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  • R.L. Merrill

#FriendyFriday with my boy!


I am a public school teacher. I believe good attendance is important for success in school. I also believe that hands-on experiences outside of school are invaluable, so today, my son and I went on an adventure. I kept him out of school because our district has all of the 8th graders take the PSAT each year. Now, my son is 12 years old. He hasn't been exposed to all of the material on the test, especially since he's not in accelerated math, so taking the test would have likely produced anxiety for him. His sister, who was in accelerated math in 8th grade, also didn't take the test. I let her go work at the horse barn that day and she learned a lot spending the day with her trainers. My son and I both share a love of history, so I had high hopes he would enjoy our adventure.

We started off our day on Thursday with a matinee of the latest Goosebumps film, which was okay, not as good as the first. Then we took a walk across the street to check out a super cool local history museum. The Hayward Area Historical Society has done a great job preserving some of our local history as well as providing a wonderful gallery for local artists.


My son and I wandered the local history section, getting a kick out of the film of teens from the forties and aerial views of our neighborhood when construction began after the war. They had displays showing the area's history as an agricultural area, which is hard to imagine now that it has become a largely urban area. There were exhibits showing local rodeo champions, high school sports teams, and even memorabilia from the original California State University, Hayward. Many of us who'd attended school there, including me for my Master's and my mom for her Bachelor's, were disappointed when they decided to change the name to Cal State East Bay, and it was interesting to see campaign posters from those who fought and ultimately lost the bid to rename the school.

The next exhibit we went into was on the local impact of the Japanese Internment. So many local families were stripped of their belongings, land and businesses because of actions of our government. It's easy to look back and say this will never happen again, until you turn on the news.

When we finished, we signed the log book. My son wrote a very heartfelt message to the survivors and it reminded me of what an awesome human being he really is, and how much I hope that the misery of middle school doesn't take that away from him forever. He turned and gave me a big hug before we left the room.



We next went to see the Dia De Los Muertos displays and I really felt the spirit people put into their art and their altars, or ofrendas.We were able to add to a mural to remember our loved ones. I put up a butterfly for my aunt Vera and my son put one up for my father who passed away when he was six years old. It's had a profound impact on him, so it was nice that he was able to remember him in this special way. I found work by an old colleague, Pete Langenbach, who used to teach middle schoolers art, and recalled what a wonderful treasure he and his wife are for our community. It was great to see his art, including a piece that was a remembrance of those lost in Hurricane Maria.

After we paid our respects to the art, artists, and loved ones, we left the gallery, renewed our membership in the Hayward Area Historical Society. One of my favorite places in the area is the historic Meek Mansion, which I've talked about before and even gone live on Facebook from the place, and the HAHS is responsible for ongoing restoration of the beautiful house and grounds. My son and I each got pendants to wear that have a picture of the house and I bought a book with a listing for many other local historical homes. I'll be checking these out for sure. We thanked the museum staff and continued our adventure.

B Street in Hayward, which if you've read The Rock Season or Road Trip, or even Salty and Sweet you'll recall is an historic downtown area. When I say historic, you'll find everything from empty banks and professional organization buildings that haven't been used in decades to shops and restaurants which have thrived despite economic downturns in the area. You'll also find entrepreneurship and the small-town spirit shining through in super cool shops like Vintage Alley, Books on B, and The Music Depot. All of the shopkeepers go out of their way to make your visit special, and my son and I had a great time strolling through the shops and walking around exploring. We ate burgers at Rockit Char Grill and then contemplated checking out the new rolled ice cream shop there called Frostie Rolls but realized we needed a raincheck. We were way too full.

The best part of the day was driving home when my son said, "This was a really great day, Mom." He hasn't said that for awhile. I was thrilled to have a day with him where I got to see him smiling. And right now, as I write this, he's trying to stretch his back and is laughing hysterically. Music to my ears.

Hug your kids, tell them you love them and you're proud of them every day. Sometimes, that's the best you can do. When you have the chance, take them on an adventure. And when life is rough and you are plum out of hope, listen to your kids laugh. It really is the best medicine.

I'd also like to share with you a blog post I contributed to Love Romance Reads this week, which you can find here. I had a blast writing about spooky adventures, creepy experiences, and excellent paranormal books. I hope you enjoy. And on Monday, October 29th, I'd love for you to join me on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words where we'll be revealing the cover for Typhoon Toby! I can't wait for you all to read about Hurricane Reese's best friend and partner in the music biz. You can also preorder Typhoon Toby here. And one last link, the pre-order link for the Worst Holiday Ever anthology, out November 15th! It was so much fun to work on this project, I hope you'll celebrate the holidays with us!

Stay Tuned for more Rock 'n' Romance...

#DiaDeLosMuertos #HaywardAreaHistoricalSociety #PeteLangenbach #WorstHolidayEver #Amazon #DreamspinnerPress #scatteredthoughtsandroguewords #Thanksgivingromance #LoveRomanceReads #VintageAlley #BooksonB #TheMusicDepot #RockitCharGrill #FrostieRolls #MeekMansion #JapaneseInternment #CaliforniaStateUniversityHayward #BStreetHayward #Hurricane #HurricaneReese #TyphoonToby #TheRockSeason #RoadTrip #SummerFair #SaltyandSweet

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