Thursday, May 31, 2012

Guest Judy Nickles Remembers Times Past

Times Past, Times Remembered

            When I started to school in 1950, I already understood that many of our fathers had gone to a war we couldn’t quite remember, and some hadn’t returned. Being patriotic wasn’t questionable in any sense—rather, patriotism was ingrained in us from birth.

            My hometown in West Texas had been the home of an air force base (it remains today) and a bombardier training school (now the regional airport) where my father flew a desk until he shipped out to California to await the invasion of Japan. Fortunately for him and hundreds of thousands of others, the men were ordered off the ship and back to barracks because the war ended before sailing got underway.

            My mother kept the newspapers from December 7, 1941, V-E Day, and V-J Day. They are full of pictures of young men who were not so fortunate as my father. The brittle yellow pages, crumbling now with age, are still a reminder of a generation to whom we owe so much.

            Though I got the idea for Dancing with Velvet from an old photo of a now-demolished hotel where people, both young and old, danced to the music of live bands in the Roof Garden overlooking the quiet downtown streets, there was no question the story would take place during an era that shaped my life and those of my friends—the years known as World War II.

            Today, when I fly in or out of the small airport, I am greeted by an oil painting prominently displayed: two brothers, Jack and Mark Mathis. Jack received the Medal of Honor posthumously and is buried in the local cemetery. Shortly afterwards, Mark’s plane went down on a bombing run. His body was never recovered.

Read their story at It’s a long story but well worth the time.

            Dancing with Velvet is a love song to my hometown and a salute to the brave young men who passed through it from 1942-1945.

In the waning days of the Great Depression, Celeste Riley wonders if life will always be the same: going to work, coming home to keep house for her widowed father who ignores her. She clings to her married sister, Coralee, and the recurring dream of a blue velvet curtain and a faceless lover who beckons her beyond it. Then a blue velvet dress in the window of a local department store seems to promise the change in her life she so desperately longs for. When she dances in the arms of traveling salesman Kent Goddard at the Roof Garden, she is sure she has found the man of her dreams and is crushed when he disappears from her life. Then, soon after Pearl Harbor propels the United States into war, he returns in uniform as a student at the new bombardier training school. A wartime separation threatens their deepening relationship. Then Celeste realizes that what she doesn’t know about the man of her dreams may become her worst nightmare.

With the world at war, it’s tempting to live only for today, because tomorrow may never come. But Celeste wants more. Read the first chapter of this vintage romance and view the video trailer at my website.


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Laura Breck said...

That's a great story, Judy, and so cool that you have the actual photo of the building as on your book cover! Thanks for being our guest today.

Jannine Gallant said...

This sounds like a fascinating book. Thanks for sharing a piece of history with us.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I love that era. My last book takes place right after the war. Your book sounds absolutely fascinating and a must read. Good luck!

glenys said...

Jusy - your book sounds intriguing - a 'must-read'. I think, with the current war overseas hopefully coming to an end, there will be a revival in interest in the social effects of the previous wars.My grandfather was MIA in WW1, and its affects on family still echo today.Thank you for sharing with us!

Judy Nickles/Gwyneth Greer said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Ladies! I was away at a writers conf and unable to follow the blog.