Please give a warm welcome to author Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Guy’s Angel is born out of the old stories, birthed out of the vintage streets of the old’ hood, and inspired by my own love of flight. The story is fiction but the setting is very real or was. My grandparents brought it to life for me in their tales and I hope I did the same for readers.
My grandmothers came from two different generations, my Granny who came of age in the late 1910’s and 1920’s, and my Grandma who was more part of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Granny was my caregiver, my babysitter while my parents worked. Granny and Pop reared me as if I’d been their child so I’ve always been out of sync with my own generation. And they both told stories, many tales. The 1920’s were their heyday and my Granny lived in what I like to think of as the “old” family neighborhood, part of the same area of town but a different section. My grandparents lived there at one time, my dad grew up there, my mom was born (at home) in a house there, and in my childhood I still had relatives who lived there. One of my uncles had the area as his postal route.
The places in the story are real enough. Wyeth Hill remains a bluff top park overlooking the Missouri River and over into Kansas where Rosecrans Airport is located today. The streets are actual streets and the places my characters visit were real in 1925 in St. Joseph. Krug Park remains a beautiful place today and the doctor they visited (you’ll have to read the book to find out why) existed. My family bought the house from a family of doctors, first non-related folks to own it, and in 1925, the doctor had his office in his home. In the early drafts, I let a few relatives read it and they loved the way I brought the old neighborhood to life.
Here’s the blurb:
When a young woman really believes the sky is the limit, amazing things can happen…Lorraine Ryan wants to fly airplanes so she heads for the local airstrip in 1925 to make her dream come true. Most of the flyboys think she’s cute but a woman’s place is in the home, not the cockpit. When Guy Richter steps up and offers to teach her to fly, she’s captivated with both Guy and flight. He nicknames her “Angel” and takes her up into that wild blue yonder. Before long, they’re deep in love.Love, however, isn’t always enough……Guy, a former World War I flying ace, is haunted by his past. His demons include his war service, the death of his only brother in an accident the previous year, and the Valkyries that he evaded in France who trail him in the hopes that they can complete his destiny. But his dreams lie with Angel and as they grow closer and closer, he soon realizes that if anyone can save him, it’s his Angel.
The brown leather jacket swallowed up her thin figure and the boots dwarfed her small feet so she looked like a little girl playing dress-up in clothing purloined from her father’s closet. Even the trousers, though cinched at the waist for a tighter fit, diminished her. Before she put on the gloves, the leather helmet, and the goggles, she still retained her femininity but with the last of the gear in place, she must resemble a flying child or an oversized insect.
When she first showed up out at Rosecrans field, however, on that Monday afternoon in early May most of the flying aces, the would-be aviators, and the curious onlookers stared. Maybe it was the way the dimity dress she wore hugged her figure or the way she let her black curls tumble loose down her back unbound. She figured they thought she must be lost, the way they stared, as if she was out of place. Before she reached the hanger, they began calling to her, teasing and flirting as if she was a catch they might be able to reel in from the adjacent Missouri River.
“Whose kid sister are you?”
She ignored the first salvo, as she sidled across the open field in French Bottoms as if she were window-shopping downtown.
Another took a shot. “Come to call somebody home to supper?”
She tossed back her head and the curls rippled in the sunshine.
“I came to fly.”
They all laughed every one of them. Heat flared enough to make her blush but she wouldn’t go away. It took too much bravado to come in the first place.
“Beat it, doll.” The oldest of the gathered males stepped forward as he spoke. “Scram. Flying ain’t for gals. Go and learn the Charleston or something.”
Her rosebud mouth, pinker than nature ever painted it, pursed into a pout but her dark blue eyes flared with fire.
“I don’t wanna dance,” she said. “I want to take to the sky and fly.”
Another burst of laughter flamed her cheeks pinker but she stood her ground, fists balled tight as she glared at them. Despite her anger, tears flirted with her eyes until one of them felt some sympathy for the kid, parted the crowd and put an arm around her shoulders.
“Dry up and let her alone,” he said, walking her away from the others. “Hey, Angel, cheer up. If you want to fly so bad, I’ll teach you.”
She didn’t mind his arm around her and she liked the way he shut the others up for her sake.
“Do you mean it? That’s nifty. When can we start?”
He looked her up and down, shook his head at the white dimity dress decorated with red and blue polka dots, and sighed.
“How old are you, Angel?”
“I’m eighteen.” She told the truth but didn’t mention how recently she reached the age.
He shot her a skeptical glance but asked, “Yeah? You still go to school?”
“Nope,” she said. “I quit and went to work two years ago. I work at the dime store, Kresge’s, you know, downtown.”
He turned her so he could study her face and she stood still, sensing scrutiny might make or break her chances to fly.
“All right, then,” he said, after the pause. “Come back on Saturday morning, leave the glad rags at home and I’ll take you up. If you still want to learn after that, I’ll give you a few lessons. My name’s Guy, Guy Richter. Be here at seven, Angel.”
Her lips shifted into a smile and she nodded.
“Okay! I’ll be here with bells on.”
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