Monday, March 13, 2017

Meet My Experts - Part II

Congratulations to Kathy Wiechman who won FIRE, COLOR, ONE from last week's blog.

Three years ago I posted a blog about some of the people I'd interviewed for Half-Truths. These experts as well as other men and women willingly shared their life stories with me in order to make my story more authentic. 

Since I'm at the beta/sensitivity reader stage, I'm no longer interviewing folks but I'm still fact-checking and always keeping my eyes and ears open for material that will inform Half-Truths.

For example, I had written a scene about Sam, Lillie's older brother who had enlisted for the conflict in Korea. But as I was re-reading my manuscript I wondered:

    a) Did Sam enlist or was he drafted? How would his choice affect my story? (Lillie's father came home from WWII and met with ridicule in North Carolina. How would he react to his only son enlisting in the service? In turn, how would that affect Lillie?)

   b) Was there even a draft then?

Not finding the answer online, I turned to the Korean Veterans Club in my community. 


KWVA  Chapter 169
I was allowed to speak at one of their meetings and discovered that men could enlist or be drafted. (Whew! I was safe with that part of my story!) When they found out the premise of Half-Truths, the men were quick to tell stories of those first attempts at integrating the armed services. It reinforced, to me, how integration was a process that happened over time. 

  • One vet laughed about being mistakenly assigned to a black truck company. 
  • Another told me of how the troops were integrated during training on Parris Island, SC and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina (during the mid-50's), but as soon as the men stepped off the base, "segregation was rampant." He said that it was as if the blacks lived in two separate worlds. On base they were treated as equals, but if they left camp, they were in a different, biased world. 
  • One man's brother who had served in WWII said, "Treat Negroes with respect because we bleed the same red blood to keep this country free." 
  • One vet said he was accused of being a "McCarthy boy" because he wanted to go to college. The consensus in this group was that Communism wasn't talked about much at home.
  • Truman knew the country wasn't ready for another war, that's why it was called a "police action."
  • I was left with the overall impression that these men worked and fought with black men and that was their "normal".

Of course, I've read some of this accounts online and in articles. But it was different hearing these stories from the men who witnessed and lived them. 
I received this star from one of the vets.
And their stories make mine a little bit richer as a result.

Stay tuned. Soon I'll be sharing stories and pictures of one of my African American experts in Charlotte who has meant so much to me. 


14 comments:

sheri levy said...

Wonderful! What a great way to get new facts or validated information. Are you closing in on finishing the draft? Can't wait to read Half Truths!

Carol Baldwin said...

Almost there, Sheri. Thanks for stopping by.

Sarah Bracey White said...

You are a force to be reckoned with Carol! A researcher extraordinaire! The truth of your book reflects the truth of your primary research.

Tony Reames said...

As a vet this made my day. Great work Carol.

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks, Tony. Glad it did!! (and I didn't know you were a vet. Thanks for your service!)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you Sarah. You know how important research is to make a book authentic--which is my goal!

Rosi said...

The research never ends, does it? Good idea to go to a veteran's group. I'm sure it makes your book better.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Rosi. Experts are such an asset to writing books!

Linda A. said...

I enjoyed reading the Veterans' comments. Good research and fun too!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda!

Deborah Allmand said...

My favorite part of the process is the research. Great blog.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks,Deborah. It's interesting to see how this post resonated with my readers. I agree. I love research too!

Caroline McAlister said...

Super cool and inspiring. Now I want to talk to my father in law about his experiences with race in the Korean war. Did you know that there was a group of Quakers, some of them from this area, who moved to Costa Rica during the Korean war because of their opposition to America's involvement? They set up a community and dairy business that is still thriving today.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Caroline!