How Ed Leedskalnin built Coral Castle remains a mystery.
Why he did it is no secret.
Agnes Scruffs was, purportedly, the love of Ed Leedskalnin’s life. As the story goes, Ed was captivated by Agnes and asked her to marry him while she was still in her teens. Ten years his junior, Agnes accepted Ed’s proposal and they planned a small church wedding.
When it came time to say “I do”, Agnes walked out of the church and left Ed standing at the alter. No one knows why.
After that, Ed left Latvia and never came back.
Later in life, Ed would tell neighbors and visitors to Coral Castle how he was building the modern marvel to win back his lost love. There are no records to indicate if Agnes Scruffs ever knew of Ed’s work.
Some of the greatest creations in history have been inspired by broken hearts. Ed could have given in to disappointment and self-pity, but instead he got busy creating a feat of engineering that still has people talking. While a part of me wishes Ed and Agnes had worked it out, a bigger part of me is glad Ed had the inspiration to build Coral Castle.
Cincinnatus is a work of fiction, but it’s based around real people and real places.
Did Ed Leedskalnin and Lewis Crosley really clink glasses and share secrets? No, but they might have if they ever crossed paths. Both men sure had some stories.
Is the Society of the Cincinnati actually embroiled in a plot to change the course of American history? Probably not, but with all the secrecy you never know.
Can you really golf in the middle of the ocean? Only if you’re a member of the Cat Cay Yacht Club.
Do attorneys and golfers join forces to uncover supernatural secrets and bust draconian plots? In my mind they do.
Plenty of interesting characters and story-inspiring settings already exist.
Suffering from writer’s block? Look around.
In April of 1906, Powel Crosley, Jr. failed out of engineering school.
He used $10,000 in investment money loaned to him by his father and his father’s friends, and started The Marathon Motor Car Company. One year later, Powel’s new company became a casualty in the Panic of 1907. The stock market crashed and the investment money was gone.
Powel went from president of his own company to cleaning cars in another man’s dealership. Even if he had to start back at the bottom, Powel was determined to work in an environment where he could be a part of the growing auto industry.
In 1911, Powel went to every man he knew in the car industry, hoping to secure a spot in the first ever Indianapolis 500. With no one willing to back him, Powel watched the race from the stands.
When Powel first met his wife Gwendolyn, he promised her she would one day have a Rolls Royce and a fur coat. With an infant son to support and more than a few failures so far, 25 year old Powel Crosley was under pressure to make something happen.
Still, he refused to abandon the ideas he’d been working on since he was a child.
It didn’t get easier, but Powel’s dogged perseverance kept him pushing through disappointments right up to his eventual success.
Even after he established a business empire, Powel worked just as hard as he had when he was 20.
After so many years of starting at the bottom, he knew what it took to stay at the top.
Growing up watching his father labor over hot tobacco fields, Powel Crosley read the Cincinnati Gazette and dreamed of life in the Ohio metropolis.
He read about Civil War industries like foundries and munitions plants. He read about gaslights and libraries, restaurants and bookstores.
Powel Crosley imagined all of these things he had never seen, and became determined to grow with the urban frontier.
At that time, education beyond a basic understanding of reading, writing and math was considered unnecessary for a farmer’s child. Helping in the field and on the farm was more important than spending time reading books.
Powel Crosley didn’t stop learning.
He was one of the first students to attend Springboro’s new high school, finally leaving his hometown to become a teacher. At 21, he was principal of the Clarksville, Ohio school district.
Eventually, Powel Crosley would have two sons-Powel Crosley, Jr., and Lewis Crosley.
Powel Crosley, Sr. imparted to his two sons the most important thing he had learned in a life dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge-
You never, ever quit.
Judging by the history books, the Crosley brothers listened to their father.
I would like to thank each reader who has taken the time to review my books on Amazon.com and Goodreads or connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.
To be honest, I’m more of a pen and paper person. I was hesitant to even get involved with social media, but ultimately I decided it was the best way to stay connected with my readers. If they were willing to take the time to review my books, I was willing to take the time to learn how to use Twitter.
I’m continuously encouraged by the reviews and comments I receive from readers around the country. On days when I never want to look at another computer, my readers remind me why I keep learning about unfamiliar technology.
If you’re technologically savvy (or even if you’re not) you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads to see what’s new, get updates on books and first notice of giveaways.
We can find out what’s going on half-way across the world almost instantly. Before you even set foot in another country you can learn the language, exchange your currency and reserve a hotel room.
Traveling wasn’t so convenient in 1912.
On March 23, 1912, Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin could only imagine what America would be like as he boarded a ship bound for New York City.
He arrived at Ellis Island sixteen days later with eighty dollars in his pocket. With no ties to anyone, Ed traveled for the next eleven years. In his wanderings around the U.S. he learned the language, learned the people and learned how to make a living.
Ed arrived in Florida in 1923, finally intending to build a home and settle down. It’s here where the records of Ed’s life become intertwined with the stuff of conspiracy theories and tall tales.
The mystery surrounding Ed Leedskalnin led me to write Coral Castle, but as I learned more about him I found the first part of his life was just as inspiring.
I can only imagine the courage it must have required for Ed to leave his home and become a stranger in another country. He worked hard and learned from each job he took and each place he visited.
Engineers, conspiracy theorists and journalists have all wondered how Ed built Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida.
I’m pretty impressed with how he got there.
In August of 1899, Powel Crosley had an idea for a car.
At thirteen, gathering materials to build a prototype wasn’t going to be easy. His father was skeptical and offered no assistance to his son. (Although he did promise a ten dollar reward if the car could run a block.)
Powel enlisted the help and savings of his younger brother, Lewis. The pair roamed around Cincinnati, OH to gather the parts Powel had designed.
After a few weeks of hard work and false starts, Lewis drove their newly invented vehicle down the block. The rest is history.
The Crosley brothers didn’t stop at a good idea. They didn’t let doubt, lack of money or the frustration of trial and error convince them to give up.
If you have a good idea, and you’re lucky enough to know it’s a good idea, don’t hesitate, don’t procrastinate and don’t quit.
If the Crosley brothers had given up all those years ago you’d probably be reading about someone else right now.
Good ideas are everywhere, but what good are they if you never act on them?
In the past few years it seems like the “local” movement has grown stronger than ever. We’re encouraged to eat local, shop local and support local endeavors in any way we can.
To be honest, I’m not convinced you should buy something just because it was made in your state, or even your hometown. However, being an Ohioan and an author I was very interested to stumble on a “Read Local” campaign.
The idea is simple.
For every “Read Local” T-shirt sold by Outfit Good, a Columbus, OH based T-shirt company, part of the proceeds goes to support Columbus Creative Cooperative, a local resource for writers.
According to their website, Columbus Creative Cooperative holds writers’ workshops, publishes anthologies and hosts other writer oriented events.
What I find interesting is that there is no branding at all on these T-shirts. There’s no self-promotion, no logo and no website. The shirts simply bear the message– “Read Local.”
Check it out for yourself here.
I think that’s what caught my eye about this campaign. While most people use the “Local” idea to sell a product, Columbus Creative Cooperative is trying to use a product to support an idea–“Read Local.”
I still don’t expect someone from Cincinnati to buy one of my books just because I grew up there, but I am grateful for every local reader I have.
What do you think about “Reading Local”?
What would you do if you stumbled onto a plot that jeopardized the future of America? Would you turn it over to the FBI? Would you look the other way and not get involved?
We read books, watch movies and TV shows that feature awe inspiring, sometimes death defying feats of bravery and heroism. It’s fun to imagine living a life of adventure, but if we were faced with these situations in real life, would we have the guts, the brains and the know-how to actually survive?
Maybe that’s why we enjoy tales of intrigue so much. We sit back with a snack, and without breaking a sweat we participate in the defeat of zombies, political plots, hit men and all other bad guys and gals.
The characters in Cincinnatus don’t start out as heroes, but when they uncover a plot that threatens existence as we know it, they choose to try and save America. Although they are fictional characters in a made-up situation, I like to think there are plenty of underdogs out there just waiting to fulfill their potential.
If your day job involves unraveling political plots, solving murders and delving into secret societies, Cincinnatus: The Secret Plot to Save America might not seem that exciting. However, if you’re an average Joe like me who wants to experience adventure alongside other unlikely heroes, click here.
Where do you find inspiration?
It can be hard to come up with a steady stream of ideas. Some days you just don’t feel like writing, or nothing seems interesting enough to write about.
All writers experience slumps at one time or another, but the truth is story ideas are everywhere. Snippets of overheard conversations can inspire characters. With some work and an imagination, weird dreams and passing thoughts can become plots or storylines.
Sometimes it’s as simple as paying attention to what’s going on around you.
The idea for my book Coral Castle originated from a travel brochure and a lot of conspiracy theories. Material for Crosley came from the family history my grandfather and great uncle left behind. Cincinnatus was in part inspired by a real life secret organization called The Society of the Cincinnati. All of these subjects were things I found interesting.
Find the things that interest you and write about them. Chances are someone else will think they are interesting too. Just be sure to write everything down. The best story idea in the world can vanish with one spilled cup of scalding coffee.