Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Got Game?

One of my favorite things this time of year?

Girls’ basketball.

Now don’t get me wrong. I was never a player (I was a cheerleader, though) because we didn’t have a girls’ team when I was the right age. And I don’t go to a lot of games, but I enjoy the ones I get to a bunch.

Hearing Mama talk about BB like I did when I was a kid was enough to make anyone a convert. She loved watching girls play. Even after she was an adult, she would go to all the games she could.

I never wondered why we attended Old ‘Ford’s games, even after we moved to C-Town. I just liked seeing my dad’s younger cousins play. Seeing those kids in their shiny/short uniforms and wearing big white knee pads was so much fun!

The gym in Old ‘Ford was more fun than you can imagine. I’ve never seen another one like it. There was one row of seats on the players’ level, and the rest were upstairs in the balcony area, where there were two rows of benches.

It was so exciting to get to go up there. According to legend (before my time) there was only a 2×4 rail, waist-high, all the way around the outside of the balcony. Nothing underneath to stop people from falling off.

Dad said that at that time, MOST people knew not to get so close to the edge, they fell off. He emphasized MOST because when his sister, Aunt Phyllis, was a kid, she sat on that railing, was playing around and fell off, onto the gym floor below. The fall broke her arm.

I didn’t know her at that time, since she’s my dad’s older sister, but from what I hear, Dushie (my name for her when I was a baby) was a very entertaining wild child and a ton of fun to be with.

My siblings all played basketball in high school, and most of them were pretty darn good.

This is my niece

Now we’re into the next generation. Dad’s youngest granddaughters are on the court these days. I got to see my first game of the season last night. I went by myself and thought I’d be sitting alone. Omega, score keeper for the middle school, saw me walk in and called my cell phone. “Come over here!” I looked up, and the refs were standing by her at the score keepers’ table, pointing at me (there she is!) and laughing at the look on my face.

Being the sweet sister I am, I traipsed around the gym. Ever feel like everyone in the place is watching to see if you’ll trip? 🙂

As I walked by the opposing team’s assistant coach, he said, “You look like a woman on a mission.”

“I’ve been summoned by my sister. What can I do but obey?” 😉

I got to sit right there, close enough to our team to hear what the coach yells at them. (I didn’t understand it, but I could hear it.) “High, low! High, low!” and “D-Up!”

The coach even hollered a couple of states. I think. I’m not sure if there are girls on the team who go by those names or if he names his plays, but it was interesting.

Got to meet his little girl, too. The tyke walked straight across the court at half-time to show Omega her sparkly black boots. (Now I want some!)

And I learned a thing or two.

  • There are different sizes of basketballs–one for girls, and another for boys. (I had to be careful writing that sentence!)
  • Refs have a sense of humor, even while they’re making bad calls. (Faith did NOT knock that girl down.)
  • Refs will answer the score keeper if she hollers that he made a bad call. “Stop it. That’s not your daughter,” they’ll say.
  • Spectators can’t get in trouble as long as they keep their mouths shut and don’t get physical. Mean looks can’t get you thrown out of the game. (I tested that theory when Faith did NOT knock that girl down.)
  • Refs have to be tough or they’ll get their feelings hurt bad. “Got a rope. Got a tree . . . Now all we need’s . . . (can anyone finish that cheer?) 😛

“Yeah, I’m told I made a bad call at nearly every game.” (He was cute, so it was okay.)

  • At tournaments, there’s usually a secret room filled with yummy munchies (they call it a hospitality room, but I can think of much better names for it) for coaches, refs and score keepers, ONLY. Players and spectators (and sisters of the score keeper) aren’t allowed.
  • After the game, every girl on each team slaps hands with every girl on the other and says, “Good game! Good game!” If there’s 15 girls on each team, and each girl says “Good game!” fifteen times, that’s 225 ‘good games’ all echoing through the gym at the same time.

I kept waiting for a Chevy-Chase-Christmas-Vacation-girl to go through the line. “Good game. Good Gravy. Good Golly Miss Molly,” but it didn’t happen. (Would anyone notice if they did?)

Have you been to a girls’ basketball game lately? Did you learn anything?  Can you finish that cheer?


Shellin’ Out

So . . . how do you like the new look in Small Town World? My house isn’t Christmas-ready, but the blog is! (And that’s the only thing about me that is.)

I’ve already received a gift, though. And I not only opened it, I ate some of it. Want to see?

Eggs! (Is that cool or what?)

They’re from my dad. He bought a bunch of baby chicks early last summer, and this is the result. And since Dad and a pro at sharing, he brought me and a couple of my sibs a dozen.

G-Man and I had them for breakfast.

This guy was about 1 1/2″ long. No, they aren’t from Bantams. They’re just the size young hens lay.

We had to eat several. 😉

The hardest part was keeping them in my fingers while I cracked them. (I usually buy extra large eggs. Or Jumbos.)

This one was kind of greenish-gray on the outside, but a beautiful blue on inside.

Cute little things, aren’t they?

It’s amazing how many people have their own backyard hen houses. Four or five people have given me eggs in the last few years. One time, the yolks were bright orangey-yellow and had a really strong flavor. I figured it was what the birds had been fed, so I ate them anyway. Other family members weren’t quite so sure. 😉

These eggs, though, were beautiful and delicious! (And they had normal colored yolks.)

Of course, Dad bought more than just hens. He bought Ginny fowl and roosters. But the Ginny fowl were mean to the hens, so he moved them out of the hen-house. And the roosters got, well, cocky, so they’re out, too.

Now the Ginnys and the roosters are free ranging. We’ll see how they get along. 😛

Good stuff and organic, too. How cool is that?

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Thanksgiving Smiles

Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Were you grateful yesterday? I was so thankful, I nearly exploded to prove it!

Oh, my stars. The food the Shay/Spess family can cook! YUM. And it’s not just the women who have talent in the kitchen. Our guys are super handy at the stove/oven/sterno/campfire, whatever!

I remembered this morning that we forgot to sing our Thanksgiving songs. G-Man’s answer? “I don’t know any.”

My answer? “Pfffft. You do, too. What about, Over the River and Through the Woods? What about, We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing? What about, A Turkey Sat on a Backyard Fence?

He tuned up, and we sang our way through the rest of breakfast.

Not! (LOL.)

Smile 1:

So, Thanksgiving memories? My favorites are the ones when Mom and the Grands were alive. Those ladies could cook! They were so good, they put Rachel Ray and Paula Deen in the shade. Grandmother made a Pineapple Chiffon pie that made your tongue lap your brains out. (I thought I’d posted that recipe. Sorry.) Grandma made hot rolls to die for. Here’s her recipe.

Everything Mama made was delicious! (And I have the ongoing weight problem to prove it.) Many years on Turkey Day, all Mama’s side of the family would come for dinner. She had six brothers and sisters and they all had at least one or two kids, so it made for a full house!

Sometimes Grandmother would have the Spess side at her house while Mama had the Reeves side, and since they lived next door to each other, that made for a huge crew! We had a ton of fun with all those cousins coming and going.

I know churches that don’t have as many members as I have close family. By close family I mean brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. What a crew.

One memorable Thanksgiving, a cousin’s son even tried to walk on Mom’s pool cover. (That kid still can’t walk on water. LOL!)

Smile 2:

I don’t know about Mr. T here, but I was certainly stuffed yesterday afternoon.

So you won’t be disappointed, I’ll share Grandmother’s Pineapple Chiffon Pie recipe here:

1 1/2 C milk

2 T flour

3/4 C drained crushed pineapple

3/4 C sugar

2 eggs, separated.

Put milk on to heat. Mix sugar and flour. To the hot milk, stir in sugar mixture. Stir in beaten egg yolks. Boil until real thick (7-8 minutes.)

Remove from heat and add drained pineapple. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into baked pie crust.

Refrigerate until cool. Before serving, top with HOMEMADE whipped cream. (Not Cool Whip.) (I added that last part, but it makes a big difference.)

If you make this pie, let me know how it turns out. It was always one of my favorites. 🙂


C-Town Story

Remember this blog?

And this one?

Along those lines, I’m sharing more of Mrs. Crowell’s book, “In the Triangle Country.” It’s Omega’s fault I didn’t share yesterday as I’d planned. (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)

She wanted to see the book, and since I have a real problem telling Baby Sister no, I took it to work. She read it, but I didn’t remember to bring it home. 😦

In one of those earlier blogs, I told you early C-Town had 13 saloons at one time. Mrs. Crowell names two of the saloon owners–Tom Jordan (he might have been Col. Jordan’s son) and George Collins. Early C-Town had several church’s that are still here today.

But C-Town wasn’t all wild times and shoot-’em-ups. Even from the beginning, C-Town had a spiritual side.

“The first sermon preached in Indian Territory was by a traveling evangelist and Sunday School organizer in December 1893. There was no preacher because it was hard to get preachers then.”

First church established in C-Town? Baptist. (Not surprised, are you?) It started up in 1893. (J. C. Price was the preacher.) Methodists in 1894.

The Christian Church got started in 1901 and on July 3, 1902 dedicated the first church building here.

The Presbyterian Church began here in 1905, the Nazarene Church, 1916.

In the early days here, the churches were more non-denominational and when one church had a revival, everyone attended, whether they were members of that church or not.

It was just neighbors going to church together to hear about God. Weather permitting, meetings were held in a church yard or the East Side park. Nail kegs with boards laid across them were used for benches.

You never heard such singing.

Schools in Triangle Country were subscription schools.

According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture: Subscription schools were funded by a monthly tuition fee paid by the parents to the teachers. In turn, the teachers were responsible for securing a place of study and for paying the rent from their earnings. It was not uncommon for classes to be conducted in a tent, dugout, home, or church.

Because of the low pay, many teachers were women, and they typically received one dollar per pupil per month. Attendance usually lasted a few months, because children were needed to help with harvesting and other farm chores.

One of the early teacher’s name was the same as one of our streets–Miss Florence Drown. She later married JP Martin, who had the dry goods store.

In 1894-1895, we got our first schoolhouse on what’s now East Wichita.

The first telephone came to C-Town because Dr. Sutton (who had a street named after him) and Osman Gilbert (who has his own street, too) had it installed in the barber shop.

In 1904, the Pioneer Telephone Company put in a switchboard with a magneto (or crank) phone. The switchboard manager was a man, but the operators were women. (Go figure that one.)

Mrs. Crowell says,

“(the operators) were Rutha Bare and Maud Powell. Rutha later married Charles Bailey and Maud married Jim Crady. It wasn’t until 1917 that the first upright telephone was installed.

(Typist’s note: Mrs. Charles Bailey was the mother of Opal Crowell, author of this history of Cleveland.)

Susan’s question: When my family first moved to C-Town, we went to a grocery store called Crady’s. Mr. Crady, who owned the store, was a very nice old man who gave us a bag full of candy every month when we paid the grocery bill.

Anybody know if Mr. Crady who owned that store was the Jim Crady who married Rutha the operator?



Tick-Tock; The Game is Locked

Ever notice how many people think their way is THE way. They don’t just think it should be the way, they think it is the way.

Example: (I hope he doesn’t mind.) Brother Jeffrey did a great job of grilling chicken for the work celebration of Dad’s birthday. He made us some darn good food. We had some leftovers, so naturally we kept them to eat later in the week for lunch.

A couple of days later, it surprised him to learn the white meat was all gone and we had only dark meat left. He thought the dark meat would be all gone.

Because he likes dark meat best and thought most other people would, too.

Fast forward a few months. I watched part of a documentary while waiting for a movie I wanted to see to come on. In the doc, this guy goes to Canada and asks everyone he meets if they lock their doors.

“No,” is the answer every time. He even checked it out by going to a few houses and opening the door. (Oops, sorry about that folks. Just checking to see if your door was locked.)

That shocked me, because I’ve always locked my doors. I thought everyone did.  (Kinda like Jeffrey and the dark meat, huh?)

When G-Man and I first married, we moved to a new town. I remember lying in bed, several nights in a row, and asking, “Did you lock the door?”


I couldn’t stand it. “Are you sure?”

He was silent for a l-o-n-g moment. “If you don’t believe me, go check.”

He did.

I thought back even farther. When I was a kid, had my family lock their doors?

I think so. I know when I was in high school, if I came home after everyone was in bed, I had to slam the front door (so it would stay shut, and probably to tell the folks I was home) and then lock it.

So yeah, once my fam moved to C-Town, we locked the doors. I wasn’t sure about when we lived in Old ‘Ford, though. So the first time I got the chance, I asked Dad, “Did you guys lock your doors at night when you were a kids?”

“Oh, no.” Then, he laughed. “I remember one time, someone came into the house in Old ‘Ford after we were all asleep.”

Did they raid the kitchen and eat the inside of the cake like Paul and Frank did when they were kids? 

Instead, I kept quiet and listened.

“Who ever it was came in and stole Daddy and Frank’s pants.”

Wow. Of all the things I could think of to steal out of the house they’d lived in, men’s pants were the last. I could have understood if someone had stolen food from the kitchen or Grandmother’s purse. But Granddad and Uncle Frank’s pants?

“Why?” I asked.

“Theirs weren’t the only pants stolen, either. Whoever it was went all over town, probably twenty or thirty houses, stealing the men’s pants. They got them back though. Someone found them all outside of town in a field.”

That really puzzled me. “Was it a practical joke? Why would anyone do that?”

“To get their wallets and change and other stuff they left in them when they took them off,” Dad explained.

Someone with a devious mind figured things like Jeffrey and me. Because the bad guy left his wallet in his pants when he took them off at night, he figured everyone else did, too.

So he crept in where men and women and children were sleeping after a hard day’s work, found where the men left their pants and swiped them. I’m only surprised he didn’t take women’s purses, too. Why stop with only men’s britches?

I wonder how many times he found wallets left in pants and how many times he came up empty? After that, did most men stop leaving their wallets in their pants?

And, when did most people in Oklahoma started locking their doors?



Make Me Howl–SOLD!!!

I think I mentioned a time or twelve that I’m currently working on a Christian Women’s Fiction book. I haven’t sold in Christian Fiction as yet. I’m waiting on God for that. 🙂

In the mean time, I had one unsold book left that I wrote before I realized it wasn’t my True Voice. It’s a story about a woman born with an active werewolf gene, and is called MAKE ME HOWL. (Jazzy was born with the werewolf gene, but her twin, Bella, was cursed with the gene for straight hair, so it all evens out in the end.)

I wrote this book a few years ago, and hadn’t actually tried very hard to sell it. I did sent it to an agent, but she didn’t bite and I got involved with other projects, so it just kind of sat there on my computer.

One day, though, I remembered Jazzy. I really enjoyed getting to know that girl. She has a biting sense of humor, and really enjoys shaking her tail. 😉 So I dusted off the manuscript and sent it to The Wild Rose Press, the publisher of my other two books, “TO SCHOOL A COWBOY,” and “BLINDSIGHT.”

And guess what! They want to publish my book! (HOOOOOOOWL!!!)

I emailed the contract in last night. I don’t know when the book will come out, if we’ll keep the title MAKE ME HOWL, and I don’t know if it’ll be published only in a digital format or in print, too, but believe me, I’ll let you know.

If you enjoy a different werewolf story with a sense of humor, stay tuned.

And if you don’t, stay tuned and wait on God with me. If He blesses my Inspirational attempts, I’ll share them here, too.

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Along the Dusty Mainstreet

More from Opal Bailey Crowell’s book “Cleveland, Oklahoma. In the Triangle Country.”

This sweet woman remembers first hand about the birthing pains of C-Town, and what she wasn’t there for, she reports from the things her family and friends experienced. I’m so enjoying her words!

Most people who live in C-Town know it for a friendly, loving place. We reach out and help those who need it and many of us never meet a stranger.

It’s a C-Town tradition!

On the second page, Mrs. Crowell tells us the run into the Cherokee Strip was made in 1893. If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Cimarron,” you’ve seen a “run.” The movie shows how dramatic it was, but from what I’ve read (while prego with #3, I took some classes at OSU, I went to the old part of the library and looked up actual accounts of The Run.)  they didn’t touch the true explosive excitement of the day.

In the next paragraph, she says,

With more grocery stores and other business houses coming in, a Main Street was planned. At first, tents were set up as a place of business. J. P. Martin’s Dry Goods Store was the first business set up in a tent.

 The store on the left side of this picture (the sign says “Gents Furnishings”) was Martin’s building. It still stands today.

After a (swinging) bridge was built across the river, Mr. Martin and other traveled to Tulsa and areas where lumber could be bought. Then wooden buildings were all up and down Mainstreet.

This was about 1890.

1890 was before the land run of 1893. How did that happen, since “Indian Territory” meant Indian land. Anyone know?

At that time apparently, C-Town could be a dangerous place. One woman said when she was in the lumber yard office, she “put her feet up to miss the bullets.”

BUT any time there was a holiday or a day off, C-Town would have a party.

Large community dinners were served on makeshift tables of barrels and boards, set up on dusty main street, on the side under a tree or wherever space could be found for a table.

Everyone brought a contribution. Fresh butter or meat was not always available, but no matter how much or how little each family brought, there was always a yellow soda cake.

Everyone was invited, no one left out. If you were a newcomer or alone, someone made sure you were invited and had plenty to eat. Everyone was neighborly, enjoyed being together and most of the time they were entertained by a Band, or sometimes by a Pow Wow.

I think that’s where C-Town’s legacy of hospitality started. C-Townites are still a welcoming, giving, nice bunch of people.

Mrs. Crowell goes on to say,

The hardy pioneers considered wheat bread a luxury. They preferred Corn Pone over Kaffercorn bread but would eat either. A spoonful of “long sweetener” (sorghum molasses) smoothed the tartness of the boiled wild plum. Most folks ate wild meat, yet they might have a dozen hens and a milch cow.

In 1897 a loaf of bread cost 5 cents, a pound of coffee cost from 19 to 29 cents. Of course there was salt pork, dry beans and flour, or you could go to the Cafe and get a big meal for 25 cent.

Goods didn’t cost much back then, but people didn’t get paid much either. Work at the feed mill paid $7 a week. Grocery clerks made $7.50 a week, and carpenters or other workers received 75 cents a day.


  1. Anybody know the difference between Corn Pone and cornbread? (Is it the shape or a difference in the recipe?)
  2. What’s yellow soda cake? Anyone have a recipe?
  3. What’s Kaffercorn bread?

For such a short book–10 or 11 pages–there’s so much to learn about C-Town. And so many questions to ask. 🙂