Posts Tagged ‘The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Rushmore Treasure’

To Learn and Remember-The Flood of ’72

January 22, 2014

When I wrote my first book it had a definite historic aspect and I used little flashbacks to show that part. So, when one book became two and the dream of a series became a reality I decided to continue that pattern. I know flashbacks aren’t necessarily the rage; not even really encouraged. But, I don’t always aspire to do it the “normal way” do I? For the flashback scenes in my latest mystery—The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Rushmore Treasure—I chose the Flood of 1972.

This is the portion of author’s notes from the book that relates to the Rapid City flood.

On June 9, 1972, a flood tore through Rapid City, SD and 238 people lost their lives. My first memory of the 1972 flood was when my daddy got up in church one Sunday and asked the people to pray for a Pastor Onstott and the people of Rapid City. I was ten. He explained that there had been a bad flood in Rapid City, and many people died. At the time, we lived in Nebraska and I had never been to South Dakota. Little did I know that two years later Pastor Onstott would become my step-grandpa and our lives would be forever connected with Rapid City.

Over the years my family has migrated to the Rapid City area, and I lived there for ten years. During all of those years I heard many times of the “Flood of 72.” The park system that runs through town is a constant reminder of that day. Every year it is remembered and in 2012 they had many special events memorializing the lives that were lost. I had seen news clips, first person accounts, and even read part of a book. But, when I began doing research for this book I gained a new appreciation—or maybe horror would be a better word—for the events of that night in June of 1972.

The events I wrote about in my book are true in their generality. People did find themselves clinging to trees. Some rescuers died. Entire families perished. Five bodies were never recovered. However, the characters I created are just figments of my imagination based on stories I read and saw in videos. None of the characters in this story are meant to portray any real person, or groups of people.

As I said above, I lived in Rapid City, SD for ten years. For five of those years I lived on “The Avenues”; first on 6th where I bought my first home, then on 4th. I grew to love this little neighborhood of one block streets. I have family that lives there still. I loved the fact that I could walk through that neighborhood and behind it and no two houses were alike. I loved the history of the neighborhood; the fact that it was so close to Jackson Blvd; the close proximity to the bike path and parks; and the fact that it had survived the flood.

So, when I needed a neighborhood in which to place my third mystery that was it. (I admit I did create a street. There is no actual 8th Avenue. )

I wrote the rough draft of this book in November of 2007 or 2008. I’m not sure of the year, but I’m positive about the month. I wrote it and another rough draft for NaNoWriMo one year. NaNoWriMo—standing for National Novel Writing Month—is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Since my books were approximately 25,000 words, I needed to write I chose to write books set in very familiar places and this was one of them.

However, as is typical once I started working on revisions some of the plot elements completely changed and the flood became more important to the story. I admit I cried during the flashback scenes that dealt with the flood, especially one where a survivor recounted her night of terror.  My heart broke for the people who suffered through this horrific event. I KNEW my characters weren’t real, but they were based on stories of REAL people.

On my facebook page I’ve begun to get a few comments from people who survived the flood. I hope that they find my story true enough to life that it is a good depiction of what really happened.

My hope is that through this story more people will gain a new appreciation of the history of Rapid City and the amazing come-back that has taken place there. It is a story of overcoming, working together despite differences, and doing what is needed to get things done. I look forward to hearing stories from people that were there. You see, that’s how I learn—by hearing real people tell real stories! What about you?

For a first person account I would recommend this book: Some Through the Flood: A Story of One Family’s Loss, Survival and Recovery From the 1972 Rapid City Flood, by Ronald W. and LaVonne Masters. It is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle.

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Storybook Island–A Bucket-List Worthy Place!

January 19, 2014

DCF 1.0

If I had a bucket list one of the items would be to spend the day with my whole family at Storybook Island in Rapid City.

No, I’m serious. Storybook Island is a very special place, as anyone who has been there with a child age two to eight can attest. Oh, kids younger than that can enjoy it. Children older, even those MY age can also enjoy it. But, if you want to get the most entertainment out of the experience,  you need a two to eight-year-old and a camera.

The first time we went I was a teenager and my baby sister was two or three. Oh what fun we had watching her dash from one Storybook character to another! Grandpa and Grandma Onstott took us and when we realized how close it was to their house—walking distance—and that it was free (they happily take donations), we went over and over

Storybook Island was first built in 1958 by the Rotary Club. It was on an island in the middle of the park and there was a nifty bridge entering the park called London Bridge. I don’t remember that part because in June of 1972 the flood tore through the park destroying almost everything. A few of the storybook displays were discovered downstream, but the entire park had to be rebuilt.

At that point they moved the park to its present position which is where I’ve always known it to be.

When I moved to Rapid City in 1995 I was a new aunt of three nieces, all under six months old. For the next ten years I lived right there in the middle of my growing brood of nieces and nephews. By 2005 there were ten. At least once a year we converged on Storybook Island with cameras, picnic food, and kids!

Two days before my wedding my personal attendant and I took the kids for one last trip. It was bittersweet. I knew it would never be the same, because they just have this awful habit of growing up!

Thankfully, I’ve had another niece and nephew come along, and when I’m home I get to visit the park with them.

The great part is this: even the older ones still like to go. I can see in their faces the memories of previous visits. They laugh at the antics of the little ones. They encourage them towards the spot that was THEIR favorite. I’m sure in another ten years we will still be going. Only it will be another generation of nieces and nephews!

It’s a neat place. A special place. One worth picking for your bucket list! At least, that’s my opinion.

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My Mr. Crosby

January 13, 2014

At last count I have lived in twenty-two houses over the course of my lifetime. That’s a lot, really. Maybe that’s why I remember with greater fondness the ones that I lived in the longest.


One of those was the house on 5th and Elm in North Platte, Nebraska. We lived there from the time I was in first grade until the summer after seventh.


The house was a rental property sitting right next to the owner’s home. It was one of the smaller homes on the block and it wasn’t small. There were five rooms on the main floor plus the bathroom. There was an upstairs with two huge rooms, one tiny room, and a walk-in closet. There was an unfinished basement underneath.


Our landlord lived next to us. Mr. Maynard Crosby—a lawyer—was my mother’s boss and one of the kindest, gentlest people I ever met. At one point, his son Robert—once governor of Nebraska—lived in the little house next door, our house.


Mr. Crosby lived all alone in that big house. There were four bedrooms in the upstairs of his house and he slept in a different room each week. That way his housekeeper could come in once a month and change the sheets. That fact greatly impressed me as a child! As my dad said the other day, “He had his systems.”


The basement of the house was a little apartment which he used as a guest house. I remember at least one occasion when my grandparents stayed in the apartment and I got a tour. It was really cool!


The backyards of the two houses were undivided. There were no fences and Mr. Crosby loved having the neighborhood kids play in his yard. There were a lot of us. Behind us was a family with ten children. Across the street was another with eight. On the other side of Mr. Crosby was a family with three. There were three of us. So, as you can see, Mr. Crosby was a generous man.


He had a fish pond in his backyard which he kept stocked with gold-fish. There were snails and in one end were cattails. I asked my sister what he did with the goldfish in the winter. She says he left them there and they hid out under the cattails when it got cold. We both remember one year when we tried to bring them in for the winter and they all died. We put our fish in there a couple of times, then had the best time at the end of the summer trying to decide which HUGE fish was ours.


Mr. Crosby also was hospitable and I’m afraid many of us kids took advantage of his hospitality. He kept a dish of candy on his table and pop—or soda if you prefer—in his fridge. It was known that he didn’t lock his back door that opened into his kitchen. Now, WE knew we were NOT allowed to go there when he wasn’t home and we were to WAIT for him to OFFER us something. That was hard sometimes, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t always properly express my gratitude. To this day, though I can’t eat hard peppermint or butterscotch candy without thinking of him.


He was Presbyterian. I wasn’t sure why anyone would want to be THAT. It was too hard to say and spell, but Daddy told me that Mr. Crosby loved Jesus just like we did. Sometimes he would come to our church because his didn’t have evening services. That was another strike against his church in my book. The evening services were my favorite.


So, when I decided to write a book—The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Rushmore Treasure—about a small town community store much like the one in our neighborhood in North Platte, it seemed the obvious choice to give the owner Mr. Crosby’s name.


Someday when I get to heaven I’m going to give him a big hug and properly thank him for the part he played in my life. And for all of that candy. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he’ll have a bowl of candy on the table of his mansion.

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