Friday, November 6, 2015


The first written fire prevention rules were published and contains regulations on buildings, houses, and businesses.  It was stipulated that upon the discovery of a fire you must shout out loud to alert the populous.  Also, the owner of a burning structure had the responsibility to pay for damages to another's property.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Breezy Life

A Breezy Life

tree with stairs
Who hasn’t dreamed of a treehouse?  A place to escape to when daily living seems a drudge, when Life seems to be closing in on you, when you need to feel free?
I like to go on Pinterest and look at the tree house pins.  Of course they’re not to be a part of my future.  At my age and with my knees it would be a real trial to ascend to the heavens and enjoy the wind as it sways and lets you feel you are resting in a hammock.  Of course I’d rather not be there when the wind swells to a full-blown storm, letting the house wrench and lurch  with force and drama.  I am not a modern-day John Muir who enjoyed climbing a tree in a tornado to experience the forces of nature.
I’m also a realist.  There are those who spend a ton of money to make a treehouse livable.  I dare not contemplate the cost of a treehouse complete with bathroom and kitchen facilities.  And I’m sure insurance would be ridiculous.  The company would surely insist on a rider concerning injuries from wind movement and falling out of the tree.  Medical emergencies could be difficult to manage in the event you have to use the services of first responders for any reason.
But still I can dream while lost in a fantasy world of youth, adventure, and just plain fun as I contemplate the relaxation of studying the stars at night from my perch or watching the clouds float by while resting on my surrounding deck.
Where is your imaginary resting spot?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fire Dept. Fun Facts #10

(Hi.  Missed you all.  So I'll be dropping in every now and then to stay in touch.  I'll still have my new blog at  Stop by anytime you like.)


1775-1777 - French Chemist Antoine Lavoisier coined the term "oxygen" and investigated the properties of the element.
1783 - Lavoisier discovered that fire results from a chemical process, oxidation, which occurs when a substance is combined with oxygen.  From this came the understanding that fire requires three things: fuel, heat and oxygen.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Transition Decision

I've really enjoyed doing this blog and hearing from so many people over time.

But now it's time for a change.  I'm starting a new website and you can find it by going to  I do hope you will hop over and check it out, perhaps do me the honor to clicking on follow if you like. 

There will be changes made, new pages added as I go along.  I'm excited about the transition and have positive thoughts on what's happening with this site.

Hope to see you at the new site.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Am I Old Yet?

A lot of folks ask the question, "When do you get old?"

The answer is - Darned if I know.

Like most folks in the world, I feel a lot younger than I actually am in years.  I read once that as long as the health is strong, most people feel like they reside in their 30's.  That makes sense.  Age is not something you give a lot of thought to when you have only a few years behind you and infinity ahead of you.

But slowly over time your body follows its own path.  Then one day you take a good look in the mirror and realize you are getting a strong resemblance to a parent.  You see it around the eyes, in the jawline, in your hairline.  And the body plays tricks on you.  All of a sudden the knees start creaking, the legs get tired, the energy level takes a hike.  You start to consider the possibility that age may be becoming more than a visitor, but actually striving to establish itself as an uninvited resident of your body.

You might not be able to stop the progress to actually feeling your true age, but that doesn't mean you have to go down without a fight.  You might be a 90 year old woman in a wheelchair, but you can still dream of when you were 18, dressed up for a night on the town, wearing that oh-so-fine red dancing dress and high heel shoes, strutting your fine self in front of a room full of admirers.

As long as you can see that in your mind, can feel it in your soul, then, honey, you're not old yet.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Looking Good, Tasting Better

There was a time some years past when you just didn't see miniature cakes and cupcakes on a regular basis.  Now, of course, you see them almost anywhere.  But in those olden days I worked at a school as a speech-language pathologist.  All staff members were required to attend certain designated PTA meetings as well as staff meetings at times when refreshments were required.  Meaning we each had to prepare something for the meeting.

My go-to recipe at the time was Finger Cheese Cakes. My mother gave me this recipe and it was used a lot those years.  Compliments were given each time. They looked absolutely wonderful and the taste was compatible with the looks.  I was given credit for being a great cook based on this recipe alone.

What I particularly liked was that they were quick and easy to fix.  I always did get up early and I could make a batch in time for 7:30 a.m. check-in time. One recipe fixed in the miniature pans would produce about 54 cheese cakes.  Absolutely beautiful, tasty, with a small size that allowed folks to have a small amount with other foods without getting stuffed.

                                                          FINGER CHEESE CAKES

               2 (8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
               2/3 cup sugar
               1 tsp. vanilla
               2 eggs
               1 Tbsp. lemon juice
               crushed graham crackers (I'd break off small pieces and crush with fingers as needed)
               1 can cherry or blueberry pie filling

1)     Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2)     Line 4  miniature cupcake pans with miniature paper liners
3)     Place a thin layer crushed graham crackers in bottom of each tin.
4)     Beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, eggs and lemon juice together until smooth.
5)     Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full.
6)     Bake 15 minutes or until set
7)     Cool and top with pie filling.  You can also top with thawed whipped topping if desired.

When taking to a meeting, I'd refrigerate the pie filling on site and put on top of the cheesecakes just before serving.


Monday, May 25, 2015

How To Honor Your Special Vet

Today is Memorial Day, a special day set aside to honor those who fought for our country.  It's wonderful we take time to honor them.  It's hard to think of what they went through.  Not everyone went off to war.  Some were in service and were not called to make that effort, that sacrifice.  But they were there if needed, and they should also be recognized and honored.

Today I heard of a special way these fine men and women are receiving recognition for their time in service.  It's an oral history project to gather together their stories.  It's a project not just for the leaders, but also for the entire spectrum of military personnel.  They want the stories of all ranks, races, faiths, and gender.  Without that diversity the story is not complete.

To find information of how you can participate, either as a veteran or a volunteer, you can go to the website set up to give you the information on what to do and how to do it. is your go-to place for all you need to know.

My dad served in the U. S. Army during WWII, serving in the CBI (China, Burma, India) Theater.  I've been interested in oral history since my college days.  I was able to get him on tape, but my success was limited.  He would tell some humorous stories and such, but he did not want to share the hardships they endured.  I was his daughter and he wanted to spare me such details.  I wish he had given me more, but he had to do what he was comfortable with.

Good luck and God bless you for helping tell their stories, not just for today but for the ages.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Is Longevity In Your Future?

I've been reading a lot lately about the outlook for an individual to live a long time.  Some things make sense, others make you think.

There appears to be a consensus the you are more likely to have a long life if you eat healthy and stay active.  That would appear to be a no-brainer.  Other traits include being conscientious, optimistic, happy, and socially connected.  That also makes sense.  Being extroverted was mentioned in one article, as well as a sense of spirituality.

Another study looked at men born in 1887 and who lived to be 100.  This was possible as they were able to study longevity records and find men lived to be 100, then cross-referenced to the beginning of the draft in 1917.  The men were all 30 at the time and had at least 4 children.

Why would the number of children make any difference?  The article mentioned that this may have provided a means for care as the parent aged.  It could be, but kids can be a two-edged sword.  They can be a source of great joy, and they can be a thorn in your side as you progress through life. 

My thoughts on this?  Now if you are a happy, optimistic man who likes to laugh and enjoy life, you may very well raise your kids to have these same traits.  The others could very well lead you to an early grave, and you wouldn't live to the age they were interested in.

Another interesting factor, the men who lived the longest were mostly farmers.  I can see how they could come to that conclusion.  There were a lot of farmers in 1917.  Farmers had a physically active and hard working life.  Today we have fewer farmers than were around then.  There are more diverse jobs available, and a lot of farms have now been converted to corporate farms.  Would today's population show the same results on longevity?

One major thought on my mind:  What about the women?  Obviously it would be difficult task to find a group of women available for a study with the same parameters as the one for men.  But it would be interesting to find out how a matched study of the gals would compare.

In the meantime I'll muddle through the best I can.  I'll laugh and be happy, at least most of the time.  I'll try to stay active and surround myself with family and friends.  If I make it to be 100, maybe I'll come back and let you know if I was successful in the task.  However, I do have quite a few years left to make it to that milestone, so I make no promises.

And I do hope you are successful in living a life of joy to a ripe old age.

Monday, May 11, 2015

What 10 Creative People Tell You About the Storms of Life

In life, there is no Yellow Brick Road.  We all have to endure times of trouble and strife.  Sometimes it can help to know what others have to say and how they get through these hard times without losing hope.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - poet, philosopher, essayist.  Born 1803 and died 1822.
     The wise man in a storm prays to God not for safety from danger, but deliverance from pain.

Morris West - Australian novelist.  Born 1916, died 1999.
     If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you'll never enjoy the sunshine.

Mark Twain - writer, humorist, adventurer.  Born 1835, died 1910.
     Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts or happenings.  It consists mainly of the storms of thoughts that's forever flowing through one's head.

Vincent van Gogh - Dutch painter.  Born 1855, died 1890.
     There is peace even in the storm.

Epicurus - Greek philosopher.  Born 342 BC.
     Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.

Amelia Barr - English author and teacher.  She was born 1831 and died 1851.
     It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.

Charles Kettering - inventor and business man, he held 186 patents.  Born 1867, died 1958.
     No one would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm.

Louisa May Alcott - American author. Born 1831, died 1888.
     I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Golda Meir - Israeli Prime Minister.  Born 1898, died 1978.
     Old age is like flying a plane through a storm.  Once you're aboard, there's nothing you can do.

Vivian Greene - modern author, artist, speaker. 
     Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.  It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Makes Sense, Doesn't It?

Ben Franklin was a very savvy man, bordering on genius if not actually over the line with smarts.  He was the initiator of so many things that had a positive impact on a large population world-wide.  For one thing, he was concerned about the dangers of fire on the citizens. 

He belonged to a group of firefighting men in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Thinking through how things were done, he formed the Union Fire Company.  Under his direction it was decided to start a fire insurance company.  He met with other fire companies to form the Philadelphia Contributorship Insurance Company.

The fireman paid a premium to the company which would pay out for property damage from fires.  They signed on for seven years.  At the end of the seven year period they would receive back the monies they paid in minus the amount paid out.  The first year they had no fires among the insured.  At the end of seven years they all got some money back.

Franklin also noticed how mature trees interfered with fire fighting.  They prevented immediate access to the burning building which hampered firefighters when getting into position for their work.  After some thought he suggested the city council require the removal of all mature trees in town.  His idea was approved and made into a city ordinance.

The citizens were not as impressed with this idea.  Think about it.  This was a time where there was no air conditioning.  Without mature trees, there would be no shady areas to allow a person to get some relief from a brutal sun.  Being inside the house would not assure you a modicum of relief, especially since cooking was often over an open flame in the house.  You know those kitchens would get unbearably hot.

I'm sure many also sat outside to catch any breeze blowing through the area.  Without the trees, would they instead have straight line winds blowing through, possibly with greater force than the less intense breeze of the wind slowing as the wind met the trees? 

Whatever the reasons for the controversy surrounding the passing of this ordinance, the population had a vigorous say about the situation.  The ordinance was rescinded.

However, Franklin must have been proud of the citizens for protesting to the city and expressing their concerns and feelings.  He did believe in the democratic process, and that process does not assure you will always get your way, only that you can have your say.

How would you feel if a like ordinance were suggested where you live?

Monday, April 20, 2015

She's An American Soldier

Deborah Sampson is the only known female soldier of the Revolutionary War.  Disguised as a man, she served the country well on the battlefield, suffering the same hardships and battles of her fellow troops and maintaining her male identity throughout.

She was born in 1760 in Plympton, Pennsylvania.  Her father was a seaman who didn't come back from the sea, leaving her mother destitute with several kids to raise.  She was forced to give her children up to other families to raise, and then she died just a year after her husband.

Deborah was in two different families before entering the home of Deacon Benjamin G. Gannett, a farmer.  As an indentured servant, she had to work for the family until she was eighteen.  After leaving the family, she taught school for a while.  She evidently caught the eye of a wealthy young man who proposed marriage, but she had other plans.

The Revolutionary War had been raging for several years already.  She was young, healthy, tall and wanted to have an adventure.  She made herself a man's suit of clothing and ventured out in her disguise.  When she had no problems with the charade, she enlisted in the 4th  Massachusetts Regiment, using the first and middle names of her deceased brother, Robert Shurtleff.  She was off to War.

Like all soldiers in a war zone, her life was not easy, but she persevered and became a seasoned soldier.  She almost drowned once when they were crossing the Croton River, suffered a severe head wound in one skirmish, and took two pistol balls in the thigh.  She protested to her fellow soldiers that she did not want to be taken to the hospital, but they ignored her wishes.  At the hospital the head wound was treated and she managed to leave before they began work on her leg.  She used a penknife and managed to get one of the balls out of the thigh, but the other was too deep for her to reach. 

She was assigned to be a waiter in the service of General Paterson.  She fell very ill with a severe fever and lost consciousness.  She was sent to the hospital where the doctor was shocked to find she was a female, wearing a cloth to bind her breasts.  She was sure she would be immediately discharged.  However, the doctor kept her secret, transferring her to his home where she was under the care of the doctor's wife.

When she was able to return to her duties, the doctor gave her a note to take to her superior.  Knowing it must be a letter revealing her secret she was prepared to be sent home.  Instead it was a letter recommending her to be given an honorable discharge.  This was done in 783.

Back home in Massachusetts she met and married a farmer by the name of Benjamin G. Gannett.  The worked hard but lived in poverty as they raised their three children.

At some point her service in the War as a male soldier became known.  In 1792 she petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for monies available to veterans.  Her petition was denied because she was a woman.  She provided letters verifying her service and she finally received 34 pounds plus interest dating back to date of discharge.

Still needing money in 1802, she went out on a lecture tour, the first woman to do so in the United States.  Speaking to audiences composed of both and women, she would extol the value of a woman pursing her womanly duties to the best of their ability.  She would then leave the stage, change into her Army uniform, and come back to talk about her military experiences.  She did this for a year, but barely made enough to cover her expenses.  More than once, Paul Revere would give her money to help her out.

In 1805, and with the help of Paul Revere, she again petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for a military pension given to men who had served in the Revolutionary War.  After some debate she was awarded $4 a month for her service.

She died at the age of 66 in 1827.  After her death, her widower petitioned for pay as a spouse of a soldier.  Though they were not married at the time of her service, the committee concluded that the history of the Revolution "furnished no other similar example of female heroism, fidelity and courage."  He received the pension.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ain't It The Truth

Pity the reputation of the poor little "ain't."  It's been around since sometime in the 1700s, showing up in the speech of just about everyone in England.  Rich, poor or middle class, it found a home in the language usage of just about the entire population in that great nation.

But then something happened sometime in late 1800s.  Rich and poor still made use of it, but the middle class took a disliking to it.  I have no idea just why this happened, but once the idea took hold it wouldn't let go.  Then in the early 1900s the rich decided they could do without it as well.  Then the evil eye was cast upon it and it became a castaway in proper usage.

However, it could not be entirely discarded.  Sometimes there's just no better way of putting a little emphasis to what you're saying.  Consider the everyday saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  Also "This ain't my first rodeo."  Don't forget "You ain't seen nothing yet."  And as Will Rogers said, "Common sense ain't common." 

And where would songwriters be without it?  Louis Jordon sang "There ain't nobody here but us chickens."  One of Fats Domino's songs, "Ain't That a Shame" spoke to a whole lot of folks.  Let's not forget the Ira and George Gershwin musical Porgy and Bess that gave us the classic, "Ain't Necessarily So."  Another favorite was "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Nickolas Ashford and Valeria Simpson.

Dizzy Dean, Baseball Hall of Famer and announcer, summed it up when he said, "A lot of people who don't say ain't, ain't eating."

I'll just close by relating something said to be a common Texas saying (though I'd not heard it before) that tickled my fancy: If that ain't a fact, God's a possum.

Monday, April 6, 2015

No Flies On Him

Flies have been around probably since the beginning of time, or at least since the existence of life on this earth.  And I'm sure even the earliest of homo sapiens have been aggravated more than once with their presence.  And they didn't have rolled up newspapers to get rid of the pesky critters.

In 1900 Robert Montgomery received Patent No. 640,790 for invention of the Fly-Killer, a "cheap device of unusual elasticity and durability."  It was made of wire netting, "preferably oblong," attached to a handle. He did not specify the material to be used in the making of the handle.  After all, the netting was the important part as it reduced wind drag, allowing the user to apply a "whip-like" swing.

In 1903 he sold his patent to John Bennett.  The designation of "Fly Swatter" for the apparatus was made in 1905 by Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine of the Kansas City Board of Health.  He was attending a ball game in Topeka, but his attention was focused on a major health issue.  How could they reduce the spread of Typhoid Fever by flies?

It was the bottom of the eighth inning and the score was tied.  Topeka had a man on third.  The fans began screaming at the batter, yelling "Sacrifice Fly!" and then "Swat the ball."  Inspiration struck the good doctor.  A few days later he wrote an article about the situation for The Fly Bulletin with the headline:  Swat The Fly!  And thus, a new phrase came into common use.

Over the years there were adaptations to the common fly swatter.  In 1913 jazz bands were everywhere as folks loved to dance to that sound.  One problem was that the drums were too loud.  There were no sound systems that are now everywhere, and the drums would overpower the other instruments. 

At that time there was a fly swatter with metal brushes and an expandable handle .  One night there was a bright drummer decided to give that a try during a set.  He loved the quieter sound, and soon it was copied by many others.  Their new brushes allowed them to create new and innovative sounds and soon every drummer incorporated them into his set.

Don't you love the creative spirit of people?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Over 260 Years and Still Going Strong

It takes some special folks to keep a volunteer organization going strong.  A group of firefighters in New Jersey are well aware of this and continue doing their duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

1752 - Britannia Fire Company is organized in Bridgeton, New Jersey.  It is the oldest volunteer fire company in continuous service in the United States.  Don't believe it?  They have  the minutes of that first meeting dated July 11, 1752.

1787 - The company changed their name to Mount Holly Fire Company.

1789 - The company built a shed to house their leather fire buckets and ladders, thus becoming the first known "fire house" or fire station in America.

1790s - The town changed their name from Bridgeton to Mount Holly.

1805 - The fire department changed their name from Mount Holly to Relief Fire Engine Company No. 1.

1892 - A new fire house is built for the company.  The old shed, the first fire house in the country, is moved to a location beside the new building.  This shed is now a museum housing artifacts of the company.

I don't know if I'll ever make it to New Jersey, but if so, I'd love to visit the station and museum.  My husband and my son are both retired firefighters and it's always interesting to check out the history of the profession.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Cowgirl's Life

Connie Douglas was born September 26, 1901, in Eagle Pass, Texas.  Her father was a lawyer and she wanted to follow in his footsteps.  Her mother's father, Alfred Wallace, introduced his only grandchild to horses before she was able to sit up by herself and at five he gave her a horse.  She never lost that love for horses and they played a big part in her life.

She studied speech at Texas Women's university, earning a degree, then enrolled at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, one of the first women admitted to study law.  However, her dream of becoming a lawyer was not to be.  The Great Depression hit and she left school to help support her family.

She started work as a speech and English teacher in San Antonio and got a part time job at a stable teaching girls to ride horses.  While working at the school she started the first pep squad.  Then in 1936 she started work at Thomas Jefferson High School and where she started another pep squad, which proved to be very popular.  The girls were dressed in blue flannel skirts, red satin shirts, blue bolero jackets, and wore pear grey Stetson hats with boots.  They each carried a lasso, attached at the skirt waistband with a loop.  She brought in an Englishman, Johnny Reagan, who was a trick rope artist, to work with the girls.  The squad was named the Lassos.

Imagine 128 girls coming out on the field during halftime, twirling their ropes and performing before an enthusiastic crowd.  Before long they were performing at all the major events in San Antonio.  What a sight that must have been.

In 1936 she joined the equestrian program at Camp Waldmar in Hunt, Texas, where she continued to teach girls to ride.  There she met Jack Reeves, a cowboy brought in to take care of the horses.  With their mutual love of horses they became great friends and in 1942 they were married.

They were, by all accounts, quite happy with their very busy life.  The Camp was not always open.  When not in session they managed ranches for Lyndon Baines Johnson, watching over 10,000 acres with sheep and cattle.  Jack died in 1985.

Connie continued her active life, which was not without peril.  She suffered many a fall from a horse with subsequent injuries, some serious.  A few years before her death one fall fractured her thigh.  It didn't stop her from continuing her riding.  She also wrote a book about her husband, Jack.  It was titled I Married a Cowboy: Half Century with Girls and Horses at Camp Waldmar which was published in 1995.  I believe it is still available.

She became the oldest member of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.  She surprised many people when she rode her horse for the induction ceremony.  She continued riding whenever she could.  But in 2003 she suffered another fall.  This time she fractured her neck and died a short time later.  She was 101 years old.

Connie's motto was:  Always saddle your own horse. 

What an inspiration to anyone who has ever heard of her.  Connie Douglas Reeves, I salute you.  And I sincerely wish I'd had the opportunity to ride beside you at some point in our lives.

Monday, March 23, 2015

An Autograph? Please!

There must always be a way to make life just a little bit easier, whatever the profession.  For centuries writers were restricted to hand produced products.  But in 1714 an Englishman by the name of Henry Mill filed a patent for a machine to put  letters on paper.  It was pretty vague in description, and he did not go on to produce such a machine.

An Italian, Pellegrina Turri did come up with such a machine in 1808.  He made it for his friend, Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano.  He did it to provide her with a way to write for she was blind and unable to sit down with pen and paper.

There were others who tried their hand at the making such a machine.  The Sholes & Glidden Type Writer actually came out in 1873 and in 1874 they had one manufactured by the sewing machine department of Remington arms company.

Mark Twain bought one of the new-fangled machines but was less than impressed by them.  He did turn in the manuscript for Life on the Mississippi which was probably the first book written with a typewriter.  But in March 1875, he noted his feelings in a letter: 

          "Please do not divulge the fact that I own a machine.  I have entirely stopped
           using the Type-Writer, for the reason that I never could write a letter with it to
           somebody without receiving a request by return mail that I would not only
          describe the machine but state what progress I had made in the use of it, etc., etc.
          I don't like to write letters, and so I don't want people to know that I own this
          curiosity-breeding little joker."

He did write one letter with it, though.  A boy had requested not just an autograph from Twain, but also went on to request a full autograph letter.  Twain was less than pleased with the request and sent the boy a typewritten letter.  In it he explained that writing was his trade, and it wasn't fair to ask a man for a free sample of his trade.  Would the boy "ask a blacksmith for a horse shoe," he asked, "or a doctor for a corpse?"  The letter was  produced using all capital letters, including his signature which was also typed.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Startling Story of Zona Shue

In January 1897 Greenbriar County, West Virginia, Zona Heaster Shue has died.  A young bride, married just two months earlier to the strapping blacksmith, Edward (known as Trout) Shue a mere two weeks after they met.  Now she lay dead on the floor at the foot of the stairs.

An hour after the discovery of her body the doctor appeared only to find Trout had moved her into the bedroom and dressed her for her funeral.  The husband was too distraught to allow the doctor to do more than a cursory examination of the young woman.

Zona's mother, Mary Jane Heaster, was devastated by her daughter's death and was suspicious of Trout.  Many people noticed that during the wake he kept the others away, not allowing any to really see her body well.  He had placed a large scarf around her neck, saying it was her favorite and would have wanted it to be used.  A sheet had been placed in the coffin to cover the body and a veil covered
the face.

The sheet was removed just before interment.  Mary Jane took it home and washed it.  She was startled when the water turned red and the sheet became pink.  Though she boiled it in water and hung it on the line, the stain persisted.  Mary Jane was convinced her daughter had indeed been murdered, a thought shared by many of her neighbors.

Mary Jane prayed fervently for her daughter to come see her and tell what had happened.  A short time later her prayers were answered when Zona came to her one night.  Over the course of four nights Zona told her mother that Trout was indeed a mean man.  They had argued that day and he grabbed her by the throat and strangled her.

Not one to sit idly by, Mary Jane went to the prosecutor, demanding he take action against Trout, relating what Zona had told her.  The prosecutor was not one to rely on dreams to solve a crime.  But he was aware of some of the rumors making the rounds.  He decided to make the rounds, talking to those who could be involved.  The doctor admitted to a limited examination due to Trout's distress over Zona's death.

It also didn't take long to dig back into Trout's life.  They discovered Zona was his third wife.  His first left him after a short marriage because of his whipping up on her.  He married again and his second wife died mysteriously just a few months later.  When the law told Trout they were checking into Zona's death he replied to the effect, "They'll never prove I did it."

During the trial the prosecutor did not mention Mary Jane's conversations with Zona.  However, his defense attorney knew of her statements and spent a lot of time asking her about it on the stand in an effort to paint her as unstable and unreliable.  She answered all his questions and never varied her statements.  His efforts didn't work, though, for the jury didn't take a lot of time to find him guilty.

Trout got life in prison as his sentence, and died only three years later, possibly of measles.

On her gravestone there is engraved the following:  "only known case where a ghost's testimony sent a man to prison."  Outside town, on Highway 60, is a roadside plaque with a short statement of the death and trial.

Zona had not testified, of course, and normally the statements her mother testified to would not have been allowed.  After all, Zona was not available for questions.  However, since the defense attorney elicited her statements, the judge said he had to allow them. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Introducing Mr. Shanahan


About 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon the fire alarm bell on Cleburne engine-house sounded a general fire alarm.  ... it was discovered that the boarding-house and saloon owned and occupied by Tim Shanahan was in flames.  ...  From Mrs. Shanahan we learn that the fire originated from a defective flue.   ...  Mr. Shanahan was not in condition to give lucid particulars,

                                                                                    Arkansas Gazette Nov. 12, 1876

& & & & & & & & & &


3 c. self rising flour                                        1 12-oz can of beer,
2 Tbsp. sugar                                                      room temperature

     Put flour and sugar in a bowl.  Add beer and stir.  Grease muffin tins and spoon in batter to 1/2 full.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or till done.  Serve hot,  Makes about 2 dozen biscuits.  Enjoy.

          (Excerpt from my unpubished manuscript: Fighting Fires and Feeding Firefighters)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Are You Greedy?

A lot of people are greedy.  In fact, most of us have probably put a little too much thought to money at one time or another.  If you lived around Charles Vance Miller, you might have had your greed put to the test at one time or another.

Charles was born in Toronto, Canada, a lawyer, and a lifelong bachelor.  At the age of 68 he decided it was time to write his will.  He opened it with the following:  "This will is necessarily uncommon and capricious because I have no dependants or near relatives and no duty rests upon me to leave my property at my death ..."

He designated a few religious leaders, known for being proponents of prohibition as well as their anti-gambling views, to be recipients of shares of stock in distilleries.  He left a life-tune tenancy in a Jamaican vacation residence to three lawyers who were known to hate each other.  (This did happen though, as he sold the place before he died.)

The one inheritance stipulation that got the most attention was the one that became known as the Stork Derby.  He said his money was to be put in trust for ten years following his death, then was to be given to the woman who had the most children in Toronto within that ten year period as shown by birth certificates registered in the city.  If there was a tie between two or more mothers for this designation, the money was to be divided between them.

Initially it was just an oddity to many of the Canadians.  After all, he died in 1926 at the age of 73, and times were pretty good for a lot of the world.  However, a few years later the depression hit and times became tough for a lot of people. 

Of course, where there is a will and a lot of money, things get complicated.  Before the will was finally through probate and the dust had settled, there would be more than 30 lawyers, nine judges, 8 days of hearings, who knows how much time and energy given in depositions and paperwork invested in settling the will.

You know there would some long lost long-distance relative show up and claim the proceeds should rightly go to him, and yes, some lawyer took his case.  Many women came forward to claim the Baby contest.  Several claims thrown out because at least some of the children were designated as illegitimate, some women claimed miscarriages as children that should be counted (but the court over-ruled that claim), some were born outside the city limits.

At last the final decision was made.  The trust now had about $500,000 to be given to the winner.  There were four women who made the final selection, each giving birth to nine children.  They each received $125,000.  In 1938, this was a life-changing sum of money.  They became celebrities and the press had a field day following them as they spent the money.  One woman moved her family from the area because she didn't want her children exposed to all the attention.  (Smart woman, in my opinion.)

I don't know how the religious leaders responded to the receipt of their distillery shares.  That would be interesting to find out, but I doubt I ever will.  More important, you wonder about all those kids conceived for the chance of getting money.  The families were poor at the outset, surely no better and possibly worse at the end. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Get A Job!!

The road to employment does not always run straight and smooth.  Herewith a few examples.

     1.   I could have been a carpenter, but I took the studs.

     2.   I could have been a healer, but I lost my touch.

     3.   I started to be a podiatrist, but I got off on the wrong foot.

     4.   I could have been a bookie, but I didn't like the odds.

     5.  I could have been a pastry chef, but they said I was too flaky.

     6.   I tried to be a banana picker, but I got in with a bad bunch.

     7.   I considered being a fireman, but I couldn't take the heat.

     8.   I tried to be a sheet rock hanger, but I got plastered.

     9.   I could have been an accountant, but I didn't have the right figure.

    10.   I wanted to be a drummer, but I lost the beat.

    11.   I could have worked for the railroad, but I couldn't be trained.

    12.   I could have been a chitlin' maker, but I didn't have the guts.

We can't get discouraged, though.  Remember there is always the right job for everyone.  You just have to find it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

True? Maybe Not

We can find so much interesting information on the computer.  It's so easy.  Just type in a word or phrase and hit search.  In seconds you see the results popping up.  I've done it many times myself. 

There is one problem with this activity, though.  Not everything you see is the truth.  Some may be somewhat true.  Some is pure fiction.

A case in point is something that caught my eye recently.  The assertion was that President Franklin Roosevelt was transported via Al Capone's car to make a speech before both Houses of Congress after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  It makes a good story with a lot of interesting details.  Things like the car had been painted black and green to look like a Chicago police car.  It was armored, meaning it was bullet proof and bomb proof.

The source of the story appears to be secret service agent Michael F. Rielly who wrote a book after he retired.  It was titled "Reilly of the White House."  This story was incorporated in his book.  It is, and was, a good story.

One problem is that some have said Roosevelt was never photographed in that car.  He tended to prefer convertibles, not sedans.  I would think there would be extensive coverage of that speech and surely some reporter somewhere would have made a comment about that particular car.  You would think there would be some conversation about the step-up in his security.

So, what do I think about this situation.  Well, I don't know the answer.  I can see the validity of the nay-sayers, and may be leaning to believing their view of the situation.  For now I am keeping an open mind and will go full speed ahead with the Al Capone story if I see some evidence to support the assertion.

Good reading and have a good week.  Let me know you thoughts on the subject if you like.


Monday, March 2, 2015

The Unique Ulu


Man has always been creative, finding ways to better his life wherever he may be.  Eskimos were no exception to this statement.

Living in a harsh environment, he had the same basic needs as humans anywhere.  One concern surely was how to harvest the animals they killed for their food, clothing and shelter.  There was a need for something to be used for skinning the pelts, for cutting them into clothing and for the strips utilized in making laces.

They needed to cut the meat into chunks to be transported back to their homes.  They had to cut whale blubber into usable sizes.

At some point an unknown Eskimo had the idea to create a cutting instrument, a knife if you will.  It was dubbed the ulu - pronounced ooh-loo.  It has a wooden handle to allow you to press down on it to facilitate the cut.  The handle was made originally with muskox bone, walrus ivory or moose antlers.  The blade made of slate which could be sharpened to maintain its edge.  Now it is made with steel.

Because it has a curved blade the cut can be made with a rocking motion, allowing the user to push down on the handle with greater force than can be used with an ordinary knife.  Because it pins the meat down solidly onto the cutting surface, it isn't necessary to use a fork to assist in the cutting.

Archaeologists have found an ulu determined to be about 3,000 years old.  The slate curve is still very sharp.

The one above has a design etched into the blade.  There is the word Alaska, in the middle the outline of a ship, and at the bottom it says:  Inside Passage.  It was a gift from my son, purchased when he was assigned to Alaska while in the service.  What a special gift from a very special person.

Friday, February 27, 2015

To Touch The Sky

Louise McPhetridge Thaden was born in Bentonille, Arkansas, in 1929.  Her childhood was spent in a rural environment and she learned hunting and fishing on trips with her father.  Airplane barnstorming was in its heyday then and she had a desire to learn to fly.  This was further fueled when she secured a ride on with one of the barnstormers.

She went on to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, but left in 1925 after three years, before getting her degree.  She got a job in Wichita, Kansas, at Jack Turner's lumberyard.  He in turn introduced her to Walter Beech Aircraft owner and his wife, Olive.  Beech liked her enthusiasm and interest in flying and offered her a job with his company branch in Oakland, California.  Along with a salary, she also received free flying lessons.

Her flying certificate, number 850, was signed by Orville Wright.  She also met Herbert von Thaden, a former US Army pilot.  They married in 1928 in Reno, Nevada.

She became very active in women's aviation, competing in national contests.  She won the first all women transcontinental race called he National Air Derby and held August 19, 1929.  She beat out Amelia Earhart, Poncho Barnes, Blanche Noyes and many others.  Later that year she joined in with many of these same women in forming the international organization, The Ninety-Nines, for female pilots.

She apparently was game to try anything.  In 1932 she teamed up with Frances Marsialis and together they set a refueling endurance record.  It was 196 grueling hours on constant flying in an event the press dubbed  "The Flying Boudoir."  All together they completed 78 air-to-air maneuvers where food, water, fuel and oil was passed from one aircraft to the other using ropes for the conveyance of the supplies.

In 1936 women were, for the first time, allowed to compete in the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race with the male pilots. She and Blanche Noyes flew together.  They experienced some problems along the route and were surprised when a crowd surrounded their plane when they landed.  They had not expected to win, but they did.

She retired from competition in 1938 to raise a family.  She wrote her memoir titled "High, Wide, and Frightened which was published in 1938.  Her book was reprinted in 2004 by the University of Arkansas Press.

Louise stayed active in aviation in many roles until her death in 1979 at the age of 73.  What an active and adventurous life she enjoyed.

Monday, February 23, 2015

8 Thoughts on Snow

1.     There's one good thing about snow, it makes your lawn look as nice as
        your neighbors.  -  Clyde Moore
2.     If you walk on snow you cannot hide your footprints. -  Chinese proverb
3.     No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.  -  Stanislaw Lec
4.     You can't make cheesecake out of snow.  -  Yiddish proverb
5.     The snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches.  -  e.e. cummings
6.     A lot of people like snow.  I find it an unnecessary freezing of water.  -
              Carl Reiner
7.     I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.  -  Mae West
8.     Where does the white go when winter melts?  -  Anonymous

Monday, February 16, 2015

Call Me Anytime

The 1800s were busy times for inventors.  Two of them were Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell.  Gray (1835-1901) was prolific in coming up with ideas, getting at least 70 patents in his lifetime.  Bell (1847-1922) was another busy man.  He obtained 18 patents on his own and another 12 with collaborators.

In 1876 they both arrived at the U. S. patent office to submit applications for a patent for the telephone.  It has been said that Bell arrived one hour before Gray, and thus, his patent was accepted and he is known as the inventor of the telephone.  Some insisted Gray was the first but didn't get there in time to get the documentation he deserved for his invention.

Did they each know of the other and the work that was being done?  I really don't know.  Some folks do like to talk with others about what they are working on, and it has been reported that Bell's co-inventors were not happy about his diversion to the phone, for they were busy with something else they felt he should also be involved in.  But was this known prior to the patent, or did the information become public later?

Gray wasn't left out of recognition for his inventions.  His 70 patents testify to that.  And he did go on to found Western Electric as well.

The phone has changed much over the years.  Young people today would not believe some of the things that happened over its evolution.  I'm thinking in particular of party lines - shared lines where the intended recipient was alerted to incoming calls via ring patterns.

Do you remember the movie "Pillow Talk" starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.  It came out in 1959 and they portrayed two parties sharing a phone line.  They despised each other and would argue over the phone about the other tying up the line for extended periods, limiting their own ability to make and receive call.

Of course they lived in New York City in rather posh circumstances.  All the more unrealistic to today's young people to imagine the necessity of sharing your phone and line with a complete stranger who has the ability to listen to your entire communication life.  Because of course you could not at that time conceive of taking your personal own phone with you wherever you might travel.

So thank you to Alexander Graham Bell, but also to Elisha Gray for all the work you both did to advance civilization's communication abilities.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A New Station Opens


          1894, Little Rock, Arkansas,  expanded their fire department across the river
          to include Argenta, which years later would become North Little Rock.  The
          move was documented in the station's records:

June 14, 1894    Moved to Argenta with one hose cart collard with 2 men from Little Rock, Julian Davis, C.M. Gaynor, 1 man from this side named James O'Riley.  Went to work on the 14th of June.  One minute man went to work June 16th.  List of things sent over 2 horses, 500 ft. new rubber hose, 250 ft. binam hose, old hose, 2 spanners, 1 plug wrench, 2 slicker coats, 3woolen blankets, 2 reflecting lamps, 1 wash basin, 1 monkey wrench for hose cart,, 2 lamps for cart.
                                Co. No. 6  Log Book Entry    Little Rock Fire Department


Monday, February 2, 2015

Four Chaplains of the USS Dorchester

(This blog was originally posted February 4, 2013.  I hope you find it of interest. - Karen)

The Four Chaplains of the USS Dorchester

This was written many years ago, when I was in a song writing phase.  I read about these four men and remember them every February 3.  I would encourage you to look them up, to read about them.  They are Father John Washington (Catholic), Rev. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), Rabbi Alexander Goode (Jewish), and Rev. George Fox (Methodist).  Four men who truly represented the best of their faith, working together to help all, regardless of the other's faith.  May they rest in Peace.

                                PRAY, CHAPLAIN, PRAY

          It was February third, back in nineteen-forty-three
          The men on the Dorchester faced an angry sea
          And on the way to Greenland in the bitter, biting cold
          Just after midnight they sailed toward heaven's fold.

  (Chorus)     Pray, Chaplain, pray
                     Pray for my soul
                     As I am sinking under
                     In the deep dark cold
                     And as the waves are breaking
                     And I am going down
                     Pray, Chaplain, pray
                     Pray I am glory bound.

          In the Wednesday darkness just after the ship was hit
          Four Chaplains reached for glory as they faced the deepest pit
          Side by side they worked to help save all the men they could
          Side by side they prayed as on that dying ship they stood.


          Over nine hundred sailed out on that dark heavy sea
          Over six hundred went down to face eternity
          The Four Chaplains joined them in that black watery deep
          And with the men they prayed for they sleep that final sleep.


                     Pray, Chaplain, pray
                     Pray I am glory bound.


Monday, January 26, 2015


A symbiotic relationship is one in which two entities are so wrapped up in each other that neither one can function independently.  I think this is  perfect representation of  this situation.

I like things that are bit unusual.  I found this cypress root that was exposed when exploring a problem with water pipes caused by roots invading an area.  It "spoke" to me, crying out for me to pick it up and take it home.  How could I say No to such pleading eyes.

I took it home, cleaned it up, let it dry awhile, then set to sanding it down.  When finally satisfied with the end product I then applied several coats of polyurethane.  I'm not sure exactly how many coats, but I'm sure it was at least fifteen.  The final piece is about 10 inches tall.  I still enjoy looking at it all these many years later.

Not everyone enjoys the unusual as much as I do, but that's okay.  I respect their opinions, but it doesn't change how I feel about this particular piece.

How do you feel about the unusual?  I'd love for you to share your thoughts.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Almonds - Oh Yes

I do like my almonds.  And that's a good thing.  Edgar Cayce, also known as the sleeping prophet, recorded some of his "readings" way back in the 1930's or so, and in them he made several references to the efficacy of this wonderful nut.  He said if you ate 2 or 3 almonds a day you would never need to fear getting cancer.

It was many years ago that I read his prediction that scientists would discover this fact by the end of the 20th century.  I have recently also read some interesting news that almonds can prove useful in lowering blood pressure, therefore helping one achieve a healthy heart.  And other, more recent articles, hail the ingestion of almonds in helping diabetics getting better health.

Way back, years ago, when I mentioned Cayce's observations to a friend, she was very pleased.  "So I could eat 2 Almond Joy candy bars a day and be protected from cancer?"  I responded that I wasn't sure that was the intent of his statement for he was an advocate for healthy eating, and thought the almonds could be used instead of meat products to get the proper nutrients that could be missing in a too-strict vegetarian diet.

Of course if one was predisposed to eat a candy bar, perhaps the Almond Joy would be a better choice than others.  This is my own opinion and not one I discovered in my reading.  Although I wouldn't advise taking them for daily consumption as a cancer or heart disorders prevention.

Here's wishing you a healthy New Year.  And just maybe (if you are so inclined) the enjoyable taste of a few almonds every now and then.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Savoring Life

Salt has been around since creation and is found is areas all over the world.  And it has been used by people for who knows how long. 

Evidence has been discovered showing salt extraction and drying going back to 6051 BC in Romania.  And in China they have found a verifiable salt works dating to 6000 BC.  The use of salt is necessary for healthy human development.

Of course too much of a good thing can cause you health problems as well.  That's certainly true for modern mankind.  I read somewhere that food companies will use 5 billion pounds of salt a year in their industry.  This number seems absolutely astronomical, but it could very well be true.

The very first patent was issued in North America to Samuel Winslow for his new process in making salt.  I could not find any information on just what this process was, but it would be interesting to know.

Salt is used as a compliment, as in "He's the salt of the earth."  And it can be used as a caution:  "Take it with a grain of salt."  But it is still a necessity.  One quote I liked was from Helen Rowland:  "A wise woman puts a grain of sugar into everything she says to man, and takes a grain of salt with everything he says to her."

Nelson Mandela once said:  "Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."  That pretty well covers what we all need to have a sustainable life with a chance of success.

I say to you:  May your life be flavored with enough salt to make it interesting but not so much you produce salty tears of grief."