Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

If you could go back in time for a few days where would you go? What time period? I have many such locations, but one place I would love to visit is Saluda, North Carolina during the early 1900’s.

 

Let me explain why.

 

The first time I visited Saluda was March 2004 when I came to North Carolina to meet my soon-to-be husband’s family. When we pulled into town Bruce pointed out which direction would take to his grandpa’s farm house and the church where some of his ancestors were buried. He also pointed out that the Saluda interchange sat on what used to be his grandpa’s corn field. I believe this may have been the first time I ever heard the phrase, “When the road took the farm.” It wasn’t the last.

 

As we drove down Main Street I was drawn in by the old-time small-town feel of the place. I noticed the depot and the bright yellow buildings beside it. I spotted the big Baptist Church. I love depots, yellow, and Baptist churches. I was hooked.

 

Over the next ten years we waved each time we passed Saluda, greeting our family—live and dead, as we rushed on our way to the place we would eventually call home on the other side of Hendersonville. There was no time for a stop in Saluda, for our home was calling us. It was a place to clean out and fix up.  A home full of memories.  A lovely place away from the noise and overpopulation of Florida. Here, despite the work I found peace. I could hear the birds sing. A rooster woke me each morning. But, it was a lot of work and even once we moved to Newberry, SC and eventually up to the house in Hendersonville, our visits to Saluda were few and far between.

 

A couple of times I made an unexpected stop at Saluda . . . well, at least at the interchange. Yep. My car engine blew up not once, but twice right in the middle of—you’ve got it, what used to be Grandpa Bradley’s corn field. Was it a sign?

 

So, when I decided it was time to start a new mystery series—this time set in the South—it was a no-brainer where the first book should take place. Saluda. After all, this is where my husband’s people come from. My other series started on my grandpa’s ranch. Why couldn’t this one start where Bruce’s grandpa farmed?

research books

So, the research began. I drove over to Saluda and wondered through town. I read a book written by some of the people in Saluda, a book that shared first person accounts of those days during the early 1900’s. I was blown away by the history Saluda can claim. I mean, not just one thing, but several.

 

One Sunday afternoon, armed with the book I returned to Saluda and drove around and around and around the town trying to find as many of the old hotels as I could. There were well over thirty back in the day.

 

You see, when the train finally came up the Saluda Grade to what was then Pace’s Gap in 1878, a whole new way of life was formed. People from the low country followed, summer people who came up to get away from the heat. A baby hospital was opened because the children who came up recovered from the ailments the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes caused in the low country. Hotels and boarding houses sprang up. There was a pediatric seminar that ran every summer in Saluda for years, training physicians from all over the country. Yes, folks. All of this in little ol’ Saluda.

 

As I drove around town, and then dreamed up the story that turned into The Nearly Twins and the Secret in the Mason Jar, I thought over and over: Oh how I wish I could spend a summer in Saluda during those years. I would love to help at the baby hospital. Walk down to the depot to see who came in on the train. Shop downtown.  Sit on a broad porch of one of the hotels. Just one summer.

 

If only . . .

I guess the closest I’ll ever come is researching and writing historical fiction. And, that’s good enough for me!

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