Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Research Woes

I'm not having a great deal of success in locating research sources for the western novel. I did hear back from the research director at the Panhandle-Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas, that the records of the JA Ranch (if that's where my grandmother taught) would be open to me, but he added that whether or not there were school records would depend on how much involvement the ranch actually had with the school.

Someone else I spoke with in Clarendon, where she went to school or at least went to take the exam for her certificate, suggested that teachers might have been required to file such certificates on the county level. I put aside the idea of calling the county courthouse yesterday. Not only would today's clerks not have a clue what I was talking about, but they are busy with present-day business as well. My best bet is to visit the courthouse on my May trip and find a sympathetic ear

WHY or WHY didn't I ask more questions of my grandmother the afternoon she mentioned it forty-plus years ago? In my mind, I am sitting on the enclosed back porch/sitting room with her, and she is telling me about her teaching, just in passing. As inquisitive as I was, I can't imagine that I didn't pursue the subject! I used to sit at my grandfather's knee (my mother's father) with a pad and pencil and take down every word he said about the "family tree". Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh!

The online card catalogue of the local library, although it is a very nice one, hasn't yielded any promising books. I have two books due by April 3, so it may just require some on-site browsing. At home, I'd have not only the public library but the West Texas Collection at the university. Things may have to go "on-hold" until I can access those. The state archives in Austin is doing some renovation, and according to the person I spoke with there, many of their holdings are in storage until the changes are completed--sometime next year.

Meanwhile, I sit here gnashing my teeth and beating myself up for not milking the last detail from my grandmother, who would have been glad to divulge all. Living next door, I spent as much time at her house as I did at my own. I've still got the half-sheet of notebook paper on which I jotted down a few family facts from one of our discussions---but that's not enough!!

Of course, who knew that someday I'd want to spin a tale of mischief, murder, and mayhem surrounding a naive young school marm on an isolated Texas ranch? Where the worst predators don't necessarily have four legs or slither on their bellies? Where the hero wears a sweat-stained hat and didn't go beyond the sixth grade? Where the students know more about "real" life than their teacher? Where money and primogeniture are everything?

Sigh.

Just for fun, here's a picture of my grandmother, Clara Crim Moore (1892-1968), about the time she would have been that young school-marm. And, yes, the older I get, the more I look like her!

2 comments:

K9friend said...

Cool photo, Judy! Sorry about your research roadblocks, but sometimes you can do is obtain the info that's available, then let your conclusions and imagination weave the rest. I'm sure you'll do a terrific job.

nlindabrit said...

I wish you luck with your researches and I feel sure you will succeed in finding suitable resources. I cannot WAIT to read the result, which I feel has the makings of a terrific story.

You do indeed have a great look of the lady in the photo!