Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Philadelphia’s China Town

Ever been to Philadelphia? It wasn’t on my Bucket List of Places I Want to See Before I Die, but we flew out there last month for G-Man’s birthday, and we had a great time!

He’s a fan of R & B music and a couple of his favorite groups were playing in Collingswood, New Jersey. We stayed in Philadelphia, because Collingswood is just across the river.

Our plane left early, early in the morning, so we had peanuts for breakfast. But lunch! We made up for missing breakfast at lunch.

009This building is full of restaurants–kind of like a giant food court! Naturally, for our first meal in Philadelphia, we wanted Phily Cheese Steak Sandwiches, and we stood in two lines to get ours.

I ordered mine with hot peppers, G-Man got his with mild. Sadly, people in Philadelphia don’t know what hot peppers taste like.😉 Very mild peppers.

It was an interesting and entertaining experience! A man with two large spatulas worked over a huge grill making the sammies. He used the edge of both spatulas to chop, chop, chop that meat. Occasionally he’d toss in a few onions and peppers, then chop, chop, chop some more!

When he deemed the beef ready, he took a bun (looked like a hoagie to me) with cheese in it, put it face down on the meat and after a few moments flipped it all the other way, wrapped it up and handed it over.

Good stuff!

Next we decided to walk to Betsy Ross’s house. The walk was almost as interesting as Betsy herself.

horticultureThis was on a wall along the way. It says, “The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Improving the quality of life and creating community through horticulture.” Beautiful, isn’t it? Across the street from the gorgeous wall was a rack of bicycles.

blue-bike-worldThese bikes aren’t free to ride. You pay so much per month (or per ride) to use them. I didn’t see a lot of people on them, but I thought they were fascinating. You can read more about Indego here in case you’re planning to go to Phily and love biking.

The really interesting part of the walk, though? Guess.

China-TownIf you guessed China Town, you were right! The place is wonderful!

parking-lot-dragonThis guy protected a private parking lot. Isn’t he beautiful? He had a buddy, too.

protecting-the-parking-lotI loved those guys! If I could have fit him in my suitcase, I’d have one in the backyard right now. (Probably would have had to pay the airlines extra for the weight, though.):)

We walked a little longer. We passed lots of Chinese restaurants, Sushi Restaurants and gift shops. One alley, though, stopped me in my tracks.

fish-drying-in-the-open-airCan you tell what that is? In an alley, right next to a very busy street, this black Chevy pickup was parked. The bed of the truck is covered and there’s something drying there. I’m fairly sure that’s fish, drying in the open air. People walking, cars driving by and birds flying overhead. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with it, but it was still there when we went back to the hotel.

It doesn’t get stolen.

bike-parking

Every now and then, interspersed among the parking meters, they had one of these. Pretty, isn’t it? I didn’t see one in use, but I assume it’s for locking up bikes. Maybe? Guess I should have asked.

One more thing I saw that amazed was this.

shopping-opIsn’t that a cool sign? The Hoopskirt Factory wasn’t there anymore, sadly. Just shops. But I’d love to have visited.

Next time, I’ll take you to visit Betsy. She’s quite a woman.

So . . . questions–

Have you been to Philadelphia?

Have you ridden a blue bike there?

Do you know what that was drying on the back of the pickup?

Terminally Curious is asking.😉

♥ ♥ ♥

 

 

 

 

Three-Sands


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When Dad was a Boy

I have a patchwork story. Patchwork, because I’ve kind of pieced it together from stories I heard over the years. That means it might not be totally accurate, but to the best of my knowledge, it is.:)

Back in about 1939, when my dad was in fourth grade, Granddad moved his family to Tonkawa, Oklahoma, because he’d been hired to plug some wells in Three Sands.

Three-Sands Three Sands

A little background information from http://www.okhistory.org–

In 1920 oilman Ernest W. Marland, on the advice of E. Park “Spot” Geyer, who headed his geology department, became convinced that there was oil to be found southwest of Ponca City near the town of Tonkawa. He persuaded the Humphreys Petroleum Company, Cosden Oil Company, Prairie Oil and Gas Company, and the Kay County Gas Company to enter a cooperative venture to drill ten wells in the area to test the idea. They drilled nine dry holes in a row. (Oi!)

BUT . . . #10 came in at a little over 2600 feet a thousand barrel a day producer! But those first holes and the ones that played out fairly quickly had to be plugged. So Granddad Ray got the job of plugging them.

I can’t give you a scientific explanation of what plugging is, but I know they pulled out of the well hole as much pipe as they could and filled it with cement or concrete.

So Granddad rented a big house from some people who traveled part of the year and moved Grandmother, Uncle Paul, Aunt Phyllis and Dad into it. Uncle Frank, being a high school kid (if I count right, he was about 15) stayed in Old Mannford with grandparents.

My dad was about nine years old–this was at the end of the Great Depression–and spent his days in school. One day walking home from school, he noticed a nanny goat with three brand new babies.

baby boatI’ve heard my dad say many times, there’s nothing cuter than a baby goat. And I think I agree.

A week or two later, Dad noticed the babies were all gone except one. And the owner was in their pen with them, so Dad asked if the man wanted to sell the third baby.

“Yes,” the man said. “I’ll sell her for fifty cents.”

So dad rushed home and borrowed the money from Uncle Paul. (And yes, he later paid it back.) He hurried back to the man and bought the goat.

He named the little goat-girl Meggie and fell head-over-heels in love with her. The entire family loved Meggie. She was full of bounce and vinegar, and kept the fam totally entertained. There was no TV to watch back then.  Since the depression was just coming to an end, there probably wasn’t money for one if it had existed.

Meggie followed Dad and Phyllis around like a puppy. He and Phyllis liked to run and jump off the porch and run as they flew through the air. Meggie did the same thing, even running in the air!

Dad said they couldn’t keep Meggie from climbing anything. She often got on top of their cars so she could reach leaves on trees to munch on. I think he was kind of proud of her abilities.😉

When the plugging jobs were finished, Granddad moved the family back to their house in Mannford and Meggie moved with them. Of course. But they lived in town, and town really wasn’t the place for a very active and hungry goat-girl.

They moved Meggie out to the farm, out in the basin. They never did teach Meggie not to eat what she shouldn’t. One day they were at the farm, dusting the potatoes with poison to keep the bugs off. Dad looked up and saw the goat with her head in the bag of poison.

He chased her out of the poison and moved it where he thought was out of her reach. But when he got busy again, Meggie found her way to the poison.

I guess Dad’s heart just about broke the next morning when she couldn’t move anything but her eyes. Not long after that, Meggie died.

As far as I know, Dad never owned another goat, but every now and then he talks about getting one to keep the brush eaten down on Eagle Mountain where he lives.

There’s just a little bit more to that story. Dad and his wife have season tickets to the musicals in Tulsa. They’ve been going so long, they have front row center seats, and they’ve gotten to know the people who sit around them.

One couple is from Ponca City. Dad told them he’d lived in Tonkawa for a while when he was a boy. The man said he had, too.

So Dad, being a natural-born story teller, told them about living in Tonkawa. And, he said, he even had a little girlfriend. She hadn’t known he liked her at the time, but his brother teased him about her. He wondered if the Ponca City man might have known her.

He said her name, and the Ponca man laughed out loud. That little girl had grown up to be the man’s sister-in-law!!!

Is this a Small Town World or what?

Any goat stories out there? Care to share?😀

In case you’re interested, here’s a little bit more about Three Sands–

Cherokee Strip Museum

 

 

old mannford school


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Mannford Mystery

My dad’s Small Town World was Mannford, Oklahoma. Old Mannford, named after Mann’s Ford. By the by, Mann’s Ford wasn’t a vehicle.

Here’s the Wiki-definition. A ford is a shallow place with good footing where a river or stream may be crossed by wading or inside a vehicle. A ford is mostly a natural phenomenon, in contrast to a low water crossing, which is an artificial bridge that allows crossing a river or stream when water is low.

You already knew that. Right?:)

Anyway, Old Mannford was a town of less than 500 people. But believe me, they were wonderful, colorful people!

daddy

I know that, because a lot of my family lived there.

Back in the day when my dad was still a kid in school, the Men of Mannford lost their pants.

One night like every other night, everyone came in from work (well, Granddad and Uncle Frank, anyway. Not sure if Uncle Paul was still in school or old enough to work) ate supper, took off their clothes and went to bed.

awill granddad

When they got up the next morning, Granddad’s pants were gone. And Uncle Frank’s pants were gone. Not good, because back then people took off their pants with their stuff still in their pockets (change, wallet, pocket knife, whatever men carried) and laid them over a chair or dresser, ready to be put back on the next morning.

That’s right. Everyone wore the same work clothes several days in a row, because doing laundry was quite an undertaking. And new clothes weren’t easy to come by, moneywise.

Granddad was really unhappy about losing their britches. He asked around, and nearly every house in town had been entered and the men’s pants stolen!

Back in the day, people didn’t lock their doors when they went to bed at night. (Imagine that!) So someone waltzed in, picked up the men’s drawers and waltzed right back out. Someone who knew who had dogs that would rat them out and which houses had people who didn’t work.

The rest of the story? The town did find their stolen pants in a ditch on the edge of the city. But the pockets were empty. (Of course.) And their money gone.

While I believe Dad’s story about a pant-less town, I have a feeling SOMEONE knows the truth about whodunit!

Having heard stories from G-Man about kids who stole gas caps from all the cars in his Small Town World, I have a feeling it might have been a couple of high school kids who knew who lived where and maybe even where they slept.

Of course, I’m just guessing.

So . . . have you heard this tale about the pant-less town? Knowing the time it probably happened (late thirties, early forties) can you make a guess?

The statute of limitations has to have run out by now. Why not ‘fess up?  I’ll never tell!

 

 


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Fire Season, Again, Again

So yesterday, Sister Debbie and I had planned to go after work to take pictures at the ranch where we spent a lot of time growing up.

Don’t you love making plans so they can change?

Early in the afternoon, we started seeing heavy smoke coming from south of town. Fire Season, again!

Picture by Matt Shay as he left C-Town

Picture by Matt Shay as he left C-Town

There’s one thing about our Small Town World, when tragedy happens, everyone pitches in to help. Busses couldn’t leave the schools because so many of the kids live in burning areas and many of the roads were closed, so teachers voluntarily stayed to watch over them until parents could find a way in to get them. (Not! Easy!)

Friends picked up children when parents couldn’t get to town.

People offer you a place to stay if you can’t get home. And today there’ll be tons of clothing and furniture donations if they’re needed.

#2 son tried to go home later in the afternoon, but they’d closed Highway 64, so he turned around and left town going north instead of south.

Picture by Matt Shay

Picture by Matt Shay

We tuned in our police scanners and listened to neighborhoods outside of town being evacuated. We heard about people who couldn’t go home because the roads were closed.

Yep, we prayed.

Then it was time for me to go home. I decided to go down through Terlton (a super-small town near ours), across Benight Road (a roller coaster road) up Highway 48 and home.

BUUUUUT . . . Then I got to where Grandma Reeves used to live and decided to turn at Dog Center and head east. After all, we’d heard that part of the world had been burning a few hours earlier. Should be finished by now, my smoke weary brain reasoned. Right?

Wrong!

Besides, we have land in that area and I wanted to see how badly it had been damaged.

I drove a ways and recognized several places I hadn’t seen in years. Then the smoke got a little heavier. I started seeing airplanes drop low and leave water behind.

Finally, I met this coming out of the smoke.

fire-truck

A few others were driving my way, too, and lots of them had very young fire fighters on them. They didn’t stop and make me go back (maybe because I was pulled over to let them pass) but seeing the flames ahead (and next to me) I turned around and went back the other way as fast as I could.

That’s when the fun started.😉

I turned on a road I thought was going my way. Then I saw one heading east again. I turned on it, thinking it would take me to 48.

Pretty soon there were heavy duty fences and lots of trailers and little outbuildings. I wasn’t passing through a neighborhood. I was on private property, proven when I pulled up to a pair of iron gates. Closed. Locked. Iron gates.

About that time I thought I heard the theme to Deliverance playing and, expecting to see people running out of their buildings at any moment (either to sell me an illegal substance I wasn’t interested in OR to shoot me) I did a perfect three point turn and zipped out of there as fast as my little car would go.

It’s amazing what you find in our countryside.😉 Especially when you have one of “those” imaginations. LOL.

I finally found a cute young deputy next to a roadblock and asked him if I was headed the right way to get to Benight Road.

Yep. In a couple of miles, I’d be on it.

Will there be a sign that says, “Benight?”

After yelling the question and echoing it a few times (my deputy was from Stillwater, so he didn’t know that answer) the Head Deputy in Charge said, “Nope. 5700 Road.”

I spoke to G-Man a time or two on my cell phone (TGFCP!), keeping him up on where I was in case I didn’t make it home, and told him I was having too much fun!

How often do I get to be in the middle of all that action (accidentally, of course) and not be in a world of hurt?

I finally made it to 48, and saw the fire in the distance.

Fire

I made it home just fine, but I was a little wrung out when I got there.

When everything stops smoldering, Sister Debbie and I might have to drive out that way and snap a few pictures.

My next door neighbor drove through the area where I couldn’t go and shared these pictures with me.

Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

         Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

Thank you, Matt Shay and Melissa Smith-Chenoweth for sharing your pictures.

And a huge thank you to the Fire Fighters and people who worked to put out the fires. We appreciate you!!!

Fire Proof.

 

 

 


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2016–So It Begins

A new year. A do over!
I love fresh starts and do overs, don’t you?
Of course, I loved 2015. I had a grandson born, did a little traveling with G-Man, had some personal growth and had a great time writing about (which is like living in) my imaginary town, Jordan Valley.
But now it’s 2016, and I’m thrilled to think what might happen.
Hopefully, I’ll finish and polish the four books I have set in JV and can begin looking into publishing them.
I don’t know if I’ll look for an agent or go another route for publication, but even thinking about that has me bouncing on my tiptoes.😀
Am I making a goal list? Nope. I’ve learned I’m a little contrary when faced with a to-do list, so not going to happen. Besides, I’d either lose it or get mad and burn it one day. 
I’ve read that if you don’t have a goal you’ll never know when you reach it, but I’m not sure that’s true. I hope I’m not so far gone, I don’t know when I finish what I start.
What do you have planned for this year? Are you a goal setter? If you are, do you care to share?
♥ ♥ ♥


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Cashew Caramel Corn–To Die For

Robyn Venable asked me to share my recipe for caramel corn, one of my favorite autumn things. I didn’t share it with anyone for a long time, because it was the only thing I could make better than anyone else.

Besides, it wasn’t MY recipe. It was a recipe given to me by a friend or two.

But I’ve changed it so much over the years, I think I can safely share it now without worrying that she’ll get mad at me. I hope so, anyway.

The trouble with the way I cook is that I use a specific pan for the popcorn and know how high it should go in the pan. When it gets that high, I stop popping corn. LOL.

I use a turkey roasting pan (the heavy kind) filled just less than half full. Since that doesn’t tell you much, the recipe calls for 8 cups of fresh popped corn.

1 1/2 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C cashews
12 T margarine
6 T light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla

Bring brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup and cashews to a boil. When mixture boils, stop stirring. Cook for five minutes. Stir in soda and vanilla.

Pour over popcorn and put in 250 degree oven for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

Spread out on waxed paper to cool. Break up and eat. It’s really (REALLY!) good with coffee. :)

As I said, this really isn’t my recipe. (I’m always shocked at people who share a recipe as if it’s theirs. Does anyone really create a recipe from scratch?)

This recipe came from my friend Joy and my sweet friend/neighbor/Heavenly Citizen Suezan for sharing their recipes with me. I’ve enjoyed it for years, and now I’m sharing with you!

Yums!

Yums!


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Fall/Autumn/Best Time of the Year!

It’s here!

It isn’t a calendar or a clock that tells me. It’s the feeling when I go outside. It’s #2 son’s birthday and football and the fair.

It’s the color of leaves and the frost on the punkin.

What? you might ask, but I bet you already know.

It’s Fall. Autumn. Heaven Time. (Whatever you call it.) And I’m so excited! Its got me knitting and cleaning and loving life.

The best thing? Caramel Cashew Popcorn. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S, buttery, sinfully wonderful goodness. I learned how to eat it (by the ton) and finally how to make it myself when I lived in Pryor Creek. Friend Joy Mobley shared the magical recipe😀 and over the years I’ve tweaked it just a little.

It’s great with coffee for breakfast. Not exactly the breakfast of champions, but it DEEEELICIOUS! It’s good for lunch. Heck, it’s even good for dinner.

Think I’ll refill my coffee and have another kernel–or a bucketful!

Yums!

Yums!

Now, I’m wondering . . . what’s your favorite Autumn treat?

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