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Jeannine D.Van Eperen
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During the Great Depression, Rozanne Shaw is forced to leave the Midwest to take a job at a mission school in a remote mountain community.
There are some who believe Rose has no business in Rio Encanto or in Josef Dreesen's life, but somehow love finds a way, or does it?
The rickety, old Continental bus coughed and hiccupped as it snaked up the steep mountain grade. The narrow dirt road wound endlessly between pine and aspen ever upward, then suddenly the trees were gone, revealing only a wide expanse of wasteland, and land falling away beside the road, revealing vistas of the valley far below.
Rose felt shaky, almost in panic, the only passenger left on the ancient bus, when the land finally flattened and she saw a small village in the distance, its adobe buildings blending into the brown desert surrounding her. The hot August sun was blazing brightly in a cloudless blue sky, and Rose’s throat and mouth were parched from thirst. She felt grimy from the dust that rose from the narrow road and sifted into the bus through the open windows.
The year of 1933 found the country in the midst of economic chaos, millions were unemployed, many more destitute. Rose’s family had lost all of their money and property in the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Her father suffered a debilitating heart attack and died after learning his company was bankrupt, his savings wiped out that year, but Rose’s mother insisted Rose finish her last year of college at the Teacher’s Institute of Illinois. “It is already paid for,” her mother said. “And perhaps schools are still hiring teachers.” Rose graduated that following June but jobs were scarce. Anyone who had a job hung onto it for dear life, so Rose floundered, taking whatever job she managed to find as did her mother--usually temporary jobs. No longer did Rose live in a neat brick bungalow in Evanston, but in a tiny, two-room apartment in Chicago that she shared with her mother.
Rose worked for a few weeks during the Christmas seasons at Marshall Field’s selling first ribbons, then gloves, and then chocolates before the Christmas rush ended and there was no more work. Her mother found a few weeks from time to time working in a factory making envelopes. When she was lucky, Rose was called in as a replacement teacher for a day or two, but no offer of a permanent job came her way, until now.
When Rose was told about the job she now traveled to, she was afraid to let her spirits rise. Surely, with the shortage of teaching jobs, many applied for it. Somehow, providence smiled at her and she was selected. It was a red-letter day in her life, and she was pleased, gratified that her prayers were answered.
Her mother was not in favor of her daughter traveling so far away to a place so alien from Chicago, and even inquired, “Is New Mexico part of the United States?”
Rose laughed and calmed her mother’s fears as best she could, assuring her that it wasn’t a foreign country but had been a state since 1912. “It is a church run school in a small village. Housing is provided, and I should be able to send something home each month for you, Mama,” Rose said bravely, pushing her own fears to the recesses of her mind. “I must take the position. There is no other choice.”
So here she sat alone, fighting fear of the unknown, tired beyond words from days of traveling, changing from one bus to another, from bus to train, and from train to bus, from the verdant green countryside of Illinois and Missouri, through the dust bowls of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and into the arid wasteland of New Mexico. Now she had left the plains, and ventured ever higher into pine-filled mountains, with air crystal clear, sun beating down from a cloudless blue sky, and for all she knew or could see she may as well be in a foreign country. Many signs she saw were in Spanish, and most of the people who came on and off the bus spoke Spanish. Rose fought down a frightened giggle. She had to get hold of herself. After traveling so far, it would not do to panic.
The narrow road winded between low, flat-roofed, adobe buildings and led into the large, dirt, square plaza.
“Rio Encanto, señorita,” the driver said.
FAR-Award-winning author, Jeannine Van Eperen, currently lives in Wisconsin, the state of her birth, but she lived for many years in New Mexico and sets many of her novels in New Mexico and Albuquerque, the place she calls home. You Can Bank on It is a fictionalized version of her early years working in the Albuquerque National Bank and also the Bank of New Mexico. She is a people-watcher and “what-ifs” often become the basis for stories. Some incidents happened but most are made up, just as the characters are.
Jeannine attended schools in Chicago and Albuquerque, attended the University of New Mexico, College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande and Western States University College of Law in Anaheim, California.
Besides the banking industry, Jeannine worked in the insurance industry as an office manager, in the travel industry as a motel manager, and was the director of publicity at the University of Albuquerque. She and husband Lou love travel and have been to all fifty of the United States and Puerto Rico, most Canadian Provinces and thirty countries. She is particularly fond of New Zealand and England. She is a private pilot, enjoys reading, euchre, downhill skiing and needlework.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 224
Paper Weight (lb): 9.6
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