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Remembering the Past

Happy Trails to You, Until We Meet Again

Happy Trails to You, Until We Meet Again


Like most kids who grew up in the 1950s, I sat glued to the television on Saturday mornings, watching favorite programs: Sky King, The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin, My Friend Flicka, The Lone Ranger, Fury, Annie Oakley, and my personal favorite, The Roy Rogers Show. These programs provided hours of entertainment and distraction for thousands of children across America.

For a child like me, trapped and isolated in a tumultuous childhood with little control over my life, those familiar Saturday morning faces became much more. Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Trigger, became my imaginary best friends. Friends who took the place of real ones I never had.

I carted the plastic models of Roy and Trigger around with me like most little girls carry their dollies. I talked, shared adventures, and said prayers with them. Most nights, they stood vigil on the nightstand next to my bed. Other nights I huddled in fear under blankets, clutching the plastic horse and rider close until morning.

And every Saturday, I held them, sang along, and pretended to trot beside Roy and Dale at the conclusion of The Roy Rogers Show.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again.
~ Dale Evans Rogers ~

I don’t remember how I acquired Roy and Trigger… maybe a Christmas or birthday gift. But I do remember them as the first, key pieces of a model horse collection started at age six or seven. A treasured collection I kept until April 1965. The year I turned sixteen. The year my mother died.

Through the years, most of my childhood keepsakes and friendships were lost, forgotten, or left behind. But never Roy and Trigger, or the collection. Each time we moved to another town, another apartment, I carefully wrapped and packed them in cardboard boxes, and took them along. Later, when I found myself alone and afraid in new surroundings, my familiar friends—Roy and Trigger—were there to ease the fears and loneliness.

After my mother died, I went to live with friends from school. Nearly everything in our apartment was sold or given away. Personal belongings I couldn’t take with me—the cardboard boxes in the basement—were given or thrown away. My horse collection was among those boxes. I chose to believe Roy and Trigger went to a new home where another child played and loved them as much as I did.  I needed to believe this to move on with my life.

Now years later, as a writer, I develop ideas from my life experiences and from my imagination. For me, it’s similar to working a jigsaw puzzle. I fit the isolated pieces of personal experience, memories, and imagination into a storyline or the personal life profile of a character. When all the pieces fit perfectly together, a completed picture emerges… a poem, a story, or a novel.

Roy and Trigger are two of thousands and thousands of puzzle pieces scattered inside my head. They are part of the tangible somethings that combine with the intangible memories. Both combine to spark my imagination and creativity.

One of the first poems I wrote—Adopted By Roy Rogers—reflected a childhood dream of mine… to be adopted by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  In the novel, A Friend Request, Roy Rogers and Trigger, are the beloved, plastic models the character, Rose Allison, clings to for security as a young child. Alone she shares her hopes and dreams, her fears and nightmares, in late night conversations with them. In the novel, Rose loses track of Roy and Trigger, but with the help of a friend, her wishes come true and they are reunited.

The more I wrote of Roy Rogers and Trigger, the more I remembered and wanted those precious and rare friends from my past. Perhaps I could make a few pages from my novel come true. The dreamer in me began wishing. Somewhere out there, a Roy and a Trigger waited for me… waited for the child within.

With no way of tracking my childhood models, I decided to look for other original models from that time period. I knew the exact ones I wanted:  the waving model Roy Rogers with removable hat and two pistols… and the walking model Trigger with removable saddle and metal reins.

I browsed antique and collectible stores at home and when I traveled. I sent out Facebook posts asking friends for help, and began searching eBay. Over a two-year period, I found and bid on several models, but always lost the bid in the last final seconds. Bidding for original Roy Rogers’ items on eBay required some skill, some luck, but mostly, a lot of money.  Up until a few weeks ago, I lacked all three.  But then, just like Rose in the novel, my luck changed, as well.

One evening an eBay seller offered that particular model of Roy Rogers and Trigger, along with Dale Evans riding her horse, Buttermilk, and included their dog, Bullet. This seemed too good to be true. I looked at the price and couldn’t afford to even bid. But then I noticed under the bold, blue Buy It Now and Add To Cart buttons…a Make An Offer button. It didn’t cost money to make an offer, and much like haggling with an antique dealer or garage sale person… if the seller said no, he or she might come back with a more affordable price.

Happy Trails to You, Until We Meet Again


I typed in my bid, pressed the button, closed out my computer, and went to bed.  The next afternoon, the seller responded with a counter offer, still out of my price range. My first thought, forget this and move on. But something inside prompted me to place another offer. Two hours later the seller agreed to my counter offer.

Not only were Roy Rogers and Trigger coming home… but Dale Evans, Buttermilk and Bullet were trotting along, too!

Four days later, my doorbell rang and by the time I opened the front door, nothing but a taped, cardboard box greeted me. I picked up the box and held it close as I walked down the hall into my office.

Carefully, I cut through the tape, folded the sides of the box open, and dug through the mound of Styrofoam packing peanuts. I felt numb. I felt giddy. I felt like a kid again on Christmas morning.  And just like I’d written in the novel for Rose, the scene played out for me this time.

I felt a slender plastic leg, wrapped my hand around it, and pulled that horse with its attached rider out of the box next to me. I tinkered with them—like a child—trailing my fingers over Trigger’s mane and tail… removing and replacing Roy’s hat and guns.

After unpacking Dale, Buttermilk and Bullet, I looked at the return address on the outside of the empty box—gkirk from Ohio. My imagination kicked in immediately. I pictured a little brown-haired, freckled boy named—Gerald, Gene, Guy—no, Greg. Yes, my friends lived happily all these years… in Ohio… with Greg Kirk. He played with them and cared for them, until he picked up on my eBay vibe, and sent them home to me. That’s my explanation, and I’m sticking to it.

After all, I’m a writer… and I’m a dreamer. A dreamer dreams of wishes coming true. A writer writes of the dreamer. Fifty years later, I’m both the writer and the dreamer with wishes coming true.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

* * * * * * *

 This is #3 in the 8-part series Bits and Pieces – A Behind the Scenes Writing Perspective with C. L. Gillmore

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photo credit: RFD-TV : Roy Rogers 100 years via photopin (license)


Happy Trails to You, Until We Meet Again

What’s Inside Matters

What's Inside Matters

Early one morning before Christmas—with the soft glow of the tree lights and holiday music filtering in from the family room—I gathered all the needed ingredients to continue a beloved tradition passed down from my grandmother and mother to me.  Baking Christmas cookies.

On the kitchen counter—nestled among flea market, garage sale, and my own personal cookbooks—are several of my mother and grandmother’s. Treasured, vintage books with personalized notations written to the side of favorite recipes. Next to the cookbooks, an old, wooden recipe box—a garage sale find from years ago in Missouri—filled with tried and true, family favorites. Interspersed among the recipe cards are my mom’s and grandma’s hand-written ones… fragile, dog-eared, and faded from years of use.

It seems I’ve pulled the same two recipes cards, from my wooden recipe box, year after year: GrWhat's Inside Mattersandma’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Mom’s Rolled Sugar Cookies. Every time I see their faded handwriting on those worn, stained recipe cards—handwriting so similar to mine—it’s as if they’re standing next to me… softly whispering. Spirit to spirit.

I remember Grandma Gillmore always wore an apron whenever she cooked. When I helped bake cookies, she fashioned one of her aprons to fit me. I loved wearing her aprons almost as much as I loved baking and eating her cookies.

Grandma followed the oatmeal cookie recipe on the back of the red, white and blue Quaker Oats box. Whenever I smell those, same cookies baking in my kitchen, I’m transported back to her kitchen in the two-story, brown-shingled house on Main Street, in my hometown of Muscatine, Iowa.

She patiently helped me measure, sift and pour flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, rolled oats, and crack eggs into a big, metal bowl. Together, we mixed the ingredients with a big, wooden spoon… her well-worn hands folded over my small ones. Then I’d watch her spoon globs of cookie dough onto the greased baking sheets, and slide them into the hot oven. I waited and watched for those cookies at a safe distance on Grandpa’s denim, over-alled lap.

For a few, brief moments each Christmas—when I slide those oatmeal raisin cookies from my oven—I’m that beloved, little, blonde-haired granddaughter… sharing warm cookies and milk with my Grandma and Grandpa Gillmore in their kitchen on Main Street.

My mother, Lucy, baked all kinds of Christmas cookies, too. Her rolled, cut out, iced sugar cookies remain a family favorite. Though I’ve modified some of the ingredients over the years, basically, it’s the same one I watched her long, graceful fingers pull from the red, tin recipe box each Christmas.

What's Inside MattersMy older sister, Martha, and I, learned to follow recipes while making cookies. We gathered the listed ingredients and followed the directions Mom had written on the recipe card. Under her close supervision, we carefully measured, sifted, poured, and stirred until the cookie dough formed. Next, we took turns rolling it flat with Mom’s wooden rolling pin. Then we’d choose a favorite cookie cutter to press into the soft, sweet dough. I always chose the tree, Martha… the star or bell. These shapes withstood the frosting and decorating process much better than reindeer, gingerbread men or Santa Claus… all with easily broken legs, arms and heads.

After the cookies baked, Mom helped us mix a batch of powdered sugar icing. We divided the sweet, white icing equally into three bowls, and squeezed a few drops of green, red, or blue food coloring into each bowl. I frosted my tree cookies green and—using a toothpick—dotted each with blue and red frosting for the lights. My sister iced her stars red, and the bells blue. After the cookies were iced and sprinkled with red and green sugar, Martha and I ate the broken ones. The remaining perfect cookies, Mom arranged on a special Christmas plate.

I’ve never forgotten those long ago, cookie-baking days with Grandma and Grandpa Gillmore, my mother, Lucy, and older sister, Martha. Those memorable experiences gave me the necessary ingredients for the poetry, stories, blogs, and books I write today.

Exceptional cookies—like exceptional songs, poems, stories, and books—become exceptional from the ingredients blended inside.

Flour, sugar, spice, raisins, oatmeal, sweet frosting, and sugar sprinkles… create cookies you bake and eat and share, over and over. Well-chosen words, rhythm and rhyme, unforgettable characters, picturesque settings, relatable content, and those ah-ha moments… create written compositions others read and share, and come back to… over and over.

What’s inside… matters.


 * * * * * * * * * *

Excerpt from, Pattern: Virginia Rose by C. L. Gillmore ~

My grandma stood in front of the stove and lovingly cooked for me.

Wiping well-worn hands on her apron, and lifting me up to see.

Now as I hold her delicate china that image remains in my mind

Standing close, feeling her touch, remembering a face so kind.


* * * * * * * * * * *

Excerpt from, A Friend Request by C. L. Gillmore ~

I thought we would spend Christmas night together that Friday evening. Mom made chili and cornbread. We arranged freshly baked frosted sugar cookies on a holly-trimmed Christmas plate. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” from Andy Williams’ Merry Christmas album played in the background. Outside, huge, lacy snowflakes silently floated past the living room window framing the color-changing aluminum tree. A perfect evening.


Grandma’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups Quaker Oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add dry mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until well combined. Stir in oats and raisins; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool one minute on cookie sheet then transfer to wire cooling rack. For bar cookies, bake 30-35 minutes in an ungreased 13×9 inch metal baking pan.


Mom’s Rolled Shortbread Sugar Cookies

 1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cups butter or margarine
4 cups sifted flour

2 tsp almond extract
1 well beaten egg

1 tsp baking powder
½ – ¾ cup very finely chopped pecans

Green food coloring

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Cream butter and sugar together
3. Add egg, almond extract and beat well
4. Sift dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture
5. Mix in finely chopped pecans
6. Few drops of green food coloring to tint dough
*I usually keep out about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the total flour to use in rolling out the dough
7. Refrigerate 2-3 hours
8. Roll dough flat about 1/3″ thick…DO NOT roll these cookies too thin. They aren’t supposed to be crispy!
9.   Lightly flour dough and cookie cutter.
10. Cut into shapes – trees seem to work best.
11. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 8-10 minutes. WATCH CAREFULLY. Do not overbrown/cook.
Cookies should be just starting to lightly brown on the edges when you take them out.
12. Let them cool a few minutes before removing them from the cookie sheet or they will crack.

Let cool and frost with green tinted icing and sprinkles.

Makes 2 dozen.


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What’s Inside Matters is #2 in the 8-part series Bits and Pieces – A Behind the Scenes Writing Perspective with C. L. Gillmore

What's Inside Matters


Making Memories

Making Memories

Those lovely, insightful words came in response to birthday wishes I posted on Facebook to my friend of fifty-six years, Karen Pearlman, on her 66th Birthday. She and I became fast friends our fifth grade year at Jefferson Elementary School, in our hometown of Muscatine, Iowa.

From the very beginning, everything about Karen captivated me.

Karen was Jewish. I had no more idea of what a Jewish person was than a Catholic or a Presbyterian or a Lutheran. Labels. Like different brands of cereal you liked equally well. I knew she believed in God and said prayers. Her family was kind to me… and Karen liked me for a best friend. In my small world, that’s all that mattered.

She and her family—her dad, mom, three sisters, and grandmother—lived in a white, two-story house on West Eighth Street. My mom and I lived directly across the alley in a two-story, three-room, upstairs apartment on West Seventh Street. We literally could hop, skip and jump to one another’s houses.

I remember three distinct features about Karen’s lovely, old home: the large, screened-in front porch; the huge, black, grand piano positioned in the right corner of the living room; and the four portraits of Karen and her three sisters, hung on the wall near the piano. Until my first visit to Karen’s house, I’d never seen or plunked the keys of a real grand piano, nor observed a real portrait of someone I actually knew.

Karen’s dad—Doc Pearlman—was a dentist. Dentists terrified me. My mom couldn’t afford dental trips, so the only time I went was to have a tooth pulled. That pattern changed, when my friend’s dad became my dentist. His kind smile, and reassuring voice lessened my fears. Maybe he worked out some sort of payment schedule with my mom, or maybe he did the work for free. I never knew.

I liked Karen’s mom, Bessie, too. She wore her long, dark, graying hair pulled back in a bun. I liked coming home with Karen after school because her mom was there. She asked about our day, my day, and had snacks waiting. I enjoyed both the snacks and the interest. Bessie always seemed to be knitting something fuzzy and beautiful. She gave me my first set of knitting needles and taught me the basics… how to cast on, knit, and pearl.

One memorable afternoon, Karen and I came home to an empty house. This never happened. We rummaged through the cupboards, looking for a snack—something to tide us over—and found a box of Jell-O instant, butterscotch pudding. We followed the directions on the box. Measured and poured the milk and pudding mix into a big, plastic bowl. Stirred until thick. Then selected two, large spoons and began scooping pudding into our mouths until the big, plastic bowl was empty. When Karen’s mom came home, she found two very, sick girls, sitting side-by-side on the couch. A pudding overdose. To this day, I never pass a box of Jell-O Instant Butterscotch Pudding without thinking of Karen. I doubt she does either.

I don’t remember much about Karen’s sisters, other than Francine was the oldest, and Nancy, was referred to as the baby. Her sisters were either going somewhere or coming home from somewhere.

Making MemoriesKaren’s Grandma Lena lived upstairs in a separate apartment from the girls’ bedrooms. Quiet and gentle, she, too, wore her long, gray hair pulled back in a bun. We weren’t supposed to bother her or go inside her apartment unless invited. One afternoon, Grandma Lena, Karen, and I all happened to meet on the upstairs landing. Karen introduced her grandma and asked her to show me her tattoo. She pushed the left sleeve of her dress up over her elbow. And there it was. A long, tattooed number on her left fore arm. In a thick accent, she explained how she’d gotten the tattoo in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. She survived while so many others died. I never forgot the tattoo, and never forgot Grandma Lena.

Each day of each season that year, Karen and I walked to and from school together… talking and laughing as best friends do. One snowy, wintry day we stopped to slide on the Ninth Street hill sidewalk, a favorite sledding hill, often closed to traffic in the winter. Unlike the treaded bottoms of my boots, Karen’s were smooth and slick, and allowed for optimum sliding. She flew down the slippery sidewalk, while I watched. After a couple of speedy trips to the bottom, she shared her boots with me. Swapped so I could enjoy sliding, too. It’s what best friends do.

After a few successful, downhill runs in Karen’s boots, we sat next to each other in the snow to exchange back. My larger boots easily slipped off her smaller shoes, but my larger shoes, wouldn’t budge from inside her smaller boots. After several futile minutes, pulling and tugging, we knew we’d be late for school. Being tardy for school, back in the day, was a serious offense and could mean a trip to the Principal’s office. She slipped my boots back on, and we trudged through the deep snow as quickly as possible, arriving at school a few minutes late. Luckily, our teachers, Mr. Brace and Miss Loving, understood our predicament. Together, they patiently pried Karen’s stuck boots from my shoes, watched as we switched back, and overlooked our tardiness that long ago winter day.

For one, brief year—before my mother and I moved again—I felt safe in the upstairs apartment just a hop, skip, and a jump across the alley from my friend. I felt secure at Jefferson Elementary, with the same teacher, same classmates… same best friend.

For one, wonderful year, Karen and I trick-or-treated, shared cake and ice cream on our birthdays, and whispered and giggled late into the night during a couple of sleepovers. I learned to knit, read the Diary of Ann Frank because of her Grandma’s tattoo, tasted wine-filled candy she sneaked on Hanukkah. And my sweet, Jewish friend, Karen Pearlman, let me borrow her new, one-size-too-small, beginner heels for the mandatory Good Friday Christian Easter service held at the First Presbyterian Church. I’m certain I prayed to be Jewish on that particular Good Friday.

But the sweetest memory of all? Getting stuck in Karen’s boots one snowy, wintry day on the way to school.

Without realizing it, Karen and I created more than friendship that year. We created lovely, recollections from a shared place in time called childhood, and all that word evokes… innocence, wonder, trust, fairness, acceptance, and love. We created best memories for one another.

All of us have past memories in common, many from childhood… some are best memories, some are not. Nevertheless, we collectively share them. As a writer, I use my creativity and imagination to tap into our common memories—both physical and emotional—whenever I write a poem, a story, a novel.

For me, beginning any written work is like beginning a new friendship… a friendship between author and reader. As the author, I tap into and establish common memories—thoughts, feelings, experiences—with you, the reader. I do this through setting, character development, and story line. By the end of the writing process, you know something about me through the words.

You get it. You understand. You’ve been there.

And now you know, I’ve been there, too.

You (the reader) have now shared time with a new friend, (the author) who gave you some of your best memories while reading the words of a poem, a story, or a novel.

Now isn’t that amazing?

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Making Memories is the first in an 8-part series called Bits & Pieces … Behind the Scenes with C.L. Gillmore

Making Memories

A Special Symphony

A Special Symphony

A Special Symphony

If I could place one single note
On a magical musical staff
To represent each precious child
I’ve had the pleasure to teach.
I’d create the loveliest symphony
Forever on their behalf
And fill the air with wonder and joy
As far as the music would reach.


I’d arrange it in the key of C
For courage to remind us all
That God is ever mindful of them
And the daily struggles they face.
Then I’d set it in three quarter time
And waltz at the wheelchair ball
As little ones spin and tiptoe twirl
Dancing in elegant grace.


A pure and simple melody line
Composed of notes from the soul
Would fill the earth with peace and love
For all His children everywhere.
That they may live with hope today
As they strive to reach each goal
Becoming part of the symphony
That floats on the wind as prayer.


for Beverly J. Belche… by C L Gillmore – Novelist and Poet

A Special Symphony

My Old Shoes

My Old Shoes

My Old Shoes


There’s just something wonderful about a brand new pair of shoes,
Wrapped in that rich scent of leather, burnished and smooth.
They’re fashionable and trendy with a fit snug and tight.
I walk, others notice, and I smile in confident delight.
Ah, life is good… endlessly stretched before me.
I’m really something… me and my new shoes.

Time passed and a parade of shoes shuffled out my door. Click To Tweet

Some stayed, some left, others forgotten on the closet floor.
Those who walked full circle with me, now only a precious few.
All, scuffed, broken and mended… well past their days of new.

They carried and supported me along the unmarked roads.
Danced, paced, and stumbled, beneath life’s heavy loads.
Their worn, faded leather absorbed the cold sweat of my fears
As joys and sorrows, hopes and dreams… unfolded through the years.

One day soon the old shoes and I will rest quietly, cold and still.
No more to dance, to dare, to dream, or remember the wintery chill
From those who never really knew how cautiously I’d stepped
Through the sullen shadows of my youth to a life so carefully kept.
New shoes for the passing things… good for walks in sunshine.
But old shoes to stay the end course… steady, true and fine.

~ C L Gillmore ~


My Old Shoes

Old shoes from Iowa City days… Gary, Cos, Mike, Me, Sandi, and Dale.


My Old Shoes

A Magical Place

Behind my office door lies a magical place…

A Magical Place

“Behind my office door lies a magical place… filled from floor to ceiling with tangible, nostalgic bits and pieces of days gone by. One-of-a-kind treasures—plucked from auctions, antique and used furniture stores, and garage sales—melded among cherished, family heirlooms.

When I step through the door, it’s as if the walls enfold the memories around me. I’m a naive child again, filled with the wonder of life’s possibilities.

Childhood places hold no limits or boundaries for dreams, fantasies, creativity… or imagination. I can safely meander to distant destinations. Hold fast to whomever I choose. Stay for as long as the enchantment endures.

For as long as my fingers can type… for as long as my heart can sing… for as long as my mind has memories, I write happy endings, and right the unhappy ones.


~ C L Gillmore – Novelist and Poet

The Tangible Somethings and The Intangible Memories
“Bits and Pieces” – A Behind the Scenes Writing Perspective
From Poet and Award-Winning Author, C. L. Gillmore




A Magical Place


Childhood Memories

All of us have past memories in common, many from childhood…

Childhood Memories

some are best memories, some are not.


Nevertheless, we collectively share them.

As a writer, I use my creativity and imagination to tap into our common memories—both physical and emotional—whenever I write a poem, a story, a novel.

For me, beginning any written work is like beginning a new friendship… a friendship between author and reader. As the author, I tap into and establish common memories—thoughts, feelings, experiences—with you, the reader. I do this through setting, character development, and story line. By the end of the writing process, you know something about me through the words.

You get it. You understand. You’ve been there.

And now you know, I’ve been there, too.


Childhood Memories

Wondrous Days

Wondrous Days

Wondrous Days

~ by C. L. Gillmore


Fingers quieted on the keyboard, her eyes, immediately drawn
To the brilliant blue horizon, heightened by the setting sun.
Sapphire skies etch and frame the rugged, layered mountains
That tower, stretch, and silently soar beyond the closed front door.
How could she not have noticed these wondrous days before?

Drifting through life’s ebbs and flows, somehow he’d gotten lost
To the simple, timeless beauty of the things that mattered most.
An innocent touch soothed and calmed a lost and damaged soul
With unselfish love he had to know, she’d find her way and go.
How could he not have noticed those wondrous days before?

Defying time and explanation, the closed doors have opened
To the past, present, and future where dreams, at last, can mend.
Dreams that help the heart to heal and permit the soul to soar
By allowing time to temper, to bend, and sanction hope again.
How could they not have noticed these wondrous days before?


Wondrous Days

When Inspiration Comes

Often the inspiration for my writing comes in the middle of the night.

I’m awakened, and from deep inside my memories,

a mental picture of where and who the passage will be about begins to play in my head like a movie.

I’m there again, and can see, feel, smell, and touch everything I need to write about.

I simply fit all of the pieces into the puzzle that becomes part of the novel.

Sometimes I can barely type fast enough to get them on paper.

The pictures below… part of the memories… that became the following passage in A Friend Request.

When Inspiration Comes


“The only real home I remember as a young child was the light-green house trimmed in white on East Carroll Street.

My mom, older sister Carla, and I settled there after moving from one tiny Illinois town, Weldon, to another, Macomb, sometime during the summer of 1955 after my dad died. We lived there four years.

The street address and phone number there—1002 East Carroll Street, Amherst 2-7222—remain memorized.

My sister Carla, nine years older than I, knew a lot more about our life than I did at five and six. I learned from her, years later, that Mom spent months in bed—depressed—after my dad died.

We lived in several apartments before the green house on East Carroll. I don’t recall the other places well. I just remember the green house.

…I recall the front porch swing, suspended on chains. On hot, muggy Midwest evenings, my sister and I swung there, listening to the buzzing of the cicadas, and the rhythmic clanking and creaking of those rusty chains.

Once a week, very early, sometimes before the sun even came up, the city garbage truck rattled down that alley. Two ragtag men stood on the back bumper, holding onto a handle on each side. At each stop, the men jumped down, banging the dented metal garbage cans and lids to empty the smelly contents into the gaping truck. Then, they hopped back on, pounded the sides of the truck a couple times with their fists and shouted to the driver who then rumbled on to the next house down the alley. The sounds of those noisy men and the garbage truck always comforted me. Security in knowing the night and the darkness were over, the debris gone, and the morning light was beginning. Routine familiarity.

The sound of trash pick-up brought a sense of relief in knowing I made it safely through the night. Many of my nights were filled with fear, so I listened as other voices calmed me and soothed my heart. Voices of friends heard and seen by me alone.

“It’s interesting what a child remembers… and what a child forgets.”

~ Cheryl L. Gilmore


When Inspiration Comes


When Inspiration Comes

In My Youth I Was a Dreamer

In my youth I was a dreamer…


In My Youth I Was a Dreamer

Faded, black and white images—isolated instants in a lifetime—now tangible memories looking back. Each one captured on my mother’s Brownie Hawkeye camera with flash attachment that used the sky blue, Sylvania bulbs. I can still see and hear the instant pop of bright light, and smell the distinct burning, after each bulb flashed… rendering those in the photo with spotty, temporary blindness.

The word “flashed” now takes on an altered, associative meaning. I’m flashed back—instantly transported through space and time—to familiar places and events, pausing once more in that moment of time with family and friends and pets. Familiar. Comforting. Bittersweet.

For an instant, a flash in time, I am young again.
I recall those memories, hold them close, and let them go as I write.

“In my youth I was a dreamer…imagination my best friend.
My mind could safely take me places and bring me back again.
Now all those places of my youth have become sweet memories.
I hold them close within my heart and cherish each one tenderly.”

~ C. L. Gillmore ~


In My Youth I Was a Dreamer