Category: indiana


  • Blue Bell Factory Revisited

    Blue Bell Factory Revisited

    Published by the Whitley County Historical Society – Columbia City, Indiana Vol. 25, No. 1 – February 1987 BLUE BELL BUILDING: Important to Area’s Economy – Work Clothing Produced There Many People Remember Blue Bell The daughter of the man some people refer to as “Mr. Blue Bell” in Columbia City has chosen to write…

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  • Carol Baker, Michael Martone, Tari Joyce, Linda Chapman, and a ‘Non-Fiction’ Panel-List

    Carol Baker, Michael Martone, Tari Joyce, Linda Chapman, and a ‘Non-Fiction’ Panel-List

    This review on Amazon from writer, pundit, and radio personality Carol Baker means the world to a small-town “girl” named Susie: “The newest addition to my Kindle by friend and soul sister, Susie Sexton. As a writer, I appreciate Susie’s ability to just… think out loud on paper. ♥ “As a weekly columnist, writing on…

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  • JUNK FOOD ADDICTIONS & GOURMET PRETENSIONS

    JUNK FOOD ADDICTIONS & GOURMET PRETENSIONS

    Yes Ma’am and Yes Sir!  Immersed in the Old South for longer than a half century, I applauded a steady stream of what I perceived to be genuine sweetness and the spirit of both uninhibited jocularity and spontaneous fun.  Lately, I figure my approval of Southerners ended at my own front door…through an accident of…

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  • Who Knew?  Ricky Gervais and I on the Same Page!

    Who Knew?  Ricky Gervais and I on the Same Page!

    “The creative adult is the child who has survived…” – Ursula K. Le Guin (borrowed from my Marshall Memorial Middle School Language Arts student circa 1968, Robin Zeigler Walker) “Hey, now you’re acting like…Jesus!”  A younger than young feminine voice registered in the highest decibels from the backyard trampoline immediately on the other side of…

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  • Blue Bell ‘Choraliers’ lead me to reveries of Jones Bakery

    Blue Bell ‘Choraliers’ lead me to reveries of Jones Bakery

    Hi, readers! On March 18, I sent an e-mail to Jennifer entitled “AN EARNEST REQUEST FROM THE OLD TYPE WRITER WHO ADMITS TO KNOWING NOT EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW!” My letter and genesis for this column follows here: PART ONE — Hi Jennifer! Remember when you discovered one of your missing school medals around…

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  • FUR-EVER FRIENDS 

    FUR-EVER FRIENDS 

    Jo Ellen Adams, authenticated “Daughter of the American Revolution”, belonged to my sister Sarah who patterned herself as a kid after the petite, energetic, plucky little girl who lived in the large, elegant, brick, Civil War Era farm house on the outskirts of town.  Sarah’s pal seemed to inhabit the original Disneyland and frolicked daily with…

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  • WEST WARD STORY:  BRAVE HEARTS & BULLIES READY TO RUMBLE

    WEST WARD STORY:  BRAVE HEARTS & BULLIES READY TO RUMBLE

    Born and raised in Indianapolis, author Kurt Vonnegut attended Shortridge High School, a setting which contributed to his wit whilst only marginally damaging and corrupting his sprightly soul.  My favorite of his novels announces Kurt’s intent via its one word title, “Slapstick” — which provided my most beloved quote in all of literature and which…

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  • MY FUNNY VALENTINE…A “Penny Serenade”

    MY FUNNY VALENTINE…A “Penny Serenade”

    Dutifully responding to my shameless suggestion, my son Roy bought me another book!  David Denby impressed me terrifically as a guest on the Charlie Rose show, defending movies “the way they were” when author Denby and  I both fell loyally, tenaciously in love with the cinematic industry — without reservation.  At the height of the…

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  • FILING FOLDERS FULL OF…FRIENDS! 

    FILING FOLDERS FULL OF…FRIENDS! 

    Seriously, where oh where are Ralph Bailey, Gordon and Brian Anspach, Evelyn Stemen, Phil Leininger, Nancy Schwartz, Mary Ann Poffenberger Briggs, Bob Kellogg, Dr. Jules Heritier, Steve Jones and Lucy Langohr Grant?   For a while they enjoyed spending some time paper-clipped together in a grouping which facilitated my awareness of their location.  Eventually these people…

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  • May the True “Salty Dog” Win the 2012 Race…

    May the True “Salty Dog” Win the 2012 Race…

    President Barack Obama qualifies for my vote to be sure!  I supported Hillary Clinton in 2008; eventually “Barry” won my heart and most recently impressed me mightily with his acceptance speech at the 2012 DNC.  However, I am open-minded enough to appreciate the poise, charm and good lucks of Mitt Romney in spite of his…

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  • “Dear Old Golden Rule Days…”

    “Dear Old Golden Rule Days…”

    “Grandma Louise” Easterday frequently exchanged original poetry with my mom, as the two ladies seated themselves beside one another in the exact same Jackson Street Methodist church pew each Sunday morning.  Mother composed her creative verses via a script typewriter, since she held little self-confidence in her usually hasty handwriting, and slipped her compositions inside…

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  • THIS HAPPILY HAUNTED HOUSE

    THIS HAPPILY HAUNTED HOUSE

    Each month delivers the angst of writer’s block, i.e. seeking a column idea.  What story do I tell  that I have not already shared?  My preference, for the approach of September, focused on animals’ rights to thrive until old age, via a treatise heavily populated with many like-minded heroes I encounter in my activism.  Local…

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  • BOO, LEW & NORMA

    BOO, LEW & NORMA

    Milling about within the same household year upon year, voices rise and fall and chatter and go silent and joke and reminisce.  Sawing a couch into three parts prompted an ongoing interior design fest.  Sawdust and also a unique upholstery-powder, resulting from gigantic rips in a seriously tough durable fabric, both continue to permeate the…

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  • MAD MEN & MUSICALS — IN “THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME” *

    MAD MEN & MUSICALS — IN “THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME” *

    Hopelessly immersed in the recent 13 installment fifth season of the AMC late Sunday evening series “Mad Men”, I weekly revisited the quirky 60s on my dates with dapper, dashing advertising executive “Don Draper” and the gang!  And, baby, that cast has got it right!  How do I know?  I lived, loved, laughed and came…

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  • “WISHING YOU WERE SOMEHOW HERE AGAIN” *

    “WISHING YOU WERE SOMEHOW HERE AGAIN” *

    Treasured memories linger in our minds to be nourished in our hearts. Frequently, retrieved thoughts — centered on those who nurtured us, laughed at us and with us, instructed us, cared about our welfare, and encouraged our talents — sustain and strengthen us. Blood relatives flood genealogical charts and function as pen-and-ink illustrations upon family…

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  • HEY, Y’ALL!  NO SUCH ANIMAL AS A “CIVIL” WAR… 

    HEY, Y’ALL!  NO SUCH ANIMAL AS A “CIVIL” WAR… 

    Allow me to explain myself.  I am located at the conclusion of a lengthy direct line of lineage piled up with (Carolina) Southern Dixiecrats and talcum-powdered ladies. I’ve lived my life as the lone Damned Yankee seeking to cauterize subtle family dissensions and outrageous stereotypical mind-sets, as in “enough is enough!”  I admit that I judge…

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  • A LITTLE TURTLE GOES A LONG WAY

    A LITTLE TURTLE GOES A LONG WAY

    (or A LITTLE TRAVELER’S BIG TAIL/TALE) On a crisp autumn 1986 morning seeming as if only yesterday, wood-carver Stuart Smith and his wife Ada, the premier cook of this or any other community and who might never be equaled nor surpassed not even by Paula Deen, approached our front door carrying a pail holding “Traveler”…

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  • Lessons Learned in Kindergarten –Twice!

    Lessons Learned in Kindergarten –Twice!

    “Just what makes that little ol’ ant think he’ll move that rubber tree plant? Anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant!” ~ Sammy Cahn “No, Uncle Jim, I do not wish to start going to school to learn to be smart.  I’d rather stay at home and be just like my mommy…

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  • “A STITCH IN TIME…SAVES NINE!”

    “A STITCH IN TIME…SAVES NINE!”

    Bustling about vacuuming, I gingerly avoided three or four disembodied hairballs deposited by two of my best friends ever, Tristan and Isolde, kitties named after legendary star-crossed lovers who cohabited in the Middle Ages. Nice save!  I deserved — break-time!   I willingly succumbed to Facebook monitoring where I discovered a lively string of conversation which had been prompted…

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  • “Once Upon a December…” and Hello, 2012!

    “Once Upon a December…” and Hello, 2012!

    Without one doubt whatsoever the final month of each successive year sends me into an absolute tailspin!  December’s always super-special within our family, for several glorious reasons, and outdid itself in 2011! Some new folks entered our lives.  Darlene Wright, Teresa Dowell and Nelleen LaFever wrote beautiful letters of appreciation sent to our mailbox.  Jerry…

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  • HAPPY HOLIDAYS (and a Tribute) FROM THE OLD TYPE…WRITER

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS (and a Tribute) FROM THE OLD TYPE…WRITER

    Thanks so much for following these columns, thoughts, and blogs (And joining me in loving both kitty cats and dogs!) How fun and fine it is to remember happy times, Sharing moments of small town life in prose or in rhymes. Memories flood into minds via our willing hearts; One leads to another in sequential…

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  • Passing the Baton

    Passing the Baton

    “Live each day as if it will be your last.  Remember that you will only find ‘tomorrow’ on the calendars of fools.  Forget yesterday’s defeats and ignore the problems of tomorrow…  Take the baton, now.  Run with it!  This is your day!  Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care…

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  • Thankful … to Think Outside the Holiday Box!

    Thankful … to Think Outside the Holiday Box!

    Christmas arrives but once a year — and years fly by too swiftly!  We are manipulated and subliminally motivated by commercialism, expectations, obligations, traditions, and mounting hysteria—and then after an ulcer-producing build-up, the party’s over and next year zips forth toward a repeat performance. Senator Al Franken often spoke at collegiate commencements, as an adored…

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  • Marriage of Minds

    Marriage of Minds

    “In the midst of friends, home, and kind parents, she was alone.” ~ William Makepeace Thackeray Abigail Adams  served as the noteworthily supportive, possibly  nagging partner whom John sorely needed in order to excel as THE quirky, feisty, successful John Adams and to lead America to greatness.  She purportedly advised him to fly by the…

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  • Cornerstones, Time Capsules, Freemasons, and Five Cent Cigars

    Cornerstones, Time Capsules, Freemasons, and Five Cent Cigars

    Thomas Riley Marshall might have good-naturedly joked that rather than a “big fish in a little pond”, he managed to become a “little fish in a big pond” in Washington, D.C., as Vice-president of the United States during two terms from 1913 until 1921.  He notably spoke humbly of himself, going on record as  the…

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  • Snoopy’s Revelations of Dark & Stormy Days & Nights

    Snoopy’s Revelations of Dark & Stormy Days & Nights

    Snapping string beans, husking corn, repositioning sprinklers, washing cars, scrubbing dogs, and watering geraniums leisurely fill afternoons assuring that summer’s a fixture as sun-beams dapple lush green lawns.  Aromas of newly mown grass blend with exhaust fumes of motorcycles.  Flower beds and clay pots offer up every vibrant hue found in rainbows.  Outdoorsiness’s charm and…

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  • Second Thoughts

    Second Thoughts

    Thomas Wolfe discovered that he could never “go home again” to his mother’s Asheville boarding house in North Carolina after becoming famous for candid record-keeping of his youthful experiences within that Southern community.  James Dean and his LIFE photographer got denied access to the Fairmount Junior-Senior prom, held at Jimmy’s former high school, for a…

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  • Never Been Kissed?

    Never Been Kissed?

    May’s celebrations run the springtime gamut from Mothers’ Day Through my birth-date to culminate in soldier’s wreaths on display. Lilies of the valley bloom, bowing down soon to peonies, As June debuts officially to kick off summer’s soft breeze. Memories of angst, somewhere within this frolicking time frame, Produce reflections of society’s once forced dating…

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  • I CAN HEAR IT NOW & So Can You!

    I CAN HEAR IT NOW & So Can You!

    Crawling, then toddling and eventually skipping toward a booming Philco radio, gracing the southwest corner of our modest living room, I spent hours listening religiously to heaven on earth.  Fibber McGee and Molly bantered with Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve, while the contents of their own infamous, stuffed closet crashed about their heads via convincing sound effects.…

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  • Jock Interrupted by Philo

    Jock Interrupted by Philo

    Sure, sure, so Joanne Peabody Bates performed cartwheels alllllllll the way home after school. Her mom, Phyllis, would peer outside and then swing wide the screen door, judging that her freckle-faced, double-jointed grade school kid might land somewhere inside the kitchen shortly after her daughter’s sneakered feet sailed wildly past the window above the sink!…

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  • Once Upon a Time…

    Once Upon a Time…

    Blustery wind gales, accompanied by Rice-Krispie-like snappling of sleety teensy hail-nuggets, assaulted our front porch.  Wicker furniture, evoking pleasant sunny summer memories, squeaked forlornly out of sync with a perturbed, ferocious mood-swing of Mother Nature. Motion-lights highlighted confused weather patterns which scooted planters hither, thither, and yon. Pajama-clad, I groggily approached the front door, opened…

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  • Drama Queens – and Kings – UNITE!

    Drama Queens – and Kings – UNITE!

    Oh, the labels manKIND whips from his collective pocket and slaps onto us all!  To discover one’s Facebook comfort zone, try careening blissfully from homeless domestic animal epidemic, locally and globally, to battling extinction of wolves and whales to complimenting  would-be poets to visiting a fantastic movie site called “Movie Stars & Movie Characters of…

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  • LITTLE HOUSE ON…the Back Lot!

    LITTLE HOUSE ON…the Back Lot!

    Tab Hunter, Lyle Bettger, Alec Guinness, Doris Day, Audie Murphy, Curt Jurgens, Sessue Hayakawa, James Whitmore and Gloria Grahame all lived in my back yard in the early fifties.  So did Johnny Lillich, Craig Langohr, Jill Whiteleather, Steve More, Lester Gaff, Jane Ann Morsches, Mary Ann and Martha Squires.  Still wishing that Bobby Morsches mighta…

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  • An Investigation into “Everlasting Gobstoppers”*

    An Investigation into “Everlasting Gobstoppers”*

    Beloved melodies and lyrics which touch this heart of mine Range from poignant to perky, yet quite often seem to align With life’s pattern which causes despair and despicable grief — “Waiting” hammered home – lingering — with no promise of relief. Critiquing Carly Simon who laments “Anticipation” Or ignoring “September Song” — a tune…

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  • “BLUE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU” 

    “BLUE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU” 

    “Write it tight; write it bright; write it tonight.” ~Jay Greene Christmas arrives but once per year and both speeds up activity and slows down time itself as a stream-of-consciousness slide-show of vivid, or blurred, images of memories crowd the mind:  My mother whizzing to the top floor of Wolf & Dessauer’s Department Store, via elevator, to stand in…

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  • Fiddle Dee Dee, I’m Thankful for Russell Crowe

    Fiddle Dee Dee, I’m Thankful for Russell Crowe

    My name might as well be “Maximus Decimus Meridius”, and I am here to explain myself and my family and how we classify as GLADiators.  Sure, we count our blessings every November and then give mighty thanks for…stamina! Personally, I defend spider monkeys as I chastise NASA, who brought manKIND Tang, for daring to consider radiation experiments on those sentient darlings with the…

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  • Playing the Hand One’s Dealt

    Playing the Hand One’s Dealt

    (“You play the hand you’re dealt.  I think the game’s worthwhile.”  ~ C.S. Lewis)  Admittedly, personal discussions which focus upon politics, religion, finances, in-laws, the questionable necessity for either camouflaged Rambo-type hunting or Betty Crocker-ish canning and preserving, “Which arrived first, the chicken or the egg?” or “Is it acceptable to wear white after labor day?” all qualify as verboten.  Where does…

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  • One Season Following Another, Laden with Happiness – and Tears (a lyric from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF)

    One Season Following Another, Laden with Happiness – and Tears (a lyric from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF)

    October concluded with much pageantry in the early ’50s as “gypsies, tramps and…” pirates (sorry, Cher!) paraded around West Ward classrooms, often returning home through snowflakes.  Meandering around yard signs advertising this guy and that guy running for political office, we diminutive students, suffocating beneath our masks, not only dressed up for Halloween back in the day but we also voted in mock elections. …

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  • Snow Globes, Grape Vines, and Hockey Pucks

    Snow Globes, Grape Vines, and Hockey Pucks

    “Susan Duncan, your mother’s on the telephone?” head-librarian Mrs. List half-questioned. One of the sweetest ladies in town, she slowly wandered throughout the entire square footage of Mr. Peabody’s namesake “bibliotheque”, ducking in and out of the aisles among towering shelves of books and artifacts. Juvenile fiction, biographies, autobiographies, novels, reference works, globes, ship replicas,…

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  • Ask Not, Unless You Can … “Handle the TRUTH!”

    Ask Not, Unless You Can … “Handle the TRUTH!”

    Ask not “for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”  Dismal connotation aside, this poetic admonition guides us from questions to undeniable conclusions.  Google English poet John Donne.  School beginnings approach earlier year after bustling year.  Seems summer fun has just begun, and clanging bells and droning buzzers herald that programmed education must now commence.  This fact of…

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  • “…Summer of our discontent made glorious…” by a Father and his Daughter. 

    “…Summer of our discontent made glorious…” by a Father and his Daughter. 

    Defamation of Character?  Not my idea of a fun summer!  I descended from a long line of “characters” who could circle the globe 85 times and then extend all the way to heaven and back 16 more times.  We know whom we are.  We like whom we are.  We are whom we are. Flood-gates burst…

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  • Sonnets from the Porch – and Geese

    Sonnets from the Porch – and Geese

    Midnight approached quickly.  What an active 24 hours of advocacy on behalf of local wild-life, not found in taverns but rather the world of nature.  Printer loaded, Talk of the Town’s account of Squawk Back activities entered into scan mode. Vtech phone jingled off the hook.  Information from a dear friend, freshly home recuperating from…

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  • At Home with Scofield, Remington, Victor Mature & Jack Benny

    At Home with Scofield, Remington, Victor Mature & Jack Benny

    Chapter Two.  Please be advised that if readers wish to clip out my monthly columns and then staple them all together one day, a pattern may be detected and possibly even a theme.  I commence now where I departed, nearly in mid-sentence, on July 29, 2010.  Travel at your own risk.  Cliff-hanger formats tend to…

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  • Scofield, Remington, Victor Mature, Ben Hogan & Everything In Between

    Scofield, Remington, Victor Mature, Ben Hogan & Everything In Between

    Neither controversy nor conflict are any fun whatsoever.  Sunday School, Mother’s letter-writing, Daddy’s golfing foursome, double-feature movies, and a relatively stable family life strike me now as rich blessings, generally brimming over with love and merriment…and plenty of fun. Upon review–and throughout a lifetime of observation–I applaud those past years while approaching the conclusion of…

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  • Look Homeward Angle

    Look Homeward Angle

    Ruth Stanley and I have been friends for 24 years. I met her for the first time when I substituted in the Home Economics Department area at the high school where I incompetently supervised a study hall situation. All these years later, an opportunity to write a newspaper column presents itself.  Having written voraciously for…

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  • A Dog Story and A Cautionary Tale

    A Dog Story and A Cautionary Tale

    Winter of 1983 settled in, and my freshly dismal world crashed around me. Saddest season of my 37 years of living. Daddy, aged 37 the year I was born, died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage one month past, when October leaves turned orange, yellow, red. Surrounding, oppressive gloom weighed heavily as I slouched all nestled…

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  • “I can relate…a Donkey Tale situated between a rock and a hard place”

    “I can relate…a Donkey Tale situated between a rock and a hard place”

    Succinctly stated, one is “damned if one does and damned if one doesn’t” attempt to articulate formulas for reversal of the goofy decline of our nation. Evan Bayh, maybe some folks “hardly knew ye”, but I met you 47 years ago during the final year of JFK’s presidency. You cheerfully walked beside each of your…

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  • Transitions: On the Road Again toward Nonconformity

    Transitions: On the Road Again toward Nonconformity

    Curmudgeonly poet Robert Frost’s “road less traveled by” transformed the rest of my life at the precise moment I devoured his verses which spoke directly to my soul forevermore. His collected works occupy an entire shelf in my personal library. Amidst the clutter, trivial turmoil and aftermath of that blast referred to as Holiday Season…

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  • Star-Struck Among the Notorious, the Rich, the Famous and the Legendary

    Star-Struck Among the Notorious, the Rich, the Famous and the Legendary

    Facebook’s “applications” run the gamut from Mafia Wars and Texas Hold ‘Em through responses to provocative quizzes resulting in “totally accurate” personal profiles all the way to exchanging of mixed drinks, pumping bling-blinged-up hearts, cuddly stuffed toy animals, smiles, hugs, or pearls of wisdom. In the wee hours of the morning, not one of us…

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  • Wedding Belles

    Wedding Belles

    While “big” sister Shirley busied her petite self raising three kids at her Thorncreek Township farm, “Aunt” Sarah and “Aunt” Susie remained at home in town lovingly clipping out paper dolls, replicas of Ava Gardner, Debbie Reynolds, Betty Grable, Liz Taylor, and a gigantic Esther Williams. The crinkly wardrobe of that Million Dollar Mermaid consisted…

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  • Sensations and Sensibilities of a Schoolyard Sissy

    Sensations and Sensibilities of a Schoolyard Sissy

    Time warp! Down memory lane without a net! Sequential account of the “stages of man” (or woman or, if preferred, “boys and girls”) rates as an assignment which is too tedious, too glorious, too horrifying. Must clump bodies of valuable information into categories of sights, sounds, smells and “socialization.” West Ward, the very sound of…

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  • Those Dear Hearts and Gentle People

    Those Dear Hearts and Gentle People

    Angie, beautiful and vibrant and enough younger than I that she could be my daughter, recently moved next door, with her husband and baby girl, into a house I have loved all of my life. I like her very much. Ralph Kramden depended upon Ed Norton. Dennis the Menace tormented Mr. Wilson. The Ricardos and…

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  • Once Upon A Time…A Slice of Corporate America Dined at Club 30

    Once Upon A Time…A Slice of Corporate America Dined at Club 30

    “Uncle” Walter Cronkite died this summer, thus childhood memories flooded my thoughts reminding me that I also referred to that wizard named Disney as “Uncle Walt”– Siamese twins to this mind, one of these giants quite sober and investigative, the other animated and magical. Delightful ghosts, whom I once actually could hug “hello” and “good-bye”,…

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  • Summers of Swans and Mermaids

    Summers of Swans and Mermaids

    Aiming for the Daughters of the American Revolution Very-Best-Junior-High-History-Student-Ever honors, I shot for the stars in 1960; although I had “aced” every test, I suffered and watched as somebody else strutted down the aisle and climbed onto the stage, at our Walnut Street (formerly West Ward-Columbia City High School combination) gym-a-torium, to receive that prestigious…

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  • “Come back to the corner of Van Buren & Main, Jimmy Dean! Jimmy Dean!”

    “Come back to the corner of Van Buren & Main, Jimmy Dean! Jimmy Dean!”

    Sometime during the summers of 1955 or ’56, my big sister Sarah and I engaged in our happy walk of a couple of blocks to attend a block-buster which our mother recommended. Edna, an avid reader, boasted often, “Hmmmm, this movie…not nearly as good as the book,” and the transplanted southerner usually wasn’t “just whistlin’…

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