The Bridge Between Us — Sherri Wilson Johnson
Today I’m happy to welcome author Sherri Wilson Johnson as she shares some of the history behind her latest story in The Erie Canal Brides Collection.
In The Bridge Between Us, Susannah Higley is waiting to find out if her wax flowers have won a ribbon in the Orleans County Fair. If they win, they will go to New York City for the state competition. Winning the prize money in the state competition would not only allow Susannah the opportunity to sell her flowers in Manhattan businesses, but it would also help her Pa’s struggling lumberyard.
Wax flowers have been popular for generations. In fact, Queen Victoria loved them, and it is said that between 10,000 and 15,000 wax flowers were crafted for her wedding on February 10, 1840.
Susannah Higley’s mother taught her how to make wax flowers when she was a little girl, and after Mother passed, Susannah continued making them to relieve her grief and to keep her mother close to her heart.
Susannah’s wax flower kit was an ornate black metal box. Inside were patterns, brushes, tints and wax. While she enjoyed making red roses and yellow geraniums, her favorite flower was the violet.
One must have not only talent, but patience to make wax flowers. To make a violet or any flower or fruit, the first step was to melt the wax. Then the fashioning began. Taking a wooden plunger, Susannah would dip it into a small container filled with soapy water then into the melted wax and then back into the soapy water. The thin wax could then be peeled off the plunger and spread onto the flower form. Susannah would wait until the wax was set and then she would brush the purple and white tint onto the wax violet petal. She would continue to do this until she had all the petals she desired. She would make the leaves in the same fashion. Once everything was set, she would attach the petals and leaves to wires and create bouquets. To preserve her arrangements, she placed them under a glass dome and displayed them in her home, her church and at the state fair!
And now she waits to see if she has successfully caught the attention of merchants in New York City, a city she dreams of visiting one day.
Here’s a link to see some flowers and a modeling kit: https://www.kew.org/blogs/archived-blogs/wax-wonders
READERS, Have you ever visited the Erie Canal and what city did you visit?
About the Book:
The Erie Canal Brides Collection
Seven romance stories take you back to the building of the Erie Canal and the opening of the Midwest to greater development.
Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Hudson River, and soon other states like Ohio created canals linking Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Suddenly the Midwest was open to migration, the harvesting of resources, and even tourism. Join seven couples who live through the rise of the canals and the problems the waterways brought to each community, including land grabs, disease, tourists, racism, and competition. Can these couples hang on to their faith and develop love during times of intense change?
Sherri lives in Georgia with her husband and her spoiled dog Sawyer. She loves spending time with her adult children and friends or curling up with a good book or her current work-in-progress. Sherri enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles in the winter and counts the days every year until she can take another trip to the beach. You can find Sherri on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Click here to enter the drawing for a FREE print copy of the book: https://sherriwilsonjohnson.com/2019/02/20/new-release-plus-a-giveaway/
First page of the book:
September 28, 1859
Albion, New York
The aroma of boiled peanuts and fried dough traveled along the crisp
September breeze and tickled Susannah Higley’s nose as exhilaration
over the day’s events delighted her heart. She had never experienced a
Wednesday like this in all her twenty-three years. Waiting for the results of the
wax flower contest and hoping a blue ribbon and prize money would be hers,
she stood on the three-arched, iron Main Street bridge with hundreds of other
townsfolk ready for the tightrope artist from Brockport to walk across the Erie
Susannah adjusted her white crepe bonnet and stuffed in a few unruly curls
then sighed. The fearless young man would do on this fall day what she could
never imagine mustering the courage to do.
For months, she had lived under the shadow of abandonment. Richard had
declared his love for her, but when she had refused to go to California on a quest
for gold, he hopped on a train and broke her heart. Although she longed for
unforgettable experiences, eloping and leaving behind her widowed father was
not among them. She should have known entertaining the idea of love with a
drifter who had worked his way to Albion on boats traveling the canal would
not be wise.
Since Richard’s departure, Susannah had devoted her time to Pa’s sawmill
as the bookkeeper, a position Mama held before her passing. Once she balanced
the ledgers and completed the household chores each day, Susannah fashioned
flowers from wax and dreamed of one day sharing her creations with merchants
in New York City.
The black metal box containing her patterns, brushes, tints, and wax was the
last gift Mama gave her. Every time she formed the red roses, yellow geraniums,
and purple and white violets from wax Mama had loved so much, she felt her
Winning a ribbon at the Orleans County Fair not only increased her chances
of someone discovering her but would also confirm to her this pastime brought
as much joy to others as it did to her. The long-awaited day was finally here.