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I knew what a train was, but I didn't know how to catch one . . .  


Padgett Gerler vividly captures the olden days of the South in this genuine story centered on her mother’s coming-of age in the early 20th century. Similar in style to the classic works of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Gerler’s latest is an elegy to her familial roots as she transports the reader to a Southern yesteryear in only the way she can do, authentically, brilliantly, and with a big-heartedness that has become her signature style.


– Donna Everhart, Author of The Saints of Swallow Hill 





Over one hundred years before COVID19, the flu pandemic of 1918 sweeps through Georgetown, South Carolina, claiming the life of young, pregnant Alice Virginia Freeman Pow. Alice’s little girls, three-year-old Tante and five-year-old Dixie, board the train for Savannah, Georgia to live with their grandmother, Aunt Sissy, leaving their beloved father alone in Georgetown. When, after seven years, Daddy remarries, Tante and Dixie return to their father and his new wife, losing yet another mother, Aunt Sissy. Shortly after the girls’ arrival, The Great Depression engulfs the country, followed closely by Daddy’s sudden and tragic illness. Tante equates train rides with tragedy and loss, but, despite the heartache of separation and the uncertainty that awaits at the end of each journey, Tante recalls a childhood of family who loves her.



When I was three, I tumbled down the stairs. My mama reached through the spindles and grabbed my arm, breaking my fall. She smiled at me and said, “Don’t be frightened, Tante. Mama’s got you.”

Then she died. Not because of my fall, but because of the flu.

As the flu pandemic of 1918 spread throughout the world, it did not spare our small coastal town of Georgetown, South Carolina. While it attacked the population of Georgetown randomly, it infected all the pregnant women. All of them died.

My mama was pregnant.