Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7, 1941 - A Day To Remember

December 7 may be just an ordinary day for many people.  It may be someone's birthday (like cousin Teri Homan) or someone's anniversary.  But the biggest reason December 7 stands out in the United States is because its the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 and prompted the US entry into World War II.

One of my novels coming out in 2012 - no date yet - In The Shadow of War deals with World War II and the novel begins with an old woman's memories of that day, then her romance with a soldier from the local Army post.

Here's the (unofficial) blurb:


Her great-granddaughter wants to know if Bette remembers World War II for a school project and her questions revive old memories….

Small town school teacher Bette Sullivan's life was interrupted when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 but her world changed forever when she met Private Benny Levy, a soldier from the Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York stationed at Camp Crowder, the local Army base.

Their attraction is immediate and mutual but as their relationship grows their love and lives are shadowed by World War II. As the future looms uncertain the couple comes together with almost desperate need and a powerful love they hope can weather anything, including the war.

And a short unedited excerpt too:

            Dainty African violets bloomed in the window sill despite the weather outside.  Snow fell at a fast, furious rate blanketing everything with white.  On any other Sunday afternoon Bette might’ve dozed settled into her favorite corner of the couch, listening to some old black and white classic movie but today she’d willed herself to stay alert.  Across the room, one of her great-granddaughters, April or Allie or something similar, waited with pen poised to paper to write answers.  Bette just couldn’t quite recall the question.
            “Tell me again honey what you need to know for school,” she said.
            Ariel – she remembered now they’d named the kid for a mermaid in some Disney film – sighed. “We’re studying World War II in history and we’re supposed to interview an elder about what they remember.  Do you remember World War II?”
            “Of course, I do,” Bette replied, a little stung by the precocious question from a girl who might be sixteen.  Maybe she couldn’t always remember what she ate for breakfast or the name of the building’s maintenance man but she recalled the past with amazing clarity.  “What about it, exactly, do you want to know?”
            “Like, I don’t know,” Ariel said with a flip of her abundant hair. “My history teacher just said to ask.  I’ve got to write a paper about it so just tell me something you remember about it.  Did you know any soldiers or anything?”
            “I did. There was an Army training camp in the small town where I’m from in Missouri,” Bette said, her mind drifting back across the country and over the years. “Your grandpa, no, I guess it’d be your great-grandfather, served in the Army and it’s where we met.”
            “Cool,” Ariel said, “So tell me about him.”
            Bette focused on the old sepia photograph of her husband on the wall above the television, the one where he wore his full dress uniform.  Beside it, the photo of her sitting in front of him, days after their wartime wedding reminded her of those days.  Memories rushed into her mind, heady and full-bodied like fine wine. “Okay but Ariel, I have to start at the beginning.”
            “When?” the teen asked as she picked at a broken fingernail. “Don’t go all the way back to the dark ages, please.”
            For a moment she debated on whether she should slap the girl or not but remembered most people frowned on such things today.  “It all starts the day America got into the war, Ariel, on December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy.”
            “Pearl Harbor,” Ariel said, with sudden interest, “Hey, I remember it from class.”
            “Good,” Bette said, “Now hush and I’ll tell you about living it.”

                                                Chapter One
Sunday December 7, 1941
            In a somnolent state somewhere between sleep and awareness Bette burrowed deeper beneath the covers, unwilling to crawl out of bed.  Most mornings the aroma of coffee and hickory cured bacon from the farm lured her to rise but on Sunday she couldn’t eat until after Mass so she lacked a good reason to get up.  If she didn’t roll out soon, though, Aunt Virgie would call her and Bette couldn’t stand to hear her name stretched out into three syllables in a tone loud enough anyone downtown could hear.  She tossed back the covers and shivered with the cold.  After padding on bare feet to the bathroom and back, Bette pulled on her best slip and buttoned into her good Sunday woolen navy blue dress.  Her fingers fumbled on the twenty buttons but she managed to fasten each one.  Then she worked stockings on, pulled them up, and thrust her feet into her best shoes. 
            Bette combed her shoulder length hair and parted it on the left side.  Her natural curl provided body and she twirled a few strands around the comb to make ringlets.   Although Aunt Virgie didn’t care for cosmetics she dusted her face with Angel Face powder and painted her mouth with cherry red lipstick.  She dabbed a little perfume on her wrists and behind her ears.  Bette stuck out her tongue at the wavering reflection in the old bureau mirror and took her worn cloth coat out of the closet.  As she picked up her pocketbook, a hand-me-down from her aunt, Robbie’s voice echoed through the house, his deeper tones mingling with her aunt’s shriller note

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