Working with my mother, Earline, to learn more about her life and write this book was a gift to me. I did, indeed, learn many things, and not just about her life. On a first draft of the scene in which she walks to town to trade two Rhode Island Red hens (Chapter Three, “Back to Memories”) for shoes, I imagined the hens already dead. So I described her carrying the hens right side up, their feet almost dragging the ground. The laughter this prompted when Earline read it was really something. It was obvious I’d never carried chickens anywhere, nor had I traded them for anything. Those two Rhode Island Reds were very much alive on that trip, and Earline got her shoes. Next time, I’ll know better!
Here’s how the scene came out in the end:
She carried the hens by their feet, one in each hand, their heads just barely clearing the ground if Earline bent her elbows and held her arms up enough. Funny that the hens didn’t fight you if you held them that way, upside down. (p. 39)
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