My One-hundred Year Journey

My apologies for not writing the past two weeks. Some, now mostly resolved, medical issues got in the way of our regular schedule. But I’m back now.

The journey towards the completion of my script, Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy, continues. The script is in what I believe to be the final editing stage.

Last week, due to some work travel, I had the opportunity to journey to Southwest Virginia and take some time to seek out some inspiration. My trip afforded me the opportunity to travel to the small town of Cedar Bluff, Virginia, my grandfather’s home, and where my mother was born and grew up.

It took me a while to find the right route up to College Hill where the house was and where the old school still stands in ruins, but I found it and made the journey up the narrow, winding road.

Before I turned to drive up the hill, I saw a sign that announced the Cedar Bluff Veteran’s Day parade. I wanted to take a picture, but noted that I would miss the parade since it was scheduled for the following day (Saturday).

When I returned from my trip up to the school, I realized I had my dates wrong. As I parked to take the picture of the sign I looked a block away where a policeman had just stopped traffic and I saw the beginning of the parade.

I don’t believe in coincidence. But, here I was in my grandfather’s hometown, one-hundred years after he was drafted for service in World War I, watching the Veteran’s Day parade.

The significance? Although he did not talk about the war, and although his children were forbideen to talk about their history lessons of the war in his presence, every year he would put on his uniform and march in the Veteran’s Day parade, or as it was then called the Armistice Day parade.

This. Very. Same. Parade.

As parades go, this one was far from impressive. A few fire trucks, some marching children, the VFW unit and a few Vietnam veterans.

But I stood watching with tears in my eyes, and knowing this was more confirmation that I must indeed finish and produce this script.

After the parade, and after a few miss-turns I made my way to the cemetery where my grandparents and uncle are buried. It had been some twenty years since last I visited, so finding the grave was a challenge. But I found it.

As I stood there and swept the leaves off of the markers, I knew my grandparents were not there. But I stood there honoring Reese on Veteran’s Day, wanting him to know that I was telling his story, and hoping that I could do it justice.

The journey from Cedar Bluff to the stage continues…


‘Til it’s over, over there


It’s been over eight months since last I posted here. I had high hopes and fancy plans to keep this going, along with my regular home on the web at The Write Side of My Brain. But schedules change, and plans change.

So, today I’m back and we’re taking this blog in a different direction. I’ll still talk occasionally about meetings and events, but for now, we’re looking at history, specifically World War I history.

I plan to be here every Tuesday to talk to you about the development of, and the promtion of my stage play.

See, I’ve written a script entitled: Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy.

It’s a stage play based on the diary of my grandfather from World War I. The first public reading is this coming Monday with the Richmond Playwright’s Forum.

Here’s how the script came to be.

I’ve had a copy of the diary for years. The version I have was transcribed by my aunt, who also provided commentary and history. The original diary is now at the Library of Congress as part of the Veteran’s History Project.

In addition to writing, I also spend some time on the stage. About two years ago, I was again participating in A Night at the Quartermaster Museum, at Fort Lee, Virginia. I’ve done this annually for the last four years and will be there again in November.

Two years ago I portrayed a World War I era doctor. The nurse and I talked to the students about the hazards of trench foot and prevention methods which include…you guess it…Clean Dry Socks. I remembered my grandfather’s diary at that point.

But things started to gel the next day when I attended the first performance in the newly restored Beacon Theatre at City Point in Hopewell, Virginia. The program was a series of letters written during the Civil War era.

I was inspired to go home and pull out my grandfather’s diary where I learned, or remembered, that he had trained at what was then Camp Lee, then marched to City Point in Hopewell where he and the 80t Blue Ridge Division departed for France.

It was then that I knew that I had to take this story to the stage.

So, the script has been written, and re-written, and will soon be read in public for the first time.

Is it ready? The reading will tell.

But it’s closer, and it’s on its way the stage.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how the reading goes.