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The Kindle version of “River of January: Figure Eight” is on sale today for only 99 cents. Step right up and enjoy the flight.
Gail Chumbley is the author of the two-part memoir, “River of January” and “River of January: Figure Eight.” Both available at www.river-of-january.com.
It hasn’t been long . . .I know. But, anyone finished “Figure Eight?” Anxiously waiting to hear first reviews.
“River of January: Figure Eight,” and Part One, “River of January” are both available at www.river-of-january.com
Also available on Amazon
“River of January: Figure Eight” is ready on November 1st! Ordering begins after midnight, on All Hallows Eve.
Also available on Kindle.
Only ten days until “River of January: Figure Eight”.
This giveaway is postponed due to flawed data. As soon as we sort it out, the giveaway offer will resume.
Gail Chumbley is the author of River of January and River of January: Figure Eight, due out soon.
My friends, book two, “River of January: Figure Eight,” is on it’s way. The book will officially launch November 1st, with public presentations in Idaho and Washington.
Catch “Figure Eight”in the following locations . . .
November 2, 2016: The McCall Library in McCall, Idaho, 218 E Park St, McCall, ID · (208) 634-5522 at 7pm
November 3, 2016: Aunties Book Store, 402 W. Main Ave. Spokane, WA 99201. (509)838-0206, 7pm
November 13, 2016: Garden Valley Library, 85 Old Crouch Rd. Garden Valley, ID 83622 (208)462-3317, 3:30pm
November 15, 2016: Eagle Public Library, 100 N Stierman Way, Eagle, Idaho 8361 (208) 939-6814, 7pm
Get ready to complete the saga of Helen and Chum in “River of January: Figure Eight.”
Gail Chumbley is the author of the two volume, “River of January,” and “River of January: Figure Eight,” out in November.
Arms twined around skaters on each side, Helen balanced nervously in the shadows. In V-shape formation, costumed in tall Hussar caps, and military jackets resplendent with gold brocade, the line stood expectantly in the dark. She shivered from a combination of excitement and the frigid draft wafting from the ice. Her ears thudded, inundated by the echoing din from the impatient audience. Much louder than a theater, she absently noted.
Positioned at the apex of the two wings stood Czech Olympian, Vera Hruba—one of three women headliners in the new production. When the last measures of an orchestral stringed overture faded to a close, the house lights darkened, and the arena fell silent for an expectant moment. With a commanding flourish, the opening bars of a military march surged to all corners of the house. Spotlights swept over the glittering skate-line, as Helen pushed off her left foot, in sync with the tempo. Following two more beats, Hruba burst from the crux of the V, and raced the circumference of the rink, spotlights holding tight to her revolutions. The audience roared in appreciation with waves of echoing applause. Helen’s first ice show had begun.
If rehearsals were any gauge, she already felt great confidence in the show’s success. The dance line often lingered along the rail, chatting, stretching—waiting for the director to call them onto the ice. “That’s ViVi-Anne Hulton, she’s Swedish,” Clara Wilkins leaned in whispering, both studying the soloist on the ice. “She’s been skating since she was ten,” Clara nodded, as Hulton executed a perfectly timed waltz jump. “Boy, that little Swedish meatball knows her footwork.” The girls standing nearby murmured in awed agreement.
Chestnut-haired Lois Dworshak sprinted past the attentive chorus line. Helen automatically glanced again at her well-informed friend and Clara didn’t disappoint. “She, Lois there, is a bit of a prodigy. She skated a little as a kid in Minnesota but, actually hasn’t skated professionally all that long. She’s good too, huh?”
“Jeepers, you can say that again,” Helen muttered.
“But, the real story in this cast is Vera Hruba.” This time, May Judels, head line-skater, spoke up from the other side of Eileen. Listening eyes shifted toward May. “Vera met Hitler, just like Sonja Henie did, at the Olympics in Berlin. She finished her freestyle routine, and came in pretty high, I think. Vera didn’t medal or anything, but still skated a pretty good program.
“So what happened?” asked another girl, Margo.
“Hitler says to her, ‘How would you like to skate for the swastika?’ And Vera, (she doesn’t much like Germans), told him she’d rather skate on a swastika!” Heads turned in unison, watching as Hruba completed a flying camel. “So,” May sighed, “to make a long story longer, Vera and her mother left Prague in ’37 as refugees, the Hun’s marched in, and Hitler made a public statement that Vera shouldn’t wear Czech costumes or skate to Czech folk songs. He said Czechoslovakia was gone, never rise again. Vera then responded, publicly rejecting the Fuehrer’s comments, saying she’d always be a Czech, and that Hitler could, in so many words, go fly a kite.”
“Their own little war . . . now that’s guts,” Helen’s eyes returned to center ice. “Makes Henie even more of an apple polisher.”
“A swastika polisher,” Margo corrected, as the director motioned the giggling chorus to center ice.
River of January is as much about the emerging entertainment industry as it is about aviation. In particular Helen, though initially an accomplished ballerina, adapted to dance styles and built up her repertoire and versatility. Just before the war, due to sudden circumstances, Helen took up ice skating, and through her customary hard work became an accomplished performer on ice.
From 1939 until nearly ten years later, Helen, along with her sister entertained crowds in a multitude of ice shows. The popularity of the sport, turned artistic expression became especially celebrated following Sonja Henie‘s gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. So popular, figure skating lent to rinks cropping up all over the country, and the sport made it to the silver screen with Henie starring in films such as Sun Valley Serenade. (Not such a great movie, but the Nicholas Brothers rock)
While researching and writing, primarily for the second book, (still unfinished) I realized that my ice skating knowledge was pretty limited. It had been the same with ballet in the first book, (now with a publisher). What can a teacher do with such limited understanding?
Ask a kid, of course.
Two girls in my courses stepped up and obliged my request. One of them is a very accomplished ballerina, and the other a competitive figure skater. From them both I learned the lingo, the most popular moves, steps, and music–little tidbits to make the story line smoother.
The girl in the picture above was, as you can see, an ice skater. Shauna was her name and she presented herself as a shy, reserved young lady who demonstrated deep wells of untapped talent and aptitude. It was a little difficult for her to plop down sideways in a desk and shoot the breeze with me. She wasn’t that kind of person. Though full of smiles, it was much easier for her to answer my questions by writing them down on notebook paper. And she shared all she could think of to share. And Shauna knew her stuff about figure skating.
It tickled her to see my photos and programs of the early ice shows at Center Theater in Radio City Music Hall. She shyly smiled at the wide lens portraits of colorfully costumed skaters, posing before elaborate backdrops, reflected again upward from mirrored ice. Shauna liked the close-ups of the stars, such as graceful Janet Lynn, and comedy skater, Freddie Trenkler, costumed as a hobo.
Shauna wasn’t just a nice girl who enjoyed figure skating, though that was a big part of her heart and time. She was a dedicated artist, a musician who played the violin (that I stepped over more than once in class) in the high school orchestra. And it was after an evening orchestra performance a year ago October that we lost a promising, gifted young talent in a senseless car accident. The pain of her loss ripped an abyss into all of us who knew and loved her.
I would like to publicly thank Shauna for her kind support and good counsel on some of the technical aspects of my book, and know for certain that her sweet spirit lives on in the pages of my writing.
God Speed little skater.