Write What you know? Oh-boy!
The above photo is of my dad and his first crop-duster, a WWII trainer Stearman, and now total antique. It’s what inspired me to write my DEAD RED MYSTERY series. After all, it was just odd enough for an amateur sleuth like my protagonist, that I thought, “Why not?”
I was a thirty-four year old single working mom of two living on the ranch my dad bought as an almond ranch/crop-dusting business. Other than the noisy airplanes that woke me up every summer morning for most of my life I had no concept on what really went on with his business.
It would’ve stayed that way too, except my mother was itching to go on a cruise to Alaska and how was that going to happen when Alaska needs to be seen in the summer and summer is for–you guessed it, flying over crops, keeping peaches/grapes (you name it) from suffering devastating losses to the farmers to RAIN.
Dad thought training me for the temporary office work while he and mom went on that Alaska cruise would be a cinch. Okay, I got most of it in a day or two, until my dad patted me on the shoulder and said, “I think you got most of it kid. Just pray it doesn’t rain.” Rain? Why should I be worried about rain?
His smile got wider. “You’ll do fine, kid. We’re only going to be gone for a week.”
With that he ushered mom into the car and disappeared in a cloud of dust.
It sure didn’t look like it was going to rain. Except that at three a.m. I awoke to the clang of a bell.
“Whazzat?” Fuzzy brained at being disturbed at this time of the morning, I rolled over and waited for it to stop. It stopped. Then started again. I blinked awake. Uh-oh. The bell was attached to the phone in Dad’s office, and after five rings it would go to a message machine.
Lucky me. It stopped. Something for later, maybe? Clang-clang-clang! Not later…Now!
I rolled out of bed, pulled on jeans, T-shirt, workbooks, ran out the door and almost collided with the row of trucks bearing just what farmers would need to fight off mold and mildew. I beat them to the office, the rain pelting me in the face, wondering how I was to get through this day, or the next week.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of my history. I’ll share more of this story with y’all in another blog.
In the meantime, the photo below is of my son, John Shanahan, (the big Irish mick with the curly red hair on the right) who followed in his grandfather’s footsteps.
Thanks for stopping by….RP Dahlke
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