For those readers who want to know more about the book, here is a deep dive into all the references in the text of the story, including the music played, the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, places, and so on. I hope it will be interesting to those who want to know more about the things I mention. When I want to give more detail, I will put it in a drop-down box, so those who don't want to delve into that topic can just skip over it.
Until the book is published, this page will display only a bit of information from Chapter One.
MY HOME IS ON THE MOUNTAIN is set in eastern Tennessee, specifically, the Great Smoky Mountains and the rolling ridge and valley country to the west.
The title comes from a very old song, and one apparently lost from sight, as I can find it nowhere. I learned it as a child from a little book of American folk songs and, in my early research, I found references that traced it back to the 1700s in England. This reference book on Catskills folk songs lists it and traces variant tunes back to the Middle Ages. My early research told me that the lyrics had often changed to suit the times, and certainly the one I knew as a child was clearly re-written to be a Civil War song, but the line "My home is on the mountain" has endured from the earliest examples in the same place (third line, first verse). I have loved this song all my life, and one day, singing it aloud, I realised that I was singing the title of this book.
The story opens on Friday, 5 June 1931, with Cecilia Howison stranded on a high mountain road. She has swung into the mountains on a warm June day after driving to tend her great-aunt's grave, and has turned up a forest road that looks like it might take her up to cool breezes, if nothing else. She has not been here before and is starting to realise that this might be a road to nowhere. Then her car overheats and she pulls over as clouds of steam erupt from the vents of her car's hood.
Cecilia drives a 1929 Buick Roadster, specifically, the Master Six Sport Roadster, which was a two-seater with what we would call now a rumble-seat (then the "rear deck") that seated two more. What we refer to now as running boards were called side-mounts. Watch a slideshow of a cream-coloured 1929 Buick roadster with caramel leather. Gorgeous.
Cecilia's roadster was custom-ordered for her, because her family are that rich. Hers is light blue with cream leather upholstery. Roadsters were small cars, very snug. This colour image of the 1929 Buick shows a beautifully restored model with the rear outside seat opened (I have altered the photo to roughly the right shade of blue with the cream leather of Cecilia's own car). These roadsters were designed as powerful sports cars, built for those who liked to drive a superior machine and who wanted to go fast, which is Cecilia in a nutshell.
I want to stress that overalls worn then were designed to protect the clothing underneath, and so they would provide a sufficiently modest covering for a naked girl. The sides where higher under the arms than modern "slouch" overalls and, as you can see, the bib was up high, just under the collarbones. During her first conversation with Airey Fitch, Cecilia plays with a stem of blue-eyed grass. Such a prosaic name for a beautiful flower, which thrives in mountain meadows. As they sit and talk, they would both be framed by a froth of different flowers.
As Cecilia drives away from her first meeting with Airey, she thinks of a flash-lamp as a metaphor. While flash-lamps using flash-bulbs had been invented in 1927, Cecilia would have been more familiar with powder flash-lamps, still in use by many newspaper photographers, which were narrow horizontal containers that held flash-powder, which was ignited with a spark, which gave a quick, blindingly-bright flash of light. The development of flash photography (video).