Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


The Greats in The Basin

Meet the fam!

This fam pic is from a long time ago. Before I was a twinkle in my daddy’s eye. Before he was a twinkle in his . . .

Never mind.

See the two little girls right in the middle?

The one on the left is my Grandad Ray. (Edgar Ray Spess.) The girl on the right is his twin sister, May. (I’m not sure what her first name was, but it should have been Edna May Spess.) 

They were born on May 15, 1900 (When their mother was 39.Moan!) so this picture was probably taken in 1902 or 1903.

The man with the big mustashe and hat, who’s sort of holding the twins in place, is my great-grandfather, Charles Elmo Spess. The woman on his right with her hand on her hip is my great-grandmother, Louise Emma Nicum Spess. Word has it she was a “real pistol.” (Imagine a pistol in this family. Go figure! LOL)

Together, they had a pile of kids–ten. I think there’s even one or two missing from this picture. Here’s where they lived–

Great-Grandma is standing in front of the house, her left hand on her hip.

After a deep study of this for oh, five minutes or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that the hand-on-her-hip is a genetic condition. See?

These are two of her beautiful great-great granddaughters. They got hand-on-the-hip gene, too.

Either that or Great-Grandma learned a hundred years or so ago what we’re figuring out today. It’s a very pretty way to stand. 😉 Now look at this:


Oh, my gosh! These two look a lot alike, don’t they? (If I had a picture of Ashley–on the right–when she was about Grandad’s age–on the left–you could really see it.) You’d almost think they were related.

Oh, yeah. They are related. My bad.

Back to the great-grandparents–After a while, Great-Grandad built a one room cabin on the other side of their 160 acres. I don’t know if that was so they wouldn’t have 11 kids or if they just got along better if they weren’t together all the time. 

The fireplace and chimney in that one room cabin where Great-Grandad lived alone is still standing near my dad’s house.

Twin Rocks, on Eagle Mountain where the fam pic was taken, is just behind his house and has all kinds of names and dates on it.

Once I found a four letter word on it and a date from the 1800’s. Why would a person go to so much trouble to chisel a bad word in rock? I wondered. Who would love cussing that much?

Then I brushed away some dirt and moss or lichen or something growing there and found the rest of the word. “Mitchell.”  LOL. That was my dad’s mother’s maiden name.

Here’s the great’s headstone. They were originally buried in the East Basin, north of the ‘Ford, but when the “disappearing lake” was built, the cemetery was moved. I have a slight memory of going with Mama and Grandmother one year to the Basin Cemetery to spruce up family graves.

I remember it as being a dusty, thirsty place without much grass and almost no wildflowers for a little girl to pick. Then Grandad and Dad came by to see how we were getting along and rescued me with a drink of lemonade. (Grandad loved to take lemonade with him to work.)

I don’t have a picture of that old graveyard, but I wish I did. I love to see if my memory is anywhere close to what really was.

Anybody remember that cemetery? Have a picture of it you would share?

I’m very grateful to have these pictures. They’re copies of Dad’s cousin’s pictures she gave him a few years ago. If the cousin hadn’t shared, we wouldn’t have any pictures of what was. I cherish those old memories.

How about you? Do you enjoy old stories about your family? Do pictures mean a lot to you like they do us?


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Reading Through, 2

Ichthys and Psalm23

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I think I mentioned a time or two (or three?) that I’m reading through the Bible in a year with my church. Here it is, February and I’m still at it! Yay!

Just between you and me, I’m having a ball. We’re using a reading plan from The Navigators and I’m loving it. We read a book from the Old Testament and then one from the New and a little out of either Psalms or Proverbs.

 I’ve almost made it through Leviticus. I think that’s the Book Beth Moore loving calls the “grave yard” for people trying to read through the Bible. 

I’m not a Bible scholar, but it’s so exciting to revisit words and phrases I’ve heard all my life. This morning it was, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” (Oh, and anyone who curses the Lord’s name was stoned to death!)

The other day I read in Proverbs that anyone who spares the rod hates his child. (Instead of “spare the rod, spoil the child” like I’d always heard, it’s “spare the rod, hate your child.”)

I just Googled “Read through the Bible” and there are 59 pages with ten or so places to go to read through. Actually, it was “Page 59 of about 4,950,000”. Lots of places to go to find the reading map for you.

You can read through the Bible in a year or ninety days or chronologically, just about any way you want. And the year doesn’t have to start on January 1. It can start today.

The important thing is to read it. How can we not spend time getting to know it?

It’s God’s love letter to me. God’s love letter to you.

Directly from God’s heart, telling us how much He adores us on every page.


The Brick

Wooden wheelchair dating to the early part of ...

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PLEASE  take a moment to read this–   I got this in an email in honor of Sister Amy’s nose dive. I didn’t write it but it carries a big message. Please, read on–

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar.. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked 
cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something.

As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! 
He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown.

 The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, ‘What was that all about and who are you? Just what 
the heck are you doing? That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?’

The young boy was apologetic. ‘Please, mister…please, I’m sorry but I didn’t 
know what else to do,’ He pleaded. ‘I threw the brick because no one else would stop….’ With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car.. ‘It’s my brother, ‘he said ‘He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.’

 Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, ‘Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.’ 

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat… He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. ‘Thank you and may God bless you,’ the grateful child told the stranger. Too 
shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: ‘Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!’ God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts Sometimes when we don’t have 
time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It’s our choice to listen or not. 

Thought for the Day: If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.

If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.

He sends you flowers every spring.

He sends you a sunrise every morning Face it, friend – He is crazy about 

God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.


Remembering Old ‘Ford

I finally got to see Uncle Frank again, and when I did, I asked him about a couple of pictures. The first was the 1935 graduating class of 1935.

He thought he knew one of the girls (first on left, front row) but when I told him it was Keystone, he changed his mind. He did recognize Cousin Sharon’s dad, though. LOL.  

Then I showed him this picture  (my thanks to Marilyn Harvison Conrad for friending me so I could borrow it from her FB page.)

and asked him if that was where he went to school. Of course it was. He looked at it and smiled as he remembered. “The tall part here is where the gym and auditorium was. The auditorium was above the gym.”

I’d never heard of building a school like that, so I listened amazed. “These windows right here were into the home-ec room.”

I could see the wheels in his head turning, so I waited. “I remember looking at that window right there one time, and watching as someone drove a herd of cattle to the railroad pens.”

“Right down that road?” I remember the school, which was right down the road from Aunt Phyllis’s house. I remember the great swings and a piece of playground equipment my cousins called Ocean Waves–kind of like a merry-go-round that had been crossed with a teeter-totter. Instead of only going around or up and down, it went around and up and down, all at once. So much fun if you had kids there, big enough to make it work.

“Yep. Right down that road. Must have been shipping them somewhere,” he answered.

A picture of a Hereford bull. Taken by the US ...

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“Was the road paved?” I imagined trying to drive down a road after cattle traveled it in the mud.

“Naw. I doubt it was even gravelled.” He thought about it a moment, then told me how they smoothed the road out when it got bumpy. One man drove a team of horses that pulled a grader (sorry, I don’t remember his name) and another operated the grader. I believe he said the grader operator’s last name was Strop.

I’m going to put my tape recorder in my purse today so I can keep all of Frank’s stories.

He told me another time about walking home from that school everyday for lunch. He lived five or six blocks away. (I’m guessing.) At noon every day, Bob Wills had a radio show that the entire town listened to. So all the way home, he could hear Bob play because the stay-at-home moms usually had their windows open. I can just see all the school boys and girls two-stepping their way to lunch, can’t you?

I mentioned to Dad about Uncle Frank seeing the cattle being driven in front of the school, and he added another story. “Once, Tuffy Weaver and someone else brought in a load of Mexican cattle. They came in by rail, then Tuffy and the others drove them right down the highway that went through the middle of town and went out west with them.”

“Out west? Western Oklahoma?” I needed clarification so I could see how far they’d gone. “Another state?”

“Just west of town.”

Tuffy and Maudie lived west of town at the top of Weaver Hill. Did Tuffy keep the cattle? Dad didn’t think so, but he doesn’t know where they went after they left town.

I love hearing stories about Old ‘Ford and Old C-Town. And they’re getting scarcer all the time. If you have any, please share!


Happy Birthday, Sister Cin!

Happy Birthday!

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This is Cynthia Louise Spess DeLay, and today is her birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CINDY!Isn’t she a cutie patootie?

Adorable, isn’t she? Here’s the back of this picture–

Mama’s handwriting.

Yeah, I blotted out the year. I don’t want a sister mad at me who has a birthday wish coming. 😉

Today is this little doll’s birthday.

I really don’t have very many funny stories about Cindy.

She was born when I was in first grade. I remember getting a sticker for doing such fantastic brilliant work in class that I dazzled the teacher (snort) and I gave that sticker to my new baby sister. She didn’t seem to appreciate it much. 

If she had been a boy, her name would have been Christopher Darwin Spess. (We’ve been grateful God saved our boy until Dad changed his mind about that name.)

Cindy has always been very quiet. So quiet when she was an infant, Mom took Sister Debbie and me to dance lessons in the Small Town to the North, and forgot Cindy. (Dad was home, but he didn’t know Cindy was.)

Twice we went home from church and left her. (It really was an accident. Honest!) The preacher had to bring her.

When our youngest sister was born, Cindy was nine. Mom rarely had to get up with the baby in the night. Mom would get up and Cindy would already have the bottle, feeding away.

Talk about shadows of things to come! Cindy had five babies of her own, but she didn’t use bottles. These days she’s a lactation consultant at a hospital in the Big City. And she has two grandsons! (Yes, I’m jealous.)

Cindy’s one of those women you hope your daughters will emulate. She’s smart, hard working and very loving. She was never a fighter (she had a just younger sister who stepped up when someone picked on the sis!) and learned in a hurry that tears worked with Dad. Fussing didn’t.

When she was an infant, Sister Debbie (a toddler) bit her toe. When Cindy was a toddler, she bit Deb’s toe in retaliation. (Our family is big on repeating funny stories, so Cindy knew all about Deb’s bite.)

I applied for my first non-family job when I was about 15. When I stopped crying (I really didn’t want to apply for that job) the owner said, “You know, Cindy is my favorite of all you Spess girls.”

I really didn’t blame him. Cindy never caused trouble. Never played too loud when babies were trying to sleep. Was never mean to anyone and never forgot to take care of kids around her and always made really good grades.

I got the job anyway. Ü

So . . . happy birthday, Cindy! I hope this year will be one of your best, ever! God bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine on you.

I don’t know if Sister Cin reads my blog, but if you do, please say hello!

Is anyone else lucky enough to have a sister like this? If you do, give a shout here today. Tell us about her and/or just say, “Love You!” 


God Created them, Large and Small

Sunday afternoon, after church, I went to College City to help G-Man with the mobile home our boys lived in while going to school there. We’re trying to get it ready to sell and it needed a little work done. (Anybody need a place for your kids to live while their at OSU, let me know!)

While we were there, BB brought his “baby” by to see us. And since he helped out on the house, Ludo and I had a little photo shoot.

This is his noble look.

Sister Amy got a very special birthday/birthday/Valentine’s Day gift.

I call her Mini-Me.

Mini-Me is so small, I worry about her when she’s left to run around the office. I’m afraid she’ll get stepped on. (Besides, when she sneaks into a cousin’s office to potty, guess who gets to clean up.)

Ludo is so big, I’m afraid he’ll step on me. If you look up the definition of gentle giant in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of this guy. He’s the world’s sweetest dog!

This is the world’s feistiest dog. She’s always playing, jumping, moving, chasing. She’s never still unless she’s asleep. (Makes it hard for me to focus my camera!)

He’s so shy and docile, it’s amazing.

When Little Bit goes outside, she finds the biggest branch she can get her mouth around and tries to drag it inside with her.

This is Ludo with his chew toy. (There’s a knot on there the size of my head.)

This is the miniature critter with her tiny rubber bone.

In case you’re wondering, no, we haven’t had these two babies together. I’m afraid Ludo will yawn and Mini-Me will disappear. Or Mini-Me will chase up behind Ludo and he’ll sit on her. Oops!

I marvel when I remember how God made us all so different. Varied. No two people alike anymore than these two hounds are.

The good thing is, He loves us all. Every one. No matter how different we are.

Even more than a mother loves her new, longed for infant.  More than a hen loves her chicks. More than a miser loves his money.

There’s no way to describe how much He loves us or how many times he’ll forgive us. He just does.


If It’s the 15th . . .

Bless the Lord

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It must be time for SSMT!

Here’s the new verses–Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

It says it right there in black and white– God wants to shine on us, bless us and give us peace. But when we’re stressed or worried, how often do we remember and hold that promise tight?

When life hits us in the face, do we remember to run to Him or do we try to handle it ourselves and do a little (or in my case, a lot of) whining when it doesn’t work out? (And then ask Him to fix what I’ve messed up.)

I’m going to try to engrave these words on my heart. If I do, maybe my first response will be to run to Him rather than the other way around.

I know He’ll take care of me and give me what I need when I need it. Not before; when. And I trust Him. Really, I do. 

Sometimes, though, I’m like the little boy who was afraid when he went to bed.

“Daddy, I’m scared of the dark.”

“There’s nothing to be afraid of, son. God is with you.”

“I know, Daddy, but I want someone with skin on.”

Maybe that’s what our siblings in Christ are for, to be that Someone with skin on, if we’ll humble ourselves enough to ask for help. And prayers. And help.

Do you ever have trouble waiting on Him? Trusting Him?  Remembering He wants to be gracious to you even in the heat of the moment?

Am I the only one?