Teresa B. Still

Author-Illustrator Teresa Brooks Still

The writing of Lucele’s stories

 

   I want to talk about “Dolly’s Dilemma” for my family and friends. The book is a true story, the characters are real and it happened in 1913, 100 years ago. Sarah Lucele was my Granny Brooks as it says in the story she was called Louie all her life after the events of 1913. Louie had 11 children and their favorite form of entertainment was getting together with Louie’s siblings and their children for family events. The grownups would visit and the children play or sit and listen to stories of times past. I was about 6 years old the first time I heard Granny Louie tell the story of how her mother, Dolly, stole her children Frank, Mary, Emma Gladys and Buck from the Child Saving Institute to keep from losing them forever. We were visiting at Aunt Emma’s and the living room was full of aunts, uncles, and cousins all setting around listening as the most fascinating story I will ever hear unfolds.

Through the years I would often ask Granny (Louie) to retell the story of her mother Dolly stealing them from the home. I simply loved hearing about them being stolen and hiding and running away from the authorities so they wouldn’t be returned to the home and put out for adoption.  Finally in 1982 I asked my mother to record an interview with Granny because I wanted the whole story in her own words, for my children.  I learned that Dolly’s full birth name was Veleria Almina Moore had a sister, Sarah, and two brothers.

They were raised by their grandmother because both of their parents died when Dolly was young.

 

  In 2008 I wrote a book for my 4-year-old granddaughter who was having a hard time dealing with her parents’ divorce. At the request of friends I published, “Katie Has Two Homes”, because it helped my granddaughter deal with difficult issues. When you publish a book you try to sell it, so I joined an author’s guild. . .  During that time I heard a speaker who shared that at the age of 6 she was chosen to learn all the stories of her family’s history. She would be the keeper of their verbal history for the next generation. It was at that time that I realized that although all my generation of Dolly’s great-grandchildren had probably heard about the escape from the child saving institute the great-grand children (my children) did not know it, and in this day and age did not have time to sit and listen to me tell it.

Since the “KH2H’s” book is short, has few words and the illustrations tell as much of the story as the words. I thought maybe I could do a book about Dolly’s story, as another children picture book. You know 12 illustrations one per page, all big and colorful. I learned real fast that 12 pages wouldn’t do it, which explained why I had always had a difficult time telling the story, it is fascinating but it’s not short and sweet.

In order to do justice to Dolly’s story there needed to be some background work.  I got out my grandmothers tape and typed it up from her words, then I wrote the story out.  I had met a publisher through the local authors guild who was taking submissions, but the story had to be written as a synopsis. I did not even know what a synopsis was, but I did some research and found out. It was excruciating trying to put the whole story in one paragraph, but I did it and then I sent it in. The publisher Tammy Robinson Smith liked the story enough to offer a contract and help me with getting it into book form. The story was to long and too detailed to tell with pictures and one liners it was going to take a lot of work and editing and rearranging to get it into reader form. I have to tell you by the time I sent it to the publisher I had already spent over a year getting it on paper and I thought it was perfect. It was not perfect, and it was difficult to be told I had it out of sequence and I had to rewrite it. Preserving this story for future generations had now become a passion and I wanted to share our heritage with Dolly’s descendants. I wanted my family and future generations to know why we are so passionate about family.

All my life I had thought of Dolly’s story as my grandmother’s story. To me it was all about the children and all about Louie. It was during the weeks it took to create a title that I realized this wasn’t the children’s: Frank’s, Mary’s Emma’s, Gladys’ Buck’s or Louie’s story. This was their mother, Dolly’s story. Therefore the title “Sarah Lucele’s Ordeals: Dolly’s Dilemma.” Sarah Lucele (Louie) is telling the stories and this one is her mother, Dolly’s story. A little girl telling the story of how her mother rescued her children from being put out for adoption.

 

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