I wonder what Gale and Bessie Muir would have said about the Book Signing Party and Muir-Kloubec clan gathering that took place in LaMoure, N.D., on September 15-16. Would they be surprised that so many friends from LaMoure stopped by? Would Bessie say “For land’s sake!” at seeing extended family trading stories and looking at albums so long after they passed on?
Mostly, I want to know if they would be surprised by their granddaughters. Judy has bought up a lot of their former property in LaMoure, and now I wrote a book about them.
Plans for the weekend began when Nancy Thorson booked a weekend at the Muir Guest House opened by Nick and Judy Muir Meisch last year. Nancy found the guesthouse on Facebook when she was researching the Muir family history. She’s married to Chris Thorson, a descendent of Will Muir of the Jackson, Minnesota Muirs. And Will Muir was a brother to Gale Muir, who was Judy’s and my grandfather.
About that same time, my historical novel Secrets of the Dark Closet was released. It’s based on secrets that Bessie and her siblings took to their graves.
Judy offered to host a Book Signing Party in LaMoure the weekend the Thorsons were coming. The Meisch Shop seemed like the perfect place for all the activities. If the term “shop” conjures up a place that smells like axel grease and has tools strewn around, rest assured, this shop is bright, clean, new and decorated like something on the Home & Garden Channel. It’s used for local events. I’m not sure Nick even gets to park his Kenworth in it very often.
The shop is next to the house that Gale and Bessie Muir purchased it in 1922. It’s just a little prairie house, no longer livable, but it holds a lot of family memories. And secrets! In fact, the door to the dark closet is in that house—the door featured on the cover of my book.
Friday afternoon, despite soggy weather, a parade of friends and family stopped by to get a signed copy of Secrets of the Dark Closet, and catch up on each other’s lives over coffee.
Saturday was less about signing books and more about family gathering. A caterer set up a lovely luncheon about noon and people began to arrive. Several of Bessie and Gale’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren, some driving many miles, were on hand from our branch of the family tree.
The Thorson’s represented the Muirs, while Richard (Dick) and Audrey Kloubec and their son, Bill Kloubec, represented the Kloubec side. Bill was named after his grandfather, who was Bessie’s brother. Readers may recall that in Secrets of the Dark Closet, Bessie teased her brother by calling him Baby Bill.
I was pleased that Dick bought the book at Zambroz in Fargo and had read it. (And even said he liked it.) Because of Dick’s influence, the family records left by Wallace Muir are housed at the N.D. Heritage Center. After serving as the Speaker of the House in the State Legislature, Dick was on the Heritage Center board when I had to decide what to do with 55 pounds of family documents. The secrets revealed in those records are the basis for my book.
Nancy brought her beautifully done genealogy album and other information. I had a copy of Uncle Wallace’s Muir-Kloubec Genealogy and History 1705-2003. The noise level in the shop went up as we all traded stories and sorted through information.
One of the photos passed around that day was labeled “Muir Threshing 9/16/13 LaMoure N.Dak.” A hush fell as we realized the photo was taken exactly 104 years ago, to the day. The old threshing machines and teams of horses are gone, but there we were there, in in Gale and Bessie’s hometown, harvesting a bushel of family history in a new century.
For more on the history of the Muir Guest House, check it out on Facebook, or read my May 16, 2016 blog post at www.gaylelarsonschuck.com/blog.
The eBook edition of Secrets of the Dark Closet is now available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Next up: Book Talk at Touchmark on West Century at 1 p.m., October 5 in the chapel. I’ll be talking about writing a historical novel and Sonvy Sammons will be talking about memoir writing. She is almost finished with her memoir and a chapter of it has been included in the book Magic of Memoir. This is open to the public.
Thank you so much to everyone who has written a review or commented on the book. Some of the things you said are now at www.gaylelarsonschuck.com.
To submit a review to Amazon.com: Go the Amazon, click on the Secrets of the Dark Closet page, scroll to the bottom where it asks if you want to post a review. You’ll have to submit the password you use to make purchases on Amazon. Write a few words about the book.
Love must be as much a light as it is a flame. Thoreau