Forward & Foreword

📅 August 7, 2020

Those of you who have been with me on this journey from the beginning will remember that I started blogging in response to a challenge to Blog 31 Days.

I began this past March and was somewhat surprised that I was able to rise to the occasion, meet the goal, and empowered enough to succeed at Blogging 31 Days again in May.

Then, here came the summer months and two 31-day months, back to back: July and August.

Undaunted, I ventured out, curious but willing to blog 62 days straight.

July ended successfully. Still, I wondered if I would sally forth into August.

And then, finishing up the last week of July, which ended on a Friday, I published a post the next day, because it was Saturday and the end of the week.

When I realized it was also the 1st of the month, I congratulated myself on progressing into August without even thinking.

I stayed on course a few more days and then an unexpected opportunity presented itself.

A little summer break, a brief trip, a couple of days of fun.

I thought ahead to the logistics of writing four blogs, and posting them every morning, “whilst” engaged in some much-needed frivolity, and concluded the task simply was not doable.

I would have to break my momentum, my forward march into August.

So I took the advice I would have given a friend. [This is always my trick for reasoning with myself.]

“Take the break. You need it.”

Therefore, I will continue to blog through August, finishing “Meeting of Friends” on Tuesdays, “The Elusive Culprit” on Thursdays, as well as the “Fruit of the Spirit” series on Fridays.

But not every day. I’m going to let inspiration dictate.

And then I can think ahead and plan for blogging 31 days in October.  

To tide you over: allow me to share a little of my “other writing project,” a portion of the opening chapter of Lawson Payne: Part V of the Magnolia Arms Chronicles.

If you are a fan of Muriel Porter, owner of the Drifters’ Rest, who helped Agnes Quinn make it through her first tumultuous days at Brighton Park Community College, or if you have been following “Meeting of Friends” on Tuesdays, I hope you will enjoy meeting Muriel’s family in this segment.

[If you infer “Bennett” is a nod to Jane Austen, you are correct. I chose to use two ‘t’s’ rather than one.]

The Bennetts lived in the old family home, a rambling, two-story brown brick house in the heart of Plainview. Designed and built by great grandfather Preston Bennett, the residence was the envy of all who passed by, not only because of its beauty, but also because “Miss Emmaline” (as everyone called her) suffused the house with her gentle presence and impeccable taste.

Here the Bennett girls grew up, surrounded by good books, good music, good food, good company, and hospitality offered open-handed to friend and stranger alike. 

Their father Edward Bennett early fell prey to a recurring succession of jokes and jibes about being “outnumbered” in his house. Three girls? ‘Starting a softball team?’ So close in age, they would be in high school at the same time. What would he do during prom season? There would be three dresses to buy. Never mind that. They’d be in college one after the other for quite some time. And when they hit marrying age, he could be paying for weddings every year. Had he thought about that? Or would they be allowed to date before they were 30?

Not one of these predictions came true.

Muriel was too busy to bother with a prom. She had always been business-minded, squirreling away her allowance and babysitting money. By 16, she was cleaning tables at Porter’s Restaurant, and was quickly promoted to server. At 18, a high school senior, she was assistant manager, running the café on weekends—one reason she skipped the prom. The other—she was in love with owner Beau Porter, a widower sixteen years older, with two sons. Her father approved of Beau, but cautioned Muriel about the age gap and raising two boys. Respecting his wishes, she waited till 20 to marry.

Cammie, on the other hand, fell in love with Cal Phipps at 15, and attended the prom every year with him. Salutatorian of her class, she enrolled in UNC Chapel Hill to prepare to be a teacher, but when the time came to leave Cal, she could not bear to be parted from him. Both 18 the summer after they graduated, they eloped, and after a weekend honeymoon in Charlotte, moved into an affordable apartment. Cammie enrolled in Brighton Park Community College instead. One year later, Paige Evans Phipps was born, followed two years after by brother Gary Cooper Phipps. 

Dolley’s family lost track of how often she was in love. They expected her to marry her latest flame after she graduated, but they underestimated her. Dolley’s limitless capacity to love extended to all humanity. What better way was there to alleviate suffering than by becoming a nurse? She enrolled in a two-year program, but when she achieved the highest grade in her class, her supervisor urged her to continue. Dolley  agreed, but insisted on getting married first, and set herself up for a lifetime of raised eyebrows, when she married an up-and-coming reporter at the Plainview Press—Joe Madison.    


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Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.


Semi-Finalist - 2021 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition - Florida Writer's Association