Tag Archives: history

“Do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”

My father passed away on Sunday, April 12, 2015 quietly in his home at the age of seventy-seven. He went to church, came home, hung up his suit, took a nap and went to his heaven. The pastor said his sermon that day was about Heaven and I think ole Henry was just ready to be there. Three years ago in February he had a coronary bypass graft and we were afraid we might lose him even then, but that didn’t happen and we were given a few more years of precious time with him.

For six weeks in 2012, I was able to spend time with him while he recuperated from that surgery.  We needed that time together. He was a great storyteller. Most of the way I helped was by listening to the stories he shared with me about his life and events that occurred in the 1950s and 60s, the social injustice of the era. Inspired by his stories, a cousin’s stories, and a ledger he knew I had discovered in 1992, I came home and on April 12, 2012, I began to write a book. I would love to share those stories with you.

I appreciate the life and time he gave me. May he rest in peace.

My husband is, like my father, Henry Koone, was, a not-so-anonymous recovering alcoholic. I attend open meetings with my husband and one of the things they say in the rooms of AA is,

“Do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”

When you bury the past and fail to look back you miss the opportunity to grow and learn, to develop insight and character. While it may not be healthy to dwell or live in your past, in it there are lessons we will find nowhere else.

Experience, strength and hope!

The Promises go on to say, “We will comprehend the word serenity and know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole outlook on life will change. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

I watched my father go through some dramatic changes over the course of the past fifty-four years and I learned the meaning of forgiveness.

He taught me about unconditional love.

I learned from the experiences, strengths and hopes we shared.

There is much social injustice in this world but change begins with each and every individual. Looking back at the past, in the manner that my historic novel does, it is my hope that the reader can recognize the harm of social injustice, oppression, poverty and ignorance, and perhaps develop some insights, in addition to being entertained. It isn’t a preachy book, but one that tells the stories of those who lived in an era we must move forward out of, never forgetting the sacrifices of those who came before us.

“A fictionalized true story of life in the Deep South during the time of Jim Crow Law, and before Roe vs. Wade. Women were supposed to keep quiet and serve, abortion was illegal, adoption difficult, and racism rampant. The discovery of an old ledger opens a window into the dynamics of the 1950s-60s.

Unspoken secrets are shared between Beatrice, The Good Doctor’s wife, and Moses Grier, their black handyman. The Grier’s daughter, Althea, suffers a tragedy that leaves her family silent and mournful. Her brother, Nathan, a medical student, looks for answers from a community that is deaf, blind, and dumb.

A summer romance between Nathan and Sybil, an independent, high-spirited, white woman, leaves more unresolved. Nathan is thrust into the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Sybil is torn between living the mundane life of her peers, or a life that involves fastening herself to a taboo relationship. Witness social progress through the eyes of those who lived it.”

Reviews are appreciated.

Old World and New World Florida

Being a bit of a history buff, I miss being in one of the thirteen original colonies. Our fair city of Orlando in Central Florida is not like the ones you see up north, along the Atlantic seaboard or on the coast. Our history beyond the orange groves, old ranches and fruit, flower, and vegetable farms is practically non-existent. There are only a handful of old buildings near the railroad tracks, Church Street Station. Old World Florida is not far away.

001Florida really didn’t get very well settled until the advent of “refrigerated air” in the fifties. Air-conditioning brought hoards down and there was a boom in resorts being established. It became a vacation spot. The beaches have always been a draw, but the interior took even longer to develop.


The cool crystal clear springs, like Silver Springs where the movie and Tarzan series was filmed, all had resort communities established around them. Glass bottom boats were the rage.

The resorts spread from the panhandle to the Keys. Miami exploded into haven for the rich and famous. People from all over the country flocked to Florida and many retired here to avoid the cold winters. Snowbirds continue to winter over here, but millions have made Florida their permanent home.

The Orlando area was backwoods swamp country, cattle range and orange grove before Disney came to town. Much of the area was drained to make way for new development. An agricultural hub, many immigrants settled here after years of nomadic fruit and vegetable picking. The community is vastly culturally diverse.

Mansions sit next door to shacks all over the community.

As Orlando grew, with dozens of theme parks, the metropolitan area covered three counties. Everything is new. All the tall buildings, the condos, banks, towering office complexes, expressways and several hospitals were constructed in the past forty years. New World Florida found a foothold.


We have traffic issues that resulted from the population explosion and local government’s inability to keep up. But it is still a very pretty town. There are little parks and lakes galore. Florida is like a sponge with ponds and lakes on every corner. The terrain is flat and the only winding you see is when a road meanders around a lake. There are numerous enclaves of diverse populations  with colorful open air markets, festivals and al fresco dining on artsy sidewalks that line the cobblestoned streets.


This next image is heading south on Orange Avenue directly through the center of downtown.


Here are a few photos of my favorite park on Lake Eola. It’s located in the center of town where you can dine overlooking the New World Florida cityscape. Yet, it maintains a tropical feel and enough cypress and palms to recall Old World Florida.

What is the history of your community?

Crime Novel/Murder Mystery Setting

My work in progress is a crime novel/murder mystery. It is set in both Orlando and at a fictional resort I created that was inspired by my family’s resort near Kissimmee, Florida. I posted this link on my Facebook page (there’s a little thingy you can click on to the right over here if you have not joined that club yet, JSYK), I am posting it here also. My apologies if you feel you are being spammed, but we’re a proud bunch.

If you have not seen this already, you may enjoy. Most of my followers know my family has a nudist resort here in Florida. This article Ted Hadley, my cousin, posted on the website, is a good history of the Cove, although my Aunt Pete gave me a slightly different history. I could add more to the story…like how my hometown reacted when I let the cat out of the bag that Uncle Jim had a nudist resort instead of a Standard Oil Company in Florida. It’s a cool article if you’re into history, comes with photographs. Thanks to my artist friend Dave Winarchik for bringing this to my attention.

Jim Hadley was my mother’s mother’s brother.

Check it out!



Charlie Joseph’s, a LaGrange, Georgia, Icon

Charlie Joseph’s

Do you have one of those places visited in your childhood that you will never forget?  Is there an iconic restaurant that you dined in as a child or a place that you were allowed to be grown up in?  Is it still there?774_content___media_external_images_media_8 (1)

Charlie Joseph’s is one of those places to me.  My father would send us from his uptown office to Charlie Joseph’s with a few dollars, real money, along with his order.  We would walk up to the outside window and order tube steaks with chili and cheese, and chips to take back to the office for lunch.  It made us feel so grown up to be given that responsibility.


Charlie Joseph’s is iconic in my small town.  It has been there since time immemorial.  My Aunt would take us there as small children where we dined inside to the juke box sounds.  She said that Charlie made his own hot dogs from fresh meats, spiced just right, ground and stuffed right there.  Although I do not believe that they do this anymore.  Only Coke-a-Cola products are served at Charlie Joseph’s774_content___media_external_images_media_10

Trent sends Sybil out for tube steaks from Charlie Joseph’s in “Red Clay and Roses”.  It is the only dining establishment in my small hometown from my youth that remains fully functioning on Bull Street Downtown.  They have even opened another one on West Point Road.  It has been passed through three generations.560_IMG_0002 (1)


Joey Keeth’s grandfather, Charlie Joseph originated from Zahle, Lebanon.  Before 1920, he migrated to LaGrange, Georgia, and peddled fruit from a horse and buggy in the LaGrange and surrounding areas.  In 1920,  He started the Charlie Joseph’s Restaurant at 107 Main Street, LaGrange, Georgia.  Charlie Joseph and his wife successfully ran the restaurant for twenty-six years together.


  Sometime in 1946, the restaurant was moved to 128 Bull Street, where the oldest location is today.  Charlie Joseph passed away suddenly two weeks before the restaurant location was moved, and the ownership was changed to Solomon Joseph, Charlie Joseph’s son. 


In 1985, Joey Keeth purchased Charlie Joseph’s from his uncle, Solomon Joseph, and opened a new location at 2238 West Point Road, LaGrange, Georgia in 1992.  Joey Keeth has worked at Charlie Joseph’s for over thirty-eight years.  Joey Keeth values the lessons learned over the years working with his family, and looks forward to sharing them with future generations in his family to come.

What Icons remain in your hometown? What responsibilities did you have as a child that made you feel grown up, or important?

What is Faction?

What is Faction?

No, I did not misspell the word fiction.

Faction:  Webster

1: a party or group (as within a government) that is often contentious or self-seeking: clique

2: party spirit especially when marked by dissension.

I know, in literary terms, that tells the reader nothing.

Wikipedia, while not always the most reliable dictionary, often explains the definition of contemporary word usages that might not have become acceptable standards.

Faction: Wikipedia

  1:  Faction (literature), a type of historical novel rooted in fact.

A faction is a non-fiction novel.

The non-fiction novel is a literary genre which, broadly speaking, depicts real historical figures and actual events woven together with fictitious allegations and using the storytelling techniques of fiction. The non-fiction novel is an otherwise loosely defined and flexible genre. The genre is sometimes referred to as or faction, a portmanteau of “fact” and “fiction”.

Historical fiction, by definition, is a fictional story that is written about a time before the author’s birth.

All fiction, to some degree, is based on the author’s real life experiences as well as imagination and creativity. Fiction writers have often  been called the world’s greatest liars. 🙂 A non-fiction novel can be written about a historical event or real events in a person’s life or in the character’s lives. A non-fiction novel is less of a lie.

In the 1970s non-fiction novels were all the rage. Since the ’70s, the non-fiction novel has somewhat fallen out of favor. However, forms such as the extended essay, the memoir, and the biography (and autobiography) can explore similar territory.  I would like to see a resurgence in popularity of the non-fiction novel as I have always been fond of “true stories” and the storytelling experience.

Norman Mailer‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning Armies of the Night is perhaps the most critically appreciated non-fiction novel, a narrative which is split into a history and a novel, and which autobiographically recounts the March on the Pentagon in 1967 from the third person.

In contrast, Non-fiction (or nonfiction) is the form of any narrativeaccount, or other communicative work whose assertions and descriptions are understood to be empirically factual. Some non-fiction may include elements of unverified suppositiondeduction, or imagination for the purpose of smoothing out a narrative, but the inclusion of open falsehoods would discredit it as a work of non-fiction. Some fiction may include non-fictional elements

The first line of my novel’s dedications and disclaimers page causes people to do a double take.   This sentence states, “Inasmuch as this is a work of fiction based on a true story, references to real people, events, establishments, organizations or locales are intended only to provide the reader a sense of authenticity and are used fictitiously.”  How can it be fiction and be true?facebook-header6.jpg

My novel, Red Clay and Roses, is a non-fiction novel.  The novel is faction.  It is a fictional account of a true story.  It is not historical fiction, by definition, because much of it occurred after the time of my birth.  (Hey, I am not THAT old!)  It is; however, a historical account of a true story which is written in the style and manner of fiction.  Facts regarding what actually occurred have been imaginatively woven into the story.  The events in the story are true events and the people are real people.  Embellishments came in the form of dialog and additional narrative concerning people who are no longer living or people who were telling me about other people (ie. I could not ask them what they were thinking when this or that event occurred or how they would have reacted.  I only had the storyteller’s information as it was related to me either years ago or through a third party.)

It is not an essay, a memoir or an autobiography.  It is a story about the lives of real people during a time in history when the world was going through very dramatic changes.  During this time, blacks (or any people of color) and women in the South had much fewer opportunities and suffered serious oppressions.  Non-white men were seen as the enemy.  This was the general undertone, although there were individual exceptions. Unconstitutional laws were repealed, but it took society a long time to respect the new law and to enforce it due to generations of indoctrination.  In many ways, we still are not there yet.  Times were even more drastically different in the 1950-60s and early 1970s.

jim_crow2Photo credit: Mr. Nussbaum.com

Jim Crow Law not only allowed for discrimination, it encouraged the bigotry in society.  Blacks could not dine in the same restaurants as whites, drink from the same water fountains, utilize public transportation the same way, and attend white schools, or frequent public libraries or swimming pools. It was not simply discouraged for blacks and whites to mingle, it was against the law. It is difficult to imagine such times as these now.

Women were expected to be domestic, to stay home and cook, clean sew and serve.images (2)  Although WWII brought many women into the workforce, by the early fifties women were back into their traditional roles.  Men had little involvement in the actual child-rearing process. Women also carried the brunt of reproductive rights and responsibilities, as they do for the most part today, Orders to pay child support were not enforced.

The book is set in small town USA, in a very real place, where the events truly did occur.  The dialog and story narrative have been fabricated to some extent to allow for the fictional sense and feel of the read.  There are embellishments to the extent that much of the story was based on old interviews, the stories of a few people, and the diaries of one individual.Render 2

I don’t know if my mini research paper has clarified or confused the reader further, but it is the best explanation I can come up with for my literary work and its design.  The paperback with a slight revision of the first chapter will be available soon. ~ S. K. Nicholls