In honor of its RITA® nomination, we are celebrating The Clearing by our own Heather Davis this week, with stories of elders who inspired us, with The Clearly Farmhouse Prize Pack (details listed in yesterday’s post) going to one lucky commenter!
I am delighted to talk about my maternal grandmother. She lived all of her 71 years in Moline, Illinois, and was lucky in love twice, first marrying a railroad worker (with whom she had two daughters--my aunt and my mother), and years later, following his death, a grocery store owner, a widower with four sons. Here she is around the time of her second wedding:
In her last years, she visited us in New York several times, bringing with her a stack of her favorite magazines. By 12 years-old, I was already reading my mother’s magazines like McCall’s and Ladies Home Journal. My eyes always went to the fiction, especially anything to do with romance, so when I got a look at what my grandmother was reading, I knew I'd hit pay dirt.
They were called Confession magazines, and while the titles were often sensational, the actual stories were mostly about love and self-discovery. Here’s a photo of a cover from back-when:
My mother did not approve of me reading these magazines, but my grandmother, bless her heart, slipped them to me secretly. I remember reading one issue in a walk-in closet with a flashlight!
Some years later, sadly, my grandmother passed away, and I went to Moline to help with the closing of her house. There I found a mountain of Confession magazines, which I poured over during the visit, and crammed into every available space in our suitcases. By then, my mother had given up keeping me from reading them. I was older, and I think she rather liked that her mother and her daughter had had this common obsession.
Little did any of us know that this would just be the beginning for me and Confession magazines. Because after college, looking to break into publishing, I decided to try my hand at writing them. I sold the second one I submitted, and at last count, I had about 80 publications to my name, many about first teen loves. Here’s a cover that features two stories I wrote: “Secret Love at a Summer Carnival” and “I Saved My Kisses for My Boyfriend’s Roommate.”
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my grandmother for a) passing on the romance reading gene, and b) bypassing her daughter’s disapproval to feed my romance need and set me on track for the lifetime career that I love!
To be entered in the contest for The Clearing Farmhouse Prize Pack, please tell me the name of a magazine from around your house--or a friend’s or neighbor’s house--when you were a kid! And remember to check back on Sunday, June 19th to learn the winner!
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