Don Fulton was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in the rural town of Kingstree, South Carolina. The story was inspired by (and titled after) the old 1960s song by blues singer Charles Brown. Each Christmas season, the record was popular on jukeboxes in black establishments. This story began because Don was unhappy that Hollywood produced few quality Christmas films, and even fewer black Christmas films. Don always thought that a good story could come out of the song. He set about writing a Christmas screenplay and Please Come Home for Christmas was the result.
Don didn't want to write a sappy, syrupy, sugar-sweet story. He wanted a story that slammed. Because the 1960s were a fascinating time in America, he set the story in that period. Don has great memories of being at my aunt's establishment (Elsie's Grocery) where a 1959 Wurlitzer jukebox spun the great R&B records of the time and he wanted that element in the story. The images of Santa's helpers, decorated store windows, and busy sidewalks appealed to him, so he chose New York City as my setting.
Don plans to concentrate on writing screenplays.
Please Come Home for
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Pub. Date: June 2005
Format: Hardcover, 208pp
The only novel that you'll want to read every holiday season!
About the story
The year is 1968 and New Yorkers prepare for a happy holiday season. Jane Owens and Pearl Johnson are as close as sisters can be, but for them, this Christmas season is anything but joyous.
Earlier in the year, Jane's youngest daughter, Angie, had run away with a boy and had become pregnant. After a fight with his father, her son, Sam, leaves home and joins a black militant group. Soon afterwards, Jane and her oldest daughter, Ella, argue because Jane tries to get Angie to return home. Ella leaves.
Pearl and Jane have a fight and quit speaking. Later, Pearl learns that her husband, Bill, may not return from Vietnam. Finally, Jane throws her husband, the Reverend Earl Owens, out of the house. Things are not right in the preacher's house this year. It's doubtful that anyone will come home this Christmas.
Read the rest of the story in the new novel Please Come Home for Christmas by Don Fulton.
Jane had graduated from Tomlinson High School in 1946. She had relatives who had moved to New York City years before. They urged her to leave the South and come live with them in New York until she could make a way for herself. Her mother and father were all for it. So -like many blacks searching for a better life- she boarded an Atlantic Coast Line train and headed north. At her first job, she washed and pressed clothes at a laundry. Next, she became a waitress at a diner. After taking some night classes at a community center, she became a secretary. After Pearl graduated from Tomlinson, she followed Jane to New York and began working as a waitress. They got a small apartment together.
Big city life was a world apart from small town farm life in South Carolina 'especially the attitudes. There was racism in New York; but it wasn't that hostile in-your-face-oppressive-condescending type that was the norm down South. Work in the city was more plentiful -and more satisfying- than slaving in the tobacco and cotton fields back home. Moreover, there were places to go and things to see 'especially on weekends 'especially on warm summer weekends 'especially, especially on warm summer weekend nights 'especially, especially, especially when those warm weekend summer nights were Saturday nights in Harlem. Harlem was the place to be. The nightclubs in the city beat anything back home 'though she didn't know if there were any nightclubs in Kingstree for blacks. There were places that were off the road 'back in the woods- where 'colored' people went. They were little more than shacks, but people had a good time and ate highly seasoned - fatty foods. There was always somebody pounding out boogie-woogie on an old piano, or some old man blowing the blues out of a harmonica, or maybe it was an old jukebox filled with blues 78 records. In Harlem along with the nightclubs, there were boutique shops, and hairdressers, and barbershops, and markets, and everything. Coney Island, and Atlantic City were only a short train or bus ride away. But the warm Saturday nights spent in Harlem were the best.
And could those city coloreds dress for a Saturday night on the town. The ladies in their elegant dresses and skirts 'some tight 'some not 'some high 'some not 'some homemade, but all stylish- with bouquets, embroidery, beads and earrings - with straightened hair, maybe accented with an artificial flower. They stepped high and proud in heels and pretended not to notice 'or want- the attention of the equally dressed young men. And those gents 'some with cars- some not 'some in suits 'some not 'with ties and wide collar shirts 'looking for all the world like proud colored soldiers of fashion 'looking like the male peacocks that they were.
And what music could small numbers of black 'and a few white- musicians make at those nightclubs -on those warm Saturday nights 'sounding as big as any symphony orchestra. They played jazz. Jazz, that celebrated life. Jazz soared above the daily toils and mortal troubles. Jazz, with all the truths of the human condition. Jazz, with all the color of the blues. And they played blues. Blues, that moaned pent -up sorrows. Blues, that cried with out with pain. Blues, that had the faith and conviction of the mother that gave it birth. It was Blues, born in the Southern fields of old Negro spirituals and gospels. It was Blues, that hoped for a better day.
And sometimes they played gospel itself 'pure and simple. And since those old spirituals and gospels gave life to the blues 'and since good jazz was nothing more than happy blues- it didn't matter what they played. It was all good 'Edward Kennedy Ellington 'the Duke 'Bessie Smith 'the Count Basie Orchestra.
It was on one of those warm summer Saturday nights in Harlem -at one of those nightclubs- where Jane and Pearl met their husbands. Earl had apparently forgotten his nightclub days, but Jane -and Pearl- remembered. They had gone to THE CRESCENT MOON LOUNGE to hear Billie Holiday sing her slow and sultry brand of jazz. Across the dark, smoky room Pearl saw a handsome young man looking at her. The way that she remembered it was that she didn't want to look back at him. But she remembered thinking that he must have done physically demanding work 'because under his pinstriped suit it looked like he had arms that could sweep her up and take her into the city night 'or to anywhere he pleased. She must have looked back at him.
Pearl didn't think that she was pretty. She didn't have what American society thought of as 'attractive' features. Unlike Jane -who had light skin, thin lips, and naturally straight hair- Pearl was dark skinned with thick lips, a wide nose, and naturally nappy hair. Pearl was a 'black' woman, with standout 'almost chiseled- Negroid features. But apparently, to that handsome young man in the pinstriped suit -that still stared at her- she was Pearl, Queen of Harlem 'maybe even Pearl, Queen of New York City.
copyright ' 2005 Don Fulton