There is no ocean so great that love can’t cross.
In 1917 every man, woman, and child was called to civic duty as the “war to end all wars” encompassed the globe.
When the patriotic call comes, Adella begins her campaign of encouragement by corresponding with the frightened and lonely soldiers. On the cusp of adulthood, the young woman is tired of living a cosseted life and hopes to gain her parent’s support when she wants to volunteer her services to the war effort. Her mother worries for her safety, but Adella is more concerned for her heart.
As a recent college graduate, Gibb is led down a path he never anticipated. And one unexpected meeting at a train station tips all of his carefully laid plans into chaos. In the void, Adella’s words of affection flow across the continents. The image of her smile and the consistency of her letters give him a reason to hope.
February 20, 1918
Adella hurried into the house and slammed the door before the snow from the porch seeped in. The scent of maple syrup met her nose, and she breathed deeply of it as she removed her woolen coat and mittens.
Her mother’s voice drifted from the kitchen with the words she’d been waiting to hear. “You have a letter, dear.” Adella kicked off her boots, lined them up with the others against the wall, and then hurried into the kitchen. “It’s from Gibb.”
“Finally.” Adella tore open the envelope bearing her name with the eagerness of a child on Christmas morning and scanned the contents. Her hand flew to her throat. “He’s at Columbia University in New York, training to become a military photographer.”
“I didn’t realize there was a school for photography.” Her mother wiped her hands on her apron. “Why would he be at Columbia University?”
Her father laid his newspaper aside and took a sip of coffee. “Uncle Sam has taken over Columbia University and converted it into a war college for Army students.”
“The government is taking over everything, including my breakfast. First, there’s Meatless Monday, then Wheatless Wednesday, and now Saturday.” Bobby blew out his cheeks.
“I imagine we can suffer through. The president says we should all return to simple food, clothes, and pleasures. Pray hard, work hard, play hard, sleep hard. This is why my scout troop is going to be helping the Red Cross to plant Victory gardens throughout the community this spring.”
“You can’t even dig a hole. How are you going to plant a garden?” Bobby scoffed.
“Well, I don’t know exactly, but I’m willing to learn. My friend, Aria, will help me, and I will start training with the Red Cross this week.” Adella turned her attention to the sketch included in her letter and ran her finger along the faces of men, eyes wide, staring across the harbor at the Statue of Liberty.
No matter how much I may have anticipated this moment, there is no way to describe the feeling one gets at the first glimpse of Lady Liberty rising tall and sturdy from her tiny perch on the small island in the middle of the harbor. Maybe it’s because of what lies before us, but like most people, I think I’ve taken my freedoms for granted. Seeing her standing with her torch held high lighting the way, reminded me of those who sacrificed so much to give me the opportunities I have, and I’m grateful. I wish you were here with me to experience her beauty.
Adella’s father poured her a cup of coffee. “Don’t look so grim. Photography is an excellent option for a skilled artist like Gibb.”
“Yes, he seems thrilled about the training.” Adella glanced at the newspaper headline, “Bread Ration Is Here.” Underneath the caption, a remorseful baker held a tray of loaves of bread. She shivered. “I can’t help but think that soon the images he’ll capture will be of the battles we read about of our men on the frontline.”
“You mean he’s going to shoot pictures instead of his gun? Aw geez.” Bobby slapped his forehead.
Her father cleared his throat then leaned forward in his chair, meeting his son’s frown. “Every soldier has their duty. Soldiers in the Signal Corps provide vital information, whether over the wire, through signal flags, movie reels, or photographs like this about locations and the exact shapes of enemy lines.”
“So he’ll be in the thick of things, still?” Bobby’s chin lifted high.
“All our soldiers crossing the ocean are in the thick of things, son.”
Adella sank into her chair. Gibb and so many men are doing important work. Why couldn’t she do the same? If only her mother would allow her to do more.
“At least we know he’ll be in the states a few more weeks to complete his training.” Her mother poured a cup of coffee. “I wonder what Gibb will think when we write him about your new job with the Red Cross.”
Bobby snorted. “That ought to be a short letter. Adella learned to use a shovel.”
Her father coughed to cover a laugh. “It does seem odd that a girl from Wisconsin knows so little about farming. I always found it rather clever how you skirted around earning that particular badge in scouting.”
“You know the reason for that.” Adella’s mother’s round cheeks rose with her smile. “She hates getting her shoes and hands muddy.”
“Guilty as charged.” Adella grimaced. “There were quite a few things that I found off-putting, including raising chickens. I suppose I’m a city girl at heart and probably the only Girl Scout in Wisconsin who didn’t find some pleasure in its pursuit.”
“How do you feel about cows?” Her father grinned, adding cream to his coffee. “Gibb’s family are dairy farmers, aren’t they?”
Kimberly Grist is married to her high school sweetheart, Nelson, a former teacher, and coach, now a pastor. They have three adult sons, one with Down syndrome, and they are passionate about encouraging others with family members with special needs.
I’ve enjoyed writing since I was young; however, I began writing my first novel in 2017. Inspired by so many things, one of which includes our oldest son’s cancer diagnosis, it’s especially gratifying to write a happy ending. My stories are inspired by women in my life like my grandmother, Lois, who wasn’t content to do what was expected. During a time in history when the average person completed the eighth grade, she attended college and became a Registered nurse. Like Rosie the Riveter, she utilized her skills during WWII. A polar opposite, my grandmother, Magdelina, was a mischievous mill worker who entertained us with stories of her antics from her childhood. My stories come to life as I imagine my grandmothers living their lives amongst the characters within the pages of my favorite genre, western historical romance in the late 19th century. Certainly, the focus would have been on learning about proper housekeeping, but what if the women's talents lay elsewhere?
In my first novel Rebecca's Hope, I introduced a western town filled with innovative ladies who choose vocations such as herd improvement, bookkeeping, ironworking, teaching, and dress shop owner. Additional stories have included teachers, a beekeeper, a potter, and traditional roles of women who became mail-order brides. Then came the nudge, and I accepted a new challenge to expand my research and writing into a new century. Adella’s story is my first novella written during WWI, the period in which my grandmothers would have been young women.
I believe you should come away refreshed and inspired after reading a book. Despite my best efforts, sometimes life stinks. Bad things happen. I need and want an outlet, an opportunity to relax and escape to a place where obstacles are met and overcome. My stories are designed to entertain, refresh, and inspire you, the reader. They combine History, Humor, and Romance with an emphasis on Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun.
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