Monday, October 31, 2011


My brother Norman and his high school friends Jim and Mike were so cocky they referred to themselves as "The Brain Trust". Kenneth Craig was their history teacher and of course they took their title from FDR's cabinet which was known as the Brain Trust. One day, Mr. Craig told the three of them that he wanted to conduct an experiment and he had them stand together in the front of the room and he handed them a paper bag and told them to grab hold of it. The boys took hold of the paper bag and waited. The class was nearly over when Mr. Craig announced, "You see, that's how the Brain Trust was left holding the bag!"

I think their cockiness was a bit diminished after that!

Mr. Craig was good at having contests and one year, on the first day of class in September in my class, he announced that there would be something the same about himself all year and if, by the end of the year, if anyone noticed what it was, then that person would receive a prize. Of course everyone's interest was piqued and for several weeks we'd be quizzing each other to see if anyone had noticed what it was that was the same. Around Christmas time I believed that I had figured it out and I kept a daily record. By Easter, a friend said, "I know what Mr. Craig is doing." I said, "So do I!" The next day we told him and asked if there could be TWO prizes. He said that PERHAPS we had compared notes to arrive at the same conclusion. I piped up, "But we haven't told each other WHAT it is!" He said, "Write your answers on a piece of paper." We did and he looked at them and said, "Sorry, neither one is right!" We were both crestfallen. However, I kept jotting about the same thing that I noticed was still occuring! I asked my friend and she said she'd quit looking.

In those days if we received straight A's all year long, we were excused from Final Tests and had those two days off from school. Mr. Craig announced, "If anyone isn't going to be here, leave your answers to the contest with me and I'll let you know if you receive the prize." We had to go to school the final day to pick up our grade cards and Mr. Craig announced, "There's a winner for the Most Observant Person and it's Phyllis Shirkey." Mr. Craig handed me an envelope and didn't say another word. Someone in the class asked, "Aren't you going to tell us what it is?" Mr. Craig answered, "No, I think I'll use it next year--if Phyllis can keep a secret." The others were grumbling but I wouldn't even tell my friend.

The answer: Mr. Craig wore the very same outfit every Tuesday for the whole year: same jacket, shirt, tie, handerchief, slacks, belt, socks and shoes.

When I opened the envelope there was $20--that was a lot of money to me--my friend and I went to Lazarus and I used the $20.00 to buy an album, a book, cologne and lunch at the Copper Kettle Restaurant! I still have the album, the book and the envelope and note from Mr. Craig about being the Most Observant Person!

Sunday, October 30, 2011



I was at the corner grocery store (this was when there was a corner grocery!) buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between the store owner and the ragged boy next to me.

"Hello, Barry, how are you today?"
"Hello, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank you. Just admiring the peas. They sure look good."
"They are good, Barry. How's your mom?"
"Fine. Getting stronger all the time."
"Good. Anything I can help you with?"
"No, Sir. Just admiring the peas."
"Would you like to take some home?", asked Mr. Miller.
"No, Sir. Got nothing to pay with for them."
"Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?"
"All I have is my prize marble here."
"Is that right? Let me see it", said Miller.
"Here it is. It's a dandy."
"I can see that. Hmmm, the only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?", the store owner asked.
"Not exactly but almost."
"Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble.", Mr. Miller told the boy.
"Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller."

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me.
With a smile she said, "There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever."
When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store."

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an Army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts, all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket.

Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

"Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about.They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim "traded" them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size, they came to pay their debt."

"We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world," she confided, "but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho."

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

The Moral:

We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.

Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles:
A fresh pot of coffee you didn't make yourself.
An unexpected phone call from an old friend.
Green stoplights on your way to work.
The fastest line at the grocery store.
A good sing-along song on the radio.
Your keys found right where you left them.


Saturday, October 29, 2011


As a caregiver, I see how "THE OTHER HALF" lives. To afford private, in-home care, obviously the clients must be well-off. As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: "The rich are different from you and me." Ernest Hemingway supposedly answered, "Yes, they have more money."

I had been assigned to an elderly woman who was in the early stage of dementia. She needed around-the-clock care as the police had called her son one day when she was found walking on the highway several miles from her home. She no longer drove and misplaced items and had memory loss and lapses. She was able to bathe and dress herself, although not well, as her colors and patterns were sometimes uncoordinated and inappropriate for the season.

A woman came in weekly to clean and do laundry. Once a week friends came to take her out to dinner. Her son stopped by daily to see her; he controlled the estate. I was there to make sure she bathed, ate her meals and did not wander away. She was a very sweet lady although she'd obviously been spoiled all of her life. My time with her was very enjoyable because she regaled me with fascinating stories about prominent people of years ago when she and her husband entertained and socialized with "high muckety-mucks"!

After being with her two weeks I noticed that she had not washed her hair. One day, as she was ready to have her bath, I asked if she were going to wash her hair. She told me that she had not washed her own hair in thirty years as she always went to the beauty shop twice a week. She said that her son didn't think it was important that she go to the beauty shop. She said that she had been on her way to the beauty shop when she "got lost". I told her that I would wash her hair.

WHAT? Never washed her own hair? I looked in the bathroom closet and there was NO shampoo or conditioner. [There was lots of "L'air du Temps" items; not only was she was surprised that I knew about it but also and that I knew how to pronounce it! Oh, do I need mention that she thought everyone outside her "class" was ignorant?] I asked her what kind of shampoo she liked and she said the last time she bought shampoo she thought it was WHITE RAIN. "White Rain? Do they make it any more?", I asked myself. I looked on the internet and yes it was still produced. I went to Dollar General and the White Rain shampoo and conditioner were 99 cents each! I also bought a bottle of hair spray. I brought my hair dryer from home.

She had no rollers or other hair setting materials but I saw that she had a container of bobby pins! I "put her hair up" with bobby pins, dried it and brushed it out. It looked very nice. When her friends came to pick her up for dinner, they complimented her hair!

After that we had a weekly ritual of washing and setting her hair before her dinner date.

Her decline was rapid and after six months of in-home care, her son placed her in a nursing home. I went to see her once and although she no longer remembered my name, she told others there about my washing her hair.

Friday, October 28, 2011



A man is walking home alone late one foggy Halloween night, when behind him he hears




Walking faster, he looks back and through the fog he makes out the image of an upright casket banging its way down the middle of the street toward him.




Terrified, the man begins to run toward his home, the casket bouncing quickly behind him.






He ran up to his door, fumbled with his keys, opened the door, rushed in, slammed and locked the door behind him. However, the casket crashed through his door, with the lid of the casket clapping.




on his heels, as the terrified man ran.

Rushing upstairs to the bathroom, he locks himself in; his heart is pounding; his head is reeling; his breath is coming in sobbing gasps.

With a loud CRASH the casket breaks down the door.

Bumping and clapping toward him.

The man screamed and reached for something, anything, but all he could find was a big bottle of Robitussin! Desperate, he threw the bottle of cough syrup at the casket.


(hopefully you're ready for this!)


Thursday, October 27, 2011


This is my friend Patty's response to the article "THE DOCTOR'S WAITING ROOM"; names have been changed to protect the GUILTY!

CHAPTER ONE: There is a back surgeon in Columbus named "Dr. X". She is supposed to be the best of the best. Needless to say, every patient there waiting for her “summons” to one of her rooms is in excruciating pain. The first time I visited her, they were under construction in the office. We got lost in there, and some lady told us where the waiting room was, and then she went in to an office to work on paperwork. When we walked in, the waiting room was full. Old ladies had been sitting there for two hours. Finally, after a couple of hours, we were called in. Guess who the doctor was? The lady who had been doing paperwork for hours. We got no “sorry for your wait” or anything even close to that. She immediately looked at my MRI and suggested back surgery immediately. We probably spent five minutes with her. I told her I would think it over. I never went back. I never had back surgery.

CHAPTER TWO: A couple of years later I had to go to another specialist about another problem. Someone (I forget who) told me this surgeon was the husband of "Dr. X". I thought “Oh no, here we go again.” I barely had time to open the Newsweek magazine before I was called in. This man was so courteous and kind and spent quite a while with us, explaining everything. We were really impressed with him. I wanted so badly to tell him he needed to show his wife how a “caring” doctor behaves, but I knew it would be a waste of time. Some doctors are just narcissistic ego trippers!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Our group ANGELS AWAITING MATERNITY HOME won this year's Community Action CHILI CHALLENGE! All credit goes to my brother Les who prepared it!


As dictated by Les:

4 yellow onions
olive oil
6 cloves garlic
4 # ground chuck
McCormick's Chili Powder
4 8-ounce cans of Hunt's Tomato Sauce
2 cans Rotel diced tomatoes
4 cans Joan Of Arc Kidney Beans
1 can Hunt's tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin

In a large pan, cut up 4 onions and saute in oil. Add 6 cloves garlic and a little bit of chili powder.

Start adding hamburger (we use ground chuck for competitions) a pound at a time because it makes it easier to break up and cook.
Add some chili powder to the hamburger as it's cooking. Drain grease from hamburger. I set it at an angle on the counter to drain off all the grease possible (unlike Mother who put all the grease in the chili!).

In a big pot put:

4 cans tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
4 cans kidney beans

[NOTE: rinse all cans and put the RINSE WATER in the pot; there's a lot of flavor and sediment in the cans]

Bring to a boil; add drained hamburger; add more chili powder to taste; add 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 tablespoon sugar (cuts the acidic taste).

Simmer 2 or three hours, stirring frequently. We like THICK chili!

Salt and chili powder to taste.

We serve CHILI FIVE WAYS: in separate containers serve:

PASTA (we prefer rotini instead of spaghetti because it doesn't GLOB together!)
CHEESE (we prefer Monterey Jack)
ONIONS (we prefer green onions)
HOT SAUCE (Gerald prefers Frank's Red Hot Original)
ASSORTMENT OF CRACKERS (we prefer Town House more than Ritz, Nabisco saltines, Oyster crackers and Captain's Wafers)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Chances are you’ve got a big bottle of vinegar in your pantry right now and you only use it as a condiment.

Prized for thousands of years, this fermented liquid was discovered by accident when products like wine, beer, and cider spoiled, turning them sour. But did you know that vinegar -- particularly the distilled white and apple cider varieties -- has hundreds of household, beauty, medicinal and even horticultural uses?

Here are 20 unusual, thrifty, and eco-friendly uses for vinegar that you might not know.

1. Condition hair: silky, shiny, buildup-free hair using a single cheap, natural product? It may sound odd, but using apple cider vinegar as a rinse after shampooing really does work like a dream. It removes residue from the hair shaft. Just add half a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of water, plus a few drops of essential oil if you like. Pour it on in the shower and then rinse it out. Sure, your hair will smell like salad dressing for a while, but once it’s dry, the smell dissipates.

2. Kill weeds: a few rogue weeds can wreak havoc in an otherwise flawless lawn, vegetable garden, or flowerbed and are especially
annoying when popping up in the cracks of a sidewalk or driveway. Forget pricey weed killers full of toxic ingredients; household vinegar really does kill unwanted plants; stronger vinegar made for horticultural use, which is 25% acetic acid, works even better.

3. Remove underarm stains: unsightly sweat stains can really ruin an otherwise beautiful blouse. Ironically, if you use aluminum-based
antiperspirants, they’re even more likely to appear, thanks to a reaction between aluminum compounds in these products and salts in your sweat. Spray full-strength white vinegar on the stain before washing, and it will disappear.

4. Soften fabrics: add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle, and not only will it prevent lint from clinging to your clothes and keep
colors bright, it’ll also remove soap scum from both the clothes you’re washing and the washing machine itself. Vinegar is also recommended in place of dryer sheets; simply add 3/4 cup to your washer during the final rinse cycle.

5. Sore throat remedy: many people recommend sipping or gargling with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water to
soothe a sore throat. Add a few tablespoons of honey (also a seriously versatile product!) to this mixture in order to make it even more effective and far more palatable.

6. Deter ants: got trails of tiny ants weaving their way around your home? These annoying insects aren’t big fans of vinegar, so spraying a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water anywhere you have seen them can help encourage them to move out. The vinegar also erases the scent trails that they use to indicate sources of food to their brethren.

7. Soak sore muscles: apple cider vinegar helps draw out lactic acid, which accumulates in muscles after exercise, causing that sore feeling. Mix a few tablespoons of vinegar into a cup of water, dip a cloth in the mixture, and apply it to sore areas for 20 minutes.

8. Freshen air: whether it’s smoke, mildew, pet odor, or lingering whiffs of burnt casserole, bad smells can make a home less than welcoming. Store-bought air fresheners just cover up the smell with strong, clearly artificial scents, creating disturbing hybrid smells that only serve to worsen the situation. Acetic acid in vinegar absorbs odors, so spritzing it around the room will neutralize the smells. You can also use it to wipe down surfaces in the room that needs freshening.

9. Remove stickers: if you’re just getting around to removing that Kerry/Edwards decal from your bumper, or trying to peel a price tag off a new purchase, you’ll never guess what magic ingredient is about to make your life a lot easier. Warm a little bit of white vinegar on the stovetop or in the microwave and then dip a cloth into it. Hold the cloth over the sticker until it’s thoroughly saturated, and it will peel right off without leaving sticky residue behind. This trick also loosens wallpaper adhesive.

10. Cure hiccups: nearly all doctors claim that hiccup cures don’t actually work, but tell that to the thousands of people who swear by vinegar as a way to ease these involuntary spasms. It’s not clear how a shot of vinegar would actually help -- other than to distract you with its acidic flavor -- but next time you’ve got a bout of the hiccups, give it a try.

11. Clean crusty paintbrushes: so you forgot to clean your paint brushes last time you used them, and now they’re so stiff and crusty, it seems that you’ll have to throw them away. Not so fast! Fill a saucepan with undiluted white vinegar and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Dip the paintbrushes into the boiling vinegar, one at a time, dragging the bristles along the bottom of the pan. Continue this process until the paint is dissolved.

12. Dissolve rust: the acetic acid in vinegar reacts with iron oxide to remove rust from small metal items like hinges, nuts and bolts. Simmer them in a saucepan full of vinegar, then rinse well with water to prevent the vinegar from further affecting the metal.

13. Eliminate stale odors: you know how lunchboxes and other food containers can take on a funny smell after a while? Vinegar can take care of that, too. Either wipe down the surface well with white vinegar or, in severe cases, leave a cloth soaked in vinegar in the container for a few hours to absorb the odors.

14. Remove mineral deposits: calcium and lime deposits from hard water don’t just stain coffeemakers and bath tubs; they can actually clog showerheads and reduce dishwasher function. Run a mixture of half water, half white vinegar through your coffee machine to remove the deposits. Use straight vinegar as a rinsing agent in your dishwasher to prevent buildup, and wrap a vinegar-soaked cloth around stained faucets until the deposits can be easily scrubbed away. To clean a clogged showerhead, remove it from the pipe and place it in a saucepan full of white vinegar. Simmer for just a few minutes, being careful not to allow it to boil, and then wash off the stains.

15. Neutralize spice in foods: you have a dinner disaster on your hands: one too many shakes of cayenne powder has turned your award-winning chili into an inedible five-alarm blaze, and your guests are waiting at the table. Vinegar to the rescue! Add white or apple cider vinegar to your food, one teaspoon at a time, to neutralize the spice.

16. Prolong the life of cut flowers: bouquets of cut flowers brighten a room all too briefly, often wilting after just a few days. Squeeze a little extra enjoyment out of your arrangements by adding two tablespoons of white vinegar per quart of water in the vase, which will keep them perky just a little bit longer.

17. Clean glass, plastic, chrome, and floors: a half-and-half solution of water and white vinegar will cut the grime from the shelves and walls of the refrigerator and eliminate spoiled-food smells too. Full-strength vinegar will remove tough smudges on glass and make porcelain sinks shine. Make it into a paste with a little baking soda to scrub chrome, or mix 1/3 white vinegar with 1/3 rubbing alcohol, 1/3 water, and 3 drops of dishwashing liquid for an economical floor cleaner. Just be sure not to get vinegar on marble, granite, or slate surfaces.

18. Treat fungal infections: fungal infections like athlete’s foot, toe nail fungus, and dandruff are definitely no fun. White vinegar and apple cider vinegar can both be applied topically to affected areas of the body to kill fungus. For foot-related ailments, soak in a solution of one part vinegar to five parts water for about 30 minutes a day.

19. Tenderize and kill bacteria in meat: marinate meat overnight in apple cider vinegar, and it will be delectably tender. This can reportedly also kill the bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses, including e.coli.

20. Open drains and freshen garbage disposals: clear a clogged drain without the nasty, headache-inducing chemicals. Dump about 3/4 cup
of baking soda down the drain and chase it with 1/2 cup white vinegar, then plug the drain. Leave it for about 30 minutes before rinsing with
a kettle full of boiling water. You can use the same trick to clean and deodorize garbage disposals, or freeze vinegar in an ice cube tray and grind them up in the disposal to clean and sharpen the blades at the same time.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I arrived promptly for my 11:00 AM appointment at the gynecologist's office. At the time I was working second shift and had to be to work at 3:00 PM. The waiting area had several people. At 11:30 AM I asked one of the other women what time her appointment was and she said, 9:00! I exclaimed, "You've been waiting two hours--WHY?" I went to the desk and asked what the problem was and the receptionist informed me that DOCTOR was delivering a baby at the hospital and would be at the office as soon as she finished! [First of all I hate it when they say "DOCTOR" instead of "the doctor"!] I said, "So when were you going to tell us?" She answered, cavalierly, "You should know that problems happen!" I responded angrily, "Well, YOU should know that MY time is just as important as THE doctor's and you should have told me the situation when I signed in so that I could make the decision of what I wanted to do with MY time!" I continued, "Why would you think that I would want to wait around in a doctor's waiting room when I could be doing something IMPORTANT?"

She looked stunned that I would even complain.

I continued my tirade by telling her that I would be charged if I missed an appointment and I thought they should PAY those women who'd been waiting since 9:00!

I left, went home, called another gynecologist and made an appointment.

That's when I made my decision to always interview my doctors.

When I met my new doctor, she sat down and started by telling me her "philosophy" about dealing with patients. I listened and said, sarcastically, "As for myself, I'm a follower of Kierkegaard!" She looked embarrassed and answered, "Was I condescending?" I said, "A wee bit." I then took out my 3 x 5 cards and began telling her my expectations. I began by telling her that I would never waste her time and that I would be prepared ahead of time to discuss any problems I might have. She told me that she'd never had a patient so well-prepared. She asked if she could keep the cards. They are still in my file. We now joke about our first meeting.

She and I have had a great relationship in the intervening years.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


On October 25, 1992, one of Patty's co-workers, Mike, said, "Roger Miller died." Patty answered, "No way!" Mike replied, "Yes, he did!" Patty and Mike went back and forth: "NO!" "YES!", etc., until Mike finally shouted "DEAD!" Then Tom, who had been listening to their conversation, added "DEAD!". Then Bernie told about his sister who was in a "DEAD POOL" with her friends at a bar in Pittsburgh. They would place bets on WHEN famous people would die. I now know there are internet websites solely devoted to this.

Thus our tradition began, but of course we've never bet! Now, 19 years later, I am never surprised when I answer the phone and hear on the other end, NOT "Hello." but a familiar voice ring out "DEAD!" with the news of another celebrity demise. The timber and volume of the voice is essential in relaying the message!

The membership of our DEAD POOL was limited to a few people (obviously because one needs to keep sickness quarantined!) and although there were no rules, it was inherently understood that one would not trample on tragedies (such as the death this past weekend of the race car driver or the death of Steve Jobs) but one also wants to be the FIRST to tell others of the demise!

Last week Les came into the family room, signaled for me to "mute" the TV and announced, "ROGER WILLIAMS--DEAD!"

Again, there are NO explicit rules in the DEAD POOL, but somehow, a little obscurity adds to the interest! There's always the "I didn't know he/she was STILL alive." aspect to it.

Sadly, none of us in THE DEAD POOL are ashamed or embarrassed (WELL, MAYBE!) by doing this!

Saturday, October 22, 2011




You walk across a parking lot, unlock your car and get inside.

You start the engine and shift into reverse.

When you look into the rear view mirror to back out of your parking space, you notice a large piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. You shift into park, leave your car running, and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view.

When you reach the back of your car, that is when the car jackers appear, jump into your car and take off.

And guess what, ladies? I bet your purse is still in the car.

So now the car jacker has your car, your car keys which probably have your house keys on the keychain, your home address, your money, and probably your cell phone.

Your home and your whole identity are now compromised!

Friday, October 21, 2011



When I was a kid, Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!

Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing and never made a face nor uttered a word about it!

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits and I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then."

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired. And besides, a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!"

As I've grown older, I've thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. But what I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults-and choosing to celebrate each other's differences - is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship!

"Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket - keep it in your own."

So, please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


One of my favorite workers was "Helmet Bob" who was so nicknamed because he wore a toupee. Of course, I never called him that. His hairpiece was the best-looking hairpiece that I have ever seen, but since he'd worked with the same guys for years they knew when he'd changed his look and gave him the nickname. He was a redhead and looked the picture of what one thought of as Irish. Bob had a buoyant personality and was always upbeat and a joy to have as an employee. Freddie, a guy who worked in "The Pit" (underneath the truck), always started songs for Bob and me to finish. I would always tell my husband that Bob was the "linchpin" of my crew and the reason everybody got along. Gerald would say, "I'm sure YOU have a little to do with it, Miss Modesty!"

Bob installed the steering wheels and my stand-up desk on the manufacturing floor was adjacent to his work station. The station time was 2 minutes and 34 seconds! As the truck moved into the station Bob would swing by me with the steering wheel looped in his elbow, enter the truck, install the wheel and alight from the truck with a balletic motion!

It was common for customers to come to watch their trucks being built. One customer had ordered a fleet of 14 vehicles and it was for a fertilizer company and the trucks were white with green trim. The line set had his fleet of trucks spaced every seven trucks on the line. As we were Final Assembly he'd watched his trucks being assembled in a great number of stations. The tour guide stopped at my station and the customer and I were chatting and he said that Bob's job looked easy. As Bob came out of the cab I said, "Bob, come meet our customer; his trucks are coming down the line." Bob removed his glove and shook hands and asked if he'd like to install one. The man said that would be great. Bob showed him how to lift the steering wheel, grab the fasteners and tools and get into the cab. When his first truck came into the station the guy tried to pick up the steering wheel, fasteners and tools as Bob had done, but he never made it to the truck. Bob said, "I'll get it and the the next six; just watch me." The guy was jumping into the cab with Bob and when his next truck came into the station, he couldn't get to it in time. During break time Bob went to the break area and the customer said, "That's a lot harder than it looked." The tour guide was getting fidgety, because he wanted the tour to be over but it was obvious the guy wanted to watch his trucks go off the end of the line. He stayed for the entire time to watch his trucks.

Of course, I knew that Bob was never going to let the guy ACTUALLY install anything as that would have been against Union rules and Company safety rules but Bob was loving showing off!

I left the Company in 1989 but returned in 1997 and I was surprised to see a transfer paper that Bob was coming to my department. I said, "I thought you would never leave Final Assembly." He said, rather cryptically, "I had more than one reason for coming here." About two weeks later, a colleague asked to have lunch with me. We were usually both too busy to have lunch, but I went to her office and she said, "I want to tell you something but you can't tell anyone." She continued, "What do you think of Bob who just transferred into your department?" I said, "I LOVE him, he's one of the best people I've ever had!" She said, "I do too--we're dating!" I gasped and said, "You know that's against the rules." She said, "Just tell me how it's fair that you're married to a Union employee and it's OK?" I said, "I was married to him BEFORE I came here--you know that--you're being illogical!" She said, "I know it--that's what happens when you're in love!" She said, "I hate the sneaking around but Bob said I could trust you and he transferred here to be close to his TWO favorite women!" I said, "That's Bob!" Of course, I was the one to pass messages between them at work and protect them. Amazingly, they were never found out by the Union or the Company! After they both retired, they were married.

When I was ready to retire Bob came to wish me well and I introduced him to my husband as "Poetry In Motion" and Bob said, "So that's why you always sang that to me!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011



One day I had lunch with some friends. Jane, who is about 80 years old, came along with them; all in all, a pleasant bunch.

When the menus were presented, we ordered salads, sandwiches, and soups, except for Jane who said, "Ice Cream, please; two scoops, chocolate."

I wasn't sure my ears heard right, and the others were aghast. "Along with heated apple pie." Jane added, completely unabashed.

We tried to act quite nonchalant, as if people did this all the time, but when our orders were brought out, I didn't enjoy mine.

I couldn't take my eyes off Jane as her pie a-la-mode went down. The other gals couldn't believe it. They ate their lunches silently and grinned.

The next time I went out to eat, I called and invited Jane . I lunched on white meat tuna. She ordered a parfait.

I smiled. She asked if she amused me.

I answered, "Yes, you do, but you also confuse me."

"How come you always order rich desserts, while I feel I must be sensible?" She laughed and said "I'm tasting all that is possible!"

"I try to eat the food I need, and do the things I should. But life's so short, my friend, I hate missing out on something good."

"This year I realized how old I was. (she grinned) I haven't been this old before."

"So, before I die, I've got to try those things that for years I had ignored."

"I haven't smelled all the flowers yet. There's more fudge sundaes to wolf down and kites to be flown overhead."

"I've not laughed at all the jokes. I've missed a lot of sporting events and potato chips and Cokes."

"I want to wade again in water and feel ocean spray on my face."

"I want peanut butter every day spread on my morning toast. I want un-timed long distance calls to the folks I love the most."

"I haven't cried at all the movies yet, or walked in the morning rain. I need to feel wind on my face. I want to be in love again."

"So, if I choose to have dessert, instead of having dinner, then should I die before night fall, I'd say I died a winner, because I missed out on nothing. I filled my heart's desire. I had that final chocolate mousse before my life expired."

With that, I called the waitress over. "I've changed my mind," I said. "I want what she is having, only add some more whipped cream!"

Be mindful that happiness isn't based on possessions, power, or prestige, but on relationships with people we like and respect. Remember that while money talks, CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SINGS!

Monday, October 17, 2011



Tonight I was in charge of Kallie’s “going to dance class”. Last week Susan failed at her first try with Kallie going to class, but I figured MiMi could talk her into it tonight. Well, the “going to the dance class” worked out fine, but the minute we stepped inside the “dance” building the Bette Davis tears started flowing. She cried and she cried and she cried. At first I tried my tough routine that had always worked on Susi and Tara ("I won’t give you any gum"; "I won’t take you to the pumpkin patch"; "I will be so disappointed in you"; "Grandma Chris will be disappointed in you"; "Michelle Bachmann will be disappointed in you!" NOTHING WORKED.)

Tears and tears and more tears, and then it hit me – my Come To Jesus Moment - this kid does NOT want to dance, period! There I was browbeating her--and her only sin was She Does Not Want To Dance – darn it! She is barely 4, and she does not want to dance.

I even tried getting Papaw to get stern with her, but who could be stern when she looked absolutely adorable in her little pink tutu with her hair in a soft bun just like her mommy told me to do. I told Papaw, “Put on her little shoes Papaw, she is not dancing tonight!” I gave her a big bear hug, told her I was not disappointed in her, loved her even more than ever and we were going home. She sang all the way home. Maybe she would like a singing class.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


When my sister-in-law Sheila was going to college my mother and I took care of my nephew Joshua while Sheila commuted to Dayton for classes. The routine was that my brother would drop off Joshua in the morning and he would come to eat lunch with us and then he would pick up Joshua after work. At that time I worked second shift and I would leave home around 3:00 PM but on the days I would be called in early for overtime I would leave at noon.

I was surprised when Sheila called me at work one evening. Nearly every day that week I had been called in for overtime. She knew that I spent a great deal of time with Joshua reading and with other creative diversions. She asked if I could keep Joshua away from the soap operas my mother loved to watch. She told me that she had asked Joshua how his day had been and he said that he and Grandma were "Mad at that damn Jill!" At first, Sheila said she thought that "Jill" was a real person until more questioning revealed that Jill was a character on Mother's favorite soap opera "The Young And The Restless".

Mother was, of course, shocked! She said, "Little pitchers have big ears!" No more soaps for Joshua!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


For my Ohio University alumnae Tracey and Becky and for Arminta, the biggest 110 fan.

HOMECOMING: Saturday, October 15.

Several people have questioned which band is better: the Ohio State Marching Band (known by its fans as TBDBITL) or the Ohio University Marching 110. It was founded by Gene Thraikill and was limited to 110 males and was known as the the 110 Marching Men of Ohio.

A friend commented, "It's the difference between a SOUZA band and a BOOGIE band!"

My opinion: go BOBCATS!

Friday, October 14, 2011


I wrote an article entitled "Guilty Pleasure" (in my archives, March 14, 2010) about watching Sherri Shepherd on "The View" and the guilty pleasure I derived from seeing such an ignoramus in a daily train-wreck.

On Monday, October 10, 2011, (see episode) Whoopi mentioned that black people have very little body hair and Joy said that Sherri's legs were very hairy to which Sherri responded that they were "Peruvian". Poor Whoopi--one more time she had to intercede--to let Sherri know that Peruvian meant that a person was from PERU and had nothing to do with hair!

My brother, always the wit, said, "Maybe she's confusing it with a Brazilian wax!"

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I voted today. Early voting is still allowed in Ohio, despite House Bill 194 and its attempt at voter suppression. Thanks to Jennifer Brunner spearheading the campaign against HB 194. We had less than one month to collect the necessary signatures and we exceeded it by more than 100,000 signatures. Congratulations to the Ohioans who signed the petitions to keep our precious right intact.

It is obvious that HB 194 targeted the elderly, the young and the poor to take away their ability to vote.

What Voter Suppression Bill HB 194 contains:


* Would dramatically reduce In-Person Early Voting from 35 days to 12 days (10 weekdays and 2 half-Saturdays)
* Would prohibit In-Person Early voting during the busiest 3 days of early voting (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday prior to Election Day)
* Would cut mail-in voting from 35 days to 21 days making it harder to receive and return a ballot in time.
* Would implement more aggressive registration purging without adequate assurances that qualified voters are not being removed from voting rolls.


* Would impose stricter requirements: requires that votes be thrown out if every single field--including full Social Security number--is not completed on a Provisional or Absentee ballot envelope.
* Would throw out ballots: ballots would be thrown out where voter intent is clear, such as when a voter fills in the oval by a candidate's name and also writes in the same name. There were 12,207 of these votes in 2008.
* Would provide NO solution to Poll Worker error: rather than finding a solution to determining Poll Worker errors in provisional voting, HB 194 presumes voter error instead of error by trained Poll Workers. Poll Worker error would continue to cause ballots to be thrown out.
* Would create more provisional voting: HB 194 would increase the number of provisional ballots, which are less likely to be properly counted, by eliminating the requirement that Poll Workers be required to direct voters to their correct polling places and by prohibiting Poll Workers from helping voters to complete forms.


* Prohibits setting up satellite locations for early voting unless 3 of 4 members approve.
* Prohibits setting early voting hours that make sense for the County even though some counties have fewer than 15,000 residents and others have more than 1,000,000 residents.
* Prohibits mailing of absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters to shorten election day lines and add convenience for busy working voters as well as elderly voters.
* Prohibits paying for postage for ballot return to ensure that voters complete voting process.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011


"Rocky and Bullwinkle" was popular when I was in high school; it was on television prior to "American Bandstand"; we watched both daily after coming home from school. I loved the characters, the segments with The Wayback Machine, Mr. Peabody, Fractured Fairy Tales, Mr. Know-It-All and Dudley Do-Right, but my favorite was at the end of each episode, which was always a cliff-hanger, and the announcer [I later learned was William Conrad!] would intone dramatically, e.g.: one about Rocky being trapped on a mountain: "Be with us next time for AVALANCHE IS BETTER THAN NONE--OR--SNOW'S YOUR OLD MAN!" I loved the puns.

My friend and I would constantly be using "OR" references much to the irritation of family, friends and teachers and I sometimes do it today!

Algebra was my first class of the day and my friend and I would be chattering animatedly about the previous day's "Rocky" episode. After tiring of hearing us, my Algebra teacher, Mr. White, said, "Great minds run in the same channel OR fools think alike." Touche, Mr. White!

Mr. White did not have a pleasant smell about him and I think that he wore the same clothes all week long. He wore different ties occasionally but his white shirt was dingy and his trousers were always shiny on the rear and one could see chalk residue on them from the previous day. [It just dawned on me that they were from a suit which, of course, was not washable and needed to be dry-cleaned; he probably couldn't afford to have them dry-cleaned!] He would also have little bits of toilet paper stuck to his face where he'd nicked himself shaving. I thought about giving him one of my father's styptic pencils.

I did well in Algebra--with the help of my brothers--and although I do NOT remember Algebraic formulas today--I DO remember "Rocky and Bullwinkle"! It's interesting that the term "Wayback Machine" is now an internet colloquialism for past events!

HOKEY SMOKE, Bullwinkle! We're still relevant!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The first play I saw (other than high-school events) was "Julius Caesar". Mrs. Craig took a school bus load of us to Wilmington College to see the performance. I took along my copy of the play.

I was diligently following along with the dialogue and when it reached this part as Caesar speaks:

"Let me have men about me that are fat
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look
He thinks too much and such men are dangerous."

The actor portraying Caesar gestured toward the actor at stage left and it was a very portly young man portraying Cassius. Even wearing a toga, one could tell he was big! I burst out laughing at the incongruity of a rotund actor portraying Cassius. Several people turned to look at me. I could not stop laughing although Mrs. Craig and others were shushing me! I regained my composure but when Caesar uttered "Were he fatter" I broke out in peals of laughter, literally holding my hand over my face to quiet the laughter.

Riding on the school bus home someone said, "We can't take her anywhere!"

Since growing up, I have seen the play performed twice and have also seen the movie starring Marlon Brando and when that scene comes on I always laugh!

CLICK HERE to see the YouTube video Julius Caesar (1953) - A lean and hungry look.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Unlike most people I usually have nothing posted on the front of my refrigerator. I HATE "stuff" on the refrigerator!

Years ago my friend Patty and I would become fixated with a word or phrase and then we would be compelled to jot down all the words associated with it. It all started with "ROSE"; Patty wrote a note to me with "rose" in it; I wrote back on the same note with some other "rose" reference and then with bits of Post-It notes, stationery, stenographer's log, note paper, and truck schedules, we were exhausted with ROSE! The lists were taped on my office wall and a great number of people would drop by to post a "rose" reference and Patty would hear the wails when they realized it was already posted. Patty saved all those lists and used them in a memory book when I left the company! That book is one of my great treasures! I always make sure that at least one of Patty's birthday cards has a rose on it. Patty usually sends me at least five birthday cards! I always send the same amount to her! We don't like one-upmanship!

Among the other words of our fixation were "moon" and "Lee"; Les would usually top us; e.g.: "R. Lee Ermey"! I allow these "contests" to be posted on the refrigerator.

Recently Les asked, "IF THEY MADE A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT MORGAN FREEMAN, WHO WOULD THEY HAVE NARRATE IT?" I hadn't thought about how many times we hear the mellifluous tones of Morgan Freeman's narration until then.

That contest is now on the refrigerator with these names:

1. James Earl Jones
2. Sam Elliott
3. Dennis Hastert
4. Tom Selleck
5. Andre Braugher
6. Alec Baldwin
7. Tim Robbins

Any more?

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Before my brother Les came to share our home, I believe that his mastery of cooking was limited to microwaving and heating a can of chicken noodle soup on the stove. Before Les came, Mother came to share the home with Gerald and me she did the majority of the cooking. However, one time, she was not well when we were preparing food for one of Gerald's poker parties. I was in a quandary--too much to do--and not enough time to get it done!

Gerald was busy mowing the lawn and he would not have been any help as his cooking ability barely matched Les'! I told Mother that I was going to ask Les to help and she said he wouldn't be able to do "much"! I told her, "I'll tell him it's just like an assembly line!"

With trepidation, Les agreed to help. I showed Les how to make Ham Roll-Ups and then he assisted me in making a Strawberry Trifle.

WHEW! We were able to have all the food finished before the party. FAIT ACCOMPLI!

Since that time Les has taken over doing nearly all of the cooking. It's so well-known that Les "did it" that there are a number of people who think that I do not know how to cook! Numerous times when I have stated that I "made" something, I am invariably greeted with remarks such as, "YOU made it; are you sure Les didn't?" I say that I always attribute!

Les has become so accomplished that he is known for his specialties among my circle of my family, friends and acquaintances. A friend recently called and asked if Les could make a sheet cake for her as she had to fix a number of dishes for a Church Supper and she didn't have time to do it all. She insisted on paying $15.00 because she said it was so much better than what she could have bought in a store. Another time she also paid to have Les make his superb macaroni salad. Les prepared all the food for a family member's wedding reception and all the food for another friend's Grand Opening of a business.

After eating at The Pinkerton House and the Pewter Plate, several people suggested that Les and I should open our home for parties the way that it's done at those places. I always say, "NO, we SHOULDN'T!"

Recently I planned to make Layered Lettuce Salad and Ham Roll-Ups to take to a friend's home because she had lost her brother. She and her family particularly like Ham Roll-Ups. As I began to make the Ham Roll-Ups, Les actually took a package of cream cheese from my hand and said he would do it. I said that I had time to do it. He said, "Improvements have been made!" I wailed, "I'm the one who taught you how to do it!" He answered, "Do I need to reiterate?"

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I won the "Chili Challenge" for 2010 which was sponsored by the Continuum of Care. This year I shall once again be entering my chili--made by my brother--using my mother's recipe, under the name of the organization "Angels Awaiting Maternity Home" of which I am a Board Member.

Recently Gerald and I went to the Olive Garden in Chillicothe. [Gerald says we can never go anywhere out of town in which I don't meet someone I know.] One of our local judges was at the restaurant with his family. The Judge had implemented a program using local jail inmates to perform community services and I wanted to thank him for the program, because Angels Awaiting Maternity Home has utilized the Community Service workers a number of times.

The Judge introduced me to his wife by saying "This is the lady who beat me in the Chili Cook-Off." I asked if he were going to enter the Chili Challenge again this year and he said that he was. I told him that this year my chili will be entered under the name of "Angels Awaiting". We discussed the differences in our chilis. We both wished good luck to each other.

His display of good manners makes me feel a wee bit bad that I will NOT be voting for him for JUDGE--or CHILI!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Shortly after becoming the first female Manufacturing Supervisor at Mead, there was an opening for a Corrugator Supervisor. Nearly all promotions were made from in-house applicants, but this time the Company hired someone from another Company. When Sam, the new Supervisor, came in, he clearly demonstrated his ability and turned around the Department in a short amount of time. He exuded self-confidence and strode through the plant with quite a self-assured swagger. In addition to that, he was an attractive man.

I seldom had any interaction with Sam, because he spent his breaks in his section. Of course, I did not go out to the local "watering holes" after work as most of the other Supervisors did, and neither did Sam. The Corrugator Department finished a half-hour before the other departments and Sam was always long-gone by the time the other Department Supervisors gathered in their mutual office to finish paperwork. The only time that Sam and I would be together was during the monthly inventory as he asked if he could work with me. Sam was all-business, never made small-talk and was in no way flirtatious. On Inventory day, the other guys would go out at lunch and have drinks, but Sam said he just wanted to get done as quickly as possible as did I. Sam lived in Chillicothe.

Within a few weeks of his arrival, the other supervisors began making "catty" remarks about Sam and, I am ashamed of myself NOW, because I did not speak up to defend him. Being the only female and wanting to be accepted by my colleagues was my rationale, but it surely wasn't the person I should have been! It was obvious that all the others were jealous of Sam and I think it was mostly because he was an outsider who had easily proved that he was superior to them and that he neither needed--nor wanted--their approval. They were also worried because they saw him as promotable. Oh, that green-eyed monster! Soon, the nasty comments turned into rumors about Sam. I listened to the rumors and I admit I enjoyed some of the salacious stories, but I did not repeat them. I berated myself about the sins of commission versus the sins of omission.

One time after Inventory we were all told to meet in the conference room and we all knew it was a "Come To Jesus" moment! The Manufacturing Manager started to speak about the vile rumors being circulated throughout the plant on all shifts and it had come to his attention that members of management were involved in spreading the rumors. Several of the Supervisors were looking at their feet and others with sidelong glances at others and everyone was definitely uncomfortable as the boss said that if he found out who was spreading such tales they would be terminated. He ended his furious speech by asking if there were any comments or questions. Only Sam raised his hand. The Manager looked stunned because every person in that room knew he'd been talking about Sam. Sam said that he had only been with the Company a short time, but in that time he'd never heard anything bad about anybody and that it must be coming from the hourly workers because he knew it couldn't be coming from management people!

His magnanimity was so amazing that I vowed to myself at that moment that I would contradict anything ever said about Sam.

Months later, the Blizzard struck and Gerald came in the Scout to rescue me at work. Sam could not get home to Chillicothe and he asked Gerald to take him to a motel. I said, "We have an extra room; you can come home with us and you can probably wear some of Gerald's clothes or I can wash them!" I was surprised that Sam accepted. He was with us for three days and the Sheriff's Department called to ask if Gerald was the Raypole with a 4-Wheel Drive vehicle because they wanted him to volunteer to help. I told them he was already out helping my brother who was in the National Guard. Sam was out with Gerald helping. Every time they would return home Sam would ask to use the phone to call his wife and kids and I could hear him talking to them. In those three days I really got to know Sam and learned what a wonderful family man he was.

The last evening he was there, we were sitting around the fireplace and I asked, "Sam, you remember when we had the meeting about the rumors about a Supervisor?" He smiled and responded, "Yeah, why?" I asked, "Did you know they were talking about you?" He laughed and said, "Of course I did!" I asked, "Then why did you say those nice things?" He answered, "I wanted them to feel even WORSE than they already did!"

He said, "All I want is to come to work, do a good job and go home and be with my family." I said, "Then there's a pair of us--don't tell, they'd banish us you know." He looked quizzical and I said, "It's a poem by Emily Dickinson." He said, "You know, I'm not educated and I keep to myself because I don't want others to know that." I said, "But everyone is envious of your self-confidence and ability." He said, "That's why I keep to myself because ability is all that I have and I don't need others to know that I'm not educated like they are!" I told him the quote: "Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." He said, "That's good, who said it?" I said, "It's been attributed to Abe Lincoln, George Eliot and Mark Twain in different forms." He said, "Write it down for me."

I said, "Sam, they are all scared of you because they know that you are superior to them!" I continued, "You haven't even been here a year and they're all scared that if somebody retires, you'll get the promotion!" He said, "You're kidding; I'll never get off a Corrugator!" I said, "You should start college; the Company pays 75% tuition!" He said, "I've got 4 kids and a wife." I said, "Well, you can take a few hours at a time. You got your crew off overtime; you should have plenty of time now!"

After the Blizzard, when we would be doing Inventory, we would talk a great deal and he would always ask for a quote! I'd told him about a guy at the New York Times who was called "Quote Boy" and Sam called me "Quote Girl". The others would see us chatting and they would oftentimes ask me questions about Sam but I always kept his confidence. I would always answer, "Ask Sam if you want to know something about him."

Sam never went to college and he eventually left the Company for the same kind of job with another Company making much more money. We exchanged Christmas cards for a few years and then I lost contact. I clicked on Facebook recently and found his wife.

He is still one of the people I have most admired in my work life. I wish I had told him, but I think he knew.

By Emily Dickinson

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -- don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


A good memory is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.

Awhile back, Gerald and I were at the Springfield Mall and I saw one of my former workers and he yelled, "Suzy Jo!" I said, "Ronnie Jo!" Of course my name is not "Jo" and neither is Ronnie's! It was from an old "inside" joke from work because we had had a woman come into the department and Ronnie had to train her. She was given three days to learn the job but she could not grasp the sequence of elements of the job. She brought a piece of chalk and tried to mark the panel to show the sequence but it rubbed off; next, she returned from break with a piece of cardboard and took string and attached it to the control panel and had written down the sequence but each time she would mess up and forget to weld or forget to push the buttons. Ronnie would have to run and catch up her errors. On the third day Ronnie said for her just to stand there and let me disqualify her. She said, "No, I can learn this job!" I thought, "Oh, Hell, I don't want another fight about a disqualification!" Ronnie put in a call for the Steward and said, "My Three Days Of Hell must end!" After talking to Ronnie, the Steward came to me and I told him he needed to talk to Jo to accept the disqualification. The Steward replied, "You know I have to represent her too; it'll just look like he wants to stay in the Department and you're favoring him." I took out my documentation to show him that she had made absolutely no progress in learning the job and it was my judgment and not Ronnie's. With fifteen minutes left on the shift, I called the Steward back and disqualified Jo, and fortunately, she did not try to fight it.

After that, if anyone in the crew made a mistake they were immediately branded "JO"! There was David Jo, Roger Jo, etc.

That day at the Mall, Ronnie started to introduce me to his wife and I said, "It's Judy, isn't it?" Ronnie let out a joyful yelp and said, "Tell her my clock number!" I said, "14399." I continued, "Your wedding anniversary is June 19." Judy said, "Oh, my God! How do you know that?" I said, "Well, that's OUR wedding anniversary!" Ronnie said, "I told Judy you never forget anything!" I said, "I can't remember logarithms but I can remember clock numbers!" It also helped that he was one of my all-time favorite workers and I would be more inclined to recall things about him!

Gerald was standing by, very amused, and he told them the reason he married me was because I could keep all of his nieces and nephews names straight!

Later, telling this story at home, Les remarked, "You're lucky he was STILL married to the same woman!"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


In 1979, at International on 2nd Shift, one of my guys named Steve Schneider had called for the Committeeman because he felt that his job breakdown (for non-factory people that means the work assignment broken down into its individual elements) was unfair. We'd had a schedule change which meant that all the job breakdowns needed to be adjusted to accomodate the new schedule. All of the supervisors and managers worked on Saturday to re-write the existing breakdowns. My 1st Shift counterpart, David, and I worked on the breakdowns for our area. He had more experience than I and I deferred to his expertise. When our superiors, Leon and Gary, checked over the breakdowns they were approved.

When I tried to implement the new breakdowns only 1 duo in the department was having problems. They had done the job before the breakdown with no problem achieving production and I could see that were working very diligently but could not get the job completed by the end of the shift. There were four different models of floors on their breakdowns. I knew that their counterparts on 1st Shift had no problem (because my brother Neil and his co-worker were on the job) as they would be getting done when I came into work.

Every night Steve and his partner would work until the last minute but could not get done! I could not figure it out. I asked my boss Leon for help--he was known as the King of Breakdowns--and he looked at the breakdown--but NOT at the job, and he concluded that I needed to "stay on their asses". There I was, the formerly 100% Productivity Queen with a happy workforce, NOW with angry employees: not only were Steve and his co-worker unhappy but also others in the section were because they saw there was something "wrong" and it wasn't being fixed.

When the Committeman came, I saw him stop by the Steward and the Steward directed him toward Steve and his co-worker. They did not stop working so I did not interfere. Soon I heard Steve and the Committeeman having words, very loudly. They had quit working and I went to the area and heard the Committeeman tell Steve that they were not going to ask for a new time study because those times had been bought. ["being bought" meant that the Union had agreed with the Company on the time study when it was timed] I told the Committeman that he could not interfere with production. Steve said to the Committeeman, "Yeah, get away from me, you fat mother-f*****, at least Sue knows how to pronounce my name right!"

The Committeeman followed me to my desk and he said, "I told them the times were bought and they'd have to do the best they could." I said, "Well the best they can do isn't good enough, there's something wrong!"

The next day I stopped to see my brother as he was preparing to "hit the showers"; he and his counterpart had finished their quota for the day. I said, "What's wrong with the breakdown on Second Shift?" He laughed and waved a green sheet of paper which of course I recognized as a transfer paper; he would be leaving the Department in 3 days. He said, "When you and Davey did the breakdowns I told him that if he guaranteed that 1st shift did all #1 and #2 floors that I would guarantee him 100% production every day." I said, "But all the breakdowns have different times because of the number of nuts." Neil said, "BUT I did the time studies on #1 and #2 and I know how EASY they are!"

1st Shift dictated the daily schedule and my counterpart David had manipulated the schedule to fit my brother's demand.

I told Neil, "I'm going to Leon and Gary." Neil said, "Not for two days!" I said, "You're going to be here for 3 more days!" He said, "No, I've got a PAA Day on Friday!"

I went to Leon and we both went to Gary, who was Leon's 1st Shift counterpart. When David came in to the office after the shift, all of the 1st and 2nd Supervisors and Department Heads were there which was the usual daily routine.

If I live to be 100, I shall never forget how Gary handled it. Gary didn't even look up from his desk, but said, "David, change the schedule Friday and give those kids on Second Shift floors some gravy." Of course I knew that he later "reamed David a new one" because David told me about it. David said, "I don't know how Gary found out about it." At that time nobody knew that Neil was my brother; people only learned that during the strike! When David learned about Neil being my brother he said, "He's the ONE who told you!" I said, "Blood is thicker than floor panels, but it's not thicker than a job breakdown; he would never have told me except he was being transferred!" David said, "That S.O." Of course David was about to say "S.O.B." but he knew he would be referring to MY mother also! I said, "You shouldn't have been duplicitous, David!" David said, "Well, you beat me on Productivity every day and Gary got on me every day!" I said, "You should've trusted your mangagement partner instead of your Union buddy!"

I would never allow anybody to say a negative word about Gary and one time Gary asked me to help with an outside pet project of his--Junior Acievement--and he had asked several others to help who were "too busy"; one of them asked how Gary had "rooked" me into helping and I answered, "I would do almost anything I could for him."

Gary was a great boss. Demanding and fair.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


In response to the article "A TEACHER TOUCHES FOREVER", my friend Arminta wrote a very touching comment:

"That's a nice story but a better idea. I think a lot about kids who feel they don't fit in or that others don't like them. It's always been something that bothers me so much, seeing people who are uncomfortable around others because they didn't measure up in some way. Kind words DO stay with a person. There was a girl from my class who I admired because she was very smart. She was really quiet and didn't participate in many activities and you never saw her hanging out with any "group" as most of us did. She didn't wear make up or trendy clothes, but she was always neat and clean and she was pretty, but didn't try to impress anyone. I asked her for one of her senior pictures and on the back she wrote: "To Arminta, a very pretty, smart girl who is nice and seems to care about everyone. Thank you for speaking to me every day." Until I read that on her picture I never realized that saying "Hello" to someone could be so noticeable and impact them in some way, but it has stuck with me. I had a boss who made a point of greeting every employee every day. I've always tried to be like that myself because it does matter. Making a little difference is rewarding. That teacher made a big one."

THANK YOU, Arminta!

Speaking to people is very important. Within two weeks after retiring, I realized that I should NOT have retired. I began looking for part-time work and I answered an ad for a part-time supervisory position which would be to take the place of supervisors to enable them to have days off because the plant was on a 7-day schedule with 3 shifts. One week I would be expected to work 1st and 2nd shift, the next week 3rd and 1st shift and alternate each week.

During the interview I was asked if I didn't believe I was over-qualified for the position and I answered, "Of course I am over-qualified and that's WHY you should hire me." The interviewer, a Department Manager, obviously taken aback, said, "Well, I've never heard that answer before!" During the interview he asked if I would be willing to work 12 hour shifts instead of the 8 hours which was advertised, and the other supervisor could work 12 hours. I stated that would be easy. After being offered the job, he called and asked how I felt about working 16 hours on Saturday and 16 hours on Sunday. I said, "Sure." I had been used to working long shifts. So there I was working 32 hours a week in two days. I admit that it took me all day Monday to recover.

By the way, there had never been a female supervisor before although there were as many females as males employed there.

I was to be trained on 1st shift for a week. I saw a great number of problems because of lack of discipline and work ethic. On Thursday of the first week, I asked the 2nd Shift Supervisor if I could pass out the paychecks on that shift. He looked stunned and asked, "How would you know who they are?" I said, "I introduced myself to them on Tuesday and Wednesday; I wanted to know them before the weekend." He asked, "And you remember them already?" I said, "Of course, why wouldn't I?" When we went into the office to pick up the checks, the Supervisor said to the Manager, "She knows everybody's name already." The Manager answered, "Too bad you don't!" The Supervisor typically had allowed the Team Leader hand out the checks.

The work itself was the easiest I had ever encountered and there were good workers but there was also a pronounced lack of discipline and work ethic accompanied by poor productivity. However, within two weeks we had set a new production record on 2nd shift. I brought cupcakes for the crew. When the Manager saw the production records on Monday morning, he called and asked me to come into a meeting Monday afternoon. I walked into the meeting and the Supervisors from all 3 shifts were there. The Manager opened the meeting by saying, "She's only been here for two weeks and has set a new production record. What the f*** is wrong with you guys?" All of them were looking askance.

The Manager was absolutely STUPID to handle the situation in that manner. Although those Supervisors wanted me to be there to take their places so that they could have days off, they still resented the fact that I had somehow made them look BAD!

The Manager continued, "I went out and asked several people who have NEVER met production before HOW they did it and you know what ONE of them told me? Because at least Sue knows MY NAME and treats me with respect and another one said because Sue is always on the floor." He continued by telling them they needed to be on the floor instead of in the office and that they needed to know their people.

After the meeting I asked the Manager, "You realize that those three are pissed off at me now?" He said, "They better be pissed off at themselves. Trust me, they want you to take their places more than they are pissed off at you." His was not my method of motivation!

It was summertime and I brought in extra garden produce and labeled it "Free To A Good Home". One person asked, "You mean you brought that in for us?" I brought in a file box of extra coupons and started a coupon club. The other Supervisors made fun of me behind my back.

I stayed two years. When I saw that first piece of equipment moved to Mexico I knew that the plant would be closing although the Company kept reassuring the employees that it would not. I told my husband, "I don't want to close another plant." Recently, at a gathering, one of my former employees told people, "Sue made people work who'd gotten away with not working for years because she worked just as hard as we did."

I always tried to treat people the way I would like to be treated.

Monday, October 3, 2011


The Jewish High Holidays, also called the High Holy Days, consist of the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and encompass the ten days from the beginning of Rosh Hashanah through the end of Yom Kippur.

The High Holidays begin with Rosh Hashanah, which is also referred to as the Jewish New Year. It is observed for two days. In Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the anniversary of the creation of the world as described in the Torah. It is also the day on which God inscribes the fate of each person in the "Book of Life" or the "Book of Death," determining both if they will have a good or bad year and whether we will live or die.

Rosh Hashanah also marks the beginning of a ten-day period on the Jewish calendar that focuses on repentance or teshuvah. Jews mark the holiday with festive meals and prayer services, and will wish each other "l’shanah tovah," meaning a "good new year."

The Ten "Days of Awe"

The ten-day period known as the "Days of Awe" (Yamim Nora’im) or the "Ten Days of Repentance" (Aseret Yamei T’shuvah) begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur. The time between these two main holidays is special in the Jewish calendar. Jews are required to focus on repentance and atonement during this period. While God passes judgment on Rosh Hashanah, the books of life and death remain open during the Days of Awe so that Jews have the opportunity to change which book they are in before it is sealed on Yom Kippur. Jews spend these days working to amend their behavior and seeking forgiveness for wrongs done during the past year.

The Shabbat that falls during this period is called Shabbat Shiva. This Shabbat is ascribed special importance as a day during which Jews can reflect on their mistakes and focus on teshuvah even more than on the other "Days of Awe" between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur

Often referred to as the "Day of Atonement," this is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and concludes the period of the High Holidays and ten "Days of Awe." The focus of the holiday is on repentance and final atonement before God before the books of life and death are sealed. (For this reason, on Yom Kippur Jews wish each other a "chatima tovah" or "Good Sealing"). As part of this atonement, adult Jews who are physically able are required to fast for the entire day (though not all Jews observe this ritual) and abstain from other forms of pleasure (such as wearing leather, washing, and wearing perfumes). Most Jews, even many secular Jews, will attend prayer services for much of the day on Yom Kippur. At the end of Yom Kippur, Jews who have atoned consider themselves absolved of their sins from the previous year, thus beginning the new year with a clean slate in God's eyes and a renewed sense of purpose to live a more moral and just life in the year to come.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much." were some of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on to the next grade.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that student. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to pass the coffin. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer approached her. "Were you Mark's teacher?", he asked. She nodded and said "Yes." Then he said, "Mark talked about you a lot."

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates and the teacher went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were also there.

"We want to show you something", Mark's father said to the teacher, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper which had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."

Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and tattered list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and she continued, "I think we all saved our lists."

That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

Teachers truly touch forever.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I love purses but the irony is, I seldom carry one. Weddings, funerals, special events--all dressed up--yes, I'll carry a purse but since they've started the metal detectors at political events, poor Gerald has to carry my ID in his jacket pocket! When I go to a store, I carry my credit card in the "safe"--my bra--and my phone in a pocket!

I received my first purse when I was 13; it was in some items my sister-in-law had given to me. It was a velvet clutch with a zipper with a loop on the end of the zipper. I felt so grown-up but I had very little to carry in it. I had started experimenting with make-up, much to the consternation of my brothers (typical remark: "What's that shit you got around your eyes?"). I had a bottle of Campana make-up, Maybelline mascara, Hazel Bishop lipstick, a compact (which I still have!), some Kleenex and a pen and notebook. I didn't know that it was a fashion faux pas to carry a velvet purse for "everyday" use; I carried it everywhere!

During the summer when I was 13 my sister-in-law was pregnant and I was staying with her while my brother was working second shift. I don't know what they thought a 13-year old could do to help (maybe boil water?) but he would pick me up in the afternoon and take me to their apartment and then he would take me home at midnight. She had the baby the week before school started.

At that time our local radio station would give away movie tickets to the first person who called in with the correct answer. They had limits on how many times one could win so I would use a number of aliases. I won a lot of movie tickets and my sister-in-law and I would walk from the apartment on Temple Street to the Chakeres Fayette Theater.

One night we were sitting watching a movie and three young men (probably teenagers) came in and sat down behind us and they started making suggestive remarks to my very-pregnant sister-in-law. Despite my make-up, the remarks were not made to me. I had a short hair-do (which I'd had the beautician cut like Elvis' DA) and as I had not "blossomed", they probably thought I was a boy!

I turned around and hit one of them with my velvet purse which contained that bottle of Campana make-up! As it THUNKED against his head he let out a yelp and the three of them skedaddled! To this day, my sister-in-law tells the story to peals of her own laughter.

My velvet purse was stolen the next year.