Archive for the ‘J. Mood Indigo’ Category

A Daughter’s Song and Dance–Reader’s Copies

July 25, 2015 2 comments



Folks, this has been a long time coming, but RT can safely say that A Daughter’s Song and Dance, his mother’s childhood memoir, is nearing publication. Reader’s copies of the text are due on Monday. The book isn’t quite print ready (among other things, the front matter must be paginated and some passages need tweaking) but the next hurdle is getting the book out in paper and on e-book reader. To whet the appetite, RT offers this brief extract from chapter 23:


My mother may not have understood me the way I wanted her to, but she did understand certain of my needs, as for instance, when I needed to, in her words, “get out of myself.” Others might say that I was moody and introspective, but it came down to the same thing: I needed periodic vacations from the serious business of being me. What’s more, she was good at turning vacations to practical advantage.

So towards the end of my year at Wright-McMahon, Mama had an inspired moment. One day after I had returned from classes, she invited me into her office. Nothing unimportant ever happened during our office conversations, so I sat down with a certain apprehension. This wasn’t another dispensation from on high, was it?

After some pleasantries about my school day, Mama got down to the point: “If you could go anywhere in the world for a visit,” she asked, “where would it be?”


More on all this soon…  RT

Photo: Mom’s High School Graduation portrait.

Daughter’s Song & Dance–A sample page

August 29, 2014 Leave a comment




RT is feeling good about his progress on publishing his mom’s memoirs, A Daughter’s Song and Dance. Not that the process isn’t a bit humbling. This is a 270-page book we’re talking about, and even discovering how to convert a MS Word file into a JPG can take some time, not to mention learning the basics of book design. Still, book production for ADS&D is going fairly smoothly, and RT is posting a sample page to give folks a feeling for what the finished product will look like. RT is proud of this particular page, and notes that the photo is a Dorothy Lange public domain image available on Wikipedia. Anyway, he hopes the effort satisfies. He’s currently setting chapters 17 and 18 (out of 24 total chapters).



 Book Page Image © 2014, The Rag Tree


RT’s Status Update and the Willies

November 21, 2013 2 comments

File:1940 Willys Coupe.jpg


RT has learned from hard experience not to pronounce any manuscript of his finished, but he will allow that the latest round of corrections on A Daughter’s Song and Dance, his mom’s memoir of her childhood and early adult years, has brought that manuscript easily over the 200-page mark. What remains to be added? A new chapter to attach the last third of the story to the earlier parts, an epilogue, and a couple of sections here and there. After that? A read-through with his mother, accompanied doubtless by debate over what to put in and leave out (not to mention themes). a further set of corrections and any adjustments to take account of theme and message, and then, RT imagines, fine-tuning. Getting another editor to vet the manuscript, and well, then RT might be willing to use the joyful word, finished. And what then? The vast vistas of publication in, say, 5 or 6 months. He will only mention in passing such objects on the distant horizon as Gilgamesh; he’s still there, and doubtless the GE fever will grip RT at some unpredictable point, but for now he is beginning to savor something like relief…

… and along the way, RT has learned that the first car his mother owned was a Willys Americar…but really, that’s not what he’s feeling.     RT


Photo: 1940 Willys Coupe; Author:; Source: WikiCmns; CC 2.o Generic.


A Tale of Teeth and Truth

November 8, 2013 Leave a comment

File:Bali mask teeth.jpg

RT has been rather reticent these past two or more weeks: it’s hard to be garrulous when your teeth are aching. Ouch! This particular ache was deep and throbbing and resulted in the extraction of two teeth on Halloween, one of which was infected. Penicillin (remember that?) and ibuprofen got our fearless writer through his convalescence, and now he’s going to present an excerpt from his mother’s memoirs, A Daughter’s Song and Dance.

Plane Spotting (Late 1941–Spring 1942)

War fever was at a pitch, and many people who were not eligible for the draft began “to do their part” in the war effort. Opportunities abounded: from volunteering for the United Services Organization (USO) to participating in neighborhood “scrap drives” that collected scrap copper and brass for use in artillery shells to growing your own vegetables. If none of this appealed, there was plenty of work to be had at war production factories. Many young women took the places of men who had been drafted into the military; for the first time in the country’s history, women were able to find high-paying jobs. They worked round-the-clock in factories that produced materiel for our troops: everything from boots to tanks to bombers to k-rations. The wages they earned gave them an economic freedom—and independence—that they had never dreamed of before. Although the old social taboos re-emerged after the war, this taste of freedom would lead to the rights-for-women movement. The war-time production effort marked the beginning of a profound social revolution.

All of this had an effect on my mother.

Early in the new year, Mama joined the Red Cross, rolling bandages and supervising the training of other volunteers. Then she heard about the Civil Air Patrol, the plane watchers who were supposed to spot Japanese planes off the coast. The romance of this appealed to her, and she signed up.

She and the other airplane watchers would go out every day with their government-issued kits and binoculars; they would stand on the bluffs overlooking the ocean trying to keep track of the planes that flew overhead; they had gone to class to learn how to tell the airplanes apart. It made them feel they were doing something for the country besides giving up cream in their coffee and butter for oleo. To be honest, I can’t remember how long she was a plane-spotter, but she thoroughly enjoyed her duties.

In the meantime, rationing was a burden on everyone. Almost immediately, we were issued ration coupon books for all the basic foodstuffs: meat, milk, butter, and bread. Bacon was an unimaginable luxury. Gas and women’s silk and nylon stockings were also restricted, so for many people life became boring, if not monotonous. California is car country, and with rationing came the end of trips to the movies and Lake Tahoe. But we were lucky in one respect: we were able to grow a wide variety of vegetables in our now-famous “victory gardens,” which made meals both tastier and more nutritious—and gave us something to do. Even the borders along city streets were used to grow produce.

But perhaps the oddest thing about these years was that it marked a much-anticipated milestone in the country’s history: amid the tight rationing regime, the Depression had finally ended. The United States could not find enough workers; many states even allowed teenagers to work in factories, and a guest worker program for Mexican emigrant laborers kept the fruit orchards of Texas and California in production. In fact, America’s entry into the war marked the beginning of a decades-long economic boom that would transform the country. …

Copyright © 2013, The Rag Tree

PhotoTeeth from a mask in Rangda, BaliShawn Allen from San Francisco, CA, USA. WikiCmns; CC Attribution 2.0 Generic.


Douglas Street Bridge

October 19, 2013 2 comments

File:Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge 1938 LOC 11763u.jpg

After doing some research, RT is pretty certain that his mother traveled over this bridge into Omaha when her mother took her cross-country to Lake Tahoe in 1938. The story is part of A Daughter’s Song and Dance, his mom’s memoir of her childhood years. (RT has been working on Chapter 3, which relates the cross-country trek).

A great photo…   RT


PhotoThe Ak-sar-ben toll bridge (A.K.A., the Douglas Street Bridge) between Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska in 1938. Farm Security Administration. WikiCmns; Public Domain.


Introduction to a Daughter’s Song & Dance

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment


We are making progress on A Daughter’s Song and Dance; here is an excerpt:

Introduction to a Daughter’s Song & Dance.


“You’re My Father”

May 11, 2012 3 comments


Folks: when you’re managing two blogs, the question of whether or not to repost might not even occur to you…it could be the only way to stay ahead of the curve. But building traffic & interest aside, this post is one of the most affecting my mother has produced so far in the telling of her childhood. In re-reading this–and other posts–it occurs to me that one thing my mother is is a frustrated novelist. Imagine having Edith Wharton in your family all this time and not knowing it. The curve ball life throws us…    RT (reposting from Mood Indigo).

“You’re My Father”.


Image: True Confessions; Mood Indigo, CC 3.0 Unported.

Ella & the World


Folks: by way of whetting the appetite for A Daughter’s Song and Dance, here is an excerpt from the story. Nobody can sing like Ella…Enjoy!  RT

Ella & the World.

A Daughter’s Song and Dance: Growing Up Adopted Before the War and After

April 30, 2012 9 comments

A true confession on RT’s part: he has been laboring under the happy impression that various of his readers are wondering whatever happened to his writing projects. Well, there is good news–his  mother’s memoirs, now titled A Daughter’s Song and Dance, has been making tremendous progress, and RT will be issuing the first of the book’s three parts as an e-book next month.

What a story it is! Born in 1929, Mom was adopted within a few weeks of birth and spent her childhood in Los Angeles and New York City, with stops at Lake Tahoe and Banff along the way. America was a different place before World War II, and this installment, which follows her pre-teen years, brings home to readers the difficulties (and wonders) of life before TV, commercial air flights, and the Interstate Highway System. The book is populated with remarkable people–among them, her French Governess (who taught her how to eat ice cream pie), her Aunt Daisy (who indirectly arranged for a day watching the filming of Pride of the Yankees), and, above all, Mama, (the woman who adopted her, and a feminist among the aristocracy).

Both Mom and I are pleased with the way this story has emerged from an original word-processed manuscript Mom put together in the early 1990s. We’re excited about publishing electronically. And we love the idea of reaching out to other adoptees with her extraordinary story. Stay tuned for further developments!    RT


P.S. For more background, check out Mom’s blog, Mood Indigo.

Poster: Moore Theater; 1910; WikiCmns; Public Domain


My Grandfather, 1914

December 4, 2011 5 comments


Life can be amazing. This evening, after a long day of work writing at home & looking for work at the local library, I got on the net at my mom’s apartment and started looking for information on my grandfather, Mom’s dad. First, the bad news: Google News Archive is no more. For whatever reason, this excellent, free source for old newspaper articles went defunct last May. & the good news: within minutes, I found the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America site and did a search on my grandfather, quickly turning up several articles on his performances in New Orleans in the period 1912-1914. & Best of all: this amazing photo of granddad, published in 1914 along with the review of the play he was performing in.

This is by far the best photo we have found of him so far. And now we can confidently place him in New Orleans, a location we felt pretty sure he had performed in (though we were looking at a different time period). Merry Christmas, Granddad! RT