This is a story of growing up as one of six siblings in the nineteen-fifties and sixties on a farm in rural Virginia.

Had it not been for World War II and Mom’s little red convertible, our parents likely wouldn’t have met. Mom was from a wealthy Pittsburg family of German descent. Dad, an admixture of Cherokee, Creek, and Scottish Highlander, grew up on a ranch in Oklahoma.

PART I. AN UNLIKELY UNION, delves briefly into their backgrounds, how they met as officers at the Quantico Marine Corp base near Washington, DC, and their subsequent marriage. Put off by Dad’s pointed scowl at the minuscule cigarette burn on her uniform that not even her superior officer had noticed, Mom vowed to have nothing to do with “the conceited jerk.” Then D-Day came. The euphoria was so great, she couldn’t turn down his request for a lift to join the jubilant celebrations erupting all over the nation’s capital.

Her parents, not happy with her engagement to an “Okie” of dubious background, hired a detective who uncovered a secret that almost derailed the engagement.

PART I. COMPLETING THE PROMISE, starts with their life in Metropolitan DC after the war and continues with the birth of my brother Peter, my arrival less than a year later, Page’s three years later, and Pam’s a year after Page’s.

Newborn baby Pam barely out the hatch, the family was in the middle of the move to the farm. Then I came down with appendicitis. How did they manage?

Some hilarious episodes ensue as farm life presents a steep learning curve for Mom, especially with Dad frequently away piloting for Capital Airlines. After life on a ranch, for Dad it wasn’t farming that was the challenge; it was Mom’s total ignorance of both farming and all things domestic.

Our sister Sally arrived three years after the move. A year later, sister Laurie was born.

PART III. FULL HOUSE, continues with adventures on the farm and on our cross-country camping trips during the summers, with Dad flying standby to join us during his two weeks off work.

A year after the first camping trip, Mom was diagnosed with diabetes. The effects of the disease, which became increasingly severe, challenged both Mom and the family dynamics.

The story concludes with our Grandma Jo’s visit to the farm after traveling with us from California on our return from the third camping trip. While sewing clothes for me for my first year of college, she told stories passed down from her great-great-grandfather. During his family’s forced removal from their north Georgia plantation, he witnessed a soldier slit his uncle’s throat. After surviving the Trail of Tears, he arrived in Oklahoma Territory an orphan at the age of twelve, to later become a councilman and lawyer for the Cherokee Nation.

Although this is based on a true story, I have exercised creative license in embellishing the details and the tales passed down to me. Also, where I deemed appropriate or forgot them, I changed the names of characters and the dates of events.

© pending publication in 2021 or 2022, Leona Patrick


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