If you haven’t yet familiarized yourself with the characters in BIG WAR, Little Wars, the Raymie referred to in the title of this entry is Milla’s sharpshooter cousin. Milla’s is the voice we hear as we read of the conflicts at home as World War II rages in the background.
During the presentation of a personalized copy of my novel to the real Raymie (Ray Bud Bowers) in Oregon last month, I introduced him to “flat Raymie.” It is an enlargement of the image of him from the book’s front cover creating an eleven-by-seventeen-inch poster. I’d heard of young families with a Dad away in service who’d duplicated him on a life-sized image. They included their “flat Daddy” in photographs wherever the family took him. The story warmed my heart. Life size doesn’t suit today’s luggage limitations, so I had to “make do,” a carry-over term from the Big War.
Flat Raymie traveled with me to the Midwest protected between assorted garments. The Allegiant Airlines workers heeded my sign: Old Photo – Please Do Not Bend – Thank you!
Flat Raymie participated in all scheduled events, such as: my family reunion that included dinner theater at The Fireside; a trip down memory lane where I grew up near Milwaukee, WI, with visits to Greenfield Park, Lane School, the State Fair Park and We Mi Hi—sites included in the novel; and to my 65th class reunion where I donated a copy of my book for a drawing.
For good behavior, flat Raymie accompanied my daughter Jill, cousin Sam and me to the Ten Chimneys Historic Site—home and estate of acting greats Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in Genesee Depot, WI. The visit brought full circle a journey that began with the musical “Les Miserable” at the Fireside.
Flat Raymie wasn’t yet too weary of being packed and repacked to move on to another adventure. In addition to precious family time in Lower Michigan and touring a granddaughter’s “dream home,” a surprise awaited. Finally, the secret had to be divulged; we were headed to a buffalo ranch. Okay. Flat Raymie had never visited buffalo; however, I’d traveled to the White Buffalo Ranch north of Flagstaff, AZ, numerous times. But there was a super surprise in store: a ride on a wagon into the midst of a herd where we could hand-feed the massive creatures. Their great gray tongues undulated through air like eels moving through water as they reached for the pellet treats. Those mouths opened to caverns! Hitting the “jackpot” could only be compared to hearing the quarters jangle after winning one hundred bucks at a local casino.
How grateful I am to still enjoy being surprised!