First a little back story. For my birthday, my very lovely daughter, reached out to my friends, to create a memory book for me. The notes made me laugh and made me cry. One in particular made me laugh so hard I cried. Lynn Avelchas Smith is possibly the first non-family member I met. She was born the day after me at the same hospital so we assume our beds were next to each other in the nursery. and that we “talked.” We went to the same elementary, junior high, and high school together. Lynn sent in not one but three very funny memories. One of them is very telling and I had to share it with you!
Lynn: At Adams Elementary School Sherry, Amy and I were partnered in Mrs. Schroeder’s fifth grade class to write a diary, one that would have been written by a young girl making her way west to Oregon in the year 1850. We folded a piece of manila-colored construction paper in half to use as the diary cover and then inserted folded lined paper. We then hand sewed the inserted paper to its construction paper cover.
We filled those pages with a first-person narrative detailing the young girl’s adventures as she traveled along the Oregon Trail with her parents and her siblings, Sarah, Danny, and Billy. Sherry wanted the girl’s name to be Betsy Dean (I’m now certain Sherry must have been a reader of the Betsy book series.) Secretly, I preferred the name Barbie (thus exposing our depth of interests). Amy and I did not argue…so, Betsy it was.
A couple of pages into the diary, Indians attacked, and Sherry suggested that the brother of Betsy’s friend Anna dies. Oh, wow. This was getting serious, and sad, but Amy and I did not argue. It WAS a historical “novel,” of sorts, and this kind of thing did happen…so, Anna’s brother dies. Then, half through the creation of this diary, and argument DID ensue.
When the Dean family’s wagon train reached the mountains, Sherry had another suggestion. How about another Indian attack and this time Betsy’s little brother, Billy, DIES! I was flabbergasted! Is she out of her mind? This was getting out of hand. Just how many characters was she planning to kill off? Truly, I wondered how Sherry could be so heartless and really begin to worry about her psyche.
I argued, but apparently Amy did not…so, Billy dies. After the dairy was finished, handed in, graded (undoubtedly an “A”), and returned, Sherry and Amy graciously let me keep the dairy (maybe because I had illustrated the cover.) I was thrilled. The first thing I did when I took the dairy home was to edit it. Luckily, part way through this diary, Betsy had run out of ink and there were no berries around to make new ink, so she was forced to use a pencil. Billy’s death was in pencil! Billy’s death was erased. Billy was now ALIVE and well and made it to Oregon! I could sleep now and Sherry? She continues to write stories where she kills off her characters! True story!
Sherry here: Thank you Lynn for sharing this story which I’d forgotten but have some vague recollections of. I must have had a bit stronger personality than I remembered. (Lynn also had a story about the day we were supposed to turn in our information cards to be Brownies.) I love that Lynn took the book home and rewrote it. Oh, that makes me laugh. And I did read the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace and loved them. I still do!
Three Shots to the Wind, the third Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries, comes out on March 29th. And someone dies. Maybe my new tagline should be: Killing people since fifth grade (fictionally of course).
Readers: Do you remember writing stories in elementary school? Or working on group projects?