Freedom is not just July 4.

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156 years ago today, the Battle of Gettysburg began. It raged for 3 days. People actually came out and picnicked on a hill to watch. Some soldiers took breaks and ate with them, before continuing the battle. Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil, with up to 10,000 Union and Confederate troops dead and another 30,000 wounded.
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Mary Virginia Wade (May 21, 1843 – July 3, 1863), also known as Jennie Wade, was a resident of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the Battle of Gettysburg. At the age of 20, she was the only direct civilian casualty of the battle, when she was killed by a stray bullet on July 3, 1863.
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The main reason I post is to honor the people who were in the battle and who died.
The other reason is, to erase all the Civil War statues, names, memorials and other things that some people want to do, is to dishonor those who fought and died for freedom. It doesn’t matter that one of the reasons was slavery. All wars are fought and brave people die because of freedom of some kind or another. Do they want to erase the Revolutionary War also? Many of the soldiers in that war owned slaves.
It seems that this is what the Socialist Democrats want to do. All those hard-earned freedoms will be washed away from history.
We must remember.
As George Santayana said so eloquently:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
We may have to repeat history if this country goes the way of Socialism. We cannot allow that. We cannot have our rights stripped from us. Too many people died so that we could live in freedom.

Journalism 101

Back in high school, I took as an elective Journalism class. The very first thing we learned was that as a journalist, every story should answer the following:







There was no “I” in your stories. It was to be a reporting of the FACTS. And the facts consist of the five Ws and the How. Anything written in first person pronoun “I” was to be kept for Editorials, and reviews. We were to read the major newspapers and watch newscasts and gain knowledge from them.

Over the years, I have watched the integrity of those same newspapers and news programs devolve into tabloid behavior. What was once sensational “news” magazines such as The National Enquirer and The Sun, among others, became integrated with those same major news outlets, and the major newspapers devolve into the “rag mags”, and that sensationalized news become our mainstream news sources.

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I doubt that Journalism 101 is offered in high schools anymore. I also wonder what people learn at universities when they take Journalism courses. Do they even major in that anymore?

I looked and found they do.

  • B.A. with Journalism – 3 yrs.
  • Bachelor in Journalism (B.J) – 3 yrs.
  • Bachelor in Journalism and Mass Communication (BJMC) – 3 yrs.
  • B.A. with Mass Media – 3 yrs.
  • B.A. in script writing – 3 yrs.

Interestingly I looked some things up. These are what struck me the most of what is missing in today’s reporting of the news:

Five Core Principles of Journalism
  • Truth and Accuracy. Journalists cannot always guarantee ‘truth’, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. …
  • Independence. …
  • Fairness and Impartiality. …
  • Humanity. …
  • Accountability.

I don’t see anything on that list being practiced today. Do you?

Journalism Introduction. Journalistic writing or news writing is a prose style which is used for reporting in newspapers, radio and television. … According to “Basic News Writing” the ABCs of news writing are Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity (“Basic News Writing 1).

There is clarity, but accuracy? When you have the people who furnish the information being also the backup sources?

Journalists educate the public about events and issues and how they affect their lives. They spend much of their time interviewing expert sources, searching public records and other sources for information, and sometimes visiting the scene where a crime or other newsworthy occurrence took place.

Functions of Journalism are to Inform, Educate, Guide and Entertain. The press performs a very important role as means of mass communication in the modern world. The press tries to inform its reader objectively about what is happening in their community, country and the world at large.Sep 12, 2015

Rare to see all that in today’s society.

To maintain objectivity in journalismjournalists should present the facts whether or not they like or agree with those facts. Objective reporting is meant to portray issues and events in a neutral and unbiased manner, regardless of the writers opinion or personal beliefs.

There you go. What I wanted to see. But what one does NOT see in today’s media.  Today the network newscasters report news with a biased agenda. You can tell what political stance the network or newscaster has based on their reporting. A lot of their stories are slanted towards inflaming the public. Dividing the public.

What we seem to have today is what was once referred to as “Yellow Journalism”, which is described as:

Yellow journalism and the yellow press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.

Watch the news. Read the newspapers. Read online sources. Most have an editorializing sound to them. Most cover the news in one angle. They may interview people, but their questions and the editing usually leave out the ones who do not agree with the slant of the story.

We should no longer use the news to make our decisions. We need to carefully put aside our prejudices and research things for ourselves. The ability to process the truth in news has slowly been eroded by the news media themselves.

This is just my opinion. You do not have to believe me. You do not have to do anything. This is just my education rearing its head in disbelief of how far “journalism” has strayed from the core principles and ethics and rules that I learned in high school.

I hope you read this and leave comments. I encourage anyone who disagrees to also comment. I promise to give everyone’s opinions consideration.













Thanksgiving 2018

Never has a day been so meaningful as Thanksgiving 2018 will be. Tomorrow across our great nation families will get together and eat a grand meal, then maybe sit down on the sofa to watch football games, movies, or just talk. Maybe the kids will go outside and play. Or maybe get lost in their electronics.

Most of the country may not even think of things they are grateful for. But I know we, in the Florida Panhandle, will be definitely counting our blessings.

This year a large portion of the Panhandle has been devastated by a monster hurricane. The third strongest to hit the US. The others include Andrew (1992) that demolished most of Homestead, Florida, and Katrina (2005) that changed the face of New Orleans, Louisiana. Now we add Michael. It took ten years for the powers that be to acknowledge Andrew as the first official Category 5 hurricane. Michael hit the Gulf Coast with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, just 2 miles per hour short of a Category 5.

I have lived in Florida all my life, never farther north than Hollywood, until October 2014. During those years I saw many hurricanes – in no particular order:  Andrew, David, Opal, Irma, Wilma, Charlie, and Ivan, to name a few. When I was young, we had awnings and plywood on our windows, then shutters. I never actually SAW a hurricane until this year.

My husband Bob and I, along with our two cats Peekaboo and Lovey, rode out Hurricane Michael at our local shelter about 1 1/2 miles away – our local library. They had impact resistant windows, so there was no need for any covering. We sat on chairs at tables, or around the common area of the library, and watched television as the news station kept us up to date, and watched out the window. I was mesmerized. I saw the rain and wind start out as a breezy drizzle, slowly then quickly gain strength until the rain was horizontal. We watched the tall pine trees in a vacant property across the road blow as the winds came through in a West to East direction. Then the eye wall hit. The sound of it was like a freight train, and someone thought we had a tornado. But we did not. The eye wall is that strong.

You have probably heard the phrase like the eye of a storm. Well, the eye is the center of a hurricane. When it goes over, the winds stop, the sun might even shine, and you can go outside. Well, a lot of the people taking shelter took their dogs out for a bathroom break, or they went out for a cigarette break. It can really be beautiful during the eye. But you should never go far. The winds come back in an instant, as strong as they were when they stopped. No gradual working up to the strength. Right as the eye ended, a number of people who had thought they could ride it out in their homes frantically entered the building.

We watched the strong wind now blow East to West, breaking a lot of the tall pines that had withstood the opposite force but had been too weakened. Debris blew horizontally again. The back side of the hurricane did not last as long as it did arriving. The “feeder bands” take a while to go through.

When it was over, we were told that we had to stay overnight. We could not leave to go home or check our homes and properties.

The next morning everyone throughout our section of the Panhandle who were able to access our areas took stock of the new landscape. It is amazing how much we rely on landmarks. As with Andrew, most landmarks were gone. It was amazing what did stay. A lot of the campaign signs along the roadsides were still there. A lot of trees were down, but amazingly a lot were still standing. Power lines were down all over, and the electricity was out everywhere. The dirt road our long driveway was off of was blocked by downed trees. Bob and I walked to the house with the cat carriers, and found the house was still standing. The skirting was gone in a lot of places, and the siding on a gable end was gone. A tree had broken off our pressure tank for our well, the riding mower was in pieces. But our house still stood.



In the following days we all took stock of the damages, everyone who had insurance called their insurers, and we all did our best to help each other clear debris. Eventually the military came and supply stations were set. Water was generously distributed and MREs (military “Meals Ready to Eat”) were handed out at relief centers. Trucks with showers showed up, so we could at least feel human again.

Power was restored in stages. We were blessed. Our power came back on 10 days after the storm hit. A lot of people are still without power depending on how badly damaged things are. Our communities came together to help each other. All someone had to do was mention they had trees blocking their home or drive, and the “chainsaw army” came to help. Blue tarps sprang up everywhere. Life eventually went back to almost normal. But even now, over a month later, the landscape is still littered with downed trees, cut limbs and trees, debris from houses, and linemen still at the sides of roads bringing back our electrical grid.

So tomorrow, as Bob and I sit down to have dinner, we will be especially thankful. Bob is alive, cancer-free – though not yet back to full health. We survived a major hurricane – Bob had lost everything in Andrew. Our children are healthy and happy, and our families are safe and sound.

Because yesterday things were put in perspective for me. We were in Panama City to pick up prescriptions and to get our flu shots. Everywhere you go here almost everyone speaks to everyone now, but the first thing usually asked is how did you do during the storm? Yesterday I met four people whose homes were badly damaged, and they are still waiting for contractors. And I had been complaining the other day that the people I had contacted for estimates hadn’t come yet, and that FEMA had rejected our application since we “didn’t have enough personal damage”. I was reminded that we had very little damage, while others have homes that are gone, destroyed, damaged, still awaiting the basic repairs. Some who are still fighting with their insurance companies.

So tomorrow, when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, remember all the things to be so very thankful for. Health, family, home, the basics, and the luxuries that we all still have. And see what you can do for others. Donate some food to your local food pantries so that others who lost everything can have something again. Instead of buying more clothes, think about donating the clothes you don’t wear to shelters for others who have nothing, who have lost everything, and who are starting over.

And never forget to be thankful. Because there but for the grace of God, go us.

Happy Thanksgiving.







Happy 4th of July!

18 years ago this September, we were gifted a rescued 4 month old puppy from our beloved vet, Dr. Roger Gilley, in Homestead, FL. Our 14 1/2 year old lab Tasha had passed in May, and I was finally ready to give my heart to another. At this time we had 2 cats, our Snowball who was 14 and Gypsy who was 4. That New Year’s Eve, 2000, we found out that Sheila was a one-of-a-kind. We always knew it, but this was another facet we had yet to discover until that night.
Whoever says dogs can’t see in color, I beg to differ. Sheila LOVED fireworks! She tracked them as they launched into the sky and watched as they exploded in their multicolored shapes and sizes! I had never had any fur baby shake or cower or hide in fear, but we had never experienced one that delighted in them!
Eventually we lost Snowball, and over the years gained 2 more cats, Peekaboo (now 14) and Lovey (now 12). Over the years, we loved how Sheila enjoyed the twice annual fireworks that we set off. Even when she got her mouth a little singed by getting too close to a fountain (I accidentally let her out without her leash), she wouldn’t let me look at it for fear that I would put her in the house! I got the leash on her and she continued to enjoy them. Until the one year her hearing started going. She was actually kind of depressed as she couldn’t enjoy the full aspect of the mortars and fountains. So she just stayed inside. Peekaboo, Lovey and Gypsy had no problems with the sounds, either. They never hid from them – they were totally inside cats, all of our fur babies were.
We lost Gypsy in 2015, and Sheila a year later. She passed of Degenerative Myelopathy. I found the diagnosis online after searching her symptoms. I’m so glad she wasn’t in pain, but her problems with voiding where she lay embarassed her.
Every 4th of July we celebrate with a little sadness, reminiscing how much Sheila loved fireworks. We know that she’s enjoying the best where she is now, and that gives us some comfort.
I receive e-mails from a vet, Dr. Angie Krause. You can find her at boulderholisticvet.com Today the subject dealt with cats who fear the noises of the 4th of July. These are her suggestions:
Happy Fourth of July!

I know you are probably busy today so I will be quick! Here are few tips to help your kitty feel safe during times of noise and fireworks.

1. Play classical music. If you have Alexa, my favorite station is Classical Focus. You can also just ask her to play relaxing music. If you haven’t jumped on the Alexa bandwagon, try playing relaxing music by Mozart.
2. White noise. Use a fan or air filter to create noise that will drown out some of the sounds.
3. Safe place. Make sure that your kitty has a safe, dark place they can escape to if needed. Some cats prefer to hide under a bed, while others would rather be on your lap. If you have an indoor/outdoor kitty, bring them in tonight.
4. Cannabis. If you use CBD for your kitty, tonight is a great night to increase the dose. I usually double my cat’s evening dose on New Years Eve and July 4th.

The Importance of Kindness and Love


The Internet is both a blessing and a curse. A curse because a lot of people seem to only live on it. It is their lifeline – their tether to their existence. It can take over their lives.

When I was little and in school, whenever I asked my Mom or Dad what something was, they would say “look it up”. I didn’t complain, but it got old. But by looking it up, as in getting a Dictionary or Encyclopedia off the shelf and opening it up, and searching physically for the word, the item, the place, etc, I learned. Plus it didn’t hurt that I loved books, and was reading by the time I was 3 or 4.

The internet, to me, is a way of ordering things we need without trekking 45 miles to Walmart, or things we are unable to find in a brick-and-mortar store. Also a way of getting the things we need for a much lower price. The internet has social media, which is, most of the time, the main way we have of keeping in touch with our children.

Recently, within the last couple of years, I have used the internet to find childhood friends with whom I lost contact, possibly long ago. As I’ve gotten older, I yearn to find out what happened to them, to make sure they are okay. But mainly to let them know how much they are treasured for their friendship.

I’ve written on here about being “bullied” – tortured – through my elementary and high school. A person will usually remember the name of the worst tormentor. But do we remember those who did not bully us? Those who saw through the outside and were true friends? Sometimes we do not appreciate them during those years. But as we get older, we appreciate people and things more.

The term “actions speak louder than words”. We’ve all heard that. Well, sometimes no action speaks much louder, and deeper. Those true friends who never even think about what others see and find easy to make fun of, are the most important people in our lives.

I have reached out to some of them. Those friends from yesteryear who were true friends. I have been able to find a few. I have let them know how much they are appreciated still for being themselves. I had a teacher, my seventh grade math teacher, who for years I wanted to find and thank. Finally, about ten years ago, I met her again at a Mass that was held at Immaculate Conception Church in Hialeah, Florida. The elementary school was the same name, and was having an open house after the Mass. I found out that the teacher was still there! I went immediately after Mass to see her. I remember her with longish brown hair, stylish blouses and short skirts, and the shoes of the time. When I saw her, I looked in her eyes, and she was the same young teacher from back then. Oh, she was a little older, her hair stylishly shorter, and yet she was still the teacher I remembered. I FINALLY had the chance to tell her how grateful I was to her. I knew that she probably had no idea, but wanted her to know what a difference she made in my life. The confidence she gave me, and how I had never forgotten her.

We sometimes do not know the impact – both good and bad – we have on others. I have made it my goal to let those who were kind to me know how much they are appreciated, how much they are remembered. As I said, they may not have any idea that anything they did made a difference, but they should be made aware of it when they do.

I recently reconnected with a girl who lived across the street from me in Hialeah. I do not remember how long her family had lived there, but for however short a time, she and her brother and sisters remained in my memories and heart. We had a short reminiscence the other night, and when it was late, and she had to get to sleep, I ended our Facebook messaging with I love you. I don’t know if that was awkward for her or not. But I needed to let her know. It isn’t a romantic love, and it’s possible she wondered how I could say that. But the love I have for her and her brother and sisters is a deep one. One of gratitude, friendship and caring. I even am having trouble defining it, but I know what kind it is. It’s one that has to be felt. I love the child she was. I love that I am able to have her in my life again, and I feel a love that is one that I guess could be called responsibility. Caring. For lack of a better description, it is love.

I am so grateful to have these opportunities to let those who impacted my life know how grateful I am, and how much they are remembered.

What you do creates a ripple effect. You never know how you affect someone’s life, nor how that affects others. Try to be kind. Let those ripples be those that make a good difference. And when someone expresses their love, understand that there are many kinds and depths of love. And that you have made a difference. You are important to someone.


A Moment in a Lifetime. A Lifetime in a Moment

He should have been 37 this year. My first child. The child that never lived. I don’t know what gender it would have been, really. But I would like to think it would have been a boy. I had even had a name picked out. But its life was snuffed out before it even had a chance. Deliberately snuffed out by a doctor, whose first oath was “Do No Harm”.

The younger sister of a friend of mine came to me, I think it was in November, of the year I turned 19. She had bummed rides from me to the beach to meet with a boyfriend. But that was okay. I was going anyway. This boyfriend of hers was not a nice guy, and, to be honest, she was not very nice either. One time he reached over and pulled the string to the bow behind my bikini top, and it came loose. I was humiliated, and quickly grabbed the strings and tied them back again before I was exposed. He laughed. She got angry. At me! I believe that was the last time I took her anywhere.

So she showed up with a friend of hers at my parents’ house (where I still lived). She wanted to speak with me in private, outside, so I went out. She asked me to take her to a clinic about 2 miles away. I wanted to know why. She told me she was pregnant, and that she was getting an abortion. Within a split second, I asked – begged her not to. To let me pay for everything, and to allow me to adopt the baby. Within those moments, a whole life flashed before my eyes.

I was unmarried, no prospects. But I would make sure I asked for a raise, and saved up money while paying for her medical bills. When she had the baby, I would name him, and adopt him. He would be Graydon Robert, after my Great-Uncle and the middle name was my Dad’s. I would have a child to love, to raise. He would have the most loving extended family. If she wanted, I would keep her up-to-date with him. I didn’t care in that moment that having a child might keep the guys away. I would have given anything to have that child. To save him from being killed. I pictured being there at his birth, him growing up, going to Kindergarten, going to high school, his prom, graduation. Marriage. Grandchildren.

With her next words all that was torn from me. She said, and I can remember the words as if it were yesterday and not 38 years ago, “if I’m going to carry this kid, I may as well keep it. And I don’t want to keep it.”

My heart broke. I felt as if the baby were being torn from my womb, from my heart. My world shattered with her callous words.

I didn’t take her to the clinic. I don’t know how she got there, but I do know she went. There was no pregnancy. There was no child.

The hurt is still there. She went on to later marry and have 3 children. I saw her in a store at the Mall one day, and she was pushing a baby carriage. Her “first” child. I wanted to cry. To scream. To ask her if she even remembered the child that never was. But I kept everything inside. I congratulated her, and walked away. Years later I have seen her on Facebook, all the pictures of her children, the weddings, her happy life with her husband. I wonder if she ever told him about the other child. I wonder if she even gives it a thought. The way she was when she was younger, that girl would never have. I don’t ever mention that day to her. I keep it in my heart. The grief is less.

I went on to marry a wonderful man, Frank Davis. We tried to have children, and went through fertility treatments, but we were unable. We had just bought a house and were applying to adoption agencies when he was diagnosed with cancer. We only had 7 years and 10 months together. Then 3 years later, I married Bob Pickin. He had 4 adopted children and had also been widowed. We married, and tried to have children, but were unable. We also attempted fertility treatments, to no avail. But I had adopted his children, and they were mine from the moment we married. Our son died in 2016, at the same time Bob was recovering from colon cancer surgery. Another child was ripped from my heart. The hurt is deep for our son. Nothing takes that away. But it does get a little easier. It’s definitely not the same as the first. It’s much, much worse.

Every once in a while I remember the first child I could have had. I know he is in heaven. I know he and my adopted son know each other now.

The child that should have been. I lived his life in a moment during a moment in my life.





Every time I see/hear that word, I think of Tevye from “Fiddler On The Roof” and his baritone voice singing “Tradition…… tradition”.


“Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything… how to eat, how to sleep, even, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered and always wear a little prayer shawl… This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition start? I’ll tell you – I don’t know. But it’s a tradition… Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”

We all do have traditions. Do we all know where they started? Probably not, but we keep them up. There are superstitions, meals, treats, tasks, stories, songs. They can get blurred over the generations, but they are kept. Why? Tradition.
Merriam-Webster defines “Tradition” as:
1) the handing down of information, beliefs, or customs from one generation to another.
2) a belief or custom handed down from one generation to another.
Our family has many traditions. My mother’s family were from Czechoslovakia, before WWI. The borders of the areas they came from have changed over the years, the result of the spoils of wars. Names of towns and small villages have changed. Her father came straight from the Slovakia area just as WWI was breaking out. He came through Ellis Island. His name was changed a little in spelling. Her mother was born in Pennsylvania, and her parents came from Austria-Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. We have traditional foods from her side of the family.
My dad’s family was from the South. I can trace my third-Great-Grandfather Amos Isaac Turner to North Carolina, where I hit a brick wall. But he brought the family to Georgia. We have traditions from the South also in our family.
I don’t know where these traditions originated, but it made me curious. I will start with New Years. We will ring in 2018 tomorrow night. But every New Year’s Day that I can remember, my mom made a Southern tradition of Black-Eyed Peas. I was always told they were to bring luck for that year. I must confess, I do not care for the taste. So I made sure I had my teaspoonful! I held my nose and ate it. There was no way I was going to risk bad luck. Everyone in our family had at least one teaspoonful.
But why do we believe that it brings luck? Wikipedia goes into a lot of detail about General Sherman’s troops. But it does not go into the reason it is considered luck. Wikipedia also says black-eyed peas were a symbol of emancipation for African-Americans who had previously been enslaved, and who after the Civil War were officially freed on New Years Day. But again, why? Southern Living goes on to say: According to legendary Southern food researcher John Egerton’s Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History, black-eyed peas are associated with a “mystical and mythical power to bring good luck.” As for collard greens, they’re green like money and will ensure you a financially prosperous new year.” I do remember now Mom making some greens for New Year’s dinner also. Although the only ones who ate them were her and Dad. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been rich? Just kidding.
Every year since I was married to my first husband, Frank Davis, and now to Bob Pickin, it is my turn to continue traditions. I have cooked a can of black-eyed peas and made sure we had some. I have even made sure our fur babies had some. I would mix them into the dogs’ food and they would eat them. And I would put some of the liquidy stuff on my finger and let the cats lick it off. Everyone in my family had to have some! Bob and I have made changes to the plain black-eyed peas to make it more palatable for our kids (and us too!). But whatever we do, everyone has to have them.
Now I challenge you, my readers. What are YOUR New Year’s traditions? Can be food, clothing, or anything you “have” to do or have for New Year’s for luck or prosperity. Whatever superstition. Write down what it is, and maybe if you know why you do it. And maybe, if your parents or grandparents are still around, ask them why. Find out before these wonderful treasure troves of living history are no longer with us.
Comment here what you remember, and what you find out.
And whatever you do, please have a very Happy, Healthy New Year and be safe tomorrow night!

Business and Honesty?


A similar sign was posted above the kiosks at the Panama City, Florida Firestone dealer we visited this afternoon.

Bob has surgery coming up on December 1 to repair residual problems from his radiation treatments last year for his colon cancer. My dad would be very proud of me! The two front tires of our 2008 Jeep Commander were worn down on the right side of each, so I called around and found the least expensive were at WalMart in Callaway. So last week we went to get them replaced. While we were there, we went ahead and had them do an oil change.

Well, since the tires were wearing to the sides, we realized we needed to get an alignment. I called around, and Firestone was again the least expensive. They had treated us well one time on one of our numerous trips moving up to our new house, so we were confident they would do a good job. Since Bob had a doctor’s appointment today, I had scheduled the alignment for 4pm. We were finished early with the appointment, so we went to Books-a- Million to see if they had a few books we wanted. I wanted to see if they had any other Jude Deveraux books (which they did not), and also to find Steve Alten’s latest Meg book Nightstalkers (which they did), and Bob wanted to see if they had any books on ham radios (their one book was not quite what he wanted).

When we left, it wasn’t quite 3pm, so we stopped by Firestone to find out if they could slip us in early. The man I had spoken with on Saturday who had scheduled our appointment, Service Manager Doug Ebert, took us right in. We explained what was wrong with the tires, and that we had replaced them, and that I felt the Jeep was pulling at times to the right. Mr Ebert informed us that the lift they use was not functioning, so he said they would be doing the service in a different way, but that the alignment would be taken care of. We sat in the waiting area, Bob reading the Meg book that was before Nightstalkers, and I watched American Pickers on their tv.

It took a while, but eventually I noticed our Jeep was parked in front of the shop, and I walked up to the kiosk and asked Mr. Ebert “what’s the damage?” You could have knocked me over with a feather! He said “not a thing”. They did all the checks, made sure everything was in order. The wheels were almost perfectly aligned! I am very pleased with the honesty of the workers there. Many places would charge even a token to check everything. But they spent about an hour on our vehicle, found nothing wrong, and did not charge us!

Harvey Firestone worked for the Columbus Buggy Company in Columbus, Ohio, before starting his own company in 1890, making rubber tires for carriages. In 1900 he soon saw the huge potential for marketing tires for automobiles and then founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, a pioneer in the mass production of tires. He passed away in 1938. Somewhere in between he wrote those words: “I believe fundamental honesty is the keystone of business.”

Mr. Firestone, your company continues to hold true to those words. This practice is rare in today’s society. So thank you to Mr. Doug Ebert, and the Firestone Complete Auto Care in Panama City, Florida.


Making a little girl feel better about herself

Bob and I were on our way to an early doctor’s appointment to have his creatinine levels checked. He has had urinary system issues stemming from the radiation treatment for his colon cancer early last year, 2016. We started listening to Rick and Bubba when we traveled down to Panama City (FL) while Bob was going through his daily radiation treatments, and then when I commuted to and from the hospital for the 10 days Bob was in after his cancer surgery.

The Rick and Bubba Show is out of Vestavia Hills, Alabama, and is on in the morning – I think 9 am to 12 noon Central time. They are “good ole’ boys” who have a nice Southern accent, and are very down home country boys. I enjoy their humor, and they are not afraid to inject their religious events, experiences and beliefs, into their show. Some of these do not always gel with Bob and mine, and we accept this. Sometimes when we don’t agree with them, we just let it be. But sometimes it starts a discussion between the two of us.

This morning when we listened to them, they were teasing this one guy on their broadcasting team who had just gotten a haircut yesterday. He apparently has longer hair, and from what I gathered, usually has a more conservative cut when he does get it done. Unfortunately, we do not listen to them enough to know everyone’s name. This guy had told the others about his experience, and they encouraged him to retell it on the air.

He had seen a shop he either had been to before or knew about, on his way home. He had actually passed it, so made a U-turn and went into the parking lot. When he entered, he asked if they took walk-ins. They did, and there is someone there who can do it, but (and he changed the name) Randy would be back in 10 minutes. Would that be ok? He said yes, and waited.

When Randy entered the shop, this guy noted, and these are my words, since I cannot remember word for word what was said, that Randy came in with all his glory. There was some teasing at this point by Rick, who noted that usually in that sense “all his glory” would mean without clothing. Well, he meant that he was very flamboyant. In other words, it was apparent to the guy that Randy was gay. He did note that you wouldn’t know it, since it looked like Randy worked out a lot. In other words, he appeared to be very masculine.

The R&B guy said that he was hoping that Randy would just cut his hair, but Randy suggested that he wash the hair before cutting. Well, this began a very lengthy discussion about how uncomfortable he definitely was at having a man massage the shampoo and then conditioner through his hair and scalp.

This was something I guess this man had never experienced – a male hairdresser. And because of his religious beliefs, this made things very uncomfortable.

If any of you know us, we are very open to other people. We have no problem with the LGBTQ community, in fact, know quite a few personally. This aspect of their person is just part of who they are, and we don’t even think anything of it. So this talk was a reminder that there are those out there who are not as open and accepting of others’ differences. And to us, that is sad.

So you may wonder, what does this all have to do with the title of this blog post? Well, as Bob and I discussed this, it reminded me of a time when I was in 8th grade. We had moved that summer between 7th and 8th grade (you will read about that in my post from 2016 “How Does One Forgive?”), and I was feeling very alone, and was “teased” at the new school. Mom had a hair salon she went to in South Miami. I decided I wanted to get my hair done. I believe the style I wanted was like Farrah Fawcett’s – the feathered look, as below.


My hair was not really full, but I really wanted to have that style, since it was very popular, and my hair had grown back enough to be feathered.

Mom asked if I wanted to go to the shop she went to, and since I didn’t know anyone to ask, I said yes. When I got there, I told them what I wanted done, and they basically said “no problem!”

When the lady was done, I wasn’t thrilled with it, but I was too shy and too embarrassed and didn’t want to put Mom in a spot, so I didn’t say anything.

The next day, I cried. I cried so hard. I couldn’t go to school with my hair looking so bad. It was nothing like I wanted. I had gone through years of being tortured at school for anything different. Braces, glasses, good at spelling and reading – being what later people would refer to as a nerd. I still had my braces (I would have them for another 2 years) and glasses, and I tried so hard to fit in my new school and make new friends. The only things I felt good about regarding myself were my good spelling, reading – and my hair. Now the hair was messed up so badly, I would open myself up to more “teasing” now known as bullying.

I refused to go to school that day. Well, in my house, no one stayed home for such a frivolous thing. But Mom, bless her, told me she would see if she could get me in to a beauty shop that morning. I think she knew I would not go back to hers. Mom knew of J. Baldi Salon from church, and Molly Turner and Ann Bishop, from WPLG Channel 10 – our local station – had their hair done at that salon. I also happened to be in the same grade at school as his son Jim Baldi. So she called – I didn’t hear the call – and they told her to bring me in immediately. I think she even spoke with Mr. Baldi. She drove me there, still in tears. Mr. Baldi greeted her, and he listened to what happened, and he had the perfect person to help. He called over a man – I wish I remembered his name. Today I would have recognized that he was probably gay, but back then that was not an issue. It was also very normal to have male hairdressers.

This man spoke so gently with me. He treated me as if I was the most important person in the world. That little girl had never experienced that, so it made an impression. He complimented me on my beautiful hair as he draped the cloth around my neck, and asked what I had wanted from the style, and I told him. He said that they should have let me know that my fine hair might not take that style well, and should have suggested something similar. That I had “a lot of hair per square inch”, but that it was fine and straight – never saying it wasn’t beautiful, on the contrary. I didn’t believe him 100% but I wanted to. He started asking me about things, and I began to talk with him. As we talked, his scissors snipped, and he brushed and fluffed out my hair. Before I knew it, he was done, and asked me to look in the mirror. I looked pretty. My hair was fixed! Mr. Baldi even came over and made sure I was happy, telling me how pretty my hair was. Nothing phony.

My mom asked what did we owe, and Mr. Baldi told her nothing. She questioned, and he said something about wanting to only make sure the people who came into his salon were happy. Mom tipped the stylist generously, and we left. I was walking on clouds the whole way to the car and to school. I don’t remember what happened at school. If anything bad was said, I would have remembered.

But because of this, Mom started going to J. Baldi to get her hair done from then on. They didn’t charge extremely high prices, but again, because of their kindness she went to them. And when I was getting married, both times (I was widowed), I went to J. Baldi Salon for their Wedding program – hair, nails and makeup.

To this day, I have forgotten the man’s name, but never the kindness he showed a shy, geeky looking, broken-hearted young girl. He made me feel good about myself, and his pep talk did wonders for me.

So when the guy on the Rick and Bubba Show talked a little derogatorily about his hair stylist, I felt so bad for “Randy”. Because Randy may someday make another little girl or boy feel special and good about themselves. Even if that never happens, Randy, a man I have never met, made me remember another man, whose name I wish I could recall. I don’t know if that special man ever knew or remembered that little shy, broken-hearted girl whose botched haircut he made better. But I’ll never forget.


A Life Lived Fully

I have talked a lot about my maternal grandpa who came over from Czechoslovakia just before World War I broke out in Europe, but I realized I have really never written about my dad’s dad.

Grandpa – a/k/a Fred Turner – was born May 21, 1901 and lived a long, full life. He passed away on Christmas morning 1989 at the age of 88.

Grandpa saw a lot of changes in his life. He was too young to serve in WWI and too old to serve in WWII. He was born in a little town in southern Georgia and moved with work all over the eastern part of the United States. He met my grandma, Helen O’Brien, in New York. Grandpa told me the story of how they met. He was working in a quarry and this beautiful, graceful redhead and a couple of her girlfriends showed up. Grandma, who wasn’t Grandma at the time, of course, asked this handsome man if she could ride on the bucket up and dive off. Of course Grandpa said yes. And, according to him, she spent the afternoon diving off the bucket of his crane. He had never seen any woman as beautiful. Her dives were graceful, and she was a strong swimmer. He was smitten. When his job was over, he asked her to leave with him, and they eloped.

They did not have an easy life, and they were poor. As the children started coming, she stayed with them and Grandpa still traveled for work. They went on to have, in this order, 3 boys and 3 girls. They lived in numerous places, finally settling in Coral Gables, Florida. Grandma had been a heavy smoker, and succumbed in 1952 to lung cancer. The only treatment for cancer back then was radiation. But cancer had a very high mortality rate. He never remarried.

During his lifetime, and their life together, the world saw many changes. I never thought to ask about all the changes he saw in his life, but I know there were many. Travel went from horse and buggy to automobiles, to jet planes. I don’t know when he first had a telephone, but I imagine it was later in life. Though his family was not wealthy he lived through the Great Depression. There were many wars that started and ended. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War. He lived in the South before the Civil Rights movement. He told me of how work conditions were. He was a product of his time. He lived to see man conquer the heavens and walk on the moon. Although, from what I have been told, that was the one thing he could not accept. Man going to the moon was just too much. Too much change. And I understand that completely.

He outlived a lot of his siblings. That must have been difficult. Two of his siblings were older than he, and both died in infancy. His father died in 1923 at the age of 60, his mother in 1972 at the age of 93. Five years later, his youngest sibling, his brother Ralph Graydon Turner, died.

Grandpa seems to have had a very sad life. But I do know he loved. He loved Grandma so deeply, though their marriage was not perfect. He loved his children wholeheartedly. He gave of himself to each one. And he loved us, his grandchildren. I know that he always had horses when I was young. I guess that’s where I got my love of horses. I remember going to the stables with Mom and Dad and watching him work with his horse. When I was a little older, he took me trail riding. By that time he did not have horses of his own. But he had a friend who lived off the Tamiami Trail and had horses. One day Grandpa took me to this friend’s stables, and Grandpa and I rode horses almost all afternoon. I loved that time with him! I will always remember that. When Grandpa moved to the Redlands, a farm area north of Homestead, Florida, he bought a horse and pony. Again, he and I went riding. I felt so special! I don’t know if he took any other of his grandchildren riding, but that was the thing with Grandpa. We each felt so special and so loved.

I learned a lot from Grandpa – not just listening, but watching. We visited him almost every weekend. Two of my aunts and their families moved to live near him, and I hope that my cousins also enjoyed special times with him.

Once again Christmas is coming. Our 28th Christmas without Grandpa. But I hope he knows he will never be forgotten, and is always loved and missed.