In anticipation of tomorrow’s posting of an Angel Ridge short story, “My Christmas Angel,” I thought I’d share a little Angel Ridge history lesson for those of you have not read any of the Angel Ridge Novels. All of the books have a Welcome from the town’s diner maven, Dixie Ferguson. I like to say she gets the first and last word in all the books, which, if you know Dixie, is as it should be.
The following is Dixie’s welcome as it appears in my latest Angel Ridge Novel, I’ll Be There, which features intrepid newspaper reporter, Jenny Thompson and mountain man, Cord Goins.
“Hi, y’all. Welcome to Angel Ridge and what could be the worst winter on record here. Dixie Ferguson’s the name, and I run Ferguson’s, the town diner and finest eating establishment in town, if I do say so myself.
“I have to say that you’ve chosen to visit us at an unusual time. Normally, I’d say this is a sleepy little picturesque town that sits high on a ridge above Tellassee Lake, but things aren’t always like they seem on the surface. Why, around here, the guy who wears overalls and no shirt in the summer is just as likely to be a millionaire as he is to be down on his luck. Take the newcomer who moved to town last fall. She wasn’t at all like she seemed either. Why, she had family secrets even she didn’t know about.
“Before I go into that, let me take a second to tell you a bit about the place I’ve called home for most of my life. Angel Ridge. Population three hundred forty. It’s located in the valley of the Little Tennessee River, established in 1785. In the early days, its first families—the McKays, the Wallaces, the Houstons, the Jonses, and the Craigs—staked their claims on hundreds of acres of the richest bottomland anyone had ever seen. They built big ol’ homes near the meandering river and operated prosperous plantations. Well, all except for the Craigs. They were traders and craftsmen. Men of commerce, as it were. Meanwhile, the town developed above the river on a high ridge.
“In the early 1970’s, the Flood Control Board came in and bought up most of the property along the flood prone river, and those stately homes that some called relics of a bygone era, were inundated in the name of progress. But those who built more modest Victorians near town up on the ridge? Well, their homes are still standin’. Of course, the families who lost theirs to the newly formed Tellassee Lake moved up to the ridge as well and built elaborate Victorian mansions such as this quaint little town had never seen.
“Most of the families I mentioned earlier are still around. These are hardy folks. Why, in all the time they’ve lived here, they’ve endured Indian attacks, floods, divided loyalties in the Civil War, and yes, even feuds. The older folks are still marked by the hardships of the past, but the young people of the town hope to move beyond old hurts to create a new generation made strong because of their roots, yet free of the past.
“As I said, last fall Candi Heart rented the old beauty shop across the way on Main Street and opened up a girly shop called, ‘Heart’s Desire’ and along with it, a closet full of skeletons. Her shop’s a fun place that sells a bit of everything a girl loves: flowers, candy, lingerie, clothing, perfumes and lotions. Why, she even serves tea in the back. It’s a nice place where girls can get together and talk. I just love the place and Candi, but she had no idea that her coming here would rattle some old, rusty chains. Yes, trouble followed that girl to town and Jenny Thompson, who runs our newspaper, The Angel Ridge Chronicle, got tangled up in the mess.
“I’ve lived here most of my life, and I can’t remember ever locking my doors at night, but I confess to locking up now and checking them again before I go to bed. I’ve even caught myself looking over my shoulder as I walk down Main for anyone that might seem suspicious. I hate feeling this way. I never thought things in Angel Ridge would come to this, but that just goes to show you that every town, even a picture-postcard one, has its troubles.
“Not much goes on around here in the winter. After Christmas, folks usually hunker down and wait for spring to come. Given recent events, I’d say people in town are understandably on edge. I guess you could say that’s where our heroine, Jenny Thompson, and hero, Cord Goins, are—on edge, hunkered down and waiting. Stuck between a beginning and an ending, and both of them powerless to control the situations they’ve found themselves in. But that’s when a person can also find themselves in uncharted territory just waiting to venture out and make their own way. I’ve got a feeling Jenny and Cord will find their way.
“So keep safe and warm during your visit to Angel Ridge, and if you have time, come by the diner and have yourself a cup of hot chocolate on me.”
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for “My Christmas Angel,” an historical short story of Angel Ridge.
To read the Angel Ridge Novels, visit Amazon.com or BN.com to download them to your eReader or to purchase them in trade paperback. One lucky commenter will receive their choice of an autographed Angel Ridge novel when they comment on the short story AND like my Facebook Fan page. Just click on the “like” button to the right before you comment.
See you tomorrow!