Wednesday, May 31, 2017


After wearying second shifts for me, Muhammad, the Supervisor of Maintenance on third shift, would offer me a ride to my car, while driving his 3-wheel cart.  During those few minutes, we had good conversations, and I admit that I used these conversations to "schmooze" and ask favors to get things fixed because he had the authority to gauge priority.

Everyone, except for me, called him "Mo".  One night, I asked, "Muhammad, are you all prepared for Ramadan?"  He said, "Well, thank you for knowing about Ramadan;  we're having problems finding a goat."  I asked, "Do you need one already dressed or on hoof?"  He stopped the cart, turned to me, obviously surprized, and asked, "Do you know of any way to get one?"  I answered, "Sure, a friend of mine raises goats."  He asked, "Where does he live?"  I chuckled and said, "Well, SHE lives in my county."  He asked, "Would she sell any?"  I said, "I'll call her tomorrow and ask her the cost, etc."

The following day, I called my friend and after three days, Muhammad came from Springfield to purchase the goat, and visited with us in my home.  He said they would be using the goat to roast for Eid-al-Fitr.  Afterwards, Muhammad mentioned my kindness several times. 

John, my best friend--at work--was a friend of Muhammad's and he made the amusing accusation that my "goat-arranging" was just to have my requisitions to be given top priority. He said, "Yeah, I heard you buttered up Mo by saying Ramadan Kareem;  what the Hell does that mean?"  I said, "You can say that, it means, 'Congratulations, it's Ramadan', or you can say 'Ramadan Mubarak', that  means 'Generous Ramadan';  both are rather like saying Happy Ramadan."  John responded, "Do you think I can get my tools fixed faster if I say it?"  I laughed and said, "You better learn about Eid-al-Fitr!"

Ramadan is celebrated worldwide by members of the Islamic faith.  It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, this year from May 26 to June 24.  Ramadan is the commemoration of the date that the Prophet Muhammad received the Holy Quran and the month-long observance ends with the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr.

I have indeed been fortunate to know a number of people of the Islamic faith.  I have been invited to their homes for dinner, shared joy in weddings and other celebrations, and at funerals, to share in their grief.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


My grandmother always called this day "Decoration Day". Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. 

There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with more than two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. While Waterloo, New York, was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in General Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every state of the Union on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored or neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 1950s, on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in more than 60years.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in December, 2000, which states that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to "Taps."

The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend (in with the National Holiday Act of 1971), it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

On January 19, 1999, Senator Inouye introduced Senate Bill 189 in the Senate which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30 instead of "the last Monday in May". On April 19, 1999, Representative Gibbons introduced the bill to the House (H.R. 1474). The bills were referred the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform. To date, there has been no further development on the bills.

Monday, May 29, 2017


May 29, 1917--the birthdate of John Fitzgerald Francis Kennedy--  "Francis" was his confirmation name.  Below is an article from Sue's News, published in 2010:

             NOT MEETING JFK

The only time I ever skipped school was in 1960, to go to London, Ohio, as Senator John F. Kennedy was supposed to be in a motorcade on his way to Columbus, while campaigning for President.

When we arrived the motorcade had already passed. Whoever heard of a political event being ahead of schedule? When I returned to school, all was forgiven because Mr. Kelley was a Democrat and he excused me.

Watching the results of the election, President Kennedy was quoted as saying, "Ohio--where I get the warmest welcome--and the fewest votes." I was passionate about the election and spent every moment I could "campaigning" for JFK. There is no way to ever capture the passion felt of young love--or young politics--one of the saddest realizations--and a defining moment in my life--was discovering all of the anti-Catholic sentiment in my own county, as well as in the rest of the country. 

My best friend and I would go around the county with her mother, gathering up all of the anti-Catholic literature we could find and destroying it. At that time, there were phone booths on nearly every corner in Washington C.H. and there were always pamphlets left there. The disgusting literature was also readily available on the counters at Downtown Drug and Pensyl's and all other businesses of the John Birch Society followers. I was so naive that I asked Mr. Pensyl if he knew who had left those disgraceful pamphlets. He told me to leave the store. My friend's mother quit going to Dr. Binzel when she saw those flyers there. In the remainder of the time that Pensyl's and Downtown Drug were there, I never again entered the buildings. 

That is the main reason that we started shopping out of town. My friend has kept one of those deplorable pamphlets we found, framed on her wall with the note, "LEST WE FORGET".

At a class reunion, two of my classmates and I were discussing JFK and how important he was in our lives. Then something peculiar occurred--all the others there said how they had also been for Senator Kennedy--but I knew better because Mr. Kelley had conducted a mock election in our Government class. I spoke up and said, "I remember the mock election and there were only FOUR votes for Kennedy and the rest were for Nixon."  Mike Coil laughed and told them that it was true. I then proceeded to tell WHO in our class had voted for Kennedy: Mike Coil, Bob Hammond, Don Grim, and myself.  I took out my collection of senior photos and inscribed on the back of the pictures of Mike, Bob, and Don were references to our being Democrats.

As my brother Norman says, "I can never find anybody NOW who admits he/she voted for Nixon!"  

Sunday, May 28, 2017



Saturday, May 27, 2017


A Facebook friend recently posted that her grandmother used to say that she was "full of piss and vinegar";  she wondered about the origin.  My mother also used that phrase. I have written previously that Mother would oftentimes use "indelicate" language.  

The Free Dictionary provides this description: "Although many speakers assume that the phrase has a negative connotation, it is often used as a compliment, because vinegar is an old slang term for enthusiastic energy."

Many people use the more polite term "pith and vinegar" but that makes it lose its flavor. Oops! "lose its flavor"-- that's an almost unintentional play on words-- flavor/vinegar.  To keep with the flavorful connotation I could have written that Mother's language was "salty" or "spicy" which would be more accurate than "indelicate" language.

Whenever Mother would use language that we thought was unbecoming, we would ask, "Would Donna Reed talk like that?" The Donna Reed Show had Donna Reed portray Donna Stone, the embodiment of the perfect mother/housewife of the the 1960's.

During our "Montgomery Clift Movie Festival", my brother and I were watching From Here To Eternity and when Donna Reed demonstrated less-than-perfection as her character as a "lady of the night",  Les piped up, "Would Donna Stone act like that?" I said, "She didn't win the Academy Award for It's A Wonderful Life  but she did for that performance!"

Friday, May 26, 2017


A Facebook friend posted a recipe on Facebook for "Crack Sticks" with the tag line that they are "addictive". 

I screaked at Les, "OMG, look at these; Mother used to make these when we were kids; she called them roll-ups;  she would flatten pieces of bread with a rolling pin and add cinnamon and sugar and other stuff and bake them." Les said he didn't remember them. I said, "I guess we weren't as poor when you came along;  maybe she had quit making them by then." I looked up the recipe in my Family Cookbook and decided to make them.  Of course, they were not as good as I remembered.  See the recipe below.

Dishes made from stale bread were staples at our house: French toast, bread pudding, and dressing (how "stuffing" for turkey, etc., ever became known as "dressing" is beyond my comprehension) were common and Mother also made those "roll-ups". 

My father, two of my brothers, and my husband worked at Pennington Bread Company and before the prevalence of "bakery thrift stores", the employees were allowed to take home the day-old products;  thus we always had plenty of bread and other baked goods;  none was ever wasted.

Pennington Bread Company was purchased by Flowers Bakery and the plant closed; the Pennington label is now owned by Klosterman's. I bought a loaf of Pennington bread at Walgreen's today.

During the successful period of Pennington Bread, there was an award-winning set of television advertisements featuring the by-then elderly Morgan Pennington, the owner of Pennington Bread, giving grandfatherly advice to a grandchild. I would always make snide remarks about his being a hypocrite.

When those aired, I can recall a woman who had worked with my father and brothers at Pennington Bread, who told me, "If I tell you something about Morgan Pennington, will you promise not to ever say anything?" Expecting something downright salacious, I said, "WOW! What is it?" She then told me that when Morgan Pennington was young he worked as a busboy in Cincinnati and used to steal the tips of waitresses. I started laughing uproariously and I asked, incredulously, "That's it--that's the big secret--Hell, I thought you were going to tell me something scandalous!" 

I remember going to Christmas parties at Pennington Bread and I can recall that not all of the kids received presents. I never received a present there.  Even as a kid, I knew that was so WRONG but it taught me a very valuable life lesson: in my future work life, when I was in the position of making decisions about company Christmas parties, I always made certain that EACH child received a present of equal value. I guess I did learn something from the old skinflint which was NOT to be like him!


1 loaf of bread, crusts removed
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, melted

Flatten slices of crustless bread with rolling pin.

In a bowl combine powdered sugar and cream cheese.

Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Spread 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese/powdered sugar mixture on each slice of flattened bread. Roll up, jelly-roll style.

Brush with melted butter and then roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 20" at 350 degrees until golden brown. (My mother used to turn them over after 10 minutes)

Thursday, May 25, 2017


These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.

The exchange between Winston Churchill  and Lady Astor:
She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
He said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy." -- Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." -- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." -- Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." -- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." -- Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." -- Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." -- Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one." -- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second, if there is one." -- Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." -- Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." -- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." -- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." -- Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." -- Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." -- Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." -- Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" -- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." -- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." -- Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts; for support rather than illumination." -- Andrew Lang

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." -- Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." -- Groucho Marx

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I frequently say that the way I feel about tomatoes is "immoral" because I "lust" for them.  I haven't had a decent-tasting red tomato since my brother Norman died;  he always planted
"heirloom" tomatoes and he saved his seeds from year-to-year, just as our grandfather did eons ago!  

Gerald's brother-in-law Jerry was a champion tomato grower, usually introducing an unusual tomato each year--one year he produced a BLACK tomato-- along with his marvelous varieties, but Jerry is no longer able to garden.  My brother Duke raises only yellow tomatoes which I also relish, but nothing satisfies like a luscious, hot-from-the-garden red tomato.  Gerald has planted numerous types throughout the years, but most have disappointed.

When I whined that "tomatoes don't taste as good as they used to",  I was told that "as we get older", we lose our taste buds.  I replied, "Oh, Hell, I can tell if something tastes different!"

 AHA!  Read the following from one of my favorites sites, The Wise Geek:

It's not just your imagination.  Today's tomatoes simply don't taste the way they used to, and now science has told us why.  Researchers working on a study published in the journal Science, performed exhaustive taste tests of 100 tomato varieties and sequenced the genomes of nearly 400 varieties.

They were able to identify 23 volatile compounds that give a tomato its flavor.  Unfortunately, many of these compounds, plus essential sugars, are missing from today's supermarket tomatoes;  they were inadvertently lost when the industry sought to maximize yields and improve tomatoes' resistance to pests and disease.  

Study author Antonio Grannel said, "The flavor got lost because people didn't know that the molecular and genetic bases were, so they couldn't apply them.  Major seed producers are expected to use the new genetic information to make seeds that will grow into new, tastier tomatoes, possibly within 4 years."

FOUR YEARS?    I cannot wait four years.  Gotta get some heirloom seeds!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


In yesterday's article I told my friend's granddaughter that I had experienced "a revolution in my lifetime.";  I could tell she thought it was hyperbole.  I just e-mailed this article from Sue's News, published in 2012, to share a few examples:

                   WE'VE COME PART OF THE WAY, BABY!

My friend Lori is young enough (old enough) to be my daughter, if I had been married at 18. Our mutual friend Betty is three years older than I and has children around Lori's age.  Lori, Betty, and I were having dinner together, and I was joyfully telling about recently seeing, hearing, and meeting Lilly Ledbetter.

Lori asked Betty and me if our work experiences had made us into the feminists we are. Suddenly, examples came pouring out of Betty and me. I told Lori that when we were young, we couldn't get credit in our own names. If we were fortunate to secure credit, it had to be in the name of our husband, or father, or by using some subterfuge. 

I told her how I had gotten a Lazarus credit card because a friend of mine worked in the credit department at Lazarus and she submitted information in the name of "P. S. Shirkey", and since it didn't request gender on the application, it was assumed I was a male and I was issued a card. 

When Gerald and I married in 1971, Gerald had never established any kind of credit. When I went to Lazarus to change the name on my credit card, I was informed that the account had to be transferred to Gerald's name as he was considered the "head of household" although I had a larger income than he did and had established credit.   The card was issued with the name MRS. GERALD RAYPOLE, not as Phyllis Sue Shirkey-Raypole.   It wasn't that I was offended to be Mrs., but after all, I had my own name.  I have kept that card because I never want to forget how it was "back in the day". Betty told Lori that when she married she had credit and her husband's credit was bad, but she inherited her husband's poor credit, which she struggled to correct.

Lori said, "I know you guys are telling the truth, but it's still unbelievable!"

We continued with examples, with Lori gasping "WHAT?" at each example.

Betty said, "Women couldn't draw unemployment if their husbands were working."


I said, "A woman couldn't be head of household on income taxes!"


Betty said, "We weren't allowed to work overtime."


I said, "Women were kept out of many jobs such as supervision because the law stated they could only work 8 hours a day."


Betty said, "And we weren't allowed to lift more than 30 pounds."


I said, "We were denied jobs simply because we were of child-bearing age."


Betty said, "We couldn't even apply for police or fire jobs!"


I told her that until 1964 it was legal to pay women less for doing the same work as men.


I said, "That's why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was so important to women--those damned Southerners like Howard Smith of Virginia, put gender in the bill--to try to get it defeated. Ironically, that Act helped women more than any other group!"

Betty said, "That's karma, isn't it?"

I said, "Now you know why I am always saying thanks to LBJ!"

I HAVE seen a revolution in my lifetime.

I told Lori that when I worked at North American Rockwell, I became the first female Manufacturing Manager in the history of the Company, and that was 1984. 

I told about Carmen Chafin, who was old enough to be my mother and Carmen had worked at North American in the 1950s, 19690s, and 1970s, but women were not allowed to be "A" mechanics, although they were allowed to be the lower-paying "B" mechanics.  During those times, Carmen trained many new male employees who went on to become "A" mechanics. When there were lay-offs,  "B" mechanics would be laid off first; they would keep the "A"--all MALE--mechanics.  After a number of lay-offs and call-backs at North American, Carmen took a job at Western Electric.  When she lost her job there, she returned to North American in 1982; she was hired as a "B" mechanic, despite her prior experience. When Rockwell assumed North American, the Company still had the classifications for "A" and "B" mechanics.   Many men and women, without prior aircraft experience, were hired as "B" mechanics, but Carmen, with her years of experience, was re-hired as a "B" mechanic.  When she told me her story, I immediately went to Human Resources and related the inequity. Carmen Chafin became the FIRST female "A" mechanic at North American Rockwell.

When I began working in a factory, I would never have believed that I could progress as I did; however,  I should have been able to progress further (but that's another story).  

When I see lawsuits filed against Walmart, Goodyear, and other reprehensible companies, I remember the old Virginia Slims commercial You've come a long way, Baby! and I mumble to myself and think, "We've only come PART of the way, Baby!"

Commercial - Virginia Slims Cigarettes 1967... by RetroCafe

Monday, May 22, 2017


Recently, a friend of mine who is a contemporary, told me that she was reading The Handmaid's Tale as part of her Book Club.  She asked if I had read the book and I told her, "I have the book;  I read it when it came out;  I think in the 1980s."  

She asked my opinion and I said, "Oh, I love to be able to use the words 'dystopian' and 'cautionary tale' but they are very a propos!"  She told me she'd urged her teenage granddaughter to read the book because they were planning to watch the series on television.  The granddaughter pooh-poohed the possibility of women losing their hard-won rights.  

My friend asked me to talk to her granddaughter to let her know the "way it was" for women of our generation and to fight to never let it go backwards.

I gave her the Sue's News article below, which I published in 2010:

                                                  TOKEN TIME

I always knew that I was NOT a "token", because I knew that I was qualified for any job or promotion I received, but I was often "paraded out" to show visitors just how "progressive" the companies were. When it happened, I would mutter under my breath, "TOKEN TIME". My mother always told me that I needed to work like a HORSE, act like a LADY and then they would treat me as a WOMAN. I spent my work-life in non-traditional, so-called "men's jobs", but my mother told me I would always have to work twice as hard just to be considered equal. For nearly all of my work-life I was the ONLY female in the management teams; my proudest accomplishment was that late in my career, I was able to promote other qualified women.

When I became the FIRST female manufacturing supervisor at Mead, the Company newspaper featured an article about me and I felt like the story about Dr. Johnson's talking dog: it wasn't that people were surprised that the dog could talk, but that he could do it well!   [Now you know where my often-used phrase "I do it well" comes from!]

One time, at International Harvester, in the 1970s, we had a group of potential buyers from China tour the plant and they were brought to meet me in my department. It took me a few seconds to realize that I was being introduced to THEIR "token" woman because all of them in the delegation were small in stature and dressed exactly the same, wearing the green Mao uniform. I know that my Company and the Chinese delegation didn't expect what transpired between the Chinese woman and me. Fortunately, her English was very good. She asked "Are you the only woman?" I laughed and said, "Yes". She bowed to me and I bowed to her and then we reached out and hugged each other and we both squealed with laughter. I told her about "Token Time" and she said that she felt the same way. I could see the discomfort on the face of the President and CEO of my Company as he was unsure of what was transpiring! I wouldn't want to use a stereotype, but the Chinese men WERE inscrutable so I wasn't able to judge their opinion.

I often wondered what she said to her comrades later.

When I went to interview at Rockwell, it was June 5, 1982; I had lost my job at International Harvester on April 15. I thought I didn't have a chance in Hell of getting the job; I had already been interviewed by the Personnel Department and I was told that the final and determining interview would be done by Don Waddell, who had returned to the company after his retirement;  he would launch the Nacelle program. I was warned by Personnel that he was a very critical interviewer and that I probably wouldn't get the job.  I thought, "Why the Hell did they bring me in to interview if they knew I wouldn't be hired? Oh, yeah, a government contract;  that's why!" 

There I was, in my de rigueur, perfect blue suit, white blouse, navy blue pumps, and matching Coach briefcase. Mr. Waddell, more than six feet tall, met me at the Personnel Department and we traipsed across the building to his office in the Nacelles Department.   Everything in the plant was covered with tarpaulins. I thought that my chances were nil and that this was "an exercise in futility" because I had no aircraft background. We sat down and I saw my resume on his desk and something was circled in red. When he started to talk, I could tell he was from southern Ohio.  

He began by telling me that he would be required to hire so many "minorities" but he wasn't going to hire anybody he didn't want. I swallowed hard at that remark and of course I was uncomfortable with his telling me that, but I just sat and behaved myself.   He also told me that Personnel was trying to force people from other Rockwell plants on him, because they had preferential hiring practice for other Rockwell people, but that he was going to pick his own team. He said, "I see that you must know something about these Gemcors";  I answered that I did.  He said, "That's good, 'cause I don't know nuthin' about them." He said, "They hired this German guy as an Engineer over them for the whole plant and I don't care much for him, so I need somebody I can trust in my Department." I was swallowing frantically because it sounded as if he were interested in ME. Dare I hope? He said, "I figured you had to have a lot on the ball to get where you got." Then he asked, "You wanna go down and see where you'll be working?" I answered, "Yes, sir.", as if it were the most normal thing in the world to be going to see my workplace after the strangest interview in my life.  

 As we returned to his office, he told me that he would "get me in" but it might take awhile because he had to "go through the motions with Personnel";  he asked if I would be O.K. being on unemployment.  I told him that I would NOT be receiving unemployment compensation because I still had two weeks of my salary continuation from International Harvester and that I had received a job offer from another company yesterday and I would accept it and wait until he called me. When he told me it might be as late as the "end of the year", my hopes plummeted, but I maintained a brave exterior. When I returned to Personnel after the interview, I was asked how the interview had gone and I said, "Very well." I knew better than to divulge that he'd told me that I was going to have a job.

Each week after the interview, Mr. Waddell's Secretary Jonda Trace would call me to tell me that Mr. Waddell wanted to talk to me. Each week, he assured me that I was going to be on his Team. I received the job offer from Personnel on November 1 and I began work on November 15, after six months of being on tenterhooks.

Several months after I was hired, I told Jonda how I had been so worried all those months even though Mr. Waddell kept reassuring me.  She said, "You never had to worry; you passed the FLOOZY TEST." I was stunned by the remark and asked what she meant. She said, "They kept sending all those women from Tulsa Rockwell and other places,  expecting Mr. Waddell to hire one of them,  but he would tell me he had to interview them but he wasn't going to hire any of those floozies!" Then she said, "After he met you, he told me he'd found the gal he was going to hire because he knew you'd had to work hard to get where you'd gotten and every week he would say, 'Get hold of that little girl from down in the sticks!' and I'd call you!"

Mr. Waddell had informed the Company that he would stay only to have Aircraft One launched, which we completed ahead of schedule and under budget. At his retirement party, Mr. Waddell leaned over and whispered to me, "You'll be the first woman Manager in the history of Rockwell!" I have said he's the only man who could make me feel like I was twelve years old.  I squealed with delight and said, "Oh, Mr. Waddell!" ( I swear I sounded like Mary Tyler Moore's Mary Richards with Lou Grant.)

Thank you, Don Waddell,  for giving me the opportunity and for the happiest years of my entire work life.

I am glad I hadn't corrected him about all those ILLEGAL things he'd said during my interview!

Sunday, May 21, 2017


BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY definition:
I have taken numerous plant tours because I am fascinated how things are made and how people work.  From widely varied manufacturing environments such as meat-packing, pet-food, soft drinks, cosmetics, paper, corrugated materials, tool-making, automotive and aircraft, all were very interesting.

The requirements for manufacturing pet food are stricter than rules for foods for human consumption, but do you really want to know how many "roach bodies" are allowed ppm (parts per million) are allowed in food products for human beings?   After touring the pet food plant, I said, "You COULD eat off the floors there!"  After seeing sausage and hot dogs being produced,  I laugh when I tell people, "I still eat hot dogs after seeing them be made!"

It was thrilling to see Corvettes being built and final assembly of aircraft.   My brother says I'm probably the only person who wants to go to art museums and manufacturing plants with the same enthusiasm.

One of my favorite tours was at the Sunbeam plant in Olathe, Kansas.  I actually took my mother's still-operational Sunbeam Mixmaster which she had told me had been bought "after the war.";  they verified that the mixer had been manufactured in 1947.  It still works!  It is in our garage, because I can't stand to get rid of it!  When I married I received a chrome Mixmaster and toaster as wedding presents and we retired Mother's Mixmaster to a cupboard, keeping it "just in case" something happened to the new one.  We used the chrome Mixmaster until we moved to our present location in 1984 and purchased the red Kitchen Aid, but we keep the chrome Mixmaster, "just in case"!

I loved the television series How It's Made on the Science Channel and How Stuff Works on the Discovery Channel.
I always liked it when customers visited our plants and enjoyed answering questions. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017


My brother bought a Kitchen Aid mixer and I soon had "mixer envy" because of all the assorted attachments with his mixer.  I didn't need a mixer;  in fact, the gleaming, chrome, Sunbeam Mixmaster and toaster I'd received as wedding presents were still in fine working order and looked quite nice in the previous kitchen, but a red Kitchen Aid mixer would look absolutely perfect in our strawberry-wallpapered kitchen, wouldn't it?   We still had my mother's Sunbeam Mixmaster from the late 1940s stored in the cabinet as a "back-up";  it was still working, although the speeds on the dial had worn off years ago.  

But if one has one red appliance, then all the others should match--right?  Thus, we now have all Kitchen Aid appliances:  mixer, toaster, blender, and coffee pot, but dammit, Kitchen Aid does not make a stand-alone can opener;  Kitchen Aid only offers a can opener attachment to use on the front of the mixer;  I had to settle for a red West Bend can opener which "almost" matches in color to the Kitchen Aid appliances.  All the old appliances were placed in storage to use at our political headquarters during election campaigns. 

Obviously I needed to have red Fiesta ware everyday dishes, didn't I?  It was very easy to convince myself.  Oh, and yes, I obviously needed that Fiesta canister set, right?

Friday, May 19, 2017


I wailed, "Oh, no, I've lost my best friend!"  I held up my Sunbeam heat pad with the control panel flashing "F".  After unplugging, plugging, and cursing, trying to get the pad to work, it was obvious that it was kaput! 

Gerald said, "It has a 5-year warranty;  let me check to see when we bought it."  He had purchased it new from Amazon in June, 2015.  We checked our file of warranties and there weren't any for heat pads.  I said, "I probably never sent in a warranty card."  

I decided to buy another heat pad.  Gerald checked the internet and after learning those prices, I went to a store to check prices and although the store brand cost less, I had a $5.00 "extra bucks" savings certificate;  I decided to buy another Sunbeam as I have favored Sunbeam products all my life and with the savings certificate, the cost would be the same as the Amazon price, and I could have it immediately.   

On the box of the new heat pad, it stated that there was no need to return an item to the store, but to call the 800 number.  As I had the documentation of the purchase of the old one, I decided to call and I was hopeful about the outcome.

The customer service representative asked for me to read the serial numbers from the heat pad and its plug and when I did, she said, simply, "We'll be sending a replacement within the next few days."

WOW!  Now THAT is customer service.

My dilemma:  should I return the new one to the store or just keep it in case "my best friend" conks out.  My brother said, "Keep it, you're Hell on heat pads!"

Thursday, May 18, 2017


The best boss I ever had preached:  "DOCUMENT! DOCUMENT! DOCUMENT!"   Throughout my work life, I always followed that advice.  I never lost a grievance mostly because I knew the Contracts but also because my cases were always well documented.  

Patrick Moynihan practiced "MEMCON" (MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION) and insisted that his subordinates use the technique.   It is well-known that the FBI encourages the use of the technique.

I hope that the recently terminated FBI Director documented his conversations,

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Growing up in the country, we were accustomed to having dogs and cats "dropped" on us.  One would think that living in town, on a corner lot, being surrounded by a fence,  we would be safe from drop-offs.  However, last year,  my brother Les looked out the kitchen window just in time to see a person dropping kittens across the fence.  That took a lot of chutzpah!

Please, no more cats!  We had eleven at one time:  Puff, Spot, Louise, Francis Albert Sinatra (AKA Ole Blue Eye as he has one blue and one green eye), Snowball, Polka Dot, Sasha Fierce, Topo, Professor, Socks and last, but not least, the most spoiled of all: Stormy.

None of the cats like me but they adore Les and Gerald. The only time the cats come around me is when I am picking flowers. Gerald said it's because they have "marked" the spots and don't want me there, bothering "their" spots. 

As I was picking violets this year, Stormy sprawled out over the flowers, anywhere I attempted to pick.  As we have violets all over the yard, I kept moving from spot to spot to pick, but the cat would get right in front of me. He jumped in the peonies to try to prevent my picking those flowers.  Last week, as I was picking flowers for a bouquet to take to the cemetery for Mother's Day, Stormy was in the rose garden as I tried to pick flowers there.  I told Gerald I was going to throw him in the honeysuckle vines as a defense.  Finally, I had to pick him up and deposit him in the garage.  Les asked, "Is that the briar patch?"

For years we  have had a bed of Lilies of the Valley along the side of the garage.  The cats ruined a section because they had reclined in the plants and killed the flowers.  Last year we put up a fence, to no avail, as the cats still reclined there.  I read to sprinkle cayenne pepper to keep out squirrels from the garden so I tried that in the bed of Lilies of the Valley and the cats stayed away. TRIUMPH, I thought!   I  transplanted plants from other sections of the bed, but nothing would grow in the "reclining spot".

This year Gerald bought top soil and potting soil spread it over the area;   I planted new Lily of the Valley plants in the "reclining spot" and so far, no cats are residing there and the plants are faring well!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


I was watching CBS' Sunday Morning and there was a feature about pay phones.  I learned that there are ONLY four pay phones in the whole of Manhattan and all of those phones are free-of-charge to use.

I recalled that I had seen a pay phone in town in front of a convenience store on North North Street.  I went there to take the picture and then learned that there was no telephone in the box.  

I began to wonder if there were any others in our community.  I was at our local hospital for blood work and there is a pay phone there.   

However, there is no phone BOOTH!

Monday, May 15, 2017


Our newspaper has alerted us about recent home invasions and that there was a "crime ring" operating in our area.  This week we were expecting a technician to come to alter our gas meter which is located in the basement.  When he arrived, I asked to see his identification.  I could tell he was surprised as he fumbled through his pockets, searching;  I asked him if people didn't usually ask for his ID and he said that it was the first time.  He said, "I guess you can't be too careful."

Below is an article I published in 2011 titled WHAT YOUR BURGLAR WON'T TELL YOU:

1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house.. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door; understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather.

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it.)

10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Here's a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.

12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at http://www.faketv/.com/)


1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

3. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.

4. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

5. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address.

7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.

8. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina , Oregon , California , and Kentucky; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.

Protection for you and your home:

If you don't have a gun, here's a more humane way to wreck someone's evil plans for you.

A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection. She asked the local police department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead.

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection. I Thought this was interesting and might be of use.


On the heels of a break-in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo dead, self-defense experts have a tip that could save your life.

Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High School . For decades, he's suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet spray near your door or bed. Glinka says, "This is better than anything I can teach them."

Glinka considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray. The cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries to break into your home, Glinka says, "Spray the culprit in the eyes". It's a tip he's given to students for decades. It's also one he wants everyone to hear. If you're looking for protection, Glinka says look to the spray.

"That's going to give you a chance to call the police; maybe get out." Maybe even save a life.

Put your car keys beside your bed at night. Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr.'s office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies. This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around. After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


In response to yesterday's article Confronting Condescension, Mona Lisa called and said,  "I looked up Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3, but I didn't understand your reference."

I said, "I supposed that she would know the quote TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE."

Mona Lisa replied,  "Oh, I was looking at the wrong part;  I didn't understand what Laertes warning Ophelia had to do with your confronting her condescension."

I answered, "I was referring to Polonius' speech:
"This above all, to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee."

Mona Lisa responded, "They were all condescending to Ophelia, don't you think?  She could've learned from 'neither a borrower or lender be' also."

I said, "That's a very good summary!"

Later, in relating the conversation to my brother, he said, "Yeah, old Polonius had some really good lines;  how about learning from 'BREVITY IS THE SOUL OF WIT'?"

OK, I will be brief!

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Yesterday, an acquaintance asked me to come to visit her at her home as she wanted to show me some photographs of a mutual topic of interest to us.

As we sat down at her dining room table, I looked at the opposite wall and said, "I see you have a same Corot print that I do."

She asked, with surprise in her tone, "You know Corot?" Having previously experienced similar condescending remarks from her, which, regrettably, I had allowed the remarks to pass without comment, because in those instances we were in the company of other people. This time, with being just the two of us together, I decided to confront her condescension. I asked, "Why wouldn't I know Corot if you know Corot, and especially a famous painting like Ville d'Avray?"  There was no response from her, but just a sudden, sharp intake of breath. I continued, "Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot is my favorite artist." [I admit that I was showing off a wee bit then by knowing Corot's whole name; I so cherish people with three names such as J.M.W. Turner, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Corot]

Still, there was no response from her.   I stated, "You didn't answer my question and I'm very interested to know the answer." She hemmed and hawed and said, "I just never expect people from Fayette County...". As her voice trailed off, I did not allow her to continue, but interjected, "But you are from Fayette County, so why would you think that a fellow Fayette Countian would not know Corot?" She said, "But I haven't lived here since I went off to college."

I answered, "That's totally illogical; I knew about Corot when I was a teenager; they actually had books of French artists at the library." [I have found that one of the things people dislike the most is to be accused of being illogical]

She did not respond to that salvo.

I said, "I'm disappointed that you cannot admit what is obvious;  that you think you are intellectually superior."

She answered, "No, I don't think that, I just know we have different backgrounds."

I answered, "No, actually you do not know that because you have never once inquired about my background, but I certainly know all about yours, but that still doesn't answer my question." Then she said, "You misunderstood what I meant." I laughed and said, "I'm a woman of great perspicacity, so I'm sure I did understand." She did not answer. I continued by asking, "Please tell me why you would think I wouldn't know Corot but you would? That's a rather simple question." Then I laughed again, which clearly upset her. [I have also found that people dislike being laughed at, along with being accused of being illogical]

I suddenly felt embarrassed, because I was enjoying the attack too much. Shame on me; to use a cliche, I was having a battle of wits with an unarmed person. Clearly, she had not been exposed to rough-and-tumble arguments;  it wasn't exactly a Socratic dialogue.

Oh, yes, we do have very different backgrounds!

I stood up to leave and she kept making attempts to apologize, which, if she had known the slightest thing about me, she would know that was exactly the wrong thing to do. I would much rather that she had told the truth that she does feel superior rather than giving a spurious apology.

As I had my hand on the doorknob to leave, I said, "Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3."

I probably won't have another invitation.

Friday, May 12, 2017


The 25th Annual National Association Of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive will be conducted Saturday May 13, 2017.  One can leave a bag of groceries by one's mailbox or take to the Post Office.

I was leaving the grocery where I'd picked up a bag of canned goods to donate.  A woman was loading her car from two shopping carts.  I commented, "Wow, you have a truckload!"  She sighed and said, "My son lost his job and I'm trying to help him."  I made a few suggestions of resources for him to be able to get help.

She said that he'd been trying to put in applications numerous places.  I suggested that he might try my husband's firm.  She asked the location and other pertinent information and said she would tell him to put in an application.

I said, "I just happen to have an extra application in my car;  let me get it for you."   Naturally, she was surprised about my having applications.  She said, "Bless you, honey."

I explained that a friend's son wants a summer job and I told my friend I would be glad to get an application for him.  When I got the application, the guard said, "You should take two in case they make a mistake."

I believe in serendipity.


Thursday, May 11, 2017


NATIONAL TWILIGHT ZONE DAY is celebrated May 11.

"You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.  A journey into a wondrous land of imagination;  next stop the Twilight Zone."  

Rod Serling created, wrote, and narrated the groundbreaking television series The Twilight Zone which aired from 1959 to 1964.

Gerald, Les, and I have watched The Twilight Zone marathons numerous times and joyfully recite dialogue.  

Seeing opening scenes, one of us will ask, "Oh, remember Robert Redford with Gladys Cooper?"  "Oh, and Burgess Meredith and William Shatner?"

Surveys of Twilight Zone fanatics usually choose To Serve Man as the all-time favorite episode, but my favorite is The Eye Of The Beholder, which can be watched below:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Happy 39th birthday anniversary today to my husband's grand-nieces Aron and Angie.  Similar in look, they were referred to as "The Twins" all their lives, but they were certainly not "identical", and have grown to be two distinctly different people.  Until they were adults, my husband could not tell them apart.  Below is an article from 2010:

                  SLUMBER PARTY

When my husband's twin grandnieces were ready to turn 13, they were visiting at our home and they said that they wanted to have a slumber party to celebrate their birthday.  I said that I had always wanted to have a slumber party when I was a girl, but I had never been able to do those kinds of things.  Angie excitedly said, "We could have a slumber party HERE!"

The next day their mother Robin called and asked, "Aunt Sue, were you serious about the Twins having a slumber party at your house?"  Of course I had NOT been serious about it, but I didn't miss a beat and answered, "I'd love to have the slumber party at my house!" and afterwards, I was so glad I did it.

I sent out invitations which read,  "Aron and Angie Henry and little Suzy Shirkey-Raypole request your presence at their combined slumber party!"  I sent the invitations to my friends and told them that they had to wear nightgowns and fuzzy slippers.  The twins invited many of their friends.

On the evening of the party, five of my friends came.  My friend Bobbi was the most original as she drove to my house, already dressed in her nightgown, wearing fuzzy slippers and curlers in her hair. Another friend asked her, "Are you crazy?" but changed into a nightgown at my house  A third friend fell asleep at 9:00 p.m. and the other two crashed before midnight.  They demanded the beds and the girls were on couches and in sleeping bags.  Gerald and my mother retreated to the safety and quiet of the upstairs bedrooms.

The party lasted all night long and there were prizes for all the events.  We had contests and prizes for singing, dancing, makeup, hairdos, cooking, screaming, and a scavenger hunt and the GRAND PRIZE was to be awarded to the one who stayed awake the longest which meant that I had to stay up ALL night to know which one was awake the longest.   We watched movies, made popcorn balls, Rice Krispie treats, brownies, and ordered pizza.

The next morning, my husband, while looking around at all of the debris, asked, "NOW, will you learn to quit whining about all those things you didn't get to do when you were a kid?"  Throughout the years, Aron and Angie and I would fondly recall "our" slumber party.

At least fifteen years after the slumber party, a young woman came up to me in Kroger and asked, "Mrs. Raypole, do you remember me?  I was at The Twins' Birthday Party at your house!" As we reminisced, she said, "I won the makeup contest at the party!"   I responded, "And I won the screaming contest!"

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Today is National Teachers Day.  In my life I was very fortunate to have some good teachers, some bad ones, and two great ones.  Below is an article from 2011 in Sue's News which I wrote about two teachers, one bad and one great.

                          SEMINAL INFLUENCES

Just recently, at a dinner party, as we were reminiscing, a school classmate was shocked when I said that a certain teacher we had had was an "ignorant, vindictive bitch".

All my life I had heard what a great teacher "Mrs. DOG" was. [I called her that behind her back: DOG stood for "delusions of grandeur"] She had been my mother's teacher and all 5 of my older brothers also had her as a teacher.  Her great distinction was that she'd been given the honor of creating a mathematics test for the "Ohio Every Pupil Test" because my older brother and others had consistently scored high on the state mathematics tests from the little rural Bloomingburg School.

I was actually looking forward to having her as a teacher and I think that all of us had been programmed to be in awe of her because she had taught so long and was renowned to be a "great" teacher.  The older boys affectionately called her "Ma" behind her back.

By the time I had her, in Ohio History, she probably should have been retired. She was mean, petty, vindictive, and showed great favoritism toward her "pets" (all of whom were from well-to-do families), but the worst thing was that she did not know her subject.  She was primarily a math teacher but I guess a history teacher was needed that year and I suppose she and the hierarchy thought she could teach "anything".  I never had her for any math, Algebra, Geometry, or Trigonometry, so I will not comment about her ability as a math teacher.

From the beginning, when I merely questioned her about a statement she had made which I knew was an error, she haughtily responded, in front of the entire class, "Just because you're a Shirkey doesn't mean you know everything!" I was summarily ordered to Mr. Biddle's office, as she left the class and accompanied me, where they called my mother at home. "Mrs. DOG" imperiously told Mr. Biddle that she had also had had my mother as a student and that SHE would talk to my mother.   Even then, as a child, I knew that her high-handed treatment of the Principal was WRONG.  On the telephone, my mother took my side, but when I got home, she said that I needed to show respect and I countered with, "Even IF she's wrong?" Mother said that I should because she was old enough to be my grandmother.

One day, in Ohio History, in 1956, we were going to have a mock-election between Eisenhower and Stevenson. "Mrs. DOG" made the statement that "All Negroes should always vote for Republicans because Lincoln freed the slaves." I was shocked and knew that I SHOULD speak up but I was also cowed by my having been upbraided previously. [I have lived with the shame the rest of my life that I did not correct her since I was a Stevenson supporter;  yes, even then and I learned that she was a "big-wig" in the local Republican party] There were 5 Negroes (the politically correct term at the time) in the class and I surreptitiously stole looks at them to see their reactions.

She was also one of my teachers of English, and thank goodness for "multiple-guess" tests because she couldn't give me bad grades on those although she did attack my book reports. I recall that I asked to report on Cry, The Beloved Country (for "extra credit", which she always encouraged and being a little brown-noser, I always did). I wanted to report on the book because my brother Bode had the book, and I wanted to be considered "grown-up", but "Mrs. DOG"  vetoed that saying that she would choose what books we could use and that we weren't going to have any of that "Communist stuff" in her school (yes, she said "her school").   I innocently asked her if she had read it.  She said she didn't need to read it because she'd "heard enough" about it.  Of course, Alan Paton was a Christian and the book and ideas have nothing to do with Communism--just more evidence of her ignorance--and intolerance. I kept telling my family that "she had it in for me", but my brothers and mother still defended HER.  I told my brother I would prove it to him.  I submitted a book report which my brother had written two years previously and she had given him an "A";  I re-wrote it in my handwriting and she gave me a "B";   I gave my own actual report to someone else to use and he was given an "A".   I knew the "B" grade was just her vindictiveness toward me because she COULD do it and get away with it and I had no recourse.  When I told my mother about what I had done she told me that I was wrong in doing that.

Fortunately, after that year, I never had her as a teacher again.

Three years later, my favorite teacher, Miss Digman, came to teach in Ohio because West Virginia had a mandatory retirement age of 70.  Because she "roomed" at my friend's grandmother's house, I had almost daily contact with her outside the classroom and not only was she a brilliant teacher, but also had an acerbic, scathing wit and didn't suffer fools gladly. When I told Miss Digman how "awful" that "Mrs. DOG" was, both my friend and her grandmother literally GASPED and immediately began praising "Mrs. DOG".  I began to relate evidence demonstrating her meanness and ignorance.  I shall NEVER forget Miss Digman's response, "This is like a scene from The Manchurian Candidate"--whenever her name is mentioned--all these brainwashed people immediately begin singing her praises." I had not heard of, nor read The Manchurian Candidate" at that time, but it immediately went to the top of my "to-read" list.  Miss Digman laughed and said that I was the FIRST and ONLY person in Bloomingburg to tell the truth.  When Miss Digman used the term "delusions of grandeur" to describe "Mrs. DOG", it was the first time in my life I'd heard the phrase used, and it was then that I adopted it as an acronym for "Mrs. DOG", which Miss Digman found amusing but my friend and grandmother and my family found disrespectful.  I never had the courage to use the term elsewhere.

Years later, watching the movie of The Manchurian Candidate" I vividly recalled Miss Digman's comparison to "Mrs. DOG".

Miss Digman told me that "Mrs. DOG" was very upset because Miss Digman had asked all of her fellow teachers about their academic credentials. Miss Digman told me that "Mrs. DOG" was upset because she had to admit that she did not didn't have a college degree and I was shocked to learn that and I asked how she could be allowed to teach. Miss Digman, who held a Master's Degree, sniffed in a condescending way when she told me that "Mrs. DOG" had graduated from a "normal school".  I asked what that was. She answered, snootily, "They went to school back then until they could get a husband and they let them teach school." Miss Digman was unafraid to tell the truth.

The year I was ready to graduate, Mrs. DOG announced her retirement.   I took the three book reports--my brother's original with the "A", my copy of his with a "B", and my actual report submitted by someone else with an "A" and showed them to "Mrs. DOG"-- and told her how she had discriminated against me.  She said that I should be "whipped" (WHIPPED?--I had never had so much as a spanking my entire life) and she immediately reported it to Mr. Biddle and said that I shouldn't be allowed to graduate.  Of course nothing came of it.

I had never heard anyone outside my family use the word "bitch", but when I told Miss Digman about what "Mrs. Dog" had done, she used that word to describe "Mrs. DOG".

I have lived my life emulating Miss Digman and doing everything I could NOT to be like "Mrs. DOG"!

Monday, May 8, 2017


Yesterday a woman of my generation said, "That's da bomb!" and as if that weren't bad enough, she actually repeated the same phrase later.   Yeah, how one knows that teenage slang is officially passe is when an old person co-opts it!  

Later, in relating the incident to my brother, he quipped, "At least she didn't say AWESOME!" I used the word "neologism" and he said, "Tell me, is neologism also a neologism?" (Neologism:  a newly coined word or expression)

I wondered if the woman thought that saying "da bomb" made her seem young, hip, or cool.  Oh, I know I'm guilty of some slangy usage such as "cool" and "hip",  but those are MY generation!  

Listen to The Who sing My Generation:

I wondered when/where "da bomb" originated because I had not heard any young people of my acquaintance using the term recently.

From Rice University Neologisms Database:

A way to refer to any person, event, or thing which a person finds very cool or enjoyable.  The phrase "the (or da) bomb" became popular in the 1990s. The addition of "dot com" refers to the ending of many websites URL ".com".  The phrase can also be continued by adding "slash awesome" or "slash (enter any other word)", containing the usage of URL reference.

From the Latin "bombus", meaning explosion.  ".Com" is an abbreviation for "commercial" used in some websites' URL.  

From another source:

"An African-American slang phrase that became popular in the 1990s.  "Da" is an informal way to say "the" and "bomb" refers to something very powerful and explosive.  A synonym is "Phat".

Sunday, May 7, 2017

MAY 7, 1979

Reprinted from Sue's News from 2012:


MAY 7, 1979--the day a sixteen-year-old boy was murdered in the local Kroger parking lot. His infraction--according to the murderer--was because he and his friend used dirty language.  12 fine Fayette County people--a jury of his peers--found the murderer not guilty by reason of insanity.

The following day, the murderer strutted the streets of Washington Court House with a gun strapped on his hip.

That was  justice--Fayette County style.

Recently, the mother of that sixteen-year-old died;  she had worked with me in the 1970s and we were as close as a management/employee relationship would allow.   I often wondered how she was able to cope with the circus which surrounded her after the murder of her son.  I wanted to protect her from the ignorance of the so-called "good intentions" of people. I detested the "professional mourners" who crowded in to witness her devastating grief. At the funeral, I stayed busy keeping the S.O.B.s at a distance. I felt, "How dare they come to bother her in her grief?" I thought, "The rats come out of the woodwork to view her sorrow." Those people have a sick fascination, but cloak it with their spurious platitudes about "paying their respects" and "making an appearance" or a whole litany of other cliches. I believe they derive perverse pleasure is in witnessing the anguish of others, and they always dutifully report "how well" the aggrieved are "holding up"; or judging "how bad they're taking it".  Perhaps they do not realize what they consider "kind words" are oftentimes wounding rather than comforting.

I'll never forget her telling me, "I want to die, but I have to stay alive because I have other children." In the intervening years, when I would see her, I would mention her son because she'd told me that she liked to talk about him to some people, but not to others. I told her I knew exactly how she felt because, when my brother died, I couldn't stand for some people to even say his name--but with my family and friends-- I wanted to talk about him. When people would mention the circumstances--which they invariably do--it is like a fresh knife in the heart. My brother died in 1964 and someone recently asked, casually, "Oh, yeah, didn't that happen out on.....?" I stopped the person before they could mention the where, what, when, and how, or any other clinical details of his death. It still hurts. How can people be so obtuse? Why would any right-thinking person want to mention, ever so casually, the circumstance of a loved one's death? I have concluded that they are either stupid or perverse, or perhaps both.

The last time I saw the boy's mother, we were exchanging the usual hugs and pleasantries and I was looking at her Grandma's Brag Book with the pictures of the grandchildren and for a moment, she looked wistful, but it wasn't the time nor the place, there in Dollar General, to discuss what might have been, or so I thought.  Now I am bereft because I didn't say anything to her that day.

She was a good mother, wife, grandmother, friend, and a good worker. I cannot think of higher praise.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


In discussing passive aggressive behavior earlier this week, I was reminded of an article I published in Sue's News in 2013:


Yesterday, at a carry-in family party, I was making punch.  My husband's sister-in-law asked, "What all do you put in there?"  I began to list the ingredients and when I said "sherbet", she then asked:  "What kind of SHERBERT?"

I thought, "Oh, my God, did she just do what I think she did--pronounce it as 'sherbert'--to try to correct my pronunciation of sherbet?"  I've noticed that it is a common mispronunciation here in Fayette County, but in the interest of family harmony, I decided not to pursue the subject although I dislike that obvious passive-aggressive behavior.

However, for no discernible reason other than to "rub it in", she said "sherbert" again, asking, "How many SHERBERTS do you use?"

I pointed to a container and said quietly, "It's sherbet;  there's only one R in sherbet."  She said she'd never heard it pronounced THAT way.  

She had brought a variety of sandwiches which she had labeled.  I debated whether to tell her that she had "pimento" spelled as "pimentoe" but I said, "Hey, Dan Quayle, you have pimento misspelled!"  She didn't "get" the Dan Quayle reference but her daughter did, and laughed appreciatively.

She was cold toward me for the remainder of the day.

Friday, May 5, 2017


Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican culture, food, music, beverages, and customs unique to Mexico;  I plan to celebrate by enjoying eating ceviche, caldo de Cameron, romeritos, and pan de muerto for dessert.   

Cinco de Mayo is not greatly celebrated in Mexico;  it is not a national holiday there;  Mexican Independence Day is September 16.  Celebrating Cinco de Mayo has become increasingly popular in the United States, especially in areas with large Mexican populations.

Cinco de Mayo honors the bravery and victory of Texas-born General Zaragoza's outnumbered militia against the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.   El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (the Day of the Battle of Puebla) is an official holiday in the Puebla State.