O’Shaughnessy Outtakes

When Harold Thorpe set out to fictionalize his mother’s memoir, he originally envisioned one book. It was ultimately split into the two O’Shaughnessy Chronicles novels — Giddyap Tin Lizzie and Bittersweet Harvest. In both published novels, the story is told through the eyes of Will O’Shaughnessy. Removed in the editing process was a second point of view, that of Will’s daughter, Catherine. Those unpublished outtakes, seen through Catherine’s eyes, are offered here for the first time. They are sure to be treasured by O’Shaughnessy Chronicles fans! Over the next few months, in serial format, we’ll regularly post more outtakes. We hope you enjoy them all!

O’Shaughnessy Outtake #4: We Move to the Farm

O’Shaughnessy Outtake #4: We Move to the Farm

We Move to the Farm >> Download this outtake as a PDF >> October, 1935   I knew that Dad’s business, like everyone’s business, wasn’t doing so well, but when Ruby told me we were going to leave Ashley Springs and go live on a farm, I was flabbergasted. “Are you sure?” I asked her. “Yep. Sharon’s throwing a conniption. Says she won’t go.” I liked visiting Grandma and Grandpa O’Shaughnessy’s farm. I loved the open spaces. I loved running across a field, my hair streaming behind, and the breeze in my face. Most of all, I loved the animals. But that was when I was little, and now I was almost ten years old. “Do you think we’ll have lambs and baby pigs, too?” “I don’t think Dad wants pigs,” Ruby said. She frowned. “I’ll miss my friends.” Mother had delivered a freshly baked cake to our next door neighbor, and because she wanted us to help her tie a new feather tick, she’d told us to stay near until she got back. We took turns swinging on the front gate while waiting for her return. She shrugged her shoulders and looked back as she swung away on the gate. “Oh fiddle-dee-dee, I’ll get new friends soon enough.” I wasn’t so sure. All my friends lived in Ashley Springs, friends I’d played with all my life. I loved the town’s hills, its old houses, and its many stores. I loved walking down the valley road to visit my best friend, Jessica Treleven. I’d look up the hill to where the mines had been and remembered stories about how the Cornish women beckoned their men from outside their houses, shaking a white cloth to call them home for supper. “Would you believe,” I once said to Jessica, “they called them home with a dishrag?” I giggled at the thought. “What’s so funny, sis?” Ruby said. “Sharon doesn’t think it’s funny. She says she’s going to stay here with Cousin Emma. I’ll miss her terribly if she stays behind.” “She wouldn’t do that, would she? She wouldn’t leave us.” But we’ll be leaving our family, won’t we? I loved the grove of O’Shaughnessies that clustered in our neighborhood. I could visit Grandma and Grandpa or play tricks on Cousin Joe. I’d pound on his door and then hide behind the hedge when he came to see who was there. He’d pretend to be surprised, mutter a complaint, and act as if he didn’t know what happened. Then he’d sneak out the back and around the house to catch me when I returned to pester him again. He’d chase me down the street toward home, screaming like a banshee, pretending he was angry because I tricked him. What fun! “I’ll miss Grandma and Grandpa. Cousin Joe will be sad. Do you think they’ll come visit?” “It’s a long way. Further than...

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O’Shaughnessy Outtake #3: Planting Potatoes

Planting Potatoes >> Download this outtake as a PDF >> May, 1935 I remember Sharon racing through the kitchen in tears. “Sharon, what’s the matter? What’s wrong?” She didn’t stop or reply; instead, she rushed up the back stairs. Our kitchen was big and everything was in place. Mother saw to that, but Sharon helped lots. Sharon deserved a new dress, I thought. She worked hard for the family. And Dad had promised her that dress, but when Earnest O’Doul said he needed medicine for his daughter who had the croup, Dad said he’d wait until next month for the money owed him. During these Depression years few people had money to spend on their cars, and Dad didn’t press too hard when he knew they were desperate. I followed Sharon to her bedroom. I seldom saw my cheerful sister cry. “What’s the matter? Please tell me. Maybe I can help.” “Oh, dear Catherine,” Sharon said, “you can’t help, not unless you have a treasure secreted away someplace.” “Is it the dress?” “I’ve not had a new dress since confirmation. I so wanted one for the school’s Spring Ball. My confirmation dress is way too small. I’ve grown this last year — at the top, you know.” “Mama’ll alter it. She’s good at that. It’ll almost be new.” “Not to me it won’t,” Sharon said as she broke into tears once more. The next morning before church, I told Ruby about the dress, about the broken promise. Ruby didn’t respond at first; she paced our bedroom with her head down in thought. “There must be something we can do.” I knew that Sharon would help Ruby or me if we had a problem. Why, Sharon saved my skin many a time. I decided to pray about it during the minister’s minute of silence. When, two days later, Cousin Joe said he wanted our help planting potatoes and offered a penny a sprout, I knew my prayers were answered. This time I’d help Sharon. My father’s cousin Joe owned two acres on the edge of town in which he planted potatoes. Usually he hired our older cousins to help, but this year, their father said he needed them at home. And it was a late spring, so Cousin Joe wanted the sprouts planted soon. Mother said that we could miss one day of school, but no more. If we didn’t finish on Wednesday, we’d have to work after school on Thursday and Friday. So we’d have to work fast. Sharon’s ball was Saturday night. The day was hot (over ninety degrees, a record temperature for so early in the season), but I was eager and used to work, so I was certain we could earn enough to buy the dress. We’d never planted that many potatoes, but after careful calculation, Ruby said we could earn fifty cents an hour between...

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A Bad Man at the Circus

A Bad Man at the Circus >> Download this outtake as a PDF >> October, 1932 I skipped ahead of Sharon and Ruby. It had been only a week since Ruby showed me how, and my steps weren’t quite right, but it felt good, and besides, it helped me keep up to my longer-legged sisters. We were halfway down the block when I heard Grandma’s call. “Catherine, come back. I must warn you.” My sisters waited while I dutifully returned to hear Grandma’s admonition. “Now Catherine, listen close. Don’t leave your sisters, not for one minute. Sometimes naughty men travel with these shows. Hold tight to Sharon’s hand. Do you hear me? Don’t leave Sharon’s side.” “Okay, Grandma. I promise. I’ll stay close.” I knew what an elephant was, but I had never seen one. I remembered pictures of a huge animal and wondered if it could be scary like Grandpa’s Holstein bull. I was told to never go inside the pasture when the bull was outside, but today we’d see an elephant, and Ruby said she planned to touch its trunk, so it must be nice. Sharon said she wouldn’t touch it, but she wasn’t brave like Ruby, even if she was two years older. When Grandma Tregonning gave us our quarters, she said, “It’ll cost a dime to get into the show, so you can spend the rest for treats. But don’t go into the sideshows. There are things there that little girls shouldn’t see. Get going now, the main show begins in less than an hour.” When I caught up to Sharon and Ruby, I grabbed Sharon’s hand, but Sharon pulled away. “I don’t want you clinging on me. Just walk close behind.” So I skipped along after them, close enough so I didn’t lose sight of Sharon’s dress. When I got to Hinton’s main street, I turned toward town, but Sharon and Ruby headed in the opposite direction. At first I was so intent on my footwork that I didn’t notice, and by the time I turned back, they were more than a block ahead. I ran to catch up. “You left me behind,” I said. “You’ll have to pay attention,” Ruby said. “We can’t watch you every minute. You don’t want to get lost, do you?” Ruby grabbed my hand and pulled me along. “How far is it?” I said. “It’s outside of town, out where there’s room for tents and animals,” Sharon said. “Out past the old cemetery, where we put flowers on the graves.” I remembered helping at the graves last spring, but I had no idea where we’d been. I pulled away from Ruby and trotted along close behind. After a couple more blocks, I thought I heard music, but it was a strange kind of music, a lively music like Father’s fiddle music, bouncy music that made me want to...

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