Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Willard Library

My First Love Was A Library

 This is the beautiful building of Willard Library

Willard Library in Evansville, Indiana 

My First Love

I was always encouraged to read, especially by my Daddy who read to me as a little girl and encouraged me to find the words he read. I began reading simple books when I was three-years-old, the usual Dick, Jane and Spot kind of books. I loved the feeling of the paper on my fingers, loved the smell of books, and began to love where books could take me. Then when I was around six-years-old, someone told my Mom that the library in Willard Park had a children's room, where a child could just sit and read as long as they wanted. It was in the basement of the adult Willard Library, and had a separate entrance so you didn't have to worry about being trampled by the "big people." I was enchanted that this room was especially for children like me, and spent many happy hours there, reading everything I could get my hands on. Willard Library was my first love.

The Children's Room - Scene of Frequent Hauntings


The Children's Room - 1940s
The Children's Room - 1940s
Source: Courtesy Willard Library Archives


The Children's Room

A special atmosphere


Bookshelves in the Children's Room were built to scale for most children to reach the books. You could browse the bookshelves, always being careful to return the books to the exact spot you found them if you didn't take them to a table to read. The floor in some areas was uneven brick flooring, but walls and bookshelves were painted in a cheery yellow and white. There was always a helpful librarian there if you couldn't reach or couldn't find a particular book. Children in those days of the 1940s were very polite and considerate of those around them. We had been taught to be "seen, but not heard," so the library was quiet. There was no air conditioning needed in the Children's Room, because its basement location kept it always cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Little did I know then that there was another phenomenon that kept the Children's Room cool.

How Willard Library Began... - ...And How Was It Named?

Founder of Willard Library

A businessman named Willard Carpenter founded the library, but because he was a philanthropist, inspired by The Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, he wanted the name "Willard" for the project. He wanted to do something for the community he loved and to leave a lasting legacy for himself. He began plans to build a college, however when the plans were drawn and the trustees selected, reverses in his business affairs made funding a college out of reach. Some of his business associates advised him he could still do something educational and lasting for the community by putting a smaller amount of money toward building a library. He agreed and ground breaking began at 21 First Avenue in Evansville, Indiana in 1876. When the building was completed it had a classic, Gothic look that both fascinated and scared a little kid like me, but not so much that I wouldn't go there. I whiled away many pleasant childhood hours in the Children's Room, letting my imagination take me all over the world as I read.

The Gray Lady of Willard Library

Still can be seen to this day, if you're lucky.

Willard Library has a ghost known as The Gray Lady or the Lady in Gray. A library employee first reported seeing this apparition sixty years ago. Since then, numerous other employees have reported sightings of her, each of them giving similar descriptions. It is said that she appears in various locations in the building, but seems to particularly favor The Children's Room. The Library has been investigated for this phenomenon by various paranormal organizations, and a ghost cam has been installed to film at all times on the chance of proving or disproving the ghost.

Some say the Lady in Gray is Louise, the daughter of Willard Carpenter, the founder of the library, who had sued the library in the 1890s over money that had been given to the library, as she felt it rightfully belonged to her. She lost the case on both local and appeals levels, and became angry and bitter over her defeat.

But the presence of the Gray Lady felt and seen by so many, has not been a vindictive one. So chances are, it is not Louise. In 1985 a well known parapsychologist, Lucille Warren, paid a visit to the library to find out more about the Lady in Gray. She saw the ghost in the Children's Room, and gave a detailed description of her, including her hair style, her clothing, and that in her opinion the clothing was from the early 19th Century. Warren felt the lady was actually haunting the field on which the library was built, and that she was staring into a pool of water. Warren also had the psychic feeling that the Lady in Gray had drowned in the water canal that was located near the library, possibly a suicide. "She seemed to be confused as to why a building is on that site," Warren said.

 Comment sent to this author from Greg Hager, Willard Library Director

"Thank you for your kind words about Willard Library. You'll be happy to know that the Willard Library Children's Dept is thriving, still has a separate way for little people to not be trampled by big people, has plenty of places for kids to sit and read. 10,000 children come to library programs each year, but most come with their families to just be at the library and to checkout books.
We'd love to have you visit, if you are able to."
— Greg Hager, Director, Willard Library

Willard Library - Home of the Lady in Grey

What do you see in this photo? Some people believe they see the Lady in Grey, others say they can't see it. How about you?

If you'd like to know more about the Lady in Gray or Willard Library - Check out these links

Other books you might like - Libraries Are Wondrous Places

You can go anyplace in the world, in the confines of a library. You can be anyone, live anywhere, have adventures and fun, and never leave your chair. A library is a wonderland, an amusement park that costs nothing to enter. You might even find it fascinating to read ABOUT libraries. Here are a few I recommend.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rita Hayworth: Down To Earth

Glamorous, Beautiful Rita

The Goddess of Dance Comes Down to Earth

Once upon a time a goddess came down to earth and I went to see her. It's true! Well, Rita Hayworth was the goddess and it was my favorite movie of all time, called "Down To Earth," costarring Larry Parks. She played the Goddess Terpsichore (Goddess of Dance) in this musical comedy and first mysteriously appeared onstage at rehearsal. She immediately attracts the attention of Danny Miller (Larry Parks,) who is the producer/director of the play. He is entranced with her beauty and her dancing and puts her in the starring role, even though it meant taking another girl out of the spot.

Terpsichore Persuades Danny

As the movie progresses, Danny is smitten with her, not knowing that she is actually a Goddess who has persuaded the other Gods to allow her to "fix" his play. He had the Muses (of which Terpsichore is but one) appearing as loose women who are fighting for the attention of two Air Force pilots who crashed on a mountain where the Gods live. This angers Terpsichore because not only are the muses depicted in what she considers a derogatory manner, but even the name of the mountain where the Gods live is wrong. She decides to teach these humans a lesson, hence her reason for appearing on earth. She proceeds to persuade Danny to change the play into a classical ballet, instead of a comedy. She wants to show this good looking man the correct way to portray the muses and herself, which changes the focus of the play entirely.

Terpsichore falls in love.

Once she is put in the starring role, she suggests changes to the play that will better depict the dignity and beauty of the Muses. Because Danny is enamored of her, he allows them to be made. However, the play is a flop with human audiences, who want to see something fun, carefree and entertaining. When the play goes belly-up, Danny Miller's life is at risk from gangsters who have helped fund the play. Terpsichore finds this out, and upon realizing that she has fallen in love with Danny, she helps to put the play back to the original fun comedy, saving the play and Danny's life.

She begs to stay on earth.

Because of her love for Danny, she begs to be allowed to stay on earth. But Mr. Jordan, her handler, says it is not possible. She must return to Mt. Helicon, where the Gods actually live. She understands though she isn't happy about it. After that she becomes invisible to everyone and sees that Danny manages his life without her, though he's sad and misses her. Because of her obedience, Mr. Jordan tells her they will meet again, and he gives her a preview of their meeting in a new life. This comforts her as she knows they will eventually be together again.

A bit of trivia regarding this movie.

In 1980, a movie called Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly and Michael Beck was inspired and based on the 1947 movie Down to Earth.

The Goddess Comes "Down To Earth."

What Price Glamor?

Rita Hayworth Was Hollywood Glamor Personified

Rita was a treasured pinup girl during WWII, and any movie with Hayworth in it was guaranteed box office gold. She was probably one of the only glamor girls that not only appealed to men, but also to the women. Guys loved her, gals wanted to be like her. Ironically, her hair style was emulated by women the world over. The hair and its style was not natural since Rita was naturally dark-haired and of Spanish origin, born Rita Cansino. Studio Boss Harry Cohn and her then-husband Edward Johnson, had electrolysis done on her hairline because they felt her original hairline looked "too Latin." In addition to that, they had her hair dyed dark red to go with the personality they felt she should have. It all went into making the star that became Rita Hayworth. Rita was used to men making decisions for her, since her father Eduardo Cansino had always done so until then.

 You Were Never Lovelier


Hayworth and Astaire

Rita Hayworth made two films as dancing partner to Fred Astaire. "You'll Never Get Rich," in 1941 and "You Were Never Lovelier," in 1942, both romantic musical comedies. Hayworth was a dancer in her own right, having grown up as the daughter of two dancers. She began dance lessons, as she said, "as soon as I could stand on my own two feet." Those lessons continued through the years until the family moved to Hollywood in 1927, establishing a dance studio. Rita and her father danced at area clubs and she was spotted dancing by the head of Fox Film Corporation, Winfield Sheehan. He felt she could be a star and arranged for a screen test. From that to dancing with Fred Astaire, what a leap!

Rita and Fred

Rita,  in video below, dancing as Terpsichore in "Down To Earth."

Watch her dance as Terpsichore. She was one of the best dancers of the era, because she was a professional dancer before becoming a film star.



 Rita Hayworth, 1977, Accepting An Award

National Screen Heritage Award - 1977

Hayworth was honored in 1977 with the National Screen Heritage Award presented at the National Film Society convention. In less than 10 years, on May 14, 1987 she died from complications of Alzheimer's Disease. She is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, CA. In 1999, she was included as one of American Film Institute's Greatest Stars of All Time.


"Rita Hayworth was one of our country's most beloved stars. Glamorous and talented, she gave us many wonderful moments on stage and screen and delighted audiences from the time she was a young girl. Rita became known for her struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. Her courage and candor, and that of her family, were a great public service in bringing world wide attention to a disease which we all hope will soon be cured. Nancy and I are saddened by Rita's death. She was a friend who we will miss."
— Ronald Reagan, President of the United States, 1987

Movies Starring Rita Hayworth You Might Like:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"The Blob" Introducing Steve McQueen

"The Blob" Introducing Steve McQueen

Beware The Blob!

Looking back on the movies of the 1950s, I particularly remember the movie "The Blob" from the days of going to drive-in movies. At that time, invaders from outer space films were the rage. It was science fiction and horror rolled into one. It affected many of us because of our fear of a communist invasion, and in our minds at least, it was practically the same kind of thing. The Blob was even more terrifying because it was without a definite form; just matter, that could slip, slide and glide through any tiny opening. It could then cover you, and eat you alive! With each human absorption, it grew larger. Oh yes, it was terrifying and being terrified just fascinated all movie goers.


Another Reason "The Blob" Was Interesting

There was another reason for our fascination, at least for the females. The movie introduced a guy in his first leading role, whom we all came to know and love; Steve McQueen. He played a teenager (he was actually 27 years old) who tried to warn the community about this menace, but who was ignored. I liked his big blue eyes and his way of handling himself. For his role in "The Blob" McQueen received only $3,000, turning down an offer of a smaller upfront share with 10 percent of the profits. He didn't believe the film would make any money and he needed the money to live on. Too bad he couldn't see the future when making the deal; the blob grossed over $4 million dollars at the box office. Still, it gave him the toehold in Hollywood that he needed.

Who knew then that he would go on to be the legendary "tough guy" of so many films we loved? His performances in "The Sand Pebbles" (for which he received an Academy Award Nomination) "The Thomas Crown Affair," "Bullitt," "Papillon," "The Great Escape," "The Magnificent Seven," "The Towering Inferno," and other roles, brought him to the peak of his craft in earnings, making him the highest paid star in Hollywood in 1974. After that, he did not make another film for six years. In 1980 he made his last two films, "Tom Horn," and "The Hunter." Steve McQueen died of cancer on November 7th, 1980.

The Movie Plot "Thickens" (Pun Intended)

In a small rural town in Pennsylvania, a teenager, Steve Andrews (McQueen) and his girlfriend Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut) are doing some heavy kissing in a local lover's lane when they see something speed out of the night sky and crash just beyond the next hill. Curious to see what the object is, they decide to go see what it's all about. Before they can get there, an old man has found it first and he pokes it with a stick. The meteorite breaks open and a small jelly-like substance suddenly leaps and attaches to his hand and arm. In pain and unable to remove the substance, he runs into the road and is nearly struck by McQueen's car as they arrive at the site. They take him to the doctor, who asks Steve to go back to the site and see what kind of information he can find about the substance. They leave and we pan back to the doctor's office, where the old man is slowly being absorbed, and both the doctor and the nurse are also absorbed by the Blob, which then grows in size. It's the beginning of many more such horrific scenes. The fright overcomes most folks watching because it's the sort of thing we dread; the invasion of something that overcomes us without our being aware of its intentions until it's too late.

 The movie may be purchased here from Amazon.

The Blob (1958)



The Blob: Not The Best or The Worst of 1958's Movies.

By all means, this movie was not Academy Award winner material. But it certainly wasn't the worst of the bunch that were produced during the 1950s, there were lots who qualified for that title. But there were others, like "Them," "The Thing," "Creature From The Black Lagoon," and more of that genre, that were good at scaring us. They all played on our fear of being invaded, either by alien beings, or (translated in our minds,) by the Communists. We just switched one "bogeyman" for another in our imagination. But they were spooky, gave us the chills and were fun to watch, just the same. Movie goers went to films of this sort in droves, it was the fad of the day.

Popular Movie? Let's Make A Song!

Once "The Blob" was a big hit the theaters, of course, there had to be a song about it. It was written by none other than the famous Burt Bacharach and Mack David and became a nationwide hit for singer Bernie Knee, using an overdubbing technique so that it sounded like there were more singers. It was a fun song, and people went around singing the catchy tune. Even today, once you hear it you find yourself humming the tune. At the time I didn't find the song particularly delightful, because to me it didn't fit with the terror you felt watching that thing envelope someone. Now I think it's cute...give a listen and see if you agree.



Blob Trivia

  • "The Blob" was actually made from silicone, adding more and more red dye to it as it "absorbed" people, and as it grew with each "absorption."
  • The Town of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where parts of the movie were filmed, holds an annual Blob Fest. A scene is re-enacted, (one you can see in a video above,) where the crowd runs screaming from a theater where the blob is wreaking havoc.
  • In 1972 Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing in "Dallas") directed a sequel known as "Beware! The Blob!" It didn't have near the popularity the original did.


More Terrifying Movies, Based On Atomic Mutation

What about the movies that have mutations from atomic radiation? That was a biggie during the 50s too. Giant ants so terrorized a little girl in "Them," that she was traumatized to the point all she could scream was "Them!" I can't believe what a good actor she was at such a tender age. And believe me when I tell you, this movie scared me! After all, we were in awe of such a terrible force and what it might do to the world. So why wouldn't it make ordinary things mutate into horrible monsters? I never looked at ants the same way again in my life as I did before watching this movie.




The Thing - "Look To The Sky!"

"The Thing" was also a nightmare for me for a couple nights. He was violent, scary and huge (James Arness, standing tall, and in make-up.) Thawed from Arctic ice, a flying saucer is found with some sort of "being" frozen inside. Taken inside the laboratory, the creature thaws and comes back to life. The scientist thinks he's just frightened and misunderstood and tries to communicate with him, only to realize all the monster wants to do is kill. The makeup Arness was wearing made him look like a big carrot to me, but obviously much more frightening.

The Thing From Another World

The Thing from Another World

 Creature From The Black Lagoon

For me, this film was a little hokey, not really that scary. But, it was different, and in those days, that was the big draw for any movie. That's all that was necessary, that it have some sort of odd appeal, either in the central character, or a monster, or a comic relief part. As long as there was something in the "unusual" mode, the movie was a winner. "The Creature From The Black Lagoon," was kind of fun for me. Maybe I'd grown up a bit more by then, or maybe I'd become insensitive to these "atomic age" monsters. Fear can only haunt you so long, until you finally become immune to it.


Friday, May 15, 2015

The Blues According to B.B.King

 The Blues According to B.B. King

B.B. King, blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, sings the blues no more. He passed away in his Las Vegas home on Thursday, May 14, 2015. But his legacy lives on in the blues he loved, played, sang and promoted. This story is about the blues according to B.B. King.

Nobody could surpass King's way with the blues and as he said:  "The blues is life, but it's sort of sad to think you have to be sad" to sing them. But then he remarked, "I think the blues are like a tonic," and added, "they're good for what ails you."

Riley B. King Is Born

Riley B. King was born on a cotton plantation, September 16, 1925 in Berclair, Mississippi to sharecropping parents Albert and Nora Ella King. At the age of 4, his mother left his father, and the boy was raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr in Kilmichael, Mississippi.

Growing up, he sang in a gospel choir in his community, and began his lifelong interest in the guitar at the age of 12. Some say his first guitar was a gift from Bukka White, his mother's cousin, whom he followed to Memphis, Tennessee. He began playing on the street for nickles and dimes. In the next few years he would develop his skill at playing the guitar. He would also begin to grow a faithful audience of his music who would continue to follow his blossoming career.

B.B. King Is Born

He gained his name "B.B. King," at WDIA, a Memphis radio station where he performed a 10-minute spot that became so popular it was expanded and became known as The Sepia Swing Club. He was initially called the "Beale Street blues boy," shortened to "blues boy," and eventually to B.B. While at the radio station he met T-Bone Walker, innovator and pioneer of the electric blues sound. B.B. was enthralled with the sound of the electric guitar, and said, "I knew I had to have one, short of stealing."

His recording career began in 1949 on RPM Records, many of which were produced by Sam Phillips of Sun Records (the same man who took a chance on recording Elvis Presley for the first time.) He eventually formed his own band, entertaining audiences across the United States with his unique talent and the blues. He helped raise the genre to new heights, taking it from juke joints and small clubs to Las Vegas lounges and stages around the world. He was becoming a legend in his own time.

Partial List of Awards

King played as the opening act for the 1969 Rolling Stones American Tour. He won a 1970 Grammy for "The Thrill Is Gone," which was a hit on both the pop and R&B charts. Inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 1980 and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987, he went on to be inducted into the Official Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in 2014. The International Polar Music Prize was awarded to him in 2004, " in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music."

 Favorite Singer

Frank Sinatra was his favorite singer and King gave him credit for opening doors in Las Vegas lounges in the un-integrated 1960s. In his autobiography "Blues All Around Me," King tells about a Caesars Palace executive asking their star, Sinatra, if it was okay for King to play the lounge, and Sinatra answered, "Hell yes!" King said, "not just 'yes' but 'Hell yes'. That meant a lot to me." In his autobiography King says he went to sleep every night listening to Sinatra's recording of "In The Wee Small Hours."

How "Lucille" Came To Be Named  

If you know anything at all about B.B.King, you know he names his guitars "Lucille." Why was it always that name? Here's the story:  In 1949 a common practice to heat dance halls and clubs was a burning barrel of kerosene. In one such establishment in Arkansas a fight broke out between two men during which the barrel was knocked over. This sent blazing kerosene flooding the floor, catching it on fire, and the hall was then evacuated. Once outside, King realized he'd left his $30 guitar inside and he ran back into the burning building to retrieve it. Making his way safely back outside, guitar in hand, he was glad to be alive. Two men actually died in the fire. Later, he heard that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. He named that guitar and subsequent editions "Lucille" to remind himself never to be so stupid as to fight over women or run INTO a burning building! He wrote a song named "Lucille" which tells the story and is included in his album B.B. King Anthology 1962-1998. In 1980 the Gibson Guitar Company introduced the B.B.King Lucille Model Guitar. The difference between the Lucille and the earlier model on which it is based is that it bears "Lucille" in script on the headstock, has a maplewood neck and lacks F holes on the top, at King's request, to reduce feedback.


"When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille." - B.B. King


 B.B. King Plays His "Lucille" and sings her story in this video.

 Goodbye B.B. King, Not Goodbye To Your Music

In 1991 B.B. King's Blues Club opened on Beale Street in Memphis, TN, a second club in 1994 in Universal City Walk in California, and a third in New York City's Times Square in 2000. Since then there have been five other clubs opened, one in Foxwood Casino in Connecticut in 2002, one in Nashville, TN in 2003, one in Orlando FL in 2007 and one in the Mirage Hotel Las Vegas in 2009. Blues had made it big time and so had B.B. King, a sharecropper's son,  singing the tunes that were "good for what ails you."

RIP B. B. King 5/14/2015

Both the autobiography of B.B. King and the Anthology Album that are mentioned in this text are available below for purchase.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gifts For A "Live-Alone" Person

Gifts For A "Live-Alone" Person

Photo Courtesy of Amazon
Item is Available For Purchase On This Page

A Person Hard To Buy For? ~ Problem Solved!

I have a bachelor uncle who used to present a problem for gift buying in years past. But after taking another look at his interests, likes and dislikes, and making a few discreet questions, I've decided it's not so difficult after all. Just really put some thought into the person you're buying for. Do your snooping into his/her life (nicely now!) and find out what they can use, what they really want, what they actually like. Chances are you'll come up with a whole list of possibilities.



The Keurig

The Keurig K-Cup Home Brewer is an excellent gift for someone living alone, because every cup of coffee or tea is fresh. No more burnt smell or taste from  sitting on a hot plate too long. Not only that but the person receiving this gift can try different flavors whenever they want, without being committed to that flavor for a long time. Keurig puts out a sample pack of flavors for those looking for a favorite. If they already have a Keurig Brewer then send them boxes of K-cups in their favorite flavor. That's something they'll not have to spend money to purchase for themselves.


Food and Goodies


Food and munchies and goodies are always a good choice, taking into account any health problems they have or food restrictions. If your "live-alone" person loves snacks, cookies, sweet treats, and they have no health reason not to have them, get them a gift basket filled to the brim with lots of treats. Or perhaps you bake and send your own cookies. Maybe you can send several dozen so they can freeze them and take out just what they want each day. That way they stay fresh for many months. These go especially well accompanied by the Keurig Brewer.


Who Do You Find Hard to Buy For?


Which "live alone" relative or friend do you find it difficult to buy for? Almost every family seems to have at least one person who fits this description and everybody during a time of giving gifts is wracking their brain as to what to get this person. First of all, they really don't want more knickknacks to dust, so don't buy that bust of Beethoven for the classical music lover (unless that's what they've mentioned they want.) You can always send flowers or a plant, but why not get them something useful and more practical? 


Sometimes Life Causes "Live-Alones"


Life itself often causes someone to become a "live-alone" person.Uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, even a grandparent or Mom or Dad, may find themselves living alone as they grow older and a life-long partner passes away. Every family seems to have at least one person who fits this description and we find it difficult to find gifts for them. Here's a few more things to set you to thinking about the person you're buying for.





Barbecue Basket Gift

Perfect for the person who is Master or Mistress of the Grill, Here are sauces, marinades, utensils, cutting board, wicker tray and some goodies to munch while dinner is grilling. Nobody needs to get another tie or pair of funny socks for Christmas or birthday. When you've done your snooping into their interests, you can tailor the gift to their tastes.





Electric Blanket

When the winter winds blow, it's nice to snuggle down into the warmth of a good electric blanket. If your "tough to buy for" relative is anything like mine, they'd appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gift of an electric blanket. You can find these on Amazon in twin, full, queen, or king size and various colors. 




Hot Dog Roller

Yummm, hamburgers and hotdogs are two of the most cooked meals in a single man or woman's house. Why? Because they're quick, require no pre-planning and they satisfy hunger. Be sure not to gift this to someone who is a vegetarian. The gift won't be appreciated, and you'll have wasted your money, when you could have done something more appropriate. But if they like hamburgers and hotdogs, you'll be thanked profusely for this gift.





Flannel Pajama Lounge Sets

Everyone likes to be comfortable, and these lounging pajamas are sure to be a favorite gift. They come in all sizes, 100% cotton, machine washable, with various plaids, prints and colors. Men's come with crew neck, drawstring pants and handy back pocket. Women's come with drawstring pants, and button down the front tops.




DVD Player and DVDs

If they love movies and don't have a DVD player, get them one. Show them how to use it several times so they are familiar with it. Then provide them with DVDs of their favorite movies or their favorite TV programs.

    "Whether it's in-laws, outlaws or other-laws, every family seems to have one person whom it is impossible to buy an appropriate gift."   -Nancy Hardin


 Amazon Gift Card

If you really can't use any of the ideas on this page, try this: an Amazon gift card in any amount you want beginning at $25. Anyone you find hard to buy for, can buy anything they want with the gift card. (Maybe they don't want you to know they have a secret passion for romance movies or novels!) Amazon Gift Cards are reloadable, so later all you have to do is go to Amazon and put more money on the card. Couldn't be simpler. If your giftee doesn't do internet, then buy them a gift card for a book store if they love books, a clothing store they like, or a restaurant gift card (make sure it's enough for two; nobody likes eating alone in a restaurant.)

Hope these tips helped you to buy for that "live-alone" who is hard to buy for.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Learning to Dance In The Rain

If you can learn to dance in the can do anything!

A good friend of mine wrote something the other day that touched me. To someone who was running their mouth about life wasn't fair, he said, 
"Yes it is fair, because it's unfair to everyone!"

That struck me as being profoundly true; there are none of us who don't have our cares and problems whether they're related to love, money, health or any other human condition, each of us has a fair chance of something we struggle with daily. I struggle with being able to breathe each day, from a condition for which I take sole responsibility. I chose to smoke cigarettes for 44 years. But in coming to terms with the things I'm now unable to do,  I learned something; I learned to dance in the rain!

Learning to Dance in the Rain.........
One of my all-time favorite quotes is "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain," by Vivian Green. I think that means to take the good with the bad and do the best you can with them. As for dancing, I always loved to dance, it was my joy and passion to be on a dance floor moving to the music. But when I was 19 years old, married, and mother to a beautiful baby girl, my dancing days had to take a backseat to responsibilities. I did everything I could to please the man I married. I planned on being married to my husband forever, and by the time I was 23, I had three small daughters. I also had a marriage that was falling apart, an abusive, unfaithful husband, and I couldn't do anything right. My confidence and self-esteem slowly became nonexistent. What was it about ME that caused the problem? Women are always supposed to be able to "fix" things, aren't they? Well, I couldn't fix this and in 1968, we divorced. I was still in love with the man I had married, but he no longer existed and I felt lost for a time. Meanwhile, he had moved on to life with another woman. When he came to get the children for his visits, she was always with him and it hurt to see them. I refused to allow my feelings to show. Yes, I was beaten, defeated and depressed beneath the mask of pride I wore. But life went on and I began to learn to dance in the rain.

Dancing with tears in my eyes....

Eventually I found someone I cared for very deeply, who was kind to my girls and I began to make a new life. One evening I was busy with the kids and I decided not to go along when he went out with "friends." I never saw him alive again, he was murdered that night. I thought my life was over as well. I felt he would still have been alive if I'd been with him that night. I felt responsible for his death and began to drink to ease the pain and guilt. My family tried talking to me but I thought they had no idea how I felt. I even went to a psychiatrist to try to get my head on straight. The psychiatrist said to me, "If you were with him that night, you might both be dead, it was his time to go." But I couldn't accept that and continued to beat myself up. The only time I danced then was after a few drinks stopped the pain and then I was dancing with tears in my eyes. I knew in my heart this could not go on.


Photo of me and two of my daughters,
Courtesy of Allen Studios, 1961

"I could have missed the pain.......................but I'd have had to miss the dance."

This song by Garth brooks says so much how I feel about my life.

A whole new form of dance...rain or shine!

I have no idea how it happened, but suddenly I woke up to reality. I realized I was trying to share a grave with a man who had died, but I had three little girls who needed me to make a life for them. I began to try to build a better life, so I started bookkeeping school with a government grant. It was something I really struggled with, because anybody who knows me can tell you math is not my strong suit. So I concentrated fiercely with all my energy, hating it all the time. One morning as I was halfheartedly preparing to leave for class, a commercial came on the radio specifically addressed to women about joining the United States Women's Army Corps. I listened intently, copied down the address, and took the day off from school. After talking with the WAC Counselor at the Army Recruiting office, I found that I could enlist if my test scores were good enough, and if my children were put into another person's custody, which to me, meant my mother. I was 28 years old at this time, and felt I had no hope for any kind of professional career, since I had no experience. I went home and talked to Mom and she said there was nothing in our town that would help me to make a better life for my kids. She agreed to take temporary custody of my girls. That was in the month of February and by March 8, 1968, I was sworn into the WAC, where I learned a new form of dancing....marching!

And life again marched on; dancing the Army way.

It turns out that I was very good at being a soldier and this was where I healed and regained my self-esteem. I was proficient enough that I was given an advance promotion to Private E-2 out of basic training. When 8 weeks of basic was over many of us moved up the hill to CTC (Clerical Training Center.)

As we took classes in military justice, courtesy and customs, clerical training, military correspondence and various other classes, I found myself understanding the material and doing very well. Sometimes I was able to help the others and my self-confidence grew. I began to realize I was not "dumb" "stupid" and "ugly," as I had been called repeatedly during my marriage.

The Platoon Sergeant made me the Class Leader, responsible each day for seeing that the entire platoon of girls did the details (chores) they were supposed to do, and kept their individual areas clean.  I also had to march them back and forth to class. Now, you might think marching a group of women is an easy task, but let me tell you, if you don't give the commands at the exact time they should be given, you can get run over by your own platoon. Don't even ask me how I know this! But finally I learned to put the new "dance" steps and commands together properly, and my platoon received awards for their marching. WE WERE GOOD and we were proud! One of our platoon even wrote words to an old song especially for us to march to and from class with, set to the tune of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."

Courtesy of the United States Women's Army Corps, 1968

  That's me on the right front, wearing an armband.

Got Training, Got Job

Out of Military Correspondence and Clerical Training (known as AIT,) I was Honor Graduate and given an advance promotion to SP4, skipping the pay grade of PFC-E3. After 3 years working in offices at at Fort McClellan, AL and Fort Knox, KY, I moved to an off-post job as a Women's Army Corps recruiter in my hometown, Evansville, Indiana, where I could have my children with me. And life again rolled on...from marching to dancing the Army way and then....

Learning the "Corporate Dance" And Other Things

When I came out of the WAC after four years, looking for a job was my main focus. This "dance" was a whole new way of life, and I had to learn how to do it successfully for the sake of my kids. I worked at numerous clerical jobs, some of which were not satisfying, all of which paid little. We scraped by and managed to get through each day. My oldest daughter enlisted in the Army in 1976. After she left, I met someone, had a fling, and to my utter surprise, found I was expecting a child at the age of 38. The man wanted nothing to do with the child, so it was up to me to take care of the two girls I still had at home, and make a home for the new baby. I did this to the best of my ability, with the help of six months of welfare payments. When my son was six months old, I relocated my family to Las Vegas, where I still live today. 

Still Dancing, But Not Like You'd Think

No, there were no "dancing" jobs, that wasn't my scene, but I worked for a couple of local newspapers where I finally found my niche. I have always loved the written word, so I settled in at the first paper, worked in advertising, moved to entertainment advertising, then the newsroom, where they finally gave me a chance to write. Unfortunately the writing gig didn't last long...the newspaper was in financial trouble since the death of its founder. Eventually I had to make the move to the other, bigger newspaper. But without a degree in journalism, I was relegated to clerical duties. I yearned to write, but had to settle for just getting a paycheck. I learned the corporate dance pretty well, progressing until I was a department secretary with a little clout in the company. I became what is known as a "Class A" personality, on the go continually, never stopping for anything, and insisting that every little detail be just right. Stress was my life. Little did I know what was going to hit the dance floor next!

 Photo courtesy Las Vegas SUN, taking a call at my work desk, 1985

Dancing to an entirely different tune....

My health began to suffer, I weighed less than 110 pounds, took no time to eat at my job, but smoked continuously. As I began to have more and more days of illness, the abuse of 44 years of smoking and neglecting my health began to take their toll. Since experiencing a collapsed lung a few years earlier, my breathing had become increasingly labored. It became harder for me to perform the tasks I was accustomed to doing. Finally, it got through to me that if I didn't stop smoking, I wasn't long for this world. Although I quit smoking in 1996 my second lung collapsed in 1997. 

Dancing Was Over For Me - I Thought

I was placed on oxygen 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of my life. Since then, life has totally changed for me. No more hiking in Yellowstone or Yosemite, no more bicycling, now it's a medical mobility scooter. If I go somewhere I have to be sure to take enough oxygen to last for the time I'm gone. We usually take extra tanks to guard against any unforeseen problems in getting home. When I am home, my concentrator runs all day and night, and I am tethered to it by a 50-foot line. HA! My dog feels sorry for me because she thinks I'm on a leash, and in a way I am. But we've gone on an Alaskan cruise, drove across country to my home state and back, gone to the Grand Canyon and Death Valley, anywhere we feel like going, just as long as we prepare well in advance. Also, I have found it's difficult but not impossible to dance with an oxygen tank and a scooter, or to ride an ATV! You can do lots of things if you want to do them bad enough. So I'm still here and have lived long enough to see grandchildren and great-grandchildren, an experience I once doubted I would have. Now I'm dancing to an entirely different tune, relegated to my scooter...but it can be done! And life rolls on...and I'm still dancing.

Photo: Dancing in my scooter, with my son-in-law at my granddaughter's wedding reception, 2009 courtesy Judy Schweitzer.

What About YOU? Have you lived, loved and lost?

Have you experienced a change of direction in your life due to a catastrophic event?

  • Yes, a dramatic change in my life's direction.
  • Yes but I don't talk about the change in my life.
  • A little, not a very significant change, pretty humdrum.
  • No I've never experienced anything that changed my life's direction.