Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged. Missing me one place, search another. I stop somewhere waiting for you. Walt Whitman
To purchase a copy of
...the sway of the trolley, the unusual passenger, the truck's raspy muffler, the woman's torn dress and her own inability to help. Frances is determined to let the details of the disturbing incident go. She's certain that by Monday her life will return to normal and the wrung-out feeling inside will be gone. Yet she soon finds that neither the sound of her typewriter nor the lunchroom chatter will erase the dying woman's final request: "Find Hollis."
FINDING HOLLIS, a novel set in 1944 in North Minneapolis, is a journey in search of more than just a name. Within it the threads of three separate worlds become interwoven–first by circumstance, then by understanding.
From Finding Hollis
Frances could not recall a colored woman ever riding this line. Most of the black people, and there were not many, lived in small pockets in other parts of the city. She took note of the woman’s perfectly ironed dress and, it being a Friday evening, was tempted to assume the woman was off to some place intriguing. Yet Frances was unable to imagine just where that might be.
Then the trolley jerked into motion.
The man next to her shifted in his seat, lifting his hat as he ran his fingers through his hair, the scent of pomade growing stronger. She had noticed the mild fragrance when she first boarded the streetcar, how it mixed with the evening air that drifted in through the one open window. Advertisements for shoe polish and chewing gum gleamed above the heads of the
many passengers, familiar people she almost knew. On her left, a lady holding a sack of beets hummed quietly and across the way a boy squirmed in his mother’s lap, a tuft of blonde hair falling across his forehead. A shaft of sunlight skirted and then held in an unsteady line across the floor, making everything in its slim path shimmer and dance. Frances prided herself on her keen observation of details.
Now as they turned onto Broadway, she looked out at the sidewalks strewn with people bustling between storefronts and parked cars, eager to get home to their evening meal, paying no mind to the passing trolley with its unusual rider, nor to an old pickup truck moving along the avenue. Passing Pearson’s Shoe Store, Frances spotted its owner, one knee against the dull hardwood floor, helping a customer.
This was her stop.
She clutched her sweater and got up. She took notice of the sunlight now streaming in honey-like through the front windows then turned her full attention to the back of the
car, curious about the woman who had also begun to move toward the door. By the time they reached their mutual destination, Frances found herself standing just behind her. As she waited, she took in the woman’s hair pinned up
neatly, her stockings, the sensible black shoes, the matching gray handbag with a pearl-colored latch. But what was most impressive was how firmly her shoulders maintained a line and her neck held her head so gracefully. Frances straightened her own torso, drawing herself up taller, and then allowed her gaze to linger on the woman’s skin, the back of her neck and then her arm. A creamy brown color that was really no more than a few shades darker than her own. She studied the woman’s gray dress, realizing she had mistaken a pattern of tiny sailboats on a choppy sea for yellow flowers.
The door began to open and the woman reached for the rail. The grace and composure captured in her posture gave way, for a brief moment before Frances’ eye, to an underlying
sense of uncertainty as her hand, extended in mid-air, trembled. Finally, just as the squeaking sound of the door ceased, she seized the metal rail, leaning into it as she stepped down.
When she released her grip, Frances watched the yellow sailboats sink into the street, thinking she had discerned something small but significant about the stranger. This last thought was shattered by what happened next…