Noreen Mayr suffers through her marriage for 4,745 days—nearly thirteen years—before she finds the courage to change her life. At that point, one terrifying night, she packs her children into the old Plymouth and slips away into the night. As she leaves the house she shared with her husband, she knows she is saving more than the children’s lives; she is saving their futures, too.
As the victims of cruel and unending psychological and physical abuse at the hands of her husband, Ray Mayr, she and her children have endured more than they could bear. Curious as to how one man could be so angry, she looks into his own childhood. There, she discovers a frightening truth, but no solutions to help spare her own children. Escape is the only answer, and Noreen knows she must take any chance that fate has presented her.
As she drives into the night, embarking on an unknown but necessary journey to freedom and safety, she has no idea of the challenges she and her children will face. This is their story, one of sadness, fear, sorrow-and an escape to a successful, safe, and sane future, filled with hope.
Noreen’s future comes to a screeching halt when she encounters a stranger.
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1230 North Garfield
By LORYN K. STALEY, SANDY JACOBSEN
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 Loryn K. Staley with Sandy Jacobsen
All rights reserved.
In the early morning hours, on October 23, 1934, the dark skies that had lingered for days over the small town of Winstead finally moved westward. Long before the rooster crowed, I was born. My parents, Ivy and Patch Mahoney, wrapped me in a cloth torn from an old bed sheet. After giving thanks to the Lord, they held me in their arms.
Exhausted and content, Ivy ran her hand over my silken hair, and then turned to her husband. "Let's call her Pennith. Pennith Noreen."
Patch smiled and kissed his wife on the forehead.
I shared my unusual first name with my father's only sibling who drowned years earlier in the shallow river that flowed due east of the family farm. Noreen was an old, Irish name passed down from earlier generations. In our crowded house, my mother had no place to put me except in the middle drawer of an old bureau that, until my arrival, held her best and only china. When cool weather arrived, a threadbare blanket protected me from the winds that whistled through the cracked double-hung windows. Upon their births, my older siblings were wrapped in crocheted blankets made by nearby relatives and neighboring families. Those blankets have since come and gone.
My mother and her siblings were born and raised in the same clapboard house on Creston Street that I would later grow up in. My maternal grandparents were poultry farmers, selling eggs and live chickens, with the hope they would always be able to support their family. My grandfather, a crotchety old man who preferred to keep to himself, built the chicken coop in the backyard decades earlier. Although the paint had peeled, and the thin wood had weathered and chipped away seasons before, the coop remained next to the single-hole outhouse, which was also original to the farm. An indoor bathroom had since been added to the house, but just as in the outhouse, one always had to be on the lookout for snakes and other small varmints.
As with most families who called Winstead their home, my grandparents lived with us. When my own parents married, my grandparents surrendered the largest bedroom, a small room at the front of the house, moving only their bed sheets to the smaller, oddly shaped room down the hall that would later become the bedroom I shared with my sisters. A talented storyteller with a creative and unleashed imagination, Ollabelle, my grandmother, captivated me with the stories she shared of her own childhood experiences. Because it was her favorite memory, she often repeated the story about the time she let loose a corral of horses. They belonged to Homely Homer Hamstill, Winstead's only quarter horse breeder. Before the day was over, she had ridden Lightning, an eighteen-hand mare, through the town's cemetery. Telling the story over and over again, it always ended with her saying, "Don't ever do that. I spent hours patching grass and asking forgiveness from the dead. Corralling the horses back into the barn was no picnic, either."
When my grandmother was spotted making a squatting run to the outhouse, word spread like wildfire. Once she pulled the door closed, my brothers took turns on the tire swing, slamming their feet into the side of the outhouse until she finished her business. Having grown tired of the practical jokes the young boys played on her, and refusing to succumb to the harsh elements Kansas' four distinct seasons delivered, she preferred to empty her bladder into a pee-pot she kept near her bed. In the early morning hours, long before the rest of the house was awake, she would mosey along through heavy snow, sweltering heat, or a deluge of rain, to empty her pee-pot into the unappealing outhouse. There were occasions, however, when my grandmother, aging and almost blind, stepped out of bed and into the pee-pot, spilling the contents onto the hardwood floor under her feet. On one occasion, I overheard her complain that her flow no longer went from north to south, but from east to west. When I asked my mother about this, I was told not to give my grandmother's directions a second thought.
My grandfather passed away years before my grandmother. His death was rarely mentioned and the daily chores that were once his became those of my brothers. Departing this life during the night, my grandmother passed away at the age of seventy-one. I was only twelve. Until county officials informed my parents that burials on residential properties were no longer allowed, my grandparents rested side by side near Uncle Vern's pasture. If she were watching from heaven, I imagined my grandmother had a few words to say when she was uprooted from her home and moved to the local cemetery.
Having followed her own mother around the kitchen, my mother became an exceptional cook. Like my grandmother, she never followed a recipe. Using ripe vegetables from the garden, she could prepare a tasty meal. When summer's fruits were not made into jellies and jams, they were stored in the cellar with an abundance of garden vegetables, to be appreciated in the winter months.
In the pantry where my mother prepared family meals were floor-to-ceiling cabinets. A crippled table in the center of the room displayed the wayward carvings knives left behind when bread and vegetables were sliced. A window overlooking the side yard anchored the small space, and when my mother baked sweet crisps, a hint of vanilla lingered about for days.
Offering an easy way of life, and months of muddied roads, Winstead was a sleepy, Mid-western town surrounded by slaughterhouses, cornfields, and cattle farms. Friends and relatives who visited were encouraged to tour the remains of a 1931 Model W plane that came to rest in Mr. Goering's pasture. Piloted without proper navigation, the plane ran out of gas on its way to Ponca City, Oklahoma. After gliding for several miles, the pilot made a steep turn and missed a cleared road on which he could have made a safe landing. He had no choice but to crash in the rough terrain amongst the startled cattle. Several months after the unfortunate incident, the pilot returned to reclaim his plane, only to find the grazing cattle had eaten the canvas off its wings and fuselage, and migrating Cliff Swallows nested in the cockpit. Opting to leave the plane behind, the pilot returned to his home in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Winstead was not a place where worldly tourists came to vacation, but for the people who lived there, it was rich in family history. The residents called the little town a close-knit community. Oppressive humidity and high temperatures delivered swarms of blood-sucking horseflies, mosquitoes, and the familiar stench of cow patties. Warm Chinook winds frequently blew over the nearby fields, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake. Lying in the river plain, Winstead's skyline did not offer much. What little it did, continued for miles.
"Flatter than a flit," my grandfather would always say about Winstead.
I grew up in a time when parents and grandparents did not have to keep a watchful eye on the young children. Not only were neighborhoods safe, but the neighboring towns and surrounding communities were, too.
When the evenings were cool, my father would sit outdoors on a folding chair, sipping buttermilk. When he could afford one, he would enjoy a cigarette. His time outside was his escape from the cackling and laughter the ladies made inside the house. When the women disrupted his quiet, he would look to the front door, mumble under his breath, and then close his eyes. Sometimes my mother would send one of us out the door to tell him she was sorry for being loud.
Most of my childhood was spent enjoying the familiar antics of farm life, some not so neighborly. Surrounded by close friends, I would sneak crab apples from neighboring fields and steal eggs from sleeping hens. It would cause a stir among the local farmers when they found their cows had not only been tipped during the night, but also splattered with eggs.
Every morning during the summer months, I would rise early from bed and be out of the house by six o'clock. My morning routine was basic. I needed little time to ready myself for the day. Not concerned about my appearance, I was embarrassed when I overheard friends and family members describing me as a natural beauty.
I could not help but notice as I entered my teen years, I was turning heads. My hair was as soft as corn silk and black as onyx. I preferred to wear it pulled up in a ponytail. During the weekends, as with most of the young gals my age, I almost always wore a chiffon scarf. When asked how I made my hair shine, I gave credit to the rainwater that collected in the weathered water barrel outside my house. It would be many years later before I understood I was blessed with not only healthy hair, but also a smile that framed my nearly perfect teeth. A visitor to Winstead once likened my eyes to Cuba's crystal blue waters. Preferring to describe my otherwise average height as seven inches shy of six feet, my hips were narrow and my waist miniscule. A carefully padded bra and a perfectly designed pencil skirt balanced out my boyish figure. A burning coal from a hot fire left a scar in the shape of a heart on my right hand. A healthy metabolism allowed me to eat anything and never gain a pound. I thought it was a small blessing I never had to worry about my weight.
Favoring my father, I was the only child in my family with fine, dark hair and pronounced facial features. Old man Raby, the name he used when he met a stranger, often compared me to Veronica Lake, a movie actress. Dark eyebrows arched over my blue eyes like Shoemaker's famous crescent moon. Often described as pouty, my lower lip was generous. It anchored my slightly smaller upper lip. Although small, my ears held my thick locks in place. With their fair skin and strawberry blonde hair, my siblings carried the features one would expect in a family of Irish descent.
I met Ray Mayr after finishing my junior year at Winstead High School. At first glance, I thought he was handsome. Not only was I envious of his defined dimples, I was drawn to them. After seeing him with my best friend Dixie, he began to grow on me. I enjoyed his playful allure and soon thought of him as suave and smooth, with a splash of flirtatiousness. Because his coy smile always sent my heart racing, I soon found myself uncomfortable when I was with him and Dixie. Whether we were at the soda shop or kicking it up at a dance, I spent my weekends with Dixie, and somehow Ray always had a way of finding us. On one memorable evening, Dixie asked him to give me a ride home from the county fair.
"Ray, do you mind taking me home first? My father will use the switch on me if I'm late again," she said, shifting the weight of her small frame to her other leg.
As a young child, Dixie fell from the livestock barn loft on her father's farm. Left unsupervised, she wandered near the open window while her brothers hurried to stack bales of hay in preparation for the upcoming winter. The fall messed up her hips. Forgetting to focus on her posture, she walked with a noticeable limp.
"Your dad needs to relax." Ray was laughing. "Janet makes you look like a saint. That girl is a wild thing."
Janet was Dixie's older sister. I saw her a handful of times, mostly at school or on the long walk home. When I saw her the week before, she was walking home from school with Bobby Griner, a senior. Knowing it was not my responsibility, I did not tell Dixie about Janet and Bobby sharing a cigarette.
"Hop in. Let's go, girls." Ray smiled a sheepish grin. He would not let Dixie miss curfew.
Driving an older model Dodge, Ray drove Dixie the eight blocks to her house on Oak Street. Remaining in the car, he blew her a kiss when she turned to look back at him before entering her house. During the short drive to my house, I tried to shake off nerves by fidgeting with my skirt. Ray noticed I was uncomfortable, and though I felt guilty, I was excited when he placed his hand on mine.
"I promise I won't bite, unless you want me to."
Feeling apprehensive, and mindful that he had a girlfriend, I pulled my hand away. During the remainder of the drive, we exchanged small talk. Recalling the previous month's activities, I mentioned Winstead's spring formal.
"The band played until midnight. The dress I borrowed was made from lace my neighbor dyed peach, the same color as Mrs. Theihland's spring apricots."
He gave me an odd look. "Who is Mrs. Theihland?"
"She lives down the street from my parent's house. She is nearly a century old. Every time she leaves her house, she wears oven mitts on her hands. She's a nice person, most of the time. The only time I've seen her smile, though, was when she buried her second husband."
The expression on his face told me he was listening with great interest. "Did you say oven mitts? Why would she wear oven mitts?"
"Did I say oven mitts? I meant to say silk gloves." Hoping to hide my giggle, I held my hand over my mouth.
"Well, if I was married to a woman who never smiled, I would prefer to be six feet under, too." This was the second time I heard him laugh. "What are spring apricots?"
"They grow during March, April, and May." I laughed at his ignorance.
Ray was quick to respond. "I don't care much for apricots."
"You'd like Mrs. Theihland's apricots, but take my advice, don't pick them without asking. She is very protective of her trees." This time we shared a laugh.
"I'll keep that in mind. Have you made that mistake?"
I had not picked from the trees without permission. Instead of answering his question, I scrunched my nose and gave a crooked smile that said, no way, Ray.
I sat mesmerized when he quoted a stanza from Ralph Waldo Emerson's, "Give All to Love," a poem I studied the previous year in second-period English. Joining him, we shared the last line together.
"Though thou loved her as thyself, As a self of purer clay, Though her parting dims the day, Stealing grace from all alive; Heartily know, When half-gods go, The gods arrive."
I could not help but hold onto every word Ray spoke. Without realizing what was happening, I soon found I wanted to learn more about him. When he spoke, I memorized everything about him. Although he sat tall in the driver's seat, he was not a tall man. However, I thought he looked stylish and athletic. His words were smooth, and his smile was seductive and contagious. Though I would not admit it, I found him spicy and sensual. When he gave me a come-hither look, I blushed and turned away. I was certain he knew I found him dreamy.
Recognizing the scent of his cologne that my own brothers wore, I asked what the perfume was he was wearing. I felt young and naïve when he immediately corrected me.
"Men wear cologne, women wear perfume, Noreen."
Before arriving home, I learned not only was Ray four years my senior, but he owned the car he was driving, had his own furnished apartment, and held down a full-time job. "I'm sort of a maverick. I like doing my own thing. That's why I became a truck driver. The open road keeps me out of my cage."
I wanted to ask Ray to explain what he meant about the cage, but instead, I told him a little about me. "I live at home with my parents." I quickly glanced at my watch. I needed to get home, but because I enjoyed being with him, I did not want the evening to end. "I'll be returning to high school in the fall, and if money allows, I plan to attend state school after graduation."
"You have plenty of time to save money. When I was in school, I played basketball. My job lets me see the world. Well, parts of Kansas, anyway. Just so you know, a lot can change between now and graduation."
Finding myself infatuated with him, I listened to Ray talk about his life, and though he enjoyed having his own place, I could not imagine living on my own and being away from my family. I found this exciting, and appreciated that given his young age, he provided for himself.
Far too soon, Ray parked the two-door Dodge in front of my house. Without saying a word, he opened his door and stepped out of the car. When he ran to the neighbor's house, I watched in curiosity. Holding me with his eyes, he leisurely strolled back to the car. Leaning through the open window, he presented me with the lilac branch he had broken off the neighbor's bush.
"This didn't come from Mrs. Theihland's apricot tree. Don't forget, Noreen, it's the little things in life that matter the most."
Excerpted from 1230 North Garfield by LORYN K. STALEY, SANDY JACOBSEN. Copyright © 2014 Loryn K. Staley with Sandy Jacobsen. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1230 North Garfield is an engaging and gripping book, which captures the reader from the first chapter. The characters and town in which they live are described in vivid detail, capturing the time and essence of life in Mid-America during the 1950's and 60's, when attitudes toward family disputes were viewed through a different perspective. The reader rides the emotional roller coaster as events unfold in the small town where Ray and Noreen Mayr meet, court, marry, and raise their children. You feel the angst of each character so fully that they reach from the pages. Dreams once sought seem to fade into oblivion as do the lives of Noreen and her children as a result of Ray's verbal and physical abuse. Can life and dreams be restored to those in this dysfunctional family? Read each page to discover if there is any hope or resolution of despair. A FANTASTIC book that you will find hard to put down.
I really loved the book and could easily relate to the events that occurred. It is hard to explain to a new generation that the police and other authorities simply looked away at a bruised and bloody woman as they jokingly escorted the man out of the house for a cooling off period. The laws were blurred at the time and women were still seen as property. The main character, Noreen, was a wonderful woman who always put her children before herself. Her thriftiness and creativity made her house into a home for her children without her husband. She was a proud woman, but not too proud to let her pride stand in the way of feeding her children. Walking into the bar, with six children in tow, took more than guts. Seeing your husband with his arm around another woman and dropping the money on the floor for her to pick up like a dog. Young women today would not understand the way things were then. Drama was not an option! You did what you had to do. Noreen was a classy woman and would not stoop to such levels that are acceptable by today's standards. In between, the problems in the marriage are hilarious stories of the children that brought many memories of my own childhood. Sledding, riding bikes, walks, picnics, and swimming were some of the ways we could fill our days without spending money and waiting for the ice cream truck was always a special treat! It took me two days to read the book and I would highly recommend the book to everyone who lived during this time period as it brings back many memories with and laughter.
1230 North Garfield is a book that will grab your attention from the beginning to the very end. The story is written with such vivid and intense detail, that as I read this book I literally felt every emotion. I cried, I laughed, I felt fear and anger, I felt happiness and joy, and I felt the love that Noreen had for her children. As a reader this story pulls you into the personal life of Noreen and her family, as if you are really there. You clearly are able to see Noreen's dreams for her family and herself turn into the struggle to survive and protect her children. You take a journey with Noreen through her life -the love she has for her family, finding what she believes is true love, the anger and violence she encounters, to the steps she takes to endure raising the children on her own. The story captures each character's personality very intensely. I could not put this book down, with every page I was left wanting more, I will say the twist at the end caught me off guard, which is still leaving me wanting to know more! I hope there is another book to follow! This is definitely a page turner, which you will not put down. I have recommended this book to several other readers and will continue to do so!
The plight of Noreen and her children is told with a sensibility and honesty that immerses you into her life. With wonderful descriptions of life with an unpredictable man, and a woman loving and protecting her children, 1230 North Garfield is a must read.
1230 North Garfield kept my interest from the moment I started reading it. I found it difficult to put in down and found myself wondering what was going to happen next. I felt empathy for Noreen, trying to raise her children, honor her wedding vows, and put up with her abusive husband. She never knew when Ray was going to unleash his fury with the verbal and physical abuse. The end had a surprising twist that made you want to follow this story longer. Congratulations on a well-written story, I will be looking forward to your next novel.
1230 North Garfield is one of the best novels that I have read in a very long time! This book was an amazing book that had me laughing, crying and feeling every type of emotion possible which is what I believe makes a book attention grabbing. As I felt all of the emotions, I realized 1230 North Garfield was absolutely impossible to put down; I just had to know what was going to happen next. It was definitely a book I did not want to end, and when it did i realized it had me begging for a sequel! I would really love to know what happens to Noreen! Again, this book was an amazing attention grabber from the very beginning that continued to pull the reader in and I honestly cannot wait to see what happens next!!
I hope to see a sequel and a movie.
I am classifying this book as a 5 Star "starter" of a series. I read it in a day, as I had a hard time putting it down; and was anticipating what was to come next? When I read the last page, I looked for more ... on the blank pages that followed. Knowing that it is a fictional novel, (and as a writer, you can keep the story going, please?) I want to know what happened to Noreen? Has Ray really turned the corner to become a nicer father to his children? Thus, I am hanging on the last portion of the book, I want more!!!!
This book was hard to put down. It capture you into world that today children do not understand. The love that Noreen had for her children and the unbelieveable courage to keep to her marriage vows show what an outstanding individual she was. I can't wait to see if there is a second book to tell us more about the children, how they continued their lives and how their childhood changed they way they faced marriage and children. This was a book once you started you could not put down.
As a writer, I have little time to read. When a friend suggested I read "1230 North Garfield," I had no idea about the story that would unfold before me. As a young woman, I was envious of the young Noreen. Turning the pages — and it's a page turner; I read the entire book in a day and a half — I found Ray charming. I laughed when Pami had her battle with the tick, and I cried when Noreen struggled to stay positive. When I closed the book after the final chapter, I saw a winner. This story should be made into a movie.
This book is a must read! Powerfully emotional with plenty of comedic pages to make you laugh too. Quick read that's definitely entertaining!