finding zion

Here’s the first edition of Email from Zion. Text has been reproduced as exactly as possible. Any additions for clarity or other reasons are enclosed in brackets [like this]. I hope someone finds something to like about it. This entry features emails to my old creative writing professor and adviser, Candy, from Ohio State University from the 1980s. Enuff said. I think it will develop quite sufficiently from there. You’ll see throughout, each email is presented in different font color in order to better distinguish between voices.

August 1, 1999:

I borrowed a book from you once, Candy, I’ve been trying for several years to remember–something like Canaan’s Crossing (or Zion’s) or Passing or some such–it was a two word title as I recall. All its chapters are complete as is for a short story, but I think it’s framed as a novel. Can’t remember the author but know he’s southern. Can you help me remember?
Discovered another good family history cookbook, maybe you’ve heard of it, Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine, published in 60s or 70s. Besides family history of the Darden famly, there are recipes for pig’s ears and lentil stew, roast posssum with yams and cough remedies. If the library has a copy you & Bob might enjoy reading this. Complete with photos it reminds me a little of White Trash Cooking [another southern cookbook].
Hope you’re all surviving the heat wave. We’re pretty good at it now! Really would appreciate help with the book title. Thanks!
August 3, 1999:
Alice(?)
I think this must be you, though you didn’t sign a name to your letter. Forgive the brevity of this reply, but we are just back from vacation in Memphis, swamped with a plumbing emergency (the washing machine AND the guest bathroom john are both overflowing), and I am losing my mind! Anyway, the name of the book is Zion’s Cause. It’s by Jim Peyton.
I will look for Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine. Just picked up a memoir cookbook in Memphis called Consuming Passions! haven’t got into it yet, but it looks fun. We both enjoyed Under the Tuscan Sun, and Bella Tuscany by Francis Mayes. Now there’s a country to eat! with a spoon!
Candy
August 3, 1999:

Yep, this is me! (I thought my name would appear in the header, but hey, doesn’t EVERYBODY know “L*******e” by now?) Thank you thank you thank you–I’ve been trying for years to find this book! I’m assuming it’s out of print but maybe they’ll have one in the library. I love cookbooks, I’ll be checking the ones you mentioned real soon. I bought a copy of Calvin Trillin’s “Let’s Eat, Alice” off the discard pile for about a quarter. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” cost me about $.75! And tell Bob [Candy’s husband and my former writing professor] I’m still waiting for another one from him! (with my name hidden somewhere in the text!)
Thanks again.
Alice

August 19, 1999:

[To Candy] Just thought I’d pass this note along. I found ZION’S CAUSE on the Internet (Rare Books) and was able to purchase a first edition in excellent condition for $15! I was gratified to note the original purchase price was only $14.95. Now I’m off to bed with it–looks even better than I remembered because I read so much better now I guess. Thanks, Candy, for your help in this success story. Hope the overflowing toilet is only a bad memory now. As for me, I’m in the throes of a dying refrigerator–hoping I’ll be able to find and get a  new one delivered in time to save a whole lot of food–there are not enough hours in the day!
Alice P.
P.S. Las Vegas is a hoot!

August 20, 1999:

Alice, Bob here. [I was privileged to be one of Bob’s writing students in an upper level writing class during his last year of teaching before retiring from OSU.] I’m glad you found ZION’S CAUSE, and are enjoying it, and it occurs to me that you might like to look in on Jim Peyton on the web. He has a website with short pieces he writes from time to time, and it is very very Jim who is very very Kentucky. He’s pretty much confined to home now, I think–has diabetes which has been deteriorating him over the past number of years (loss of eyesight in one eye, difficulty walking or standing long, etc.) I think the website is a good outlet for him. It is: http://www.useres.mis.net/~jpeyton/
How do you like your new mayor?
Bob
[He’s referring here to Oscar Goodman, mayor then and now of Las Vegas. Bob is an award winning author of several books, fiction and non-fiction and my favorite, a cookbook memoir, Potboiler, published in 1989.]

August 20, 1999:

[Response to Bob.] He’s not as good looking as the previous one! (Jan Jones graduated with a degree in Psyc from Stanford, moved here and became gov after a very successful run as a car salesperson, so we told Monisha–who got her PhD in Psyc at Stanford that she has a future as the mayor of Las Vegas–)
Thanks for the info about Jim Peyton. I will definitely log on to check it out. I’m working on some pieces of my own that are sorta like these stories, and I like the way Peyton’s stories fit together. Thought I might learn, or relearn, something by reading them again. Some of the experiences are like my childhood–especially enjoy the baptism of Lucinda Blackburn! Only my pieces will be left for the family. I don’t have the burning ambition or the aggressiveness necessary for today’s 15-minute fame world.
How’s retirement?
Alice

August 20, 1999:

I assume you meant mayor rather than governor. I asked because of an article about him in a recent New Yorker, which made him sound like an interesting character, at the very least!
Retirement is great except that I have lots less time, for some reason. Wouldn’t go back just to get more time, however, even if it worked that way.
Bob

August 20, 1999:

[This email is to Jim Peyton, from me, the same day.]
Hi.
I dropped by your website today; learned about it from an old friend/professor of mine from Ohio, Bob Canzoneri. Though I don’t have time today to read any more of your stories (other than the half dozen I’ve done), I’ve bookmarked it and plan to return very soon. The ones I read, though, I really enjoyed, especially the one I skipped ahead to, about the mule. I grew up with a mule, too, named Jack. I used to ride him bareback & without a bridle around the lot ’cause if he got outside he always headed straight down the dirt road [from our house] to the highway. He was “teched” in the head as they say. This story brought back many pleasant memories of my growing up in northern Florida, which as you know is part of the real south! There are many stories in my own family I have designated myself the official storyteller of, as I believe it’s our duty to preserve our stories for the future generations.
Also, you may be interested to know I was able to find your book (Zions Cause) on the Internet at a rare book site and just yesterday it arrived, a First Edition, in excellent condition. I read it years ago when I was taking creative writing classes at Ohio State [from Candy] and tried many years to acquire my own copy. I am very pleased at last to add it to my collection.
In closing, I will only add that your website inspires me. Thanks for letting me visit. I’ll be back real soon.
Alice [last name deleted].

August 22, 1999:

Hi Alice,
Any friend of Bro Bob’s is a friend of mine; and anyone who likes my stories is a friend indeed.
It has been some time since I have posted anything new to the web site, but I have been thinking about putting up a work called The Gabriel Chronicle. It’s Gabe’s account of Genesis. I haven’t worked on it recently. Maybe going public will give me the incentive to finish it. First I have to convert it to HTML and then decide how to split it up since it is far too long for one HTML page. Anyway, I’ll give you an electronic shout when I post it, and if you have time, take a look.
Later,
~Jim

I hope a few of my readers, and anyone surfing in as well, found something to enjoy in this first edition of Email from Zion. If so, be sure to check back next week (around this time I expect with any luck) for the next edition. I just have to say how much I love my new filing system!

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