Susie Duncan Sexton's Blog - Posts Tagged "roy-duncan"

NEW VIDEO: From a cherry red Pilot Typewriter to a monthly newspaper column and blog to an internationally sold eBook, Susie Duncan Sexton reveals all the secrets about growing up and living in a small town, marriage, motherhood, animals, politics and so much more in her collection of essays SECRETS OF AN OLD TYPEWRITER: STORIES FROM A SMART AND SASSY SMALL TOWN GIRL.

Here is the link...

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

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(“You play the hand you're dealt. I think the game's worthwhile.” ~ C.S. Lewis)

Admittedly, personal discussions which focus upon politics, religion, finances, in-laws, the questionable necessity for either camouflaged Rambo-type hunting or Betty Crocker-ish canning and preserving, "Which arrived first, the chicken or the egg?" or "Is it acceptable to wear white after labor day?" all qualify as verboten. Where does that leave us, then, in the time-honored pursuit of short and snappy fun and merriment among casual acquaintances?

Why, the "devil's in--the details" of... 52 (or more) plasti-coated BICYCLE CARDS! "Luck, be a lady!" A return to the gaming tables. Warning: "Ya gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em!"

My parents, hailing from Southern Baptist heaven deep within the heart of Dixie-land, pulled their blinds when newly married! In order to play pinochle, gin rummy, or euchre (for which the "joker" got himself invented), they became surreptitious, deceitful seekers of...FUN. Who knew when my devout schoolmarm grandma might have dropped by, reminding the couple to attend church services, only to discover their deviant behavior? The newly-weds became foxy, recognizing the familiar sound of her orthopedic shoes ascending their tiny front steps. Edna and Roy made me who I am today.

Once my mother became a..."mother", her own roguish wickedness continued. During the fabulous post-war late '40s and Eisenhower-led early '50s, my sister Sarah attended West Ward grammar school at a time encompassing that era in which CANASTA became roaringly popular within the United States. Melding, wild cards--deuces and jokers, magical sought-after RED threes ("treys"), "freezing" the stack or gleefully grabbing it up, "going out" on an opponent sitting across the kitchen table and caught holding "close to the vest" a fistful of cards suddenly representing negative points--A KALEIDOSCOPE OF A GAME! The Spanish word "Canasta" appropriately translates into "basket"! Well, my mama would meet little "Sass" at the front door--after school--hang up her child's tiny coat and then...challenge her to a 90 minute round of the enticing new game. Sarah grew up to become the family mathematician!

Our family, never wealthy yet always frugal, creatively sought out fun and relished being at home more than anywhere else in the world. Seldom vacationed...in fact, never. Frequented "dollar days" downtown. Drove old cars. We sisters wore hand-me-downs or dresses/sweaters courtesy of our seamstress/knitter mom--almost exclusively. If we bought material possessions, they stayed in the family for generations. My clothes and toys enjoyed second lives with my darling nieces. Hmmmm. Particularly, the toys I still wish I had! ARGHHHHH!

However, well-worn decks of kings, queens, jacks, aces--those "ratty-packs"--never left the premises. Spread across table-tops! Scattered over tiled/hard-wood/carpeted floors! Stashed in bureau drawers! Four suits of spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs always at the ready. Their configurations into various games held such promise.

Fond memories of Blue Bell foremen conducting their Christmas celebrations (a.k.a. "office parties") in our dining room, counting their poker chips and pocketing winnings of small change (while Mrs. D. served fancy ham salad sandwiches as well as that other kind of "chips" and a few cocktails) are interrupted for a second as I recollect that disapproving protesters occasionally dropped by and exited prior to the decadence that would follow. (Always gotta be a party pooper or two.) Poker boasts "zero-sum-game" status which factors in Keynesian Laws of Economics, after all. Looking on the bright, wholesome side, those guys enjoyed a "busman's holiday" maybe? Time and a half? Ah, well, more frolicking punctuated my "coming of age" years when visiting engineers from Greensboro, Chicago, or Waterbury spent evenings with us playing "Thirty-One", betting pennies and following the rules by "knocking" on the kitchen table, warning of "one more round--then game's over--highest score wins the pot"! A rather frenetic cut-throat contest where we kids were included! Those days of "Mad Men"--wonderful!

Thoughts turn to the pursuit of Bridge--in all of its forms whether duplicate or contract or rubber--where folks are forced to "connect" albeit competitively yet with fellowship intact. Many "dummies" (authentic Bridge term) and much "trumping" and "finessing" puckishly continue to haunt this house. VIsitors included Dr. Minear and Helen Markley, Dr. John, Kleespies, Smiths, McNagnys, and sundry progressive Tri-Kappa-Luncheon/Bridge-Combo Fund-Raiser participants (but NEVER Lowell and D'maris Grant who qualified to compete in California-Style TOURNAMENT BRIDGE matches with the likes of Omar Sharif, the Egyptian movie star/gambler/card-playing genius). When a partner was "in absentia", I got to play cuz the adults "needed a fourth"! Mrs. Langohr and I both possessed the same edgy, risky bidding habits a bit beyond the reality of the situation. Remembrance of a famous quote from my Dad, "Margo, you're NUTS!", never failed to send her into gales of good-natured laughter.

My parents, the Bonnie and Clyde of the "According to Hoyle" set, did not cease their insidious influence with their children. Oh no! All grandchildren were ritualistically brought into the "family" as well. My son Roy, now a seasoned card shark, survived (and thrived upon) initiation at an early age via the now-forgotten classic "Kings on the Corner." Following clearance from the breakfast table of left-over corn-bread, eggs, and grits--also cutlery, plates, water glasses, and cloth napkins--the decks were "cut" and hands were dealt! Vigorous card wars ensued. What happens at grandma's kitchen table stays at grandma's kitchen table...another helping of Southern-fried "omerta" please! Incidentally, Roy now owns a Phi Beta Kappa key and considers himself "home-schooled" for all intents and purposes?

Professor "Music Man" Harold Hill, sang, "We've got trouble, my friends...trouble right here in River City." Show me, though, where it is written: "Thou shalt not partaketh of good clean fun." No, please don't! Some of us never are too pre-occupied or busy to stop to promote and enjoy an impromptu window of opportunity for gamesmanship. My current "shuffle up and deal" family--in my dreams--consists of Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Al Pacino, and Javier Bardem. Hey, kids, we've got a foursome! I'll set up the Bridge table, provide the score pads and tallies, prepare refreshments and happily kibitz!

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com

Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or won't
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From the Secret Columbia City page on Facebook...

Sue Eberhard Kobuki: "Does anyone remember the Blue Bell factory? I worked there during the summer to earn money for my first car."

Thomas Steiner: "Yes, I sure do remember the Blue Bell factory."

Annette Melvin: "My Dad used to work there."

Vicki Meier Bigger: "Started working there when I was 16."

Bill Hammond: "Mr. & Mrs. Roy Duncan owned it, they were our neighbors on Line Street - the nicest and most likeable people you could ever want to know!"

Susie Sexton: "OH, THANK YOU, BILL! just noticed this...we love you, too! thanks, folks...i write often about Blue Bell in my new book (see below)! ♥! this string made my day!"

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com

Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or won't
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Authors' Open Mic is a series of readings by Open Books authors. In this episode listen to Susie Duncan Sexton read "Marriage of Minds" from her memoir Secrets of an Old Typewriter: Stories from a Smart and Sassy Small Town Girl here...

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com

Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or won't
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Latest "Old Type Writer" column! In “'Once Upon a December…' and Hello, 2012!" I reflect on the whirlwind that occurs when one year ends and one begins. Add in writing and promoting a new book, enjoying the fun and fellowship of friends old and new, and preparing for a presentation to Columbia City Rotary, and you have the recipe for a zany adventure.

www.talkofthetownwc.com/oldtypewriter

“Once Upon a December…” and Hello, 2012! By Susie Duncan Sexton

Without one doubt whatsoever the final month of each successive year sends me into an absolute tailspin! December’s always super-special within our family, for several glorious reasons, and outdid itself in 2011!

Some new folks entered our lives. Darlene Wright, Teresa Dowell and Nelleen LaFever wrote beautiful letters of appreciation sent to our mailbox.

Jerry Freewalt called with the most supportive words I may have ever heard from another living soul outside of Bob Wannberg and Paul Schrade. Mick Long sat beside us at Coldwater Crossing Theater Complex during our shared enraptured viewing of Stephen Spielberg’s incredibly moving new film “War Horse”, which all of us in attendance literally applauded even though “Joey” the cavalry horse onscreen could not hear our thunderous appreciation.

Cookie trays from neighbors sustained us. Our longtime pal Larry Wardlaw got dubbed Ft. Wayne’s Citizen of the Year! Noel Phegley shall ne’er be forgot. Susan Grabner Wilson (the best cursive writer of all time), Melinda Boyer Kelly (who collected more Riverside Dairy milk bottle caps than I managed to squirrel away into my flip-top desk), and I revisited fourth grade and our West Ward days. Keith Kleespie presented us with a poignant photograph. Nicky and Ricky included us in their New Year’s celebration. The Langohrs and Bakers are such gracious folks, and we shall miss beautiful Jean.

Jane Uhlrich boosted my confidence as she exited Parkview Hospital on December 27th…we stood outside in the falling snow, she a released patient and I about to present a program to Rotarians.

Our son turned Jack Benny’s age right after Christmas, and in his new status escorted his ma to a Rotarian speaking gig at our new hospital. He practically had to drag me there although I am a seasoned speaker and thespian. Stage fright nearly carried me away for weeks on end before this appearance. My nervousness might be the culprit that caused me to mis-step upon our staircase one week prior to the holidays, nearly demolishing my tailbone as I thudded down, down, down. My mind seldom concentrated itself upon preparations for the manic season but rather dwelled upon a pronounced phobia of speaking in public – about my newly published e-book the topic of which is (drum-roll): my mildly candid observations of this community and my “coming of age” here.

Rotary once got circled on calendars as a Wednesday evening event in Columbia City, our own Grover’s Corners, and high school girls, assisting with the “Men Only” club’s weekly suppers at Grace Lutheran Church, used to quarrel over who would serve Mr. Roy Duncan, my exceptionally handsome young father.

Lois Jean Adams Fahl confided this truism to me several times. I attended a total of two meetings as a child, once as a participant in “father/daughter” night and the other at the First Presbyterian Church, to hear a program presented by a seamstress/doll enthusiast who had fashioned inaugural ball gowns, dressing a series of tiny mannequins representing all “first ladies” ever, from Martha Washington through Mamie Eisenhower, the then-current President (General) Ike’s wife! Jacqueline Bouvier, my favorite, probably had recently accepted “Jack” Kennedy’s diamond ring and wedding proposal, so she had yet to join the miniature stationary/runway/red carpet extravaganza!

Thus, some 55 years later, here was I about to “speak formally” to Rotarians ranging from “young enough to be my children” to such stalwarts as Mr. Elmer Heinley and my very own grammar school principal Mr. Dale Pence as well as a quartet of “girls” I attended high school with during the sixties! Dr. John Meier, seated directly across from me while documenting -- in words and photographs -- my presentation, husband Don and son Roy flanking me, and Jim Banks introducing me … all unbeknownst to themselves … added considerably to my angst! Yet they were all very receptive and wonderfully attentive and smiling at me and often laughing at my jittery sense of humor???? Even Mike Rush behaved like a gentleman when I razzed him about his past and squealed (a reverse) “mic check” his direction several times. I feared he might be a potential heckler, so I headed him off – at the pass!

There I stood at the podium, breathless and nervously coughing as beads of sweat accumulated on my furrowed brow. I once appeared in stage plays and musicals and sang solos and delivered speeches at National Forensic League competitions, and I majored in Speech at Ball State. Hyperventilating to beat the band, I am delighted that I did not swoon and faint right there on that spot before God and everybody!

Remembering to thank members Jennifer Romano and Rick Kreps for their support and for publishing my monthly columns “Old Type…Writer” and “Homeward Angle” respectively, I proceeded to ad lib unleashed, like a house on fire, until reading aloud an excerpt from my e-book “Secrets of an Old Typewriter…Stories from a Smart and Sassy Small-town Girl” (NOT my title, but suggested by my editor-publisher located in Greece).

Poised upon the podium a beautiful framed cover of my ethereal book, my life’s-work -- which only appears in its entirety on a Kindle or Nook or Computer screen—evoked my acknowledgment to an exquisitely talented Polish lady artist whose depiction of me as an inaccurately tiny-waisted silhouette thrills my soul beyond measure! (My sales are high in Germany so I do feel appropriately “international” these days, a citizen of the world!)

Now, after what seemed an interminable passage of time (to me -- let alone the club members no doubt), I concluded with a bit of a bow/curtsy.

However, comical Al Anderson literally shouted, “Question!”

Stunned, I silently prayed that his query would be gentle and inconsequential and easy to answer?

“How much do you cost?” he asked.

“Four bucks and 99 cents…” I replied.

Then I added that I was “cheap”-- but that he might already have heard that theory around town.

What a fabulous and cordial audience; yet how delighted I felt that finally I could plop into a chair -- upon my very sore coccyx (or vestigial tail/tale) once again. “Resting on my laurels”, so to speak…chatting with old friends after the “show”!

On the ride back home, we laughed that I very nearly had replicated the “Shrine Scene” from our 1963 high school production of “Bye Bye Birdie” -- cavorting with fezzed male club members within a private banquet room, behind closed doors. (Math teacher Miss Berniece Carver, “back in the day”, almost succeeded in censoring that particular musical number.)

We recalled Mr. Heinley being photographed with me as he reminisced about shoveling snow for my dad at the Blue Bell parking lot, then rewarded with a steaming cherry pie fresh from Ft. Wayne’s Char-king -- for oodles of consecutive years about a half century ago.

John Meier’s very amiable and complimentary “Axle Grease” coverage appeared that same afternoon via e-mail. Camera-shy and for good reason, I marveled at my (bad-)side-view double chin and another snap-shot of me resembling Macaulay Culkin in the film “Home Alone” and a group photo of my family all lined against a wall similarly to the doomed Romanovs, me in the middle with the prissiest demeanor humanly imaginable! No fault of the gifted dentist!

However, reporter John likened me –in print-- to that former surveillance expert of all time, FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover—perhaps I agree somewhat regarding the resemblance? However, I most certainly never would have wiretapped phone calls of JFK or Dr. Martin Luther King, nor do I ever, ever wear dresses! (My book entitled “SECRETS OF AN OLD TYPEWRITER…Stories from a Smart and Sassy Small-Town Girl” can be accessed at my web-site www.susieduncansexton.com, and I am available for live readings and sharing of collective memories as far back as anyone can possibly remember – please leave your cameras at home though? I am very shy.)


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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com

Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or won't
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it is a new world...took me some time to realize this myself! and wow, i am planted firmly in the new world order!

my dad attended rodeos in new york...and he would be totally receptive to the world-wide disdain now for rodeos...he would be sensitized...his nature was that of one of the kindest souls ever to walk the earth until he died.

he is dead now...i am here and i know his heart and i am proud to be an advocate for what is kind and correct.

i cannot be kind about killing...my father also had to be subservient to the country club bosses at the top who did that dick cheney cowardly stunt of canned/contained hunting...but i reached him on that score and he admitted that smoking cigars and pretending to be big guys shooting at frightened geese or doves or quail absolutely sucked in real time!

i no longer am proud of those rodeo glossies that i inherited with cowboys swigging martinis and smoking big stogies arms wrapped around in each other in odd odd macho revelry while some poor schnook loaded up the abused animals to be prodded and poked and tormented to buck the jerk-wads off their backs at the next hoedown for the ticket-buyers.

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no such thing as feral cats...there are however cats whom few care about who are foisted out on their own and must fend for themselves and reproduce like mad...

and disposable little feral kittens die by the bajillions under those circumstances...

feral = those victims about whom humans do not give one good damn...

who among us cannot relate to feeling pretty feral in the political climate festering these days where so many either hate...or become completely apathetic about life in general.

feral is a word toward which we humans are all headed if we forget to stop and help each other out and care. and that includes all sentient beings...get your hands a little muddy...reach out!

and learn to call violence and killing exactly what it is...violence and killing. start empathizing...oh, please? thanks!

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com

Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or won't
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On a crisp autumn 1986 morning seeming as if only yesterday, wood-carver Stuart Smith and his wife Ada, the premier cook of this or any other community and who might never be equaled nor surpassed not even by Paula Deen, approached our front door carrying a pail holding “Traveler” and “Snapper” who legally belonged to the Smith’s cute toddler great-grandchild Brandon. Tiny painted turtles, out-of-towners earlier crossing a Florida road, had transferred their citizenship to Columbia City, Indiana, and both basked in the sunshine while floating within a pond, gracing the south yard of Smith & Sons Funeral Home. Winter approached.

Referred to our “rent-free” aquarium by my mother whose house we recently had purchased, the couple asked us to board the two reptiles until the spring. Clinically speaking, each “Chrysemys picta’s” carapace measured the equivalent of a half dollar. Their room-mate, a Musk turtle resembling a tennis ball and named Franz Kafka, posed no threat and welcomed them to his world…”three’s company” his motto.

The Smith family and the Duncan family literally go back as far as I can remember --Terry and my sister Sarah belonging to the Class of ’57! We spent so much time at Stuart’s “stable”, converted into a cozy home, that Terry continually suggests re-viewing the oodles of 8 MM films of the three of us “kids” mesmerized by his electric Lionel train chugging repetitively ‘round and ‘round the extensive track constructed in their basement. Perpetually cheerful Charlie and Edna Smith, parents of Stuart and his brother Boyce and sister Louva, lived next door (in the upstairs rooms of the funeral home itself) beside the present-day Carriage House. Edna’s dream-like, white flowering Hydrangea shrubs I never shall forget. Both individuals stepped right out of central casting. Director Frank Capra would have adored them. I know that I did.

In 1935, Charlie Smith purchased that quarter of a block, Smith and Sons Funeral Home’s present location, for $5,500.00, including the realtor’s fee. Lumberman, philanthropist, and owner Simon J. Peabody had died at Daytona Beach in 1933, and his home remained unoccupied for two years.

Ada -- whose mom Mrs. Bessie Keiser rated as my sister Sarah’s favorite elementary school teacher -- became ill during that year when her turtles wintered with us. The couple never returned for the Floridian Chelonians. As time passed, only Traveler survived. In his loneliness he bonded with our doggies, Murphy and Bogey. At suppertime, this little soul – a replica of the first painted turtles roaming our Earth 15 million years past -- stood tall upon a rock imported impressively from California’s “Petrified Forest”. Stretching hind legs to full height with his teensy nose pressed against the fogged-up glass, he literally wagged his tail to beg for food. He never barked though -- as far as we knew.

Recently reminiscing with C. Taron Smith whom I’ve referred to as Terry all of my life (as differentiated from attorney Terry Smith, a more recent acquaintance), my sister’s classmate spoke of earning straight “A’s”, during his banner 3rd grade year, courtesy of “Grandma” Keiser! Ada, Stuart, and Terry (named for “Grandpa” Charlie and also Stuart’s Wabash College chum) moved into their home, refashioned from a building containing horse stalls (housing Simon J. Peabody’s famous racing steed) that same year of 1947. To install their basement, where we kids consumed many succulent meals and enjoyed countless home movies, Terry mentioned the soil being sufficiently hard enough that the ground beneath the structure had to be dynamited which rattled the windows of our local DX station while startling townspeople who believed an earthquake had occurred.

Drafted during World War II, Stuart departed for duty as a Laboratory Technician -- to be assigned “all over France” -- the exact day that his son entered kindergarten. Years later, in the 50s, we listened attentively spellbound by Stuart’s battle-stories whenever he chauffeured car-loads of us basketball fans to Terry’s high school “away” games. Stuart would roll down all four windows of his Buick as we approached every railroad crossing while cocking an ear to listen for distant train whistles, perhaps overly-diligent for the safety of his passengers. One Friday evening, the master-mortician gifted me with a Belmont Memorial Record Cylinder Tube probably to keep restless “little Susie” quietly occupied in the back seat. That bronze gadget gleamed in my hands as I repeatedly twisted off either end, fidgeting with the mysterious device. When my mom informed me that those indestructible instruments got placed into coffins with deceased folks, my enthusiasm waned just a bit.

Several years after Ada’s death, our neighbor and attorney Earl Tison, his four-year-old son Ben, and I carried Traveler down the alley to visit Stuart. Secretly, I entertained the idea that this funeral director, whom I had known all of my life, would consider turtle re-adoption? I did not wish to force the issue. Result? We returned home to Line Street with Ben still gently swinging the water-filled Ace Hardware bucket containing Traveler happily sloshing and skidding to and fro, remaining a Duncan rather than a Smith.

As seasons passed, our pup-turtle increased his circumference many times over while matriculating at Wabash College and subsequently the Ohio State University as well; hopefully beer parties never factored into his weight gain. Would have to quiz big brother/ guardian Roy on that score! Traveler’s girth demanded a more representative name …a kind of tribute to the portly method-actor “Marlin” Brando…answering to simply a shout-out of “Brando!” for short!

Currently, having attained the dimensions of Tom Hanks’ “Cast Away” volleyball dubbed “Wilson”, this terrapin rivals the famous, legendary “Beast of ‘Busco” and has yet to locate “Stella”.

Once again, Traveler/Brando has followed his dreams and now inhabits the college town of Ann Arbor, and by the time his periphery measures that of a basketball, he may have earned his MBA (Michigan’s Biggest Aquarium) from U of M!

Brando’s longevity astounds us! Edging toward 30, his name –with a slight adjustment-- should be included in the Guinness Book of World Records because a painted turtle’s life expectancy reaches an expiration date of approximately age 20. We extend an overdue apology to Brando whose first and only trip, last spring, to a veterinarian -- practicing in the “Wolverine” state -- resulted in a surprise diagnosis. Brando’s new name is now…Brandy!

“…There's a port on a western bay, and it serves a hundred ships a day. Lonely sailors pass the time away and talk about their homes. The sailors say ‘Brandy, you're a fine girl. What a good wife you would be. Yeah, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea.’ “ ~ Looking Glass

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com

Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or won't
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[Original column and photos can be found here}

Allow me to explain myself. I am located at the conclusion of a lengthy direct line of lineage piled up with (Carolina) Southern Dixiecrats and talcum-powdered ladies. I’ve lived my life as the lone Damned Yankee seeking to cauterize subtle family dissensions and outrageous stereotypical mind-sets, as in “enough is enough!” I admit that I judge myself as trapped in a one-of-a kind type of ethnicity in such a difficult to define breed that I am in a perpetual race to quell my own polarized tendencies. I struggle to find my original soul. I strive to function unsuccessfully as the diplomatic “missing link”.

On those long walks to and from a Hoosier grammar school in the 50s, I literally suffered, yet endured, misdirected prejudice and fiendish bias. Only a tall cold one in the form of an R. C. Cola, extracted from the “icebox”, would soothe my agonized psyche. Plopping onto the waiting “divan” -- to pout as well as to watch after-school kiddie fare on black and white Tv, emphasis on the “T”, -- calmed my nerves long about 3:30 every school day. MoonPies satisfied as tranquilizers.

Innocent phrases such as “my daddy carried us to Ft. Wayne Saturday to lunch at Gardner’s Drive Inn” nearly got me strung up, Clint Eastwood-ish “high”! Those harmless yet indigenous Southland words -- “divan” for “couch” and “icebox” for “refrigerator” and “carry” for transporting via our old Ford -- prompted gales of condescending laughter emanating from a few select classmates. Never beaten up but once, still I feared that one day I might be discovered in a lifeless heap before winding my way back to the safety of our little house. A replay version between Walnut and Line Streets, of the damaging War Between the States, seemed totally imminent. I languished in mortal terror until I left for a more representative and inclusive culture at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

Fiddle dee dee! I got born in Fort Wayne’s Lutheran Hospital -- contrary to reports of having been discovered beneath a cabbage leaf somewhere -- seldom straying far from my roots in Columbia City, Indiana, but I am a perpetual half-breed. How so?

A personal inventory reveals: As a Southerner I seldom wear shoes, do possess a hospitable penchant for “critters”, gush out way too many compliments, and would give anyone -- who needed it -- the very t-shirt off my arthritic back! On the other more Northern hand, I become knee-jerkily stubborn, detest phoniness, generally tell it like it is, and never forget a slight. Neither an ignoble two-faced Janus nor a Jekyll and Hyde, I move pretty fluidly from one aspect of my personality to the other …occasionally puzzling both camps, the Union and the Confederacy.

Sensing through my reading and research and experience that every individual, whether one likes it or not, lives out life as a virtual melting pot, I cannot fathom why each of us is not more understanding and tolerant of those with whom we come in contact. At our cores, we are truly so comparable yet all mixed up as well! The contentiousness, lately (or since the advent of time?) associated with politics and religion and sexual matters and those who believe differently from ourselves, is a sheer and utter bore and the resultant chatter qualifies as cacophonous. Nobody wins. Is compromise the answer then? Milked down, moderate compromise? Or flaming extremisms of every sort. Moderation itself seems a “far out” (Thanks, John Denver!) stance currently.

Ah, the conflicts and contradictions of functioning on the playground of life! As a fifth grader, I recall the academic introduction, via our well-worn history texts, of the topic of the Civil War between the agrarian South and the industrial North simplified justifiably, as well as controversially, to the issue of human rights denied to African-Americans. One very bright girl, freshly envious of my switch to an all new wardrobe due to my waking up nearly six feet tall at age eleven one morning, started a small town “sour-grapes”-vine-ish rumor that the Duncans had once owned slaves????? Hardly. She confused us with Thomas Jefferson or maybe Simon Legree. (As a devout Methodist, she also broadcast that my Southern-Baptist-Indoctrinated/ Switched-to-Lutheran dad most certainly must be an alcoholic because we housed a lightly stacked liquor cabinet?) Furthermore, our own Hoosierland lives in infamy as a hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity. So there. Paradoxes abound. Yankees and their biases!

On the other hand, a handsome cousin -- way down South in formerly Democrat-oriented Dixie -- contends that Tarheels still detest JFK who disrupted their once thriving textile and furniture-making commerce. I know better. The truth? Both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations pushed through Civil Right legislation, and the South felt humbled once again. But not for long. Its clay earth turned redder-than-red-Republican throughout the lay of the land. So very fiscally SELF-conscious are most of those freshly Conservative states beneath the Mason-Dixon Line that now Nissan and BMW plants dot the landscape as the (maybe schizophrenic) South rises once again, Phoenix-like! Wealth and political power stirred into a recipe including that “old-time religion” have returned. Politicians of all varieties fall all over themselves to cater to Southern voters and to offer promises ranging from reasonable to outrageous. How ironic that while enthusiastically embracing foreign automobile manufacturers, "new" Conservatives -- whose bloodlines I share but whom I barely recognize -- have abandoned Detroit and our "bailed out" American automakers? Rebels and their saccharine confused/confusing feistiness!

I am a quixotic blend of that fictitious, infamous “Man Without a Country” Philip Nolan and Abe Lincoln who borrowed the Biblical concept that a “house divided against itself cannot stand” (especially with one foot up North and the other down South) and also Tarheel Thomas Wolfe – author of 1929’s “Look Homeward, Angel” (originally entitled ”O, Lost”) -- who claimed via his 1940 posthumous novel that “You Can’t Go Home Again….”

During my college years, humorist/cartoonist Jules Feiffer wrote the script for a play and subsequent film entitled “Little Murders”, a black comedy which critic Roger Ebert declared “a definitive reflection of America’s darker moods…breaking audiences down into isolated individuals, vulnerable and uncertain.” Feiffer is also noteworthy for stating that “getting out of bed in the morning is an act of false confidence” and that “maturity is only a short break in adolescence…”

Having lived a relatively long life filled with fun, instructiveness, meaningful friendships, 5,005 glorious Facebook acquaintances around the globe, ironies, startling hypocrisies, and realizations of the ultimate importance of living and letting live, I wonder how we might rid this world of “little wars” whether they be among and between children, adults, political and religious persuasions, countries, or raging within ourselves. Peace! It’s wonderful -- but for some peculiar reason, also elusive.


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CALL TO ACTION...

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

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Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or won't
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...you are such wonderful folks to care about animal welfare and to work to save lives. i am so happy to know you all! thank you...we must never give up...we must educate humans so that every person realizes and appreciates the power and majesty and importance of all beings! bless all creatures great and small! ♥ animals matter. and we are intelligent enough to know that! YAY!

i am just a tired old lady who finally developed some guts! i ain't never gonna shut up! ;D three cheers for the animal kingdom forevermore!

it is soooooooooo hard to put our compassion into words...i struggle with composition of THE moving words to change hearts alllll the time...the way i feel is soooooooooooo strong and i can never ever capture it and i want to capture it because i really wish to convert the non-believers, as many as humanly possible!

oh, baby, yeah!!!!! i am way better faulknerianing it than being formal. hard to please everybody...trying to just write and not give a damn about critics! this entire globe gets all simon cowell-ish...is that the creep's name? those shows have ruined people...now, literally, everybody's a critic???? LOL

I AM SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY WONDERING IF SOME OF THESE folks who jump onto these strings and hurl monkey wrenches (pardon the pun) are "plants"...especially happens on strings where folks are really making a great deal of informative sense...and here comes somebody completely outta left field to disrupt the flow? honestly, when it happens i truly wonder...if i ever encounter a string that i do not click with, i move on...i do not stop and ask everybody to scatter and drop dead? does that thought of sabotage by the disenfranchised or clueless or just plain mean-spirited ever cross your mind?

there are some animal folks who either do not "get" it or "really" are NOT at all truly interested in animals.

seriously, i always scratch my head and wonder. almost figuring out the critics also? they wanna do what we are doing? i am not going to use the J word...but i am thinking the culprit is the J word? ;D the old green-eyed monster? tired of those types...to the max.
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Neat comment...

From Tressa Marie: "Hi Roy! Your Mom is truly a wonderful person!!"
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Check out this petition...

Make it Mandatory to have ALL pets spayed or neutered in every state

I added the following to the sample letter submitted...feel free to use this, anybody and everybody...

A SPECIAL AND PERSONAL NOTE: Veterinary clinics must play a willing and generous part in this effort...time to make these operations affordable for all strata of incomes. The pricing has become prohibitive and is a major part of this epidemic of homeless animals whose lives are so casually ended in shelters. To over-regulate those who are doing their best to comply and not seek cooperation from those who will profit from such a mandate is unfair and only caters to the profits made by the doctors. Thanks to you for realizing the importance of this crucial, crucial issue.

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on facebook, there is a photo of southern hounds with numbers tattooed on their sides???? not to be believed and the string of talk is intriguing...my relatives are from that state...they all go to church a lot...i wish they would help save some lives and change some very "deliverance" type mind-sets if possible?

this country/world seems to be on a downward spiral. really believe we should speak up every chance we get...or some holocausts are gonna happen just like what is happening to our fellow mammals right this second...human beings are next...i assume there are still some human beings among us.

when you click onto the pic, the conversation is fascinating...somebody from NC claims that a shooting game of killing hounds, that refuse to hunt, is engaged in and the number of points for the dead dog is added to one's score. who knows? i do remember watching "deliverance"... i do know who and what rednecks are...unfortunately i truly do.

these poor dogs fill up the shelters...they are retrieved from being chained to trees and left to die and are dumped into shelters at the end of hunting season...travel down there on their super highways which cut through the mountains now and you'll see oodles of packs of strays running back and forth across the highways...even bears...and the entrails of deer are just left to rot up in the mountains after hunters "dress" them or whatever hunters do...and carcasses of dogs and bears are smattered on the highways as the southerners whiz by on their way to shop and attend church functions.

my mom was born there. back when the state had a conscience i presume. because i got my heart from somewhere or other...i assume from my southern parents. i miss them. i miss grace and graciousness and kindness and action to do what is right and correct.

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CALL TO ACTION...

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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com

Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or won't
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Treasured memories linger in our minds to be nourished in our hearts. Frequently, retrieved thoughts -- centered on those who nurtured us, laughed at us and with us, instructed us, cared about our welfare, and encouraged our talents -- sustain and strengthen us. Blood relatives flood genealogical charts and function as pen-and-ink illustrations upon family trees; yet, that word “family” also connotes friends and acquaintances we encounter throughout our lifetimes.

Louise Easterday called me yesterday. We chatted about Treva Wolfe who died last spring. Mrs. Wolfe and her husband Lawrence worked side by side with my father for decades – three employees of one company called Blue Bell, Incorporated. The Wolfes, who never had children, eventually traveled to western states and foreign countries to develop new factories engaged in the manufacture of Wrangler jeans and bib overalls. After Lawrence died, Treva ventured alone to Scotland and South Africa, a woman ahead of her time. I grew up loving her sparkling personality…and I adored her nephew and my high school classmate Mike Crampton.

Recently, our new Peabody Library director Mary Hartman (Mary Hartman!) directed me to one of the installments of Jon Pontzius’s 25 part DVD series of oral history interviews with Columbia City citizens. Treva, dressed to the nines, fielded Jon’s questions well, hesitating occasionally in her recall of some 94 years of living, 48 of those employed by one company.

She spoke of her childhood in Larwill and the overwhelming responsibility of helping to raise her five younger siblings. She remembered wearily, yet spunkily, suggesting that her parents should stop bringing children into the world since her own multi-tasking roles of accomplishing farm chores, sewing kids’ clothing, and baby-sitting sapped her otherwise youthful energy.

She described herself as a “pinch-hitter”, commenting that males once stitched together military uniforms at our plant during World War II, later transferring -- post-war -- to heavier labor. Returning veteran Bill Winters commenced his 30 year “tour of duty” as an integral part of the Wrangler family in 1948. With Treva as his supervisor and my dad, who always proclaimed that he “kept Bill around for entertainment”, bribing him with a tempting offer of a “25 dollar bonus to attend Old Settlers’ Festivities” IF Mr. Winters would sew waistbands on 85 pairs of dungarees within one hour, Bill not only got his fill of Ferris wheel rides and cotton candy but also a promotion to Lawrence Wolfe’s Shipping Department in record time. Later, Bill Winters traveled to Scotland, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina as a highly respected Cutting Room Consultant.

Mrs. Wolfe referred to my “East Coast” (?) dad – her “boss” assigned by the Greensboro headquarters in North Carolina to manage the Midwestern Division in 1942 -- a bit condescendingly as “Mister Y’all”. Always a forgiving soul, I laughed out loud! (Do check out this vast collection of fascinatingly preserved interviews available at our library!)

Recanting a tad from my usual lamentations that the “art” of conversation may have died, Mary Johnson Mcmanama and I enjoyed giggling and reminiscing recently via that archaic method of a telephone chat! She remembered that our junior high/high school, rather famous, choir director daily smelled so divine because of an application of “White Shoulders” perfume behind each ear. I recalled that Hazel Munns’ wardrobe impressed as exquisite and that my sister Sarah claimed Hazel purchased only six new outfits every 5 years at top price in Chicago, then replaced those sophisticated garments with another shopping trip to the Windy City. Since Hazel and her husband Merrell occupied an upstairs apartment in the former home of Governor/Vice President Thomas Riley Marshall, one need only tour the present Whitley County Historical Museum to note that closet space was/is at a minimum. (Our teacher stored her Christmas poinsettias in Tom Marshall’s closets annually – miraculously the plants thrived to greet another holiday season totally intact!)

Museum curator Dani Tippmann and historical society board member Pat Heinbaugh researched the childless Munns couple and answered many of my questions ignited by the phone gab between me and my school chum. Non-pianist Hazel Munns, equipped with a pitch pipe or harmonica, masterfully conducted eager voices raised in song in our town from 1927-1962, having financed her earlier education through turns as a silent movie violinist, theater usherette, a choral stint at NBC, and brushing up against Fred Waring (himself) and his Pennsylvanians. Our community fortunately benefitted from her skills, and her innumerable “children” ranged from Terry Smith’s mom Ada and dad Stuart all the way to Mary and me. Mrs. Munns announced to all qualified “sight-reading” sixth grade choir members that one of us would, as a high school senior, win a wonderful prize called the Arion Award. I minded my “p’s and q’s”, performing a sufficient number of concert solos with minimal stage fright for a half dozen years. Presently, that precious ribboned medal graces my mantelpiece.

Last week, another land phone exchange between childhood pal Peggy Gaylord and myself transported us both back in time, to sunny afternoons spent engaging in “dress-up”. Resembling over-decorated, miniature, mobile Christmas trees, we awkwardly clopped through the newly mown grass as we sported our moms’ high heels and earrings. We paraded like runway fashion divas in and out of my Line Street backyard “playhouse” or all about Mr. Marshall’s former “estate” nestled on Jefferson Street. Peggy lived in the downstairs apartment with her parents, Irma and George. (Grandpa Roy Gaylord worked at Blue Bell as the groundskeeper, and when his son moved to Ft. Wayne, Peggy would return on week-ends to visit her C.C. grandparents. For several years, my dad would drop by Roy’s to drive Peggy and me together to Sunday School at Grace Lutheran Church.) Now senior citizens, we recalled Mrs. Munns cheerfully interrupting our playtime occasionally with home-made confections of succulent fudge and taffy candies wrapped in wax paper, while she hung Mr. Munns’ salesman shirts and signature white floppy hats upon the clothesline to whip about in the summer breeze.

Funny, those no longer physically present in our lives dreamily mingle with folks directly in front of us, when we share our stories and recollections. Although childless, Hazel and Treva both touched the lives of so many kids, as one lady clothed the nation’s and the world’s children and the other taught so very many of us to sing out harmoniously and proudly and to appreciate music. Careerist Treva discovered the world of ballroom dancing at an Arthur Murray Studio…and fox-trotted and waltzed for 23 years. Hazel Munns produced amazing choruses of enthusiastic students blending voices during “one season following another” for 35 years.

Treva, laughing with Jon Pontzius regarding her credo “once a Wolfe, always a WOLF”, wistfully recalled that she and Lawrence owned mouth-harps as youngsters and warbled duets with one another. “While other kids were doing ornery deeds, we performed music which people loved to hear.” I remain uncertain whether Mrs. Wolfe and Mrs. Munns might have been best friends or ever even met each other; nevertheless both were models of gentle determination enhancing our community. Happily, their melodies linger on – to this very day!


*Song title from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Many, many thanks to Louise Easterday for her suggestion of this topic, and to Bill Winters, Bob Kellogg, Pat McNagny, Mary McManama, Peggy Gaylord, Jean Simon, Gloria Glass, Terry Smith, Eileen Cira, JoEllen McConnell, and Evelyn Zumbrun for sharing their reminiscences in real time. Dani Tippmann, Pat Heinbaugh, Jon Pontzius, and Mary Hartman graciously provided their services to aid my research.



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Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter - print and ebook versions available. Also available in both formats at Amazon.com

Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page

Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com

Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or won't
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