Posted tagged ‘tyler r. tichelaar’

Ten-Year Anniversary Edition Released of Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One

April 21, 2016

Marquette, MI, April 20, 2016—In 2006, local author Tyler R. Tichelaar published his first novel, Iron Pioneers, which was soon followed by two sequels, The Queen City and Superior Heritage to complete The Marquette Trilogy. Now Tichelaar is celebrating the ten-year anniversary of this first novel by reprinting it with a new color cover, an interior historic map of Marquette, and a new preface “Creating a Literature for Upper Michigan.”

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

“It felt like the ten-year anniversary of my first book was a reason to celebrate,” said Tichelaar. “And Iron Pioneers remains my bestselling book to this day, but I was never happy with the brown cover, which was chosen by my publisher at the time. I initially envisioned a gold cover, so I’ve chosen that, which seemed appropriate for an anniversary edition.”

Tichelaar first had the idea to write novels set in Marquette back in 1987 when he began writing his first book, eventually published in 2009 as The Only Thing That Lasts. But it was in 1999, when he was living in Kalamazoo, earning his Ph.D. in Literature, and homesick for the U.P., that he had the idea to write a novel that covered the scope of Marquette’s history. “It was Marquette’s sesquicentennial year,” he said, “and I felt it was time to tell Marquette’s story in a new way that highlighted its significant role in American history.” Tichelaar planned to write one novel, but the more research he did, the larger it grew, until it eventually became a trilogy. “It was seven years from conception to publication,” said Tichelaar, “but nearly 600,000 words and countless drafts later, I found it all worth it when people began reading The Marquette Trilogy.”

The plot of Iron Pioneers begins with a prologue about Father Marquette coming to the Marquette area. It then moves ahead to 1849 when Marquette was founded. It follows several fictional families through the early pioneer years, the Civil War, the fire of 1868, and the growth of Marquette. Numerous historical people, including Bishop Baraga and Peter White, are featured in the story. The story concludes in 1897 with the celebrations surrounding the Father Marquette statue’s unveiling. The successive books in the trilogy continue the story of Marquette’s history up to the sesquicentennial celebrations in 1999. “I wanted readers to feel they were stepping back in time to meet Marquette’s pioneers and to come away appreciating the sacrifices they made and the courage they showed when the settled here,” said Tichelaar.

Tichelaar has been very pleased with his readers’ responses to Iron Pioneers and his other books. “People tell me that they look at Marquette differently after they read my books. They notice old buildings, wonder about the people who once lived or worked there, and want to learn more about them. Tichelaar also noted that when he began writing Iron Pioneers, there was a lack of adult fiction set in Upper Michigan. Since then, the number of U.P. writers has exploded. “Today we can be proud that we have a vibrant and diverse U.P. literature,” said Tichelaar. “We have novels, history books, and poetry. I know of over one hundred U.P. writers all doing their part to capture the essence of our life here. I am proud to be one of the pioneers of that movement, and I intend to write many more books for the people who love this place and call it home.”

Iron Pioneers, The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (ISBN 9780979179006, Marquette Fiction, 2016) can be purchased in paperback and ebook editions through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit www.MarquetteFiction.com. Review copies available upon request.

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My Newest Novel, “Ogier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three”

December 11, 2015

Morgan le Fay Returns at Time of Charlemagne in New King Arthur Novel

Marquette, MI, December 9, 2015—Three centuries after she carried her brother, King Arthur, to Avalon, Morgan le Fay is still interfering in the lives of mortals. At the court of Charlemagne is the handsome and virile Prince Ogier of Denmark, and Morgan le Fay has surprising plans for him. Now Ogier tells the story of his amazing adventures in award-winning author Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new historical fantasy novel Ogier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three.

From Charlemagne's France to Haroun al-Rashid's caliphate and taking a magic carpet ride to Avalon and the fabled land of Prester John inbetween, Ogier's Prayer is the latest in a series of novels about the descendants of King Arthur.

From Charlemagne’s France to Haroun al-Rashid’s caliphate and taking a magic carpet ride to Avalon and the fabled land of Prester John inbetween, Ogier’s Prayer is the latest in a series of novels about the descendants of King Arthur.

Ogier the Dane is the greatest knight since King Arthur. Blessed at birth by Morgan le Fay and her fellow fairies, he has always known a great destiny awaits him. Even when his evil stepmother Gudrun turns his father’s affections against him, leading to his exile at Charlemagne’s court, he does not cease to aspire to greatness. There he befriends the great knight, Roland, and he achieves many valorous deeds, rescuing princesses and surpassing other men at arms.

Then Ogier’s father dies and his evil stepmother secretly marries Roland’s uncle, Geoffrey, son of the mysterious fairy Melusine. When, soon after, Ogier learns that Gudrun has murdered Geoffrey and taken Melusine’s magic ring, he fears Gudrun has sinister and far-reaching plans. Ogier soon pursues her beyond the limits of the known eighth century world. From France to Avalon, and from the fabled land of the legendary Christian king, Prester John, to the court of Haroun al-Rashid, the caliph of Arabian Nights fame, Ogier finds himself caught up in more adventures and mysteries than he ever could have conceived. Most importantly, before his quest is completed, he will discover that the power of prayer can work wonders that no manner of manly prowess could ever accomplish.

Bookending Ogier’s tale is that of Adam and Anne Delaney, a twentieth century couple who have appeared in each volume of the Children of Arthur series. The Delaneys’ children have just been kidnapped, and they fear it is by the latest incarnation of Ogier’s evil sorceress stepmother, who is preparing to unleash havoc upon the human race. In their efforts to protect their children and stop this ancient supernatural woman, they are guided by the great magician Merlin, who reveals to them their own family’s connections to Morgan le Fay and her lover Ogier.

Arthurian authors and fans have been delighted with each volume of the Children of Arthur series. Sophie Masson, editor of The Road to Camelot, praises the first book, Arthur’s Legacy, as “an intriguing blend of action-packed time-slip fantasy adventure, moving love story, multi-layered mystery, and unusual spiritual exploration.” Cheryl Carpinello, author of Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, proclaims that the second book, Melusine’s Gift, is “reminiscent of those ancient Tales from the Arabian Nights where one story flows into the next…. I can’t recommend this series enough.” And Roslyn McGrath, author of The Third Mary, calls Ogier’s Prayer an “inspirational re-visioning of the past…vivid, suspenseful storytelling will leave you craving the next installment of this thought-provoking, delightfully plot-twisting series!”

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of numerous historical fiction novels, including The Marquette Trilogy, The Best Place, and the award-winning Narrow Lives, as well as the scholarly books The Gothic Wanderer and King Arthur’s Children and the play Willpower.

Ogier’s Prayer: The Children of Arthur, Book Three (ISBN 9780996240017, Marquette Fiction, 2015) can be purchased in paperback and ebook editions through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit www.ChildrenofArthur.com. Review copies available upon request.

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Lyla and Bel’s 4th of July

July 1, 2014

For this Independence Day holiday, I thought I would post one of the scenes from my novel The Best Place in which the main character Lyla Hopewell and her eccentric best friend, Bel, celebrate the holiday.

 

So on the Fourth of July, Bel comes over for breakfast, and I have to admit she tries really hard. I tell her when she gets there that I’m making scrambled eggs, but she says, “No, that ain’t festive enough for the Fourth of July.” Then she sticks in a video of this silly musical called 1776 that has that bad film look like most of those movies made in the ’60s and ’70s. And it seems like it’s all about Thomas Jefferson’s sex life from what little bit of it I actually pay attention to—and she tells me just to sit there and have my coffee and enjoy myself while she makes pancakes. So I says, “Okay,” to make her happy, and I drink two cups of coffee and pretend to watch half the movie, and I’m just about ready to keel over from hunger when she finally tells me she’s done.

So I drag myself out of the chair and go over to the table and I think, “What the hell did she bake a cake for?” Only, it’s not a cake. It’s a stack of pancakes, and she’s covered the top one in strawberry and blueberry jam and whipping cream so it looks all red, white, and blue, and then she’s got a little American flag on a toothpick attached to it. “I wanted to put in a sparkler,” she says, “but I was afraid it would set off the fire alarm, and I didn’t think we’d use a whole box of them—they don’t sell them separately,” she says.

The Best Place - the story of two women who grew up in Marquette's Holy Family Orphanage and their lifelong friendship.

The Best Place – the story of two women who grew up in Marquette’s Holy Family Orphanage and their lifelong friendship.

“It’s pretty, Bel,” I says, “but I don’t like whipping cream, you know.”

“That’s okay. I’ll eat the top one—oh, I forgot the candle I bought to replace the sparkler.”

And then she grabs two giant birthday candles off the cupboard of the numbers “7” and “6.” They’re the same ones she used for my birthday cake last year.

“What’s that for?” I asks.

“It’s America’s birthday today,” she says. “It’s the Spirit of ’76. Don’t you remember that from history class?”

I remember birthday cakes have candles to represent a person’s age, not the year they were born, but I s’pose she couldn’t do the math to figure it out—two hundred and…and…twenty-nine it would be—2005 minus 1776.

“Let’s eat,” I says, but first I have to use the bathroom from drinking all that coffee while I waited.

I go in the bathroom and sit down, and can’t help laughing to myself about the pancakes covered in jam with “76” sticking out of them. That’d be one to take a picture of if my Kodak disc camera hadn’t broken. I haven’t bought a new one—those new digital things are just too expensive as far as I’m concerned. And I don’t have a computer to read them on.

Well, we have a nice breakfast. I eat far more pancakes than I normally would, but Bel says we need to eat extra to keep up our strength for walking to the parade. It’s on Washington Street, just two blocks from Snowberry, but whatever.

After breakfast, I wash up the dishes while she watches the rest of 1776. For the rest of the day, I’ll hear her humming that song about Jefferson playing the violin.

“We can watch Yankee Doodle Dandy tonight, Lyla,” she says.

“Great,” I think, but I just says, “Okay.” Maybe I’ll be lucky and fall asleep by then.

“While we wait for the fireworks,” she says.

I’d forgotten about the fireworks, but I can see them great where they shoot them off over the old ore dock right from my window. It’s one of the few advantages of living high up in a skyscraper—well, at least the closest thing to a skyscraper that Marquette’s got.

When it’s time for the parade, we put on suntan lotion at Bel’s insistence, and we get out our old lady straw hats, and then we take the elevator down to the lobby. We go out into the parking lot to Bel’s car where she’s got a couple fold-up lawn chairs in her trunk. Then we start up the hill to Washington Street, a bit before the crowd, so we can get a spot in the shade, usually in front of the buildings on the south side of the street between Fourth and Fifth.

We find a good shady spot, right next to a little tree and where we can see up Washington Street where the parade will come down. There aren’t any kids nearby to run in the street and grab candy and get on my nerves, so that’s a good sign, though it’s a good half hour before the parade will start down by Shopko, and probably another half hour after that before it’ll get to where we are downtown.

At least we’re in the shade so I don’t have to listen to Bel complaining about the heat, though it’s turning out to be a hot summer, which I can do without. No true Yooper likes hot weather—anything over seventy degrees and I start sweating, and when you spend your life walking back and forth to work and working on your feet all day, it doesn’t take much to get you sweating. I’m sweating just from the walk up the hill to here.

I guess a lot of other people must not like hot weather either considering all the guys walking around with their shirts off and the girls in their skimpy shorts and those tank top things that show off their cleavage—well, I’d like to think it was because they don’t like to sweat, but I know better. Bunch of tramps is what we would have called these girls in my day. And the guys, they look like babies mostly, they’re so young. I admit some of them might be good-looking, but they spoil their looks with all those God-awful tattoos. I can see maybe having one on your arm, but not on your back, chest, and especially on your neck. Just makes me want to puke. And then there are the young teenage boys riding around on their bikes, trying to attract the “chicks,” but mostly just making asses out of themselves—only the tramps they’ll attract are too stupid to know they’re asses. “Male sluts—that’s what they are,” I mutter to myself as a trio of them go by, trying to do wheelies for whatever girls might be in the crowd.

“What?” Bel asks.

“Oh, nothing. I just don’t understand the younger generation,” I says.

“Oh, Lyla, how could you? You never were young yourself.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asks.

“Here, have your Diet Coke before it gets too warm,” she says, pulling two drinks out of her gigantic purse.

I take the pop and crack the cap just enough to let the fizz out so it doesn’t explode. I’m not going to ask her again what she means by my never having been young. I was young until I was about ten, but I was never the age of those teenage boys on their bicycles. I never had the freedom to be young like that. I was milking cows at the orphanage and then taking care of two old ladies, and then taking care of a store, an old man, and a woman with a baby and a drunken husband all my teen years. By the time I turned eighteen, I was on my own again, and had my own apartment, but I was busy working constantly so I’d have enough to pay the rent. I had plenty of guys around my age who would try to hit on me when I walked around town, but I just ignored them, and I never went to the bars or anything—I saw what marriage did to people—my father abandoned my mother, or at least that’s what we all thought, and I’m sure her heartbreak over that contributed to her death, and then Bel married an alcoholic who beat her, not to mention she lost her child. Why would I want to go through that pain? And then there were the rich ladies I cleaned house for, always fussing over their rich husbands who brought home the bacon, and most of them were scared of their husbands too. What the hell did I want with that kind of a life?

Finally, we see the cop cars starting to come down the street—a sign that the parade is about to start.

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Find out what happens next in The Best Place, available at www.MarquetteFiction.com

My New King Arthur Historical Fantasy Series Is Launched!

June 6, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Historical Fantasy Series Debuts with Twist on King Arthur Legend

 “Arthur’s Legacy,” first in a groundbreaking new historical fantasy series by award-winning author Tyler R. Tichelaar, suggests Camelot’s story was distorted by its enemies and reveals the role of King Arthur’s descendants throughout history.

Arthur's Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One - the first in a five book Arthurian historical fantasy series

Arthur’s Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One – the first in a five book Arthurian historical fantasy series

Marquette, MI, June 1, 2014—What if everything we ever thought we knew about King Arthur were false? What if Mordred were one of Camelot’s greatest heroes rather than Arthur’s enemy, but someone purposely distorted the story? What if King Arthur’s descendants live among us today and are ready to set the record straight? Award-winning novelist and Arthurian scholar Tyler R. Tichelaar offers entertaining and visionary answers to those questions in his new novel “Arthur’s Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One” (ISBN 9780979179082, Marquette Fiction, 2014).

The Arthurian legend says King Arthur and Mordred, his illegitimate son, born of incest, slew each other at the Battle of Camlann. But early in Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new novel, “Arthur’s Legacy,” that belief is called into question by a modern day man who claims to have been an eyewitness of events at Camelot. Disrupting a lecture, the mysterious man declares, “I will not be silent; Mordred has been falsely accused for nearly fifteen hundred years. It is time the truth be known.”

Soon, a series of strange events are set in motion, and at their center is Adam Delaney, a young man who never knew his parents. When Adam learns his father’s identity, he travels to England to find him, never suspecting he will also find ancient family secrets, including the true cause of Camelot’s fall.

In “Arthur’s Legacy,” Tichelaar draws on many often overlooked sources, including the involvement of Guinevere’s sister Gwenhwyvach in Camelot’s downfall, Mordred’s magnanimous character, Arthur’s other forgotten children, the legend that Jesus’ lost years were spent in Britain, and the possibility that Arthur’s descendants live among us today.

When asked about his inspiration for writing The Children of Arthur series, Tichelaar said, “For centuries the British royal family has claimed descent from King Arthur, but DNA and mathematical calculations would suggest that if King Arthur lived, nearly everyone alive today would be his descendant. The five novels in this series ask, ‘What if the myths and legends of King Arthur, Charlemagne, Dracula, Ancient Troy, Adam and Eve, and so many others were true? How would that knowledge change who we are today?’”

Arthurian scholars and novelists are raving about “Arthur’s Legacy.” John Matthews, author of “King Arthur: Dark Age Warrior and Mythic Hero,” says “‘Arthur’s Legacy’ is a fresh new take on the ancient and wondrous myth of Arthur.” Sophie Masson, editor of “The Road to Camelot,” calls “Arthur’s Legacy,” “an intriguing blend of action-packed time-slip fantasy adventure, moving love story, multi-layered mystery, and unusual spiritual exploration.” Debra Kemp, author of “The House of Pendragon” series, states, “Tichelaar has performed impeccable research into the Arthurian legend, finding neglected details in early sources and reigniting their significance.” And Steven Maines, author of “The Merlin Factor” series, concludes “Arthur’s Legacy” “will surely take its rightful place among the canon of great Arthurian literature.”

About the Author

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., is the author of numerous historical fiction novels, including “The Best Place,” and the scholarly books “The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption” and “King Arthur’s Children.” In writing “The Children of Arthur” series, Tichelaar drew upon Arthurian and Gothic literature and biblical and mythic stories to reimagine human history. “Melusine’s Gift,” the second novel in the series, will be published in 2015.

“Arthur’s Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One” (ISBN 9780979179082, Marquette Fiction, 2014) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. Ebook editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. For more information, visit www.ChildrenofArthur.com. Review copies available upon request.

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U.P. Novel Explores Marquette Orphanage and 2005 Finn Fest

June 25, 2013

For Immediate Release – Press Release for The Best Place

U.P. Novel Explores Marquette Orphanage and 2005 Finn Fest

Amid a cast of unforgettable characters, and from the Great Depression to Finn Fest 2005, Lyla Hopewell, survives a childhood in an orphanage and seeks her identity and the love she’s always craved in Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new novel “The Best Place.”

Marquette, MI June 21, 2013—An irritating best friend gained during a childhood spent in a Catholic orphanage, a father who became a Communist and migrated to Russia in the 1930s, and 3:00 a.m. visits to The Pancake House. Such is the life of Lyla Hopewell. But things are about to change for her in Tyler R. Tichelaar’s new novel “The Best Place” (ISBN 9780979179075, Marquette Fiction, 2013).

My new novel - cover photo is a 1940 postcard of Holy Family Orphanage (courtesy of  Jack Deo, Superior View)

Tyler R. Tichelaar’s latest novel – cover photo is a 1940 postcard of Holy Family Orphanage (courtesy of Jack Deo, Superior View)

During the Great Depression, many American Finns migrated to Karelia, a Finnish province under Soviet control. Convinced the American Dream was a falsehood, they were ready to embrace Communism, and Lyla Hopewell’s father was among them. Planning to send for his wife and daughters once he was settled, he was never heard from again. Then Lyla’s mother died, her sister was adopted, and she was sent to a Catholic orphanage.

These inauspicious beginnings gave Lyla plenty of reason to be ornery, but they also made her tough. Now at age seventy-seven, Lyla will find her past intruding into her present. She’ll try to reconcile with her ex-boyfriend, be badgered by her best friend into joining a women’s recovery group, be harassed by a foul-mouthed teenager, and embrace her heritage at Finn Fest 2005.

Author Tyler R. Tichelaar’s novels are popular throughout Upper Michigan as well as far beyond. Canadian author Laura Fabiani describes his books as “Never predictable, sometimes heartbreaking, always hopeful.” Bethany Andrews of Book of the Moment (located in Maine) declares, “I am now and forever a huge Tyler Tichelaar fan. He’s a man with a wonderful gift for storytelling, and a knack for presenting historical facts in a way that can rival any great historical fiction author.” And Upper Michigan author Karl Bohnak states, “Tyler Tichelaar speaks from the heart about his love affair with the town of his birth.”

In “The Best Place,” Tichelaar has created a tour-de-force with memorable characters, many returning from his previous novels, who reflect the insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams we all have. “The Best Place” is Tichelaar’s funniest, most heart-wrenching, and overall most cathartic novel to date. Lyla Hopewell’s story of survival and resilience amid personal mistakes, rejection, and life’s obstacles will inspire readers from all walks of life.

About the Author

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. in Literature and current president of the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association, is a seventh generation resident of Marquette, Michigan, the city where his novels are set. In 2009, Tyler received the Best Historical Fiction Award in the Reader Views Literary Awards for his novel “Narrow Lives.” In 2011, he received the Barb H. Kelly Historic Preservation Award from the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee for his book “My Marquette,” and he received the Marquette County Arts Award that same year for an “Outstanding Writer.”

“The Best Place” (ISBN 9780979179075, Marquette Fiction, 2013) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit www.MarquetteFiction.com. Review copies available upon request.

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Blueberry Picking Season – 1920 Style

August 6, 2012

I just had a wonderful piece of blueberry pie, so in tribute to my favorite pie, favorite berry, and an occupation I find quite relaxing, I am posting a scene from my novel The Queen City that takes place in 1920 and depicts some of my characters taking the blueberry train north of Marquette to go blueberry picking.

Enjoy, and may you have blueberry pie sometime in your near future.

 

1920

            On this beautiful August morning, Kathy McCarey felt all was finally right again with the world. This time two years ago, the war had still been raging, but now some good might be detected as having resulted from it. She would never cease missing Frank, but the worst pain of his loss had been dealt with, and while a day never passed without her thinking of him, she found life remained abundant about her. Jeremy had come home from the war, and a year ago, he had married. Now Kathy and Patrick were expecting their first grandchild. Jeremy had met his bride, Caroline, while training downstate at Fort Custer; after the war, he had gone back to Battle Creek to visit her family and bring her home to be his wife. Caroline missed her family downstate, but Kathy felt once the baby was born, her daughter-in-law would adjust to the change of location and feel her life was complete, just as Kathy had felt when her first child, Frank, had been born. She had become a mother so many years ago, yet Kathy found it hard to believe that only her baby, Beth, was still at home. And now Beth was a big girl of ten and would be running off to get married before she knew it, but by that time, Kathy imagined she would have Jeremy’s children to spoil.

The Queen City

The Queen City: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One

            “Mama, hurry, or we’ll be late!” Beth shouted.

The girl had learned to yell for her mother’s attention, and usually Kathy heard her. At first, the deafness had been difficult for Kathy, but she soon found she knew her family so well, she could guess what each one wanted even if she only caught a couple words. She had become very good at reading lips, especially when speaking to people outside of her family. At other times, her family might speak loudly to her, but because she was not facing them, she pretended she did not hear them; she had found that a little exaggeration of her deafness helped to prevent many unnecessary family conflicts.

“Thelma’s already waiting outside,” Beth continued to holler.

Thelma was making her annual summer visit. Kathy felt the girl was a good companion for Beth, old enough to watch over her, yet young enough to play with her. That Thelma was a bit slow for her years made the two girls all the more compatible. Kathy had often feared Beth would become a tomboy because she only had older brothers to model herself after, but Thelma was decidedly feminine with her fancy white gloves, expensive dresses, and refined taste in music. And Thelma had not yet acquired any of those silly notions about boys that so many young women had these days. Kathy had been married at Thelma’s age, but Thelma was a late bloomer, and Kathy was thankful because then Beth was less likely to get any ideas while so young. Thelma’s eccentricities actually dissuaded several young men who might otherwise seek her hand solely from interest in her father’s wealth.

“Mama!” Beth hollered again.

“I’m coming,” Kathy called. She had promised to take the girls blueberry picking. Last year a huge forest fire near Birch and Big Bay had resulted in this summer’s mammoth blueberry crop. A “blueberry train” had been organized to take people to the berry fields north of Marquette so they could spend the day filling their pails. When Kathy heard reports that people were returning with tubs full of berries, she was determined to go; she just hoped the fields were not completely picked over; she longed for blueberry pie and did not want to disappoint the girls.

Kathy, Beth, and Thelma soon walked to the train at the depot with a few dozen Marquette residents, all fiercely intent upon blueberry picking, and even more intent on having a good time. Smiles and general gaiety marked the group, for it was a pleasant summer day, with a slight breeze to cool them from the sun’s rays, and the low humidity meant the woods would not be stiflingly hot. True Marquettians are always ready for an excuse to get out of town, no matter how much they love their distinguished city of sandstone and scenic views; they have an innate desire to get lost among trees, to forget civilization’s existence, to renew their spirits amid Nature’s serenity.

The train trip was uneventful, but all the more pleasant for it. Quiet yet eager conversations filled the railway car, and Kathy found herself surrounded by several of her acquaintances. Marquette’s population now surpassed ten thousand, but it remained small enough that if everyone did not know everyone else, people were sure to have mutual friends and acquaintances. Because she could read lips, Kathy could better converse on a noisy train than most of her neighbors with perfect hearing. She felt she hadn’t known such fun since long before the war. Thelma and Beth occupied themselves by looking out the windows. Beth tried to count the birch trees, but she soon gave up—they flew past so rapidly. Thelma willingly entertained her younger cousin, pointing out pretty little meadows or oddly shaped trees. They spotted a few deer, including a princely young fawn. The morning sun glistened through the trees, casting a medley of sunshine rays through the train windows. The ride felt all too short on such a glorious morning, but after a long day of berry picking, they knew they would all appreciate the shortest return trip possible.

When the train stopped at the berry fields, the passengers scurried across the meadows and copses, laying claim to large shady trees under which they could leave their excess belongings until lunchtime. Several people had brought multiple buckets, one even brought a small washtub. People went off with one pail, returned to place it under their claimed spot, set off into the fields to fill a second, and then started on a third. Little fear existed of anyone stealing berries amid such a multitude of overflowing bushes.

Kathy selected a spot for lunch while Thelma led Beth across the berry patches; Beth anxiously followed her cousin, but her enthusiasm was not bound to last.

After fifteen minutes of berry picking, Beth was tired enough to want a break. Thelma, too focused on picking berries to bake a pie for her father’s visit next weekend, ignored her cousin’s complaints.

Seeing that Thelma wasn’t paying attention, and that her mother was across the field, Beth decided to quit picking and go for a walk by herself. As she crossed the fields, she spotted another girl close to her age. She did not recognize the girl from Bishop Baraga School, but that did not matter. Beth went over to introduce herself; in a few minutes, the two girls were best friends, chasing each other and playing hide-and-go-seek among the trees; they completely neglected the blueberries, save for trampling over some of the bushes.

When Kathy looked up, she was concerned not to see her daughter near Thelma, but after a minute, she saw Beth and the other little girl. Having known Beth’s work ethic would not last long, she smiled to see her daughter had found a friend. Kathy returned to berry picking until Thelma had picked her way in the same direction. When the two were close enough, they started to chat and momentarily forgot about Beth until Thelma heard her scream from across the meadow.

Thelma told her aunt what she had heard, and then Kathy, who had not heard anything, quickly looked about for the source of her daughter’s cries. Then Beth came running toward her mother, her dress ripped, her eyes filled with tears, clutching the handle of her berry pail, only half connected to its handle so that the berries were haphazardly plunking from the bucket to the ground as she ran.

“Beth, what’s wrong?” asked Kathy, rushing to take her girl in her arms.

“I saw a snake! I nearly stepped on it before I saw it,” she said between sobs. “And that girl, Amy—I hate her—she just laughed, and she picked up the snake and shoved it at me; it hissed and tried to bite me!”

“There, there, dear. There aren’t any poisonous snakes around here. What color was it?”

“Green, and it was really big, like this.” Beth held up her hands to indicate a foot and a half.

“Ha,” laughed Thelma. “It was just a little garter snake. It won’t hurt you. I know a boy back in Calumet who keeps a half dozen of them as pets.”

Rather than be consoled, this news ran shivers up Beth’s spine.

“There, dear, it’s okay,” said Kathy. “It wasn’t nice of Amy to do that, but it didn’t hurt you any. Now tell me, how did you rip your dress?”

“Oh,” said Beth, forgetting she had intended to carry her pail in front of the rip so her mother would not see it. The snake ordeal had broken her cunning, so she had to confess. “I tore it on a branch while Amy and I were climbing a tree.”

“Well,” said Kathy, “it’s one of your older dresses, and I imagined you’d end up with berry stains on it, but I wish you wouldn’t climb trees.”

The mention of berries made Beth look to see how many she had picked. Then she discovered her bucket handle had broken. The bucket hung down at a forty-five degree angle. Inside, only six berries and some blueberry leaves were to be found.

“I lost all my berries!” she cried.

Twenty feet away, a young boy heard the lament. He had witnessed the snake incident and been unable to restrain from silent laughter, but now he felt sorry when Beth looked devastated by the lost blueberries.

“Come, dear,” said Kathy. “Let’s have lunch, and then we’ll fix your pail so you can still fill it this afternoon.”

“But I had it almost full,” sobbed Beth. “I wanted to pick two pails worth.”

In truth, the pail had barely been a quarter full, but Beth exaggerated her loss so her mother would not chide her for slacking in her berry picking.

Kathy and Thelma continued to console Beth as they found their shady tree and set up lunch. While they unfolded the picnic cloth, the young man who had witnessed Beth’s tragic scene approached. He waited to be noticed, then said hello.

“I saw you spill your berries,” he told Beth. “You can have my pail full if you want. I don’t really need so many.”

“Oh no, we couldn’t,” said Kathy.

“I insist,” he said, turning to Kathy. “It didn’t take me long to pick them, and I already filled two other pails this morning. I have all afternoon to pick, and I know little kids get tired quicker, so now she won’t have to pick all afternoon to make up her loss.”

Kathy was going to object again, but the young man said, “Please. I really do insist.”

“What do you say, Beth?”

“Okay,” Beth agreed, too surprised by such kindness to remember her manners.

“We thank you, Mr.—”

“I’m Henry,” he replied, although pleased to be called “Mister” when he was only fifteen.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Henry,” said Thelma, holding out her hand. “Would you like to have lunch with us?”

Henry did not wish to impose. He waited for permission from the adult.

“There’s plenty of food,” Thelma said. “Isn’t there, Aunt Kathy?”

Kathy smiled. “We have more than enough. Please join us.”

Henry accepted by sitting down. Thelma introduced everyone, explained that she was visiting her relatives in Marquette, then launched into her life story, which despite her short lifespan she described in enough detail that it could have rivaled War and Peace if written down. Beth sat quietly, too shy to say anything, but she adored the kind young man. Kathy emptied the picnic basket and spread out everything while Thelma continued to chatter.

“Henry, are you here by yourself?” asked Kathy, breaking in as Thelma paused before beginning to describe her life at age nine. Kathy was surprised the boy did not eat with his own family or friends.

“Yes, my pa is working for the Kaufmans over at Granot Loma. I usually work with him, but today there wasn’t much I could do, so he suggested I pick berries, and I’ll meet him when he’s ready to head home.”

“Oh, you’ve seen Granot Loma!” squealed Thelma, although less interested in Granot Loma than in gaining the boy’s attention. He was younger than her, but boys rarely spoke to her, so she was not choosy.

“Yes, it’s incredible. It’s so big, and it’s progressing beautifully.”

“What is your father doing there?” asked Kathy.

“He’s a carpenter, just like me,” Henry replied.

“You’re not old enough to work,” said Beth. “Don’t you go to school?”

“I did until this year, but from now on, I’m going to work with my Pa to help out the family. I have four younger brothers and sisters; the youngest one, Bill, is just two months old, so we need all the money we can get.”

Kathy smiled. She believed in the importance of education, but Henry seemed intelligent from his manner and speech, and a boy who helped his family was often of better character than one who received honors at school. It was unfortunate he knew tough times at his young age, but she suspected he might persevere all the more because of it.

“You look familiar,” she said. “Who are your parents?”

“My pa is Will Whitman, and my ma is Margaret. She was a Dalrymple.”

“I used to know Jacob Whitman and his wife Agnes. Are you related to them?”

“They were my grandparents.”

Then the names clicked in Kathy’s head. So this was Will’s son—Jacob and Agnes’s grandson. She had not seen Will in years—would not recognize him if she did see him. He must be middle-aged now, although she could only picture him as the little boy she had once gone sledding with. That meant, if Will were Henry’s father, then Sylvia Cumming was Henry’s aunt. Well, she mustn’t hold that against him.

“I remember your father when he was just a baby,” said Kathy. “When I was a girl, my mother was good friends with your family, especially with your grandma, and I think your great-grandparents. When your Grandpa Whitman moved the family out to his farm, though, we didn’t see much of them after that.”

“My pa did grow up on a farm,” Henry said. “But I never knew my grandparents; they died before I was born.”

“Mine and Beth’s grandparents are dead too,” said Thelma. “Grandpa and Grandma Bergmann I mean. We never knew our grandpa, but our grandma only died a few years ago.”

“Tell us more about Granot Loma,” said Kathy. She did not want to talk more about Henry’s family; his connection to the Cummings reminded her that Sylvia’s sons had come home from the war while Frank had been killed in France.

“Is Granot Loma as grand as everyone says?” asked Thelma. “It sounds like a castle in the wilderness.”

“Sort of is, like a castle masquerading as a log cabin,” laughed Henry.

He launched into a description of the Kaufman family’s magnificent mansion on the shore of Lake Superior. Intended as a summer home, it far outrivaled any cabin in the great North Woods, even those at the exclusive Huron Mountain Club. The Kaufmans had named the cabin for their children by using the first two letters of each of their children’s names to spell out Granot Loma. The famous architect, Marshall Fox, had been hired with several assisting architects to design the monstrous getaway. The main sitting room alone was to be a tremendous eighty feet long, forty feet wide, and thirty-six feet high. Henry did not know all the details, but he remembered those dimensions because they were so unfathomable. His parents’ entire house could fit into that one room. Stonemasons, plumbers, electricians, all were working constantly, yet completion of the building, already begun a year earlier, was estimated to take another five years. Rumor said the Kaufmans would build several smaller yet ornate cabins in the surrounding woods, one for each of their children, locally known as the “million dollar babies”.

“I just can’t imagine anything so grand in Upper Michigan,” said Thelma, jealous that despite her father’s own lumberjack prosperity, he would never be able to afford anything a quarter so splendid.

“Oh, great homes have been built here before,” said Kathy. “You’re all too young to remember the Longyear mansion, but it was a marvel in its day.”

“My pa told me about that,” said Henry. “He and my Grandpa Dalrymple were among those hired to take it apart.”

“It must have been quite a job,” said Kathy. “It was so enormous it filled an entire city block, and when the Longyears decided to move, the whole house was taken apart and shipped out East on railway cars.”

“My ma,” said Henry, “went inside it one day when my grandpa was working there. She got lost in it, it was that big.”

“It must be grand to be so rich,” said Thelma, although she had far more than most young ladies.

“Well,” said Kathy, “let’s have our cake and then get back to berry picking. I spied a good patch just before lunch, and I don’t want anyone to snatch it up.”

When the cake was gone, Henry thanked Kathy and the girls for their hospitality, then said, “I better get back to work. I promised to bring my ma back enough berries for two pies, and I want to bring some home for my grandparents too.”

“We’re glad you could join us,” Thelma said. She was sorry he was leaving; he was a cute boy; she wondered what chance she had to see him again.

Beth was more forward than her cousin. “Henry,” she asked, “can I go pick berries with you?”

“No, Beth, you stay with me,” said Kathy, not wanting to impose on the young man’s kindness.

“But Henry might know where the best berries are,” Beth said.

“She can come with me if she wants to,” said Henry. “I won’t mind.”

“I’m afraid she’ll be a trouble to you,” said Kathy.

“Oh, no,” he replied.

Kathy suspected he was only being kind, but she gave in. “All right, if you’re sure. Beth, you mind your manners, and be back in a couple hours so I don’t have to go looking for you and then miss the train.”

“Yes, Mama,” said Beth, clutching her berry pail, then disappearing with Henry.

Thelma looked after them, wishing she could go along, but she dared not ask—she knew she was no longer a cute little girl who could get away with joining a handsome boy. She stayed behind to help her aunt clean up the picnic.

“Don’t you want to go with them, Thelma?” asked her aunt.

“No, it wouldn’t be fair to leave you alone, aunt,” she said. She was embarrassed that her aunt should ask. She wanted to pick berries with Henry, but having Beth along would just spoil it anyway.

Kathy was pleased such polite young people existed as Henry and her niece, who was always attentive to her. It made her hopeful for the future. The war had not destroyed everything, not when such a beautiful day existed for berry picking, and when grand homes like Granot Loma were being built right here in Upper Michigan. She could not imagine having enough wealth to build such a home. But she was here to collect berries, not dollars, and if she wanted to make those pies, she had better get back to work.

Two berry picking hours later, Henry returned Beth to her mother. Then after saying goodbye, he started for the main road to meet his father and get a ride home.

“He’s so nice,” said Thelma, already starving for another look at the cute boy.

“Yes, the Whitmans were always good people,” said Kathy, thinking the Cummings did not count since they did not share the same name. Kathy thought Agnes would be pleased to know she had such a fine grandson. She wished Agnes could hear how beautifully Thelma played the piano. Agnes had taught Kathy to play and Kathy had first interested Thelma in the piano, and now Thelma was quite an accomplished pianist. Kathy wished Agnes knew how her influence lived on, although more than thirty years had passed since her death.

As they were stepping onto the train, Kathy’s thoughts were interrupted by Mrs. Quigley, whom Kathy knew from church.

“It’s a wonderful blueberry crop this year, isn’t it?” Mrs. Quigley said.

“Yes, I can’t get over how big the berries are,” Kathy replied.

“Listen to this,” said Mrs. Quigley. “I got me a cousin in Chicago, born there, lived there all her life. She called me up on the phone this mornin’ and when I told her I was goin’ to go pick blueberries, she asked whether I was bringin’ a ladder with me. ‘For what?’ I asked. ‘So you can reach them on the trees,’ she said. I said, ‘Blueberries don’t grow on trees, they grow on bushes.’ ‘Oh, I thought they was fruit,’ she says, ‘like oranges and apples.’ ‘They are,’ I says, ‘but lots of fruit grows on bushes.’ And then she got kinda mad at me and said ‘Well how was I to know?’ She ain’t never seen a blueberry bush in her life—only seen blueberries at the grocer’s. Can you imagine that?”

“How stupid she must be?” laughed Beth.

“Beth, we don’t use that word,” said Kathy.

“I’m not sure that she’s stupid,” said Mrs. Quigley, “but it goes to show you that livin’ in the city distorts a person. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere there wasn’t all these woods and open country as we have around here.”

“Chicago must be horrible!” said Thelma.

“Well, some must like it,” Mrs. Quigley replied, “else they wouldn’t live there.”

“People only live there to make money,” said Kathy. “But they don’t realize how little money is worth it. I wouldn’t live there for a million dollars.”

“Me neither,” said Beth.

“Well, I’ve been to Chicago a couple times,” said Mrs. Quigley, “and it’s a dirty, noisy place. It’s nothing compared to the fresh air and clean water we have here. And it’s too crowded, not quiet like here where you can at least hear yourself think.”

“That’s true,” Kathy nodded as the train started to chug down the track, leaving the blueberry meadows far behind.

“Looks like you all made out well,” said Mrs. Quigley. “Must be nice to have helpers. Couldn’t get any of my family to come out. My husband just wants to lay around the house. I’ve three big boys, but do you think I could get one of them to come? Not that they’ll argue when it comes time to eat the blueberry pie and muffins. But I shouldn’t complain. It was a nice quiet day for me. A woman needs a break now and then, especially when she lives with all men. Nice to be out in the woods like this.”

Kathy smiled in agreement. She felt her spirit refreshed by these beautiful dark woods.

Everyone on the train felt content. Bending down all day to pick berries was hard work, but everyone had a full bucket to make blueberry muffins, blueberry pie, blueberry pancakes, blueberry cookies, blueberry jam, blueberries on cereal and blueberries on ice cream. For the especially brave, there would be blueberry soup, that looked like paint and tasted worse, but even these people had to be admired for their blueberry passion. Yes, it had been a fine blueberry-picking day.

Scary Ghost Stories…of Christmases Long, Long Ago

December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

As some of you may know, the first story I ever wrote set in the U.P. “The Ghost of Stonegate Woods” was set during Christmas Eve and told the story of how a young boy, a fictional me, got lost in a blizzard and had the ghost of Annabella Stonegate lead his parents to where he lay in the snow. I wrote that story in 8th grade in 1985. It was broadcast on Public Radio 90 at NMU that fall and the following spring was made into a video that aired on the Upper Michigan Today show.

You can now listen to me read that story–the original clip from the Public Radio 90 broadcast, at my website, as well as find out more about Annabella Stonegate, who will be featured in my upcoming novel Spirit of the North, coming in Spring 2012, at my website:

http://www.marquettefiction.com/ghost-spirit-of-the-north.html

While you’re at my website, check out its new look. I’ve remodeled, thanks to assistance from Larry Alexander of Storyteller’s Friend www.storytf.com

I’ve also added a new page for the Marquette History Quiz. Take the quiz and find out how much you know about Marquette history – and I have plans for more quizzes to come in 2012, as well as other facts and fun for the website.

Finally, you can now check out on my website the new covers for Spirit of the North and my other upcoming book The Gothic Wanderer: From Transgression to Redemption.

It looks like we may end up having a green Christmas in Marquette this year, but regardless of whether your Christmas is green or white, I wish all my readers and followers a wonderful holiday season!

Tyler R. Tichelaar