Wednesday, July 14, 2010
My salvation anchored itself in my parents who were total opposites in many ways. During prohibition, my dad ran bootleg whiskey for his Chicago nightclub, The Ivanhoe. Years later he met a very young Christian woman, twenty odd years his junior, and wooed her by taking her to church each week. Once the vows were spoken and that four karat diamond was on her ring finger, he never attended church again, although he never complained when she went. With light and dark forces all around me, I still was much loved and valued by both my parents. Dad was the complex businessman and my mother the Christian who told me God had something special for me to do.
One day I was feeling quite lonely without a friend to play with me. My mother said Jesus was my friend. I knew all about Him from Sunday school and from my goodnight prayers, so I asked Jesus to play with me. He spoke to me. Each day I told Mother what He said. She listened intently and said she wished He would talk to her like that. I told her to talk to Him and He would.
However, it wasn’t until I was in high school that I walked the aisle –and in a Methodist church too. My sister and I were having another one of our terrible verbal arguments and my dad, now frail from cancer and bedridden, were more than my mother could handle at the moment. There was a revival at our church so I decided to go even though it was smack dab in the middle of the week—a Wednesday—not a normal church going day like Sunday.
During the second song, I felt a change inside of me. Something dead now came alive. The feeling kept growing and along about the second song, I began to cry. I couldn’t hold onto the hymnal anymore. I set it down on the pew behind me and cried like a baby into my hands. The evangelist, Rev. O. Dean Martin, looked out over the congregation and said, “I see many of you are feeling God for the first time.” And then he called us forward to pray to receive Christ as our Savior.
What a wonderful touch from the Lord. Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
I am a teacher and what better speaking ministry is there? Classroom teachers have a daily platform and literally can change lives. It’s such an awesome responsibility. I also am a former missionary and spoke to crowds ranging from dozens of people to thousands.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
My first year teaching middle school I had a very embarrassing moment. I ran to the bathroom in between periods. The kids were still coming into the room when I got back. I began writing the day’s lesson on the board. And then I became aware of soft snickers. Then more snickers only louder now. And outright laughter. Some Snorts. A hum of conversation began. A horrible thought crossed my mind. I whipped around and faced the class red-faced, as I reached my hand behind me and felt the back of my skirt was tucked into my panties. I just pulled the hem out and began teaching, trying to act as though it was no big deal. But I never wore that dress again.
People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?
I would tell them to start on that someday book TODAY.
Homeless children roamed the streets of New York City from the late 1800s through the 1930s. Death and disease were the natural results of poverty and overcrowding, causing thousands of children to be abandoned, parentless and left to fend for themselves. Adding to the malaise, boatloads of European immigrants flooded our shores and soon succumbed to the same adversities leaving thousands more parentless.
Accounts have been written of the Orphan Train that carried white-skinned children out into the heartland of America to find new families, but history is totally silent of what became of the dark-skinned children.
Ruby Red is a fictionalized tale of a true event.
Eleven-year-old Ruby is taken in as a maid. Believing life holds more for her than washing someone’s clothes, she makes a risky move by faking insanity. After being expelled from the household, Ruby sneaks onto the Orphan Train meant for only white children. With her best friend, a cockroach named Red, housed in a canning jar, Ruby searches for a place to call home and runs into adventure and heartbreak. Both an enigma and a young teen, she is the perfect reflection of how life once was in America. Ruby embodies goodness, and simplicity of truth; a rare gem which bespeaks her name. Softened a bit through suffering she refuses to be hardened and keeps believing that the world holds a special place for her. Written for young teens and adults, the indomitable spirit of Ruby Red triumphs and will live in your heart far beyond the pages of the book.
Robin Shope continues to write captivating books. She is at her best with her multi-layered characterization of Ruby Red. In the 1920s saga, Shope reels us into heartbreak and healing. - Kyle Saylors, TV PRODUCER AND PRODUCER OF FILM KIMJONGILIA,THEATRICALLY RELEASED INTERNATIONALLY AND NOMINATED FOR GRAND JURY PRIZE AT SUNDANCE, SCREENED AT US CAPITOL.
Ruby Red is a poignant story of an abandoned child with an indomitable spirit. The delightful imagery and poetry of written words will propel the reader to the era gone by bringing a story of hope and survival that will warm even the most jaded hearts. Bonnie Calhoun, PUBLISHER OF CHRISTIAN FICTION ONLINE MAGAZINE
Please give us the first page of the book.
Ruby didn’t know she sparkled with beauty like the gem whose name she carried. Her skin was the color of lush earth darkened by the heat of summer’s noonday sun. But it wasn’t the green of summer it was the white of winter and Ruby had no place to call home.
Ruby was medium boned with impish brown eyes. Always dressed in brown, she felt she belonged here among the potato filled pots and spice scented kitchen. Ruby held her plain skirt pinched between her fingers as if it were a party dress and danced toward the kitchen where a sink load of pots and pans waited to be washed.
Chilled by early morning winter, Ruby happily obliged to clean the breakfast dishes and plunged her arms clear up to her elbows into the heated sudsy water. A thin smile of satisfaction spread across her face. Ruby looked out the window at the sun’s halo looking down on her with its lemony color seeping down from the bright cerulean sky. She considered this the best part of the day.
Frozen clusters of frost hung from the trees on the other side of the glass where sparrows nervously pecked at the edges of stale bread; left-overs from last night’s dinner. The blowing snow reminded Ruby of flour chilled in the ice box for days and later tossed about on the counter surface whenever Mama made her pies—like at this moment.
From the corner of her eye she watched Mama Burke in her feed sack apron using singed potholders to move the hot pies from the wood cook stove onto the cooling racks where she covered them over with starched tea towels.
The warm smell of cinnamon, vanilla and sweet cream caused Ruby’s mouth to water. Right about now she’d be willing to give anything she owned, the sock doll or her only pair of shoes, just for one piece of pumpkin pie sharing a plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting down around it on all sides. But before the day was over she was pretty sure she’d get stuck with a slice of mincemeat pie instead.
“Don’t think I can’t see you looking at these pumpkin pies.” Mama stood by the gray speckled stove clucking her tongue. “We are lucky to be fed from the Grand Missus’ table. Be thankful for what is left at the end of each day. Hear me, child?”
“Yes’um, I hear you, but my stomach seems not to be paying very close attention.” Ruby rinsed a plate and set it into the dry sink. “Among other things—you should know I have a lowly opinion of mincemeat pie.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
FB is a great place to start and also here at The Serial Writings of Robin Shope.
Robin, thank you for sharing Ruby Red with us.
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