Sunday, February 28, 2010


This joke comes from the Benny Hill Show, but Gerald tells it as if it's a true story about us:

Gerald and Sue were walking along the street window-shopping. They stopped in front of a dress shop and Sue said how she would love to have the dress in the window. Gerald opened his jacket, took out a brick, threw it through the window and grabbed the dress out of the window and gave it to Sue.

They continued down the street and stopped in front of a jewelry store and Sue exclaimed, "Oh, look at that ruby necklace--wouldn't that look lovely with my new dress?" Gerald opened up his jacket, took out another brick, threw it through the window, grabbed the necklace and put it around Sue's neck.

They continued down the street and stopped in front of a furrier. Sue sighed and asked, "Can't you just see me with my new dress and necklace wearing that mink?" Gerald took out another brick, threw it through the window, grabbed the mink and draped it around Sue's shoulders.

They continued down the street, stopped in front of a Maserati dealership and Sue asked, "Can't you picture me with my new dress, necklace and mink riding in that Maserati?"

Gerald asked, "What do you think I am--MADE OUT OF BRICKS?"

Saturday, February 27, 2010


When my nephew Chris was about 12 years old, he was given a school assignment to interview his grandparents to learn how life was when they were his age. Among the stories my mother told him was one that when she was a girl her father made moonshine and that he had to be on alert all the time in case of a visit from the "Revenuers". One time Grandpa had to hide out for two weeks. During Grandpa's absence my mother--at age 12--knew where the bottles of corn liquor were buried and she dug them up and sold the liquor to Grandpa's regular customers.

She had seen a "butterfly skirt" she wanted in the Bellas-Hess catalog. She ordered the skirt C.O.D. (cash on delivery). When Grandpa returned from hiding out, he asked my mother where all the money was from the sale of the moonshine. She had to admit that she had spent the money on the "butterfly skirt". His reaction was, "Well, you shouldn't ort not done that, Abby." [correct spelling of Grandpa's speech, courtesy of my brother Norman] That was the extent of her punishment as she was "Pop's girl".

When Chris received his assignment back from the teacher she had given him "A++" and praised his use of my mother's vernacular in telling the story. Chris very proudly brought the paper for my mother to see and she said, "You shouldn't have written about that--people will think we're criminals!"

Friday, February 26, 2010


Although we never had birthday parties as such, with eight children in the family, that was always enough for a celebration. We never received birthday presents, but my mother would always fix our favorite meal and special birthday cake. My favorite birthday cake was coconut cake with 7-minute icing with shredded coconut spread on the icing. My job was to put the coconut on the sides of the cake. When I was ten, Mother saw a recipe for a "Colorvision Cake" and she and I thought it looked heavenly in the magazine picture. Color television was rather new at the time, so obviously it was a play on words of that. She made the Colorvision Cake for my birthday that year. The cake was indeed a vision to behold. It had three layers of pink and white marbled cake topped with 7-minute icing which she had tinted pink. 7-minute icing was very difficult to make successfully in the summer with no air-conditioning! I had to get up really early that morning because the 7-minute icing had to be made when it was the coolest. My Colorvision Cake was the biggest, most beautiful cake I had ever seen. [Over the years of my telling the story, the cake has grown considerably, I think!] All day long I would pass by the cake, looking longingly at my Colorvision Cake!

Two of my brothers were married, so that meant twelve pieces of cake to be cut from my Colorvision Cake! (seven brothers, parents and two sisters-in-law) Twelve pieces? How big were the slices going to be? How much was going to left for me?

We had to wait for everyone to be there and Mother had fixed fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, tomatoes and cucumbers sliced together and cantaloupe (which we called musk melon then!). [Hey, I still like that meal!]

We were waiting for Brother Bode and his wife Kay to arrive and I knew that the baby wasn't going to be eating any of the cake, so I knew the twelve slices would leave some left over for the Birthday Girl! Kay had been babysitting for a friend of hers. When Bode drove up in the "Old Gray Ghost", out of the backseat crawled the three kids she was babysitting. Oh, no! Maybe I could go in and hide the cake. No, that wouldn't work because Mother wanted to show off the masterpiece! We finished the meal and Bode had brought ice cream to go with the cake. I was counting--fifteen slices of cake--there was still a slight chance of leftover cake for me.

I kept glaring at them--my brothers will be the first to tell you that I was not a nice little kid--because deep down, I knew there would be no leftover cake when I saw Mother cut the cake as Kay scooped the ice cream. Oh, thank you, Bode, butter pecan, my favorite! One scoop of ice cream and a tiny slice of Colorvision Cake for me! How fair was that? I remember licking the 7-minute icing from the cake plate. No cake left--damn those interloping kids--they'd even taken drumsticks from the plate of fried chicken.

My mother never made the cake again, but every year I would whine about that cake and every year Mother would bake a coconut cake with 7-minute icing for my birthday. Mother would always say she'd lost the recipe.

One year after Mother died, I set out on a quest for the recipe for Colorvision Cake; I remembered that Mother had used red Jell-O gelatin in it; I wrote to the Jell-O company and told them about it! Voila! The Colorvision Cake recipe was sent to me. My brother Les and I made the cake, which turned out to look beautiful, but our attempt at making 7-minute icing was disastrous. I was in air-conditioning, I had chilled the bowl and beaters as my mother's recipe instructed, but the 7-minute icing wasn't fit to adorn my Colorvision Cake! What to do? I turned to my "network" -- I told my sister-in-law Jean about the 7-minute icing crisis--she sprang into action and called her cousin Peggy, who immediately whipped up a bunch of 7-minute icing and brought it over; the icing was perfect and although I was afraid to tint it pink, I joyously slathered it over the cake. We had ten people come for dinner that evening and I'm here to tell you that that Colorvision Cake impressed everyone! It was huge and sumptuous-looking and I was serving the cake on the good china. As I looked around the dining room table, I could see the looks of appreciation from people as they received their cake and then I noticed they were only taking a bite or two.

When I put the first bite in my mouth, it was a shock to the palate and to those salivary glands which were so eagerly awaiting the Colorvision Cake! We had followed the recipe to the letter, but the Jell-O taste in the cake was not good. I said, "This is really awful!" and looked over at the remaining cake on the silver cake stand, knowing that I had plenty of leftover Colorvision Cake all to myself! "Be careful what you wish for" ran through my head.

My brother Duke said, "That's probably why Mom never made it again!"

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Last year on our wedding anniversary, my husband lifted up a champagne glass filled with Coca-Cola to toast me: "I married her for her sense of humor, but then I found out the joke was on me." I responded, "You didn't have the nerve to say that on our wedding day." He answered, "I was scared to death on our wedding day."

The toast with a champagne glass filled with Coca-Cola is a yearly ritual because on our honeymoon, we were having dinner at a very nice restaurant and I looked over at another table and saw a couple toasting each other with champagne. I said, "Awwwww, that's so romantic." My new husband asked, "Sweetheart, would you like some champagne?" I said, I thought wistfully, "No, I just want to be toasted!" My husband summoned the waiter, and I swear he actually said, "Garcon". He asked the waiter for two champagne glasses and the waiter asked what he would like in them and he said he wanted them empty. When the waiter brought the glasses, my husband emptied our Coca-Cola into the glasses and lifted his glass and said, "Here's looking at you, kid." {OK, he had to borrow from Bogie on that one!)


Even If you dislike attorneys, you will love these tips from an attorney:

1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED".

2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.

3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box, use that instead of your home address.. If you do not have a P.O. Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it.

4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license,credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.

I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.

Unfortunately, I,an attorney, have first hand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.

But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

5. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

6. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

But here's what is perhaps most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.)

7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the internet in my name.

The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything.

If you are willing to pass this information along, it could really help someone that you care about.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


1. Don't imagine you can change a man, unless he's in diapers.
2. What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? Shut the door.
3. If they put a man on the moon, they should be able to put them all up there.
4. Go for the younger man. You might as well, they never mature anyway.
5. Men are all the same; they just have different faces, so we can tell them apart.
6. Best way to get a man to do something is to suggest he is too old for it.
7. Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.
8. The children of Israel wandered around the desert for 40 years. Even in
Biblical times, men wouldn't ask for directions.
9. If he asks what sort of books you're interested in, tell him check books.
10. Remember a sense of humor does not mean that you tell him jokes; it means that you laugh at his.

Monday, February 22, 2010


When my husband and I began dating, I was very self-conscious that I was older and there was no way that I would refer to him as "my boyfriend". Mary Wells song "My Guy" was very popular so I latched onto that to describe him when talking about him. My friend Pauline told me that one of our co-workers had asked her what my boyfriend's name was and Pauline said, "I think it's Guy." Ever since, Pauline has called him "Guy".

I think that only in southern Ohio do people pronounce Gerald "Gare-uld" rather than "Jare-uld". My husband and I dated for three years and when people ask why we took so long to get married I always answer that he wouldn't marry me until I learned to pronounce his name WRONG as I kept saying "Jare-uld" instead of

The real reason that he married me is that I could keep his neices and nephews straight for him. One of his brothers had nine children and three of the boys I called the "tow-headed stairsteps" because they were in close proximity in age and size. After meeting them the one time, by the next time I called them by name and Gerald asked in amazement, "How do you do that--I can't tell them apart?" I then told him some different characteristics about each one.

Now, Angie and Aron, I'm going to divulge a family secret: Uncle Gerald couldn't tell you two apart until you were grown up. I told him you two weren't IDENTICAL and the easy way to tell you apart, but every time we were all together I would have to whisper, "Aron on the right--Angie on the left!" or vice versa. I'm sure you'll forgive him now!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


My friend Billie is also an avid Elvis fan and shared her special memory blog item with me. Now I will share it here:

I was traveling with my parents in February 1956 through Tennessee on our way to Florida. The radio was playing when a local DJ introduced a new record called Heartbreak Hotel by a local singer. I was in the back seat of the car with a girlfriend and when we heard the first notes of the song, we both looked at each other incredulously....such a different sound. I had my Dad pull off the road and wait to hear what the artist's name was so that I could write it down. When he said "Elvis Presley", I wondered how to spell such an unusual name. Two weeks later when we returned to Columbus, Ohio, I went to several record shops to find the record and was told that they didn't have it and had never heard of someone by the name of Elvis Presley. Needless to say, it wasn't long until everybody had heard of I felt I had discovered him in my own way. I was 17 and he was 20 and I was hooked forever with his talent, his charm, his charisma.

I was fortunate enough to be able to see him in person when he came to Columbus, Ohio, in the spring of 1956 at Veterans Memorial. I was not a screaming sort of fan...more of a bookworm/quiet type of when all the girls were screaming, I was irritated because I couldn't hear him. BUT when he was getting ready to close his performance, he lowered the stand type microphone between his legs and held out his arm pointing to the audience and saying..."If you can't come back to see me when I come to town the next time, 'You Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog'! followed by the song which had not been released yet. So the bookworm/quiet fan actually swooned in my seat!

I remember always buying his records at a local Kresge's store every chance I could. I got married in 1957 and my first baby arrived in 1958, and my first Mother's Day gift was Elvis' 2nd album. Always a fan but never able to afford going to his concerts with a young family, I still had my records. I eventually had 4 children (2 girls and 2 boys) and when I had my first son on January 8, 1965, I was unaware at the time that it was Elvis' birthday. So Bobby always had to share his birthday with Elvis and the anthologies I would always listen to. After he graduated from OSU and had to leave for ROTC military duty, I danced with my son in the kitchen to Elvis singing "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You". A very special memory.

I always got teased by my family and friends and co-workers about my love for Elvis, but it didn't bother me. When I only had 2 children in 1963, I had made plans to go to Graceland to finally see his home but alas, my daughters both came down with Chicken Pox and the trip was cancelled. I remember finally being able to buy 5 tickets to see Elvis to share him with my family in 1974, at University of Dayton. Our tickets were so bad that you could hardly see him, but my family didn't watch him....they were watching me!

I never joined his fan club or collected teddy bears, lipstick, etc., but eventually got hooked on his bubble gum cards, Christmas ornaments, velvet paintings, beach towels, t-shirts, in addition to many special books and album collections. Then on June 25, 1977, I was able to get 4 tickets in the 16th row at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati to see him perform. I was so excited, but my husband was at summer camp in Michigan, my children were at band camp or unavailable, so I called my girlfriend that had been with me in 1956 when we heard him for the first time on the trip to Florida. She and her daughter were available and so I recruited my Mother to go too. She said she didn't want to go as she was not an Elvis fan, but I convinced her I needed her company. So the 4 of us were off to Cincinnati for a wonderful concert. He wore his sunburst outfit and I remember that he played the piano to Unchained Melody and complained about having novacaine from a dental appointment and couldn't curl his upper lip. Again, I was the quiet and shy fan who would not go up to get his scarf (I regret to say), but I did buy a rolled up picture of him for $5 to take home to my Dad. I felt bad that we left Daddy alone as it was his 63rd birthday! So 6 weeks later when I was driving home from work (North American Rockwell), I heard on my car radio that Elvis had died. I didn't think I would be able to drive home as I was so distraught. But I remembered when I gave my Dad the rolled up picture of Elvis, he said, "Now what am I supposed to do with that?" I called my Dad and said you can frame it and give it back to me. So when I went to my parents home in December of '77, I was alone in their house when I went to turn on the lamp in the living room only to find the framed picture of Elvis looking at me and almost had a heart attack. It was so life-like! I was asked by where are you going to hang that picture? Well, it was so big and heavy, it needed to definitely be on a appropriate...a stud on a stud! I hung it in the entryway of our home for several years, but now that we live in a small condo, it is behind the door to our computer room and when the door is closed and I'm on the computer, he is there looking at me.

I still had not gotten to Graceland. Again, we planned a trip in 1982...packed and ready to leave when we received a phone call that my husband's Mother had passed away in Michigan. But finally in 1988, we did an unplanned visit to Graceland. We went to Florida to visit our son, Bob Jr. and while I was reading the map on our way back to Ohio, I noticed we were near a route that went to Tupelo, MS, and asked my husband could we take a little detour home? I'll never forget the highway leading to Tupelo...I nicknamed it the Honeysuckle wild honeysuckle were blooming along the roadside all the way. When we arrived at his birthplace and home, it was closed, but I was able to sit in the swing on the front porch, look in the windows, and reflect. We stayed overnight in Memphis and at long last, I was able to see Graceland. I'm still hoping to go back again as more is open to the public now.

After his passing, I couldn't listen to his hurt too much. And several months later, trying to explain my feelings to my children, I thought I was ready to listen to some of his more upbeat songs like Poke Salad Annie and Trouble. Wrong! My favorite upbeat song is 'Trouble' and when I played it, I realized I still wasn't ready as the tears flowed. It was from King Creole, one of his better movies. I did enjoy his movies, if for no other reason than watching him perform and the music videos of today. But I did want him to have the opportunity to star with Barbara Streisand in "A Star is Born" as he so wanted to be a serious actor.

And last but not least Sue is my memory of you doing your Elvis impersonation! It was so great to have a friend with the same excitement for Elvis that I felt. I remember you were the one I wanted to share my Elvis rose with so when I ordered one for me, I ordered one for you. Now they are not available.

I have wonderful memories of Elvis and will always enjoy listening to his music. When I leave this world, he will be singing "How Great Thou Art" for me.

Friday, February 19, 2010


"Sarge" was one of my fellow supervisors at IH. He had retired from the Army and expected to conduct business as if he were still in the Army. Dealing with the UAW was a rude awakening for him. To this day, each time I see him he asks if the Committeeman who had been in his area, is still alive and he proceeds with a rant against him. Every mean prank ever thought of by a worker was done to him: the grease on the telephone, water on the chair seat, phony messages, graphite on the safety glasses, trips to fetch non-existent items such as "air hooks" and directing weld spray at his clothing. I was surprised by his gullibility especially with his having been in the military. I tried to instruct him, but he was obviously not about to take advice or direction from a female.

"Sarge" was very spoiled by his wife, Judy, who did not work outside the home. His clothes were always perfectly coordinated and pressed. Our lunch time was always an event because of "Sarge" and his lunchbox. When he opened his lunch box, his orange had already been peeled, divided into sections, wrapped in a napkin and sealed in a plastic bag to guarantee freshness. His sandwiches were separated by bread in one bag, condiments in another bag, meat in another bag and all of these stacked together in the order of his desired assembly. His cookies were homemade. He had a little baggie with his vitamins. He had antiseptic wipes in his lunch box.

Of course, all the rest of us were totally envious of him. I even told him that I needed a wife like his! One day "Sarge" told us that his wife had started to work outside the home. A few days later, he was getting his lunch out of his lunchbox and we noticed an orange was just tossed in the lunch box, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich already packaged, and at last, when he was expecting to have his dessert, he held up a packaged apple pie and with a look of amazement and sadness; he asked, "What am I supposed to do with this?" The other guys were holding themselves laughing and one said, "You're in the real world now!"

One Friday, I asked "Sarge" what he was going to do that weekend. He told me that he was going to meet his daughter. I knew that he and Judy had two sons and I said, "I didn't know you had a daughter." He said, "I didn't either until two weeks ago." He then told me the story of how he and his childhood sweetheart learned that she was pregnant and her parents had taken her away and he was told that the baby would be given up for adoption. She was sixteen and he was seventeen. Although he tried to have contact with the girlfriend, all of his letters were returned. After awhile he quit trying and he joined the Army. He never knew if the baby was a boy or girl. The girlfriend had not given up the baby, but she died in an automobile accident when the baby was little and the grandparents reared her as their own child. When the grandparents died, her aunt told her the truth. She was twenty-five when she began the search for her father. One of the things she did was advertise in the "Stars and Stripes" military newspaper as the aunt had told her that her father had joined the Army. "Sarge" still had his military benefits and one day, he'd gone to Wright Patterson for a medical appointment and he picked up the "Stars and Stripes" and in the personal ads was a message from his daughter. He called her and they arranged to meet. The following Monday, I asked him about it and he couldn't stop talking about her. "It's amazing, she's so much like me--she even holds her cigarette the same way I do--and I have grandchildren and ironically her little boy has my name!" The last time I saw "Sarge" he told me that his daughter had moved to Springfield after her divorce and that his wife Judy and his daughter were like sisters.


Every family has one--the person who will not return borrowed items--and I have my sister-in-law. I must call to remind her about borrowed items and then I must fetch the items she borrowed.

She borrowed my ladder and kept it for ten years! This ladder was given to me as a birthday present from my brother Norman and he’d written “Happy Birthday, Sue” under the shelf. (I put practical things on my birthday wish-list!) My ceilings are 12 feet high and although I have a step-stool in each of the kitchen, library and bedroom to be able to reach items, sometimes I need a ladder. Each time I needed the ladder in the ten-year span, instead of going to my sister-in-law to retrieve it, I would call on my taller husband to reach things for me. One day Gerald wasn’t home and I needed the ladder. I called my sister-in-law to tell her I was coming to get my ladder. She told me she didn’t have my ladder. I asked her what she had done with it and she said she’d never had it but that she had one of her own I could “borrow”. I asked if it were a 6-feet wooden ladder and she said that it was. I told her that I was coming to look at it. When I went there, we went to the garage and I showed her the inscription on the ladder and she was, of course, embarrassed and said that she’d never noticed the writing. She asked me how long she’d had it and I said, “Ten years.” She asked, “If you haven’t needed it in ten years, why do you need it now?”

Thursday, February 18, 2010


In the 1970's, when my husband and I were young and foolish, we picked up hitchhikers. Of course, I interviewed ("grilled") all of them as they rode in the car. One Sunday we picked up a guy named Kevin and we went sixty miles out of our way to take him to his college. During his grilling I learned that his parents lived in Wilmington. When I told Kevin that we lived close by in Washington Court House, he told us that his father worked in Washington Court House at Mead. I told Kevin that I'd been trying to get a job there for two years and that the Personnel Department was only open for applications on Tuesdays but that every Tuesday I would go there to "renew" my application and express my desire to work there. Kevin told me that he worked at Mead during the summers as they hired college students as summer help. Kevin asked why I wanted to work there and I told him because Mead offered tuition reimbursement and that the pay was better than what I was making as a supervisor at my current job. Before Kevin got out of the car, he told me to write down all my information and he would tell his father about me. I gave him my information, all the while thinking that the father of a hitchhiker would hardly be one to be able to help me. Two weeks later, I received a telephone call for an interview. After receiving a job offer, I attributed my getting the job to my persistence and abilities. I was assigned to second shift and about two weeks after I began working, I was in the cafeteria before the shift started. A handsome, slender, well-dressed man with graying hair at the temples and wearing wire-rimmed glasses, approached me and asked, "Are you Sue?" I answered that I was. He put out his hand to shake mine and he said, "So glad to meet you--I'm Bob Gestrich--thanks for giving Kevin the ride!" When work started I asked my co-worker what Bob Gestrich did and the guy said, "He's the Plant Manager."

I realized that I had gotten the job because the hitchhiker was the son of the Plant Manager! That taught me a lesson about "judging"! The following summer Kevin came to work as did his brother Eric and we had the greatest conversations while folding Alsco Anaconda containers. I finally asked Kevin why he had been hitchhiking and he said it was because his "old man" was too cheap to buy them cars and that he expected them to work for everything because he had "come up the hard way" and he expected them to do the same.

I should have gotten the job because of my dogged determination and work ethic and not because of an altruistic act, but I'm so glad I did. After setting production records, I went on to become the first female manufacturing supervisor in the history of Mead Container Corporation. I have always said that if I hadn't gotten that job with a large corporation like Mead I would not have been able to have the opportunities at International Harvester and Rockwell, so I have always been grateful for my chance meeting with Kevin Gestrich.


One Saturday my husband and I picked up a young hitchhiker and, of course, I asked where he was going and he answered that he was going to Las Vegas to be a comedian. My interest was naturally piqued. I asked him what kind of comedy he did and he said "impressions". I asked him to do some impressions and he started out with the old familiars: John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean, etc., but the problem was that every impression he did sounded like Howard Cossell doing impressions.

I learned that he was from Philadelphia and that his stage name was "Tony Jacobs". His real name was a Polish name which I cannot remember how to spell, but I do remember the pronunciation and I believe "Anthony Jacobchick" is close. I asked him, "Don't you need to belong to unions to be a performer?" He answered, yes and he handed his wallet to me to see his union cards. While holding his wallet, I saw on his driver's license that he was 18 years old, although he'd told me he was 21. I asked him if his parents knew what he was doing and he assured me that they did.

I started telling him some of my favorite jokes and I noticed that he was writing on a notepad. I asked what he was doing and he said that the jokes were really good and he could use them. Actually, the jokes were well-worn ones and I told him that he'd get in trouble using those jokes because they came from other comedians and comedians didn't appreciate other performers using their material. I told him, "You'll be blackballed if you do that!"

We took him home with us and had him stay overnight and I made him call his mother to tell her that he was all right. When we arrived home, my brother and his wife and two children were there and my mother had prepared dinner. During the fun-filled evening, Tony asked, "Do you guys do this often?" and my sister-in-law, Sheila, answered, "Oh, yeah, they go out every weekend and pick up hitchhikers and bring them home for our entertainment." Tony asked, "Really?" Sheila said, "No, of course not, Tony, you're going to have to realize when something's a joke!" The next morning after breakfast, we took him to the freeway and waited for him to catch a ride west. As he was leaving, he told us that he would always remember us and our kindness and when he "got famous" he would send us tickets to come to see him.
I still haven't gotten the tickets.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


My friend Cammy loaned me "The Catcher In The Rye" when I was 16 years old. I thought that the book had JUST been written as it was so evocative to me of my own time, not ten years earlier. At that time, I agreed with Holden Caulfield that the worst thing a person could be was a "phony". I told all of my family, friends, and classmates about the book. After that, Cammy and I devoured "Nine Stories" and after Cammy and I drifted apart after high school, "Franny and Zooey", "Raise High The Roofbeams" and "Seymour: An Introduction" brought us back together for a short time.

I called Cammy today and, although we hadn't spoken for years, I felt that only she would have the same poignant feelings that I have about the death of Jerome David Salinger.

How can I count the ways that Salinger influenced me and my life? One of the first questions I asked my husband was if he'd read Salinger. We probably wouldn't have had another date, but, fortunately, his answers on all of the first three questions were "correct" ("Do you drink?", "Are you opposed to the war?", and "Have you read Salinger?")

I've read everything by and about Salinger (how else would I know the word "bildungsroman"?) and belong to "The Dead Caulfields", a website devoted to Salinger. Just like Holden did with his favorite author, I wanted to meet Salinger. To quote Holden: "What really knocks me out is a book, that when you're done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone when you felt like it. That doesn't happen much though." I felt that way, but of course I didn't meet him.

My lifelong love affair with Thomas Hardy's work began because Holden said how he loved "ole Eustacia Vye". I can remember asking my senior high school English literature teacher, Miss Digman, why we didn't read Hardy and she immediately assigned "The Return of The Native" to me. When I began work, one of my first luxuries was a subscription to "The New Yorker" magazine because it was Salinger's magazine publisher. I can remember when "Hapworth 16, 1924" took up almost the entire issue of "The New Yorker".

My passion about the First Amendment was stirred because school systems wanted to ban "Catcher".

How many boys have been named "Holden" as an homage?

How sad when the psychopaths distorted the message.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CRINGE, additions to Fayette County talk

"ValentiMes Day" for Valentine's Day

"Woosh" for Wish

Monday, February 15, 2010

U. S. 53310761

As a teeny-bopper, I was the world's most devoted Elvis Presley fan. When I was thirteen, I even went to the beautician Evelyn Evans to have my hair cut like Elvis'. My bedroom was completely covered with Elvis Presley pictures. Every time a new song was released, several of us Elvis fans would listen to the record over and over to be able to write down the lyrics to be able to sing along. My greatest artistic achievement was to sing along and gyrate as Elvis did when he sang "Trouble" from the movie "King Creole". As the years passed, I would always watch his god-awful movies and buy whatever records were released, and I never lost the love for him, but by the sixties I was "into" folk, protest music, and jazz and although I went to see him in concert in 1973, my passion had subsided. I attributed it to "growing up". In 1973, we went to Graceland and stood outside the gates and took pictures of the gates, but this was before his death and the tours; after the tours started we went to Memphis to see inside Graceland. I was disturbed because his grave marker has "Elvis Aaron Presley" and I know that's wrong because it's really Elvis Aron Presley as the Aron rhymes with the middle name of his twin Jesse Garon Presley. I bought the commemorative stamps and sent out "first day cancellations" on January 8 to my fellow Elvis fans.

Several years after Elvis' death, my brother called me on January 8 and said, "Hey, they're having an Elvis trivia contest and you should call in and win." I tuned in and one had to be the 3rd caller; the questions were very easy but I couldn't get through to answer. Then a question came which nobody called to answer. I dialed the number and answered the question, "What was Elvis' serial number in the Army?" I answered, "U.S. 53310761." The DJ asked, "How on earth did you know that?" I told him that after Elvis was drafted, there was a girl group--The Thirteens--that had a song entitled "Dear 53310761" which I have and then I proceeded to sing the song! I also told him that there were at least 25 songs recorded ABOUT Elvis. I also told him that it was "U.S." rather than "R.A." because "U.S." is used for draftees and "R.A." is used for enlisted people. I think that was entirely TMI as he then told me about my prize and shut me down.

What did I win? ALL of Elvis' records! Of course, I already had all of Elvis' records. I gave them as a present to my brother who is also an Elvis fan.

Now I have an "Elvis shrine" at Christmas: I have a tree full of Elvis ornaments which I surround with Elvis collectibles. This past Christmas my friend Arminta gave me an Elvis Christmas stocking which is shaped like Elvis' white satin jumpsuit pant leg and boot. It has a button when pushed plays "Blue Christmas". I send Elvis Christmas cards to all of my friends who are also Elvis devotees. I'm just sad that I never met him.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Saturday, February 13, 2010


My employer was married to a Japanese-American woman and in the company there were a number of Asian women employed.

One day at work a sales representative came to give a demonstration of an "improved" version of a product which we used. Two of the women who were Asian were working at the equipment where the demonstration was conducted. After the demonstration, as we were walking away, the sales representative made a repugnant remark about the sexual proclivities of Asian women. My boss saw that I was ready to respond and he motioned for me to leave. I walked away from the site greatly angered not only because one of of my sisters-in-law is Korean, but also because of the women who worked for me. I waited as I saw my boss bid him goodbye. My boss called me to his office and motioned for me to sit down. He calmly picked up the telephone and called the sales representative's superior and told him that we would not be ordering material from them ever again. I could tell from the conversation that the other person was asking for an explanation, but he gave no reason or explanation, just a simple cancellation of the contract.

I was shocked and asked why he hadn't told the man WHY we were declining the material. He answered, "I want that SOB to keep making those kinds of mistakes and for him to explain to his boss WHY he lost the contract." I asked, "Did you tell the sales rep why?" He answered, "Yeah, I told the M-F'er that he was talking about MY daughter and that you never know who you're talking to!" I am sure that I would have told the sales rep's boss the reason, but perhaps my boss' actions were more effective.

However, "You never know who you're talking to" became a defining moment in my life because I knew that I, myself, had been guilty of untoward remarks.

Now, whenever I hear a bigoted remark, I feel it is my moral duty to confront it. "Bigots are like the pupils of the eyes: the more light you shine on them, the more they recede." I am not naive enough to believe that I could ever change people, but at least I can embarrass them. Whenever I hear a bigoted remark, I always answer and say that I am a member of the particular ethnic group being insulted. It's always interesting to see the reaction of people when their bigotry is exposed. Once, one of my fellow managers told a Polish joke. I said, "Obviously, you don't know that I am of Polish descent." He said, "With a name like Raypole?" I said, "Raypolkowsi." He said, "But that's your married name." I said "Shirkowski is my maiden name." The guy said, "Your maiden name was Shirkey just like your brother." I said, "They Anglicized it when we came to this country." He turned and hurried away. He returned later and said, "I went to see your brother and he told me you guys are of Irish descent." I said, "Well, you probably said something anti-Irish to him!" Another time, my brother and I were together at a gas station and a guy there made a bigoted remark about Hispanic people. My brother, who had taken Spanish in high school, immediately began saying things to me in SPANISH! Not knowing any Spanish at that time, I answered, "Si, Jose." The guy slunk away.

But the remarks which constantly stun me are the anti-Semitic ones and I'll relate just a few:

1. All of the management people in my department were together at lunch and one of them made an anti-Semitic remark and I said, "You know, it's amazing that I have never had to resort to those tactics that you ascribe to people of my particular ethnic persuasion." The guy asked, "What does that mean?" My friend John Steinhauer said, "I think she just told you she's Jewish!"

2. A friend of mine has a mezuzah on the doorpost and a visitor asked, "Do you know you have a Hebrew thing on your front door?" My friend answered yes and the offender promptly launched into an anti-Semitic rant. When questioned, the person admitted that she'd actually never even met a Jew!

3. Recently, another person that I see in my aerobics class, made an anti-Semitic remark and after I told her I was Jewish, I could tell that she didn't get the connection between what she said about Jews supposed swindling of people and one's being Jewish. I told her that her term was offensive and she said, "Well, I've said it all my life." and I told her that she's been offensive all of her life. Fortunately, she now avoids me.

4. A woman who was a fellow Board of Trustees member with me made an anti-Semitic remark and when I confronted her she started to say, "Some of.....", I stopped her before she finished the sentence with "Some of my best friends are Jews," and told her, "I can't let you finish that because that's the most ridiculous thing you could say!" I told her that either she would resign from the Board or I would file a complaint. Fortunately, I never saw her again.

5. A friend of mine was driving her car and heard a commercial from a local car-dealer on a local radio station and the car dealer stated that he could be "Jewed down." My friend pulled her car off the road, called the radio station and complained. To our knowledge, it has never been replayed, but I telephoned the car dealership to complain. I was SO proud of my friend.

I am constantly amazed that nearly all of the people who make the remarks have actually never even met or known a Jew.

I've claimed to be of every race, religion and nationality but only recently did I finally have the COURAGE to say that I am gay in response to a homophobic remark. I'm NOT gay, Asian, black, Polish, Catholic, Hispanic, Italian, or any of the many others I've claimed as mine, but "they never know who they're talking to." Thanks to my old boss for a lesson well-learned.

Friday, February 12, 2010


In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older. And, there on television, she said it was "exciting."

Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every day such as her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou said this:

"I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow."

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."

"I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life."

"I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as "making a life".

"I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance."

"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back."

"I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision."

"I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one."

"I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone and people love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back."

"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn."

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Thursday, February 11, 2010


A physics teacher in high school once told the students that while one grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn't slow a train very much, a billion of them would. With that thought in mind, read the following, obviously written by a good American ...

Good idea: one light bulb at a time.

Check this out. I can verify this because I was in Lowe's the other day for some reason and just for the heck of it, I was looking at the hose attachments. They were all made in China. The next day I was in Ace Hardware and just for the heck of it, I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in USA. Start looking.

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else - even their job. So, after reading this email, I think this lady is on the right track. Let's get behind her!

My grandson likes Hershey's candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now. I do not buy it any more. My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico ... now I have switched to Crest. You have to read the labels on everything.

This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed 60 watt light bulbs. In the light bulb aisle, right next to the GE brand I normally buy, was an off-brand labeled, "Everyday Value." I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats: they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that the GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in -- get ready for this-- the USA in a company in Cleveland, Ohio.

So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that were made right here.

So on to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets: yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada. The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA --the job you save may be your own or your neighbor's! If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies!

CRINGE, additions

"ALLS I HAVE TO SAY" instead of "All that I have to say" (heard on TV last night!)

"YOUINS" instead of "you ones", I guess. I didn't even know how to spell--or misspell--it! Youuns, you-uns, yuhns!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I like to buy AMERICAN MADE PRODUCTS! Have you gotten a Valentine's Day gift for your sweetheart yet? Check out this special offer:

We currently have a Valentine Day sale 10% off orders of $49.95 or more.

Americas Virtual General Store - Valentine Special

Click the link above for the Valentine Special or find a link to the Americas Virtual General Store website on this blogsite.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I have been fortunate to meet the author Allan Eckert several times and to have him autograph copies of his books. The first time I met him was at the play "Tecumseh". During the intermission, over the loudspeaker came the message that Mr. Eckert was making a surprise visit and that we could purchase his new book and he would gladly autograph it. I told my husband, "If I'd known he was going to be here, I could've brought all my books." My husband groaned and said, "And you would do that, wouldn't you?" As I was waiting patiently in line, a man in front of me put his book down to autograph and Mr. Eckert asked his name and I could overhear the man say his name was "Fuchs" which he spelled. As the man turned to go, I asked him, "Any relation to Klaus?" The man responded, "You're not funny, lady!" As I put down my book to be autographed, Mr. Eckert was laughing and said, "You know you're terrible, don't you?'" I answered, "Well, it IS a famous name in history; I was going to tell him my name was Rosenberg!" Mr. Eckert shook his head and autographed the book. That's why my copy of "The Conquerors" is autographed to "Mrs. Rosenberg"!

The second time I met him, he was at a scheduled book signing in Xenia, Ohio. In preparation, I packed my bag with 20--yes, 20--I have no shame--of Eckert's books. My nephew Michael accompanied me to help me carry the books and he is also an Eckert fan. I purchased two copies of the new book--one for Michael and one for me. Mr. Eckert was sitting at a table and his wife was sitting beside him opening books to the proper page for him to sign. I placed the first one down--his new one--and then I reached in my bag and began taking out all of the volumes. Mrs. Eckert looked at me, laughed, shook her head and asked, "Is that all you do--read?" I answered, "No, I work too!" After the tenth book being plopped in front of her, she said, "You know you need to get a life!" After the fifteenth book, Mrs. Eckert let out an exaggerated sigh and asked, "You mean there's more?" The proprietor of the bookstore mistakenly thought there was a problem and he came over and he let me know that my greediness in getting all of my books signed was inappropriate. I said, with a straight face, "But I bought all of them here." Mrs. Eckert laughed and said, "And if you believe that one--I've got a bridge to sell you." Mr. Eckert said to the proprietor, "This looks like my biggest fan, so I don't mind signing all of them since I've already received the royalties!" At last, I brought out "The Conquerors" (which he had signed in Chillicothe years before) and I showed it to Mrs. Eckert and when she saw the inscription, she said, "Mrs. Rosenberg, I need a new house, so just keep buying books!" Mr. Eckert said, "Oh, I can't believe it--I remember this--she's NOT Mrs. Rosenberg!"

It's such a wonderful experience when the author of such serious books is full of good humor and his wife is equally charming.

CRINGE, addition

From my cousin Cindy: "SAMMICH" for sandwich

From my friend Jean: "OFF-TEN" for often

Sunday, February 7, 2010


When people marry, it should be a law that one of them should possess the ability to get rid of "stuff"! Unfortunately, this is not the case in my marriage. Both my husband and I find it difficult to discard anything. "You never know, I might need that", is a typical refrain when it's suggested by one to the other that one could dispose of something.

My brother and I were saying that we never thought that we would sound like our mother, but we do! If I heard my mother say, "A place for everything and everything in its place" once, I heard it a million times in my lifetime. My brother and I call each other "Gladys" when we sound like our mother which happens frequently the older we get. One of my brothers is able to get rid of stuff, but another one is like me. My New Year's Resolution for this year, as it has been for the past nine years, is to "get rid of STUFF"! The past nine years have been unsuccessful, but since January 4, 2010, I have taken two bags to Goodwill!

When my husband and I retired, several people asked if we were going to "downsize" and I always answered that it would take me ten years to move. People oftentimes ask me why we live in such a large house and I readily admit that I have a bit (others say a lot!) of OCD. On one hand, I can't get rid of stuff, but on the other, I can't stand clutter. All of my end tables, coffee tables and other pieces of furniture are chests--for storage--to prevent "clutter"! My husband is not bothered by clutter. When I see the horror stories on television of those "hoarders", my heart goes out to them because I think that they just need "more room", instead of my brother's opinion that they are just plain nuts! To ensure harmonious relations between my husband and myself, years ago we came to an agreement: the house is MINE and the two 2-car garages, workshop, attic and basement are HIS as far as "clutter" is concerned. The house is free of clutter. When I go to one of his areas, I cannot stay very long because of the clutter. I have not been to one of his garages since 1984; I know there are two vehicles in there because I can see them through the door window. I've been to the basement twice this past year and to the attic once.

This past summer, he built a storage shed because he didn't have enough room for "stuff". I must say that he did a very good job on the shed, but I do notice that some of the things he said that he was going to put in the shed are still in the yard.

On the other hand, recycling is practically a religion with him. One day in Chillicothe, he saw a 2x6x12 board fall from a truck and he ran after it, picked up the board and brought it home with him! I asked, "Are you going to cut that up for firewood?" and he said, "This is worth $30.00; if I can't use it for something, your brother can!" You just gotta love him! After investigation, he told me it would be worth about $5.00.

Recently, Wayne, a former co-worker of mine, emailed me to ask me about the last name of the person named "Eddie" in the "RK" article. I couldn't think of it immediately, but I knew that I would have the information in file cabinets from 1982-1988. Climbing up those attic steps, I thought, "Am I out of my mind?" because I had had to take the file cabinets to the attic, because I'd run out of room downstairs and they were now in his "Clutter Zone", but when I located Eddie Sharp's name and photograph, it gave me such great pleasure to e-mail Wayne with the information and to reflect on the happiest times of my work life.


Thursday, February 4, 2010


Magenta is my favorite color. The Binney & Smith 48-crayon box of Crayola crayons was introduced the year I began school. I had a box of only 24 crayons but Lorraine Smith had a brand-new box of 48 Crayola crayons. I COVETED her crayons with all of the NEW colors: burnt sienna, prussian blue, bittersweet, periwinkle, thistle, maize, maroon, cornflower, melon, mahogony, sea green, orchid and especially MAGENTA.

One day we had to stay inside at recess because of the weather and there we were at our little green tables, playing games. At home, when we played with cards, we bet with matches. [I still love the smell of matches and crayons!] I told the others about games we played at home and I said we could use crayons for our betting. Well, well, being the little card sharp, I was winning, and finally, that elusive MAGENTA crayon was put out onto the table to bet and I WON, I WON, I WON. That had to have been the happiest moment in my little six-year-old life! As I proceeded to pick up the crayons and stop playing, Lorraine went crying to Mrs. McDonald and I was swiftly taken UPSTAIRS to the Principal's office where they called my mother and reported that I had been teaching the other kids how to play POKER and that I had them betting crayons! I had to return the crayons.

I am a collector of Crayola items and especially crayons and have more than twenty "collector" boxes of crayons. Several years ago, Crayola offered a special where one could order an entire box of one's favorite crayons; YES, I have a whole box of UNTOUCHED Crayola MAGENTA crayons!

CRINGE, additions to Fay-yette County talk


From my friend Jennifer J:..."purdy" or "purty" for PRETTY

From my friend Kay O:........"ceement" for CEMENT

From my friend Jean L:......."onest" for ONCE and "twicest" for TWICE

From Gerald:................."crens" for CRAYONS


My friend Patty requested that I email a copy of my recipe for "Banana Split Cake". She called me later and told me that her husband Chuck was getting the ingredients ready for the cake and she heard him "chuckling" (that's laughing for guys named Chuck!) and when she asked him what was funny, he asked, "How old IS Sue?" When Patty told him that she and I were the same age, she asked him why he'd asked; he told her that he assumed that I was older as he hadn't heard anyone use the word "oleo" since he was a kid. I'd written "oleo" instead of margarine in the recipe.

I haven't uttered the word OLEO since!

OLEO STORY # 2: I was at Kroger and a young woman was beside me at the dairy case and she mumbled, in exasperation, "I don't know what this is." I asked her what it was and she showed me a list of groceries written in a scrawl and she told me that she was getting groceries for her grandmother. Her grandmother had wisely written the list by sections: 1. Produce, 2. Canned Goods, 3. Deli, 4. Dairy. The young woman pointed to the word "OLEO" which was clearly written and said, "She has this in dairy." I said, "Oh, that's margarine." The young woman said, "Well, why didn't she write that?" I told her that her grandmother no doubt grew up saying that, as I had, and then I gave a probably boring recitation of how margarine was originally "oleomargarine" and that when my mother was young, the oleomargarine came in white blocks with a packet of yellow food coloring to mix with it to make it butter-colored! The young woman laughed and said, "I thought she wanted Oil Of Olay!"

OLEO STORY # 3: Another time I was in Kroger and two young guys were unloading and stocking margarine and I heard one say to the other, "Man, this old guy got mad at me because he asked where the OLEO was that was on sale and I told him I didn't know what that was." The other guy said, "Well, what is it?" The first guy said, "He said it's butter." Of course, I had to be helpful and bore those two young guys with the history of oleomargarine!


1 1/2 packages cinnamon graham crackers, crushed finely
1 stick OLEOMARGARINE, melted
1/4 cup sugar
Mix together and press firmly into a 9x13 glass dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

2 packages (3.5 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
Beat thoroughly.

4 cups Cool Whip
Mix thoroughly.

Slice 4 bananas and fold into pudding mixture. Pour onto cooled crust.
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple (thoroughly drained)
Spread pineapple over pudding mixture.

1 small jar maraschino cherries, thoroughly drained and cut into quarter pieces.
Drop evenly on mixture.
Spread a layer of Cool Whip on top.
Drizzle chocolate sauce attractively on top.
Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Cover and refrigerate; let set at least 4 hours until well chilled.

**My brother Norman's favorite dessert I make.


My husband has a monthly poker party and I prepare a different menu each month: one month is Italian, another Mexican, another the Indoor Picnic and another one is Soup and Sandwiches. One of my brothers is known as "The Soup Nazi" because he likes Seinfeld and also because he makes a great variety of delicious soups and breads. The Soup Nazi suggested that we should have a variety of soups and he suggested that everybody could bring a different soup. The Soup Nazi, of course, had to outshine everyone else as he brought his famous "Caldo Gallego". The only other entries were beans and vegetable soup.

The testosterone level is usually high at these get-togethers, and the women must find other activities to pursue after dinner and that month I had invited a woman to teach us wreath-making. I knew that the world had changed forever when I heard my deer-hunting brother and my sports-minded nephew discussing cookware! Pointing out the three large pots on the kitchen stove, my brother said, "Well, I prefer the Bellgique over the Circulon." My nephew admitted that he had "pot envy" because his cookware was Farberware!. My other brother, dipping bread in his bowl of soup, said, "What next, boys, flower arranging or poker?"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


David McCullough, the historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for his biographies of Truman and John Adams, was scheduled to lecture at Wittenberg University. This was before he had finished the Adams biography. I loaded up my bag full of his books: "Truman", "The Great Bridge", "The Path Between The Seas", "Mornings On Horseback", "Brave Companions", and "Johnstown Flood", hoping to have them autographed.

The lecture was wonderful and Mr. McCullough is an engaging speaker. During the lecture he told us that he was working on a biography of John Adams. He said that perhaps that very evening that there might be someone in the audience who would grow up to be President of the United States and then he paused dramatically and said, "And I hope that SHE does a better job than most of the men have!" I jumped up and began to applaud. I quickly noticed that I was the only one standing and applauding because my husband was tugging on my jacket.

After the speech Mr. McCullough graciously said that he would be glad to autograph books. I rushed to be at the head of the line. The organizers of the event had obviously not considered that McCullough should have a table and chair to perform the task. I said to my husband, "Sweetheart, why don't you see if you can find a table." Mr. McCullough chuckled and said, "Yes, SWEETHEART, why don't you find me a table if you can." My husband scurried around and located a table and McCullough sat down and I began dragging out all of my books for him to sign. McCullough said, "I bet you were my standing ovation of one, weren't you?" As my husband and I were among the few older people present, Mr. McCullough asked if I were a professor at Wittenberg and I answered, "No, I'm a student--I got a late start." He so kindly said, "Well, not VERY late!" He asked if history were my major and my husband and I automatically "saluted" at the mention of "major" and Mr. McCullough noticed the saluting and asked what that meant and I told him of my "family thing" of saluting at all military words. My husband gives a proper Navy-veteran-type salute while mine is a lame Girl Scout-type salute. Mr. McCullough obviously noticed the differences in our saluting as he laughed, looked at my husband, and said, "Generally speaking, I'd say that you were in the military" and Mr. McCullough SALUTED along with me and my husband!

It is such a pleasure to meet and speak with a person one admires, and it is especially pleasurable when the person one has admired from afar is so charming in person!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


"SCHADENFREUDE": the pleasure or satisfaction derived from the misfortunes of others.

I wrote to my friend Patty, "I never heard of this word a year ago and now I am seeing it everywhere!" I asked my friend Alice about the correct German pronunciation.

Now, Patty and I trade "Schadenfreude" stories. My favorite:

I had never attended class reunions because I still had bitterness from my school experiences. The movie "Mean Girls" could have been written about one of my classmates. My husband finally convinced me to go to one of my class reunions as we always has such a good time at his own class reunions.

What I learned from attending my class reunion was that the more people change, the more they stay the same. In school, one of my classmates was a particularly snobbish, mean-spirited, person that I will refer to as "Mean Girl" in this article. As a grownup she was even worse as she remained just as snobbish and mean-spirited and yet proselytized about her religious beliefs.

At the reunion which was held at Deer Creek Park, I was standing under a tree, as I am allergic to the sun. Another classmate, Don, gestured toward "Mean Girl" and said to me, "You must know her husband as he works at the same place you do." I told Don, "There are 18,000 people there, so I probably don't know him." Don went over to them and then all three came over to where I was standing and "Mean Girl" said, "Oh, we saw you over here under the tree so I thought you were worried about the sun changing your hair color." (I guess that was her idea of charitable Christian humor.) Don said, to "Mean Girl's" husband, "I was telling Phyllis that you also worked at Rockwell." [ In school, I was Phyllis, as Sue is my middle-name] He asked where I worked and I said, "In the FIF". He asked for whom I worked and I answered, "Al Smith--but at at work, I'm Sue Raypole." He asked, "You're THE Sue Raypole?" "Mean Girl" immediately responded with, "What does that mean--THE Sue Raypole?" "Mean Girl's" husband replied, "She practically runs the whole FIF!" "Mean Girl" struck a confident pose, and tossed her hair and said to me, "Well, he's an ENGINEER, and he also works for Smitty." "Mean Girl's husband said, "That's a different Smith; she's a Manager; she reports to the Vice President AL Smith; I report to C.W. Smith; she's equal to my boss." "Mean Girl" said, "Well, lah-di-dah, isn't Phyllis special?" I laughed at her and said, "But we pronounce it special, NOT "spay-shul", unless, of course, we're referring to something being spatial" and I spelled it out s-p-a-t-i-a-l. "Mean Girl" was very angry because I had laughed at her, corrected her, and most importantly, outranked her husband at work. She turned away from us in a snit while her husband, Don and I had a fantastic conversation.

SCHADENFREUDE! Twenty-five years of bitterness wiped away! Laughter is the great equalizer.

When we completed the contract at Rockwell, I moved on to BMY in Marysville. "Mean Girl's" husband had worked at Rockwell for a long time, but was too young to retire. When I attended a funeral for another classmate's mother "Mean Girl" was also there. "Mean Girl" walked up to me and asked if I could help her husband get a job where I worked. I got in my purse and took out one of my business cards and told her to have her husband call me. "Mean Girl's" husband called me the very next day and although I could not use him at BMY, I was able to help him by being a reference. In our lives, we probably have to make only a few "moral decisions". I wasn't being NOBLE: I just thought of how much the guy had suffered being married to such a thoroughly nasty person.


Now I actually look forward to class reunions, but at the last two reunions "Mean Girl" has conspicuously avoided me, but her husband and I always have great conversations.