Prologue Version 3

Yet to be published; on 2d edit

This is a story of growing up on a farm in rural Virginia during the nineteen-fifties and sixties as one of the six children of Marine Corps veterans.

It starts when Second Lieutenant, Elizabeth Anne Delp, Annie, from a wealthy Pittsburgh family, is on a flight with Ace Marine Fighter pilot, Joe Foss, to New Orleans to give a recruitment speech. Major Waldon Pete Snyder, Pete, a mixed blood Native American from a ranch in Oklahoma, is piloting the flight.

Put off at Pete’s pointed scowl at the miniscule cigarette burn on her uniform that not even her superior officer had noticed, Annie vows to have nothing to do with the conceited jerk.

But when D-Day arrives, how can she refuse his request for a lift in her little red convertible to join the jubilant celebrations erupting all over the nation’s capital? As they Texas-two-step across the dance floor to the big band sounds of Count Basie, Annie discovers they’re perfect dance partners. He’s not such a jerk after all.

Her parents, disappointed when they find Annie is engaged to an “Okie” of dubious background, hire a detective who uncovers a secret that almost derails the engagement.

Despite setbacks, they marry and leave the Marines, Pete to fly for Capital Airlines, and Annie to become the first woman to enroll at the prestigious George Mason Law school in Washington, DC.

When her pregnancy puts an end to law school, Annie postpones her dream of following in her father’s footsteps as a corporate lawyer to settle for life as a housewife. She soon finds winning the title of Master Potato Peeler while on KP-Duty in the Marines doesn’t make up for the deficiencies of her privileged upbringing.

For Pete, it’s hard to hide his shock when Annie doesn’t know how to boil water. One eyeball roll after another, the strain deepens between them.

Three children later, with a fourth on the way, Pete gets an unsolicited, surprise offer on the house he’s been building on his time off for the burgeoning family. Annie convinces him to sell and purchase a farm. A month after the fourth child arrives, they move from Metropolitan DC to a hundred and ninety-one acre farm in rural Virginia.

Annie’s visions of a bucolic story-book life in the country meet with reality: too many children, too much to do, and too little time. Although juggling housework, farm chores, and keeping us kids in line is an enormous challenge, both parents’ Marine Corps officer training equip them well for the task. They forge the household into a team of troopers, with rotating chore lists, the sins of the one punishing the all, and threats of severe infractions going up the chain of command for more stern measures.

After the births of the fifth and sixth children, Mom goes into a coma while Dad is away flying for United Airlines. When she comes out of it and visits a doctor, she finds she has diabetes. Her inability to control her blood sugars and the resulting drastic mood swings challenges both her and the family dynamics.

Determined not to let the disease control her life, she takes on the first of a long stream of fights to protect the next door National Manassas Battlefield Park from encroaching development. Her activism later earns her national acclaim as “Stonewall Annie” and the “Angel of Manassas.”

When the youngest two are barely out of toddler-hood, Mom embarks on a summer camping trip with the six of us, Dad flying standby to join us during his two weeks off. We camp our way through state parks on the way to California to visit Dad’s relatives.

On the third camping trip, Dad’s mother, our Grandma Jo, joins us on the way back from California to the farm. While sewing clothes for my freshman year of college, she relays to me the family oral history of our Cherokee/Creek heritage and her Grandfather Watts. 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.

Through her wisdom, serenity, and kindness, Jo helps me understand my parents and prepares me for the next chapter in my life.

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 some characters’ names and the dates of some events.


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