Monday, January 30, 2012


At the end of my first grade, my parents told me we had to move west. My father was to be transferred to Clinton, Oklahoma. I screamed and cried and said I wasn’t going to leave my beautiful neighborhood with large green trees and singing birds.  I just knew it wasn’t going to be nearly as nice out west. I was sad and shed many tears.  I was pretty young to have this premonition. Or was it my psychic vision of its sad early history and for things that were to come?

Clinton is a little over 80 miles west of Oklahoma City, in the middle of Indian Territory. Indian Territory was its name before statehood. President Andrew Jackson ordered the Indians to move west of the Mississippi.  They left their homes in the southeastern states of Georgia and Florida, during the coldest of winter, in the late 1830's. The trip was by foot, with nothing more than blankets on their back and whatever they could carry. Thousands died along the way. The  Cherokee alone lost about a third of their population.There are many sad stories about the Indians' forceful  move to the west. Hence the name, "Trail of Tears."

The US government historically pushed Indians westward, away from their lands that the European settlers desired, to lands less desirable.  Was it unconstitutional to do such an evil thing? Yes, The United States Supreme Court said it was. But Jackson defied the decision and said, "Just let them enforce it."The heart of what was once Indian Territory, is where Clinton is and where we were to move. The land was some of the last to be settled by white settlers in Oklahoma. The temperatures in that part of the state have been some of the most extreme and much of the land is  barren and flat. 

Clinton is also known for the famous Route 66 that provided easier transportation for people traveling west.It runs right through there. In the early 1930's, the  highway,  Route 66 was built to extend across Oklahoma for 400 miles and continue west, all the way to Los Angeles, California. Interestingly, it was barely finished in time for Oklahoma's devastated people of the Great Depression to travel  on their westward  migration, to the state of California in the depth of those most difficult times. Oklahoma tenant  farmers lost their land, homes, crops and all their money from the long drought that turned their lands into "dust bowls". They left Oklahoma in large numbers with only what they could pack into and on top of their vehicles.  They headed for California, looking for a better life. The event was so significant that shortly after,  John Steinbeck wrote his story, "The Grapes of Wrath"(1939).   It was such a sad relevant story, it was called a  social commentary of its time, although it was a  novel. So well written, it won the Pulitzer Prize. Shortly after, a highly acclaimed movie was made of the story and directed by John Ford.  It won an Academy Award.

I didn't know anything about the sad history of the land which we were traveling west to.  But I knew in my heart it would be no comparison to Oklahoma City. But now looking back, I know it wasn't as bad as those poor Native Americans(I prefer to call them now) had it,  who were forced to leave their homes and travel west. And I  know I didn't have it as bad as the poor "Okies" who were destitute and went west looking for a better life. It was just another chapter in my life.

Monday, January 23, 2012


One summer I spotted a rainbow, on a lazy afternoon after a little shower in the country. It was fun because I was taking care of my two young grandsons. The older one, Austin, was almost two years old and the younger one, Sterling, was five months younger, 18 months old. Neither had many experiences, so I thought I would show them a rainbow. How could I make it important enough for them to remember, I asked myself.

I called them and exclaimed, “Guess what I see. I see a beautiful rainbow. Do you want to see it too?”

Since I showed a lot of enthusiasm in my voice, I aroused their curiosity. They came running to the door and looked out toward the sky where I pointed.

“Have you ever seen rainbows? They are beautiful. They disappear fast so we have to get a picture of it. Do you want to do it?”

 “Yes," they answered.

 I grabbed some crayons that I bought the day before and gave each of them a large piece of paper. For the next few minutes the little guys worked hard on their masterpieces. They were colorful and a little crooked in their shapes, but they were excited and focused on their art. That’s what I wanted from them.

 I said, “How beautiful your rainbows are. Yeaaaa." I added ,“Can you say Yeaaa, rainbows?”

 They answered in their cute little voices, “Yeaaaa, rainbows.”

 I said, “I will keep your pictures of your rainbows and we will show them to your mothers. You made beautiful rainbows. Yeaaaaa, beautiful rainbows.” My intent was to celebrate rainbows and encourage them to see them and notice their beauty in the future. I think I did.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


When I finished first grade, Mom threw Teddy away.  It was like another death in
the family for me.  I missed him and remember crying for him.  I was used to
sleeping with the beige brown fuzzy Teddy Bear every night I went to bed.

He wasn’t much to look at. He wasn’t big and I could wrap my one arm all around him.  He was smashed and limp looking. But he was so soft and I was so comfortable with him. He had one eye missing. I don’t remember how long I had him, but I remember I had dolls in much better shape and newer than he looked. In fact,  I had an ice skating doll. This was in the hay day of Sonja Henie, the famous ice skating star who won the skating Olympics and starred in movies. And as pretty as my skating doll and story book  dolls were,  I loved my tattered Teddy more than all of my dolls and I  grieved for him, but no one seemed to listen.

Why did my mother throw Teddy away? As well as I remember, she said we were
moving and she had to get rid of a lot of our old stuff. We wouldn’t have room to take much. There was a  housing shortage where we were going.  Besides, she told me,  I was a big girl now.

I was also very upset about moving away from the most beautiful city I had ever
known.  I remember saying that no city could be as beautiful as Oklahoma City where there were wonderful sky scraper buildings, tall green trees with birds that sang near my window every day.  I had neighborhood friends I  didn’t want to leave and relatives who lived not too far away.  I knew I would miss it all. Looking back to those times, I think I was rather young to have such thoughts.

I lost my Teddy and it may have had an impact. Today child psychologists  tell us it’s important for babies to have a security item, be it blanket or doll, that is soft to provide comfort to them. It provides  a transition for them to calm fears and reduce stress and anxiety. Some children need them for several years depending on their circumstances. Who knows why my Teddy was so important, but it was tied to my move that depressed me.  

I refer you to an old study I used in my "Marriage and Family" course. Click on
<Harlow Studies on the Nature of Love> 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


They shot twenty-one times. They were soldiers dressed in uniforms and had real guns. It was scary and the loud booming noise hurt my ears.  I  thought it would never end. Why did they do this, I wondered. Several airplanes flew above and I didn't know where they were going, but they flew right over our heads. We were gathered together around a freshly dug grave in an Oklahoma City Cemetery. Above the grave was a casket with a large American flag that covered it. Inside the casket was my mother's friend, who had died overseas in a European battle.

Mother told me this was a great honor to her friend who died in the Battle of the Bulge, in Germany, the month of December, 1944. This was my first experience with death. And it was close to a year  after my mother left her Rosie's job and months after my sister Karen was born.

President Franklin Roosevelt died only a few months later in April 1945. We saw pictures of him in the news reels that revealed a thin sick looking man. I thought it difficult to believe a president could die. Everyone I knew considered him a very beloved president so it was a sad time in history, especially in my family. I heard people give him credit for bringing the war to an end.  I didn't understand why he died.

In May of 1945, German forces surrendered and on May 8th the allies of Europe celebrated the victory and it was called V.E. Day. In my neighborhood the children on my street celebrated, as well. I remember shouting with glee, "The War is Over". I joined other children on the street and we made a happy parade. I don't know whose idea it was, but we grabbed utensils from our mother's kitchen and made as much noise as we could, marching up and down the sidewalks in front of our houses,  singing and shouting, "The war is over. The war is over." I had a metal pot that I banged with a big spoon.

One morning, "The Daily Oklahoman"was delivered to our house.  It was filled with war pictures. Some were very graphic. The most graphic was a picture on the front page revealing a large stack of very thin naked human bodies. They were pictures taken by the allies when they entered the Holocaust concentration camps in Germany. History tells us that Eisenhower told the troops to take as many pictures as they could because the world may forget this happened or refuse to believe it.

I had never seen dead bodies in a photo or in real life, so it made a huge impression on me. My mother explained  that this was the reason the War was fought. She told me  a very mean man, named Hitler, was responsible for those terrible deaths and millions of others. When she told me Hitler died (he committed suicide in Germany the month before), I was relieved. She folded the newspaper and said, "This is a very important time in our history. I will save this newspaper for your children."

Although I had learned about death by attending the military grave site ceremony and I saw dead bodies in the newspaper at the end of the war,  in my little heart and mind, I thought we would all be safe from then on. I was finishing the first grade and I believed we would live happily ever after. How naive I was. My life seemed to take sharp turns and begin to evolve in a new direction, during this period of time, at the end of world War ll.

Friday, January 13, 2012


                                            MY EARLIEST MEMORY

My earliest memory is when I was eighteen months old.

My parents and I lived in Oklahoma City where I was born  months earlier. Every Sunday my parents visited my great -grandfather Roy Baird’s farm. It was situated between Bethany and Lake Overholser, west of the city. My grandfather Baird had a lush garden of vegetables and fruits from his orchards. When it wasn’t winter, something always needed harvesting and the children and their husbands and grandchildren provided ready labor, in exchange for the produce to take home for the next weeks’ menus.

We also had a wonderful Sunday dinner with succulent roast beef and gravy, served on grandmother’s imported china. In the late afternoons, we would gather around grandfather Baird’s console radio and phonograph player in his living room and listen to classical music that he insisted was for “our good”. The Bell Telephone Hour had classical and Broadway music and the specialty of The Texaco Hour was opera. I developed an appreciation for this kind of music early because of this experience.

One Sunday, my mother put me down for a nap on a bed in one of grandfather Baird’s bedrooms. My cousin Helen was placed on the bed, next to me. She was several months younger. As the story goes, the adults heard this cry of anguish come out of the bedroom and ran in to see what was going on. I was the guilty party because my cousin Helen raised her arms crying, showing the teeth marks up and  down her arms. My mother was mortified, embarrassed, and furious at me. Since this was years before the child psychologist Dr. Spock published his famous book , she used  her primitive instincts and decided to pick up my arm and bite “the hell” out of it to teach me a lesson. I do remember the other adults in the room saying, “That should teach her a lesson she won’t forget.” And I never did forget it.


                                          MY THIRD GRADE SMELLED GOOD         

So, do I  remember the smells associated with my elementary school classroom? Yes. The most intoxicating smells I remember is when I started the third grade at Nance School in Clinton, Oklahoma. I was so excited about starting  at a new school with new school supplies.

The Red Chief Tablet had an exciting aroma. It must have been the glue that bound the pages together. But, I do remember the anticipation about what I was going to write on the pages of the tablet.

There was also the fragrant aroma that seeped from the color crayons, we called,  “crayolas”. They smelled almost like bubblegum. And bubble gum was a cherished fragrance connected with my taste buds. Mainly, because there was such a short supply of bubble gum and it was rationed just a couple of years before, during World War ll.   But I couldn’t eat or chew crayons, like I did bubble gum, though some kids did.

Pencils had the woodsy smell, of course. And when you smell the shavings of pencils from a room full of students, it was like smelling sawdust in a lumberyard.

When the school bell rang, we happily ran outside for recess to play and meet our new school mates. One pretty girl in French style pigtails came up to me and asked,
          “Are you a third grader?”                                       
          I proudly answered, “Yes I am.”
          She said, “Hi I am Carol. Here is some liquorice".
          I chose not to declare my ignorance and ask, what is liquorice? So, when I saw Carol put the long black rubbery looking piece in her mouth, I did the same. The chewy aromatic black substance teased my taste buds and the smell was one I had no familiarity with at all, but it was one that I remembered fondly thereafter. Bits of the chewy tasty candy stayed in my teeth all afternoon until I went home and brushed them.     
What I  also remember,  I was so proud to finally make it to the third grade and be rewarded by new friends like Carol. Ahhhh, the third grade smelled so good.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Big Boom

     One night there was a loud boom and the house seemed to shake, a couple of hours after  we retired to our beds for the night.  The two preschoolers, Susi and Kevin, ran into our bedroom crying and screaming, jumping on our bed.  Baby Walter raised his head from his crib nearby and whimpered.
     "Someone tried to open our door," squealed Susi.
     "Which door"? asked her father.
     "The one that opens to the patio from our room", she replied.
     Resentful of the fact that I was losing much needed sleep, I interjected, "That is crazy. Who would want to break into our house? We don't have any valuables."
     The big father answered, "Shut up. Just go call the police and I will stand beside the door."
     At that pronouncement, he picked up a kitchen chair and held it over his head and tip toed to the door in the kids' room.
     Kevin began to say something and his sister immediately shushed him.
     Their father looked strained, but didn't waver, as he held the chair high above him.   
     I called the police and told the dispatcher we thought we were being invaded. She asked me where we lived and I said, "On the corner of Buffalo Speedway, right off Main."
     She said, "That's a busy street.I should have a patrol car nearby and I will send someone over as soon as possible."
     When I walked back to the bedroom to report to my husband, he said, "Good."
     I said, "Are you okay?"
     He said, "Of course", with a frown on his face. "Take the children with you and stay at the front door and wait for the police. Then bring him back here".
    I said, "Of course, dear".
    What seemed like a very long time, the patrolman finally arrived. I told him what had happened and led him to my husband's guarding position. With the chair still raised over his head, he looked relieved as we entered the room and then lowered the chair to the floor. Now he had cover from a cop with a gun in his holster.
     We discussed the event with the polite policeman, as he got everyone's story. He smiled and in his patient way  told us that he had other reports of a loud boom and shake to neighbors' homes, as well as ours. And from his investigation, he determined it was tied to a jet that was flying overhead. They figured that the sound and shaking was a jet breaking the sound barrier. 
     Although we were embarrassed that we did not know and we had called the police in a false alarm, it was a rather new experience for all of us to hear such noise as this. Looking back to this time, it was in the height of the Cold War, a couple of months after  President Kennedy was assassinated. It was an uncomfortable time for most of us. And it was not the last time I heard a boom like that night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


When I googled blog memoirs, "Rosie the Riveter" and "Rosie the Riveter's Daughter" popped up. Do you know I was or still am I guess, Rosie the Riveter's Daughter? My mother worked in a defense plant during World War II. She dropped me off at a day care center. Then she went to work and worked on a computer.

She said the computer was as large as a room, unlike those of today. She reminded me of this when I went back to college and struggled with a computer for the first time. The computer I worked on was not a PC. It was also a huge apparatus that was housed in a building by Garrison Hall  at UT in the late 1970's There were different stations around the campus for us to type punch cards. We ran the cards with our information into machines at the substation. And in return, we got  back data on a large sheet of paper taken from the variables that we punched in. Easy? Wrong!!! If we made one mistake on the punch cards we typed, we had to start all over again. It was intense agony for me. Some how or another, I managed to  pass statistics and I chose to do a qualitative study for my Master's Thesis, so I didn't use statistical information, even though some probably frowned about it. Statistical correlations and coefficients, etc. were the most often used in sociology research at that time.

I wish I had asked my mother what all she did on her computer. All, I know is that she said it was at a defense plant in Oklahoma City when most of the men were serving in the war and women were called to serve their country.

History tells us that the Rosies of that time gave up their jobs when it was time for the men to return from their service.Women were no longer needed because of the large number of returning soldiers who society decided needed  the jobs more,  to support their families. Not all, but many women went back home and got pregnant. And that is where a large number of the Baby Boomers came from. Mother was part of that population, who left her job to make room for a man.  She said her German husband was glad for her to return home because that is where she "belonged". Nine months later my sister Karen was born. Indeed she was a baby boomer. 

It must have been a good experience for my mother to work as "Rosie the Riveter" because in later years she had enough confidence to work at various jobs before she retired.

Because I struggled through statistics and did my research, I was able to receive my master's degree at a fine university, The University of Texas,  and to be employed at different schools, on different levels for over 30 years.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


A writer reaches back to tell about a sixth grade experience and tempts me to do the same. I begin to dig or boot up my memories.

 Is it history class, when Mrs. Green told us about Santa Anna's surrender at San Jacinto and his masonic handshake that saved his life among the Texas soldiers, a hundred years before? Is it shivering from the cold in an old three story brick school house warmed by a huge furnace, stoked by the round jolly janitor in his striped blue and white coveralls, in the cellar far below? Is it about Girl Scout camp on the banks of a spring fed swimming pool, with water smelling like rotten eggs?

The house parties were "the most cool".  Six girls and six boys met for cokes, hamburgers and listened to 45 rpm records in Judy's clean garage. The bravest of all would dance a two step to "If Your Sweetheart Sends a Letter of Good by".  But the highlight of the evening was when we sat in a circle and took turns spinning a coke bottle. Whomever the bottle pointed closest to after the spin, was the spinner's partner to walk around the block in the moonlight evening. The sooner the couple returned, we knew they didn't "like" one another. This was our preparation for dates later on when we could drive and escape from parental control.

Friday, January 6, 2012 | Daily horoscopes written by Rick Levine & Jeff Jawer | Daily horoscopes written by Rick Levine & Jeff Jawer


After looking at several blogs and posting several entries,  I think I have decided upon my style and focus. I'm not too keen on writing mundane happenings in my daily life. So, I will focus on writing more nonfiction experiences which have more of a focus and reflection. I've already completed quite a few of those. If I have a void of recent activities, I will reach back in my past and reflect on those happenings that were meaningful. These will be  different chapters of memoirs, so to speak. If I run out of these, I'll post some of my historical fiction story, "The Voyage of The Ebony Piano". For brevity's sake, I can post different sections or short chapters on my blog.

I'll attempt to follow other blogs which have this kind of focus as well. Yeaaaaaa. Now, if I can do what I want with my blog, I'll be in business.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

When I Moved to Texas


    It was like moving to a different country in 1948, as the train choked
and puffed toward the little town in South Texas. I was very young.
    After sleeping all night, in the upper birth of the Pullman, I struggled
 to dress myself in the little birth, with a curtain for a door.
My mother and three year old sister slept in the birth below.
There was little time to gulp down our breakfast served on a white
linen draped table with heavy silver utensils and tall glasses. The smell
inside the train was that of furniture polish and the jerking motion of
the train sang with a rhythm of its own that still tickles my ears. I also
recall the smell of  tiny soaps in the tiny stainless steel sink of the tiny
bath,  where I brushed my teeth and heard the sounds of  flushes, as
the toilets emptied on the tracks below. Did anyone ever see it, I
    The conductor rocked to and fro down the aisle, as he collected the
tickets, after each stop, when new passengers came aboard.  The news-
paper man or sandwich man, as he was called, occasionally walked
down the aisle, as well, passing newspapers, candies, sandwiches, and
cold drinks to the interested passengers, who had nickles and dimes.
    When we left Oklahoma that day before in late February, it was
still cold. The grass was brown, and patches of snow blanketed corners
of fields, bridges, and street corners in the city.  The sky was cloudy and
the wind blew so cold across the prairies of what was once Indian
Territory,   a brief forty years before.  It raised the hair on jack rabbits to
stand at attention. 
     I looked out the window at the small Texas town of LaGrange.
The sun was shining and blue flowers called flags were waving to
us from their garden spots.  And red roses smiled close by. How strange,
but wonderful, to see flowers in the winter.  And green grass on the
lawns. I hoped it was a sign that we were going to be happy when my
grandparents arrived to take us to our new home down the road.



    Two words to describe one of my favorite past times for an afternoon are diddling and piddling.
    The dictionary defines the word diddle,  as a verb meaning to waste time.  Does
wasting one’s time suggest that the time is thrown away?  Or that it’s used on
something of unimportance?  Is this a subjective definition?  What might seem
to be wasting time to one, might seem to be entertaining  or restful meditation to
another and it could be a time to create ideas. For me this latter definition suffices.
    Sometimes, when I diddle,  I doodle.  For instance, this afternoon, while I listened on the phone  to my daughter’s endless chatter of her detailed problems of the day, I picked up a pen and doodled abstract images on the back of an envelope. Now, to some this picture might not make sense.  And they are correct, but to me I began to see an interesting composition for a painting,  initiated from my  idle  doodling.
   Shortly, after my conversation with my daughter,  my son called.  While
listening to his play by play tale of his work day,   I picked up a dust cloth and
changed to my portable phone and walked around the room and dusted my favorite knick knacks,  while throwing in a few words of advice to him, as I  had with my daughter minutes before.   When I checked with them both later, to my chagrin, I heard they did not follow my advice.  But,  they did come up with solutions of their own, which is better.
    Do I lament that I wasted my time on the phone?  No, I was glad I was able to
listen and accomplish some diddling.  My sketch on the envelope was the beginning
idea for a painting.  And my dusting made my china bowles and chrystal candle
sticks clean and shiny.  And maybe lending my ear for a period of time I was
helpful to my adult children.
    Piddling is more difficult to explain. The dictionary defines it as doing anything
In a trifling or ineffective way. To piddle maybe trifling, but it can be amusing
and sometimes relaxing.  I often piddle when I’m distracted from a chore I’m
not excited about.  After the phone calls with my son and daughter, I passed a large
window on the way to the kitchen to wash the lunch dishes. Suddenly, I spotted my favorite little birds, three or four humming birds fluttering around the feeder and at the same time two doves were pecking at something on the patio floor. I looked for and finally found my binoculars and got a close up look.  After watching birds for 30 minutes, I then decided to string some beads on copper wire to extend a mobile on the glass porch wall, in hopes of deterring the fast flying humming birds who feast in my garden. Suddenly, I thought of a laced table cloth to cover the mirrored images of trees reflected in the glass.  I began to search for it. My dishes waited.
    Next I piddled more by surfing the internet.  I checked my email and then googled an author’s name.  I saw her interviewed on  C-Spann the week-end before. And as I guessed, she wrote spellbinding analyses of the Iraq War.  After reading as much as I could about her, I returned to my email where Spam dumped 20 mysterious messages from unknown addresses.  Deleting those took awhile and then my legs needed a stretch. Upon arising I noticed the clock showed a time much later than I thought.  Where did the time go?
    Of course, I remember. I spent an afternoon of  diddling and piddling. It may 
be wasteful time according to some people to be on the phone so long and to
doodle my drawings.  And it may also seem ineffective and trifling to spend time 
watching birds and surfing the net.  But to me, it was a relaxing and interesting
afternoon.    And most of all I enjoyed hearing from my children.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Today is January 1st, 2012. It is going to be difficult to remember the numerical new year because I am so used to writing 2011. But I'm sure that is the least of my worries for the new year. However, I do like to make goals and try to accomplish them. They are not really resolutions, as the saying goes. But in a way they are. They will be the following:

1. Be a nicer person to all I meet and know. That means besides being pleasant, I want to be positive, warm, friendly, and thoughtful.
2. I want to give more time to those I love the most.
3. I want to take better care of my body by eating better foods, exercising, and getting the proper rest.
4. My ongoing goals every year is to enrich my activities in the arts.
5. Lastly, but not the least of importance, by any means, is to write more often, particularly with my story, "The Voyage of the Ebony Piano". This  blog will help to reflect on my ideas and feelings and to also write more memoirs.

As the sun is beginning to slip down in the west and this day is coming to an end, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, but also one that they may fulfill their goals and hopes and promises in the months ahead.