Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Young Authors

I first wrote this story for "The Story Telling Place" on Time Goes By. I was encouraged to re-publish this on my blog. If you have read this before please move on to another blog.

The Young Authors

By Darlene Costner

My family owned what was then called a Cottage Court and Trailer Park. One summer, when I was a young woman, I helped out by cleaning the cabins during tourist season. I would often run into two young budding authors, Howard and James, who shared a small travel trailer on our place. They usually left early in the morning to go to scenic outdoor areas to work on their manuscripts.

I had not been married very long then and didn't own a washing machine so I used the camp laundry room. As luck would have it I chose the same day that Howard and James did their laundry. They used to stand around urging me to hurry and finish so they could get their laundry out of the way and rush off to the Garden of the Gods, or wherever they were going that day.

Being a woman, I sorted my laundry into the usual piles; white, colored, delicate and jeans. Automatic washers were soon to be a necessity, but then we had to use a wringer washer with the accompanying three rinse tubs. Howard and James shortened the time spent by putting their entire laundry into one load and rinsing it in only one tub. When they hung their laundry out the entire wash was pale blue from the dye in their jeans. Curtains, underwear, everything - pale blue.

While they were staying at our place Howard Lindsey had a story published in the Ladies Home Journal about a little boy who almost hung himself. This was quite a big deal and the local radio station interviewed him and newspapers ran big stories about it. The guys were being sponsored by a doctor's wife and she came from her home town for the occasion. She told me that she always encouraged her young men to write about what they knew and that Howard was the young boy who had almost hung himself when he was a child. She also said James was writing a best seller. I thought, yeah right!

When the weather became cold the young men loaded up their tiny travel trailer to move on to warmer climates so they could continue their writing in the great outdoors. If you haven't guessed by now, James was the James Jones who wrote From Here To Eternity, an enormous best seller followed by the movie.

After the book was published, Mrs. Handy, the doctor's wife, wrote my parents telling them to be sure to get the latest edition of Holiday in which they were mentioned. James had written an article about the places he stayed while writing his best seller.

My step-father rushed to the book store to load up on the magazine. We never saw the magazine again after my step-father read the article. James had written that my step-father was the laziest man he ever knew; all he did was sit around all day drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette. Since it was true, I admit I got a perverse pleasure from that article.

James’ last book was, Go To the Widow Maker in which he related an episode when young artists stayed in the home owned by their sponsor. Recalling the words of Mrs. Handy, I felt like I was peeking through a keyhole. I won't relate the episode but those of you who may have read the book will probably know what I am referring to. The rest of you can use your imagination.


Looking to the Stars said...

Darlene, I LOVE THIS! what a joy to know a famous author as a person, before he makes it big. You have a LOT of gems in your life. Thanks so much for sharing :)

Betty said...

I've never met any authors who later became famous, but I was once asked to read a manuscript of a novel and give my opinion about whether it was good enough to be published. I thought it probably was, but I've never seen it on the bookshelves, so, I guess I was wrong. I still think it was better than most things being published these days.

Maggie said...

That's just delightful. Love it.

Nancy said...


What a story!! I enjoyed every word of it.

I especially liked the part about your step father and you never seeing the article in the magazine again.

Thanks for letting us in on this chapter of your life.

I loved "From Here To Eternity" both as a book and as a film. I think they were both wonderful..

kenju said...

Darlene, this is a great story!! Do you remember what year and month the Holiday Magazine came out?

Joy Des Jardins said...

That was wonderful Darlene. You have had some very interesting people in your life...and I'm glad you are sharing these stories with us.

Darlene said...

*Looking to the Stars - You can't live 84 years without picking up a few gems along the way.

*Betty - I was asked by a dear friend who had spent a year translating a novel from German to English to read part of it. It never got published either.

*Maggie - Thank you so much.

*Nancy - Thanks for prodding me to post this. My half sisters may never speak to me again for telling tales out of school about their dad, though. ;-)

*Kenju - Remember this is the gal who suffers from CRS. I guess I could do some research and come up with the year, but not the month.

*Joy - Thank you! You are such a love.

Darlene said...

Judy, I just researched the date the novel was published. The Holiday article probably came out that year, 1951. There was also another big spread about James giving Mrs. Handy a Cadillac convertible and a fur coat (Mink, I think.) There were photos of her standing next to the car wearing the coat. That article was in Life Magazine,if memory serves me correctly.

Tabor said...

What a nice memory. Little do we know about those who cross our lives unless they become famous.

Xtreme English said...

too cool! what a great post. pays to live a long time, don'tcha think?? you collect so many experiences that some of them turn out to be gems like this!!

Darlene said...

*Tabor - You are so right.

*Xtreme English - There has to be a few rewards along the way. ;-)