Monday, February 28, 2011


Yesterday a friend asked, "Remember John Gary?" I said, "Oh, wow, the first time I ever went to a night club was at Annarino's in Dayton and we saw John Gary!" She asked, "Remember that song from that Ray Bolger musical that was a flop?" I said, "Oh, yeah, it was "Once Upon A Time". She said that she had been reading an article about "flops" and that show "All American" was a famous flop and Mel Brooks just wrote one of the acts and quit. I said that I did not know that bit of trivia.

She said that she always remembered John Gary's rendition of the song. We reminisced about John Gary and "what might have been" if rock and roll hadn't dominated the music scene in the 1960s. I told her that my mother said John Gary was the "heir to Perry Como." I said if he'd been a future generation he could have been successful like Harry Connick, Jr. and Josh Grobin. I told her I would get out the John Gary records and we could listen to them to see if he were as good as we remembered.

She called later and said, "Get on You Tube; there's all kinds of John Gary songs and he's wonderful!"

John Gary used to appear on Ruth Lyons Fifty-Fifty Club every time he was playing in the Cincinnati/Dayton/Columbus/Indianapolis area which WLW covered. He also appeared numerous times on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson as well as on the Ed Sullivan Show. He had his own television show and was a summer replacement for the Danny Kaye Show.

When guests were with Ruth Lyons we learned a great deal about their backgrounds and accomplishments. John had been in the Marine Corps and was a scuba diver who held underwater endurance records and had patented underwater devices. He was also an expert with a bow and arrow and pistol.

My mother loved his rendition of "Danny Boy".

Sunday, February 27, 2011


If I had not belonged to a Union, I would probably have been fired from a job which was my first one with a major corporation with a good wage and benefits. I was hired as a General Production (GP) worker and advanced to Machine Operator. After GP workers received training from each Machine Operator, they were placed in a Pool. Each night GP workers were assigned to jobs, but instead of the Supervisor assigning them, the Operators were allowed to choose which GP workers they wanted from the Pool. The Operators with greater seniority received first choice, thus, I, as the most junior Operator, received whomever was remaining. When the GP's were not needed on the machines, they were given rework and floor work tasks to perform. As a GP, I had set production records and when I won the bid to become an Operator, I set many more Production records.

Every night when I submitted my production report I realized that my excellent productivity enabled the Supervisor to be a "star" and quite honestly, he was very nice to me, putting thank-you notes and free dinner coupons in my check envelopes, sent flowers for my birthday, and the most appreciated, a cold Coke on my workbench because he knew that I wouldn't leave the machine to go to the vending area as others did between breaks! When I received those flowers my husband remarked that he had never heard of that. I said, "But you see they're from him AND his wife!" He was good to me and I was good to him, always accepting overtime.

It was obvious that our Supervisor was spending an inordinate amount of time with one particular new woman whom I will call "The Princess" (because she actually said that about herself!). So secure was she in her role as a "protected species", she bragged to the other women about the affair and that he was going to leave his wife and she even showed a Polaroid picture of him, reclining nude, with a red bow tied around his erect Mr. Wiggly.

When I needed an extra helper on my machine, I always received "The Princess" as the more senior Operators did not want her. She SHOULD NOT have made it through her probationary period, but she did because of the "special relationship" with the Supervisor. She was not a good worker and took advantage of every situation, knowing full well HOW she was "protected". At a Union meeting, a person who was a self-proclaimed "Christian" said that the Union should do "something about her immorality" I jumped up and said that it was against Union rules to get a fellow Union brother or sister in trouble! "The Princess" heard about the incident at the Union meeting and told me she was surprised that I defended her. I told her that she was merely naive and he was the one who should be held accountable because he represented the Company.

She would take extra long breaks and when she got back to the work area I would have her piled up and she would shut off the machine. I would promptly turn back on the machine and keep piling her up. She called for the Steward and I told him that he needed to tell her that she was interfering with production and needed to be back from breaks on time. Of course the Steward had to agree with me. Once, the Supervisor was talking to her and she was behind and I told him to get out of the area as he was "holding up" production.

One night, I had a guy named Charlie assigned to my machine, along with "The Princess". It was obvious to me that Charlie had been drinking. Yes, I am totally opposed to drinking, but I called the Steward and told him, "You need to get Charlie out of here." What happened next is STILL unbelievable to me: the Steward went to the Supervisor and told him that I was complaining about Charlie drinking (I know this from what later transpired!). At break, the Supervisor and General Supervisor witnessed Charlie going to his car and drinking. Charlie was fired.

I didn't know at the time that I was receiving the "blame" although I had noticed a coolness from some of the men. One night, walking out, one of the guys I considered a buddy, said he couldn't believe that I "Got ole Charlie fired." I asked, "What the Hell do you mean--I tried to save him!" The guy told me that he was there when the Steward told the Supervisor I was complaining about Charlie drinking. I told him, "Not only is that a lie but it is also a Goddamned lie!" The next day I demanded a meeting with the Union President, the Steward, the Supervisor and the witness." The Steward admitted that what I said that I said was true but everybody knew how I felt about drinking and that "The Princess" had complained! I said, "Yes, but I told YOU to get him out of here--if I'd wanted the Supervisor to know, I would have told him--you're the one who got Charlie fired!"

That same weekend my brother and his wife came to stay the weekend and they would spend one day with her family and one with mine. My sister-in-law's sister was best friends with the wife of the Tool and Die Maker at work. My sister-in-law said that her sister told her that they were trying to fire me at work. I was shocked. I said, "How could they fire me? I have the best production, I've never missed a day of work, I've worked all the overtime!" I was incensed! I called my sister-in-law's sister demanding to know exactly what was said and then I called the Tool and Die Maker and asked what was said. He told me that "The Princess" hated me and wanted her boyfriend to get rid of me and that I'd made the Steward and Supervisor look bad because of the Charlie incident and "The Princess" had bragged that she was going to get me fired for being so mean to her.

On Monday, I went to see our attorney who gave me this advice: "Slander is like mud--if you try to wipe it off while it's wet, you'll just smear it--but if you wait until it dries, you can just brush it off!" (Years later, I learned he stole that quote from Louis Nizer) He prepared a "cease and desist letter" with copies to the Company, the Union and to the parties I knew who were "spreading the story". You can imagine the tremors felt from that earthquake.

On Tuesday, after he had received his letter, the Supervisor came up to me, and his lip was quivering and his voice was quavering, as he said, "I can't believe you did this." I said, "I can't believe that you did this to me, especially after my productivity is what made you the star, but I'm not supposed to talk to you about this under advice from Counsel, but I am going to tell you that I will see that YOU are the one who is fired." He said, "Why would I fire you--you have the best production." I said, "Well, your girlfriend has told everybody you were going to fire me because I make her work hard."

That's the moment I decided to run for Steward. My campaign was simple: I asked each person: "Do you think I'm a better worker than him? Do you think I'm honest? Do you think I'm smarter than him?" I won by 3 votes.

As Steward, I was mean, vindictive and petty. I even filed a grievance for a 25-cent pay discrepancy and the Supervisor tossed a quarter at me and I moved aside and it hit someone and I filed another grievance about that. [After I became a Supervisor the Company attorney told me he couldn't believe they promoted me as I was the meanest Steward he'd ever encountered and I would not "settle" at any step and demand arbitration unless it was resolved my way.]

Within three months I had filed more grievances than the former Steward had in 3 years! I became a "Philadelphia Lawyer-type Steward", memorizing the Contract and quoting it endlessly. I made sure that I was "out on call" every night which caused the productivity from my machine to plummet. The Supervisor would have to assign other Operators and they would never achieve my Production levels! When I was working on the machine, I made certain my Production was always 100% but NEVER more. He asked me what had happened to my figures, to which I answered, "You really can't expect me to give more than 100%, can you?" He tried to get the other Operators to bring up their Production figures to no avail; This caused the Department's figures to suffer, which of course was brought to the attention of higher management. This caused meetings which of course none of the Union members would say what the actual "cause" was. I thought, "How stupid are they that they can't see the effect of a machine that was producing 120% on average was now the lowest producer?" Prior to this, I had never turned down a minute of overtime, but after that, I turned down all overtime and a number of other people also refused, which had a detrimental affect also.

In the meantime the affair between "The Princess" and the Supervisor had cooled and she learned she was pregnant! One night, she was assigned to my machine and she was crying and I told her to go to the restroom and I would get someone else to take her place. She said, "He lied to me." I said, "But, he lied ABOUT me and that's even worse!" She said, "But you're trying to destroy the father of my baby." I answered, "They should have told you about Planned Parenthood in orientation." (Yeah, I know I'm a smart-aleck.)

Finally, the Supervisor was given the ultimatum: resign or be fired. He chose to resign. I assumed it was because of the tremendous loss of productivity. Only later did I learn that someone had gotten into the locker of "The Princess" and that Polaroid picture had made its way to the Manufacturing Manager. A number of people thought I did the deed and how I wish I could take credit for that, but I learned later that her so-called "best friend" did it. With "friends" like that.....

The following day I resigned as Steward.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


From my friend Patty Burch:

As a young person, for six years, I worked for the railroad and I was a member of the Railway And Steamship Clerks Union. My boss was the Terminal Superintendant in Indianapolis. The head Trainmen Union guy, Ron, was known as a real hard rock. I had heard about his toughness when I first went to work there. Finally, after a few weeks, I met him. He was about six feet five and 250 pounds--a real bulldog of a man. He walked in my office and gave me the eagle eye. He introduced himself. I asked him if he had a daughter named Ronidean. He looked at me suspiciously and said “Yes”. I said, “Oh, I worked with her at Vonnegut Hardware, and I just loved her”. Everything in the world changed at that moment. I could tell he loved his daughter (who was built exactly like him). He was my "friend" from that day forward. Because of that friendliness, he seemed to change in his roughness around all of us in the office. ["Ronidean": he named her after himself; his middle name was Dean!]

As part of my job, I had to take the minutes of every meeting of investigations: i.e.: train wrecks, Rule G (drinking), sexual situations (e.g.: a crossing guard propositioned two black girls and said he would pay them 50 cents each for oral sex. They did it, but he never paid them).

The investigations were held downtown in Indianapolis. I would walk into the room with my boss, and there, at a huge table, would sit a table full of Union representatives – local, state, etc., along with Ron. All of the biggies showed up for these meetings. I was only 21, but somehow they didn’t intimidate me. [Sue says it's the arrogance of youth.]

They did not allow tape recorders in there because, I believe, they were hoping I would make a mistake in taking the minutes but I didn’t. It was an exciting time at every investigation, and I admired the way the Union fought for their people. I will probably always support the unions.

Friday, February 25, 2011


On Facebook, and at recent rallies, I see and hear the old Union battle cry of "Union Maid" and I think of Mother Jones, Leonora Barry and my personal heroine Frances Perkins, and the other women important in the labor movement and how those brave women were the inspiration for the Women's Liberation movement so many years later.

I spent nearly all of my work life in management positions and many people are surprised when they learn of my support of unions. I always say that I've worked in union and non-union shops and I prefer the union shops because it keeps us "honest"! Not that I didn't have go-rounds with the Unions; after all, I worked with the UAW at two different shops but I never LOST a grievance because I respected and followed the Contracts. When someone in Management would refer to it as "the Union Contract", I would always correct them and say, "It's OUR Contract!" I found that many management people caused many of their own problems by not KNOWING the Contract.

My support of unions goes much deeper than "honesty". It's not only because three of my brothers are strict unionists but I also reap the benefits that are derived from my husband's having been a union member for 40 years. My husband and I worked at the same company but our health care plan comes from his employment; as a retired management person, I would have to pay three times what my husband is paying for us.

Before I was a management person, I was a union member and I became a Union Steward and Union office holder. I was a member of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters And Butcher Workmen Of North America and The United Paperworkers. My older brother helped to organize the American Bakery and Confectionary Workers Union at Pennington Bread, where my father was a member of management. As his younger siblings, my brothers and I heard the daily fights about the "evil" union from my father and the "savior" union from my brother! You can guess on which side Neil, Norman, Duke, Les and I sided.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Yesterday I went to sign a new cell phone contract at Verizon and receive my "free" upgrade cell phone. As I was second in line, the salesperson began telling another customer about all the wonderful features of the "Android". I asked, "Do they dream of electric sheep?" The salesperson had a blank look, but his associate, an obvious "nerd tech", answered, "Good one--are you a Philip K. Dick fan?" I said, "No, my husband is the sci-fi fan, but I love the title of that one!" I told him that I'd read only three science fiction books in my life, but I knew about a great number of authors, titles and plots from buying and filing my husband's vast collection. He asked about the other two sci-fi books I'd read and I told him that I had read Arthur C. Clarke's "2001--A Space Odyssey" in "self-defense" because my husband and I have had a 40+ year debate about the meaning of the movie!

I told him that when my sister-in-law told me that I was like a character in Heinlein's "Stranger In A Strange Land", I just had to read that one! He asked, "Which character?" and I told him, "Anne, the Fair Witness". He said, "Then you must have the world's best memory!" I asked, "Do you grok?" He laughed, and said, knowingly, "I grok!" [about "Fair Witnesses": in the book "Fair Witnesses" are a legal institution of people with total recall who cannot be disputed; they provide impartial and accurate testimonies of events.]

He asked, "That's two--what's the other one?" I said, "It's one by Zenna Henderson called "The People" and I saw the movie and wanted to read the book."

There were three other people waiting to be serviced and I doubt they shared our enthusiasm about the books; we had to cut short our delightful conversation.

The salesperson finished with his other customer and asked, "So can I sign you up for the Android?" I answered, "Oh, no, I just came in for the free cheap phone and scintillating conversation!"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


At work I was responsible for implementing HIPAA and ensuring our company's compliance.

I have never had anything wrong with me that I would be embarrassed to see posted on the internet. I have always had excellent health; I've been very fortunate never to have had an operation, had a disease or been really ill. I never missed work; even in school I had perfect attendance in 11 years; in the third grade I had an ear infection and stayed home. As children, we never had the advantage of going to doctors, dentists or eye doctors. As a child I saw a doctor twice. However, I am a "preventive maintenance" gal and I have all the yearly tests and annual physical.

I WILL NOT, however, go to a doctor in Washington Court House and would not willingly go to the hospital here. When I had my accident in 1995, I was taken there, much to my regret. I bear the results of the ER doctor's incompetence.

When I was a child, the mother of one of my classmates, did wallpapering as well as working at the hospital. She was at our house wallpapering (never forgotten those large, red roses) and she and my mother were talking. I overheard her tell my mother about a farmer who had an embarrassing accident and they were both laughing about the details. The farmer had been working in the field and needed to relieve himself; as he was alone, he decided to use the field. As he squatted down, he was impaled by a cornstalk. He had to walk back to the house because he could not drive. Although I was a child, I knew it was wrong for the wallpaperer to divulge that information and for my mother and her to be having a great laugh at his expense. I told my mother that she shouldn't be allowed to tell those kind of things and I said that I would NEVER go to that hospital. One of my sisters-in-law had family members who worked at the hospital and we often heard "juicy" gossip, which only reinforced my resolve not to use the hospital or any doctors in town.

My mother was going to a local doctor and the doctor's nurse was the cousin of one of my sisters-in-law. My mother's blood pressure was very high and was very worrisome to the doctor, my mother and to me. My brother and his wife lived in Dayton and when they would come to visit for the weekend, they would spend one day in Bloomingburg with her family and one day with us. One day, during a visit, my brother began telling my mother she needed to be more careful about her blood pressure. My mother hadn't shared the information about her blood pressure with any of the family except for myself. Mother told him she didn't know what he was talking about. He told her that his wife's cousin had warned them about her dangerous levels. Mother was furious and told my brother that the cousin had no right to be talking about that. He defended the nurse by saying she only did it because she cared.

On Monday, I went to the doctor's office and told the doctor about it and told her she needed to fire the nurse. The doctor said she didn't think it was that serious. I told her, "I need my mother's records because she will never be back here again!" The doctor said that I was "making a mountain out of a mole hill" and that she wasn't going to give me my mother's records. I told her that I was going to my attorney to see what recourse we had. My attorney called the doctor and we had the records that same day.

My doctors and hospital are all out-of-town. Do I think that people at those places don't gossip? Of course I know they do, but they also only know me as a PATIENT, not as a friend, neighbor or family!

I am the power-of-attorney for my late friend's husband and he was taken to the hospital from the nursing home. His condition was not life-threatening. As we were waiting, a young woman was rushed into the only room in the ER with a door; all the other patients were in draped areas. Within a few minutes, I saw someone I knew who works at the Victim Witness Program rush into the room. I realized that the woman who had been brought in was either a rape or domestic violence victim. Soon the police arrived. The nurse's station was directly across from the cubicle where we were seated. The doctor and nurse were in the station, had left the door open, and I could hear their discussion about the victim. I arose, went to the station and asked, "Do you realize that I now know that the gal in there is a rape victim?" The doctor asked, "How would you know that?" I told them the chain of events I had witnessed and then heard THEM discussing the case because they hadn't closed the door. I finished by saying, "And I don't have the RIGHT TO KNOW these things; you are in violation of HIPAA rules!" I told them they were also very unprofessional in the manner they spoke about the woman. They never even offered an apology. I sent a letter of complaint to the Hospital Board and a copy to Victim Witness.

HIPAA is important.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


A U.S. Navy cruiser anchored off Mississippi for a week's shore leave. The first evening, the ship's Captain received the following note from the wife of a wealthy plantation owner:

"Dear Captain,

Thursday will be my daughter Melinda's Debutante Ball. I would like you to send four well-mannered, handsome, unmarried officers in their formal dress uniforms to attend the dance. They should arrive promptly at 8:00 PM prepared for an evening of polite Southern conversation. They should be excellent dancers, as they will be the escorts of lovely refined young ladies. One last point: no Jews please."

Sending a written message by his own Yeoman, the Captain replied:

"Dear Madam,

Thank you for your invitation. In order to present the widest possible knowledge base for polite conversation, I am sending four of my best and most prized officers. One is a Lieutenant Commander and a graduate of Annapolis with an additional Master's degree from MIT in Fluid Technologies and Ship Design. The second is a Lieutenant, one of our helicopter pilots and a graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering. His Master's Degree and PhD are in Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech University and he is also an astronaut candidate. The third officer is also a Lieutenant, with degrees in both computer systems and information technology from SMU and he is awaiting notification on his Doctoral Dissertation from Cal Tech. Finally, the fourth officer, also a Lieutenant Commander, is our ship’s doctor, with an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and his medical degree is from the University of North Carolina. We are very proud of him, as he is also a senior fellow in Trauma Surgery at Bethesda.

Upon receiving this letter, Melinda’s mother was quite excited and looked forward to Thursday with pleasure. Her daughter would be escorted by four handsome naval officers without peer (and the other women in her social circle would be insanely jealous).

At precisely 8:00 PM on Thursday, Melinda's mother heard a polite rap at the door which she opened to find, in full dress uniform, four handsome, smiling BLACK officers. Her mouth fell open, but pulling herself together, she stammered, "There must be some mistake."

"No, Madam," said the first officer. "Captain Goldberg never makes mistakes."

Monday, February 21, 2011


Until 1971, both February 12 and February 22 were observed as federal public holidays to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22). In 1971 President Richard Nixon proclaimed one single federal public holiday, the Presidents' Day, to be observed on the 3rd Monday of February, honoring all past presidents of the United States of America.

GEORGE WASHINGTON (February 22, 1732 - December 14, 1799). Early in his life George Washington became an experienced surveyor. Following these years, he fought in the French and Indian War. After the war he returned to Mount Vernon in 1758, married Martha Dandridge in 1759, and became a planter. That same year he became involved in politics when he was elected representative to the Virginia House of Burgesses. He was a representative until 1774 when he became a delegate to the Continental Congress. In May of 1775 George Washington was appointed Commander of the American army during the Revolution. He was the first President, (1789 1797) governing the 13 states.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN (February 12, 1809 - April 15, 1865). Abe Lincoln was born into a poor family and had little formal schooling. He basically taught himself to read and write and walked long distances to borrow books. He failed in early business and political ventures, yet became President in 1861 and guided the Union through the Civil War. He shaped his own character and education as was evident in the simple language he used in his speeches. His famous Gettysburg Address was delivered in 1863. Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865 during a performance at Ford's Theatre in Washington just a few days after General Robert E. Lee and his army surrendered.


Sunday, February 20, 2011


My 4th grade teacher was Mrs. McCoy who later became Mrs. Murray. She had the tiniest mouth and the loudest voice. She wore bright red lipstick on those rubber-band lips. [I didn't know the word caricature then, but she was like a caricature.] From that tiny, round, reddened hole of a mouth came a screech that sent chills down our spines and sounded like it belonged in a cartoon. Her voice, likened by some to be like nails on blackboards, was far worse than that.

I have no idea how old she was when I was her student but she wore "Old Lady Comforter" shoes which were like the ones my grandmother wore and my mother wouldn't be caught dead wearing!. ["Old Lady Comforter" shoes were lace-up shoes with a block heel on them.]

My brother Kenny was five years older and in the 8th grade. The fad at the time was to lace up one's shoes in a different manner each day; one day the bow was on the side, the next, day on the other side and the next day at the bottom. Of course I thought that was the "coolest" thing I'd ever seen! I begged him to tie my laces that way.

The next day in school the other kids pointed out my shoes with the bows on the side of my shoes (which, as I already said, was the "coolest" thing in the universe!). Mrs. McCoy immediately marched me to the front of the room and had me put my foot upon the first seat which had no desk in front of it (which is where we were seated for misbehaving). She re-tied my shoes and said with great certitude that that was the way that they were "supposed to be".

I didn't tell my mother what happened, but that night I had Kenny re-tie my shoelaces another "cool" way. The next morning, Mrs. MCCoy once again paraded me to the front of the class and re-tied my shoelaces but merely harrumphed and made no further comment. That night Kenny re-tied them in an even "cooler" fashion! The next day, Mrs. McCoy again made a spectacle as she re-tied the shoelaces and ended by saying, "So there!" That was on Friday. Some of the other kids asked why I kept doing it and I said because I thought it was neat (I just remembered that we didn't use "cool" in those days; that was more like the 7th grade!).

On Monday, I arrived at school with the "coolest" exhibit of all, but Mrs. McCoy ignored me even though one of her "pets" mentioned it to her. That night Kenny said that it was probably too much work for her to re-tie that style! My brother Bode said that she hadn't realized how "willful" I was. At that time, as a 4th grader, I didn't know the meaning of "willful", but I never forgot his tone which somehow implied criticism.

When my mother learned about the events she was furious and said, "How dare that old fat ass humiliate you!" but I told her it was just funny. My mother said, "But she humiliated you in front of the whole class!" I said, "She couldn't humiliate me because everybody thought my shoes were neat!" Kenny said if I'd been a boy I would have gotten a spanking for my insubordination!

I suppose when she saw that her tactic of attempted humiliation didn't work, she chose to ignore my "willfulness".

Why would a teacher use her power to try to humiliate a child for days? Why would a teacher waste valuable classroom time trying to make a point about something so silly? Why would a teacher try to break a child's enthusiasm? Why would a teacher be mean?

The most important question is, "How the Hell DID she get TWO men to marry her?"

Saturday, February 19, 2011


If you ever feel a little bit stupid, just dig this up and read it again; you'll begin to think you're a genius.

1. (On September 17, 1994, Alabama's Heather Whitestone was selected as Miss America 1995.)

Question: If you could live forever, would you and why?

Answer: "I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever."

2. "Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff."
--Mariah Carey

3. "Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."
-- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign.

4. "I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body."
--Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward

5. "Outside of the killings, Washington D.C. has one of the lowest crime rates in the country."
--Marion Barry, Mayor, Washington, D.C.

6. "That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it,"
--A congressional candidate in Texas

7. "Half this game is ninety percent mental." --Philadelphia Phillies Manager Danny Ozark

8. "I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix."
-- Dan Quayle

9. "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
--Lee Iacocca

10. "The word "genius" isn't applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."
--Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback & sports analyst.

11. "We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people."
-- Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor.

12. "Your food stamps will be stopped effective March, 1992, because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances."
--Department of Social Services, Greenville, South Carolina

13. "Traditionally, most of Australia's imports come from overseas"
--Keppel Enderbery

14. "If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there'll be a record."
--Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman

Friday, February 18, 2011


I have always felt possessive about Jonathan Winters because I have been a fan since I was a kid. It's rather like, "I knew him when" or "he's one of us" which makes one feel proprietary. We first heard him on the radio on Dayton station WING and then on Springfield's WIZE. After that, he appeared on WBNS-TV before he went to the "big-time" in New York. My mother used to let me stay up late and watch the Tonight Show with Jack Paar. I recall that I told something at school that had happened on the Paar show and Mrs. Vance--my sixth grade teacher-- let me know that she thought it was inappropriate that I should be watching it. Other than the "water-closet" story, I can't think of anything I should not have heard and of course I had no idea what a water closet was, so I wouldn't have understood the censored story. As a teenager my friend Cammy and I listened to Jonathan's records and imitated the characters. Every once in a while my lame Maude Frickert imitation comes out of the blue. I loved "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" but my favorite movie role of his was in "The Loved One".

I loved the Paar "regulars": Dody Goodman, Jack Douglas and Reiko, Genevieve, Charlie Weaver, Oscar Levant, Harry Golden but most of all, Jonathan Winters! We were so glad when he continued to appear on The Tonight Show when Johnny became the host.

In an earlier BLOG item I wrote about "365 Thank Yous". I just wrote a "thank you" card to Jonathan Winters and I hope that he receives it; my brother says that my motive is that I just want to receive a reply because I was never able to meet him and that I can never stop being a "groupie", but, in this case I just truly want him to know how much joy he has given to us all these years. My brother said, "So you must be desperate to make your 365 total!"

Why must they always attribute craven motives to me when my heart is pure?

Well, THIS time my motive is pure!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Washington Post's Mensa Invitational Contest and Alternative Meanings for Common Words 2


1. coffee, n. the person u pon whom one coughs.

2. flabbergasted, adj. appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. abdicate, v. to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. esplanade, v. to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. willy-nilly, adj. impotent.

6. negligent, adj. absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. lymph, v. to walk with a lisp.

8. gargoyle, n. olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. flatulence, n. emergency vehi cle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. balderdash, n. a rapidly receding hairline.

11. testicle, n. a humorous question on an exam.

12. rectitude, n. the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. pokemon , n. a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. oyster, n. a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. the belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. circumvent, n. an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


If you know any woman currently undergoing chemotherapy, please pass the word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE housecleaning; once per month for 4 months while she is in treatment. She just needs to sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming the treatment.

CLEANING FOR A REASON will have a participating maid service in her zip code area arrange for the service. This organization serves the entire USA and currently has 547 partners to help these women. It's our job to pass the word and let them know that there are people out there who care.

Be a blessing to someone and pass this information along to others.

See this link:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Washington Post's Mensa Invitational Contest and Alternative Meanings for Common Words



1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation : Belief that one will come back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11 . Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter whenn they come at you rapidly.

15. A rachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Growing up, I was referred to as "THE LITTLE SHIRKEY GIRL" because I was surrounded by seven brothers.

One time, after I was married, Gerald and I went to the store because Coca Cola was on sale and I wanted him to buy the allotted amount and I would too, as well as get the other groceries. Gerald had his cart filled and was in line. I got in his same line but there was another man ahead of me who was behind Gerald.

The clerk, Dorothy Cruse Van Dyne had gone to school with us. She and Gerald were chatting animatedly and after he left the man in front of me asked, "Who was that guy, he looked familiar?" Dorothy answered, "That's Gerald Raypole, you know, he married THE LITTLE SHIRKEY GIRL!" They continued another conversation.

When the man finished I pushed my cart forward and Dorothy saw that it was I and as she started to speak, I put my forefingers to my cheeks to simulate dimples and said, "Hi, Dorothy, I'm THE LITTLE SHIRKEY GIRL!" She and I both laughed and I asked her if she had been "The little Cruse girl" as she was petite and had several brothers. She said, "I still am!"

I was 35 years old, and I was still THE LITTLE SHIRKEY GIRL!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


When one works in a factory, one becomes accustomed to people outside the environment thinking that factory workers are a sub-human, intellectually deficient species.

When I became the first female Manufacturing Supervisor in the Mead Corporation, I had numerous requests for interviews. People would invariably seem surprised that I did the job well. At that time I told my family that I felt like Dr. Samuel Johnson's famous quote:

"Sir, a woman preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs: it is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all."

Yes, I think they were surprised because I COULD do it well! After a year of exceeding all my accountabilities, I was scheduled for a three-day training session in Cincinnati for Mead supervisors. Two supervisors from eight Mead facilities were chosen to attend. There were two recent college graduates who were also there for training, one of whom was a female; the two of them had spent a week at the Cincinnati plant prior to the training session. With their addition our class totaled twenty and I was thrilled to have another female there and I felt a degree of pride because I believed that my success was instrumental in the Company obviously deciding to provide manufacturing opportunities for other females.

On the first day of training we were instructed to give a five-minute extemporaneous speech telling something unusual about ourselves and our classmates were to comment and quiz us. The first person to speak told about his hunting expertise and the other men in the class joined in with many questions and comments. I asked about what kind of animals he hunted and if he used them for food.

The young woman trainee was the fourth to speak and she told about her trip to the Soviet Union. I immediately felt sorry for her because she sounded like a sixth grader telling what she'd done on her summer vacation. When she completed her story, not one of the men offered a comment or question. I wanted her to be successful and I had a number of questions and comments jotted down. I began by asking, "Were you able to visit The Hermitage while you were there?" She answered, "How would you know about The Hermitage?" I was stunned and did not answer; the class instructor quickly interjected and asked, "Why would you ask that?" and the woman actually responded, "I just can't believe a factory worker would know about The Hermitage." I stood up and said, "You must not realize that you are speaking to a member of the higher intelligentsia!" I continued, "I also know the Prado, the Louvre, the Uffizi and the Tate!" I sat down, trembling, greatly angered and offended.

By then I am certain that she realized that she had not only offended me but also everyone else in the room, including the instructor. She sat down and as every other class member spoke, she did not speak, but I asked numerous questions and gave comments, trying to compose myself before it was my turn to speak, as I was to be next to the last one to speak. When I rose to speak I told about MENSA.

The instructor gave us a break after that opening exercise and the woman trainee tried to apologize to me and I said, "Don't ever speak to me again, you elitist snob!"

I am ashamed--now--that I allowed the next two days to be a living Hell for her. I "allowed" it because I could have interceded and ameliorated the situation, but I did not, and frankly, I was deriving a great deal of pleasure seeing her discomfort. In all of the group exercises, it was obvious that the instructor made sure that she and I were not in any of the same teams, but the guys in whatever group she was in, made sure that she was treated as a pariah. My fellow supervisor from my plant was in several of the groups with her and always reported back to me the humiliation she endured. The men there might not have liked me if I had been the only woman there, but I was one of THEM!

My fellow supervisor said that the guys had a bet that she would sleep with one of them on the second night to be able to curry favor! I never found out if that were true, but I do know that on the course evaluations submitted, several of my fellow classmates posted unfavorable comments about her. She was gone from the company by the end of the month.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I love new and unusual words. I was watching Jeopardy! and learned that "frumb" is another word for "big toe". I posted about it on Facebook and wrote this horrible pun:

"What should you do if you're walking down the road and your big toe falls off?"

I asked to be excused for the pun but noted that it's difficult to work a word like "frumb" into conversation or a joke.

The comments were wonderful and my Facebook friend Susan Wells added: "earworm: a catchy tune that often gets stuck in your head."

I had never heard of the word! I responded, "Oh, Susan, I will NEVER be able to show my enormous gratitude for your introducing me to "EARWORM"!

I learned that "earworm" is a loan transition from the German "OHRWURM" which means "a portion of a song or other music which repeats within one's mind."

There are humorous synonyms for "earworm":


Last night my brother was walking through the house, humming "Pagliacci" (but loudly singing the word "Pagliacci" at the appropriate intervals!) which is certainly amazing since he does not like opera or know Italian. I yelled, "What's that about?" He said that he was watching a TV show and it had "Pagliacci" on it and he couldn't get it out of his head.

EARWORM should not be confused with ENDOMUSIA (musical hallucinations) which is a serious affliction where a person hears music which is not being played.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Whenever I, or other people "name-drop" and mention a famous person we have met or know, my brother reacts with a statement similar to the following: "My cousin's wife's uncle's brother's mother-in-law's father's aunt actually MET Stanley Myron Handelman."

If he thinks that there is anyone present who might recall someone as obscure as Handelman--which I do--he will use another name such as "Morty Gunty".

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I was working in Illinois and I asked one of the employees to "fetch" something and he asked, "Fetch--fetch--like a dog?" I answered, "No, not like a dog!" He said that he had only heard the term applied to a dog. I said, "Well, it's a perfectly good Anglo Saxon word--it's the only one which means to go get something and bring it back." He asked, "What kinda talk is that?' I answered, "It's DOWN HOME COUNTRY GIRL TALK!" After that, any time I would use what he considered an unusual word, he would ask, "Is that some more down home country girl talk?"

Yesterday, in relating this incident a friend asked, "What about RETRIEVE?" He also mentioned that he consulted his dictionary and that although fetch is a synonym for retrieve, his same dictionary does not give retrieve as a synonym for fetch. Go figure!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


My friend Vivian sent the article "CHURCH GOSSIP" (yesterday's blog) to me and it made me recall a life-lesson. An acquaintance and I were talking--and I admit, I traded a few tidbits of gossip--and he suddenly stopped and said, "I'm going to tell you why I don't gossip any more."

He told me about two couples he knew who were best friends and socialized together and had godchildren in common. He referred to them as Couple Number One and Couple Number Two. The husband of Couple Number One was out of town on business and the husband of Couple Number Two was in town at work and when he went to leave, his transmission went out on his car. His home was forty-five miles away. He called the wife of Couple Number One to see if he could stay at their home because he could not get a rental car or have the car worked on until the next day. The wife of Couple Number One said "Of course!" and picked him up at his place of work. The husband of Couple Number Two called his wife and told her what was going on; she told him she would come to pick him up but the wife of Couple Number One said that was just so silly since she could take him to work the next day and he could get the car into a garage and he could get a rental car, if needed. That night, the husband of Couple Number Two stayed at the home of Couple Number One, sleeping on the couch. The next morning, before breakfast, the doorbell rang and the husband of Couple Number Two thought nothing of answering the door; the next door neighbor, knowing the husband was out of town, came to check on them. Within days, the gossip rapidly spread about the husband of Couple Number Two coming to the door in pajamas and bathrobe and it caused a great deal of suspicion, whispers, innuendo, finger-pointing, rumors, gossip and much hurt.

He said, "I'm the husband of Couple Number One and I had to hear the lies about my wife and best friend and that's why I don't gossip anymore!"

I know that it irritates a great many of my friends and acquaintances when I stop them in mid-sentence with phrases such as, "You weren't there, so you don't know if that's true!", "Did the person tell you that?", "Are you sure about that?" among other qualifying remarks.

In 1973, I worked with a woman who is one of the best people I've ever known. She possesses the traits I value in friends: respect, loyalty, kindness, compassion and honesty. She shared with me that she would like to have a part-time job because she was having financial difficulties but she did not want other people to know about it. The woman, a widow, had recently lost a great deal of weight and received many compliments on her appearance. Our boss at work complimented her as did a great number of the other men at work. Her late husband's sister also worked with us and it was obvious to me that she was a "Green-Eyed Monster". She said to me, "Too bad she couldn't have lost that weight when my brother was alive." I responded, "I'm so proud of her; she's doing it because of her health." She responded, "And it doesn't hurt that she has all those guys sniffing around now!" Refusing to acknowledge that I knew WHAT the disgusting term "sniffing" meant, I said, "Well, that "Youth Dew" is intoxicating, isn't it?" She said, "That's NOT what I meant!" I stared her down and asked, "Well, WHAT else could you have possibly meant?"

My mother's doctor lived several doors down the street from us and he had asked my mother if she would be interested in babysitting because he and his wife liked to go out on the weekends and they needed someone trustworthy. My mother told him she'd reared enough kids and grandkids but she would ask me if I knew anyone who would be interested. I told my friend and she said that would be perfect. Not only did she become their babysitter, but she eventually cleaned their house and would help cook for the dinner parties. She would park her car in our driveway because we had the room and the doctor didn't and she didn't want to park on the street. The weekends that Gerald and I didn't go out, she would bring the children with her to visit with me.

The "Green-Eyed Monster" soon noticed that my friend's car was missing from her home nearly EVERY weekend and also sometimes during the week. She extrapolated that innocent information into the specious lie that her brother's widow was "having an affair" with our boss. [I have never understood how EVIL minds work; that someone could make up a malicious story out of whole cloth!] Of course, my friend and I were the last ones to know what was being said behind her back.

One day, my boss asked me to come to his office and he told me that someone had called his wife and told her that he was having an affair and he asked if I knew about it. I was dumbstruck. He spoke to me because he suggested that my friend request a shift transfer and asked if I would encourage her to do so! I said, "That would just make both of you look guilty and why should she have to change her lifestyle because of lies?"

I went to the "Green-Eyed Monster" and asked her about the story but I didn't do it in a confrontational manner, but with a "conspiritorial" tone. I said, "I heard you'd found out what your sister-in-law was doing on the weekends." She was positively thrilled that she thought she had me in her spider-web of calumny. She was positively gleeful when she reported that when she first saw her brother's widow's car not at her house for long hours, she also went to check at our boss' house and his car was also missing she actually said, "1 plus 1 equals 2." and she bragged how she checked it out every weekend but she had never been able to follow them. I asked, "You mean you spend YOUR weekends trying to catch them?" She said, confidently, "And I WILL catch them!" I said, "Oh, no you won't because she's with ME every weekend!' I saw the color actually leave her face. I said, "Now, I need for you to go and tell everyone you've told your lies to and tell them you were wrong and you need to call the boss' wife and tell her you were wrong!" Of course, she didn't do that, but I went to every single person, on all three shifts, and said, "I need to tell you that no matter what lies you've been told, there is no affair because she's been at my home EVERY weekend." Many asked what she was doing at my home, but I would tell them it was none of their business. I said to my friend, "Hell, they'll be saying we're lesbians!" We would laugh as we would see the car of the "Green-Eyed Monster" slowly go by my house!

Monday, February 7, 2011



Mildred, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church's morals, kept sticking her nose into other people's business. Several members did not approve of her extracurricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She made a mistake, however, when she accused Frank, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon.

She emphatically told Frank (and several others) that every one seeing it there WOULD KNOW WHAT HE WAS DOING !

Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny. He said nothing.

Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred's house, walked home, and left it there all night.

(You gotta love Frank!)

Sunday, February 6, 2011



Yesterday Chuck and I went to get haircuts. There is a Senior Citizens place right down the road, and a young girl named Chastidy ( Yes, I spelled it right--Chastidy) cuts all of us old folks’ hair. When we walked in, there was a young girl sitting there chatting with Chastidy. I figured out she was a friend and was just in there to chat. The next thing I knew, a wonderful Michael Jackson tune came on the radio, and I said “I just love this song. I loved to watch him dance.” I told them I loved to see Usher, Chris Brown, Savion Glover, Gregory Hines (my favorite) loved--loved--loved to see them dance. Chastidy's friend (I would guess she is about 29) said, “I have Usher’s new CD in my car now”. Chastidy said “I have his new CD in my car too”. I said, “Well, I have his new CD in my car too.” They both burst out laughing. I said, “No, I really do have his new CD in my car”. Of course, neither one believed me, so I had to do what any honorable, Over The Hill, old person would do: I started singing my favorite song on the CD. They could have heard me ten doors down from there! "There goes my baby..................................".

Why do young people think we turn senile after 30 ? Our old ears can still hear music, dammit. I also have Corrine Baily Rae, John Legend, and Wayman Tidsdale in my car. Also, they don’t believe that the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and the Eagles belong to US. They can get their own stars and leave our our old ones alone! Well, I feel better now.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


The father of a school friend of mine owned a 1936 dark blue Cord Phaeton automobile and it was a breathtaking sight to behold. Her dad worked away from home and only came home on the weekends. In the summer, one Thursday, around 1:00 PM, she and her younger brother decided to bring the car out of the garage even though they were forbidden to use it. She got the keys, uncovered the car, started the car and slowly backed it out of the garage onto the driveway. She planned to take us for a drive although that was obviously also forbidden. The car suddenly stopped and no matter what she did, the car would not start. She thought it might need gasoline, but she couldn't get it started to be able to check the gas gauge. She announced she would put it in neutral but she couldn't do that either. We used her car to get gasoline, but that was not the problem as the gas tank was almost full. Gasoline spilled onto the driveway, leaving a stain.

Her mother would be home after 5:00 PM and of course, she would also be very upset. Her father would be home on Friday evening.


What to do? We called everyone we knew who might know something about cars. Several people came over but all just walked around the car, marveling at its beauty. It took ten people to get it back into the garage. We later learned that the clutch had to be depressed all the way down to engage the starter.

When her father arrived home, he always came through the garage, leaving his work boots in the garage. He walked in the living room, looked at his son and quietly asked, "Who moved the Cord?" The son was not used to his father being quiet when he was angry, and said, "Nobody moved it." He called my friend who was hiding out in her room. Her father calmly asked her who had moved the car and she also lied to him. He asked his wife and she was totally unaware of their having moved the car and she asked, "How do you know it was moved?" He said it was two inches off from how he always left it!

My friend tearfully admitted that she wanted to "show off" the car to her friends. Her father, normally a very explosive individual, asked, "Why the Hell didn't you ask me to show it to them?" He told them he saw the gasoline stain in the driveway and saw the dust where the car had been moved.

I imagine he took the keys with him after that.

Friday, February 4, 2011


David Frizzell performed at a fundraising event in Chillicothe and between sets, he mingled with the audience. I was never a fan of "country and western" music, but my father was, and I heard a lot of Lefty Frizzell when I was a kid. David Frizzell is Lefty's younger brother.

During David's performance he did a montage of Lefty's songs. I found myself singing along with "If You've Got The Money", "Always Late", "Forever and Always", "Long Black Veil" and "Saginaw, Michigan". When David finished the tribute, I said, "You didn't do my favorite: "Mom and Dad's Waltz"." He stuck the microphone at me and said, "You sing it!" I found myself singing,

"I'd walk for miles,
Cry or smile,
For Mama and Daddy
I want them--I want them
To know how I feel, my love is real
For my Mama and Daddy
I want them to know I love them so."

It was the first time in my life I had sung a country and western song WITHOUT ridicule in my voice. A friend patted me on the shoulder and said, "I thought you didn't like country and western." With a lump in my throat, I answered, "I didn't know that I did!"

Thursday, February 3, 2011


My brother Norman and I love Don McLean's "American Pie". We remember February 3, 1959 when Buddy, Ritchie and The Big Bopper died. We have always heard that Waylon Jennings gave up his seat in a "coin flip" and that's how Ritchie Valens was on the plane. Dion di Mucci, of Dion and The Belmonts, was also a performer on the "Winter Party" tour and he has a totally different recollection of the events. Please read his version.

1***Buddy Holly chartered the plane just for the “headliners.” We were the ones making the most money and, therefore, were the only ones that could afford the flight.
2***Buddy was able to charter a plane with only four seats including the pilot's seat. Because there was not enough room for all four of us to fly, someone would have to ride the bus.
3***In a closed dressing room we flipped a coin to see who was going to fly. The Big Bopper and I won the toss. I then discovered that the flight would cost $36, the exact amount of rent due monthly that my parents constantly argued about. I said to Ritchie, ‘You go.’ He accepted and took my seat.
4***Only the four of us knew who was getting on that plane when we left that dressing room that night. I am the only one who survived beyond February 3, 1959 who was in the room that night where the coin toss occurred.
I talked about all that happened for two whole weeks on the bus after the plane crash because the tour continued until February 18, 1959. Everybody on the tour bus heard exactly what happened.
The truth is that if all the people who said they flipped a coin with Buddy Holly to get a seat on that plane, they would have needed a 747. There have been so many stories over the years that were simply made up, so many ‘created’ stories about the ‘coin flip.’
I didn't think the coin flip was important because it was never the deciding factor in my decision not to fly.
”You know how I feel. I believe the truth is important, even in Rock & Roll. This is OUR music, OUR culture, OUR lives.. After all, Rock & Roll says ‘tell the truth ‘til it hurts.’ Long live Rock & Roll.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


We had dinner at "La Bamba" restaurant in Greenfield. There was a huge menu selection with reasonable prices, solicitous wait staff, large portions and good food. I heartily recommend it.

At our house, any time the song "La Bamba" is played, one of us will invariably start singing:

"bailar la bamba"
followed by
"nobody knows the words to La Bamba"
soon followed by
"aribba, aribba"
followed by some humming and then
"nobody knows the words to La Bamba".

Why bother singing since we don't really know the words? Because it's an infectious song.

We do the same thing with "Volare":

"Vo--lar--aay, nobody knows the words to Volare"
and then end with
"nel blu di pinto di blu"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I have been a fan of novelist and poet Reynolds Price since I read "A Long and Happy Life" in 1962. Please read Carolyn Kellogg's tribute:

Author and scholar Reynolds Price died Thursday in North Carolina; he had suffered a heart attack on Sunday. Price was 77.

Price was born in North Carolina and, after taking time away in college, he made it his home. He began teaching at Duke in 1958 and lived in his Durham home for more than 50 years. But he didn't think of himself as a regionalist. "I'm an American writer, for God's sake," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. "Price, who is gay, also prefers to be called 'queer'," Susan Salter-Reynolds wrote in a profile of the author. "Wheelchair-bound since the removal of a tumor in his spine in 1985, he refers to himself as 'cripple' or 'gimp' rather than more polite designations."

Price's notable works include 1962's "A Long and Happy Life", the 1986 National Book Critics Circle fiction finalist "Kate Vaiden" and 1996's "The Three Gospels". He published three memoirs: "Clear Pictures: First Loves, First Guides" in 1989, "A Whole New Life" in 1994, and "Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home, Coming Back" in 2009.

In a news release about the author's death, Duke University wrote:

"He had a commanding presence in the classroom, using his deep, rich voice to convey the beauty of the English language. For many years, Price taught courses on creative writing and the work of 17th-century English poet John Milton, as well as a course on the gospels in which students wrote their own version of a gospel story. Price’s Halloween reading of ghost stories and poems became a tradition on campus that lasted more than a decade."

Price was born in Macon, N.C., and was a graduate of Duke, where he returned to teach after a Rhodes Scholarship took him to England.