Prologue: Homer recounts his move to Widespot.
I remember the first time I set eyes on the place. It was right cold for spring and the grasses had a blanket of hoar frost. Beulah said it was right pretty, all sparkly in the morning sun. I picked up my bride and gave her a big kiss.
“You’ll always be the prettiest thing around here.”
“Laws, Homer, set me down!” she giggled.
I loved her giggle. Shoot, there was nothing about her I DIDN’T love. Way back then I never would have believed that, forty years later, I would love her even more.
T’weren’t nothing here but trees and good soil, but we were young and strong and eager to build a life together. Both us grew up on farms so we knew hard work. We knowed each other since we were knee high to a grasshopper, and we took to each other right off. But our folks didn’t take kindly to that AT all. See, back then, in southern towns, black and white folks were cordial enough to each other, but each thought they should marry up with “their own”. Beauly is a delicious chocolate; when I tell her how tasty she looks to me, she says I’m tasty too, but look like pudding with raisins (I have freckles, and no matter how much time I get sunbaked, I don’t brown up).
When we got to be teenagers her parents laid down the law; “Leave that boy be, or we’ll ship you off to your aunt Dooty in Fayetteville”. Well, we had put up with getting the stink eye (and worse) from ‘bout everybody, but that was the last straw. We ran off together, me with a tote of clothes, her with the money she had saved from cleaning and cooking for folks. I swan she made the best apple pie, even at 17! And she insisted on bringing a toy bear, said it was her “lovie” when she was a baby and she was set on passing it down to HER babies.
Homer built a one-room cabin, and they both put in a large garden. But by fall Beulah was feeling poorly, having crying spells or just holding her bear as she sat on the sofa. Homer tried to comfort her, but felt helpless.
The actual Chapter 1 will start with the family as it first appeared in WIdespot, with Homer and Beulah elders, their adult daughter Mary pregnant but unmarried, teens Dixie and Scott, and children River and Delta. "Telling" the story will be members of the family. While other members of this "wide spot in the road" will be mentioned as they relate to the Lands, THEIR stories will come later. But in the meantime, two of the important founding families will be introduced.
Daytona Beech and Lana Mann had known each other since high school in Pine Crest, where Lana’s father had been mayor. Daytona’s family owned the whole valley that came to be called Widespot; naturally the two most influential families socialized. When the university was built in Pine Crest businesses and people poured in, and as the Beech family started to sell land in Widespot they built an impressive home there, as did the Manns. Soon to follow were the Land, Hart, and Weiss families.
They were all elders now, and had known each other for decades, but Sky Weiss and Homer Land were still considered odd. Sky and Homer thought people hated them because of the color of their family members; they were wrong.
: My son, Hamilton, has been a disappointment ever since he brought Sandy home from University. But I have hopes my grand-daughter, Virginia, will be a fitting heir. She’s an honor student, and a serious girl. I have paid for a face reconstruction for her, knowing how the public favors beauty. Her brother Rocky is also there, but seems to be as foolish as Hamilton was in college. At least Hamilton has some social skills; I gave him a job in our “Welcome Committee”, with strict orders to report back to be with useful information. He was the first to report the unsociableness of the Weiss and Land families, which even my “contacts” can’t explain.
His useless wife Sandy is a hypochondriac, and worse. I’m certain her latest “illness” was pregnancy, which my contacts tell me was terminated. Just as well; one investigator said she had been raped by Rhett Hart (not the first, or the last, time I’ve heard such things about him!) But I think that old lothario Valentine charmed her pants off. Between you and me, when we were young Valentine and I had a very…satisfying…relationship. Hamilton is clueless about all this (his usual state of mind), but he’s lucky to have found someone to put up with him.
: Well, of course I know Daytona Hamilton. I’ve known her since we were young married women, and both of us were having affairs with Valentine Hart! HA! She always thought she was so sly no one knew; no wonder she wants to be mayor, she THINKS like a politician. Now that she and Valentine have lost their spouses nobody even cares they are still carrying on; but when I told her that, she acted like Mrs. Crumplebottom. She’s always been low-class, even if her family DID own all that useless land.
MY affair didn’t matter, as Rich and I always had an “open marriage”, but I always loved him. Valentine is as suave as ever and I could have him any time. But I’ve seen him with college girls (so has Daytona – you should have SEEN her face!) but it seems so tacky now.
Besides, Valentine is “family” now; his daughter Candy is married to my son, Junior. I know the little gold-digger got pregnant on purpose so Junior’s father would insist they marry. You can bet I sat her down and laid down the law! If she was joining THIS family she would follow my directions about proper attire and behavior. Her eyes glazed over when I showed her the wedding dress I had bought. The empire waist and yards of imported lace would hide her little belly, and the hand-beaded bodice was exquisite. When I showed her the jeweled bridal veil, with matching diamond earrings, I believe she started to drool.
The wedding will be an important event.