The carved wooden Hope Chest had been stuck in a corner of the attic, forgotten for decades behind boxes of antique glassware and vintage baseball cards, neglected while the family focused on the present – school plays, golf tourneys, soccer games, Sunday dinners with the grandparents, and the occasional Antique Fair.
We were getting ready to sell the old place for Sheila’s Mom and rather than take all the boxes to her new (smaller) home, it was time to sort through it, sell the stuff that Amelia had no interest in anymore, and keep the treasures Sheila knew to be up there. Sheila’s parents had been antique dealers for a time and the vintage piece must have been acquired back then – a good twenty years before.
Sheila was right. The chest yielded a gold mine – items much older than the chest itself. A floor length, deep red dress from a bygone era, complete with covered buttons, and a tatted lace collar probably meant to be worn with the dress, lay at the top. Sheila lifted them carefully, the simple fabric in great shape considering its age, and set it aside, excited to find what lay beneath the tissue paper separating the outfit from the rest.
Her search yielded an old pocket watch, a pair of woman’s slippers, a simple bonnet, and a fabulous find: a journal from the late 1880s. The ink in the journal was faded, but still definitely readable.
We expected to find the details of someone’s daily life, telling about flower gardens and new babies and cousins coming to visit, but instead found the details of the life of somebody quite unexpected – a midwife who because of her special situation, happened to be a lady detective.
Meet Visiting Detective Rose Carroll, in a page from Rose Carroll’s Journal:
“4 Third Month 1889
As part of my calling as a midwife over the past year, I have somehow found myself drawn into investigating murder, of all things. And more than once, right here in our lovely town of Amesbury, situated on the Merrimack River in the northeast corner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Now that I have had a week of respite from being called out to attend women’s labors in their homes, I find myself musing on exactly why these investigations should have come to pass.
After all, I am only a betrothed woman in my mid-twenties, an independent businesswoman, and auntie to five fine nieces and nephews. I am not a trained officer of the law, nor would I care to be. Imagine a member of the Religious Society of Friends being expected to carry a firearm, and worse, use it to inflict violence upon a threatening member of the citizenry!
And yet…when, as happened last summer, a young (and pregnant) member of Amesbury Friends Meeting was brutally shot under cover of the Independence Day fireworks, I became drawn into looking for answers. My midwifery mentor, the elderly Orpha Perkins, has said I have the gift of seeing, as had Friend John Greenleaf Whittier, who lives closer than a mile to my own abode. A former slave John had befriended was then arrested – falsely, I was certain – for the crime. How could I not do whatever was in my power to assist Detective Kevin Donovan in his search for the true criminal?
I am not certain what the “gift of seeing” means, but I have been told on more than one occasion that I am a good listener. As well I might be! Caring for a woman during her pregnancy, birth, and post-natal period requires as much counseling skill as it does medical expertise. Of course, I also can travel places Kevin never could – women’s bedchambers – and hear secrets revealed during their travails a man would not be able to eavesdrop on in the same manner.
In recent months Kevin has grown more accepting of my occasional assistance, even seeking me out for my opinions – well, until his new Captain put the kibosh on that a few months ago. Luckily I am also Kevin’s wife’s midwife, and Emmaline is delighted to serve as go-between for our messages.
Now, if only solving the problem of the obstacles to my beloved’s and my marriage were going as smoothly!
I do find it helps me to write to thee, dear journal, about these mysteries. I am able to better sort and arrange my thoughts, and thus better able to advise the dear detective. With that thought I shall rest, until I address thee about the next case. Because there will surely be one.”
Many thanks to Edith Maxwell for visiting the Kerrians through a page in Rose Carroll’s journal. What a delight to peek into the past this way. 🙂
You can read much more about Rose Carroll in Edith Maxwell’s Quaker Midwife series. In addition to containing great mysteries, the series is rich with historical details. Rose is undeniably, a marvelous new character.
Delivering the Truth, the first in the series, has been nominated for a Macavity Award, for the Sue Feder Award for Best Historical Novel! Winners are announced at the Bouchercon opening ceremonies in Toronto in October. See my review of Delivering the Truth here.
Agatha- and Macavity-nominated and national best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day, she writes the popular Country Store Mysteries and the new Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. She is president of Sisters in Crime New England, lives north of Boston with her beau, two cats, and an organic garden, and blogs at WickedCozyAuthors.com and elsewhere. Find information about all her work at https://edithmaxwell.com/.
Look for book #2, “Called to Justice,” in stores and online now.
Thanks to the readers around the world, we have reached another milestone. This is page # 200 for Kerrian’s Notebook. 🙂 Hear Hammett barking? And the shovels clanking?
When Kerrian’s Notebook came into being, Charlie and Sheila Kerrian never expected to be around for 200 pages, not counting the additional posts devoted to our famous (or is that infamous?) Visiting Detectives. That’s a ton of cases, a ton of fun, facts, and a few dead bodies.
In honor of that milestone, we have come up with a few more ways to die an unnatural death, bringing the total on our deadly lists to a lethal 200.
Unnatural death is a category used by coroners and Medical Examiners for classifying human deaths that can’t really be described as death by natural causes. It might cover events such as accidents, homicide, clueless behavior, being attacked by wildlife, or even war.
Keep in mind that law enforcement personnel only investigate these deaths if foul play is suspected. Criminal intent is not always apparent, and autopsies are only conducted when suspicious circumstances surround the corpse’s demise.
Many thanks to all of you that contributed to our earlier lists. It wouldn’t have been as much fun without your (sometimes nefarious) methods of offing some unlucky souls. 🙂
Take a look:
and now… 20 more ways to die an unnatural death.
All true, folks, but #194? Maybe that explains all the Hallmark TV episodes where the good guys are hiding in closets with LOTS of air holes.
The real question: Do you have friends that will help carry the shovels and pitchforks? 😉
If you are a writer and have used any of the ‘200 ways’ in your work, let us know in the comments and you can plug your book here. 🙂
*Photos by Patti Phillips, but nothing dastardly happened while she took them and no bodies were left behind. Promise.
*Kerrian’s Notebook, and all of its content, is intended for entertainment purposes only.
One of our Texas friends could write a manual on how to live life to the max. She is whip smart, stays in top shape, participates in some extreme adventures, is a fabulous cook, and enjoys the great outdoors in all its glory. She’s not a big fan of gyms with weights and machines and would rather keep herself in condition by participating in activities with a physical endurance component – like frigid overnights on a mountain after trekking a few miles over challenging terrain to get there.
We chatted over dinner and she mentioned that she was enrolled at a local Krav Maga place, then invited us along to see what it was all about. She wanted Sheila to join in the class, but Sheila only had golf clothes in her suitcase, no workout gear. “Bring your camera,” she said.
Krav Maga (translated from Hebrew) means contact combat. Yup. That’s what the classes involve. It’s a fusion of techniques from boxing, wrestling, and judo, developed for the Israeli Defense Forces, and combined with fight training – with the end goal of self-defense.
The focus is on real-world situations and learning efficient methods to fend off attacks from the bad guys and take control of the direction of the attacks. Originally developed by Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld in the 1930s, Krav Maga became a practical way to combine other fighting styles (including street fighting) and teach them quickly to the Israeli military. As time passed, other techniques using elbows and knee strikes, low kicks, Aikido and Jiu-jitsu were also included under the broad umbrella of Krav Maga.
Krav Maga has a philosophy emphasizing aggression, and simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers. Variations of Krav Maga are now being used by military, law enforcement, and intelligence organizations around the world. The Brits and the US Marine Corps teach their own versions to their recruits.
For the average person off the street, Krav Maga teaches street self-defense using:
Krav Maga also promotes awareness, strength, and self-defense skills specifically for women. Some locations have classes that focus on rape prevention techniques and tactics, to build both inner and outer strength. Women can learn to spot danger signs, but also learn how to defend against common chokes, grabs, bearhugs, and other attacks, including fighting on the ground and when confronted by a weapon. This allows women to leave class feeling safe, strong, and empowered.
The instructor for the class we attended, Nick Delgadillo, emphasized to the Level 1 group that the aim is to “defend and then attack.” As the class continued and various moves were practiced, the mantra, “As I’m striking, I need to improve my position,” became internalized.
Krav Maga is designed to be practical and intuitive for people of any age, shape, or size.
Tips and reinforcements are delivered in a positive way throughout the class:
The progressive curriculum covers the most common types of attacks and threats first, to make students comfortable with using basic blocks, punches, chokeholds, and strikebacks. In later classes, students focus on more violent situations involving weapons, multiple attackers, and ground fighting. Krav Maga students work with each another in reality-based exercises, and the ambience is usually very supportive, yet goal-oriented.
What To Expect
Fully certified instructors guide training sessions and make sure that the environment is open and positive. Krav Maga is designed to teach students self-defense techniques in a short amount of time, with the goal that you should start feeling safer and more confident almost immediately. Students are taught how to react to the initial shock and paralyzing fear that comes with a sudden attack.
A quote from Nick’s website:
“Defending yourself requires that you are able to make an aggressive and violent counterattack. This is one of the ugly realities of self-defense and this is the truly hard part for nice, normal people living in the real world. Come train with us and we’ll teach you how to make an ugly face, hit hard, and go home safe.”
Defense Krav Maga is located at:
4036 Kemp Blvd. Wichita Falls, TX 76308
As of this writing, classes are held:
Krav Maga – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 5:30 PM.
Precision Striking – Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 PM
They’d love to hear from you. Visit the website, www.defensewf.com to check them out. 🙂
Nick Delgadillo is a Starting Strength Seminar Staff Coach, Krav Maga instructor, and Muay Thai and Brazilian JiuJitsu practitioner. He’s been teaching people of all walks of life how to fight and lift for over 10 years. Nick is highly effective in preparing people both mentally and physically for sport, combat, or the game of life.
Notes from Patti:
Nick’s class was astounding in its content. I came away with a sense that this should be the type of self-defense class for me. If I still lived there, I would sign up in a New York minute! Bravo to Nick Delgadillo for empowering the class members, and to V. for taking me to the class. 🙂
The Kerrians are a fictional couple, but the class (V. included) and photos are real.
Banner and Nick’s photo at the end: courtesy of Defense Krav Maga, Wichita Falls, Texas.
Photos of the class members in action: Patti Phillips