A collection of stories and vintage photos from one family’s adventure living in the West Texas desert in the 1950s.
Update: Here's how my plan breaks down for any money we raise over 100% ($8,000):
103% ($8,240) = an added trip to Ponca City, OK, during one of my two scheduled trips to North Texas -- this would allow me to visit the Conoco Museum and talk to their archivist.
130% ($10,400) = an added research trip from Washington to West Texas, or an extension of the currently planned trip -- this would allow me extra time visiting the towns where Bob and Ann lived and more opportunities to conduct on-site research.
130%+ (anything over $10,400) = less time that I have to spend doing freelance writing jobs, more time that I can dedicate to working on West Texas Interlude.
Ann was 18 when Bob asked her to marry him in 1950. He was only two years older than her and newly hired as a land surveyor for the Continental Oil Company. Ann said yes, and they didn’t waste time planning a big wedding. Soon they were married, and Bob brought Ann from their home county in North Texas out to the desert of West Texas.
Wherever Conoco drilled in the West Texas oil patch, Bob was on the crew that measured the land. Bob Jr was born in Pecos in 1951, Jim in ’52, Pat in ’54, Kathi in ’55, and Kay in ’58. Ann was the mother of 5 children under the age of 7 by the time she was 26, and within a 10 year span Conoco moved the family close to 20 times to almost as many towns.
Bob drove the family from town to town pulling a one-wheel trailer, first behind their ’52 Pontiac Catalina, then behind a ’56 Ford Country Sedan Station Wagon. Ann made a home for her family out of motel rooms and furnished rental houses, baked birthday cakes from scratch, and sewed the girls’ dresses. The going was rough at times, raising 5 young children far from family support and moving to a new town every few months, but Bob and Ann fell in love with West Texas as they fell deeper in love with each other. Today they speak fondly of those years, those towns, the desert and mountains and canyons they visited on vacations. They were living an adventure.
Throughout that adventure, Bob and Ann carried an Argus C3, the iconic best-selling 35mm camera of the 40s and 50s. They made over 800 photos of their family in West Texas—snapshots of their children, of Bob at work in the survey field, of the desert horizon stretching for a million miles. Those photo slides are a documentary of an era gone by and of a young family growing up under the wide-open sky of a landscape so vast and fearsome.
Pecos. Texline. Sweetwater. Snyder. Odessa. Fort Davis. Sanderson. Stamford. My research for the nonfiction book, West Texas Interlude, will take me to the towns that Bob and Ann, my grandparents, lived in with their young children before moving the family back to North Texas in the early ‘60s. Along the way, I will interview folks, search for the houses and motels the family lived in, and take current day photos of locations in the slides.
I also plan to spend several weeks interviewing Bob and Ann on their ranch in North Texas, as well as my dad (Bob Jr) and my aunts and uncle. My dream is to compile the photos, interviews, and my travel experiences into a nonfiction book that is part documentary of 1950s West Texas, part family history, part travelogue. The video above tells more about how the idea for the book came about.
The funds I raise through Kickstarter will make my travel, research, and writing for this book financially possible. Frequent flyer miles and in-kind donations are helping keep my budget to a minimum. The amount I raise will enable me to make the necessary research trips from Washington to Texas and to take on fewer freelance writing projects (how I earn my living) so I can focus on completing the manuscript of West Texas Interlude.
The exciting part about raising funds through Kickstarter is that backers of West Texas Interlude will get to see the fruit of their support in the form of a completed book. Though I do plan to seek traditional print publishing for the book, backers at $25 or more will receive a PDF of the manuscript when the research and writing is completed. And with Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing principle for funding creative works, backers will have the assurance that they are helping me do my work with integrity and with a large body of support.
Others have had that problem too, and I've talked to the help desk about it. The links should be fine, so if you're still having trouble, it might be your internet or your browser. Copying and pasting the link instead of clicking might do the trick.
Thankfully, yes! I set the budget for my goal at the bare minimum of what it would take to travel for research and work part-time at writing the manuscript through June 2012. If I exceed the goal, I will be able to take on fewer freelance writing projects and focus a higher ratio of my daily writing time on completing the manuscript. I would love to see that happen.
As many as I can! My hope is to spend 2-3 weeks in West Texas in Feb/March 2012, visiting the towns where Bob and Ann lived. The most important town will be Pecos, but I'm also aiming for Sweetwater, Texline, Snyder, Odessa, Fort Davis, Big Spring, Sanderson, Stamford, Big Lake, Monahans, Ozona, San Angelo, and Aspermont. The final itinerary will be determined by the availability of sources for interviews.
"Passing Down Pie Heritage" can be found at Texas Cooking, http://www.texascooking.com/features/july2011-heritage-pies.htm
Research for this article spurred me to dig further into Bob and Ann's younger years and write more stories about them. And oh man, pie research is some of the sweetest research around.
Though my first completed book turned out to be a young adult novel, my first love has always been creative nonfiction. I’ve blogged for 3 years, and my long-standing favorites are entries where I combined research on a particular subject with my own experience (usually travel), such as my blog series on a trip to Burma http://www.rebeccadiann.com/2009/10/21/burmese-days-introduction/ or my summer in arctic Alaska http://www.rebeccadiann.com/2010/07/06/july-4th-in-the-arctic-circle/. The entry on Guadalupe Mountains National Park from my West Texas camping series is another favorite http://www.rebeccadiann.com/2010/10/25/guadalupe-mountains/
My vision for WEST TEXAS INTERLUDE is heavier on the research aspect, lighter on my personal travel experience, but my voice will still be interwoven through the narrative.
Start at this link http://www.rebeccadiann.com/2010/10/03/the-west-texas-idea/ and click “next” at the bottom to keep reading the whole series.
As a backer, you can chose from the reward levels listed to the right. I’m trying to reach my fundraising goal by Sept 30 — if I make it, your credit card will be charged on Sept 30 for the amount you pledged. If I don’t reach my goal, neither you nor anyone else will be charged. I will either raise my entire goal amount, or I will raise nothing.
I love this all-or-nothing concept! If I raise enough money to fund my first two research trips but not the third, then I’m limited in my ability to finish my manuscript. I want my backers to have the confidence that their support will help me FINISH the project, not just start it.
seconds to go
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
a postcard from West Texas with my written thanksEstimated delivery:
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
a PDF of the completed manuscript of WEST TEXAS INTERLUDE + a postcard from me from West TexasEstimated delivery:
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
the above rewards + a matted print of your choice of one of the following WEST TEXAS INTERLUDE photos: a) the '56 Ford with cattle and moon, b) the cowboy on the desert, or c) Bob Jr and '52 Pontiac in front of cliffsEstimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
the above rewards + mention on the acknowledgments page of WEST TEXAS INTERLUDE (both PDF and print version)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
2 backers Limited (6 left of 8)
the above rewards + signed original working draft from one chapter of WEST TEXAS INTERLUDEEstimated delivery:
Pledge $750 or moreYou selected
everything at the $100 level + an invitation to Bob and Ann's ranch in North Texas, where the backer will receive a personal tour and one of Ann's freshly baked cream pies (chocolate or coconut, as featured in Texas Cooking)Estimated delivery:
- (31 days)