Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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Wanna Write?

My last post was Memorial Day. That’s a whole month with nothing to say. *sigh* Why?

Well . . . did you ever noticed that most people who write blogs are experts at something? I’m not. I’m not an expert gardener. (The weeds are choking my veggies as we speak!) I’m not an expert knitter, but I have several projects started. I’m not an expert photographer, although I get a lucky shot now and then.

(No whine. Just fact.)

Recent Lucky Shot

                           Recent Lucky Shot

I am a pretty good reader of the books I like (but who’s not?) and I’d LOVE to be an expert writer. Still working on that one.

As a pretty good reader and wannabe expert writer, I’m going to share parts of a book I’m reading right now.


A really, really long title (and hard to remember exactly.) This book is by Roz Morris and is part of her Nail Your Novel series.

And since about half the people who know I’m a writer tell me they’d love to write a book, I thought I’d share a little of Roz’s expertise. Yes. She’s an expert. 🙂

The first thing a writer should know is what a story is.

Here’s Roz’s definition:

A story is usually someone trying to do something, or trying to prevent something. The story ends when they’ve done it, or done something else instead that put an end to the journey. To spice things up they have obstacles, or conflict, which make it all way more troublesome than they imagined when they started.

So . . . easy-peasy. Right? Bahahahah! (Insert the Wicked Witch of the West’s laughter here.)

I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s read and/or used Roz’s Nail Your Novel series. So far, it’s making sense to me.

Ps: I do have an expert imagination–but it’s not something I can share.


Happy Memorial Day!

How’s your MD weekend going? Mine’s been fantastic! Way more fun than a Memorial Day I spend at Old Mannford Ramp. 🙂

What’s made my weekend so great? Well, for one thing I got to go to worship for the first time this month. (Terminally Curious breaking in here–Does anybody else really miss worshiping with others when you’ve missed several in a row, even though you worship by yourself? Is Susan just weird? Both? Shutting up now.)


Back to this Memorial Day. We have silk flower arrangements for our immediate family and keep them at the office between MDs. This year Sister Debbie, her adorable granddaughters and I decorated the graves of our glorious dead in C-Town’s cemetery on Thursday. Those little girls, ages 4 and 6, are full of energy! And they’re so much fun. I had no idea going to a graveyard could be that exciting.

They helped do everything. Carry flowers, put them in vases and tie down the ones on the headstones. If they could drive, they wouldn’t need Deb and me at all. LOL!

I’ve told you before about the one little headstone that touches my heart.


Remember?  I ran past their grave Sunday after church. Here’s what I found this year–

bennie-and-sussie  I think that’s poison ivy all around it.


I know how busy the cemetery caretakers are just before MD. Hopefully, they’ll get to Sussie and Bennie’s corner and clean it up some more.

Or I could take them home with me. 🙂

♥ ♥ ♥

Hominy does a wonderful job putting Old Glory in their cemetery for Memorial Day. Hominy-flags




Starting last year, C-Town’s Mayberry Foundation took on the gargantuan task of putting flags on our veterans’ graves.   BTW: If you click on the link and see the picture of a pretty blonde talking to a little boy, that’s my sister-in-law, Julie, and my nephew. The Spess Gang has some good looking genetics going for them, don’t they?

Even though C-Town has always done a fantastic job of lining our main street with flags for special occasions, flagging the cemetery for Memorial Day kind of fell through the cracks . . . until Mayberry sunk her teeth into the project.

Now Junior Ambassadors guided by Mayberry Foundation take care of it. I’m extremely grateful to them for doing it!!!

I just need to get my Granddad Reeves added to their flagging list.

This is from Mayberry’s facebook page.

1 mayberry foundation

The Mayberry Foundation and C-Town on Facebook, too.

Question: Do you decorate to honor your loved ones for MD?

If you don’t, do you think it’s a bad idea or just not important?

Care to share why?

Oh, you can read a little about Decoration Day history here– Association for the Beautification of the Graves of the Glorious Dead

See y’all later!


Still playing make believe after all these years.


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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.


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. 😉

♥ ♥ ♥






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–

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




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!


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!