And then there were the war stories. It often surprises people that I have such a keen interest in military history and war-gaming, but again, I come by it naturally. My grandfather was a World War I veteran who served in France and saved his brother's life.
After one gruesome battle, doctors walked the fields marking the men who could be saved -- and those whose injuries were so critical they had little chance of survival. Those men were to be left behind. My great-uncle was one of those. But my grandfather wasn't about to walk away and leave his brother to die on a field in France. He stole a doctor's coat, threw it on, and marched to where Mike lay. "This one will make it," he called out, summoning the men with their stretchers. Yes, Mike did make it, but only because my stubborn, willful grandfather made sure of it.
History is not all about wars and atrocities, of course, although we humans do seem to have a penchant for creating trouble. History is also about everyday people living ordinary lives, doing simple things that we still do today -- but doing them in very different ways.
One of the greatest joys in writing historical romance comes from research. It's so much fun to slip back in time, to listen to conversations, to read old letters, and to see how life was lived, what values were taught, and what strange beliefs folks had.
Back to my own family history again...I remember reading my great-grandfather's obituary. It was said that he died from a cancer which had apparently been caused by a snake-bite. Yep, you read that right. Our medical knowledge has certainly increased, even if we haven't yet found that long-sought cure for cancer.
Our beliefs about proper behavior have changed a great deal, too, as have our standards of beauty. I recall my grandfather telling me how, in his day, women carried parasols and used powders to keep their skin as fair as possible. I've since -- in my research -- found precise instructions:
TO WHITEN ARMS. For an evening party or theatricals, rub arms with glycerine, and before the skin has absorbed it all, dust on refined chalk.
Or, how about this practical advice?
TO FORTIFY AGAINST WRINKLES. The hand of time cannot be stayed, but his marks upon the face need not be placed there prematurely. One of the best treatments consists in bathing the skin frequently in cold water and then rubbing with a towel until the flesh is aglow. A little bran added to the water is a decided improvement. This treatment stimulates the functions of the skin and gives it vigor. Wrinkling may be further remedied by washing the parts three times a day with a mix of 4 drams gylcerine, a dram tannin, 2 drams rectified spirits, and 8 ounces water.
So, ladies, there you have it! You very own anti-wrinkle treatment! But wait, there's more! What if it's not your face, but your hair that's showing your age? Never fear. We can fix that problem, too.
TO WARD OFF GRAY HAIR. We can only counsel moderation in those pleasures that tend to an exciting, unhealthy mode of living, but here is a recipe that a writer believes will prevent graying: Melt 4 ounces pure hog's lard (unsalted) and 4 drams spermaceti, and when cool, add 4 drams oxide of bismuth. Perfume to suit.
TO CLEAN THE TEETH. Rub them with the ashes of burnt bread. The juice of the strawberry is a natural dentifrice.
I could go on, and on. I love reading these simple, old-fashioned recipes and the advice that goes along with them. These examples come from a marvelous, fun research book in my collection, titled Keeping Hearth and Home in Old Colorado. Another valuable research guide is Everyday Life in the 1800s.
Our way of life is vastly different now. I often wonder at the incredible changes my grandfather witnessed during his lifetime. As a boy, he traveled across the prairie in a wagon, yet before his death, he saw men walk on the moon. Amazing, really, when you think about it.
Through the years, though, one thing has never changed. Men and women still meet, fall in love, marry, and bring new generations into the world. Courtship rituals and ideas about marriage were different in the past, of course, but even during times when women were closely chaperoned and marriages were often based on practicality, love still existed. Love has been with us from the earliest days of creation, and love will endure to the end of time. I'm grateful that as a romance author, I have a chance to share stories of love from long ago. I hope you enjoy reading them.
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Thank you so much for visiting Time for Love!
During our Historical Romance "Hop" we're celebration the spirit of love through the ages.
You can enter my giveaway here to win a Kindle edition of my upcoming historical, due to release soon from Secret Cravings Publishing.
A summer of hopes and dreams, a summer of passion.
Could it also be a summer of forgiveness?
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I will be giving away two copies to two lucky readers!
For your chance to win, please comment below on a favorite summertime memory from your childhood. Please be sure you include your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you're one of my two winners.
Once you've left a comment here, hop on for more LOVE STORIES FROM LONG AGO.