Introducing…Connie’s Story, by Mary Francis McNinch
One of the greatest joys in life is to have and be a friend
When I was in High School, I was in awe of a girl who’s name was Connie Jackson. I wanted to be “Connie like.” I copied her hairstyle and clothes, and admired her every move, but no matter what I did, I fell short of being just like Connie. Last year, I looked up Connie’s brother Eddie. I had not seen him since we graduated in 1970. Through a series of events, I was encouraged and inspired to write this book. The Connie doll in the story belongs to Eddie’s wife Mari. The yearbook on the cover was Connie’s, and all of the “Connie’s stories” in part one, were written by Eddie from his own childhood memories. Many times, I read the story and followed his lead when I wrote the next chapter of the book.
I just got an email from Eddie reminding me that today would have been Connie’s 67th birthday. I have added the post I wrote on her birthday last year to the end of this one announcing the book I just published in memory of her. The timing is quite a coincidence…or is it an Angel telling us she “Connie Likes” the book.
Eddie and Connie… With Waldron cousins…Mari and Eddie in Murdo last summer, Tom and Connie several years ago.
Congratulations, the paperback edition of your book “Connie’s Story” is live in the Amazon Store. It is available* for readers to purchase here.
Connie’s Story takes place in a small town called Murdo. The town is very real. I grew up there in the 1950’s and 60’s and it’s a place very dear to my heart. You will read about Fern’s cafe, Murdo High School, Mack’s Cafe and Sanderson’s Store.
The story is about Hope Crandall and her family. Hope struggles to navigate through some very difficult times, after experiencing a devastating loss, but she has been given an unexpected gift that will help her through it all. This story has sorrow, healing, humor, fun, character building, problems, answers, faith, and incredible family dynamics. (It’s a 344 page book.) The characters appeal to age groups from eleven to ninety and beyond. You will laugh and cry.
I hope you will forward this information about the book to friends with children who’ve suffered a loss, or anyone who grew up in a small town, or wondered what small town life was like. You will fall in love with Pearl the human, Pearl the dog and Aunt Grace; walk through pain and healing with Warren, Lauren, and Hope. Connie Angel has a knack for saying what a troubled teenager needs to hear.
There is a little bit of Connie Jackson and some of me in this story. I had a Great Aunt Grace who kept her little black ballet flats on with rubber bands just like Great Aunt Grace in the story. My grandparents lived south of Highway 16 where Hope’s grandparents live. All of Hope’s family members are not replicas of mine, but they might remind you of some of yours.
The following is an excerpt from Connie’s Story:
Riding the bus all the way to Montana was kind of fun, but riding it all the way back wasn’t. There was a lady sitting right behind us that must have dumped a whole bottle of perfume over her head. It wasn’t even a good smelling perfume. The bus was so crowded most of the way, we couldn’t even sit in different seats. I could tell it was really bothering Aunt Grace, too. She looked like she was feeling sick.
I turned around and asked the lady if she could smell her own perfume.
She smiled real big and said, “Why, yes, young lady.”
Then I said, “My mom told me something you should know. She said when I get to be a lady, and start wearing perfume; I should just put a little dab behind my ears. She told me, if you can smell your own perfume, you have too much on….and…”
That’s when Aunt Grace jabbed me in my side, and gave me the “hush up” sign. I was very quiet when I told Aunt Grace that I was just trying to save future bus riders from her potent perfume. Then she might tell someone else, who might tell someone they know. That would be a good thing, right? Aunt Grace just handed me a magazine and told me to fan her.
I have talked at length about how I wanted to be like Connie Jackson, so I won’t go over all of what you already know. Anyway, I started to think it never really happened at all. I thought maybe I dreamed it or as my Uncle Chuck Francis quoted Mark Twain as saying:
“When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not, but my faculties are decaying now, and soon I shall be so I cannot remember anything but the things that never happened.”
The proof in the form of a picture… or two, came to me quite by accident. Connie’s brother unknowingly verified what might make some think I’m not quite right. Eddie emailed some photos from our yearbooks because I lost mine.
There it was staring at me…The proof!
No one else that year had the same cut. I actually looked through a couple of yearbooks while I was at the reunion and came up with nothing.
Another picture of Connie with the “do”… Connie with Leslie Kell, Marilyn Kinsley, Doug Koester, and Tommy Kerlin. (I saw Tommy Kerlin at Dean Lindquist’s birthday party, which was the same week-end as the reunion. He lives in Sturgis and rides a really beautiful motorcycle. I wish I had a motorcycle like Tommy’s.)
I couldn’t keep up with Connie’s clothes and shoes because she had too many. I had to just pick out a few like her’s. I went to work at the Frosty like Connie, but she quit, so that didn’t exactly work out. Do you think I’m a manipulator? Mom always told me not to push the river. It flows. I think that was her way of saying I try to manipulate outcomes.
When I was at the reunion last summer, I saw Karen (Ferdig) Snider. She was one of my best friends in High School. I asked her if she had figured out, that I had been a Connie wannabe. She said she hadn’t realized it..(then). Karen looks the same as she did 46 years ago.
Karen and her beautiful granddaughter, McKenzie, talking with Eddie Jackson at the reunion (I like her white pants. I wonder where she got them?)…below that is Karen’s Senior picture.
Anyway, I’m sure glad I got over that nonsense of wanting what everybody else has.
Connie would have been 66 today. We lost all three of these women to cancer. They each had three children. All were very special people. They are missed by those who are lucky enough to have known them.
Let it never be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.
They were all shining stars, but their moment was far too brief.