The Power of Writing Prompts

Supporting Our Troops
Officers’ wives in front of the Officers' Quarters
Photo Courtesy of Camp Verde Historical Society



Writer Kay Sturm knows how to have creative fun! From time to time, her local newspaper will publish historical photos. Kay wonders what the story might be behind the image. She cuts the photo out, using it as a writing prompt. The above photo is one such example. Kay allows her imagination, creativity and talent to weave a story that brings these two women to life!


“Thank you very much ladies.”

The photographer poked his head out from under the black cloth covering his camera. He waved enthusiastically and watched as the two women riding side-saddle cantered off toward the parade grounds of the Fort.

“Wasn’t that nice of him to take our pictures? I was quite surprised when he stopped us to ask that we pose in front of the Officer’s Quarters.” She tucked a wisp of hair up under her hat. “George will be pleased. I’m sure your Jesse will be as well, you being a new comer and bride.”

Emma blushed, “You don’t think he might not approve? It’s our first week here…”

Kate laughed, “Jesse will be pleased as punch, just wait and see.”
She turned her mount down toward the trail by the river.
“Mr. Arris said that he has taken quite a portfolio of the Fort with pictures of the parade grounds, the Officers’ Quarters, the Barracks and especially the Stables. General Crook is anxious to make Forte Verde a showplace.”

The huge cottonwoods cooled the air as the two women rode leisurely along the lush greenery of the river. Emma pointed to the blooming foliage on the opposite banks and asked Kate,

Is it shallow enough for us to cross over?”

One of the first rules to remember…stay on this side of the river! Unless your Striker or your husband is with you, you stay on this side.”

“My Striker? I haven’t met anyone by that name.”

“Striker is the name given to the soldier assigned to the officer and his family. Every officer has a Striker. He’s the one who saddled up your horse, swept your porch, hauled your water and any other task that is required.”

My goodness! That’s almost like having a maid!”

It’s better than having a maid. A Striker never complains, whines, sulks and sometimes he’s even a good cook!”

Is it dangerous on the opposite side of the river?” Emma looked warily across the water.

“Sometimes, yes. I’ve heard the Indian scouts tell that there are a few renegades around. Then, too, bands of Indians come down the river to a place several miles south of here where it is said there are hot springs. One time, I saw a group with someone strapped on to the travois heading for the springs. The shaman or the one that performs the healing ceremonies often comes down to the well north of the Fort for his sacred water. We best turn back now.”


Kate felt she had lectured her hew friend enough for the first time out.

Emma chattered on as she rode, “What a pleasant thing to be able to ride like this. I’m still a bit battered and bruised from that brutal wagon trip down the Mogollon Rim from Winslow. I certainly wouldn’t want to have to do that again.” She frowned. “Yes, I hope that is the last of the wagon rides!”

There’s your Striker, Emma. He will help you dismount when you get to the stable.”

Kate gathered her skirts and jumped down unassisted.
You will be going to the dance Saturday night, won’t you?”

“Oh! How lovely…a dance! And I have just the new gown to wear.”
Emma clapped her hands like the woman-child she was, “When we had to wait in Chicago for the train, Jesse took me shopping and I have the loveliest dress, it was so exciting! And…do you know what we saw in Chicago?”

Kate shook her head.

“A woman riding astride a horse…AND she was wearing PANTS just like a man! Can you imagine?”

3 comments:

TJ said...

This idea for a writing prompt is A GREAT IDEA! Thanks. Great story - am curious what year the photo was taken?

Jasper said...

WONDERFUL STORY!
Keep 'em coming Kay.

Heather said...

This is an absolutely lovely prompt and story! I do so love images as prompts, and have to kick myself into remember not to solely post images on my prompts blog.