I didn’t. But I was infatuated with the people on my pages: the Laplanders and their reindeer; the coal miners in Pennsylvania; the tiny people standing next to the Redwoods. I remember the black and white picture of a leaning tower in Italy. Surely it would fall before I ever saw it. I made my dolls costumes from other countries like the ones in our Brittanica, and pretended they were souvenirs from my visits to their countries. I wrote stories about those visits. I hated geography class, but my soul had wanderlust.
In my small town in Michigan going on a trip meant ...
After several years of happily ever aftering in several states with several children, his job with IBM included international travel: passport, shots, one that landed him in the hospital and nearly killed him. He eventually began to relax and enjoy the travel. When finances and children allowed it, I got a passport and accompanied him. As the children grew older I accompanied Girl Scouts to their “mother house” in Switzerland, did some backpacking in Europe with my troop, and managed vacation time with the husband who I thought would never travel. When each of our seven children graduated from high school they went on an international trip with just mom and dad, a special time together before they left on journeys of their own.
When grandchildren came along I wrote them books about our travels with pictures and tiny souvenirs hidden in the windows on the pages. I bound the books with plastic spirals.
I did get to see the Tower in Pisa, still standing, and many other amazing and beautiful sites in our world. I imagined that at this time of our lives, retirement, we would travel a lot to see new places and revisit our old romantic ones. But, the world today is different. The places we haven’t seen and would like to aren’t safe for U. S. citizens, and retirement finances change things. After thirty four years of airports twice a week, Dave is ready to stay home. And from what I see on the news, me too.
I still have wanderlust, but I’m enjoying my own country. There’s so much beauty here, so many interesting things to learn. No, our history isn’t thousands of years, but the history we have is exciting and unique. And we do have history that predates colonial times! I’ve seen mastodon and wooly mammoth bones.
I think it was my interest in the people on my geography book pages, where and how they lived their lives in different times, how they talked, what they wore, that made me a writer. I read Jack and Jill Magazine as a child and I wrote to a large number of pen pals. One girl lived in Kentucky. She sent me a box of real mistletoe. This was so exotic to me, a northern child. I used to write stories about imaginary people living the lives I read about in my hated geography book.
And now it’s my love of their places that puts me on the road selling my books. I’ve seen the Redwoods, and yes I felt tiny. I’ve seen the flat plains, home to Native Americans, and Laura Ingalls’ family. My favorite places of all have been here in the southeast, where I happen to live. I can go on the road, see and do and sell, and still do what my mother always told me to do in our little town. “Be home by dark.”