Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Life in 1957" by Diane Craver

Today, I'm very happy to welcome Diane Craver as my guest blogger. Be sure to read all the way through, because Diane is giving away one of her Christmas releases, and more!

Diane Craver met her husband while teaching at an orphanage, and they married in 1975. While raising their six children in southwestern Ohio, Diane started writing nonfiction. Later, she decided it would be a nice escape to write fiction.

Diane has published through a variety of houses, including, Samhain, Desert Breeze, Whimsical Publications, and Victory Tales Press. She writes fun and inspiring stories filled with memorable characters. Diane gives thanks to God daily for all her wonderful blessings.

Learn more about Diane and her books at

"Life in 1957"

I’m dating myself here but I was a small girl in 1957. My upcoming release, A Christmas Gift, contains my childhood experiences with fiction thrown into the story line. However, the prologue and epilogue are in present time. When I mentioned to a daughter that it was hard for me to believe that my new book was considered historical fiction, she laughed and said, "Mom, it wouldn’t be contemporary."

I want to share with you an event that was done to newlyweds back in 1957 in Ohio. It made quite an impression on me when I was a small girl. By the time, I got married it was no longer a tradition. But before I do that, I want to mention how even though we didn’t have cable, internet, cell phones, video games, DVDs, or even VHS, life was good in 1957. We took time to know our neighbors. I grew up in a rural area so all the families were farmers. My best memories are the creative play I shared with the neighborhood children. I didn’t have siblings to play with because I came along very late in my parents’ lives. My siblings were 21, 19, 15, and 9 when I was born. Another fun time was traveling to Lake Erie on Sundays in the summers. All the neighbors piled into cars to enjoy swimming and picnics by the lake.

Okay, here is what we did in Findlay, Ohio, to have fun with newlyweds, and it was called a "belling". If a belling would be held now on Main Street in Findlay, I’m sure there would be arrests. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of A Christmas Gift about a belling in 1957:

On Saturday night Ellen and I were sitting on the front porch steps, watching all the neighbors arrive at my house, the gathering spot before a belling. It was appropriately termed a "belling" because neighbors went to a newlyweds’ home with dinner bells, shot guns, pans, or anything that made noises. Hopefully, the unsuspecting couple would be asleep when the belling occurred.

"Here’s your noisemakers, girls," Daddy said as he handed us pans and big spoons.

"Mr. Reeves, are we leaving now?" Ellen asked.

Daddy smiled. "We have to wait a little longer to make sure Linda and John are asleep."

I asked Daddy, "Do you think they’ll be surprised?"

He nodded. "Of course. They’ve been married for several weeks, so they know it’s coming, but I hope they won’t expect it tonight. I invited John to play cards with us tonight, so he’d think we all had something going on. John said he couldn’t leave his wife on their special night."

My eyes widened. "What’s special about tonight?"

"He mumbled something about it being the anniversary of their first kiss."

Ellen and I laughed. "Daddy, that’s silly. You’re making that up."

He winked. "Well, it might not be the first kiss but was something romantic."

Within an hour, we left in several cars to travel a road over from ours to the Williamson’s place. The drivers stayed in the cars to honk their horns, Ellen and I banged our pans, and many people rang dinner bells. I jumped when I heard some farmers shooting their guns into the air. With this entire racket going on right in their front yard, John and Linda took fifteen minutes to come outside.

I saw John’s shirt wasn’t buttoned right, and Linda’s blouse was tucked in on one side and hanging out on the other. John grinned and yelled, "You bunch of liars. I thought the men had a big card party tonight."

"Since you couldn’t make it," Daddy said, "we canceled it." He laughed. "You took so long to come out, we decided to take you both to Findlay on a hay wagon."

Ellen and I had permission to ride the hay wagon, so we hurried and climbed on before John and Linda did. When the wagon was full of people, we sang the song, "Love and Marriage Goes Together like a Horse and Carriage." Linda sat on John’s lap and sang along too.

Once in Findlay our singing ceased while Ellen’s father stopped the tractor and wagon in a grocery store’s parking lot.

Two men lifted a wheelbarrow off a pickup truck. One of them said, "We think John should push Linda down Main Street."

Everyone clapped and whistled while John put Linda into the wheelbarrow. Noises continued behind the couple while everyone proceeded down the street.

When we returned to the newlyweds’ house, Linda and John gave candy bars for treats. While the adults were laughing and talking, Ellen and I sat on white metal chairs, eating our candy.

I grabbed Gail’s arm as she walked in front of us. With a mouthful of Milky Way bar, I told her, "If you marry Phil, I can’t wait for your belling. I’ll make so much noise that Phil’s ears will hurt."

Gail gave me a disgusted look. "Don’t talk with your mouth full. I hate to disappoint you, Debby, but Phil and I aren’t going to live around here. He’s only here until Mr. Haynes is well enough to return to work."


I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. A Christmas Gift releases on November 15th in both paperback and electronic formats. It will be available from Whimsical Publications and Amazon. Thank you, Carol, for giving me this opportunity to share something from my book.

By the way, I have a Christmas contest on my blog. If you leave a comment on this post, your name is entered. The first drawing is November 14th. I’ll be giving away a signed copy of one of my Christmas releases to the winner, a $10 GC, and a beautiful angel ornament. More details are on my blog.


Anne Patrick said...

Enjoyed your excerpt, Diane! Best of luck to you my friend. I wish you many sales!

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Actually, they did something similar when my father and my stepmother were married when I was 8 years old. But they called it a shivaree. I don't know if that's how you really spell it, but that's how it sounded.

They came with noisemakers and banged them outside our house, but they didn't take them into town on a hay wagon.

Diane Craver said...

Hi Anne,

Glad you enjoyed the excerpt! I hope for many sales too. :)

Thanks for being a great friend.

Diane Craver said...

Hi Lena,
It's so nice to see you here. I have heard that another term in other parts of the country is shivaree. And I think that is how you spell it.

Have a nice day!

Sharon said...

Always enjoy reading blogs, and i can't wait to see the movie...

Diane Craver said...

Hi Sharon,
Thanks for commenting. Hey, a movie would be awesome - that's every writer's dream. A friend of mine did mention that A CHRISTMAS GIFT would make a wonderful hallmark movie. :)

Anne Payne said...

It's an excellent idea for a Hallmark Movie! The Christmas ones are the best!! Would love to read your book.


Diane Craver said...

Hi Anne,
I'm glad you'd like to read A CHRISTMAS GIFT - it's very special to me. Thanks for commenting.

susan said...

This story has memories for me too. I can recall doing the same thing as a child and another thing that was done when I was a child..some people would get the newlyweds out of the place they were staying in IF it was some one home or some apartment and while the newlyweds were taken to another place a bunch of folks would tie potatoes on the bed springs and there was one case where alarm clocks were scattered around in hiding places to go off every five minutes so the newly weds had to get up and find the clocks. Naturally I was young at the time and didn't know the true meaning for the clocks or the potatoes but I do now. ha ha susan Leech

greenduckie13 said...

Thanks for the expert. It made me smile.
greenduckie13 at gmail dot com

flchen1 said...

Thanks for sharing that excerpt, Diane! I've never participated in that custom, but it sounds like a fun way for a community to celebrate a new couple! :) Congrats on A Christmas Gift!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Diane Craver said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks for sharing your childhood memories about what was done to newlyweds in your area. That's funny about the potatoes and alarm clocks. Not funny to the newlyweds though.

Glad you visited here.

Celia Yeary said...

HI, DIANE--I couldn't miss this one. I've heard of similar things as belling. I was a junior in high school in 1957 (you think you're dated?) and by the end of 1958 was married. (count up those decades.) He is a little older than I, and he knew the guys would do something to his pretty 1957 Baby Blue Chevy with the tail fins. I was so oblivious to everything, barely being 18. The day before the wedding, he had a friend follow him out of town to a friend's farm--about ten miles--and hide his Chevy.After the wedding and reception, eveybody had looked high and low for his car. Instead, in our honeymoon clothes, we ducked out the back door, jumped into the friend's car, and he zipped us out to the farm.
We thought that was funny, but I've often wondered if we missed out on some fun, just as we denied so many friends their fun.
I don't know--but some got even by visiting us after midnight in our new apartment. Now...they thought that was really funny!
Thanks for the wonderful excerpt. Celia

Zina said...

I've heard of it before but they called it shivering or something like that and they did it the night of the wedding.

lastnerve said...

LOL I loved the excerpt. I wish we still had belling today, it would be so funny! Loved the blog today! Can't wait to read the book!


Diane Craver said...

I just got home. We left to go to Cincinnati to do a few more things to help our daughter. It was nice to come home and see these wonderful comments.
greenduckie: Glad my excerpt made you smile. :)

flchen: The bellings I attended as a child were fun! Thanks for visiting.

Celia: I didn't realize you were so young when you got married - sounds like you picked the right guy! You are the same age as one of my sisters. That's so funny how you escaped in your hubby's car and they weren't able to decorate it. I bet that was a blast when your friends surprised you late at night in your new apt. I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

Zina: Getting the couple on their wedding night would be wild. Thanks for stopping by.

Val: It's so nice you visited my blog and Carol Ann's today - thank you. Back when I attended bellings,
I liked everything about them, especially the candy. LOL

Asylumgirl said...

Hi Diane! What was it like teaching at an orphanage?

deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

Martha W. Rogers said...

LOL. You're dated? I graduated from Baylor in 1957. I enjoyed the the teaser, and I'd heard about such a custom out in the country, but we lived in the city. All they did was decorate the car with all kinds of writing and tin cans and such. We left his car at a friend's house and he took us to get it after the reception. Similar to what one of the others commented. I love Christmas stories and this sounds like a good one.

Diane Craver said...

Hi Asylumgirl,
I also lived on campus with the kids. I lived in a building with other teachers. The students lived in houses with house parents. There was a church, swimmng pool, gym, cafeteria (we could eat our meals with the children), and lovely grounds. I took the girls shopping at the mall a couple times and once took a few to a nearby state park for a picnic. It was a nice experience and I still remember many of the students with fondness.

Hi Martha,
Where did the years go? I can't believe I'll be 61 soon. My husband also hid his car before our wedding at a friend's house so it wouldn't get decorated. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed hearing your memory.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Ooh, sign me up for the drawing. :)

Diane Craver said...

Good Morning, Ann! You're entered too.

Good news, everyone, scheduled release date is still Nov. 15th - checked with my publisher last night. Plus I should get the books soon for the giveaways! I also have the anthology books!

Jennifer Mathis said...

Great excerpt , makes me ready for the cristmas season :)

Jennifer Mathis said...

Great excerpt , makes me ready for the cristmas season :)

Diane Craver said...

Thank you, Jennifer! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt!

desitheblonde said...

hi well i was born and raised in ohio and during the late 50 early 60 and now what it was like them we had to go to the train and get food for the family at least once a week i would like to read your book

Anonymous said...

My cousin Charley endured "shivaree".
He and his wife got married in the afternoon and all night long they heard the banging of pots and pans and all sorts of noises. I was born and raised in Indiana and the shivaree was still a custom in the late 1960s.


Dina said...

A hallmark movie with your book WOULD be awesome, I love those kinds of movies. :)

Diane Craver said...


Glad you want to read A Christmas Gift - thanks for stopping by and sharing your memories.

Hi Carol,

Your poor cousin and his wife. That's terrible they had to hear the banging pans all night on their wedding night.

Hi Dina,

There's going to be a Hallmark movie on Nov. 28th that looks really good.

host said...

I loved your excerpt! Those old customs were such a fun thing :)

franalokas (at) yahoo (dot) com

Diane Craver said...

Thank you! Glad you stopped by.

Dina said...

11/28 will be watching. :) They just had a Thanksgiving movie and it was good.