Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


The Party Will Go On!

Sing the wonderous love of Jesus . . .

I posted part of the words to that song on FB this morning in a conversation about the C-Town (Thank you, Jesus!) reunion party we’ll have “When We All Get To Heaven.”

Brought to mind all the wonderful songs we sang growing up. Not just songs Mama and Daddy sang in the car when we were traveling, (Mama said as a baby, I cried when they sang. I said it was because I didn’t know the words.)

One of the songs they sang was by Dean Martin. (Who knew?)

“I’ll be down to get you in a taxi, honey. You’d better be ready around half past eight
Ah baby don’t be late I want to be there when the band starts honey
Well just remember when we get there honey
Two steps gonna handle them all
Dance with both my shoes when they play the jelly roll blues
Tomorrow night at the darktown strutter’s ball
Well just remember when we get there honey
Two steps gonna handle them all
Dance with both my shoes when they play the jelly roll blues
Tomorrow night at the darktown strutter’s ball”

Confession: We sang–at least I remember singing–“The DOWNTOWN strutter’s ball,” not, “the darktown strutter’s ball.” Darktown makes me think they didn’t pay their electric bill. 🙂

My favorite songs, though, were the ones we sang in church.

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, Sing His mercy and His grace; In the mansions bright and blessed He’ll prepare for us a place.

When we all get to heaven, What a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Written by Eliza E. Hewitt in 1898.


Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on
God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die,
Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Written in 1929 by Albert E. Brumley

What about

There is POW’R! POW’R! wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is POW’R! POW’R! wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Or when we sang,

There is pow’r-pow’r-pow’r-pow’r! Pow’r-pow’r-pow’r-pow’r! wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r-pow’r-pow’r-pow’r! Pow’r-pow’r-pow’r-pow’r! wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Beautiful songs, beautiful words, beautiful praises, beautiful memories.

I love those old songs, and love singing them and reliving the memories that go with them. Sunday nights, we often sang the jazzier songs from the Kiamichi song book.

Oh, Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land, As on the highest mount I stand. I look away across the sea, Where mansions are prepared for me. And view the shining glory shore, My Heav’n, my home forever more!

Burl Ives wrote that one. (Again, who knew?) I can’t think of that song without remembering the sweet LOLs who belted it out with gusto.

And what’s wonderful is that we have new songs that are just as beautiful, with thoughts and sentiments and praises and memories that are bringing young people back to church.

Such as this song by Chris Tomlin–

The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All  the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to  hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is  our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great,  how great is our God

How can a Christian not adore the words to that song? It has so much meaning, such deep-down, heart-felt worship of the King!

My absolute favorite that we sing today is Revelation Song. Do you know it?

But the memories that are part of the beautiful old songs can never be matched. Mom had a beautiful alto voice, and sometimes I can hear her singing when we’re in church. I can sing alto, too, when I hear Mama sing. 🙂

Here’s Mom’s favorite–

Amazing Grace, how sweet  the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was  blind, but now, I see.

When we’ve  been here ten thousand years…
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less  days to sing God’s praise…
then when we’ve first begun.

And the “Thank You, Jesus!” reunion party will go on! And on! AND ON!!!

So . . . what’s your favorite?






So Long, Farewell . . .

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Our youth minister, Stony Capehart, who has been here at FC3 (First Christian Church C-Town) for 18 years, is leaving. And I really hate to see him go.

When I first knew him, the boy had long hair–shoulder length, maybe–which I absolutely adored. (Probably a throw-back to my youth when my parents totally disapproved of any guys who had hair past their ears.) Besides, he was the perfect “Jesus” for Easter pagents.

Stony had a ride to die for. (When I was at Ozark, most of the guy’s cars barely ran. LOL!) To be honest, I don’t know cars, but I think it might have been a Camero, and it was old enough that the engine was big and, although I never saw it,  I have a feeling that car could move. And he has a tat from when he rode bulls.  

Each year, Stony took our youth (and half the kids in town) on ski trips in winter and a trip in the summer. Always, always there was a deep spiritual overtone to the trips. (Yes, I’d love to have sponsored, but never did.)

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Stony has acted as more than a youth minister, as least in the last few years. He has wisdom, a sense of humor and a gentle way of passing along what he knows that makes him very easy to talk to. When Preacher Dave (our minister) learned his daughter had a brain tumor a few years ago, Stony stepped up and helped fill the gap while David was gone.

Our HEIC (Head Elder In Charge) Dick, spoke yesterday during the communion service about separation.  When Christians go different ways (when they die or move to a new town) it’s never “Goodbye.” It’s really, “Until we meet again,” because we will be together again. If not here on earth, then most certainly we’ll be together in heaven. At first, we thought he was talking about his wife, who’d been gone a week and had just come back. After the service, when Stony made his, “So long, farewell,” announcement, we learned what Dick the elder meant. 😦

It’s a sad time for the church family at FC3. But family never ends and love never dies. (After all, God is Love, and He can’t die, so in the book of this romance writer at least, Love can’t either.)

We’ll miss you, Capeharts. And if we don’t see you before then, let’s have a Great Big C-Town Party in Heaven!

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A quick PS to yesterday’s blog.

#1 Son assumed (wrongly) the other bombing I was talking about (where people ran, and just kept going) was the 9-1-1 Trade Center bombing.

It. Was. Not! (I promise, it wasn’t.)

The bombing the woman told me about happened several years BEFORE the OKC bombing or 9-1-1.

Sigh. Sorry about that.




The Oklahoma Response

The Murrah Building is demolished more than a ...

Have you heard of the Oklahoma Response?

I don’t know if it’s real or if the woman who gave it a name for me (a wannabe romance writer who threw in the towel after a year or two) made it up. *Note: I just googled The Oklahoma Response, and found nothing, so I’m figuring it was the afore-mentioned woman’s best job of fiction writing.

Whether anyone actually calls it that or not, I’ve seen it happen.

This woman said she’d been a news person in OKC, and was close enough to get to the Murrah Building bombing sight before a perimeter was set up. Because she was there first, she’d been allowed to stay, but couldn’t leave or she wouldn’t be able to get back in. So she spent days without much sleep or a change of clothes, giving updates to TV stations all over the US.

Then she asked where I was when it happened. (Someone must have told her at some point that a conversation means talk and listen.)

So I told her I was driving to work when I heard about the bombing over the radio. My first response? I’ve got to go help!

I hit the gas and headed for OKC. It only took a couple of seconds for me to remember I would be a hindrance, not a help. I’m not a nurse–I don’t even have first aid training, so I wouldn’t be any help that way. I’m not a power lifter, so I wouldn’t be much help lifting buildings off victims.

And I am a huge crier. I have a strict policy that no one cries alone in my presence. *Know that movie?* I don’t mind crying solo, either. 😉

The woman said, “That’s being called ‘The Oklahoma Response’.” She went on to compare it to an earlier bombing. She said in both cases, when the bombs went off, people ran. In the first, they ran to safety and just kept going, grateful they weren’t hurt.

In Oklahoma, people ran toward the bombing to see if they could help. When no one else could help, people lined up around the block to give blood, donate money, take in home cooked meals. Anything to be a help.

Since hearing about the Okie Response, I’ve seen it proven over and over. When someone is in need, there’s an Okie (or a thousand) who’ll step up to help.

The past couple of weeks here in Northeast Oklahoma, we’ve had horrible wildfires. So many people have lost their homes, it’s appalling. No matter how hard firefighters (professional and volunteer) battled in the 110+ air temperatures made even hotter by the hell from the fires not to menton the protective gear they had to wear, somewhere between two and three hundred homes burned to the ground.

Larry Lawrence Picture

Everything the fire devil got close enough to burned–from expensive homes to ready-to-fall-down shacks, B & Bs and church camps, barns and auction halls. And I don’t know a soul who wouldn’t have stepped up to lend a hand if needed.

Larry Lawrence Picture

But most of us aren’t trained firefighters, and would only get in the way. So we step up in another way. When the call went out for water and/or Gatorade for the firemen, we donated.

As the size of the loss was realized, churches set up outreaches. One of the churches in The Ford, on an unscorched corner that was missed although the fire burned all around, set up tents and opened their doors for donations.

And the Oklahoma Response? So many clothes came in that an announcement had to be made–“No more clothes! We have no more room.”

   My cousin’s daughter, Mendy, who belongs to this church, took these pictures. It looks like a party, doesn’t it? Rather than hoarding the remaining clothes and keeping them for someone who might need them in the future, she tells me they’re sharing with a church in T-Town that helps the homeless.

So what is The Oklahoma Response?

We care.


Christian Women’s Fiction

Yesterday, I shared part of Make Me Howl. Today, I’m going to share the beginning of my first Christian Women’s Fiction. It’s nearly finished. I hope. 🙂

For now, I’m calling it TEXAS HEARTS, but I’m always open to a better idea. 🙂

Do they still hang horse thieves in Texas?

Buck tensed his muscles in his ready-to-run dance. Jessie stroked his neck and murmured, “Hang on, boy. It’s nearly time.”

Focusing on the ride, she walked Buck into position. The excitement built, adrenalin shot through her muscles like lightning strikes. Tugging her Stetson low so there was no chance of losing it, she leaned into the saddle, took a firm grip on Buck’s reins, inhaled, blew it out long and slow and booted him in the ribs.

He took off in an explosion of energy; she leaned into the run. She concentrated on the first barrel, the cheers of the crowd dimming to near silence. Spectator faces blurred past as they rounded second. Yes! It felt good. This is where she belonged.

Buck ran flat out as they charged the third turn. Heading into the pocket, he dug in, and the world shifted. Dipped. She snatched a breath and held tight to the saddle horn, her heart pounding as he fought for footing. He slid in the loose earth. She gave him his head, praying, by some miracle, he could stay on his feet.

Buck’s back left leg disappeared from under them. Fear tore through her as they dropped, then slammed into the ground. The saddle horn jerked from her grip.

He floundered, trying to get up. She kicked her foot free and tried to shove away from the panicked animal, but she couldn’t move. Her other leg was under him. Stories of riders being killed from similar falls flashed through her mind.

Buck fought his way to his feet, yanking her leg high in the air with her foot through the stirrup and leaving her head on the ground. His shod hooves cut so close, he kicked dirt in her face as he danced with anxiety.

If she could catch her breath, make him hear her, he might calm. But she couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t find words to ease him.

He threw his head back, gathering himself as he looked for a way to escape the nightmare.

Slamming shut her eyes, she wrapped her arms around her head. God! Help me.

“Whoa! It’s all right, fella.”

The man’s soothing voice calmed her. Removing her arms, she was able to see a cowboy with dark red hair take his life in his hands. No! Getting in front of a panicked horse is suicide. She struggled to form the words, but he stepped in front of Buck and grabbed the bridle. “You’re all right, boy. Shhhh.”

Buck quivered all over, but the stranger in the black hat released one hand to stroke his neck.

Cowboys who’d been watching from the nearby arena fence surrounded her, released her foot from the stirrup and helped her to her stand. Weak as water, she stiffened her knees so she could walk.

She had to see about Buck. What would she do if she’d seriously injured him? Had she stolen him just to have to put him down?

Quelling the sobs gathering inside her, she dragged in a rough breath and stumbled to the man at Buck’s head. “Is he okay?”

He kept stroking Buck’s neck, the fabric of his crisply starched shirt sleeve pleating rather than wrinkling like hers. “He’s skittish as a green-broke colt. Can you take his head?”

With a nod, she threaded her fingers through the bridle. The man moved to Buck’s side, the fringe on his chaps swinging with each step. He ran his hands down each of Buck’s legs. “I think he’s all right.”

Her frozen insides started to melt at his words. As she blew out her pent up breath, a knife jabbed her in the ribs. The fall must have been harder than she realized. She slid her fingers over the hurt. No blood. That was a good thing.

The man took his gaze from Buck for the first time to glance at her with eyes as green as tree leaves. “You all right?”

The inspiration came when G-Man and I went to the Jim Shoulders Rodeo in Tulsa a few years ago. They had cameras and a big screen showing closeups of all the action in the arena.

Even when one girl’s horse went down with her on the third barrel, we saw it all. Almost as soon as they were down, they were surrounded by fence sitting cowboys, who quickly got her and her horse on their feet.

So that’s the beginning of my first nearly finished Christian Women’s Fiction. Thoughts?


Just Wolfing

Katimik, a former inhabitant of Mission: Wolf ...

My mama used to say, “You’re not just wolfin!” That meant, she agreed whole heartedly with whatever you’d said. I have no idea where the saying came from. (Anyone?)

I sent a story off to The Wild Rose Press where I am just wolfing. I call the book, “Make Me Howl”. It’s about a woman who was born a werewolf. (Yeah, I know. I’m writing Inspirational now. But I figure I have this book just sitting in my computer. Might as well see if it’s any good.)

“Make Me Howl” is a light paranormal, with a different twist on what a werewolf actually is. My heroine, Jazzy Cannis, was born with an active werewolf gene, lives in Dallas and is a fashion consultant and personal shopper.  She says being a werewolf gives her “A biting sense of humor and a killer sense of style, so it’s all good.”

She lives with her twin sister, Bella, who got stuck with the gene for straight-as-a-stick hair, so everything evens out in the end. Bella is a veteranarian at a drive-through zoo, and works with fellow veteranarian Chase Holliday. (Yep. He’s Doc Holliday.)

The good news is, Doc believes in werewolves. The bad news is, he’s wants to eradicate them from face of the earth.

I’m not sure where I got the idea for MMH. Maybe it was Miss Molly’s tyrany here at the house. (She’s the queen of the castle and rules with an iron paw.)

Here’s a snippet of Jazzy.

“You’re in the isolation cage here at Safari Land. And I don’t know where your clothes are.”

Who put me here and why haven’t you gotten me out?” I would have shouted, but my throat hurt too much. That should have been a clue, but I couldn’t begin to imagine it.

“Tony locked you up until the zoo officials could decide what to do with you.” She lost all her anger, then looked to her right and left. “And you aren’t out because this is quarantine. Doc has the only key.”

Although I’ll never admit it to Bella or any of the rest of my family, when my hair is at its longest, I’m not always the sharpest stiletto on the shelf. Of course, when I draw it in all the way, I get a little fuzzy minded, so it all evens out as Grandma used to say. Today was one of those dull stiletto days. But shortening my locks to regain my reasoning powers would mean exposing too much of my body. “Why did Tony lock me up?”

“You treed Norman on his car.”

I tried to comprehend what she was saying. And I have to be honest, it took a moment. Or two. “I’m sure he deserved it.”

As she nodded, her face clouded until I thought she was going to cry. “Tony thought you were a wild Mexican Gray.”

“I must have had Jose Eber go too heavy on the highlights the last time.” I gave a quick shrug. “It could have been worse. He could have thought I was an Arctic.”

That infuriated her. “How can you make jokes at a time like this?”

I have to admit, my temper was a little short that morning. “What do you want me to do? Bite someone?”

Then we heard voices.

Bella’s mouth dropped open and her eyes grew wide with horror as she looked around. “Doc’s coming back, and Norman’s with him. You’d better go primal. Quick.”

As if it was that easy. I couldn’t just wiggle my nose like some TV witch—I had to allow myself to release. And after a lifetime of learning control, that wasn’t easy.

I took a moment to settle myself, to find my center. Arranging my hair so I was well covered, I got to my knees, then sat on my heels. “You know, last night, when you and Doc abandoned me, Norman became a huge pest. He kept at me, wanting me to dance with him.”

Bella’s “Um,” was irritating.

Annoyance tingled my exposed skin, running along my collarbone and down the insides of my arms.

“He wouldn’t leave me alone. It was so gross.” I straightened as angry lightning strikes marched down my back.

“Then he insisted I finish my drink because he wanted to buy me another. Bella, I thought I was going to have to decapitate him to get him to leave me alone. I decided to just leave and let you find another way home. But after I finished my drink—and I only had the one Doc bought me—I don’t remember anything. It’s as if I got lost in the night.”

I gathered my fury like a fiery orb in my chest. “You know I never have a memory lapse except during a blood moon phase or if I lose control. I wasn’t that angry.”

A simple full moon hadn’t done that to me since I was three years old.

“That son of a cur must have slipped me a roofie. Why else would I have been out of control?” I allowed my rage to explode as I thought about the man putting a date rape drug in my drink. 

My body stung as the bristles burst through my skin, but I exalted in the sensation as my face narrowed, then lengthened. I loved the feeling of my body shifting from human to wolf shape. There’s never anything better than the power surge as it fills my muscles. It’s exhilarating.

So, you’ve met Jazzy. What do you think?


Do You Remember Operators?

English: Large image of telephone switchboard....

This is a direct result of a conversation on Facebook–Do you remember Telephone Operators? The ones who dialed every number for you?

Lily Tomlin

Funny how we remember parts of things and not others, isn’t it? I remember the Trower family, who owned the phone company in Old Ford, probably because I played with the younger daughter of the family. (She was nice!)

But I don’t remember if we had to go through an operator or dial numbers ourselves when I lived there.

There had been an operator at one time, though. Dad tells stories about an operator who had worked there for years, whose name was Margie. (Isn’t that perfect? Exactly what I’d name an operator if I were writing her in a story.)

Anyway, according to my dad, Margie had a gorgeous, sexy voice. Men were always trying to make a date with the poor woman, sight unseen, because of that wonderful voice.

It was a voice that would have made her rich if she’d gone to work on radio or as a voice-over in the movies.

When we moved to C-Town, I remember having operators, but I don’t remember who owned the phone company.

I looked into the office where they worked once. I might have been with Grandma Reeves–the memory is a dim one–but I saw what looked like lots of operators at switchboards. It seems like they were on both sides of a fairly small, dark room.

Of course, it was bright, sunshiny outside, so any room without windows would have looked dark.

Remember how it worked? You picked up the receiver and a woman would say, “Number, please.”

You give her the number (Ours was 36. Grandmother’s was 60 and Dad’s office was 21) and she dialed it for you. It seems as if there were rotorary dials on the phones, but we didn’t use them. (Mama had a red and black phone. Such a red girl!)

Anyway, there were strict rules for the operators. You didn’t listen in on conversations. You didn’t chat it up with a caller, and I’m not sure what else.

My sister Cindy (number 3 in the line up) liked to talk on the phone, like most little kids. Anytime she found it unattended and sitting on the floor (we got long cords on our phones before they got rid of our operators) she’d pick it up and start “talking”.

In our wonderful Small Town World, the operators knew to dial Grandmother’s house when that happened. (They most likely knew we lived next door, too.)

Once, late in the night, the phone rang. Daddy answered, because I could hear his deep voice, rumbling in the dark. In a few minutes he was dressed and leaving the  house.

It’s kind of scary when your dad leaves the house in the middle of the night. He didn’t rush, as if there was an emergency, so I wasn’t really upset, but still, I was curious.

So I went in to Mom, who I knew had to be awake. (After all, Dad left the house.) “Where’d Daddy go?”

“The operator called. The Overmans’ phone is off the hook, and someone’s trying to call them long distance. Your daddy went to tell them.”

The Overman family lived about a block away, went to the same church we did and Mr. Overman had his office right across from Dad’s, and he was a neighbor, so Dad didn’t mind doing it.

As many operators as they had during the day (Eight or ten, maybe? I’m just guessing. The number is probably closer to four or five.) there was probably only one or two women working through the night. But they had to be there. Even though C-Town rolled up the yellow line down the middle of the highway at ten o’clock, there were times when you had to use a phone during the night.

And, yes. The operators who worked in the night broke a few rules. They did listen in on conversations. It’s where some of the best (most reliable) gossip in town came from. 😛

Do you remember party lines–when several homes were on the same line? You knew a call was for your house by the ring. My family was never on a party line (that I remember) but my cousins and my grandma and granddad were.

Conversations were never private on a PL, although they were supposed to be. (If there were too many complaints about you listening in, the phone company could take your phone away from you.)

Once, when Grandma Reeves lived in our house in the country near Old Ford, she caught me listening in on someone else’s conversation. Not being on a party line in town, I didn’t know the rules. (And I don’t remember what they were saying. I was just amazed that I could pick up the phone and step into the middle of someone else’s conversation.)

Grandma was shocked that I’d do such a thing! Other people didn’t have those scruples, though. I’ve heard people talk about how you could always count on one neighbor or another listening in. They were never very happy about it. 🙂

People were so excited when party lines finally passed away. A phone line all their own. Privacy–what a deal.

We lost a lot when our operators and party lines went by the wayside. We lost the personal touch. The warmth sound of a human voice in our ear instead of recordings and electronics. Someone who was there in the night in case of an emergency.

And I doubt there were many obscene phone calls made, since the operator knew what number you were calling from.

When we got phone you had to dial, Brother Jeffrey, who was still just little, tried to make a call one day. He bobble the dialing and got a recording. “The number you dialed is not in service. If you need assistance, please call your operator.”

My little brother misunderstood the operator. He thought the recording said, “If you need a sister, please call your operator.”

Naturally, he talked back. “As sister? I don’t need a sister. I have too many already.”

So . . . do YOU remember telephone operators?