Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Her Mother's Daughter (1 Viewer)

Serendipity

Senior Member
Julia sat in the back seat watching the scenery go by, counting cows. “Is a bull a cow? Or are just cows cows?” she asked her mother, who was sitting in the front seat.



“Why honey, I think that just cows are cows. What do you think, Herbert?”



“Only a cow can be a cow,“ Herbert said, clarifying the matter.



“Where does she come up with this stuff?“ Herbert asked his wife, Rita.



Rita looked at her husband with her transparent blue eyes and said, “Well Herbert. While you were away on business last week, your daughter held up a chicken leg at the dinner table and said, “Mommy! Is this chicken dead?’”



Herbert chuckled and looked into the rear-view mirror at his daughter who was sitting in the back seat, smiling benevolently at nothing in particular, watching the scenery fly by, the wind whipping her long blond ringlets around wildly. Herbert’s little girl appeared as happy as a clam.



Julia’s mother had told her that the Edgewater Hotel had an Olympic-sized swimming pool and that if they arrived there early enough, they would be able to go swimming. The idea of floating in crystal-clear, cool wetness sounded appealing to Julia, especially on a day like that one. The morning sun had burned away the cool early morning dew, and though it was only just shy of 11:00 A.M., the Alabama heat was rapidly becoming oppressive.



“I’m thirsty, Daddy!” Julia said from the back seat, her voice taking on a whining tone. She was hot and sleepy and sticky and thirsty, and up to then, Julia had tolerated the long hours of driving quite well.



Herbert said, “Okay, my Princess. We’ll see if we can find us an ice cream parlor. How does that sound? We can sit in air conditioning, while we drink something ice cold.”



“Okay, Daddy,” Julia sighed and then drifted off to sleep.



Herbert drove until he found an ice cream parlor along the side of the highway. He slowed down as he steered their 1957 mint-green Plymouth sedan into the pot-holed, graveled parking lot. Herbert winced as his beautiful, new automobile bumped along through the rocks and gravel. The girls, both asleep, sat up with a start when the car began bumping along through the parking lot.



“Where are we?” asked Rita, as she looked out the car window for something familiar. Julia sat up, too, and rubbed her eyes. Her pretty powder-blue dress was damp and wrinkled, and her hair a mass of tangled curls.



“Daddy, I’m thirsty!” Julia whimpered and flopped back down on her seat again and closed her eyes.



“Get up, Goofy!” Herbert said to his daughter. “Let’s go get us the biggest -- coldest -- bubbliest ice cream soda that money can buy!”



Julia jolted herself into an upright position and looked around. Their car had rolled to a stop in front of an old, Pepto-Bismol pink, one-story building that looked as though it had housed one business too many and was overdue to be retired.



Julia leaped out onto the gravel and loose dirt outside the car. Dust rose around the little girl like a cloud, making her cough for a few seconds as she flapped her small hands in front of her face to clear the air around her. Rita brushed the dust from Julia’s dress and smoothed the wrinkles from the damp, rumpled fabric. Then she took a small brush from her Evan-Picone handbag and brushed Julia’s long, unruly locks back into submission and re-positioned the barrettes that held her daughter’s thick tresses away from her face.



Then the three of them walked inside the ice cream parlor, as Rita held onto her daughter’s small hand.

Inside, the air was crisp and deliciously cool, as Herbert had promised. He lifted his daughter up onto one of the tall ice-cream-parlor chairs and helped Rita up onto hers.

Then he said, “Okay, girls, I’ll be right back with some refreshments. Sit tight.” Herbert turned and walked over to the soda counter.

“Ma-Ma, I need a drink, now!” Julia cried, as her eyes panned the restaurant looking for a drinking fountain. And on the far side of the room, Julia spotted two of them.

One was a brand new, white porcelain fountain with a shiny silver bubbler fixture on top of it.

The fountain next to it was similar to the first, except that it looked at least 20 years older and was quite dilapidated. It had a cracked bowl and a bubbler that was covered in corrosion with crusty, gray lime deposits on the inside that had formed where the water from the spigot had been splashing next to the drain for a quarter of a century.

What caught Julia’s attention, though, was a one-word sign that hung above the older fountain.

Julia’s mother had already taught her to sound out simple words, and she sat in her high parlor chair, squinting her eyes, reading the sign. She swung her legs back and forth as she concentrated on sounding out the word phonetically -- so hard that she began to lean forward and almost fell out of her chair.

“Careful, Julia!” Her mother said. “You don’t want to fall and break your neck, do you?”

Julia wondered if her mother would stop asking her that inane question if, once, just for the heck of it, she answered, ”Yes, Mother. I think that, today, I would like to fall and break my neck!”

Suddenly the light went on in Julia‘s brain. “Oh! It’s ‘color’ --!” Julia chirped. “COLORED!” And then she said loudly, “Thatfountain has colored water!”

“Yippie!” Julia squealed excitedly, as she leaped out of her chair and began running to the back of the restaurant.”

“Jewel-YA!“ Where are you going?” her mother asked, as she hopped out of her chair to retrieve her daughter.

The ice cream parlor was an integrated establishment, and by “integrated,” I mean that all of the white people sat on one side, and the black people sat on the other, with the drinking fountains as the dividing line between the two races. The “colored” fountain was on the side closest to all of the black people, and the new fountain -- with no sign above it -- was on the white people’s side.

An old white gentleman, sitting near the fountains, who had heard Julia’s comments about the “colored” water said to her, “I wouldn’t do that, honey, if I ‘wuz’ you! That fountain is ‘foe’ the ‘in-feee-ya’ race.”

Why do grown-ups always have to use those big words? Julia thought in exasperation. Then she heard her mother’s clicking heels coming up behind her.

Rita placed her hands on Julia’s small shoulders as the woman faced the old man and said indignantly, “Why, Sir -- there is no such thing as an ‘inferior’ race!”

The old man sat still for a few seconds, and then stood up and picked up his hat, bringing it to his chest.

In a thick Southern drawl, he said, “Now, Ma-am. I would beg to ‘dif-fa.’ But since you ‘a-wa’ a woman, albeit a mis-gaaded’ Yain-kee’ woman, ‘aw’ll’ leave it at that.” Then, with his hat still pressed against his chest, in dignified fashion, the old man bowed and said, “Good day, young ‘lay-deez,’” and left.


* * * * * * *


It was a long time before Julia realized what had happened on that sweltering day in 1957 in that little ice cream establishment in the deep south. She somehow knew, though, that her mother had done something very important – that she had bucked the tide in some significant way. And though Julia wasn’t exactly sure why, she was proud of her mother.

Later, in 1960, as Rita and Julia watched the newsreel of Ruby Bridges, the first black child to go to an integrated school, they admired her bravery in the face of such extreme racism. And it’s because of people like Rita Burdette and Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks, that tolerance for others is becoming the norm, instead of the exception.

Since Julia has grown up, she has occasionally stood -- alone -- for the unpopular cause. But, whenever Julia looks at herself in the mirror, she sees a young lady looking back at her who comes from a long line of principled women.

Just as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water,“ Julia knew that the women in her family had always been strong.


The Burdette family made it to the Edgewater that evening and had their little dip in the big swimming pool. Memories of sweltering heat and bigotry sank deep within Julia’s subconscious to a place that she didn’t re-visit until adulthood.

For the rest of Julia’s idyllic childhood, she continued to be her daddy’s girl.

But when she stepped into womanhood, Julia became – and still remains – her mother’s daughter.
 

gary wedlund

Senior Member
Julia sat in the back seat watching the scenery go by, counting cows. “Is a bull a cow? Or are just cows cows?” she asked her mother, who was sitting in the front seat.

“Why honey, I think that just cows are cows. What do you think, Herbert?”

“Only a cow can be a cow,“ Herbert said, clarifying the matter.

“Where does she come up with this stuff?“ Herbert asked his wife, Rita.

Rita looked at her husband with her transparent blue eyes and said, “Well Herbert. While you were away on business last week, your daughter held up a chicken leg at the dinner table and said, “Mommy! Is this chicken dead?’”

Herbert chuckled and looked into the rear-view mirror at his daughter who was sitting in the back seat, smiling benevolently at nothing in particular, watching the scenery fly by, the wind whipping her long blond ringlets around wildly. Herbert’s little girl appeared as happy as a clam.

Julia’s mother had told her that the Edgewater Hotel had an Olympic-sized swimming pool and that if they arrived there early enough, they would be able to go swimming. The idea of floating in crystal-clear, cool wetness sounded appealing to Julia, especially on a day like that one. The morning sun had burned away the cool early morning dew, and though it was only just shy of 11:00 A.M., the Alabama heat was rapidly becoming oppressive.

“I’m thirsty, Daddy!” Julia said from the back seat, her voice taking on a whining tone. She was hot and sleepy and sticky and thirsty, and up to then, Julia had tolerated the long hours of driving quite well.

Herbert said, “Okay, my Princess. We’ll see if we can find us an ice cream parlor. How does that sound? We can sit in air conditioning, while we drink something ice cold.”

“Okay, Daddy,” Julia sighed and then drifted off to sleep.

Herbert drove until he found an ice cream parlor along the side of the highway. He slowed down as he steered their 1957 mint-green Plymouth sedan into the pot-holed, graveled parking lot. Herbert winced as his beautiful, new automobile bumped along through the rocks and gravel. The girls, both asleep, sat up with a start when the car began bumping along through the parking lot.

“Where are we?” asked Rita, as she looked out the car window for something familiar. Julia sat up, too, and rubbed her eyes. Her pretty powder-blue dress was damp and wrinkled, and her hair a mass of tangled curls.

“Daddy, I’m thirsty!” Julia whimpered and flopped back down on her seat again and closed her eyes.

“Get up, Goofy!” Herbert said to his daughter. “Let’s go get us the biggest -- coldest -- bubbliest ice cream soda that money can buy!”

Julia jolted herself into an upright position and looked around. Their car had rolled to a stop in front of an old, Pepto-Bismol pink, one-story building that looked as though it had housed one business too many and was overdue to be retired.

Julia leaped out onto the gravel and loose dirt outside the car. Dust rose around the little girl like a cloud, making her cough for a few seconds as she flapped her small hands in front of her face to clear the air around her. Rita brushed the dust from Julia’s dress and smoothed the wrinkles from the damp, rumpled fabric. Then she took a small brush from her Evan-Picone handbag and brushed Julia’s long, unruly locks back into submission and re-positioned the barrettes that held her daughter’s thick tresses away from her face.

Then the three of them walked inside the ice cream parlor, as Rita held onto her daughter’s small hand.

Inside, the air was crisp and deliciously cool, as Herbert had promised. He lifted his daughter up onto one of the tall ice-cream-parlor chairs and helped Rita up onto hers.

Then he said, “Okay, girls, I’ll be right back with some refreshments. Sit tight.” Herbert turned and walked over to the soda counter.

“Ma-Ma, I need a drink, now!” Julia cried, as her eyes panned the restaurant looking for a drinking fountain. And on the far side of the room, Julia spotted two of them.

One was a brand new, white porcelain fountain with a shiny silver bubbler fixture on top of it.

The fountain next to it was similar to the first, except that it looked at least 20 years older and was quite dilapidated. It had a cracked bowl and a bubbler that was covered in corrosion with crusty, gray lime deposits on the inside that had formed where the water from the spigot had been splashing next to the drain for a quarter of a century.

What caught Julia’s attention, though, was a one-word sign that hung above the older fountain.

Julia’s mother had already taught her to sound out simple words, and she sat in her high parlor chair, squinting her eyes, reading the sign. She swung her legs back and forth as she concentrated on sounding out the word phonetically -- so hard that she began to lean forward and almost fell out of her chair.

“Careful, Julia!” Her mother said. “You don’t want to fall and break your neck, do you?”

Julia wondered if her mother would stop asking her that inane question if, once, just for the heck of it, she answered, ”Yes, Mother. I think that, today, I would like to fall and break my neck!”

Suddenly the light went on in Julia‘s brain. “Oh! It’s ‘color’ --!” Julia chirped. “COLORED!” And then she said loudly, “Thatfountain has colored water!”

“Yippie!” Julia squealed excitedly, as she leaped out of her chair and began running to the back of the restaurant.”

“Jewel-YA!“ Where are you going?” her mother asked, as she hopped out of her chair to retrieve her daughter.

The ice cream parlor was an integrated establishment, and by “integrated,” I mean that all of the white people sat on one side, and the black people sat on the other, with the drinking fountains as the dividing line between the two races. The “colored” fountain was on the side closest to all of the black people, and the new fountain -- with no sign above it -- was on the white people’s side.

An old white gentleman, sitting near the fountains, who had heard Julia’s comments about the “colored” water said to her, “I wouldn’t do that, honey, if I ‘wuz’ you! That fountain is ‘foe’ the ‘in-feee-ya’ race.”

Why do grown-ups always have to use those big words? Julia thought in exasperation. Then she heard her mother’s clicking heels coming up behind her.

Rita placed her hands on Julia’s small shoulders as the woman faced the old man and said indignantly, “Why, Sir -- there is no such thing as an ‘inferior’ race!”

The old man sat still for a few seconds, and then stood up and picked up his hat, bringing it to his chest.

In a thick Southern drawl, he said, “Now, Ma-am. I would beg to ‘dif-fa.’ But since you ‘a-wa’ a woman, albeit a mis-gaaded’ Yain-kee’ woman, ‘aw’ll’ leave it at that.” Then, with his hat still pressed against his chest, in dignified fashion, the old man bowed and said, “Good day, young ‘lay-deez,’” and left.


* * * * * * *


It was a long time before Julia realized what had happened on that sweltering day in 1957 in that little ice cream establishment in the deep south. She somehow knew, though, that her mother had done something very important – that she had bucked the tide in some significant way. And though Julia wasn’t exactly sure why, she was proud of her mother.

Later, in 1960, as Rita and Julia watched the newsreel of Ruby Bridges, the first black child to go to an integrated school, they admired her bravery in the face of such extreme racism. And it’s because of people like Rita Burdette and Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks, that tolerance for others is becoming the norm, instead of the exception.

Since Julia has grown up, she has occasionally stood -- alone -- for the unpopular cause. But, whenever Julia looks at herself in the mirror, she sees a young lady looking back at her who comes from a long line of principled women.

Just as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water,“Julia knew that the women in her family had always been strong.


The Burdette family made it to the Edgewater that evening and had their little dip in the big swimming pool. Memories of sweltering heat and bigotry sank deep within Julia’s subconscious to a place that she didn’t re-visit until adulthood.

For the rest of Julia’s idyllic childhood, she continued to be her daddy’s girl.

But when she stepped into womanhood, Julia became – and still remains – her mother’s daughter.

Just a few comments about big craft issues that will improve the work and literally everything else you write, from this moment on, should you choose to take the two suggestions:

1) This is written in a manner that allows us to be in the heads of all the characters, each in turn. That's classic head hopping. Since everyone is together and the story is pretty linear, you most likely want to write it in 3rd person limited form, which would mean that only one actor may directly think, see, hear, taste, feel or smell. Everyone is doing that. And, if you planned on this being omniscient, there's nothing to suggest it is or that it ought to be, and even if it was, you'd still have to control the head hopping by imposing your own restrictions. Look up the terms head hopping and limited 3rd person writing.

2) There's one other tool that helps manage work and makes it both easier to comprehend while facilitating pace. It's called, Same actor, Same paragraph. New actor, New paragraph. In other words, if Alice acts and speaks and thinks, all of the USUALLY belongs in one paragraph. This is how we are allowed to use action tags in place of dialogue tags, for example. It is how we can use uncredited dialogue lines. It facilitates a ton of things, and this work violated that "rule" repeatedly, causing you to have to dialogue tag everything and causing the reader to have to reread many of the lines to figure out who is saying of doing what.

Fix these two style issues and the work goes up a whole grade level.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Hello Serendipity,

...the story is very mostly most-charming.

Yet if your draft were my draft I would work toward being more impactful, whacking the back of your reader's eye with the nostalgic light. I would reduce word count for a start, thereby - & perhaps only - making the 'jokes' more effective:

Julia sat in the back seat/ ... ...counting cows.

“Is a bull a cow? she asked her mother

“Honey, I think the cows are cows. ...s said / What do you think, Herbert?”


Be brave here, hoping that 'back seat' solves everything.

...

I would reveal less with the racial discrimination element - allowing the reader to draw conclusions that you have sign-posted [and the reader feels he has identified this issue, alone].

I would not dovetail subject of womanhood alongside the ice-cream parlour incidents. I would save all that explanation for a second chapter or a story. In fact this harms the principle narrative which is strong. I back @Gary's point but I would need an half hour with the draft to think about it.

An impressive write, well on its way to thumping the sub-ed with a mind to quality. Good luck :)
 
Last edited:
Top