Love. Sickness. Death. Happiness. Accidents. Marriage. Beatings. Laughter. Changes!
Susannah Brown exhibited a loving patience and her family sought her out for advice and encouragement which she always provided. Unfortunately the arthritis she had began to take its toll. Jon, Ruth’s husband, came home from the war with shell shock and experienced many episodes with it to his dismay. Jeff often had nightmares of the war which in some ways were worse than what actually happened. Jeff meets Melody Martin at church, began to date her, eventually married her, despite her handicap, and they had children. Zeb Stuart, Jeff’s partner in building furniture, had a horrible experience with bootleg whiskey, despite Prohibition, which led him into serious trouble and a beating. Reggie Barnhouse from Britain came home with Jeff after the war and began to work on the farm. He was a good worker and enjoyed cutting up with Clyde Armour. The time they all lived through was “The Roaring Twenties”, called that because it was a wild ride. Many changes occurred, such as Prohibition, Henry Ford’s cars, radio, airplanes, a new kind of music and dancing, women’s right to vote, national sports, the KKK, immigration, political corruption, oilfields, Scopes Monkey Trial and the stock market crash of 1929.
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Read an Excerpt
The Fruit of the Spirit Series Book 5
By Jean Ellis Hudson
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2016 Jean Ellis Hudson
All rights reserved.
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to KDKA radio station in Pittsburgh! We are the first live broadcasting radio station in the United States. Tonight, November 2, 1920, we are covering the Harding-Cox Presidential election returns. We'll be on the air until we know who has won the election tonight. So stay with us through the night to follow the election and find out who our next President will be. The results are pouring in! With ten states in, Warren Harding is far ahead of Cox."
"Mama and Papa, isn't this fantastic? You can hear news while it's happening. You've got to get yourselves a radio. I think this news report is so interesting because this is the first Presidential election women have been able to vote in due to the 19 Amendment to the Constitution. Our Women's Christian Temperance Union had a big hand in that. How about that, Ma? There is a lot of music and news on the air now. Music is usually on after ten p.m. Soap operas are on in the mornings and afternoons, while comedies, mysteries, crime, variety and other programs are aired in the evenings. The prediction is that some thirty new stations will come on the air in 1921. Radio is really popular."
Jon interrupted Ruth. "I've heard there are some myths about radio. Some believe that radio waves could start a fire in the home during thunderstorms. Others think the waves are making them sick and many diseases are blamed on them. Some religious folks see radio as 'the work of the devil', they say."
Clem and Susannah looked at each other with the same thought. Clem voiced it. "Well, as a matter of fact, we had planned on buying one, but this cinches the deal. We like it."
"I'm so glad," Ruth chuckled. "Now you can listen to 'Roxy and His Gang', Floyd Gibbons give the day's news and even hear Grantland Rice announce the World Series. The World Series will be broadcast. Just imagine!"
"Clem, this year the American Professional Football League has been formed with Jim Thorpe as President with eleven teams. There is talk that they'll change the name to the National Football League in a couple of years.
"Clem, I've been meaning to ask you what you think about prohibition in the 18 Amendment or Volstead Act by Congress. I think it was voted in January 16, 1920. Every tavern, bar and saloon in the United States was closed. Do you think it will work?"
"This is one of the most complicated issues this country has ever faced. The law says the sale, manufacture, and transport of any beverage with more than one-half of one percent of alcohol is illegal. The interestin' thing is that it has not been made illegal to buy or drink alcohol. It doesn't make sense to me. I'm afraid time will show us it was a wrong move to make it illegal. As much as I oppose alcohol, when people are told they can't do somethin' that is exactly what they will do. People will find a way to get alcohol if they have to make it themselves. Of course, that's been done for years anyway by stills up in the mountains. Truthfully, I don't think the government can legislate moral behavior. Let's just wait and see."
Jon was on a roll and kept talking which pleased everyone. "Clem, have you been reading or hearing about the Red Scare? They reflect the fear and sometimes hysteria of communism in this country, mainly because of the Communist Revolution in Russia in 1917. Their beliefs are very extreme to us and there is a fear it could take over our country. The radio said there are 150,000 anarchists or communists in our country. There is a highly publicized case concerning communists – of Sacco and Vanzetti who have been arrested for murder. The trial will be next year – 1921. The outcome will surely be interesting. Maybe it will set a standard for other people."
Jeff jumped back in, "I read in the paper the other day. You all may have heard it. Harding is running on a promise of a 'return to normalcy'. People believed in a better time before the Great War and want to go back to a more comfortable time. So they are supporting prohibition because alcohol wasn't so predominant prior to 1920. It was more like the age before the war. Unfortunately, it has led to illegal speakeasies, bootleggers, racketeers and organized crime figures such as Chicago gangster Al Capone. They say he has 1,000 gunmen and half of Chicago's police on his payroll. And he's not the only one. There are many gangsters who do the same things Capone does, but he is the most well-known."
Jon spoke again. "I read that the Red Scare has led to a widespread anti-immigration attitude and hysteria about immigrants. So much so, that Congress is looking to pass a law called the National Origins Act which will set immigration quotas that leave out people of Eastern Europe and Asians but will favor Northern Europeans such as people from Great Britain. And by the way, the Ku Klux Klan has reorganized and it's said that millions of people have joined in Indiana and Illinois and other states. To them, the Klan is a return to all the values that the fast-paced, city-slicker Roaring Twenties are walking all over."
"We are definitely living in a new time. A lot of changes. I don't know if I'm ready for it all." Clem expressed his opinion.
Susannah spoke, "Enough is enough. I can't take anymore right now. Somebody help me with the dishes, please." Actually, everyone pitched in and carried the dishes to the sink and put away the food while Ruth washed the dishes and Jeff dried and put them away. Ruth wiped down the countertops and the stove. Since Susannah had developed a problem with her hands, she had needed help at meals and with other chores.
* * *
Ruth was busy using tiny stitches to make a new quilt for their bed and was concentrating all her attention on the task when suddenly she heard a scream from outside. She was startled and dropped her needle as she rose to see what the problem was. Looking out the window, she saw her husband Jon standing in the front yard, screaming, pointing and looking up into the sky. What did he see? she wondered. She ran outside, looked up and saw an airplane fly over, which was not a common sight, but somehow it had triggered in Jon an episode of shell shock which he had been suffering from since the Great War. The doctor didn't give her much hope that he would completely get over his problem. Thousands of men had come home with the same condition. Unfortunately, it was one of the lasting traumas of war.
Ruth was still learning how to approach her husband when it happened. Her brother, Jeff Brown, had helped her a great deal in knowing what to do, but there were times when she had to call him to come and help her. This just might be one of those times. Ruth slowly walked toward Jon so as not to startle him. She began to speak softly. "Jon, honey, it's okay. I'm here. May I come closer?"
Jon nodded. Ruth slowly moved closer to him until his eyes focused on her and not the plane. She reached for his hand, but he jerked away in fright. Sometimes she wondered if bringing him home from the hospital in London had been too soon. Too late to worry about that. Just deal with the present. She was thinking to herself.
"I love you, Jon, with all my heart. May I hold your hand?" He nodded and she took his hand and began to stroke it. "It's alright, Jon, the plane is gone. There is nothing to worry about.
We're safe and at home with the children. Why don't we go inside where you can rest for a while?" She began to stroll toward the house, but Jon was a little resistant at first. Finally, he walked with her inside the house. He stood there a few minutes, as if confused where he was. "Come on, Jon. You need to rest. Come on." Ruth lost patience at that point because he didn't move as fast as she wanted him to. He pulled his hand away and moved quickly to their bedroom and closed the door. Tears came to her eyes because she knew she'd handled the situation wrong. They were doing so well and then she lost patience. When would she learn?
She went over to the bedroom and tapped on the door. "Jon, may I come in? I'm sorry I lost patience with you. Will you forgive me?" She waited but all was quiet. She was about to give up when Jon opened the door. There were tears running down the cheeks of both of them when they reached for each other and hugged fiercely. "I'm sorry, Jon. Forgive me?" He nodded.
"I'm sorry too, Ruth. I don't know what happens to me, but I hate it. Please forgive me."
"There's nothing to forgive, my dear. I'll always love you no matter what."
"So will I, Ruth. Please don't ever leave me."
"Oh, Jon, you don't think about that, do you? I will never leave you. I want to be by your side forever." Tears ran down her cheeks like rivers and dripped on her bodice. She took his face in her hands and lightly kissed him. "Do you believe me, Jon?"
"Yes, love, I do believe you. Forgive me for thinking anything else." He grabbed her in a big bear hug.
* * *
This mud! I can't walk! Get me out of here! Get down, Donald! Oh, no, Donald. No, don't die. His eyes are like glass. He's gone. Henry, where are you? I can't find you. Don't be dead, too! There you are. Are you okay? Henry, ah, Henry, not you too. The rats! Get away from me and the dead men! Leave me alone! Get away! Don't bite me! Jeff Brown woke up suddenly with the sheets twisted around him, covered in sweat and breathing heavily. He sat up quickly and looked around for rats. When he focused in on where he was, he flopped back on the bed and waited for his body to return to normal. Lord, am I always goin' to have these nightmares? I hate it! I just want to sleep through the night and feel good the next mornin'. I have nightmares every night. I've been home a month and I still have them. How long will they last? He turned on his side and tried to relax so he could go back to sleep, but sleep would not come. It was three a.m.
He got up, put on his pants and quietly went out on the porch, so he wouldn't wake his parents, Clem and Susannah Brown or Reggie Barnhouse who had been in the war with him and was from London. He stood looking at the stars like his parents often did. The stars spoke of the grandeur and magnitude of God's creation to Jeff. He liked to focus on the creation of God because it was so awesome, beautiful and intricate. He began to think of the flowers God had created – the colors, the shapes, the smells. How could there be so many different kinds of flowers? Then there were the other plants in great variety and animals. God's mind and creativity were infinite. Man's finite mind could not take it in.
He heard the door behind him open and turned. It was Reggie. Jeff asked, "Couldn't you sleep either?"
"No, I keep having nightmares. Do you?"
"Yeah, that's what caused me to get up. I just can't close my mind to the things we saw in the war. Death, rats, mud, injuries. When will it ever end? Or will it?"
"I don't know, Jeff. I wish it would. I just want a solid night's sleep."
"Me, too. I think I'm goin' to talk to Pa and see if he can help me. Would you like to talk to him too?"
"Sure. I'll try anything to get some relief."
"We might even talk to Pastor Tim. He's the pastor of our church, and he's a wise man to be as young as he is."
"I'll go with you anytime you want to go."
"I wonder if Zeb Stuart has nightmares. He won't talk to me about the war. In fact, he doesn't talk to me much at all. I don't know what's happened to him. I know he lost his toes, but he can still walk. It's like he's turned against me. I don't know. We were such good friends before the war."
"Well, having lost my fingers, I can understand how he feels probably more than you can. It's a loss you can't explain to anybody else really. Maybe I could try to reach out to him sometime. What do you think, Jeff?"
"I'm not so sure about that idea. He has not totally accepted you, but maybe in time it will work out for you to talk to him. Don't give up on the idea. Hey, let's go back and at least lie down. I'm tired. Are you comin'?"
"I think I'll just stay out here and watch the sun come up. God and I have some business to take care of."
"Okay. Goodnight or good morning – whichever."
Reggie flopped down in a rocking chair and laid his head back. Lord, I really need Your help. The loss of my fingers is bad enough, but the nightmares are horrible. Please give me peace about my fingers and I ask for Zeb to have peace about the loss of his toes. Please take the nightmares away that Jeff and I both have so that we can sleep well and feel well. It was so horrible to go through the war, but to rehash it every night in my dreams is sometimes worse. Bring healing, Father, for all three of us emotional healing. Thank You for what You are going to do. In Jesus' name, amen.
* * *
When Jeff's alarm clock sounded the next morning, it woke him up. He blinked several times and realized he had actually been asleep. Wow! He wondered if Reggie had slept any. He dressed and went across the hall to Reggie's room, but it was empty. He headed to the front porch and found Reggie asleep in the rocking chair. Jeff took his foot and rocked the chair which caused Reggie to jerk awake.
"Hey, man, you did what I did. We both fell asleep. Bet I was more comfortable in the bed than you were in the rocking chair."
"Well, I tell you. After I prayed, I fell right to sleep and had the best night's sleep since we got back. I could've slept on the porch. How'd you sleep?"
"Like a rock after I went back to bed. I think God answered your prayers, my friend. Thanks for prayin'."
"Maybe we need to be doing more of that, don't you think?"
"Yep, and I will. Well, go get dressed. Breakfast will be ready soon."
As they all gathered for breakfast, Zeb came in to join Jeff, Reggie, Clem and Susannah. "Good morning, Zeb. I hope you slept well," Clem asked. Zeb just shrugged his shoulders and said nothing. It was always that way with Zeb. Nobody could understand him.
Susannah turned from the stove to say "good morning" to everyone. "I hope everyone slept well and you're ready for a good breakfast."
"Oh, yes," everyone responded, except Zeb but he looked eager. Susannah reached into the oven to get a pan of biscuits using a dishtowel to pick them up, turned around and dropped the pan and the biscuits all rolled around on the floor. "Well, I'll be," Susannah said with frustration. "What is the matter with me? I dropped a bar of soap and chased it around the bathroom floor forever last night. I couldn't seem to pick it up. I've been dropping a lot of things lately. What do you suppose is wrong with me?"
Clem responded, "I don't know, but maybe we need to go see Dr. Hiram."
"Well, we'll see about that."
"I know what that means. You won't go." Susannah didn't say anything else but helped the men pick up the biscuits.
"I suppose just throw them away."
Reggie spoke up, "Certainly not. We'll just brush them off and eat them. Is everyone in agreement?"
Everyone agreed affirmatively.
Zeb ate quickly and left for the furniture workshop where he and Jeff built and carved furniture. Clem took note of it and gave Susannah a look that told her he was following Zeb.
* * *
Clem gave Zeb time to get to the workshop and then entered behind him. "Zeb, how are you doin' this mornin'?"
Zeb startled because he thought he was alone. "Alright. Don't ever scare a man who's been in the war. You might get socked."
"I'm sorry, Zeb. I didn't realize that. What are you and Jeff workin' on now?"
"We're not workin' on the same pieces. I'm kind of developin' my own line of furniture. Mine is as good as Jeff's and I want to be recognized for what I do." He gave Clem a stern look, waiting to see if Clem would say anything which he didn't.
"Could I see what you're workin' on? That is, if you don't mind."
"I don't mind. Here it is. I'm makin' a child-sized rockin' horse for a little girl who lives in town. It's for her birthday."
"This is beautiful, Zeb. Is it finished?"
"No, I still have to put three more coats of sealer on it to protect it. I hope she likes it. I would have when I was her age."
"I'm sure she'll love it. Look at that. You carved the eyes and the muzzle. The mouth looks so real. You are really talented at this. Why don't you make a few of these rockin' horses and put them in the shop in town to sell?"
"Well, I don't know how Jeff would feel about it. It's his shop, not mine."
* * *
When Clem returned to the house, he immediately asked Jeff if he could talk with him. They went out on the porch.
"Jeff, I'm concerned about Zeb's attitude. He's carvin' a beautiful rockin' horse and I asked him why he didn't make a few and put them in the shop in town to sell. He said the shop was yours, not his. Is that the way it is, Jeff? Is he not part of the shop?"
Excerpted from Staying Power by Jean Ellis Hudson. Copyright © 2016 Jean Ellis Hudson. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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