May, 2013:

AN ARMY BRAT IN LIBYA

Americans living in foreign countries, especially those in the military or other government service, tend to keep or renew their ties over the years. At least that’s been my experience with the “kids” I went to high school with at Wheelus Air Force Base just outside Tripoli, Libya in the 1950s. And since I’ve included experiences of living in Libya in my blog, students from  many classes, anywhere from the early 1950s to 1970 have gotten in touch to share their memories. We’ve all aged but the spirit of those long-ago days holds on and there have been many reunions of these students over the years. The most recent was this month in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In honor of that reunion, I’m posting information about the short book I wrote about my adventures, which is available on Amazon.

In the middle 1950s Tripoli was a bustling, cosmopolitan city inhabited by   Libyans, Italians, British, Americans and an assortment of other European and Middle Eastern nationalities. Both the British and the Americans had military bases, and international oil companies were drilling for the oil that would eventually make the country rich beginning in 1959. Libya, for the first half of the twentieth century under Italian rule, had only gained its independence in 1951, and that auspicious occasion had been marked by the renaming of a main thoroughfare, to be forever after known as 24 December Street.

Like many major events in the life of an Army brat, I wasn’t sure I wanted to uproot from the States and travel to such a strange land. I was shocked when my father received orders in 1955 to report to North Africa. We were stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, at the time, and Africa couldn’t have been more distant from civilization as far as my twelve-year-old mind was concerned. Morocco was our first assigned destination, specifically the peculiarly named Nouasseur. Orders were changed when Morocco had violent political problems and a few Americans were killed. My dad was reassigned to Wheelus Air Force Base just outside Tripoli.

My Army Corps of Engineers father, a lieutenant colonel, would command a military group that had something to do with maintaining the strategic airfield, the closest large American location to Russia, an important fact in those Cold War years. He would also be traveling to mysterious places such as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia.

 

To check on or download this Kindle book featured on my Amazon Author page, go to:   http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

 

Our little family, which included Darby, my two-year-old brother and  Tupper, my six-year-old sister, boarded a military prop plane at Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey the week before Thanksgiving, 1955. We left a snowy landscape and headed southeast over the Atlantic, our circuitous flight path leading us first to the tiny Azores Islands. Propeller-driven planes, not as efficient as jets, required refueling stops. We landed on the islands about 3 a.m. Azores time, were roused from sleep, and dependents and military personnel were herded off the plane onto waiting buses for a trip up a windy mountain road for breakfast in a non-commissioned officers club. A couple of hours later we were jammed back aboard, but mechanical difficulties kept us on the ground several more hours. When the plane was deemed airworthy, we were flown to Nouasseur Air Force Base in Morocco for another stop and finally on to Tripoli. Military planes, whether carrying troops or dependents, weren’t on fixed schedules. You landed when you landed.

What seemed like days but was more than likely some thirty hours later, we reached our new home. It was 9 p.m. in Tripoli, but after so many hours and so many time zones, who could tell? No snow on the ground here: the weather was temperate and probably no colder than 55 degrees. Only after a good night’s sleep would we regain our land legs and clarity of hearing – the noise and vibration of prop planes had a habit of disorienting the body, which included sight and hearing, for hours.

For more, order my book on Amazon. While you’re on the site, check out my other books.

IN CELEBRATION OF AMERICAN SERVICEMEN ON MEMORIAL DAY

Memorial Day reminds me of cemeteries and the fact I’m a proud Army brat. I’ve been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and watched as a trained soldier walked his special pace back and forth in front of the memorial. It’s a very moving ceremony and reminds me even more of my connection to the US Military. Because of modern technology, the Vietnam War unknown soldier has been identified using DNA. It seems unlikely now that there will be another unknown soldier.

 

Tomb of the Unknown – 1943 photo

Interestingly, I discovered this web photo was taken in 1943, the year of my birth!

The following is information from the official website: The Tomb of the Unknowns, near the center of Arlington National Cemetery, is one of Arlington’s most popular tourist sites.

The Tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from World War I and II, the Korean Conflict and (until 1998) Vietnam War. Each was presented with the Medal of Honor at the time of interment and the medals, as well as the flags, which covered their caskets, are on display at the Memorial Ampitheater directly to the rear of the Tomb.

The Tomb is guarded 24-hours-per-day and 365-days-per year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry (The Old Guard).

The Memorial Amphitheater has been the scene of the funerals of some prominent Americans (such as General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing) as well as the site of both Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations.

My birth father, Brigadier General V.W. Hobson is buried at Arlington National Cemetery; the stepfather who raised me, Colonel A.D. Williams, is buried in a military cemetery close to Provo, Utah. My mother, who died far too young at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, was first laid to rest in the Ft. Sam Houston cemetery in Texas and over 20 years later buried on top of my dad in the Utah cemetery. Both my fathers had military funerals.

There were no guns for my mother’s funeral but lots of tears and laughter as we remembered her. She died on May 21, 1974, close to Memorial Day. She loved to dance and enjoyed jazz. Her Texas funeral was held the day  the famous jazz musician Duke Ellington died. I remember radio stations announcing Ellington’s death and playing bits of his fantastic music. “Satin Doll” was very appropriate because it reminded me of my lively beautiful mother. Years later, My sister and I had our own private ceremony when we decided her coffin needed to be moved so that her grave would at least be close to family. After all, an Army wife is used to moving without being asked her opinion. I thought it was fitting that she was on top this time. As a matter of fact, she would have had a good laugh. Military wives learn early on to see humor almost everywhere.

Here’s to all those who have died for the good old USA, all those still protecting us, which now includes plenty of women, and to all the wives and families who support our military.

 

 

HAD ANY WEIRD DATES?

I love chronicling my real life adventures on my bi-weekly blog, but I also like to publicize the books and stories I’ve written. All of them are based on my life, even though I’ve changed the character names for the most part. Being single provided me with lots of dating experiences. The world is full of singles searching for  mates or even a decent relationship. But I’ve read that men do better in a marriage and women are happier being single. Life is certainly contradictory! The hunt for romance is such a popular topic that the LA Times is publishing a true story every week in their special Saturday section.

Here are two excerpts from my Kindle Single book on Amazon: Weird Dates and Strange Fates

A Single Gal’s Guide to Cross-Dressing

The man who answered the door was friendly and natural as he guided her into his house. Proudly telling her he had inherited the home from his uncle, he suggested they take a little tour. A typical one-story postwar 1950s home, it had nothing imaginative in its design, inside or out, but she pretended to be impressed. He led her through a step-down, rectangular living room and then outside to a concrete atrium whose only amenity was a hot tub and a few cheap and fading lounge chairs. Occasionally touching her elbow, he told her of plans to make a few changes here and there and asked her opinion. When he took her into his small square bedroom, she noted a white lacy negligee hanging over a closet door and beneath it, four-inch black spike heels.
“How do you like my new negligee?” he asked.
“It’s beautiful,” she responded evenly, wondering what revelations might come next.
“My wife liked me to wear lingerie to bed. Now I can’t sleep without it.”
She could tell he was watching and listening carefully for her reactions. So far she was accepting all of it as if it were all perfectly normal.
Back in the living room he showed her some photos of a recent costume party. “How do you like these? You see, here I am in my French maid’s costume.” He handed her the photo.
“Mmmm.” She didn’t know what to say as she looked down at the photo, which gave her time to compose herself. She was too startled after the negligee reference to take in the photo’s details.

The Dark Side

When the letter returned with no forwarding address a week later, I was tempted to drive to his apartment. Derek’s daughter lived across the street, but I didn’t know the address or remember the daughter’s last name. I had an odd feeling of apprehension as I pondered what could have happened and searched my memory for little details that might indicate what to do next. Had I missed some important minutiae about him in all these months? How well did I really know him? I reflected, as my mind raced with a slew of possibilities.
Derek had meant too much to me to let the matter drop. He couldn’t have just left, I reasoned. What of all his obligations, his children, his friends? He filled his life with so many people and duties; surely someone would have the answers.
I called the office again, remembering that Derek’s best friend, Tom, worked in the same building. Tom told me he couldn’t talk in the office; he would call me at home. His comment piqued my curiosity. What would he tell me that was so secret?
The following evening he telephoned, eager to share the story.
“You remember that Derek went back to Boston to spend Christmas with his aging parents. He said he probably wouldn’t be seeing them again. I just assumed he meant because they were getting older. Then Derek ended up talking to me for three hours after our office party the Friday before New Year’s. He usually scooted out of there right after work, no matter what.”
Tom continued, “Derek didn’t show up for work the Tuesday after the New Year holiday. When he didn’t come on Wednesday, I called his daughter, Susan. Susan hadn’t seen him in a couple of days, she said, but there was a letter from him on her desk. She said she’d check on things and call me back. When she called back a half hour later, she was hysterical.”

To read what happens in both stories, check out my Amazon link or just look up Victoria Giraud’s author page on Amazon.

THE CREATION OF MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE

                                                                                                                                                  
The cover of my historical fiction novel. To purchase in softcover or as an Ebook, go to red Amazon Publications link at top right of page. 

Writing a book is a fascinating process, a great deal of it unconscious. During the act of creation, you’re thinking about the story, planning how you’re going to do it, making notes, maybe using index cards for the various scenes. In my case, since I wrote an historical fiction novel, I needed to do lots of research into the 16th century: I loved the process. The Internet wasn’t the effective tool it is today and I used libraries for most of my research.

When I needed to describe a 16th century ship or the variety of clothing worn then, I headed for the children’s section of bookstores or libraries. Picture books were just the thing. I had to know how my heroine was going to accomplish her daring feat, how she would look, and  how her family home might look. The various Time-Life historical series were also a great help; they always had lots of graphics. I’ve always been a history buff and had attended many a Renaissance Faire where I’d seen Queen Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake in action, not to mention all the hired characters and faire-goers in costume.

It doesn’t take long before the story and its characters take control. You’re living with them in your head, so no wonder. Many authors verify that oddity. Behind-the-scenes, your subconscious and your own past mingle together in the ethers, at least that’s how I explain it. I did a lot of creating while I was swimming in a pool. Water was the best element to get my “flow” going, especially since I was devising a sea adventure.

I finished the book, after five years of creating, letting it lie dormant and then recreating. During one of my last readings/proofing of the book, I began to realize why many of my feelings had come forward, unconsciously, in the book. I had given my heroine a kindly, generous father and three brothers who spoiled her. She needed one brother’s help to fulfill her dream adventure of sailing with Francis Drake on one of his early voyages to the Caribbean.

My stepfather, the US Army officer who raised me, was a very thrifty taskmaster. He saved his charm for others, his strong sense of discipline for the  family. How clever and comforting for me to create an imaginary father I would have completely enjoyed!  What fun to be the heroine who succeeds in her adventure! Plus, interestingly enough, actual history made it easy to manipulate and blend real facts with my imagination.

Being an Army brat has fed my sense of adventure but I can’t compare my exploits to Melaynie, my heroine.  I’ve crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times and the Mediterranean twice, which probably made it easier for me to relate to an ocean voyage.  Melaynie has many of my traits—how could she not! Her feminist ideas were mostly mine, but I wasn’t consciously creating them. All these factors snuck up on me! Or did they?

                                                                                                                                
                                                                      Tin replica of a 16th century Spanish ship — my hint of creative things to come, purchased 15 years before I started writing my book.

CASABLANCA — AS TIMES GOES BY…

California is the home of celluloid and now digital dreams. Since I’m a movie lover, especially of the old classics, I would naturally be attracted to a film theme restaurant. When my daughter Heidi suggested the small and cozy Casablanca Restaurant in Venice for Mother’s Day, I couldn’t wait. I’ve been eating Mexican cuisine there since the 1990s, although not frequently enough.

LeaveVenice4Morocco

As the name suggests, the restaurant celebrates the 1943 Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman film. A poster of Bogart, dressed in a trench coat, watched over our champagne brunch, which we shared with Heidi’s entertaining friend Wayne and his delightful mother Carolyn. They had never been to this charming eatery.

Bogart

Owner, Carlos Raphael Haro, Jr. (his father, Carlos Haro, Sr. opened the restaurant in 1980) has added to his large collection of Casablanca memorabilia over the years. We were in a booth with an old movie projector from the film in a wood and glass box on one side. All the walls in this cozy place are covered with framed photos, wall paintings or framed paintings of scenes from the movie. The ladies’ restroom has Ingrid Bergman on the door; the men’s room door says Humphrey Bogart.

As word spread around Los Angeles about the restaurant’s theme, the owner received all kinds of objects having to do with the film. A page of the script, for instance. And Carlos would look around for extra souvenirs to put on display in the restaurant. There’s even a small piano that’s a duplicate of the one used in the movie to play the famous, “As Time Goes By.”

Sam-NY Time

The food is also unique: homemade flour tortillas are made on a brick stove in front of customers. The tortillas are probably 12 inches in diameter (although I didn’t measure them) and are accompanied by an unusually tasty green salsa that has little chunks of cheese in it. Since they are known for their calamari steak, I indulged. I opted for the champagne, however, instead of their amazing selection of tequilas.

Since I had decided to write about our dining adventure, I interviewed the amiable owner and he gave us a tour of the restaurant. Turns out he is a writer like me and has written three novels in Spanish, which, according to their website, “incorporate Mexican folklore, cuisine and music.”

CasaBlanceOutside

I remembered the days when the waiters all wore the typical Morrocan red fez hat and asked what had happened to eliminate that fashion statement! I had heard they couldn’t order the hats any more, but Carlos told me the real reason was that busy waiters would sweat too much under the close-fitting chapeau!

The waiters, by the way, were an extra bonus: they were friendly, attentive, and aimed to please. The expression on our waiter’s face expressed humor and reminded me a bit of comedian Bill Dana’s famous character, Jose Jimenez on TV in the 1960s.

 

 

 

I REMEMBER MAMA ON MOTHER’S DAY

My mama, as she would refer to herself in the Southern way, was a “pistol.” My dad called her “Pistol-packin’ mama;” the phrase is from an old country song. He was right: those were qualities an Army officer’s wife had to learn as she stood up for herself and her children (she raised three of us).

As the seventh of eight children, Mom had practiced being her own person early in life. When it’s Mother’s Day, I remember Mama and all the effort she put into making sure her kids had the best she could give. In retrospect, I can truly appreciate her creative efforts, which came right from her heart. It’s difficult to write this story without tears: Garnette Motley Williams died 39 years ago this month. She wasn’t quite 53. She didn’t go to college, but she knew a great deal about life and how to treat people with love and consideration. She let her heart dictate and then she went for it–whatever she chose to do– with enthusiasm and energy.

                                                                                                                             
Passport photo –Tupper, Victoria, Darby, Garnette

Besides being the best wife, mother, sister, cousin and friend she could manage, her primary talent was sewing.   She tried her hand and/or Singer at almost everything stitchable: slipcovers and drapes, specialized window coverings (swag and jabot, Empire style sheer curtains), men’s shirts and ties, children’s clothing and almost any fashionable garment for women. When I was younger I had a Madame Alexander doll, about six inches tall, and she made tiny outfits for it. Her creations for me assured that I’d be stylish despite my dad’s thrifty habits. She kept the old Singer sewing machine humming; it came along with us to various Army posts, including Tripoli, Libya. During my teenage years in the Middle East, we found material, probably in an Italian shop, and set up our version of an assembly line to sew clothes for the two of us. Mom and I wore the same size and would pick out a pattern that was suitable for both, although we’d use material of different colors and patterns. We didn’t want to look like twins!  I would cut out the pattern and sew the darts, for instance, and Mom would put in the zippers and work on anything difficult. I still remember the cotton 1950s style scoop-neck sundresses: hers had a black background with a lively print; mine was red. Those were the years of puffy crinoline underskirts, which girls had to starch and keep clean to keep their outer skirts sticking out. Mom came up with the unusual idea to use soft plastic chicken wire as an underskirt. It kept its shape longer and was easy to keep clean. As I remember, I didn’t wear it often because it was a little too unique, and I was wary that someone might discover it.

In later years, when I was in college, she made me some elegant party clothes: a spaghetti-strap basic black satin dress with a little short-sleeved jacket with a scalloped bottom that I wore to a college dance, and a sexy, form-fitting black wool sheath with a boat neck and long sleeves I wore to several parties. There were many more creations, but the only garment I still have is my wedding gown. I got married in Germany in the ‘60s while my parents were stationed in Frankfurt. My mother found the ideal satin and lace material, and the perfect net for a veil, and it looked divine. It even had a small train. The gown is stored in a box, without all the fancy acid-free tissue of today. Even though I wonder what shape it’s in, it’s comforting to know I still have it. The only garment Mom didn’t make for my wedding was Dad’s suit. Interestingly enough, the wedding dress design  is somewhat similar to the one worn  not long ago  by the new Princess Catherine of the United Kingdom.

Mama on my Wedding Day–she made her dress.

Years later, Mom made my cousin Penny’s wedding gown and her bridesmaids’ dresses as well. After all the work on Penny’s gown, Mom ironed it, but the iron was too hot and lifted off some of the material on the front of the dress. Mom agonized, but Penny’s sense of humor and practicality wouldn’t let my mother fret.  “I’m glad it’s you who did it and not me! It doesn’t matter because my flowers will cover it,” Penny declared.  After the ceremony and a few glasses of champagne, Penny cared even less: it was a funny sorry to tell all her guests. I didn’t always appreciate Mom’s talents. Regrettably, especially in college, I envied the girls whose parents gave them money to buy clothes in a department store. It was only later that I figured out that my mama’s talented fingers created original attire for me, and they were sewn with all the love she could give. She created clothes for me that could never be bought.

Oh, my Mama Mia, I miss you so!

WANDERINGS ON THE WARNER BROS. LOT

 

Warner Bros. Studios is about fifteen minutes from my home in the San Fernando Valley.   That area in Burbank is filled with entertainment industry icons:  Disney Animation, and NBC where the Tonight Show is filmed. Adjacent to the various studios is Forest Lawn Hollywood cemetery and the huge Griffith Park. If you’re hungry for a hamburger, there’s the famous Bob’s Big Boy, open in Burbank since 1949.   Over the years, for a variety of reasons, I’ve made several visits to Warner Bros. Studios.  I would venture to guess that a large percentage of Southern Californians know someone who is in, as they call it here, The Industry.  Be it an Accountant on a film set, a Grip, a Best Boy, a First Assistant Director, or a Second Assistant Director, a Unit Production Manager, or even one of the actors in television or movies.

During the years of “Designing Women” on TV, I became friends with Carolisa, one of the assistant producers. I had written a screenplay about English pirate hero Sir Francis Drake (It was titled El Dragon at that time, after Drake’s Spanish nickname). Carolisa gave the script to Meshack Taylor, one of the stars of the popular series, because there was a possible part for him. I attended one of the show’s tapings at Warner Bros. and got to meet Meshack in person. He told me he loved my script and commented enthusiastically: “It is beautiful.”  Who knows, some day that script may find its way to the screen.

Another friend, Max, worked on many films on that lot, like Barbara Streisand’s “Nuts,” which, apparently, drove many of the cast and crew nuts. During one of my low cash flow times, she tried to get me a secretarial type job on one of the many projects there, and I remember working at a typewriter for a day. One of the advantages of being on the lot was observing all the permanent sets, the office of Clint Eastwood, some of the filming action and meeting a few people. She introduced me to producer Paul Monash (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) in the parking garage and William Shatner during a break in his TV series at the time, “T.J. Hooker.” (I’ve written about that episode previously). Leading me around the streets and back lots, Max and I sneaked into the very private set of Steven Speilberg’s “Goonies”—the pirate ship in a cove!

A few years later I went to Warner Bros. to do an interview with TV and stage actor Lane Davies  (soaps such as “Santa Barbara,”  “Days of Our Lives” and various series). He asked me to come to the lot so I could watch him play Tempus, a psychopathic time-traveler, on the Superman series “Lois & Clark.” While they were filming a scene, I sat watching it with star Dean Cain’s stunt double. He was a friendly fellow and curious who I was. He asked if I had been in Arnold Swarzenegger’s “Terminator” films! Since I was not a Terminator fan and hadn’t seen them, I couldn’t even think of a plausible lie!

                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                    Warner Bros. Studios

A HOT TIME IN SO CAL – WINDS OF FIRE

It’s not even summer or fall yet, but So Cal may face one of the worst fire seasons in many a year. The Springs fire started on May 2 and so far has burned more than 28,000 acres of brush and trees in the Camarillo/Newbury Park area. This year was a very dry one— only 5 inches of rain and we don’t have rain in the summer for the most part. The rainy season doesn’t usually start until November.  But we are a state of great contrasts. In the fall we get the Santa Ana winds that blow from the deserts in the east and blast their way west as temps rise toward and past 100 degrees. Some fires begin accidentally; others are deliberately set. This current fire is about 60% contained and there’s hope it will be over very soon since the weather did a complete turnaround–from 94 and higher to the 60s!

I’ve experienced many massive wildfires during over 40 years here. I remember one specifically while living in the Conejo Valley area, northwest Los Angeles County, which is essentially where the current fire is burning. The Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains are considered prime fire territory. I learned a great deal about fires from direct experience and from being the Editor of the local Acorn newspaper.

A fire is an exciting topic when you write the news. Since I knew people all around the area, I could get a variety of personal stories when the October 1982 fire roared into town. Costs were estimated at $5 million then—probably a pittance compared to current fires. This fire started close to Bell Canyon, an exclusive area of homes to the east of Agoura, on a Saturday and burned 54,000 acres and 65 homes before it ended in Malibu on a Sunday. It followed a typical pattern: racing from one set of mountains and a valley before leaping the 101 Freeway, then burning through the Santa Monica Mountains before reaching the beach. Fires in the last few years in Southern California have been even more extensive and damaging.

My family home was spared; we lived in Hillrise, a housing development north or the freeway surrounded mostly by wild grass and some oak trees. Grass burns rapidly if the fire is close enough but it’s easier to control; the fire doesn’t stick around to really take hold, unlike the highly combustible chaparral in the mountainous areas (referred to as a bush fire). I climbed the hill behind my house to watch in horror and fascination as the smoke, propelled by strong winds, climbed into the skies and the fire got closer. How people fared depended on where they lived and if they’d cleared the brush around their property.

The photo below is the smoky view from my backyard hill.

 In Old Agoura, a nearby neighborhood north of the 101 Freeway full of small ranches and various animals, friend Rita was terrified in her home, still under construction. “We lost wood, paint, and the hen coop,” she said. “But the chickens lived. I don’t think they will ever lay again!”

Toni, who lived south of the freeway in the vegetation-rich mountains, struggled to keep control of her horses while she hosed down the hill behind her home. Just as the fire seemed to get out of control, a fire engine arrived. The noise spooked a horse, which lost its footing and rolled on top of Toni’s sister. Paramedics took the slightly injured sister to a nearby hospital, and she was fine.

“The wind strength was unreal and the smoke so dense you couldn’t see the flames,” said Fran Pavley, who also lived south of the freeway.  Pavley, who has been politically active for years, still lives in the area and now serves as a California State Senator.

When fires consume the vegetation in the canyons prevalent throughout Southern California, there can be hell to pay for residents of these bucolic areas, and to those who fight the fires. A fire chief told me that one of the fires that had burned through steep and scenic Malibu Canyon was left to burn itself out. The energy generated was more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in WWII.

Nature always regenerates. After a fire, spring brings flowers that hadn’t been seen since the last fire, perhaps many years before.

 

Fire in Malibu in 2007

 

 

 

 

MY ANCESTOR, THE GOVERNOR OF NORTH CAROLINA

As I mentioned in recent blogs, Obedience Motley, my Virginia relative who was born before the Revolutionary War and lived until 1863, the Civil War years, gave birth to a distinguished North Carolina governor, John Motley Morehead. I think she deserves a lot of the credit for ensuring he was broadly educated, became a lawyer and capped his career with the governorship.

 

Governor John Motley Morehead

Governor John Motley Morehead

The painting I posted above shows he was a handsome man and remained attractive until he died in 1866, only a few years after his beloved mother and after the Civil War. Funny how his hair looks like the latest style! Is there something special in the soil of Pittsylvania County, Virginia? Morehead was born on a farm there on July 4, 1796. Nancy Langhorne Astor was born there in 1879, and I was born there in the 1940s. Morehead became a governor; Nancy married England’s Lord Astor, and when he died became the first woman in British Parliament. Interesting connections, although I’m stretching it to compare myself to these illustrious folks, and I have no desire for public office! I’ll stick with writing, blogs and editing!

Morehead wasn’t the typical farm boy; Obedience used money from the farm produce and animals to send John to study Latin and then to attend the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. After he graduated in 1817, he studied law, and by age 25 was serving in the North Carolina state assembly.

He and his wife Eliza Lindsay were married in 1821, moved to Greensboro, North Carolina and had eight children.

Apparently, he made a good impression on the residents of Raleigh since their newspaper, the Raleigh Register said in 1842 when Morehead became Governor that he was, “A fine orator, a good scholar and is justly considered a man of fine talents. There is something noble in his ordinary appearance; his private conversation is always remarkably interesting, and when speaking, his fine appearance, his manner and gestures are well calculated to make an impression on all present that he is no ordinary man.”

A Virginia Historical Marker about Morehead

A Virginia Historical Marker about Morehead

 

Because of his enthusiasm for public works, a railroad system in North Carolina, for instance, he was called the “Architect and Builder of Public Works.” One statesman in North Carolina called him The Father of Modern North Carolina.

In reading about this fascinating relative, there were a couple of factors that stood out for me: As a North Carolina representative in a conference to avoid the Civil War, in 1860, he did what he could to preserve the Union.   People considered him to have a sparkling wit, to be a courteous gentleman, and to have the best control of his temper of anyone they knew.

Wouldn’t it be fun to go back in time to meet your relatives?

 

 

 

 

 

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