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Need to Find a Graphic Artist to Help Finish the Penniman Manuscript

On April 18, 2016, I left my home at 4:00 am to catch a 5:30 am flight for Boston, Massachusetts, where I’d visit my daughter and her son. After four years of intense research and work, the manuscript on Penniman was finally 98% complete, and now it was time for a graphic artist to assemble the artwork and prepare the book for a printer.

An impressive history-loving group in Colonial Williamsburg had asked me to give my first public talk on Penniman on April 24th.

The morning of the 18th, I was running around the house getting ready for my trip to Boston when my husband asked, “Do you have a coat? It’s going to be cold in Boston.” When I said no, he handed me my favorite beige winter coat and said, “I don’t want you to get cold.” I gave him a big kiss and a hug and said, “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

He dropped me off at the airport and I gave him another big, long hug and then grabbed him and said, “In four days, we’ll be happy again.” He smiled and said, “Yes, in four days, we’ll be happy again.”

For several weeks, Attorney Ringer had been preparing for an upcoming trial involving the non-fatal shooting of a woman by a Norfolk cop. As the Chief Deputy City Attorney, it was his case, and he felt responsible for its successful outcome. The trial started on April 19th (Tuesday), and I kept reassuring him, “This will end, and we’ll be happy again and then you’ll retire 30 days later. It’s been a long road but we’re on the home stretch.” I shortened this refrain by saying, “In four days, we’ll be happy again.”

When he seemed especially tuned out, I’d sit down beside him with my laptop and show him pictures of other trips we’d taken. I told him, “We’ll go back there after you retire and I’ll teach you the fine art of traveling cheap and we’ll have a good time.” He said flatly, “I’m looking forward to that.”

As soon as he’d found out that I’d landed in Boston, he left his office at City Hall and committed suicide. Within an hour of landing in Boston, I received a phone call that my husband was dead, by his own hand. The day of my “big talk” in Willliamsburg turned out to be the day of my 63-year-old husband’s funeral.

Since then, I haven’t been able to look at the Penniman manuscript. Even now, it’s hard to look at these photos, but I know - after talking with other “suicide widows” (as we’re known) - that there comes a day when you have to push past the agonizing emotional and physical and spiritual pain and try to do one small thing. And yes, there is agonizing physical pain. I suffer from unrelenting and at times, crippling chest pain. It’s my constant companion.

Writing this blog and asking for help is my “one small thing” today.

This morning, after talking with “Leslie,” (a fellow writer and suicide widow), I realized it was time for me to climb back into Penniman and get this book finished. And that’s where I need some help. I’m in need of a graphic artist that can help me assemble the manuscript (22 chapters and 37 photos) into a print-ready document.

If you know of anyone who’s willing to help with this project, please leave a comment below.

Thanks so much.

To read more about Penniman, click here.

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The story of Penniman is an amazing one. Penniman was a boom town about six miles from Williamsburg (Virginia), where TNT was loaded into shells for The Great War.

The story of Penniman is an amazing one. Penniman was a boom town about six miles from Williamsburg (Virginia), where TNT was loaded into shells for The Great War. This is a picture of one of the shell-loading lines, courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.

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One of the little bungalows at Penniman, named The DuPont. This very model is what drew me into this story of Penniman. After Penniman closed, 18 of these houses were taken to Norfolk by barge.

The little bungalows at Penniman were built at several DuPont sites, and were named "The DuPont." These hipped-roof bungalows sat near the York River (not far from where Cornwallis surrendered). This very model is what drew me into this story of Penniman. After Penniman closed, 18 of these houses were taken to Norfolk by barge. Photo is courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.

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This photo is from the Norfolk tax assessors office. It is from 1949, and shows The DuPont in largely original condition.

This photo is from the Norfolk tax assessor's office. It is from 1949, and shows "The DuPont" in largely original condition.

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The people of Penniman are part of what make the story so compelling. There was a 312-man army detachment at Penniman known as The Shell Inspectors. It was their job to make sure that, at every point and turn, the shells were correctly loaded and stored.

The people of Penniman are part of what make the story so compelling. There was a 312-man army detachment at Penniman known as The Shell Inspectors. It was their job to make sure that, at every point and turn, the shells were correctly loaded and stored.

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It is the people of Penniman that make the story come alive.

It is the people of Penniman that make the story come alive. More than 50% of the civilian employees at Penniman were women. They're shown here at the train depot within Penniman, where shells were shipped out on their way to the front. Photo is courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.

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A woman worker loads explosive charges into a shell.

Dr. John Henderson (far right) sits with other medical personnel at the Penniman Hospital. Photo is courtesy of the Henderson Family. The names of the other workers are lost to history.

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More than 900 wheelbarrows were purchased for the building of Penniman, and a large number of African-Americans were employed in its construction and day-to-day production. Photo is courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.

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smoke

Those double doors require only a push to open, and on the other side is a long chute, leading to the ground.

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See those long chutes?

See those long chutes? Photo is courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.

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Way

Melvin Wayne Ringer, 1953 - 2016

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To read more about Penniman, click here.

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  1. January 7th, 2017 at 12:47 | #1

    I would be the first to offer help if only I were a graphic artist.

    I’m happy to see that you have picked up the Penniman project again.

    There’s writing, blogging, researching and of course, music. :)

  2. Carolyn Hancock
    January 7th, 2017 at 16:31 | #2

    Rosemary, I am so glad to see you back. I am keeping you in my prayers as you go through these days that are hard.

    Please know that I think of you often. Looking forward to your book whenever it is the right time. Sending you love.

  3. Karen Marmaras
    January 7th, 2017 at 18:07 | #3

    Rosemary, I can help you.

  4. Janice Pappas
    January 8th, 2017 at 00:23 | #4

    I don’t know if you remember me - I ‘met’ you on a forum (KTT2) years ago and we used to converse about Sears Homes.

    I have two of your Sears Homes books autographed by you and I also own the book that you wrote about online dating (I think that my cousin, Jim, whom you met at one time might have been #13 in that book…. ;-)

    My heart went out to you when I read about your husband’s passing…it’s tragic beyond words and I can’t find the words to express my condolences.

    My cousin’s daughter, who is a graphic artist, lives in Norfolk.

    I told her about you about a year ago when she expressed an interest in Sears Homes - I don’t know if you ever connected with her, but she MIGHT be able to help you with the graphic work.

    I haven’t spoken to her about it yet and it might be a bad time for her because she is expecting her first child in February and will, understandably, be very busy, but I will bring it up to her.

    I don’t know if she has the skills that you need, but I will talk to her about it.

    If you could email me any information about what you need, I’ll convey it to her. Please take care!

  5. Susan Schnittger
    January 8th, 2017 at 18:11 | #5

    Welcome back. It warms my heart to see you back among us.

    Thanks for the blog. I look forward to your book.

    The last picture is such a fine one. What a handsome fellow.

    Hope you feel better.

    Sue

  6. Linda Ramsey
    January 8th, 2017 at 22:47 | #6

    Rosemary,

    I have thought of you so many times since I heard about Wayne, but I was unsure how to reach out to you.

    I met you and Wayne briefly at the presentation you did in Waynesboro, Virginia.

    I am so sorry for what happened and only hope you have some idea of the why.

    We lost my father-in-law the same way and having some idea of the why helped us deal with his loss.

    Please take care of yourself and know that others are thinking of you and wishing you love and peace.

    Linda Ramsey
    Staunton, VA

  7. January 12th, 2017 at 07:26 | #7

    @Karen Marmaras
    Karen, I sent you an email. Did you receive it?

  8. January 15th, 2017 at 17:46 | #8

    I can help! Message me!

  9. January 16th, 2017 at 16:48 | #9

    Hi Rosemary, we don’t know each other. I clicked on the link to your blog from the Sears Houses Facebook page while I was doing some research on Foursquare Sears homes. I’m sorry for your loss.

    I am a graphic designer and have done several books like yours and would be glad to give you a quote if you are still looking for someone to work on it. — Jeanne Gomoll

  10. Nikki
    February 25th, 2017 at 18:17 | #10

    I stumbled across this wonderful site while searching for information on the house I am purchasing (a Sears Sunlight).

    I am so sorry for your tremendous loss, and I hope that working on the Penniman book will help you heal and move forward. My heart goes out to you.

  11. Stephanie Rose
    March 19th, 2017 at 13:06 | #11

    Hello Rose -

    Earlier today after perusing the wealth of information your site offers, I left a comment and questions about a project I am working on.

    I had not yet read about your past year and Wayne’s death.

    Now I wish I could retract my questions for you and just say how sorry I am about this loss.

    I hope you find healing and peace.

  12. March 19th, 2017 at 21:00 | #12

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for the kind words. I visit this site once a day to moderate the comments, but I haven’t done too well on answering the questions. I can hardly believe it’s been 11 months since Wayne killed himself. On one hand, it feels like the entire marriage was something I dreamed up, and on the other hand, it feels like it was last weekend that he kissed me good-bye at the airport.

    I’m in a Facebook group called “Suicide Widows” and it’s been very helpful. Losing a spouse to suicide is a different kind of loss, and invokes a spiritual/emotional/mental pain that is worse than almost any other loss, except for murder.

    According to one article I read, the stress experienced by a suicide widow is on par with that of someone emerging from a concentration camp. It is also very isolating, which just compounds the stress.

    For the most part, I don’t go out in public too much. People don’t know what to say, or they say things that they shouldn’t. I do my best and pretend to be normal, but the facade is so thin and it wears off way too easily.

    Months ago, I’d just spend my mornings sitting in an empty church pew somewhere and staring into space, trying desperately to find some bit of security or peace. One day, a church staff member sat with me, and I started to sob. She said very little, but she held me while I cried, and then started to cry with me. That was one of the most compassionate acts I’ve ever experienced.

    Even if folks don’t know what to say, sometimes just showing up and holding someone while they weep is a good thing to do.

    Thanks again for the kind words.

  13. Lora
    May 4th, 2017 at 11:00 | #13

    Hello,

    I see several offers of assistance on your Penniman book, but no indication that you’ve been able to proceed with your book.

    I work with an architectural historian, preparing his books for publication.

    If you are still in need of assistance, please write to me.

    My deepest sympathies for your loss. You’ve just ended your “year of firsts.”

    I thought, after my year of firsts (my dad and mentor died, which admittedly is not the same), that things would get easier. I’m not so sure about “easier,” but there are more days when putting one foot in front of the other comes a little more readily.

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