Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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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

 

 


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I Love a Rainy . . . Anything

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Did you ever have a memory hit you so hard right out of the blue, you could practically smell it? That happened to me yesterday, when I was leaving Sister Debbie’s house.

The rain was pouring down, and since I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the rain, I wandered out to my car without worrying about getting wet. Sister D lives in the house Grandmother built, which is right next door to the house we grew up in. (Sister Cindy lives in that house.)

It’s an old neighborhood (nearly as old as I am!) so the curbs aren’t the hump kind that you’d normally think of next to a street. They’re a scoopy kind, shaped a little like a lazy J. I imagine the scoopy curb was used so the water would run off the road and into the curb so it could all go to the big puddle at the end of the street. 🙂

Yesterday, when I went to my car, that scoopy curb was running full and childhood memories came flooding back.

When we were kids, Mama always bought us raincoats

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and rubber boots

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that fit over our shoes to wear to school. One year, the coat she bought me was exactly like the coat my friend’s mama bought for her. I thought we looked like pink butterflies in them, so I made up a song that we danced to about us butterflies. LOL. I ended it with us flying south for the winter. (I couldn’t let my pink butterflies just die, could I?)

Our front porch was a big one that looked like a stage, so we performed our song and dance for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to come. The audience consisted of our parents. But hey! They liked it.

When it rained, we nearly always waded in the water. (What are rubber boots for, anyway?) Once, when my mom had given me a permanent (WHY she gave the kid with the curliest hair in town a perm, I have no idea) it was raining when we got out of school.

I usually walked home with one of my friends and her mom came by to pick her up and offered me a ride. “No thanks. I want to walk in the rain.” Her tattle-tale mom called my mom as soon as she got home to tell on me. 😦 My mom wasn’t happy, probably because her daughter wasn’t smart enough to come in out of the rain.

“I just wanted to try out my new raincoat. Why are you mad?”

“Because, you probably ruined your new perm!”

I’m not sure how she figured that, but I was in trouble for maybe five minutes.

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Another time, Sister Debbie and I walked in the rain from the downtown movie theater to Mrs. Shriner’s house for Piano Club. Right after that, Sister D and I came down with the measles, and Mom wasn’t happy with us.

“You probably made your measles worse by walking in the rain.” That didn’t stop her from reading “Tom Sawyer” to us while we were sick, though. (She’d been told measles make your eyes weak, so she wouldn’t let us read to ourselves while we were ill.)

I loved wading in the mud next to Grandmother’s house in the warm summer rain. (Yep, I got in trouble again.)

The strongest memory though is a summertime rainstorm, walking barefoot in the water, sluicing down the scoopy curb, as the water splashed over my ankles.

I don’t remember being too strict with my kids when it came to rain and puddles. (They might have other memories, though.)

So, rainy day memories?

 

 

 


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On the Hunt

Can you believe we’ve started the final month in the first half of 2014 already? Oy!

Fun stuff going on this week in my part of OkieLand. One of my faves was when #1 son came to visit last weekend, looking for toys from his Childhood for MY GRANDSON WHO’LL BE MAKING HIS APPEARANCE NEXT OCTOBER! *grins!* Tonka Truck and John Deere Tractor are the toys he was looking for. For some reason, though, we can’t find them. 😦

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Surprised? I’m not. Since I don’t have perfect recall (some days it seems as if I have no recall at all) and we’ve moved twice since anyone has played with either toy . . .

tractorSigh.

I think we got the truck one year for Christmas. To be honest, I don’t remember exactly. (#1–you have permission to correct me if I’m wrong.) But, boy! I remember the day the John Deere came to live with us.

My Man was working 24-hour call at that time. Yes, he is a pharmacist–SWOSU!–but at that time he was working in the oilfield as a logging and perforating engineer. Anyhoo, he came in one evening about eight or nine o’clock, which would have been LATE for a person who worked in a 9-5 office, but he worked in the oilfield and often came home in the wee hours.

An open-hole logging crew is usually on site, waiting for the moment the rotary gets to total depth, and it seemed to me they NEVER reached TD during the daylight.

Danny and I were excited when Gary came home while Danny was still awake, and (bigger surprise!) he came in with a big bag in his hands, which he handed to Danny.

Danny opened the bag and wow! A big green tractor! And the tractor had a trailer. (If I remember right.)

Danny loved that tractor and played with it for hours on end, plowing the carpet, towing toy cars and hauling imaginary monsters. As our other boys came along and got big enough, they enjoyed it, too.

They had the most fun when there was a pile of dirt to work on. My boys loved to build roads, dig ponds and move mounds of dirt with their toys.

Confession: If I had time, I liked to get out and move a little dirt with them. 🙂 Who cares if our jeans got a little (or a lot) dirty? We had fun!

What we didn’t know when Gary brought home that tractor was that in a few years, we would be moving to Pryor Creek. And when you live near PC, you often see entire families going to town in a trailer connected to a tractor. (Those Amish families have the best ideas!)

If we loaned you (or your kids) either toy, would you give it back? 😉 Please, send it least by October. Seriously, if you happen onto one or the other at a garage sale, antique store or flea market, call me!

Talking about dirt piles, I remember a great big one next door to Marsha Hagberg’s house when we were kids that Debbie, Marsha and I (and probably the rest of the neighborhood kids) had so much fun on! We didn’t play with trucks so much, but there was a lot of make believe (my favorite game, ever) played there.

I’m not sure this kid ever saw a pile of dirt she did like.

Was a pile of dirt a magnet to you? Did you jump your bike over it, move it with your trucks, play “Lost in Darkest Africa,” or stay far, far away from it?

Terminally Curious is dying to know!

 


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TBT–Granddad’s Garden

Whenever I think about Grandmother and Granddad, there’s usually food involved. Delicious, wonderful, fantastic food.

Grandmother and Granddad

Grandmother and Granddad

One of my first memories is of Granddad Ray’s garden there in Old ‘Ford on the other side of the garage. For as long as I can remember, Granddad always had a garden. Or three. Once, I got in trouble for picking his green tomatoes.

“Honest. All I did was look at the thing and it came off in my hand.” (Not sure they believed it.)

Sometimes in the summertime, we’d get to go to the farm and work with Granddad, and that usually meant we’d go to his garden. That was the best job ever, because Granddad usually took sweet lemonade (actually, a sweet orangy-lemon drink) and we got to eat a watermelon or two if they were ripe. Fresh, warm tomatoes, right off the vine, made lunch delicious!

We lived next door to Grandmother and Granddad in C-Town (and in the same house with them in Old ‘Ford) and had lunch with Grandmother most days.

Grandmother and Granddad, a few years later

Grandmother and Granddad, a few years later

Granddad didn’t just raise lots of food, he shared the veggies with the whole family, and very lucky friends.

I loved it in the spring when he dug new potatoes. Grandmother would boil them, slip off the peels and then fry the whole boiled potatoes! She’d also cook new potatoes in with the green beans Granddad raised. Bacon drippings gave it the best flavor! Spring onions and a bowl of those green beans was a meal that would make your tongue lap your brains out! (That’s a Daddy/Granddad saying.)

Sometimes, Grandmother would fry the mountain of squash that Granddad brought in. She’d cut up a crookneck in thin slices, soak them in salt water, coat them in flour and fry. YUM-MY! Better than potato chips. (Grandma Reeves wouldn’t eat squash because she said it was “poor folks’ food.” Made me glad to be poor!)

 

Notice, there’s a theme here. Fry it or add bacon drippings to it (or fry it in bacon drippings) and no matter what you’re cooking, it’ll taste great! (And your grandchildren will have very happy memories about the time they spent with you.) Might not be the healthiest eats in the world, but it made me feel very loved.

Do you have foody memories of your grandparents? What’s your favorite?

 


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Bye-Bye Shirley

Can you believe Shirley Temple died? 😦

baby shirleyHow sad is that.

Of course, she didn’t look like a two year old anymore.4637690_l2But Baby Shirley was adorable. Wasn’t she?

Shirley Temple 18 months

I don’t know much about Shirley, so this isn’t the story of her life. I just liked her movies.

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She was usually an orphan and had a heart rending life, but she had such a great attitude, everyone loved her, except the bad guy. And who wants to be loved by the bad guy?

This is from IMDB:

Shirley Temple was easily the most popular and famous child star of all time. She got her start in the movies at the age of three and soon progressed to super stardom. Shirley could do it all: act, sing and dance and all at the age of five! Fans loved her as she was bright, bouncy and cheerful in her films and they ultimately bought millions of dollars worth of products that had her likeness on them. Dolls, phonograph records, mugs, hats, dresses, whatever it was, if it had her picture on there they bought it. Shirley was box-office champion for the consecutive years 1935-36-37-38, beating out such great grown-up stars as Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford. By 1939, her popularity declined. Although she starred in some very good movies like Since You Went Away (1944) and the The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), her career was nearing its end. Later, she served as an ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. It was once guessed that she had more than 50 golden curls on her head.

– IMDb Mini Biography By:  Ken Severson

My favorite of Shirley’s grownup movies was Fort Apache with John Wayne and Shirley’s first husband, John Agar.

As for her best movies, I can’t think of my favorite. I loved the one where she sang On the Good Ship Lollipop.

I loved Heidi!

http://youtu.be/dPaNtPbeuWQ

I loved The Littlest Rebel and Curly Top and all her movies.

I was so disappointed when I found out she wasn’t a little girl like me. Instead, she was a grown up lady, older than my dad!

Did you like Shirley when you were a kid?

Do you still watch her movies?

What’s your favorite Shirley Temple movie?


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Paper Cutout Kiddos

3-boys.jpg

Hey, did you know I’m a mom? I have three sons. And all of them have made it to adulthood! 🙂

I learned most of what I know about parenting from my mom and her friends. Without knowing I was learning, of course. My parents were both really young when they first created their family. They got married when they were 18 and 19.

mom, dad and lindy

I was born two years later, so they were 20 and 21.

mom, dad and me

One day, I heard my mom say, “The first child should be made out of paper so you could throw them away.”

My mom wanted to throw me away?

Okay, that might not be everything she said, but it’s what I heard. My feelings were h-u-r-t. Mama didn’t like me. She wanted to put me in the dumpster. Waaaah!

Many years later I had kids of my own, and finally understood what she meant. She wished she’d had a disposable kid to make her mistakes on so she didn’t have to make them on her own kids. (I understand that now because I felt the same way.)

happy boys

I’m the mom who spanked the bed one time when she was supposed to give her son a spanking because I just didn’t have the heart to whip him. (Then I told him to cry.)

I’m the mom who told her son to cry LOUD the time she got pulled over by the highway patrol for speeding. (He didn’t, and I got a ticket.)

gotta feed the baby

And when my oldest son misbehaved in preschool, he strolled to the youth minister’s office (supposed to be like the principal’s office) crawled up in a chair and said, “So, what should we talk about?”

I didn’t make my kids take naps. (Send the nap police!)

My kids didn’t have bedtimes until they started school.

And when my cousin and his wife stayed with us for a few weeks, one son (2 or 3 years old at the time) stayed right up with every conversation. “So, what should we talk about now?”

And when he started school, he talked with the teachers just like he did his classmates.

I made lots of mistakes, and not only with the first one.

Maybe they all should have been made of paper, but they weren’t. Now they’re adults with beautiful wives, and I’m very proud to be their mom.

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I just wonder where they learned to be the men they are.

Must have been from their dad.

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🙂


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A Nightmare for Christmas

Christmas in the post-War United States

There’s something that terrifies me, and I have nightmares about it every Christmas.

It stems from my childhood, back when I was tender and vulnerable. Back when things impressed me and made a big difference in my life.

I think I’ve mentioned that I have four sisters and a brother. Each Christmas, Mama turned herself inside out, doing her best to figure out what we really wanted for Christmas. (I might have said I wanted ice skates, but with not so cold weather and no place to skate, she knew I wouldn’t be happy.)

So she’d shop from can’t see to can’t see, getting just the right gifts for all of us.

On Christmas morning, we’d rush to the living room to see what we had under the tree.

This particular Christmas morning, we all looked at our gifts and were giddy with joy. All of us, except one.

Now if you know my sibs, you know we’re very individual people. Debbie’s sweet and loves to have people at her house, Jeffrey’s a caretaker/outdoorsman, Lisa’s a ton of fun, I’m weird, Omega’s a baby (well, she’s THE baby, anyway) and Cindy is quiet, plays well with others. (Well, we all play well with others, but she doesn’t a really good job of it.)

I don’t remember what I got that holiday morning or what any of the others got. I only remember Cindy’s response.

When we’d all finished and were admiring our take, Mom noticed Cindy was crying. When she asked what was wrong, Cindy answered.

Her answer is the stuff nightmares are made of . . . for me, anyway. She said, “I didn’t get anything I wanted for Christmas.”

AAAAACK!

Mama was devastated. I was devastated for her. In fact, I think the entire family nearly bawled when Cindy said those eight words. The very next day, though, Mama made up for it. She took Cindy to Tulsa and let her pick out just exactly what she wanted.

She got to keep all the gifts she’d been given that she didn’t want, and get new ones, too. (Maybe that’s when the rest of us bawled.)

So a few days before Christmas, I’ve always worried that come Christmas morning, when we’re all sitting around the tree unwrapping the presents I’ve so lovingly wrapped, I’d hear those horrible words.

I don’t think I could handle it.

Do you have a nightmare for Christmas?