The second book in the Ridgely Rails Legacy series is a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Great War and features Ella Mae’s daughter, Sophie. It begins in 1915, when she is only fifteen years old and the community club, Band of Mercy, unveils the fountain near the railroad station for which they had been collecting funds and planning with great dedication. The occasion was a highlight in the small town, complete with a parade, songs, and speeches.
As a work of historical fiction, the novel is based on national and state history, as well as local events recorded in the newspapers preserved by Tommy Rampmeyer and obtained from the Ridgely Historical Society. The fountain remains today where it was placed in May of the second year of World War One.
The large iron fountain was embellished with the raised picture of a horse on the front, beneath which was a large tub with four separate canisters for the animals to drink from. At the base, on either side of it, were small bowls for dogs. And at the top, on the left-hand side, was a spigot exclusively for humans. On the rear of the fountain is a plate bearing the inscription: “Erected in the name of Love and Mercy for all God’s creatures.”
Such platitudes would not have meant so much if across the ocean there wasn’t a horrible war waging which had taken the lives of thousands upon thousands of men and would take the lives of many more before it ended. In the face of unspeakable hatred and brutality this fountain was a monument to celebrate kindness, and a statement of hope that one day peace would reign again.”
I don’t want to give the plot away, but the war would change the course of Sophie’s life as it did for so many others. Her new path includes joining Alice Paul in the fight for suffrage and participating in the Watchfire Demonstrations in D.C., which results in her being jailed and learning firsthand that freedom and democracy are noble words, but not always lived out in the same way they are preached.
A romance story which captures the struggles of the era and the impact it had on the families of the Eastern Shore, ALONG THE WAY also demonstrates that kindness, courage, and determination can make the world a better place. Following is the back cover synopsis:
It may be forever we part, little girl,
And it may be for only a while.
But if fight, Dear, we must, Then in God is our trust.
So, send me away with a smile.
-- John McCormack, 1917
Sophie is seventeen when the United States joins the Great War and the mandatory conscription is enacted. All her dreams hang in the balance when her fiancé is drafted and sent to France to fight in the trenches.
Searching for comfort and purpose, Sophie turns to her love of music, and through it, finds more than she ever expected. As she discovers new strength, Sophie feels compelled to take on a greater cause. While the young men are battling overseas in the name of democracy, she joins the crusade at home for women to have a voice in their government.
Persevering through her own personal fears and losses, Sophie clings to the hope that the world—and her life—will one day be at peace again.