The climax of The Star Family takes place at the source of a sacred spring that flows out into Washington Park. Does such a place exist?
Washington Park exists. I played in the park as a child in a mossy grotto with a creek, rocks, a couple of deep pool (well, they were deep for a child), and crayfish. Water trickled down the rocks, creating a special feel. I used to tell my friend Susan that a good witch lived there in a childish attempt to express how magical I felt the place to be.
I don’t know the source of this creek. The little stream runs down a hill across the street from the park in a small open space that has never been built on. As far as I know, no cave exists like the one I added to the novel.
Imagine my delight when I discovered there definitely is a spring in Washington Park. Michael Breedlove talks about it in his article “Secret sites, hidden history, and natural wonders inside the city.” This spring on the hillside near Gloria Avenue used to feed Forgotten Lake in Washington Park, “a grand lake that offered sailing in the summer and ice skating in the winter.” Drained decades ago, the only remaining evidence of it is the steps to the lake on a sloping hill near the Gloria Avenue entrance. I wonder if this is the same spot. It’s hard to tell from both his description and picture.
Digital Forsyth has two images of a spring house in its archives. They come up when you search for “Washington Park,” but the captions say one is from Old Salem Park and the other says Wachovia Park, “established in 1884 out of a strip of woodland separating the Salem Academy and College and Salem Cemetery.” That’s where the May Queen used to be crowned at Salem College before that practice was stopped. I have Jane walk here with her friend Roxanne in the novel.
It’s interesting that we think we’ve made something up, but it turns out there’s some truth in it after all.