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Twelfth Summer is the first in the series of eight historical novels set in the 1940's. Each of the books is fast paced-containing adventure, danger, sadness and ...
Twelfth Summer is the first in the series of eight historical novels set in the 1940's. Each of the books is fast paced-containing adventure, danger, sadness and hilarity. Fishing, a secret hideaway, a hurricane and a cousin's wedding all conspire to make the summer on the coast with grandparents anything but ordinary. The Bowers children learn from parents and grandparents the importance of family ties strengthened by traditional values. Using good manners and showing respect for others is learned and maintained within the family unit.
Thirteenth Summer follows. Sarah Bowers looks forward to once again spending time with her maternal grandparents in the little town by the sea. She renews friendships made the summer before, observes and is influenced by their attitudes, beliefs and diverse personalities. Sarah makes a tough choice because it is the right thing to do. She watches as her younger brother courageously brings home a stray dog and stands strong before the disapproving looks of his mother, grandmother and most of all, Clara, the cook. Sarah receives a strange request from a special someone in Canton, Ohio.
Fourteenth Summer finds Sarah in Beaufort because of the threat of infantile paralysis. Characters from the first two books are reintroduced. Throughout the book Sarah, her friend Nancy and Granny Jewel embark on the daunting task of finding a suitable bride for Uncle Herb. He surprises all with a request to bring someone home to dinner. Sarah is asked secretly if she would return the following summer and be a bridesmaid.
"No, Daddy. Please don't go! You can't leave us!" These were the heart-rending words of Sarah Bowers. Her father was telling his family farewell for what could be a long time. She looked imploringly at her mother as tears stung her eyes. "Mama, tell him he can't go be in the army. We want him to stay home with us."
Peggy Bowers, Sarah's mother, tried to comfort her daughter as she stood in the front yard of her parents' home. "Sarah, honey, give your father one last hug and join your brother and grandparents in the house. Daddy has to go. We don't want him getting back to Raleigh late tonight."
Once more Sarah threw her arms around her father's neck as he leaned down for a final hug. She closed her eyes and bit her top lip to keep from bursting in tears. Her throat ached as she choked out the words, "I love you, Daddy. I'll pray for you every night and even during the day. Please hurry back to us."
"I'll do my best, Sissy. But, it's not up to me. You know I'll be back as soon as possible." Sarah closed her eyes tightly. The odor of her father's after shave still lingered after the long, hot drive from Raleigh, one hundred and fifty miles away.
"Give me a big smile, Sissy, before I go. That's how I want to remember you." Sarah dropped her arms and began backing away, trying valiantly to smile for her daddy. It was so hard to do with a trembling chin. As she turned to go into her grandparent's home, she saw her parents embracing one last time. She watched as her daddy walked around to the side of the car and got in. Her mother leaned in the window for one last goodbye kiss and suddenly, he was gone. Sarah turned and hurried into her grandparents' home. She flew up the staircase and into her grandparents' bedroom. From the big bay window, she stared down at the street below. Where their family car had been parked, there was only the black asphalt of the street. Rain, that had threatened all afternoon, now came down in huge, pelting drops. Sarah could hear it pounding on the tin roof overhead. It sounds as if the rain is furious with someone, she thought. Maybe it's mad because my daddy had to go off to war.
Sarah curled up on the window seat and looked out on the street below. No one was stirring on this wet and dreary Sunday afternoon. From this quiet spot she now stared out at the crystal rivulets of water cascading down the window pane. The tiny rivers of raindrops were very much like her tears.
Why, Sarah asked herself for probably the one hundredth time, did Daddy have to go to war and feel he should leave us here?
"Here," was her grandparent's home in the tiny town of Beaufort on the coast of North Carolina. Sarah, her brother Joshua and their parents lived in the city of Raleigh. A few days before, her father had come home early from work, because Mama called and told him of an official-looking letter from the United States War Department. Mama had looked worried ever since she collected the mail. Her eyes seemed as if they were focused on something very far away, and she would not answer unless you called her name several times. Joshua, only six years old, was unaware that anything was wrong. Sarah had an uneasy feeling that, after today, their lives would never be the same. She had no idea just how true this premonition would be.
Sarah was the first one to hear her father's car pull into the driveway. "Mama, Daddy's home," she reported to her mother who was in the kitchen. She felt that perhaps now, since she was twelve and a half years old, and no longer considered a child, she might be included in her parents' discussion about this mysterious letter.
As her father came through the door, her parents exchanged a look which told Sarah that this was going to be one of those "adult" conversations in which she would have no part. It hardly seemed fair that she was given more responsibilities around the house, especially in watching Joshua and cleaning up the kitchen, but was not considered mature enough to have a part in making grown-up decisions. She was occasionally reminded by her parents that she could no longer revert to childish tactics in order to get her own way.
Daddy turned and headed for the kitchen with barely a "hello" to his children, Mama following close behind. Sarah knew they would sit at the huge old oak table that Granny and Grandpa Bowers had given them several years ago when her grandparents had moved to a smaller house.
"There's no reason for two old people to rattle around in a big house with all the children grown and gone," Grandpa had announced one day, and with that he and Granny Bowers had set forth to find a smaller house, then proceeded to give away all the large furniture they had collected through the years.
Plans and decisions for the family were always discussed and agreed upon as the family sat around the large table in the kitchen. James Bowers loved to tell his children how when he was a boy, he had sat at that table every night and studied his lessons, so he would make good grades in school. Sarah and Joshua were expected to continue this tradition.
When they reached the kitchen, Sarah started to follow them. Her mother heard her footsteps, turned, and in a distracted way said, "Sarah, take Joshua upstairs and entertain him. Your father and I have something important to discuss and we don't need to be interrupted."
I feel just like a small child again. They won't let me take part in their discussions or help make decisions.
"Come on, Joshua," she said, as if she were resigned to always having to tend to her younger brother. As they climbed the stairs, Sarah thought back to that December Sunday in 1941 when she was only nine years old. The family had been in the living room listening to the radio. Joshua, three years old, had been playing on the rug in front of the big radio when it was announced that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Although Pearl Harbor was located in the Hawaiian Islands, half a world away, Sarah felt as if it were right on the North Carolina coast. The expressions on her parents' faces then were very much like the way they looked now.
As Sarah and Joshua entered his bedroom she asked, "Joshua, would you like to play a game or do you want me to read to you?" While he was deciding, Sarah sat down on his bed and asked herself, why must there be a war?. Why can't people just learn to get along. Children are expected to get along at home, at school and at church. What's the matter with grown-ups that they have to fuss and fight with each other.
Sarah knew from history class in school, that Germany and Italy had soon joined forces with Japan. America had joined her allies and soon the war was being felt in almost every corner of the globe. Sarah realized that because of World War II, their lives might be changed forever.
Every night after dinner, the family gathered in the living room to listen to the war news on the radio. The lights were kept low, making the green light on the radio dial glow an iridescent green. The voice of H.V. Haltenborn would fill the room as he announced the progress our troops were making in Europe and in the Pacific Ocean. Sarah and even little Joshua knew not to interrupt their parents at this time. If they had a question or wanted to share something that had happened that day that they had forgotten to tell at dinner, they knew it would have to wait until the war news was over.
Joshua had found his favorite book, "Raggedy Ann and Andy in the Deep, Deep Woods."
"Read it Sarah."
"Joshua, you've heard this book a hundred times! Pick something else!"
Sarah knew she was being cross with her brother and knew it was probably from being nervous about what was happening in the kitchen.
"You're not being very nice, Sarah. I think I'll go tell Mama."
Sarah could tell that Joshua was getting upset. She knew if he decided to bolt out of the door, run down the steps and burst into the kitchen with his complaint, she would have to take the blame for interrupting their parents. In order to keep peace, Sarah opened the book, smiled sweetly at Joshua and apologized.
"Come here and sit by me," Sarah said and patted the bed. Joshua, sensing that he was going to get his way, smiled and climbed up beside his sister. Sarah turned the worn pages of his favorite book, and began, "Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy were sitting under a tree in the deep, deep woods, filled with fairies n' everything, drinking a glass of soda water through two straws. It was a very...." Sarah heard her parents' footsteps on the stairs and stopped reading. Both children listened as the footsteps drew nearer. The door of the bedroom slowly opened as Peggy and James Bowers stopped in the doorway, and looked at their children sitting together on the bed. Sarah looked up at her father. She had never seen such a sad expression on anyone's face. He stared at his children as if he were trying to memorize the scene before him.
"I'll take this scene with me wherever I go and for however long I am gone," said James Bowers quietly.
Sarah looked from one parent to the other. Gone? What was Daddy talking about? Surely he wasn't going to go away and leave his family! Daddies and uncles of many of her friends had gone to war, but surely it wasn't going to happen to her daddy!
She could feel herself grow tense as her parents came slowly into the room, never saying a word about toys left in the floor from earlier in the day. They stepped carefully over the toys and sat on the bed with their children. Joshua was silent and watchful as he looked from one parent to the other. It was his first awareness that something was different.
James Bowers spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully. "Children," he began, "you know that our country has been at war for several years. I couldn't tell you this before, but I have been working closely with the war department through Bowers Chemical Company. I got a letter today from the war department telling me that they need me to help with a special project which could help end this terrible war. James paused a minute before he continued. Sarah held her breath as she watched her father struggle for the right words to say. She looked over at her mother, who had been sitting quietly and staring at her daddy. Now she began twisting a button on the front of her dress. For some reason, Sarah turned and stared at the hapless button, which was now in danger of popping off the dress.
Joshua asked the question no one wanted answered, "Do you have to go to war, Daddy?"
James seemed a bit relieved that his son had saved him the necessity of putting the harsh reality into words. Now he looked from one child to the other, and answered, "Yes, Joshua, I have to help defend our country."
Joshua and Sarah crawled up into their father's lap. At that moment Sarah didn't care whether it was childish to sit in a parent's lap or not. Both parents held them tightly as each dealt with the news in his own way. Sarah fought back tears only by swallowing over and over again and by blinking her eyes.
"Why does it have to be you?" wailed Joshua. Sarah felt like reacting just like Joshua, but she knew this would make the situation just that much harder for her parents. Suddenly she realized that growing up was more difficult than she ever dreamed it could be. She felt her carefree childhood slipping away. Sarah thought about her father going to work every day at the Bowers Chemical Company. She wondered how her daddy's business could possibly help win the war.
James interrupted her thoughts, "Let's go downstairs to the kitchen for a glass of lemonade and make some plans for the future." Daddy's voice sounds almost cheerful but his face looks so sad, thought Sarah.
Lemonade did sound like a good idea to Sarah because her throat was very dry. Joshua wiggled off his father's lap and headed for the door. He raced down the stairs with Sarah following at a slower pace so her parents could see that she no longer behaved like a child.
With everyone seated around the kitchen table, Mama poured lemonade in the tall, fancy glasses which were used only for company. Sarah watched her mother's hand tremble as she served each of them. The cold, sharp flavor of the lemonade trickled down Sarah's dry, aching throat. It felt good to not be so thirsty.
After everyone had taken a few sips, James began, "Every year we plan a trip during summer vacation. Now that school is over for the summer it's time we discussed what we want to do with our free time." He looked from one family member to another. The children's eyes were on their father, waiting for his next words. "Since I will not be here this summer, it will be up to the three of you to decide."
Before Sarah or Joshua had time to think, he continued, "Your mother and I have discussed it and ....," Oh, brother, Sarah thought, if he's beginning a sentence with, "Your mother and I have decided," there's no way it will be a family decision. Our future has already been decided. Sarah braced herself for what was coming.
"Since I will not be home for several months, we felt it would be better if you all spent the summer with your Granny Jewel and Papa Tom down in Beaufort. They have been begging all of us to come for a long visit, but we've been too busy with school and work to stay for more than a long weekend." James Bowers' eyes searched their faces, willing them to agree.
Once more Sarah could feel tears fill her eyes. She didn't like the idea of being away from home the whole summer and especially in Beaufort. There's nothing to do in that boring little town. I don't know anyone my age. They don't have any plays or concerts down there. All my friends here will have something interesting to do every day. The most I will have to look forward to is piddling around in the salt marsh, being eaten alive by mosquitoes and covered in sticky salt water.
Sarah could feel anger rising and started to protest when she noticed her mother's face. It was the first time she had smiled all day. Granny Jewel is Mama's mother, Sarah knew. She realized that they seldom ever got to see each other. Suppose I could only see my mama a few times each year and then only for a very short time. I would miss her so much.
She stared at her glass of lemonade. Condensation on the outside of the glass had formed and was making a round circle on the wooden table. Sarah hurried to get coasters for all the glasses. Mama had forgotten the coasters! She is so happy about seeing her parents this summer, Sarah realized. I will make the best of things for my Mama's sake she silently promised.
Joshua was having quite a different reaction. He was so excited he could not stay in his chair. He was bouncing around the table, stopping with each new idea that came to him.
"Will I be able to swim in the ocean every day? Can I go crabbing with Papa Tom? Will they let me sleep out on the upstairs porch at night?
Mama replied, "Your grandparents love you dearly and will see that you have as much fun as possible under our present circumstances. Making you happy is their pleasure."
Another way to say that is, your grandparents will go to any lengths to spoil you rotten, thought Sarah.
The room grew silent as each began to realize just how different their lives would be with daddy gone.
The discussion was over. Mama began moving around the kitchen preparing the evening meal. Daddy went into the living room to make phone calls. Joshua tore out of the house to tell his friend next door the unbelievably good news of spending his summer on the coast. Sarah remained at the table, watching her mother. Slowly Peggy turned and faced her.
"This is going to create a hardship for you I know, dear. You will have to give up your friends for the summer, and nothing will be the same with Daddy gone. It's up to you and me to be brave and strong so Daddy won't have to worry about us and to keep Joshua from being frightened," Peggy said quietly.
She sat down in the chair next to Sarah and looked searchingly into her face. Taking both of Sarah's hands she said, "I'll get to see my parents this summer. I miss them so much and they miss us. It should be a good summer. You and I together can make it be a good summer."
Why, Mama is talking to me just like I'm a grown-up, thought Sarah. She really needs me to be her friend and helper as well as a daughter. At that moment Sarah felt a special rush of love for her mother. She returned the warm pressure of her mother's hands.
"You bet we can take care of things for our men, Mama," Sarah said confidently.
They got up from the table and started the evening meal. That night, after the four had eaten, Sarah willingly helped her mother clean the kitchen. As one washed the dishes and the other dried, they began making plans for the very busy days to come. "Mama, we have to call our friends tomorrow."
"I know, Sarah. We have to decide which clothes to pack. We've never been gone this long before. At least we won't have to worry about winter clothes." They both laughed at this remark. Sarah knew she had to have her diary and few stuffed animals for her bed.
Excerpted from Barefoot in Beaufort I by Kay Salter Copyright © 2012 by Kay Salter. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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