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It was the best after-Christmas present a girl – this girl, at least – could receive.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how much I love my home. I even made it a main character in my book! In the past, I searched in vain for a picture of this house from long ago. Our wonderful little local library has historical books galore, full of Rolfe’s history. Alas, there was not a single picture of the house on Pine Street to be found. At least, that’s what I thought.
A dear neighbor named Gloria G. purchased four copies of “Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway” to give as gifts to relatives. One of those relatives, we shall call her Clara, for that is her name, posted on the Rolfe Community School page on Facebook that she’d received the book and was looking forward to reading it. Other Rolfe Alumni chimed in, one thing led to another, and a nice woman named Kim posted this:
My house! My house! In the earliest photo you could possibly get! The photo above was taken before the stucco, with it’s unusual texture, was applied. The very stucco I’ve tried to replicate it with hypertufa.
One of the main things I love about my house is the attic, even though for the past several years I rarely go there. Rarely during the day, and NEVER at night. But reader, I went up there yesterday, camera in hand for a very specific purpose.
When we first moved here, before the fear took hold, I used to spend a lot of time in the attic. To me it looked like the stuff of movies, and I found it a charming place with lots to see. It wasn’t hard to notice that there was some writing on the wall, high above the window:
Can’t see it? Look closer:
A face to go with the name! I did a little research, and I found out a little more about Mr. Seifert. He was born in 1863 and died less than 10 years after this house was built. He’s buried in our local cemetery south of town. His tombstone is very unique:
The first chance I get, when the weather gets warmer, I’m going to traipse on down to the cemetery and find that tombstone. It shouldn’t be hard, now that I know what it looks like. Thank you, Rolfe Community School!
PLEASE NOTE: We’re having some difficulties with Amazon. Until we can get them ironed out (they are harsh taskmasters!) the book will be for sale on ebay. Both signed, and unsigned. Get your copy now! Tell your friends!
Which brings us to book #6 in the countdown of the first ten copies of Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway.
For each post about each book, I think of what comes to mind for that particular number, and I put it in the “gallery” photo. I had my gallery picture with its connection to #6 ready to go and everything!
But I’ve changed my mind. Instead, I’m dedicating #6 to the Builder of the Hideaway, and shall make a small notation as such. Just a little one, on the cover page. Because I think it’s worth noting.
Speaking of worth noting, book #7 was won by…my brother Kenny, who was born exactly 100 years after Mr. Seifert! From the very beginning, when we decided we wanted to auction these first 10 books off, he said, “I want number 7!” I suspect it’s because as I mentioned in my last post, seven is a very important number in our family. Thank you, Ken! And congrats!
With that, I leave you! Happy Monday! Go Packers! Unless you don’t like the Packers, of course. Then it would be, Go Whichever Team You Like Best If You Like Football!
You’re my favorite! I’m sure you knew that already…
#6 Gallery: Haley Joel Osment from the movie, “The Sixth Sense.” I watched it YEARS after it was made and still didn’t know the surprise at the end until it happened. My mind was blown! As was everyone elses, I’m sure! Mine was just blown a little later, is all.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, there have been dozens and dozens of versions of this book, before it became the current version. For months I had Hazel starting out LIVING in Reliance. Not as a native, but as a transplant who had been there for a few years. And she didn’t have a mother, she had a father. A handsome one at that…
The town of Reliance, Iowa, population six hundred give or take, was the kind of place that upon seeing it – and if it wasn’t your home you wouldn’t unless you had become hopelessly lost – one might wonder who would ever choose to live there. That opinion sat just fine with the town’s inhabitants, who were quite proud to claim it as their own. They would still wave in a friendly enough manner at the rare passers-through, but the “Don’t let the door hit you,” sentiment remained.
Unfortunately for Hazel Twigg, she hadn’t had a say one way or the other when she landed there with her father. They had arrived just in time for the first day of first grade, so while Hazel drew some attention as a new face, nervously clasping her hands together as she was introduced to her classmates, there was so much new to the other children that Hazel herself was hardly noticed at all.
When she and her father moved into the large cream and olive green and burnt pumpkin-colored Victorian, more than one heart had fluttered. Hazel’s father was a handsome man in a place where single men that didn’t have both feet dangling over the edge of a long-dug grave were rare. And right away it was noticed that there was no sign of a woman. Just a tall man in need of a woman’s touch and his poor, motherless child.
So for the first several weeks of the newcomer’s arrival, there was a constant stream of willing, well-meaning females that came knocking. Women of all ages, covered dishes in hand, their faces freshly scrubbed and wide smiles at the ready. When Hazel would curiously run to the front door warily followed by her protective father, the women would greet them with gay utterances of, “Welcome to our town!” directed at him and, “Look at that hair!” supposedly directed at Hazel because they ruffled her honey-colored hair as they spoke, although their eyes never actually looked in her direction after that first quick glance. One by one they would wander away moments later, not quite certain what had happened, only that the town’s newest bachelor had somehow politely but firmly resisted their wiles.
Each subsequent female was certain that she would have more success, that the chatter at the post office, the grocery store, the Tuesday morning coffee at the library, had simply been put out by other predatory females. And even if the rumors were true, such would not be the case for them. Surely not! They left their platters of Maid-Rites, or Ham Balls, or chewy Scotcheroos behind with their names and phone numbers conveniently taped beneath, and they waited in vain for a call. A call that never, ever came.
Hence, the gossip.
“Poor little Hazel,” the townsfolk would say. It wasn’t her fault her father was probably some sort of criminal, living on the lam…
I tried every which way to get this scenario to work. A handsome man for Ruth, just ripe for the plucking! And a good one, too! Most likely. But I’ve learned: if you get stuck, it’s time to try something else (not that the handsome man angle was the main focus in this version. I swear).
Excellent website for all things Rolfe – Ahem! “Reliance”: Rolfealumni.com
All photos are of Rolfe, Iowa. Quite possibly the grandest place on earth.