May 31, 2014

125th Anniversary of Johnstown Flood

This is the 125th anniversary of the horrific Johnstown, Pennsylvania Flood.  It happened on Memorial Day, May 31, 1889. An ill-repaired dam let go when the heavy spring rains came, washing away the small town below.  
2, 209 people perished.

I wanted to pay tribute to the brave people of Johnstown so focused a large portion of my historical novel, Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow, on the flood.  I don't write graphic pieces because I don't like to read graphic pieces. A park ranger from the Johnstown, PA National Flood Museum approved as accurate my flood writings. When a reviewer posted, "I was "there" in the story of Velvet Undertow. Especially the flood. I could smell the stench, and taste the water, and feel the fear and hopelessness, etc."- Blue Sparrow, I was satisfied the scenes would put the reader in the deadly racing waters along with the fictional characters Carolena Dunnigan and Grey McKenna.  

Velvet Undertow's Dedication reads:
   Dedicated to the innocent souls who lost their lives and loves to the great 1889 Johnstown Flood in Pennsylvania, some of whom may have been distant relatives of this author.

Postscript reads:
   Authorities list the lives lost in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on May 31, 1889, at 2209. At least 900 people have never been accounted for. Over 700 bodies were never identified. Those innocent souls found their final resting place in a plot marked "Unknown" in Grandview Cemetery.

   It took ten minutes for the city of Johnstown to wash away and five years before Johnstown returned to its former stature, proving the courage and tenacity of its residents. 

   Although lawsuits were filed against the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club of Pittsburgh, none were successful. The official cause of the flood? An act of God.


May 28, 2014

Goodbye Lie Fave- Victorian Ball

As I was doing research about Victorian balls for The Goodbye Lie series, I was amazed to discover I had already hosted a ball – we just called it a wedding reception.  The main difference is that the rules for what was proper / improper were much more strict. 
                        - Jane Marie

Jane Marie at
Gone With The Wind
costume ball in Atlanta, GA
Entertainment Tonight is filming.


Rules for a Victorian Ball
Turn back the clock to 1894.  Picture yourself sitting on your joggling board on the front porch.  You are embroidering a pillow square for the parlor when the postman delivers an unexpected invitation to a ball.  You are overjoyed, but you haven't attended such an elegant event since last season, so you decide to reread your book of etiquette to make certain you don’t embarrass yourself or your escort.  You set aside your sewing, go to the library, find your favorite book on the subject and relax in a leather chair.  And so you open Manners, Culture and Dress of the Best American Society (1893) by Richard A. Wells and read:
Inviting over 50 guests makes the party a ball, while entertaining over 100 guests is a grand ball.  (Less than 50 people is a dance.)   Balls should be held in a stately hall of some sort.  The size of the room must be chosen in accordance with the number of guests attending.  Sufficient room for comfortable seating and standing as well as a fair size dance floor must be considered. 
The invitations are to be hand written in the loveliest script possible or professionally printed.  They should include “We request the pleasure of your company,” as well as the date and place of the event.  Mailed or hand delivered, they must arrive at least seven to 10 days prior to the occasion.  A response (R.S.V.P. or r.s.v.p. -  French for répondez s'il vous plaît or please reply) should arrive promptly to give the hostess ample time to complete her preparations.
The guests discern the degree of formality according to the manner of invitation, i.e., handwritten/printed or spoken, the latter being less formal.  The feminine dress for a ball ought to be fashionable without being outlandish.  Moderation with regard to color and fit seems sage advice for most.  More often then not, gowns should be richly ornamented with drapes or sweepers (trains).  When a sleeveless dress with a low neckline is chosen, long gloves are to be worn so as not to needlessly expose the tempting flesh of the arm.  Often, too, ribbons are seen cuffing the wrist over the gloves as well as circling the throat.  For the sake of dancing, the length of the ball gown must be a tad shorter than dresses worn during the day.
White gloves are to be worn by the men so perspiration will not dampen the gowns of their partners. An escort may bestow a tussie mussie or nosegay on his lady so she might carry it during the ball and have a souvenir afterwards.  The particular flower in the small bouquet should be well chosen for each variety of blossom has a particular meaning in the language of flowers.
A cloak station or, if possible, a cloak room in which the domestic staff can tag and hang outerwear, is helpful and lessens confusion at the time of departure.  (The staff may also assist in removing and donning the garment at the ball’s conclusion.)
Making an entrance down a curving staircase is ideal for showing off one’s gown as well as one’s figure.  Additionally, one may be “fashionably late,” as late as 60 minutes.  However, any later would be considered rude without clear explanation to the hostess.  Married women, of course, are to be accompanied by their spouses.  Unmarried women are to be have an approved escort or attend with their mothers or fathers.
It is presumed the host or hostess has invited only persons of character and good reputation as well as social stature.  Therefore, when a woman is asked to dance, she must do so, lest she be considered rude and hurt the feelings of the man asking.  
The host may assign a single gentleman the task of asking for the honor of a dance from any lady who has not danced.  Guests must never perceive that the host may have arranged such an opportunity.  His purpose is to entertain, not embarrass.  This way, the host is praised for his entertaining ways by all his guests, and his goal of a memorable event lasting long in the minds of those in attendance will have been met.  Of course, it is everyone’s duty to introduce gentlemen to non-dancing ladies around the hall, so all can share in the joy of the evening and no one feels left out.  Those ladies dancing most often must be careful not to appear to be bragging about all their activity, particularly in the presence of those who have not been so fortunate.
A slight nod of the head may be given in greeting to an escort.  One should always wear a smile while dancing.  When each dance is completed, the escort accompanies the lady back to her original location, bows and thanks her for the pleasure of her company.  She may bow, curtsey or nod in reply, again with a smile, no matter if her toes are bruised and battered.
Do not dance complicated quadrilles, or even the waltz, if unskilled at such.  If one has already begun to dance and the dance unexpectedly turns difficult, follow the lead of your partner or those around you.  Do not instruct someone as to a particular dance step in public.Control your love of the dance.  Enjoy yourself, but do not make any attention-getting spirals or leaps or you may be considered a show-off, a person to be disdained.
A feminine guest is never to cross the dance floor unaccompanied.  When a married or unmarried lady must excuse herself temporarily from the ball, at least one other married woman or her mother or a female chaperon must always accompany her.

No gentleman is ever to sit next to a lady unless he is known to her and invited to do so.
A lady only accepts the offer of refreshment from a gentleman with whom she is well acquainted.
Ladies must never speak loudly, unless there is a fire, and then with a firm but controlled voice so as not to induce panic.  Whispering should be done only when necessary to avoid rudeness.
Graciousness is most important throughout the evening.  Although some may be strangers, polite acknowledgement of their presence in passing is important.
Should a gentleman escort a lady home after the ball, he is never to enter her home.  He may ask only to see her again.
A thank you visit within a week’s time to the host and hostess is required where joyful highlights of the evening are expressed.  (Be sure and leave your calling card.)  Should any disturbing moments have occurred, they need not be mentioned unless the master or mistress first brings them into the conversation.
Two of the most memorable evenings I've spent were at Gone With The Wind costume balls in Atlanta.  If an opportunity should arise that allows you to attend a ball, wedding reception or large party, I can’t stress enough how wonderful your experience will be.  The scope of the events, including the hall, music, company and the vision you’ll be in your dress will leave you with a lifelong memory.  


We Need to Remind

As American Legion chaplain, my husband, Bruce, gave the invocation at our annual Amelia Island Memorial Day Service.  The keynote speaker was Madison Moore, Yulee High School, class of 2017.  An extremely talented orator, she explained how she had surveyed kids in her school, asking what Memorial Day meant to them.  The vast majority said things like: It's a holiday. No school! It's the first day of summer.  It's time for the beach.  We have hot dogs and burgers. While all these things are fun and all-American, these students completely missed the meaning of Memorial Day, which is to honor those fallen military, all heroes, who stood between us and those enemies who would see us destroyed.
I hope our children are taught the reason behind Memorial Day in school, but they need reminding.  Adults, too.  So I charge parents and grandparents to explain why we celebrate Memorial Day, as well as July 4th and Venterans' Day.

Remind them, too, to revere the United States flag and what the stars and stripes mean. Fly the flag, if not every day then on those patriotic holidays.  If they don't have a family flag, give them one as a birthday or Christmas gift. Better yet, take your child or grandchild on a jaunt and let them help pick out the flag to purchase. Let them help you install the flag pole. Can't afford a large flag right now?  Go to the dollar store and buy one or several small flags to wave and/or stick in the planter on the front porch.  Show the kids you are proud to prove you are a patriot, all the while you and they are wearing red, white and blue clothes. 

Go ahead and enjoy your hot dogs, take a swim, toss a ball, but first honor the men and women who died for us all.

May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

I came across this image and thought it was so sad, yet so comforting, the perfect representation of Memorial Day. 

 Angel carrying a WWI fallen soldier home...
statue in Winnipeg commissioned and unveiled in 1922

May we never forget the men and women
 who have given the
 United States of America
  all her freedoms.
Found on then posted on by jmm-

May 24, 2014

Mark of a Man- Peeper's Root Beer Punch

working cover of Amelia Island's Mark of  Man by Jane Marie Malcolm
Amelia Island's Mark of a Man, part of Amelia Island's Goodbye Lie series--
It is 1898 in the north Florida island town of Fernandina...
Peeper's bunions are hurting her today so she's stayed at Dunnigan Manor, missing Breelan and Carolena's suffragette rally.  She's attending in spirit, though.  The ladies of the movement insisted her Root Beer Punch be served in her honor. Now if they can keep Aunt Noreen from refilling her teacup too many times, there just might be enough to go around!

Grandmother Peeper
Below is Peeper's recipe, just as she wrote it out for them:

Peeper's Best Root Beer Punch
"Be sure and follow my formula close-like," Peeper writes, "sos it don't taste different from the intended flavor.

In any large bowl, pretty or chipped, it makes no nevermind, lessin yur atryin' ta put on the dog to impress folks, such as that Aunt Noreen is always doin'. 
Ingredients you'll be aneedin':
Root beer
Vanilla ice cream
Pour yur root beer in the bowl and add lots a scoops a 'nilla ice cream. Ladle inta  cups or jelly jars.  Now, don't be adrinkin' too much or ya might catch a chill.

May 18, 2014

Hollywood Hearts- CHER LIVE

Five girlfriends and I went to the Dressed to Kill 2014 Cher concert in Jacksonville, Florida. The opening act was Cyndi Lauper. In black leather and a wicked long red wig, she looked great and sang for a solid hour.  What surprised me was the power in her voice doing At Last near the end of her performance. Her only props were a backdrop of psychedelic colors. Since part of the fun for me, besides the music and the costumes, are the sets, I guessed Cher's show would be the same level of nothing stage production.
Take It Like a Man  (Where is Cher? Watch the video and see.)
 click here to see the video -
Man-oh-man was I wrong.  Cher's show was full-blown Las Vegas-style entertainment! And at age 68, she looked beautiful.  I took my binoculars and, checking out the movie screens on either side of the stage, she hadn't a wrinkle.  We all know she's had work done, but it is the best work ever. Hats off to her doctors and her face isn't so stiff that she can't smile. I sincerely mean this in the best way possible.
So back to the show.  Cher began with a question to the audience, something like, "So where is your granny tonight?", and she was off.  Beginning with  Woman's World,  it morphed into some vampire thing, not my favorite,  and she continued to sing seventeen more songs, all of which were hits.  Between her songs, her dozen dancers wiggled and writhed in their expected scanty costumes while she changed wigs and outfits, oh the outfits.

 The sets changed, too, with the help of a huge back screen wild with a castle interior or a Greek temple (as in first picture/video above) on fire or glittering stars, all with the accompanying flashing flurry of ever-changing lights bouncing to the beat. With so much to see, there was no way to take it all in the first time. Bring on  I found the video clips there and most of the traveling tour show can be seen, too.  It doesn't compete with being in the Veteran's Coliseum live with Cher, but it will give you a good clue as to what it was like.
Sonny and Cher singing I Got You Babe

She didn't forget Sonny and sang an I Got You Babe duet with him from their old black and white TV show days.  She said it took her a long time to be able to get through it.  She mastered it without a hitch. The scenery was back and white, so she popped in her red body suit. Bring on the golden Trojan Horse and her exit from it. Colors and glitter and sparkle were everywhere as her performance lasted about an hour and three-quarters.  It was a workout but you'd never know because it's all a part of her.  She said this is her final-final tour and then winked.  I'm glad she winked.  She can never say goodbye to her music, her sequins and her great hair.  Her fans won't let her.  
 Hope You Find It, closing number
click here to see the video -
I snapped the photos of Cher myself.  The two videos are from  Thank you, as always to them and those who post for all of us to see. 

May 13, 2014

Mark of a Man Excerpt-Tear Catchers/Peeper & Aunt Noreen

Update: I got an email from Lorena, the creator of the tear catcher pictured below.  I found it on Pinterest and stated that in my article, but now I am pleased to share this replica is made with a vintage Avon bottle from Rose &  Plum on Etsy.  Please go to to discover more beautiful treasures.  Thank you, Lorena,  for allowing me to credit your artistry! -Jane Marie


Tear Catchers, also called tear vials or tear bottles, were used to capture tears.  They go way back and I discovered they are mentioned in the Old Testament, Psalm 56:8. Some came with an opening in the top to let the tears evaporate.  When the vial was empty, mourning was over.  A bottle with a solid top might be used by a widow.  A year after her husband's death, she would empty the contents over his grave.  Or a returning soldier would discover how much he was missed.

I found a sample of a necklace tear catcher on Pinterest (link below).  This could be one used by Aunt Noreen, a less than gracious character in The Goodbye Lie, Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow and Mark of a Man, novels in my Amelia Island's Goodbye Lie Trilogy.

Lachrymatory, tear catcher necklace
Here is a silly excerpt of the on-going bicker-fest between beloved Grandmother Peeper and not so beloved Aunt Noreen from my upcoming historical novel Mark of a Man set in 1898 in Fernandina on Amelia Island:  

   "Keep our Bird a the Earth in yur care, dear Lord," prayed Peeper, unable to kneel and so was seated on the edge of a chair.
   "Strengthen those of us who remain behind," added Aunt Noreen, removing the cork from the tiny tear catcher she wore hanging about her neck.
   Peeper saw the familiar movement and asked, "Why are ya actin' so sad, Noreena?  You don't never care a lick fer nobody but you. If ya think you're ashowin' yur devotion by collecting tears, ya ain't. Everybody knows how ya kin squeeze out yur eye-drops whenever ya have the notion.  I wouldn't be surprised ta find ya drank a extree glass a water afore ya come here, just ta be certain there was anuf juice in ya ta have a good weepin' flow."
   Hoping the others were more concerned with their praying than with Peeper's true evaluation, Noreen only compressed her lids more tightly, gathering another droplet from her left eye.  

To see more tear catchers, click here and scroll down the page:

May 10, 2014

A Mother's Recipe + Goodbye Lie Diaries - Peeper's Fave

Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
for Mother's Day

Jane Marie writes:

On birthdays and holidays, I often make a chocolate cake with "Boiled White Icing" as my husband, Bruce, calls it, just like his mother, Mary Jo, used to do for him.  It is a wonderful way to remember her for all of us.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone because our mothers brought us into this world and that, in itself, is a miracle and cause to honor these special women, grandmothers, great grandmothers, aunts, neighbors, etc.! A mother's love goes beyond blood.
Mary Jo's Seven Minute Boiled White Icing

You'll need:
  • Double boiler with water in the bottom or a 4 quart sauce pan or pie or cake pan filled with a 1/2" of water in which you will place the sauce pan for heating.
Combine in the top of your double boiler or saucepan substitute:
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • A few grains of salt
Turn burner setting to medium high and place double boiler on the stove.  (Watch to see that the bottom of the double boiler neither boils over or boils dry.)
  • One unbeaten egg white
Beat mixture until soft peaks form when the beaters are stopped and lifted.
Add :
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla just before the frosting is spread on the cake.
This makes enough frosting to cover the top of a 9”X12” cake.  The recipe can easily be doubled.

Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida
Grandmother Peeper writes:
Now ain't that the silliest thing.  I been amakin' this frosting the last longest!  All the Dunnigans just love it and I, also, sos I make a double batch, too.  Aunt Noreen tried it once but she forgot ta add the vanilla and it tasted only like eatin' a fork fulla sugar.  If it tweren't fer my naner puddin', the family party would have not had no dessert. Nobody said nothin' mean to Noreena but she is so stubborn, she cut herself a piece of her cake and ate it all down.  I have ta say, that woman is a good actress cause she didn't never make a face whilst gobblin' the stuff.  If ya make it right, and don't forget the vanilla, sure as the world, it'll be one a everybody's favorites.
Also, diary,  I like that there is a special day for all the mothers in Jane Marie's time.  I'm awonderin' why we don't do that, too.  Think I'll be gatherin' some flowers from Miss Ella's roses garden and make a extree perty settin' for the dinner table fer her.  She's a extree special mother, and it's best nobody says different.  Maybe I'll tell the children ta pick some weeds and give 'um ta Noreena.  The children don't know a weed from a flower but old Noreena does and I like to needle her whenever I kin.  It might not be the most Christian act, but it sure is fun. 
Peeper, Aunt Noreen aka Noreena and Miss Ella Dunnigan are all featured characters in Amelia Island's Goodbye Lie Trilogy set in Victorian Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida, USA.

May 7, 2014

Ask Jane Marie- What's Up with the Name?

How observant are readers of my Goodbye Lie series set on Amelia Island? Very, because I am often asked why my name on the cover of The Goodbye Lie is Jane Marie and on the cover of Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow, it is  Jane Marie Malcolm. Originally, my pen name was to be Jane Marie, which is my real name. My daughter, Barbra, thought it sounded more romantic for a writer, and suggested I leave off my last name.  All was well until added my last name.  I thought it best to avoid confusion so I now use my full handle going forward. 

   My sister, Nancy Kamp, gave me that gracious description, a thing toward which everyone should strive, but I am certainly not to that point. Bottom line, no matter what you call me, I hope you will join our Victorian world where love, lace and teddy bears reign, here on this blog.


Recipe reprinted from 

May 3, 2014

Hollywood Hearts: That Lusty Month of May

My plan was to write a lovely piece about May Day.  It will have to wait until next year since May Day, the first day of May, has passed. I ran out of time dress shopping. Whoever invented spandex should do time, along with the men, it had to be men, who designed three-way mirrors and dresses with horizontal stripes.  After that escapade and feeling the need to loose 20 pounds in  less than a week for an event I'll attend, I arrived home to eat three fish sticks and a bag of nuked broccoli.  Only nineteen  pounds, 15.99 ounces to go.

So for Alternate Plan B, and an equally fine plan it is, here is Julie Andrews singing The Lusty Month of May from the musical Camelot.  Listen closely to the clever words by  lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. and read along below.  Too wonderful!

Julie Andrews and Richard Burton in Camelot
                                          Julie Andrews and Richard Burton from Camelot
                  Thank you to

Tra la! It's May!
The lusty month of May!
That lovely month when ev'ryone goes
Blissfully astray.
Tra la! It's here!
That shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts
Merrily appear!
It's May! It's May!
That gorgeous holiday
When ev'ry maiden prays that her lad
Will be a cad!
It's mad! It's gay!
A libelous display!
Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes,
Ev'ryone breaks.
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May!

Whence this fragrance wafting through the air?
What sweet feelings does its scent transmute?
Whence this perfume floating ev'rywhere?
Don't you know it's that dear forbidden fruit!
Tra la la la la! That dear forbidden fruit!
Tra la la la la!

Tra la la la la [etc.]

Tra la! It's May!
The lusty month of May!
That darling month when ev'ryone throws
Self-control away.
It's time to do
A wretched thing or two,
And try to make each precious day
One you'll always rue!
It's May! It's May!
The month of "yes you may,"
The time for ev'ry frivolous whim,
Proper or "im."
It's wild! It's gay!
A blot in ev'ry way.
The birds and bees with all of their vast
Amorous past
Gaze at the human race aghast,
The lusty month of May.

Tra la! It's May!
The lusty month of May!
That lovely month when ev'ryone goes
Blissfully astray.
Tra la! It's here!
That shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts
Merrily appear.
It's May! It's May!
The month of great dismay.

When all the world is brimming with fun,
Wholesome or "un."

It's mad! It's gay!
A libelous display!
Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes,
Ev'ryone breaks.
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May!

Lyrics from: