Passages Between the Columns
Passages Between the Columns
Volume Three
Perfect Bound Softcover
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The Prichard family’s true-to-life story continues in Passages Between the Columns. Their paper dream fulfilled, Winn and Hope Prichard press on in their small town print shop.

Winn’s weekly editorials in The Woodsboro News range from local items to expressing his fiery opinions of state and national issues in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Volume three accurately portrays a couple’s endurance to keep their dream from evaporating with the dawn of trials they never imagined. They realize that God brought them together and miraculously opened the way for them to attain their aspiration of publishing a newspaper. Now they experience the highs and lows of the life they prayed for.

Winn and Hope’s love endures though Winn can’t, or won’t, give up his craving for alcohol. Unexpected appearances of troublesome relatives cause upheaval for Hope. The familiar family members add a mixture of drama and heartfelt love.

A wide spectrum of new characters that bring humor into the series is introduced. The quirky townsfolk will bring a smile and a nod of recognition of someone you know.

Each week Winn writes an editorial, and each week the Prichards encounter unexpected passages between the columns.

About midnight, Winn was cleaning ink off the press when the bell over the front door jangled. In the tiny burg of Woodsboro, doors were seldom locked. Wiping his hands, Winn walked toward the front and encountered two men in overcoats with their fedoras pulled low. One stayed by the door and the other moved swiftly around the counter. Taken aback, Winn willed his face to appear calm and his voice to sound friendly. “Howdy. Y’all are out mighty late on a cold night. What can I do for you?” The man approached Winn. “We heard about your printing plant and the nice work you do here.” An uncomfortable tingling inched up Winn’s spine. He noticed the man by the door looking up and down the street. “I do try to run an A-one shop.” “That’s exactly what we’re looking for.” A forced smile didn’t make it to the stranger’s eyes. Winn eyed him warily. “I was just about to lock up. It’s been a long day. Maybe y’all can come back tomorrow.” “No can do. What we need has to be done now.” The man reached inside his coat and pulled out a small printing plate of simulated twenty dollar bills. “Mister, you picked the wrong printing plant. Both of you need to turn around and head right out the door.” “We’re prepared to pay one hundred dollars if you get this on your press right now and print as many sheets as possible in thirty minutes.” “No deal. I don’t care if you pay me double that in real money.” Winn’s back was up now like a cat facing its foe. “Get out.” The man turned to look at the one at the door who nodded. Turning back to Winn, the man pulled a revolver from his coat pocket and aimed it at his chest. With a sneer that made his lip curl, the crook said, “I asked you—now I’m telling you. Start inking that press.” Winn’s adrenaline level was as high at the old wooden beams overhead. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a metal composing stick within reach on the worktable. “As you said—no can do. I’ll not use what God has given me to print money. That would be a bigger sin than committing a felony. Now, like I said—get out.” Staunch and unflinching, he remained with his eyes riveted on the man. After the longest moment Winn had endured in many years, the man at the door said, “Come on, Dick, he ain’t gonna co-operate. Let’s get outta here.” Beads of sweat popped out on Dick’s forehead. He held the plate in one hand and the gun in the other. “No, if he won’t do it, I will.” His eyes shifted to his partner at the door just as loud laughter was heard from a car careening in front of the shop. He stood frozen as the sound floated down Wood Avenue. Impulse took over and in a flash Winn seized the moment to grab the composing stick and smash it hard against the hand holding the gun. Before Dick could react, Winn slugged him in the stomach. “You’re not going to touch my press.” Ready to grab the gun, Winn was surprised when the hoodlum hunched forward in pain and backed away. As if stunned, Dick quickly tucked the gun into his pocket and covered the plate with his coat. Still bent over, he hurried toward the front and followed his partner out the door. Winn’s taut nerves eased when he heard a car speed away. Realizing he had been holding his breath, he bent forward with hands on his thighs and exhaled. “Whew!” Wiping his brow with the rag in his hand, he walked to the telephone. He waited until Rosalie sleepily said, “Number, please?” “Rosalie, this is Winn. Get me Sheriff Bagley.” He was surprised when she didn’t ask questions but rang the station immediately. “Hello, Sheriff? This is Winn over at the print shop. I just had a couple of thugs try to get me to print some counterfeit plates.” He looked out the front door and saw Rosalie in the telephone office across the street peering out her window. “Yeah, Sheriff, come on over.” He went to the bathroom to wash up. Getting a glimpse in the mirror, he laughed, expelling built-up nervousness. Earlier, when he wiped his brow with the dirty rag, it left a black smudge over his eyebrows. Dog-tired now, he trudged back into the shop where a can of kerosene was kept on the floor behind the press. Dampening a clean cloth with the kerosene, he swiped it across his forehead. The stale odor of a cigar entered the office before the sheriff. Winn managed a weak smile. “Hello, Bagley, sorry to get you out so late, but thought I better report it tonight.”

“Right. So what happened?” He took off his hat and plopped it on the desk. Pulling out the desk chair, Winn pointed to the other seat. “Sit down and I’ll tell you all I can.” He proceeded to give details of the encounter. “I didn’t get a good look at the plate, but from what I could see, it looked pretty professional—the front and back of two twenties. The guy by the door called the other one Dick. That’s about all I can think of right now.” With a weak laugh, he said, “Sure glad Dick didn’t fight back or shoot. They ran out of here like a couple of amateur pantywaists.” Bagley had been taking notes and pulled the thick cigar out of his mouth. The end of it was chewed disgustingly flat and soft. “All right, I’ll put out a bulletin for the state police to alert all printing companies to be on the lookout for these jokers.” He leaned back. “You’ve given me a pretty good description of the one who pulled the gun on you. I might have some mug shots for you to look at and see if you can identify him. Did you get a close look at the gun? What kind was it?” “Humph, as close a look as I ever want to get. I don’t know a Derringer from a water pistol.” Bagley’s eyes squinted. “Maybe it was a water pistol.” “Ah, now, don’t diminish my bravery by insinuating I stood my ground against a water gun.” Picking up his hat, he laughed. “No, I don’t doubt he had a revolver. All crooks pack a pistol whether they’re genuine tough guys or not. I’ll probably be getting in touch with you later.” He stood and looked around as if it just dawned on him that Winn was alone. “Hope and the boys sleeping through all this?” Pushing back from the desk, Winn said, “No, they’re not here, thank God. Hope and the boys went to visit her folks for the weekend. They caught the afternoon train to Hempstead.” “Well, her timing was good. Glad they didn’t have to witness such messy goings-on. Then again, if Hope was here, she probably would’ve run ‘um off with a yardstick.” Winn laughed. “And be able to give you a good description of everything about them.”

Joyce Richards Case was fourteen when she began writing for her family’s weekly newspaper in Texas. Her interest in the Great Depression era, World War II, and the folks of that generation inspire Joyce’s endearing novels. Stories passed down to her of the trials and triumphs of life in small town America has given Joyce a treasure of what she likes to call “fiction wrapped around fact.”

She and her husband, Jerold, live in south Louisiana.


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