An old Latin proverb says…
“It is by no idle chance that I have come here.”
Gracie discovered this truth when she entered the world of The Crestmont Inn…and hopefully you will experience it as well, dear reader, as you enter the story behind the story of Crestmont…
Have you ever stayed at an old inn or historic hotel and wondered how it began? What were the stories of the people who owned it, worked or stayed there in bygone times? Surely these questions pop up in the minds of people who seek out interesting old accommodations instead of modern hotels.
When my husband and I travel, we try to find unusual places to stay. We even found an old crofter’s cottage coincidentally named “Holly Cottage” when we explored the Scottish Highlands.
In 2006, we stopped at The Crestmont Inn in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania, after visiting my family for Thanksgiving, and my life took an interesting turn. The restful atmosphere of the inn, the beauty of the surrounding area, and the graciousness of innkeepers, Fred and Elna Mulford, captivated me. More importantly, the rich history of the inn struck me. We stayed in The Evergreen Lodge, which was converted into its current form from staff quarters built in 1926. Two small staff rooms housing two or three waitresses in the 1920s through the 1970s were cut through to create our large, luxurious suite. Original transoms over the doors and antiques from the inn’s early years perked my interest about how these staffers lived and worked in the early twentieth century.
After one night in the inn, an idea germinated for a novel about The Crestmont. I made numerous trips from my home in upstate New York to Pennsylvania to learn about the area and to interview the Mulford’s and others who had worked at the old Crestmont during its heyday. People in Eagles Mere graciously shared their stories about the town and its rich history. The Eagles Mere Museum helped me gather information to set the story in its historical context. I read voraciously about the 1920s. I watched a PBS series about women’s fashion in the roaring twenties. My husband bought me a 1927 Sears Catalogue which became one of my most dependable sources. Jazz songs from the era brought into my vocal studio by my voice students began to take on a much greater impact. I literally dreamed about living in the original Crestmont hotel, called the “big house” in my novel.
My mind whirred with ideas and characters. Although the research was fascinating, I had no idea how I would actually plot out the book. I wrote anyway. On one trip to Forksville, a neighboring town in Sullivan County, I got out of my car and heard the church bells playing “All the Way My Savior Leads Me.” That was all I needed. I prayed that God would give me the story as He would have me write it. And eventually, it all came together. The character of Gracie emerged. I pulled her right out of a sadness from my past recorded in my old journals. I not only had a time period and a setting, I had a story to tell. Self-discovery and growing pains aren’t easy to talk about. Neither is grace, especially when it pops up in uncomfortable forms, as it does in the Prologue to Crestmont.
The characters in Crestmont discover that their intersecting lives bring deeper meaning and understanding to their own self-awareness. Gracie, in particular, so emotionally fractured at the start of her journey, learns that being connected to people in ways she never could have imaged, brings a strength that she gratefully accepts as a gift from God. Sometimes, we must trade loss for happiness. In connecting with other human souls, we find the heart of God.
Sadly, the old Crestmont, the “big house,” as I refer to it in Crestmont, was demolished in the 1980’s. However, The Crestmont Inn lives on. Go. You’ll love it. Check out their link on my Contacts page.
As I write, it is February 7, 2010, my father’s 94th birthday, had he not died in 1991. I have been more aware lately of my parents’ impact on my singing career. I wonder how much I thanked them when they were alive for supporting me in every way: paying for lessons, coming to concerts, encouraging me. My father, bless his dear musically challenged soul, told me I was a better singer than Judy Garland (a singer of a completely different ilk). My mother, bless her kind soul, was one of five in the audience of a concert I gave with a team of four other singers in a small church in South Jersey shortly after a bad snowfall. She had had to drive an hour and a half over icy roads to be there
I no longer sing because the post polio that comes back to haunt those of us who survived the original polio virus has wreaked havoc with my back and the singing is too painful. So, one voice led to another. When singing was no longer an option, I began expressing myself through writing.
I hope my parents would be proud of Crestmont. The novel is dedicated to them. My mother always said of my singing that if only one person could be touched by one song, it was all worth it. I pray the same for Crestmont. May it touch another soul and inspire self-awareness and the freedom to express heretofore hidden feelings.
You may ask, why is there so much smoking in a novel written by a non-smoking singer? It was simply a part of the culture of that era and I tried to remain true to the customs of the time.
Read some of my hubby’s poetry —THE PAPERBAG POET click here
So what’s with the typewriter?
I experienced the joy of communicating through singing for years. When writing became my creative outlet, my characters talked to me and I attempted to follow their lead in writing their experiences. It is my sincere hope that my readers will connect with the people and story of Crestmont. May we all slow down and interact with one another. Tell someone today how important they are to you, whether you use the internet, a handwritten note or an old fashioned typewriter…