A Talk with Grandma – Primary Source Research — Suzanne Norquist
Today I’m happy to welcome author Suzanne Norquist as she shares about her story and her grandmother’s influence on her research.
Christmas: a time to be surrounded by relatives—who tell the same stories over and over again. For a writer that can be better than people watching at the airport. So many fun details to squeeze into a novel.
I’ve been researching for a story set in the 1930’s, the time my grandmother was a young woman. She passed away several years ago, but so many of her wonderful stories come to mind.
She told me about flapper dresses. The girls all wanted to wear short skirts, but there were rules about how far from the floor a skirt could be. So, they shortened them from the top for the illusion of a shorter skirt while not breaking the rules. Social rules mattered back then.
When a fella wanted to impress a girl, he would offer to crank her car for her. You know—the hand crank on the front. Her car was persnickety. A would-be suitor would offer to crank her car. She would hop in the driver’s seat, and the gentlemen would crank . . . and crank . . . and crank. Finally, she would get out, and with a half turn of the handle, the car would start. She always demonstrated the quick motion with her arm.
Occasionally, she would have to drive her father’s old farm truck. She couldn’t drive it forward uphill because of the way the gas tank sat. All of the gas would shift to the bottom of the tank, and it couldn’t get to the engine. To go uphill, she had to drive in reverse.
As a young woman, she worked in the kitchen of a large farm. She helped the lady of the house prepare meals for the workers. A position that allowed her to know exactly how food was prepared. The main cook was known to use spoiled ingredients. The farm workers would pass the serving platter to my grandma. If she took a serving, they knew it was safe. If she passed on a dish, no one ate it. It took her some time to realize that is what they were doing.
During the depression, she lived on a farm. They ate oatmeal and not much else. When a beggar came to the door asking for a handout, she offered a bowl of oatmeal. Sometimes the vagabond would turn his nose up at the offering. Apparently, some beggars were choosy.
I have an idea about how to use a couple of these ideas in novels. They are the fun details I can’t find in any history book. The thing that brings a story to life.
So, after the turkey and board games, I’ll listen to the stories and take note.
If you would like to read a fun blog about the time I visited a museum with my grandmother, hop over to my blog, Ponderings of a BBQ PhD.
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Suzanne Norquist explores past and present through story. Everything fascinates her, so she never settled on a career. She has worked as a sales clerk, chemist, professor, financial analyst, and even earned a doctorate in economics. As an author, she experiences different worlds without starting a new career every time. Research feeds her curiosity and she shares the adventure with her readers.
She lives in New Mexico with her mining engineer husband and has two grown children. When not writing, she explores the mountains, hikes, and attends kickboxing class.
Her first novella, A Song for Rose in A Bouquet of Brides Collection released in January 2018. Her second novella, Mending Sarah’s Heart in the Thimbles and Threads Collection releases in July 2019.
She authors a blog entitled, Ponderings of a BBQ P.h.D.
A Song for Rose in the Bouquet of Brides Collection
(1882, Rockledge, Colorado)
Can Patrick O’Donnell, a tenor disillusioned by the performance industry, convince Rose Miller that that there is more to music than her dream of joining an opera company?