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Writing and Publishing > Where do we get our story ideas?

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message 1: by M (last edited Sep 05, 2012 09:09AM) (new)

M | 10155 comments Indian Bluff

Maybe I’d better start at the beginning, with a man named Richard R. Ricketts, who, with his family, moved to Springfield, Missouri, in 1895.

Ricketts bought a three-story, late-Victorian building on Walnut Street and founded the Springfield Seed Co. It soon became a prosperous business. He bought a stately, Italianate house on the same street, and lived there until he died, at age 68, in 1938.

Ricketts did very well. In 1912, he became president of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, which prospered. By the late 1920’s, Ricketts’ seed company had acquired a second building to accommodate it growth.

Here is some information I’ll quote directly from a registration form submitted to the National Register of Historic Places, U. S. Department of the Interior:

“Aside from their Walnut Street home, the Ricketts demonstrated their success, and that of Springfield Seed Company, at Indian Bluff, their 103-acre rural retreat on the James River nine miles southwest of Springfield. It was also here that Mr. Ricketts escaped the pressures of his business concerns, entertained friends and family and indulged his love of nature. The retreat had a stocked spring-fed lake, bridal paths, livestock and gardens. Indian Bluff achieved fame throughout the region ‘as an example of the type of year-round vacation home which could be built in the Ozarks of native materials.’”

What became of Indian Bluff in the years immediately after Ricketts died, I haven’t discovered. At some point, the property was purchased by Robert E. Lee Hill, who lived in Columbia, Missouri, and who had been 1934-1935 president of Rotary International. He may have known Ricketts either through Rotary or the banking business. When I met Hill and his wife, in the early 1970’s, they were elderly. As I recall, Hill was a published poet.

In the 1950’s or 1960’s, a retired baseball player named Mike Ryba bought the old estate. Here’s the Wikipedia article on Ryba:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Ryba

The last sentence of the article states that “he fell from a ladder in his yard while trimming branches of a tree.” I may be one of the few people alive who know the truth of what happened to him, though it’s only a minor and unimportant detail.

Ryba owned a blue, 1961 International Harvester Scout. He was going along the narrow, gravel drive that leads for nearly a mile from the road to the house on the bluff, when he decided to stop and cut a branch on a tree beside the drive. He climbed, with his chainsaw, up on top of the Scout, then fell. The hillside falls steeply away from the drive where he fell, and he hit his head on a rock.

Here is an old slide showing the gravel drive not far from where he fell. The hillside doesn’t fall away steeply here, but does as the drive approaches the house.

Photobucket

You’ve probably guessed how I know this. When I was in grade school, my father bought Indian Bluff from Mike Ryba’s widow. I used to live there. The Scout that Ryba fell from was my first car. The estate was quite run down when we moved there and is the background I had in mind when I wrote “The Blanton Disappearance.” Here’s a photo of the park. You can’t see the summerhouse, which is off to the right, or the shuttered bathhouse. Out of view to the right is a cave out of which runs a spring that feeds the fish pond and the swimming pool. The swimming was huge and deep and was constructed because a dam was needed for a water hammer to pump water up to the house on the bluff.

Photobucket

This is a view of the house, from the fields across the James River:

Photobucket

This is a view from the patio, looking downriver:

Photobucket


message 2: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments M, what a beautiful looking place! I would have been loathe to leave it, if I'd had the choice. Thank you for taking the time to share the story and the photos.

And the story of Ryba is fascinating and, I think, worth correcting in the Wiki. As you say, it is a minor detail, but sometimes it is the minor details that humanize our heros. I do recommend that you update the Wiki. Create an account, click on the edit button for the section that needs changing, then edit. I imagine that you got the complete story from Ryba's widow when your father purchased the place. That kind of detail can be added as well, as the master-editors of the Wiki are always looking for citations. (For the real researchers, I imagine the police report of the accident would have some of these details as well.)


message 3: by Ajay, The Caped Crusader (new)

Ajay (Ajay_N) | 1136 comments Mod
Wow, M! A beautiful place indeed. I like this thread a lot. The last picture brought back some very fond memories of my boarding school experience.


message 4: by M (new)

M | 10155 comments Thank you, Ajay! You must have done some cliff climbing when you were in school.


message 5: by Ajay, The Caped Crusader (new)

Ajay (Ajay_N) | 1136 comments Mod
I've definitely done some trekking back in school, M! But I haven't engaged in hard core cliff climbing.

My school rested on the foothills of a hill station called Ooty, so we had plenty of sprawling wilderness that surrounded us. The entire school was protected by an electric fence to stop the wild elephants from entering the campus. I've also caught a glimpse of a cheetah twice. This was the place where I started writing :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ooty


message 6: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
That place is stunning! I'm sure the pictures, no matter how pretty, don't capture the full image.


message 7: by M (last edited Aug 28, 2012 06:08PM) (new)

M | 10155 comments I’ve wondered what Indian Bluff is like now. There was a bad recession in the mid-1970’s, and Dad sold the property to a young man who was wealthy and who owned a company that manufactures stainless-steel tanks. He must have turned it into a paradise.

When I was a kid, we lived in an architect-designed house on a high hill overlooking the James River, south of Springfield, Missouri. It seems no one bothered to take pictures in those days. The house we moved from, and that’s the basis for the house Vicki longs to return to in “The Blanton Disappearance,” is this one, at 3324 Redbud Lane. Dad sold it to a plastic surgeon.

Photobucket

In those days, Dad and I floated over two hundred miles of Missouri rivers. At a bend in the river, a few miles southwest of Springfield, was a prominent bluff with a stone house atop it. Dad always wondered about it.

At a party one night, Dad met Thelma Ryba, the wife of a baseball player who had been killed in an accident about a year before. Dad found out that Mrs. Ryba lived in the house on the bluff, and the next thing I knew, I, my sister, and my mother, were moving from our little paradise in a hilltop neighborhood to some old place that was like a setting from a movie. Here’s a picture of the patio.

Photobucket

Most of what I know about the place is what I’ve learned by asking Dad questions. Originally, the bluff had been an Indian burial ground. At some time, someone had built a hunting lodge there, and all those bones had supposedly been dumped somewhere on the grounds. Naturally, I had looked for them, but I never found them. Back then, identity politics didn’t exist, and nobody cared about Indian artifacts.

The main house had a huge fireplace and had been the lodge. Nearby was a very old building that at one time had probably been the sleeping quarters and that Ricketts had later converted into what Mrs. Ryba called “the guest house.” When Ricketts had acquired the property, he had spent a fortune landscaping it. The land behind the bluff fell away to a deep creek valley. Rickets had installed retaining walls and had put in a circular drive. There was an ingenious garage with a high, stone basement, perched on the hillside, a stable, a bungalow we called “the shop,” and a storm cellar. On top of the hill was a tower that looked like something out of the Middle Ages, with a conical roof under which was an enormous water tank riveted by hand in the days before welding.

I could probably write a book about this place!


message 8: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
You should write a book, lol. It sounds so pretty and magical.


message 9: by M (new)

M | 10155 comments Kat, I can honestly say that, other than the man who now lives at Indian Bluff, I don’t know of anyone, however rich or famous, who could possibly live in a place that lonely and beautiful.


message 10: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Hmmmm.


message 11: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments Ajay wrote: "I've definitely done some trekking back in school, M! But I haven't engaged in hard core cliff climbing.

My school rested on the foothills of a hill station called Ooty, so we had plenty of spraw..."


Ooty looks quite beautiful, too, Ajay.


message 12: by M (new)

M | 10155 comments It certainly does! I’ll spend some time browsing that site. It’s very nicely set up. Thanks for the link, Ajay.


message 13: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Is it sad that I got an idea for an entire novel just by staring at a license plate?


message 14: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments LoL! Not at all! New ideas, truly new ideas arise from the unconscious. And anything can trigger the unconscious putting into our minds an idea.


message 15: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Thanks Guy.

Good night Al!


message 16: by M (new)

M | 10155 comments Was it an in-state or an out-of-state license plate?


message 17: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
M, it was out-of-state, but I don't remember what state. All I paid attention to was the BZ 172


message 18: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Al, are you taking a nap then? Lol.


message 19: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Have a good one :D


message 20: by M (new)

M | 10155 comments How did you get a novel out of BZ 172?


message 21: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Well, the BZ is the title: Becoming Zoey. The 172 is her prisoner number. It's more complicated than that, but I haven't developed the idea totally. It kinda took a backseat to my NaNo Novel planning.


message 22: by M (new)

M | 10155 comments Will you have your NaNo novel completely outlined, all the details in place, so that November 1 you can start writing full speed ahead?


message 23: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments I keep promising myself to enter the long weekend novel writing contest we have here in Vancouver. 3 days to write a novel. I use as an excuse that Septembers are, historically, a very busy time for me, and that is when it is held: the labour day long weekend.

Good luck with NaNo, Kat.


message 24: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Thanks guys. No, I'm not outlining completely. I'm filling in stuff that I need to know, but leaving most of it to figure itself out once the fun begins.

:D


message 25: by Ajay, The Caped Crusader (new)

Ajay (Ajay_N) | 1136 comments Mod
Thank you, Guy and M! Yes, Ooty is quite beautiful.The place in itself has a lot of history. Apparently, the Britishers had used elephants when they laid the roads back then.

I did my 3rd grade in a boarding school there.Wonderful memories.


message 26: by Ajay, The Caped Crusader (new)

Ajay (Ajay_N) | 1136 comments Mod
All the best with your novel, Kat!


message 27: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments Hello Ajay!


message 28: by Ajay, The Caped Crusader (new)

Ajay (Ajay_N) | 1136 comments Mod
Hello Guy! It's been a while! Hope you are doing good.


message 29: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Hello Ajay :D Thanks :D


message 30: by Edward (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments I walk to get ideas. Suburbs aren't not the most inspiring places to live (those pictures are amazing, M) and, apart from weather and minor archetecture, a suburb on the east coast is more or less the same as a suburb on the west coast. Walking, however, gets blood pumping with mindless rhythm and seems to highlight subtle nuances.

I did have one advantage in California and North Carolina: in those two places, I lived on a military base. It's quite interesting and, somewhat ironically, gave me more freedom as a kid than my non-military suburb friends said they had. True, if I wandered too far outside the neighborhood, there was a fair chance I could walk into an impact range, but otherwise few places are as safe as a Marine Corps Base. At eight, I could wander around with no parents, and at ten I could take off on my own. Around thirteen or fourteen, my parents stopped asking where I was going (mostly because I had a habit of ending up somewhere else anyway).

That freedom made me set my own boundries, which is part of the reason, I think, for my particular brand of magic in my stories. My best friend, who was put a tight leash when he was younger and now does everything people don't want him to do, hates my system of magic because on how much I restrict my characters.

The other important thing from growing up on military bases is the sound of artillery fire lulling me to sleep. Oh, I miss that ...

Huh, and a man dressed in dark pants, a dark trench coat, and a hat pulled over his eyes just passed in front of the apartment during a storm. How's that for sparking imaginaton?


message 31: by Ajay, The Caped Crusader (new)

Ajay (Ajay_N) | 1136 comments Mod
:) Hello, Alex and Kat! Wow, I wouldn't mind having some of that turkey!


message 32: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Edward, that sounds like it could be turned into an awesome story. May I borrow it?


message 33: by Edward (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments Of course you may.


message 34: by M (new)

M | 10155 comments Lulled to sleep by the sound of artillery fire. That’s as colorful an autobiographical detail as I can imagine coming across!


message 35: by Saira (new)

Saira (Herumouni) | 667 comments I get my ideas from studying foreign languages and listenig to music. The one I haven't posted anywhere up here yet about two sisters and their brother was inspired by a song called World of Stone, a scene in another by Fires at Midnight, and the ones involving the Norse gods come from Leaves' Eyes songs and the Avengers. XD


message 36: by Saira (new)

Saira (Herumouni) | 667 comments Ajay wrote: "I've definitely done some trekking back in school, M! But I haven't engaged in hard core cliff climbing.

My school rested on the foothills of a hill station called Ooty, so we had plenty of spraw..."


That. is. AWESOME! I hope to got to India one day. I'm actually working on learning Hindi right now.


message 37: by Saira (new)

Saira (Herumouni) | 667 comments One story is actually coming to me right now from a song called The Faerie Queen. It's a beautiful song by Blackmore's Night.


message 38: by CJ, For Narnia and for ASLAN (new)

CJ Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 3479 comments Mod
Sometimes I get ideas from stuff in my own life. As a matter of fact on here I have written a lot of things about my own life more than I might admit.

I think that we put ourselves into a lot of our stories or find out after creating our characters we realize we are like those people.

Also I sometimes create characters that I wish I could be.


message 39: by Saira (new)

Saira (Herumouni) | 667 comments CJ wrote: "I think that we put ourselves into a lot of our stories or find out after creating our characters we realize we are like those people."

Yep, I noticed that with my characters Amur and Ari. They're both two different sides of me.


message 40: by Ajay, The Caped Crusader (new)

Ajay (Ajay_N) | 1136 comments Mod
Welcome to the club, Saira! I am learning hindi as well. My hindi is shockingly weak since I am from the southern most part of India, from a state called Tamil Nadu. And I mainly speak Tamil, which is my first language.


message 41: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
Haha, that's great! What kind of story?


message 42: by Edward (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments Kids playing with a broom in the street gave you the idea for the Crazies? I must ask.


message 43: by CJ, For Narnia and for ASLAN (new)

CJ Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 3479 comments Mod
LOL! Wow I read the words "kids playing with a broom in the street" and then the next comment was "The Crazies" and I couldn't help but laugh! Err. That sounded evil.

I have a dark sense of humor sometimes...


message 44: by Caitlan, lioness rampant (new)

Caitlan (psych-enthusiast) | 2866 comments Mod
XD


message 45: by Kyra (new)

Kyra (Nikara) | 1221 comments Well. Now I need to go look up that chapter. Is it on Goodreads?


message 46: by Kyra (new)

Kyra (Nikara) | 1221 comments I keep a journal stuffed with character, plot, and setting ideas. I sketch some ideas out to get the old brain juices flowing, but I can only draw one kind of person, so all my characters' files look exactly the same, just with different hair.


message 47: by Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (last edited Dec 01, 2012 02:02PM) (new)

Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (Christa-RonPaul2012) | 1365 comments Have you ever gotten a idea from a dream? Or from another persons dream? Like the ones you have while asleep not daydreams of what you want to do later in life.


message 48: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments Yes, quite frequently. They don't always become stories, but often times I wake with the thought 'Wow! What a dream. That will make a great story.'

I had one like that just a few days ago, actually.


Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (Christa-RonPaul2012) | 1365 comments Oh really? I sometimes think all my best story originated as a dream.


message 50: by M (new)

M | 10155 comments I think dreams make great material for stories and poems.


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