barnes and Noble a good shopping store!!!
    Your trip sounds like a blast. I’m sure you will have a great time being in the parade and visiting friends. And a trip in the name of research…how fun. Renee

  14. Hi Edith,

    I wish I wasn’t 400 miles away. I’d be there on the parade route with a huge “Edith Is Wicked!” sign. Although, now that I see it in print, I’m thinking it might be misinterpreted on the West Coast. Probably just as well I’m in NorCal.

    I recognized Tom Tryon too. I have a particular memory of him in a Disney movie where he was an astronaut, but I can’t remember the name of the film. I remember that he had a second career as a novelist and remember reading two of them, The Other and Crowned Heads. I just looked him up on Wikipedia and the movie was Moon Pilot.

    Personally, I think you and Deborah should go full-out Glinda for the parade. How often do you get a legitimate opportunity to wear a 50’s evening gown. Oh well, at least you’ll have the tiaras going for you.

    Personally, I have very fond memories of Pasadena. In 1971, Stanford went to the Rose Bowl and my roommate’s girlfriend lived in Pasadena. A good-sized number of us met there then all walked over to see the last-minute work being done to all the floats in the staging area. We then went back to her house where her parents set up a buffet dinner for us. We then took sleeping bags out to spend the night on Colorado Boulevard so we’d have front-row spots to watch the parade. I think that night was the coldest I’ve ever been in my life.

    I know for certain that I didn’t get any sleep. That year, the hot fad was clacker balls: two billiard balls connected by string to a handle. You moved the handle up and down to make the balls clack together. There was a vendor selling them about five feet from where we’d put our sleeping bags and he was demoing them all… night … long. It certainly made for a memorable evening.

    I hope your parade experience is equally memorable, but in a much more positive way. Personally, I think you and Deborah should be bouncing clacker balls for the whole parade. Maybe not.

    In any event, congratulations and have a fabulous time!

    1. I remember those clacker balls! My two besties and I spent most of the night on the sidewalk in 1970 because our high school friend Vicki Tsujimoto was the first Japanese-American princess in the Rose Parade that year. We called her “Tooge.” ;^) And yeah, it was COLD. Did you grow up in NoCal or SoCal?

      1. Hi Edith,

        I have no idea why my post came out as “Anonymous”.

        I grew up in NorCal (Sacramento), moved to the Bay Area for college, and then spent almost 40 years working in Silicon Valley.

        I moved back to Sacramento about 15 years ago to take care of my late mother and still live here.

        I have some great stories about the 1971 parade and Rose Bowl game, but I’ll share them another time. It’s great that we have that shared experience with the clacker balls and practically freezing to death on the streets of Pasadena. As a NorCal boy, I was expecting balmy Southern California weather.

        I have now learned otherwise.

  15. Add me to the list of people who don’t really have a hometown. That’s probably why we lived in the same house from the time my kids were toddlers until they went off to college. I’m not sure which experience is better, but they are different.

  16. My parents still live in the house I grew up in & I usually visit at least once a year. Even tho I’ve only lived away from the area for a little over 10 years it has grown a lot. I think the change is good.
    Enjoy your trip!

  17. I’m so excited about the parade.
    Miss Temple City when we moved to Arcadia but moved back to Temple Cityin 1973 when George and I had our first child Anthony. We lived on Pentland until we moved to Glendora in 1979. Sold a house on Pentland a few years ago for $625,000.00 in one day. Our old house sold for $700,000.00 and was torn down for a mini mansion and sold for over 1 Million!

  18. So nice to know royalty! Congratulations, Princess Edith! My folks still live in the same house I grew up in. My town is very different now, so I love seeing the parts that are the same, like when my niece was married in the same church where I was married, and my parents, too. Enjoy your wonderful trip!

  19. Not only live in my hometown but in my childhood house, although I used to travel a lot. Santa Barbara is beautiful.

    I recognized Tom Tryon, too. I watched all the Disney shows like The Swamp Fox, and Tales of Elfuego Baca. Looking forward to your new book.

  20. Love this story of your parade experience, Edith! My parents lived in Altadena, and my mother used to take me and the kids to see the Rose Bowl floats the day after the parade. That was a lot of fun, fascinating actually, and the kids especially enjoyed it.

  21. Bravo and have a fabulous time! I just went back to my Catholic elementary school In Emmitsburg, MD, to celebrate 50 years after graduating from 8th grade. Spent the day with folks I hadn’t seen in decades- it was a hoot catching up. I get up there periodically because I still have family there. Small towns are a wonderful place to grow up.

    1. They can be, and glad yours was for you, Vida – and that you’re still in touch with grade school pals! As many of the Wickeds’ books show, small towns are not always the safe wonderful place they’re cracked up to be…

  22. I hate the question, “Where are you from?” Never an easy answer! I was born in Rochester NY, but only lived there for 3 days as I was adopted and taken home to Waterloo, NY. From there, I went to Sao Paulo, Brazil from the age of one until I was sixteen. From there it was Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana again, upstate NY again, Connecticut, and now Indiana again! See why hate that question? Who has the time to listen to all that? So no, I don’t visit my home town because I don’t really have one! But on the other hand, I can’t imagine living in the same town my entire life. 🙂

  23. After College I moved away for 15 years and then came back to my hometown. It has a mile wide river, a State College and still has bells that ring from a Church. It also like Athens, GA has a lot of creative Artists and especially recording Artists. Elvis, Aretha and the Rolling Stones recorded here just to name a few…Fame is one of the studios. My best College Friends visit here or still live here as does my Sister so that and the beauty was a big plus. I have enjoyed it a lot. Here’s to old memories and some new ones.

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