Welcome to Virginia

When I first started this blog, I had received a grant from The Lilly Foundation to study Robert Bolling and Lucy Maude Montgomery.  I used this blog to chronicle my six week journey with them.  Once I finished with my studies, however, I continued my journey through a variety of travels.  There are so many amazing places to visit in our world, and I wanted to share them with you.

I am writing now, having just returned from Cambodia (I will try to post a few blogs about my time there) with the news that I had received the Indiana Arts Commission grant to study the life of George Washington.  So, we have come full circle.  I’m studying George Washington to get to know him as a young man to complete a novel I’m working on entitled Jon Everett and the Hall of History.  In the novel, Jon meets a young George Washington in the French Indian War.

I decided, as I embark on this journey, I will share the first chapter with you.  So, without further ado, thus begins Jon Everett and the Hall of History.      

Chapter 1

“Army Crawl,” Jon snorted as he pressed his face into the dirt. “Army drag is more like it.” Overhead, a shower of sparks split the sky. Something had been hit. The sky turned black again. In the darkness, he heard Howie gasp. “Shhh!” he chided. But, he immediately saw the source of Howie’s alarm. Search lights were bobbing down the hill, not five hundred yards from where they lay.

“Roll!” he ordered. Just left of them was a row of hedges. Their only hope was to get behind them before the search lights could give them away. He and Howie half rolled, half scrambled noiselessly behind the hedges, then flattened themselves into the soft earth. Despite the approaching choppers overhead, Jon bit into his sleeve as his elbow covered his nose, trying to muffle his breath and keep himself from making any noise.

The bobbing search light grew closer. They could hear footsteps approach and stop. Jon and Howie lay perfectly still as the light passed over the tops of the hedges. Jon tried to shrink, praying his feet wouldn’t be seen. He scarcely dared to breathe as the search light wavered, then kept moving.

We’re safe,” he thought, lifting his head off his arm. Just then, he felt his forehead split apart. Pain ripped through him.

A voice broke into his consciousness. “And so, Washington secured his reputation as a brave and noble soldier—“

Jon looked around. He was in Mr. Jackson’s history class. He rubbed his head. Ouch!

In the desk next to him, Howie was silently shaking with laughter. “Your head slipped off your arm,” he mouthed, eyes watering.

He must have whacked it on the corner of the desk. “That’ll leave a mark,” Jon thought to himself, eyes straying unconsciously to the clock above the door. “Three more minutes.” He glanced at the board and tried to hurriedly finish jotting down the notes. He wiped the drool off his paper and sighed. ”I’ll just get them from Jeanette later.”

Mr. Everett, please remain after class.” Mr. Jackson said. Howie shot him a sympathetic look as the bell rang. Jon gathered up his books and sighed loudly as he headed up to Mr. Jackson’s desk. Mr. Jackson waited until the other students had left the room before starting in on Jon.

Jon, this is the third day in a row you’ve fallen asleep in my class,” he began.

I’m sorry,” Jon thought it best to apologize before Jackson really got started. He had gym next. “Sir,” he added for good measure. Teachers liked it when they thought you respected them.

Is everything okay at home? Have you been staying up too late?”

Jon stared at him in disbelief. ”Where does this guy get off?” he thought. “No,” he said aloud, “I’m bored.” Politeness hadn’t worked. Might as well try being rude. “I’m never going to use this stuff in real life. Who cares about a bunch of dead guys anyway?”

Mr. Jackson looked stunned. Jon congratulated himself. “Well, I do, for one. But, let me get this straight. You think George Washington is irrelevant?”

Jon thought fast. No use insulting the Founding Fathers. “He was a cool guy, I guess. I mean, he was our first president and all. But, come on, Mr. Jackson, be honest. What else do I really need to know about him? I mean, other than the fact that he’s on our money, and when I’m playing pro-ball, I’ll be making a lot more than dollar bills.”

You think so, do you?” Mr. Jackson asked. “And you think there’s nothing Washington could teach you that’s relevant for life—or basketball?”

Jon had to laugh at this one. “Come on, Mr. J. The only ball Washington knew about was the kind with those nice knee britches he wore and the girls in those dresses that made their hips look big. Basketball wasn’t even invented yet. Face it. He’s got nothing to do with today.”

Hmm,” Mr. Jackson thought a while.

Round one. Jon Everett.” Jon smirked. Mr. Jackson just had to dismiss him so he could get to gym class. “Well, Sir, I’m glad we’ve had this little talk, and I promise I will try to stay awake, but I really should get to gym class…”

Mr. Jackson wasn’t finished yet. “I’m assigning you extra homework this weekend.”

What?” Jon nearly shouted. He had practice this weekend. “No, Mr. Jackson, it’s almost tournament. I said I’d do better!”

And I will be speaking to your coach as well.” Jon groaned. Coach Myers would make him run for sure. Suicides probably.

What do I have to do?” He growled, trying to keep his hands from clenching into fists. “How could Mr. Jackson do this? Just because I fell asleep in some stupid history class? It isn’t even on the SAT. You know a class is stupid when they don’t bother to test it.”

I’m sending you to the History Museum.” Jon leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling, sighing loudly. “I’ll expect a one page paper on my desk Monday morning. The paper will cover what you’ve learned about George Washington. Since you obviously can’t learn from me, maybe the museum can help. They have a special exhibit on George Washington.”

And if I don’t do it?” Jon asked, brazenly.

You fail my class. Which I think makes you ineligible for the tournament next weekend. Coach Myers won’t be too pleased to have to find a new point guard on such short notice.” Mr. Jackson smiled. Jon wanted to hit him. But, he’d be expelled for that too.

Fine.” He said instead, and turned towards the door.

Jon,” Mr. Jackson stopped him. “You forgot your pass.”

It was hard to slam a spring-loaded door, but somehow, he managed.