Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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. 🙂

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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.



Memorial Day at Old Mannford Ramp

This is a reblog from five years ago. Much has changed in those five years–kids married, friends passed, books published, a new hip–but memories remain the same. Maybe that’s the good thing about remembering. That’s the one thing in life that remains constant–as long as I don’t compare mine with someone else’s who was at the scene. LOL!

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5/24/2008– Whenever I think of Memorial Day, I think of the year I was pregnant with our first son (btw: that was 1977.) My DH had wanted a sailboat for sometime, so we finally bought one. A twenty foot Daysailer with a cuddy cabin. (You can see a picture of them here.)

Memorial Day dawned beautiful. The sky was brilliant blue with only a crown of clouds around the horizon. We went to his parents for lunch, then took out the boat. His parents and younger brother decided to go with us. His parents didn’t want to go in the boat so they stayed on shore. After insisting he wear a bright orange life jacket, Younger Brother, DH and I loaded up and took off.

New: We went to Old Mannford Ramp, which is no long open on Keystone Lake. While we were there, I pointed out the place where I’d lived as a little girl as well as the tree I could never climb because the branches started way too high.

I didn’t know that where we put the boat in was the same area where my parent had swum as kids, many years before that and very near the place where my mom had lived.

We went to the end of the area we were in. (I think it was near where that bridge was that scared me so much, the one we had to cross to go see Janie and Sally.)  We were turning around to sail back past his parents so we could wave at them when the wind died. And when I say died, I mean D-I-E-D. There wasn’t a breath of a breeze anywhere. It felt as if we’d all donned heavy wool coats.

“It’s hot!” YB complained. “Can I take off my life jacket?”

“No!” DH and I both answered.

Luckily, there’s a law that you must have a paddle in the boat, so DH, at the back of the boat, started working our way toward home.

That’s when I heard a distant roar. I had no idea what it was, but it scared me to death. “Can you hear that?”

“Hear what?” DH wasn’t in a really good mood with sweat pouring into his eyes.

“That sound. It like a great big wind, heading our way.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“It’s either a great big wind or someone is riding a motor cycle down the middle of the lake!” I snapped.

Before he could answer me, the wind caught up with us. It filled the sail and the jib, and before we could catch our breaths, tilted the boat high on its edge. I sat close to the cuddy cabin on the low side, and when I glanced at YB to see that he was okay, I saw him bail off the high side into the stormy lake.

Then we capsized. I grabbed the two loose life jackets and put one under each arm to keep them from being washed away.

YB swam up close to me and grabbed the end of the boat. DH worked hard to pull himself onto the top of the bottom of the boat. While he was pulling himself up, YB said, “Quick, Susan, take this.”

“This” was the rudder–which is solid iron and acted like an anchor in my hand, weighing me down so low, I could barely keep  my nose above water.

Then DH said, “Hand me one of those life jackets, Susan. I’ll put it on.”

I started scissor kicking hard to keep the water out of my mouth. “I can’t. I’m holding the rudder. If I give you a life jacket, I’ll go to bottom.”

“Why are you holding the rudder?” 

I was a little irritated. “Because your brother pulled it out and I didn’t want to have to buy another one.”

He looked down from his safe spot. “Okay. Hand it to me.”

“Hand it to you? How? I can barely keep it where it is. I sure can’t lift it.”

Oh.” Getting on one knee, he reached down and took the rudder, placing it next to him. “You all get up here.”

YB climbed up and sat on the sloping portion, then we looked toward shore. DH’s mother was running up and down the beach as if she thought we were going to be swept out to sea at any moment. (Oklahoma is a long way from the sea, but that didn’t enter her mind. Her baby was in trouble.)

His father found someone who had a boat with an engine and sent them out to rescue us. But the waves were so high and the wind so bad, each time they got close, they almost landed on top of us. They had to give up.

In a while a man with long hair, wearing only a pair of cutoffs and carrying an empty gallon milk carton came wading into the lake, then swam toward us.

“Go back! Go back!” DH yelled.

The guy ignored him. When he got there, he told us he was with lake rescue.

“What’s the milk carton for?” I asked.

“It’s to tie to the mast in case we have to drop it.”

He told DH to get off the boat, go underneath and break the mast over. DH went under, but it took him so long to find the mast and do the necessary adjustments in the dark, the stranger thought he was going to have to rescue him.

DH finally popped back out, safe and sound. With the mast now hinged instead of fixed, the wind was able to blow the boat onto its side. We easily pushed it to shore.

A bit upset (and in my first trimester of pregnancy) I got in the truck and let DH and his dad load up.

Although we still own it, we only went out on that boat one more time. It was a Fourth of July when the wind blew so hard, it forced us against the rocks under the railroad trestle. Unwilling to chance capsizing again, I whistled down a passing boat (yep, I got the big whistle gene in this fam) and got us a tow back to shore.

What are your favorite Memorial Day memories? Sprucing up the cemetery with your grandparents when you were a kid? Going on picnics with your families? Vacations that span the weekend? Or for you, was Memorial Day just a day to catch up on yard work?


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Yesterday evening, G-Man and I went to visit his parents’ graves. (His dad was in Patton’s 3rd during WWII.) They’re on the far north side, and driving out I happened to notice, clear across the cemetery on the south side, a beautiful sight. Naturally, I snapped a picture.

I took a few more out the window when my man said, “What are you doing?”

“Taking pictures of those flags over there.”

So we took a detour to see the flags on the hill.

I don’t know about you, but the sight of all that red, white and blue bunting standing out in the breeze stirs my blood.

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Association for the Beautification of the Graves of the Glorious Dead

Mierlo War Cemetery, Mierlo, The Netherlands -...

As far as I know, there aren’t any songs pertaining to it. And I can’t think of one movie that’s built around it. But this is the Memorial Day Weekend.

You can tell it’s the beginning of summer holiday weekend, can’t you? The weather’s warm–at least here in Okie Land–people are crowding the grocery stores in preparation for get-togethers, getting their boats ready to take off for the lake and it seems everyone is busy getting ready to play.

Even here on the blog, only three sluts posted this week, and that’s if you count me. 🙂

Most of us work, work, work and hurry, hurry, hurry, just to get ready for this holiday weekend. And that’s just a little bit strange when I think about it.

It’s not as if we’re going Europe or Hawaii for the celebration. So why do we do it? Why do we stop our lives and neglect whatever we can that won’t cause us too much trouble, so we can get ready? Especially when we know there’ll be just that much more to do when we get back to normal?

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Old Home Week

G-Man cemented the long string yesterday (don’t ask) so I went to church headed to lunch at Sister Debbie’s. (She’s the family hostess. Talk about a gift! Hospitality is her forte!) But after church and before lunch was ready, Dad and I decided to take a drive through the cemetery.

When we got there, Grandmother’s arrangement was dangling by a wire (the wind on top of that hill was only blowing 40 and gusting up to 355 mph.) We drove around, seeing old friends’ graves, pointing out where new ones were.

I showed him Cathy’s dad’s headstone and he pointed out Carolyn’s and Mick’s. I love seeing the saddles of flowers sitting on the headstones. (Looks a lot like sweet little ladies in church with flowery hats on.)

The feeling is bitter-sweet, isn’t it? Sad at our losses (always too soon); glad because someone cared enough to decorate.

Late in the evening, G-Man came home and we took an arrangement to put on his parents’ grave.

This isn’t G-Man’s family, but I love these beautiful memorials in his hometown cemetery.

When we had our arrangement wired down (Memorial Day is notorious for storms and winds that blow MD decorations to Texas) G-Man asked if I’d like to go to B’ville or Punkin Center for dinner.

We decided to hit the former. To get there we drove through The Pioneer Woman’s small town world. In case you’re wondering, no. She didn’t wave as we went by and we didn’t drop in. 🙂

Even though the highway has moved, I remembered a shop I visited there long ago called Grandma’s Back Porch that was filled with antiques and antique-looking things. I loved stopping there. I don’t remember buying much, but I loved it!

A short time later, we got to B’ville. Talk about Old Home Week! We drove on straight into downtown, and oh, boy! The memories came back! (The first town we lived in after we were married.)

Just as we entered town, we saw a Murphy’s Steak House, a restaurant we visited as often as possible. It’s moved from where we remembered it, but the sign looked the same.

Although we didn’t eat there, I’m fairly certain the food is the same. A salad big enough to make Seinfield smile, steaks so huge they hung off the plate and a mountain of fries.

Once when I wasn’t able to finish my dinner (back in the day) the waiter stopped me to ask if something wrong with my food.

I had that pain-in-the-gut feeling. You know the one, where you feel like a little kid being told to stay at the table until you’ve eaten everything on your plate?

My first impulse was to grab G-Man’s hand and run! Instead I said, “I just can’t eat that much.” We were allowed to leave after that.

So back to last night–we drove right past the street to the little house we lived in, the pharmacy G-Man helped open that year and V’s, the department store where I managed the junior department.

I loved working for V’s! We had a juke box in my department (although the songs weren’t what I would have chosen) and really cute clothes. The girls who regularly shopped there were so much fun to work with!

After all these years, V’s is long gone 😦 and there’s a furniture store in its place.

When we’d eaten at Montana Mike’s, we drove home past Woolaroc. (If you’ve never been there, make time to go. It’s fantastic!) This is one of the Pioneer Women on display there, and the one I like best. I get tears in my eyes when I think about those women who lost their husbands on the wild prairie and still pressed on–a baby on one arm, rifle on the other.

And we drove through Barnsdall–

Singer Anita Bryant was born in Barnsdall. Bryant was also Miss America runner-up. Movie Star Clark Gable, famous for his role in “Gone With the Wind”, came to Barnsdall for a short while when the town was in the oil business.

Barnsdall has two properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the Bank of Bigheart and the Barnsdall Main Street Well Site, an oil well in the middle of Main Street. (From Wikipedia)

This isn’t from Wikipedia, but Frank Blake–the man who established the Dari Diner (world’s best bbq) in C-Town–is from Barnsdall. (The Shay clan is eternally grateful for DD and him!)

How’d you spend your Sunday? Any plans for Memorial Day itself? I wonder if the majority of people will go to the lake or if they’ll spend time catching up on neglected chores.

I’ll be taking the chores route. How about you?