Good Old George
Root, Petal, Thorn traces the stories of five fascinating women who inhabit the same historic home in Salt Lake City over the course of a century — braided stories of love, heartbreak, and courage connect the women, even across generations.
George Pearson is the only person mentioned in ROOT, PETAL, THORN who is real. Not just based on a real person but an actual across-the-street neighbor of the same name. He was dubbed the "Mayor" of our street (see photo) and was the guy who kept an eye on all comings and goings. He was never too busy for a chat on the porch, he brought in the bins after the garbage truck rattled by, he knew if your kids were sick, he caught your dog when it escaped through the hole in the fence, he applauded the sidewalk chalk-art drawn by your diligently creative daughter. And he lived in the same house for over fifty years.
Here and there, in a front porch conversation, he'd mention something about my house. Not a full-blown story, just a tendril of a detail about someone from before. Strangely, at first, I didn't want to know. MY house, I recoiled at his comment. MINE. It was where I brought my children after they were born, where I wept, and where I loved. But George, in one or two off-hand comments, told me that it wasn't always mine, nor would it always belong to me.
Before I had a chance to really dig into his stories, I had three children under age five tugging at my legs. And not long after that, George was gone. As the new owner of George's house painted the door a trendy-red I stood at my own window and cried. How many times had George passed over the threshold to wave good-bye as his son skipped toward the elementary, to meet with a neighbor, to go to work? Now I would never have the chance to ask him what the street looked like when he moved in, and who had once occupied my home. After fifty years of loving his house, of loving a street, of living a life, George was gone. And yet, his house remained.
It was the fleeting nature of time. The permanence of place and the impermanence of people. So when I decided I would finally write the book that had been hiding in the corners of my imagination, I read a piece of advice about starting with something you know. I knew my house. I loved my house. I could describe something I looked at every day. With George on my mind, I began.
8/18/2016 11:42:59 am
What a fabulous tribute to my father, makes me proud to have known him; I can't wait to read the book. I am a new fan of your blog, definitely has brought back memories of my early years (Granite Furniture, Westminster)...
8/19/2016 08:12:55 am
Thank you Sandy! I'm so glad we connected. I've received emails from several members of your family telling me more about George. Such fun! I look forward to you reading the book. I'd love to hear what you think!
Debra Pearson Ritzwoller
9/29/2016 11:03:03 pm
I picked up this novel at the Tattered Cover book store (an independent book store) IN THE DENVER AIRPORT(not SLC) on my way to LA. It was 'front at center' of the book store, and I picked in up, in part, because it was set in "an old SLC neighborhood.."
debra pearson ritzwoller
9/29/2016 10:55:44 pm
OMG - I pick- up this book on Sunday and tonight found the link (pg 56) to your dad. Just sent a blast email to the fam who I have email addresses for. Please keep in touch! love you! debbie
9/30/2016 10:51:16 am
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