Lily Rae Foster, Hero of “Lily of the Springs” by Carole Foley Bellacera

The 50’s…Drive-in Movies, Doo-wop Music…and Love in the Back Seat of a ’51 Plymouth

In 1952 Kentucky, 18-year-old Lily Foster, the daughter of strict Southern Baptist parents, becomes pregnant by the town “bad boy”—and just like that, she finds herself married to a man who doesn’t want to be a husband. Jake has no intention of letting the inconvenience of marriage stop him from what he believes is his due. In actuality, Lily is the one who is trapped. She loves Jake—always has, since they were children playing in the woods on adjoining properties–and she’s convinced she can eventually make him love her. All it will take is desire and patience. Once the baby arrives, they will be the perfect little family.

From Lily’s home on Opal Springs Ridge to a four-year stint at an army base in New Boston, Texas, and finally, to life on their own in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Lily struggles to maintain a rocky marriage with a moody, immature husband while raising two daughters. Set during the “American Dream” period of the ‘50s and into the turbulent ‘60’s, LILY OF THE SPRINGS is a story of a woman’s indomitable spirit and her fight for independence and identity in an “Ozzie & Harriet” society.

What is your story?

My name is Lily Rae Foster, and when my story, LILY OF THE SPRINGS, opens, I’m living in a holler near Russell Springs, Kentucky in 1952. It’s the day before my high school graduation, and something is going to happen tomorrow night that will change my life forever.

What is your problem in the story?

Well, in the large scheme of things, it might not sound all that horrible to you, but I’m 19 years old, and I end up getting pregnant by the town hood. In 1952, this is not a good thing. You ever heard of a shotgun wedding?

How do you see yourself?

I see myself as a slightly rebellious girl who is head over heels in love with Jake Tatlow. I thought he loved me, too. Sadly, I was wrong about that.

How do your friends see you?

I reckon they see me as a popular, happy-go-lucky girl who loves life.

What do you want to be?

I dream of being a big-time romance writer. But Jake tells me that’s impossible. That things like that don’t happen for little country girls like me. When he found my first manuscript, he laughed so hard, I thought he was going to choke. Made me feel so bad that I ended up burning it in the stove.

What do you believe?

I believe I’m a doggone good writer. Maybe I’m a little ignorant about grammar and such, but I know how to weave a good story.

What makes you happy?

I’m happy when Jake is in a good mood, and acts lovin’ to me.

What are you afraid of?

Like any momma, I’m afraid of something bad happenin’ to my two girls. I just love them to pieces, my Debbie Ann and Kathy Kay.

What makes you angry?

Mean people. I just about died that time Jake interrupted my Tupperware party and said something really nasty to my guest, Barbara. She was the first Negro woman I ever invited into my house, and I knew Jake wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t think he’d say something to her face like that. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. Barbara never spoke to me again, even though I apologized to her the next day. Can’t say I blame her, though. She probably thinks I’m just like Jake.

What do you regret?

I often regret that Chad and I broke up before I got together with Jake. (Well…our break up was the reason I got together with Jake.) I know Chad would’ve been a good husband. He was a good man. Why did I have to go for the ornery one?

Has anyone ever failed you?

Don’t make me laugh! Jake Tatlow failed me. Yes, he did. Every day for 20 years, he failed me. And I just took it because I was afraid to leave. Afraid of being a divorced woman and having to make it on my own with two children. But it wasn’t only the fear that kept me with him. I loved the man. How can you explain love? I loved him from the time we played in the woods as children. How could I know he’d never love me in the same way?

What was your childhood like?

Pretty ordinary, I reckon. We lived out in the country, and there was always hard work to be done. My mama and daddy were real religious—Southern Baptists. We went to church every Sunday and every Wednesday evening. And in the summers, we had revivals. I had an older brother, a younger brother and a younger sister. In the summers, we played out in the woods all the time when our chores were done. I loved summers. That’s when me and Jake first got together, when we were just younguns. That is, until Daddy found out, and peppered my behind. He said Jake Tatlow was trash, and I needed to stay away from him. Funny…twelve years later, he and my brothers, with shotgun in hand, went and collected Jake, and before I knew it, we was married.

How do you envision your future?

A new beginning where I’m my own person, and I’m no longer a slave to love. I want to be independent and sure of myself, a good mother to my girls. And I want a man who loves and respects me and wants to grow old with me. That’s not askin’ too much, is it?

Where can we learn more about you?

Buy the book here:

Book Trailer:

One Response to “Lily Rae Foster, Hero of “Lily of the Springs” by Carole Foley Bellacera”

  1. Sheila Deeth Says:

    She seems very real. Nice interview.

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