The Los Angeles Book Festival has just announced that Among the Silent Giants has won a top honorable mention award in Biography/Autobiography. Hundreds of writers enter this contest each year,so it is quite an honor.
The Night My
Mother Was Born
Although it was July, a typically warm month, the weather was unexpectedly cool that Wisconsin night in 1916. A tiny baby was lying in a basket on top of the oven door of a wood stove, enfolding the infant in a soft heat. She was not expected to live through the night. She was born six weeks early and weighed only three and half pounds. Her fingernails were not fully formed; it was said she was so small she could easily fit into
one hand of her hard-working father, Guy Doers.
Her mother, Blanche, lay in the crimson sheets of her blood soaked bed in the small room, not far from the infant, streams of pure mother’s anguish flowing down her cheeks.
But who was this child who slipped unexpectedly
from her mother’s warm womb? Her birth did not begin with loud cries of joy or protest.
It was set in motion by a soft moan, as if designed to keep secret the
potential of gifted intelligence, artistic talent and charm inherit in the
genes of her father.
Prior to this quiet birth, her parents had decided to name the baby Ruby Ethel Doers if she was born a girl. This name would give her the initials RED signaling a vibrant, colorful child who would grow up strong and bright and race around the house and fields of their farm.
With the baby on the edge of death,Ruby’s father suddenly remembered his surefire treatment for every illness and woe that had happened or could happen to the family Doers: alcohol. He knew without a doubt that a few drops of whiskey was all little Ruby would need in order to live and grow up dancing in the dazzling shades of red, flowing in the veins of his remarkable family.
Blanche, having grown up in a very religious family who believed gambling and drinking were sins, pleaded with her husband to withhold the alcohol.
“Please don’t give her whiskey.” she
begged. “It will kill her.”
But Guy was certain that Ruby was not meant to fade away on that rusty oven door. After giving the tiny baby a few drops of whisky, he allowed himself a couple of shots of the rich, copper drink. Throughout the night, the more he drank, the more his belief strengthened that this infant would live. There was nothing further he needed to do but give little Ruby a few more drops of the miracle medicine and to celebrate his
success by taking a couple more swigs from his half empty bottle .
By the time dawn broke the awful darkness that covered the farm house in the blush of sunrise, baby Ruby was strong enough to suckle at her mother’s breast. With no further need for whiskey, she thrived in the next few months and grew rosy cheeked and fat.
That fall, Blanche looked down on her daughter’s little head and was surprised to see a sprouting a patch of red hairs. Of course it was much to early to predict the final color of Ruby’s hair. Babies are often born with one color such as blond, only to turn brown at a later age. And furthermore, how could Ruby have red hair? Her mother had dark-black curly hair and her father’s was light brown.Her sister, Doris, who was a year older than Ruby, had black hair like their mother. Besides, none of Ruby’s many aunts and uncles were redheads. But maybe naming the little gal Ruby with the initials RED, mixed with the brazen color of whiskey had worked some kind of magic. Only time would tell.
I also learned to shoe horses, a task that was never needed in Whitethorn where my horse was traveling on dirt roads and open fields. Down here in civilisation I had to ride my horses on the paved roads or on the gravel trails beside the roads, quickly wearing their tough hooves down to the quick.
Among the Silent Giants has now won three awards.
1. National Indie 2013 Excellence finalist for non-fiction regional. This catagory had one winner and two finalists. A large number of books were submitted.
2. Los Angeles Book Festival Awards: honorable mention in Autobiography.
3. San Francisco Book Festival Awards: honorable mention in Autobiography.
Among the Silent Giants was just awarded an honorable mention from the San Francisco Book Festival. I am so happy my memoir is receiving recognition. As I look back on my childhood I see a classic kid growing up in difficult circumstances. I kind of like her. At age 73 I am looking back to time long ago. Sharoony has many things in common with Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. Perhaps all kids are like Scout and Sharoony.
You are in for a treat when you ride along with Sharon Moxley’s honest and very human telling of her growing up in rough-and-tumble logging community in northern California. She describes the beauty of Whitethorn, where “white trilliums proudly decorate the redwood world” and where “bulging burls” create a fairy land of delights for a child to explore. And explore she does with friend Jackie, setting out barefoot and with knives tucked in their belts. Jackie (who bites!) is one of the fleshed-out characters who inhabits the whole memoir. Mother Ruby and step-father Al are described with all their sharp edges, but Ms. Moxley guides the reader to forgive them and love them as she herself did. Under the cloud of too much alcohol, lots of smoking, and fights that even escalate to brutal violence, Ms. Moxley as a child navigates her world and ponders the Big Questions of the prejudice toward Native Americans, poverty, the loggers’ brute lifestyle, World War II, and her own identity. A quick look at the chapter titles (some are: “Bar People and Church People, “Stardust,” “Leaving Whitethorn”) will entice the reader from the start. But to really enjoy the ride, I’d start from the very beginning.