Yes, I'll come to your book club
November 14, 2014
One of my favorite ways to connect with readers is through book clubs. I’ve visited groups in my home state of Idaho and as far away as New York by phone. Recently I flew to California. Yes, for a book club!
The invitation came from a high school classmate, and I think we were both a little surprised I accepted. We’d gone to different grade schools, different churches, had different circles of friends, so our only connection seemed to be that we’d grown up in the same town and graduated the same year. Much later, after Paula read my first book, we began corresponding by email and keeping up as Facebook friends. We wrote about our overlapping, yet never-quite-connecting pasts. I recalled that we were both Camp Fire Girls, though never in the same group. I had a vague recollection of a little red-haired girl at the council meetings when we all gathered to receive awards.
Paula and her sister Nancy, who was visiting, picked me up at the San Diego airport, and we toured the city by trolley. That evening in Murrieta we talked and laughed and snacked while reminiscing about our hometown of Twin Falls, Idaho, and the people we knew. We talked about books. The next morning after breakfast, we took a walk under a perfect, cloudless California sky, and the conversation continued. Then, while the two sisters prepared refreshments and set up for the book club, I lounged out on the patio, barefooted, sun glistening off the duck-filled pond, the spray of fountains providing a backdrop as I read. I wasn’t allowed to help with the work. I felt like a pampered celebrity.
The women at the book club that evening were wonderful—well-read (of course), full of questions and thoughts on my book THE WOMAN WHO HEARD COLOR.
After the meeting, Paula presented me with a bag full of well-imagined, thoughtful gifts—California olive oil, an avocado cutter to celebrate the famous product of the region, nuts and chocolates for the flight home. And a small wrapped package that felt like a framed picture.
Curious, I opened it slowly. At first I was confused as I studied the old, faded, black and white photo, half a dozen young girls against the backdrop of a rustic cabin complete with American flag and a makeshift clothesline.
“It’s Camp Tawakani,” I finally said, realizing it was taken at the Camp Fire Girls’ camp located in the hills just south of Twin Falls.
“That’s you.” Paula pointed to a pale, dark-haired girl.
I studied the girl’s face, not quite recognizing my younger self. Then I spotted my best friend, Rita, and I knew it was me!
“I took this picture,” Paula said. “We must have been cabin mates that year.”
She brought out a box of similar pictures and we discovered a date—1959—and long-ago, forgotten memories. We were eleven at the time.
Now, we are mothers and grandmothers. We both love books and this is what has brought us together. Thank you, Paula, for an opportunity I am so very happy I did not miss! Let’s not wait another 55 years to get together.
THIS IS A PRECIOUS STORY,CAMPFIRE DAYS WERE SO SPECTACULAR and Camp Tawakani,”DO YOU HAVE THE PICTURE? I know Rita was the tall skinny one!
THANKS FOR THE STORY! Rita
-Rita Jankowska-Bradley, November 17, 2014
I have the copy Paula made for me. I could possibly scan it, but I'll ask Paula if she'd like to share, maybe on Facebook. We were able to identify two of the other girls, but the remaining two are still a mystery. It would be fun if someone knew who they were.
-Kelly Jones, November 17, 2014