Truth and fiction! My next two books again centered on ranch life and my family through truthful nonfiction and historical fiction. One was truth—how my granddad put our family ranch together during the depression when others were losing theirs. The other was historical fiction where I fictionalized a story I had heard my whole life.
The Truthful Nonfiction–Let Me Tell You a Story
My dad celebrated his 75th birthday on March 20, 1993. So, Mom and I worked together on producing a chapbook of the story of how our family ranch was put together for his gift, titled Let Me Tell You a Story. Dad dictated the unique stories to Mom about the technique Granddad used to put together our ranch during a time when many lost their homesteads. Dad, the master storyteller, relished the telling and retelling of these familiar family stories. Then I typed them up on a 2E Apple computer with floppy disks. Then Dad helped me edit it, which was hilarious for this ole cowboy—he didn’t trust computers but immediately saw their usefulness. As a finishing touch, we added pictures to it.
Originally, I had copies printed for only our immediate family members and twenty-five copies for a classroom set for my literature class. Again, this lay aside for over twenty years. In 2016, I self-published it, again. It has become a favorite in Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.
To tell the truth, this small chapbook warms my heart each time I reach for it because Dad’s words live on in it.
The Historical Fiction—When Will Papa Get Home?
In 1986, I taught my first year in Denver, Colorado, and the school district lent me a 2E Apple computer for the summer. I visited my parents on our family ranch, and we ventured to my favorite homestead on the place, the Philly Place. It got its name from the original owner, Philadelphia Cardenas. I had been there many times, but this time as I was leaving the homestead, I stopped out of what was the living room, looked down and found a blue marble.
I asked Dad about it, but he did not know. “Probably some arrowhead hunters out here with kids.”
I stuck that marble in my pocket, went back to Denver, and the story came pouring out of me, based on a story I had heard my whole life, told by Dad in Let Me Tell You a Story:
Charlie Garlutzo was working for the County Sheriff Department. Bob Gleason had “Phillie” (Philadelphio Cardenas) up on cow theft. Charlie got the one hundred and twenty acres bought from Phillie for seven- teen dollars and fifty cents an acre while he was scared about the charges. Garlutzo had the choice of selling the land to either Horner or Doherty. He chose to sell it to Horner.
Phillie was sentenced for a one-year term but got out in seven months for good behavior. Had Garlutzo not got the land bought from Phillie when he was scared, he would have been right back out there, back in business.Larada Horner-Miller, Let Me Tell You a Story ( 2016): 15.
So, I fictionalized this true historical story and made the supposed culprit a horse thief with a twist. I told the story through the eyes of the daughter of the man accused of the thievery, and the blue marble belonged to her. The sheriff falsely accused her papa, and the story unfolds. Through extensive research, I wove their story of immigration from Mexico to the high desert prairie of southeastern Colorado. In doing that, I discovered how much I liked research and dove in. I researched adobe house building and much more.
For this book, I laid it aside for almost thirty years! After my successful stab at self-publishing, I released When Will Papa Get Home? in 2015. My aunt now owns the Phillie Place, and she gave me and my brother to revisit it to take pictures. So I took the picture on the cover. We had a delightful day rummaging through the ruins and marveling at how much of the original homestead was still there.
So, I featured truth and historical fiction in these two books. Retelling my family history in the one book encouraged me to jump into the historical fiction in the next. Enjoying both genres, I loved celebrating my country roots and heritage.
Do you have family stories? Truth or fiction? Share your thoughts! (Scroll down below!0
Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com