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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

"If you combined the lyricism of Annie Dillard, the vision of Aldo Leopold, and the gentle but tough-minded optimism of Frank McCourt, you might come close to Amy Lou Jenkins.Tom Bissell author of The Father of All Things 

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Mel Miskimen

Read about what Mel has been up to since the release of her book.

I've always been funny, even when I'm not trying to be, which is what got me in a lot of trouble with the nuns and various sets of parents -- friends, boyfriends, etc. Okay, so what? What does one do with funny? Well, one becomes the back-up girlfriend (i.e. the one with the good personality), the life of the party (that's why I tend to get invited to the dullest events, ever!) or one could try Stand-Up comedy (I did, and it was a road littered with people who have serious issues -- I mean Serious Issues.)


So, I decided to write and write and write and write. About stuff I knew -- growing up with a Cop for a father, my weird relatives, my quirky neighborhood, my kids (not my husband -- that's just too easy) and pretty soon I had a lot of essays that led to a book and a gig on Wisconsin Public Radio. And so far...so good.

 

Cop's Kid: A Milwaukee Memoir  

B-Day, as it came to be known, finally arrived. It was a Friday. A school day. I identified with Cinderella as I watched Dad get ready for work. Holster, check. Gun, check. Billy club, check. Handcuffs, check. . . . Saturday morning I got up early. Dad was already gone. Back to work. Ushering the Beatles out of town. On the table . . . there were two small bars of soap, slightly used, the words "Coach House Inn" still legible. One book of matches with four missing. And a note from Dad, "From their room." . . . No one else's dad comes home from work with something that might, just might, have been intimate with a Beatle.

Growing up, Mel Miskimen thought that a gun and handcuffs on the kitchen table were as normal as a gallon of milk and a loaf of Mrs. Karl's bread. Her father, a Milwaukee cop for almost forty years was part Super Hero (He simply held up his hand and three lanes of traffic came to a screeching halt) and part Supreme Being (He could be anywhere at anytime. I never knew when or where he would pop up.) Miskimen's memoir, told in humorous vignettes, tells what it was like for a girl growing up with a dad who packed a lunch and packed heat. Published by University of Wisconsin Press

 

  Barbie Crime Scene     Worldwide Mystery Books - try them today!

On really hot summer days, when it was too hot to ride bikes down to the
public pool, and even going out on routine patrol was too much of an effort,
I’d drag the card table out to the garage, throw down some old blankets on

the cool grease-stained concrete floor and invite the twins Jean and Jan
Wysocki over for an afternoon of Barbies.

 


It was an effort to coordinate the transportation via wagons and bicycle
baskets: Dream Houses, Dream Cars, Kens, Alan (there was only one),
Skippers, Scooters, Midges, all the different versions of Barbie (bubble
haired, dark haired pony tailed, blonde pony tailed), and several carrying
cases full of outfits for every possible occasion. And then it took forever
to set up--dreaming up the perfect scenario, deciding on outfits.

I want Ken to be coming to pick Barbie up for a picnic that they’ re
going to have over there, next to the grass cutter. See, Ken just got home
from college and he hasn’t seen Barbie in months and then he calls her and
they go out for a picnic! That was Jean’s favorite scenario. The Picnic. Or
the Sleigh Ride. Ken was always coming home from college. Hadn’t seen Barbie
in months. Calls her on the phone. Bla, bla, bla.

No. Midge is Barbie’s maid, and she is really in love with Ken, but
Barbie won’t let her see him because...she’s...really a wicked queen. Jan
had this thing about wicked queens. Evil kings. She had an extra Ken that
their dog had got hold of one day. There were big gouges in his left arm and
leg and his face. He was perfect for Evil/Wicked King/Prince Ken. But we
had played that so many times. Dog-Eaten Deformed Ken locks Barbie away;
Well-Dressed Ken comes to the rescue and stiff-arms Half-Eaten Ken causing
him to fall to his death from the top of our dog house; Ken and Barbie kiss
(in that awkward way without bendable arms); and then we spend the rest of
the afternoon planning the wedding.


Hey, I’ve got an idea, I said. How about--there’s been a murder in
one of the Dream Houses!


A murder?


Okay. Let’s say Barbie is having a party at her Beach House and the
neighbors call the police because the party is really loud.


I don’t think Barbie would be having a loud party. She’s not supposed
to be wild. Jan wasn’t buying it.


Yeah, well she’s not supposed to be a wicked queen either!


Then what happens? I could always count on Jean to see my side of things.


Okay, So in the meantime, Ken falls from the second story balcony and
lands in the pool. His body is discovered by Skipper and Scooter who have
been at the party spying on Barbie.


Why? asked Jan.


Why what?


Why are they spying on her?


Because they’re never invited to anything that might be fun. You know,
they’re like the obnoxious little sisters that are always hanging around.


Wait a minute. Why did Ken fall from the balcony? asked Jean.


Because he and Barbie were having a fight over her relationship with
Alan.


I know. Ken is mad because Alan has gone out with Barbie while he was
away at college. I figured she’d work  'away at college' theme in there
somewhere.


So, she pushed him? asked Jan.


Not necessarily.


They liked it. We spent the next hour or so getting everyone into their
swimsuits, typecasting Dog-Eaten Ken as the victim, positioning them,
putting together a police outfit for one of the Ken’s using bits and pieces
from his yachting ensemble and his snappy business suits.


So who ends up finding Face Down In The Swimming Pool Ken?


Skipper, because she saw the whole thing.


And then what? asked Jean.


Well, after Police Officer Ken gets a statement from Eyewitness
Skipper, Two-Timing Barbie starts up the Dream Car and backs over her.


So now she’s killed Ken AND Skipper? asked Jan putting the finishing
accessory, a gold pin, on Police Officer Ken’s uniform.


Midge can be the neighbor who calls, said Jean positioning her with
the pink princess phone in her hand. Midge was always the character actress
in our plays. She was the maid. The cleaning lady. The neighbor.


It went well. Better than I had expected. Every time we played Barbies,
and settled on who was doing what to whom, there was always that unexpected
great moment that no one scripted. After Jean backed the Dream Car over
Skipper (two times to be sure the job had been done), she drove it full
speed into the table leg. Barbie’s head hit the windshield, the driver’s
side door opened and she flew out.

I got my sidewalk chalk and drew an outline around her hideously bent
body. Jan covered her up with a pink bedspread. While Forensic Evidence
Gathering Barbie did her job dressed in a fabulous tweed suit and matching
pill box hat, accessorized with white gloves, a note pad and a camera.

 

Read about police officers as writers at Police Anthologies