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Wheels of THE DAWN

Summer 2024

One of the more intriguing and interesting aspects of THE DAWN is the automotive world of the 1930s and 1940s.  The auto-industry of that epoch was not very far removed from the revolutionary wheels of Henry Ford.  In America, the motor car was still a luxury item.


From about 2006 (as my penned notes indicate) through 2009, I was busily gathering facts and info on the ways in which the majority of lower- and middle-class people of England and France lived, ate, spoke, dressed, and drove — or rode in — transportation 70 years ago.


I learned that a closet was roughly the size of the kitchen pantry in my Peach House (where I wrote this Master Book), and of closets in my childhood home.  I reconfirmed my knowledge that owning a brand-new set of wheels, especially during the Great Depression, and well into the 1960s, was a rarity for most non-affluent Americans.  Such was the case during my girlhood and somewhat into my adult years.


By the 2000s, the DINKS (double-income married people) in the USA had succeeded in driving up the price of just about everything, from clothes, to the costs of a college education, to owning a house, to purchasing that All-American Automobile, which had become a commodity not Made in the USA.

The Family Car, which had been an investment/expenditure before the insanity of subprime spending began, sometime during the late 1990s — egregiously evolved into The Family of Cars.  Three or four autos, at least one truck, and maybe an SUV, parked outside the House with The Crushing Mortgage, became the norm, which was not normal.


Here, in California, the motor-bonanza was huge!  It was a gold mine for the millenium of EPA-approved gas-guzzlers, even with the electric-car mind disorder.  The term, Daily Driver, distinguished the lowly set of wheels tasked with the daily commute from the Fun Mobiles.  And any respectable adult living crazily, beyond his means, had to own at least 4, a bare minimum of 3, of the Adult Hot Wheels.

I have observed, online, Placer County real estate listings for houses, on properties of two to four acres, that are dwarfed by the Automobile Stable.  The coach-house is typically constructed of corrugated metal.  An airplane hangar cannot compete with the square footage that was devoted during the past 30 years to housing vehicles that got hoarded more than used.  With the punitive price of gas, the 6-vehicle family, which was all-the-rage, has been eliminated from the California landscape.  There’s just rage now.


I did not take part in providing for the children a duplicate set of whatever The Parents possessed.  The cash cow of The Home was the subprime-spending source of that quick cash, with a 2nd, or 3rd, taken out on The Mortgage.

Indeed, watching friends, acquaintances and neighbors purchase conspicuously beyond their means was one driver in my seeking respite, and refuge, in the past of France during her Dark Years.  To some extent, I was re-experiencing, with amazement and delight, the spartan conditions that comprised my years of growing up in New Jersey.  I felt an inspirational renewal of hard-earned perseverance.  I followed the guiding light of faith in my Maker.  The Founder of All sustained me amidst the pessimism, impatience, griping and petty complaints coming from the over-indulged and under-appreciative adults, groaning about the Great Recession.

Sometime during 2006, I wrote a quote in the front of my Nottingham Journal, which is posted herein. Those words inspire me still, regardless of the day, or night, ahead of me.

Blocking out the sunlight of life is the work of bitter people who refuse to see the dawn appear, after the darkness of the night yields to that sublime radiance.  The cynics among us seem to take a perverse pleasure in obstructing pathways to hope, freedom, even the chance to imagine a brighter day.


While I wrote THE DAWN, from 2008-2011, I took a heart-felt pleasure in the pleasure that my characters felt over the rather unique and, for me, unforgettable vehicles driven by Arthur Carmichael, Guillaume de Vallon, and Emile Marais.

In West Sussex, England, Colonel Arthur Carmichael initially drove “Tilly”.  Tilly was a dilly of an antique.  This dilapidated British transport vehicle was a lightweight utility car that symbolized the dismal state of military readiness in the England of 1940.


Tilly got replaced one eventful weekend by the Humber Box.  During World War II, the Humber Heavy Utility Car became the definitive staff and command car for the British Army at all levels of command. This four-wheel drive utility motor car was manufactured, quickly, on a massive scale in the UK during the war.  The strong durable pressed steel body was a work of art in automotive design of that time, or any time.  The Humber Box was timeless, which is the hallmark of a Classic.

The Delahaye Truck was of infinite fascination to me.  The Delahaye company was founded in 1894, in Tours, France, by Emile Delahaye (the name of my character, however, was not inspired by this Frenchman, but by a distant ancestor).  Initially, a limited line of luxury cars was produced, along with trucks, utility and commercial vehicles, buses, fire-trucks.

The production models ran quite a gamut, and the company benefited from the needed innovations for so much variation among its designs.  In 1932, Delahaye established a racing department, and the cars took off!

Races were won, records set. France was vaulted into the sports-racing stratosphere.

The German occupation of France during World War II brought financial reverses to this French company which was subsequently (in 1954) taken over by — what else? — its arch rival, Hotchkiss.  The Delahaye Company closed forever at the end of 1954.  The name, however, remains as one of luxurious and innovative quality, sleek design, and superb automotive workmanship.

All three men, Emile, Guillaume, and Arthur, drive the Delahaye truck throughout Provence.  I became a bit attached to this beautiful « voiture 1 tonne », and was sorry to have to say goodbye to it at Novel’s End!  I used one image as wallpaper for my laptop for a while before putting those wheels away!

The 1938 black Citroën driven by Guillaume de Vallon is the source of much (beaucoup) anxiety throughout this novel.  For, you see, this black front-wheel drive —  traction avant — is highly prized by the Nazis.  Guillaume just happens to own the supreme Nazi machine!

The sense of fear, horror and outright panic caused by the sight of The 1938 Black Citroën is best described in one scene that includes Arthur (re-cast as Artur in France):

The Scream by Edvard Munch.

The Scream has endured a series of screams when it comes to burglary. There are four versions of this painting by Munch, along with a pastel. Two paintings were pinched, one in 1994 from the National Gallery in Oslo; and one in 2004 from the Munch Museum in Oslo. They were eventually recovered, and the museums installed major upgrades in security. The pastel version, never stolen, sold in 2012 for a phenomenal $119.9 million, ranking it high on the exorbitant artwork price list.

The motives for the heists remain unknown. Perhaps the sight of the terror-struck figure gave the thieves the willies.

Giving the willies to the inhabitants of Roussillon is the unexpected effect of Guillaume driving his beautiful black sedan.  He will soon enough be riding a dark blue bicycle with brilliant chrome — une bicyclette bleu foncé avec chromage brillant — that Artur eyes with deep admiration, and with much less trepidation.

The wheels of THE DAWN continue to roll toward liberty, in any era, in any nation.  The movement of freedom cannot be thwarted or stopped by petty tyrants who are inevitably replaced by other petty tyrants.  The end of World War II did not put an end to the vicious desire by certain specimens among mankind to control the lives, yea, the souls, of others.

As I work on the final translation of THE DAWN into L’AUBE, the largest nation of the former Soviet Union, now known simply as Russia, has, once again, reared its ugly head on the world stage, seeking conquest to re-build an empire that fell apart more than thirty years ago.

The immediate post-Cold War world of 1990/1992 was the fertile soil in which THE DAWN first took root, in a serious and tangible way.  By 2006, I, or My Muse, or maybe both of us, set down tracks for the wheels of NOTTINGHAM to turn toward a two-volume novel entitled THE DAWN.

One thing is forever certain about this world, in war or in peace, there are people who seek to destroy, and there are people who seek to rise above that destruction.  There are those who court chaos and malevolence, subsisting self-righteously in the mire of evil.  And there are those who aspire toward goodness, truth, respite. and redemption, with patience and perseverance winning out over disappointment and dejection.

This tale of treachery and timeless heroism unfolds, like the forbidden Tricolore, against the backdrop of war, death, love, birth, history, and the illusion of peace.  The wheels of THE DAWN can transport your heart and your mind to that bountiful land of infinite possibilities where hope leads the way into the future.  It’s a territory where inspiration is but one of the richest of rewards for the reader.


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