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2. Were Trudy and Gator based on real people?

         No.  I sort of backed into those two.  I worked one summer at Lummus Cotton Gin Company, which has since moved its operations to Florida.  During the summer months, Lummus hired extra workers to help crate up ginning machinery for shipment, literally, anyplace in the world.  We had to build the wooden crates around the machinery, then another crew would haul the crates to waiting flatbed trucks.  That was hot, dirty work!

         One story that the older workers used to tell was about the "goat-man" of long ago.  During work breaks he would appear with his "goat-cart" and sell snacks, drinks, and cigarettes.  One day, a woman, a very angry woman, showed up during break time with a large suitcase.  She dumped the goat-man's clothes out in front of everybody.  She lit into him, yelling personal secrets that no man wants to hear about himself in public or in private.  I don't know how many times and how many variations I heard of that story.

         I thought it was a great story and borrowed the idea of an angry woman embarrassing her two-timing man in front of his peers.  The woman would have to be a strong-willed, feisty, no nonsense kind of person.  So, that was the beginnings of Trudy.  As for Gator, I knew some guys at Lummus who sort of pointed me in Gator's direction.  To me, the really fun part of writing is that it's is a process of discovery.  I start out with some seeds and just let them grow.