Information and Insights from Author Mike Jordan
The Unforgettable Interviews
I’m so honored to begin the new Mike Jordan Blog with this post. Read on and you will see why . . .
As I hinted on “The Freedom Song” Back Story page, four interviews from 1998 became the foundation for many of the storylines at Lakeport Plantation in “The Freedom Song.”
I interviewed four elderly African-American women whose great-grandparents were slaves at Lakeport. They told me many stories and tidbits of information that they said had been handed down through the generations. It was an incredible afternoon with these beautiful women, one I will never forget. Now, they have all passed away. But, in my novels, their stories will live on.
Here’s how it happened:
After spending an exciting day of on-site research at the then-unrestored and boarded up mansion at Lakeport along the Mississippi River (described in the Back Story), I retreated to a modest motel room in nearby Lake Village. I noticed a sign: Museum of Chicot County. The next day I contacted Dorothy Douglas, the curator of the Museum of Chicot County. We met at the museum in Lake Village. We had an extended talk and she shared a lot of wonderful information and some documents about the county’s history. Then, she mentioned that there were descendants of slaves who toiled at Lakeport in Chicot County and offered to try to set up interviews.
I was ecstatic. What a rare honor.
A while later two elderly African American women arrived. They were dressed up, as if going to church, were beautiful elderly women, very friendly and warm. I told them about the story my great grandmother Bohannan had told me before passing away, that the Bohannans of Bohannan Mountain, Arkansas, were part of the underground railroad, helping slaves from Chicot County escape to the North.
One woman identified herself as Herxia J. Scott. The other woman was introduced as a friend from the Greenville, Mississippi, area, just across the Mississippi River. The other woman was adamant about not using her name or even writing it down, but I heard Mrs. Scott call her by her name. Neither woman wanted to be photographed or tape recorded, but they related incredible little stories about Lakeport, memories of slavery that they remembered hearing from their great-grandparents and grandparents when they were little girls. Some of the stories were sad, some were funny, and some just fascinating.
At times it was emotional. The woman whose name shall not be used here, who was missing a few teeth at her age but had a whimsical smile and a twinkle in her eye, teared up when she told the story of how the slaves at Lakeport, during the Civil War, would see the union gunboats floating by while they toiled in the cotton fields, still in slavery, and were so discouraged. The soldiers even sometimes waved and were close to the shore, but they wouldn’t stop. Her smiled broadened when she said the day finally did come when the boats landed. She said when the soldiers told the workers they were free “they danced around and were yelling and crying, and then they broke out the liquor they had hidden and had quite a party.”
When you’re reading about people like the conjure man in “The Freedom Song,” or Mary being a fashion model for Lydia Johnson , the germ of those storylines came from these ladies.
Then, I was dispatched out into the county, near the town of Eudora, to meet with two other elderly women, one who lived far back in the woods and another who had come to that home from where she lived in Eudora. Again, these two incredible women, May and Ruthie, shared all kinds of stories and incidents they had heard about in their youth. The story in “The Freedom Song” about the drums being secretly made by the slaves from animal skins is one example. Some of those stories will be part of storylines in the next novel in the series, “The Runner.”
The encounter with these women on that day in 1998 was without a doubt the most poignant moment in all my research for these novels. Unforgettable!
Mike Jordan’s Beatles Museum – The Untold Story
Here’s the story behind the “Beatles Museum” in my home. And stay tuned for a fun Beatles storyline in my upcoming novel “The Cruise Ship Affair,” book No. 2 in the “Lovequest series,” due in 2018.
When I was 12 (1962) I had a pen pal – Ian Jacklin. He lived in England – in Hull, Yorkshire. Ian, or perhaps his mother, signed me up for the English version of the Beatles Fan Club in 1963, before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan (Feb. 9, 1964) and before they were even known in the U.S. It was awesome! Every once in a while, out of the blue, I would receive Beatles Fan Club stuff in the mail – who knows, I might have been the first American kid out there who knew about the Beatles before they came to America. Of course, like everybody else, I was watching that night on the history-making Ed Sullivan Show. I was 13 years old. I loved their music, got a guitar and tried to play all their songs, grabbed everything Beatles there was out there and later played drums in a band that played Beatles songs. I actually kept every single record and piece of Beatle memorabilia I ever got my hands on — I still have it all! When my kids were younger we went to Beatlemania conventions and over the years family, friends, some of my media co-workers, and my students at Pepperdine kept adding to my collection. I did a fun radio show, “Dr. J and the Beatles,” on the Pepperdine campus radio station, and once Capital Records even came out to Malibu to see my collection, and brought some goodies along that I gave away in contests on my radio show.
In 2005, when my daughter Melissa graduated from college and no longer needed her bedroom, my six awesome kids (and their spouses) and some grandkids created the “Beatles Museum” in that bedroom as a surprise while my wife Nancy and I were away on vacation. They actually got us to hurry home by pretending Melissa was “very sick.” They painted the room great colors – blue and red – and put shelves up and glass cases. It was unbelievable and they got me good – I was shocked when I opened the door to the room, thinking my sick daughter Melissa was in there and instead faced a “Surprise!” from my kids and grandkids. Even Nancy’s Dutch relatives who were visiting from Holland got into the act and helped.
The result is an amazing “museum” with hundreds of Beatles items – records, memorabilia, photos, books, magazines and posters. You name it, I most likely have it, including rare first pressings of Beatles records. I’m really proud of all my “Parlaphone” records – the English Beatles label – that you rarely see in America. Every square inch of the room has something, even the ceiling! Each semester I have my Pepperdine students over for a Beatles night and we sit around in the room and talk all things Beatles and play some of that precious vinyl.
And that is the story of the “Beatles Museum.”
Spring Book Tour Dates Announced
Saturday, Feb. 25: Author Talk and Book Signing, Madison Country Library, 827 N. College St., Huntsville, Arkansas, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 27: Meet-and-Greet and Book Signing, Nightbird Books, 205 Dickson St., Fayetteville, Arkansas, 5:15 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Saturday, March 4: Author Talk and Book Signing, Lakeport Plantation Museum, 601 AR-142, Lake Village, Arkansas, noon – 2 p.m.
Sunday, March 5: Author Talk and Book Signing, The Mad Raven, 255 W. Bockman Way, Sparta, Tennessee, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Monday, March 6: Author Talk and Book Signing, Putnam County Library, 50 E. Broad St., Cookeville, Tennessee, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuesday, March 7: Author Talk and Book Signing, Monterey Depot Museum, 101 E. Depot Ave., Monterey, Tennessee, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 6: Author Talk and Book Signing, Sandy Public Library, 38980 Proctor Blvd., Sandy, Oregon, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 8: Author Talk and Book Signing, Kennewick, Washington, Place and Time TBA
Saturday, April 15: Author Talk and Book Signing, Portland, Oregon,, Place and Time TBA
Nice article published today in SEArk Today. 🙂
Dear readers — Here is an update on Anne Gerdes I promised. This is a fun story — after 52 years I have found her!!! Those of you who have read the Back Story for my novel “Your Heart of Gold” know about Anne and how she inspired the novel. You also know that in that Back Story, I said I hadn’t seen her since 1965 and I asked “Anne, are you out there somewhere?” Well, through a mutual friend, the connection was made and Anne e-mailed me last week! She is married to a great guy, Ray, and lives in Kentucky, and has been a second-grade teacher there for many years. Her dad, also a part of the chase scene in the novel, Arkansas, and talks about that night, too. 🙂 You can read the Back Story at the link below. Link to the Back Story: http://mikejordanbooks.com/b…/your-heart-of-gold-back-story/
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