June twenty-third, nineteen thirty-four, at ten-fifteen in the morning—that’s when they took us away in the back of the police car. Naomi, who was eight, held our little brother Neil in her arms. At two, he didn’t understand what was happening. Four-year-old Norma really didn’t understand either, but she knew it wasn’t anything good and hid her face in my skirt all the way to the police station, where a welfare worker questioned us. Or rather, she questioned me, Nadine, the oldest. I was eleven, almost twelve, but I’d felt a lot older lately. . .
1. Ivy Nadine Parker – “mother” to her siblings after their own mother’s desertion and their father’s job which takes him out of town
2. Naomi Parker – coerced into helping take care of younger children when she wanted to be out playing
3. Norma Parker – mother only to her doll Priscilla
4. Neil Parker – the girls’ baby brother
5. Dr. Paul Bradford – who wants to marry Nadine but can’t cope with the ghosts of her past
I stood on the stone steps of the Mercer Home seeing Naomi’s tear-streaked face pressed against the back window of the sleek new car driving away. “I’ll find you, Naomi. I’ll find all of you and bring you home again. I promise I will! You and Norma and Neil and me, we’ll be a family again.”
And for over twenty years, Nadine puts her own life on hold to keep that promise, even marriage to Dr. Paul Bradford, the one man she’s ever allowed herself to love. . .but one she can’t quite trust.
The idea for Keeping Promises came from a real-life drama in my hometown during the 1950s when a large family of children were taken out of a hotel basement where they’d been abandoned by their mother. Then a picture in one of those nostalgia magazines, a black-and-white studio photograph of four children, three girls and a toddler boy taken during the 30s, presented me with the characters for the fictional story.
The manuscript has been mouldering away for several years, but now it’s time to take it out and make some changes. It’s a gritty slice of unfortunate real life which needs some revising. That’s the goal for The Great Denton Coffee House Caper aka Writing the Square during the next two weeks!