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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Fried Chicken 4th

It’s nearly Independence Day, already! They’re even doing 4th of July weather reports, so we know it’ll be here in a matter of days. How’d that happen?

That means it’s time to buy a few chickens and haul out the cast iron skillets. Why? you ask. Because, in the Shay household, 4th of July means FRIED CHICKEN!

mom's chicken pan

(Hooray!!!)

I put flour, salt, pepper and a little garlic powder in a bag (paper or plastic) and shake my chicken up in it (a few pieces at a time) then fry the pieces in canola oil. With the heat on about medium, I cook the chicken with a lid on for a few minutes on each side, then take the lid off and turn the heat up a little to give the chicken a good color and great crunch. I’m not the best chicken fryer in the world (can’t be, since I only practice my magic one time a year) but nobody complains while they’re chowing down. LOL.

I’m not sure when it started, but sometime in the distant past, I started frying chicken one day a year. Only on the 4th of July. One of the first Fried Chicken Fourths I remember, the kids were all fairly small. (grade school/middle school age.) I fried up a few chickens and we loaded up and went to Oklahoma City. We found Thunderbird Park, which had old military equipment (tanks, jeeps, helicopters, planes) for the kids to play on, and some picnic tables, and had our lunch.

okc imagesO1XZL3TY

There was a military museum nearby, the 45th Infantry Museum, and since our family never saw a museum we didn’t love–at least that’s what our kids thought– we had to check it out!

OKC imagesHGIILUOM

Since G-Man’s dad was in WWII, our boys had a great time.

okc imagesYW0MT0Z9This is not a picture of Gary’s dad. LOL.

Finally, after our fried chicken and a stroll through history lesson, we all went to the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden.

the-oklahoma-city-zoo-coupons

Since we had three little boys in tow, you can probably guess how much time we spent in the Botanical Gardens. LOL. But we had a great time at the zoo. Especially when we found the Tiger Cage. (C-Town and Pryor Creek Tigers! Yay!!!)

oklahoma-city-zoo

I have some great memories tangled up with our fried chicken. Times when Mom and Dad came up for chicken, and afterward we parked on the Salina Bridge to see the fireworks, and times when we took our Party Barge out on the lake for tubing and chicken. I’m SO looking forward to grandchildren and the fun time we’ll have with them eating my fried chicken on the 4th! (And possibly any time they want it.)

Loving the Fried Chicken 4th!

Do you have any traditions you practice on the 4th that you can share? We might want to add them to our chicken. 😀

 

 

 

 


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Father’s Day–a Great Way to Spend a Weekend!

Wasn’t this a great weekend?

On Friday, my critique group came to C-Town to have a yummy lunch (Dari Diner–oh, so good!) I love having them come to my stomping grounds. Fun!

Then Saturday, a couple of friends I’ve known all their lives (literally) got married. I borrowed this pic from their Facebook page.

10466893_10201967561261164_1336497916_nAren’t they adorable? I love it when people who should be together finally get together! Best wishes, Ronnie and Jana Kay!

Then my kiddos came out to celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day. While we were getting ready for them, I found this

tiny-giftsI know it’s only a toadstool, but the bright color in the middle of those dead leaves grabbed me. Beautiful!

I warned the kids I wanted a family picture while they were here, so I took this picture of Minerva as a test shot.

Minerva's-tea-partyAlthough they weren’t thrilled to get to do it, I got several group pics. (I doubt I’ll get another one right away.)

This one is what I’ll probably finally have framed to hang over my fireplace.

fam-big-picAfter a little work with some Adobe help. 😉

But this one is my favorite. (It might end up over the fireplace.)

family-stairs

We had a wonderful dinner from Joseph’s in Drumright, Oklahoma. Then we played a game that had us all laughing so hard! I don’t remember the name of it, but DIL#1 and #2 got headaches from laughing so hard.

Not sure what that’s a sign of, but I think we need to play more games.

🙂

Then on Sunday after church, we went to Deb’s (She’s the perfect hostess!) for chicken and noodles. One of Dad’s favorite meals.

Another-dollThis is Deb’s youngest granddaughter. She’s SO cute! (Love the way she says my name.)

Canaan-DollyThis is Melanie’s older daughter. Aren’t they adorable? This one sang me a song about being a scarecrow.

love-that-face!Don’t you love that face? (This was right after she yelled, BOO!)

dad-and-jeff

And here’s my final Father’s Day celebration of the year. Dad and Brother Jeffrey. Handsome dudes, aren’t they?

I gave Dad a card for Father’s Day. It says he could write a book about raising perfect children. LOL!

And then, I had to have a picture of them with Deb who’s so good to have us in her home.

dad,-deb-and-jeffDad, Deb and Jeffrey.

A dad is so important in a person’s life. Whether they’re biological fathers, steps, adopted or borrowed, everyone needs someone to teach them how to live life the right way.

My dad, Carol Spess, made it easy to understand how our Father in Heaven loves us unconditionally, because he loves his children that way. He says his dad taught him, so maybe it’s genetic. Or it could be a learned thing, passed from generation to generation.

For some people, it has to be learned by watching someone not so perfect and seeing what not to do. But where there’s a will . . .

A good parent (mother and/or father) is essential. And, luckily, I had both!

So, how did you celebrate your dad?

 


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Hap-Hap-Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s Mother’s Day. CELEBRATE! (LOL)

My boys have always been wonderful MD observers. But one of them didn’t always celebrate MY motherhood, as I mentioned in this Mother’s Day Post.  😉

When I was born, my folks lived in an old two story house in the Basin near Old ‘Ford. They always called it, “Aunt Sarah’s House.” For a long time, I didn’t know I had an Aunt Sarah.

Aunt-Sarah

This is Aunt Sarah, who really wasn’t an aunt at all. She was my g-g-granddad’s 2nd wife. She had 357 kids with g-g-granddad Okay, not that many. Actually, it was twelve, but with his three kids from his first marriage, I’m sure it seemed like 357 on some days!

Aunt Sarah was 17 years younger than Grandpa Joe. I’m not sure when Sarah and Joe married, but Mary died in 1881 and Sarah and Joe had their first child in 1883.

They had their last child together in 1901, and Grandpa Joe died in 1903. Sarah then remarried and had another child in 1908. If all her children and step-children had lived (they didn’t) imagine the Mother’s Days Sarah would have had! She should have cleaned up!

EXCEPT: Mother’s Day didn’t start until 1908. Poor woman raised sixteen children with no Mother’s Days to compensate her.

Aunt Sarah’s house had three bedrooms upstairs and one down. I’m not sure where they put everyone. How many kids can sleep in one bed?

No. Running. Water. And yes, the bathroom was outside. Imagine that many people waiting to go! LOL.

 

great-great-grandparentsIn case you’re wondering about her, this Great-Great-Grandma Mary, who died at age 30 before Grandpa Joe came to OkieLand.

When you compare 12 or 15, counting step-children, to only 6, my mama didn’t have that many kiddos. And since I only had three, I’m a real piker! 🙂

I’ve had people ask how a woman could divide her love enough for so many kids.

The answer is, it doesn’t divide. It multiplies. (I learned that at my Mama’s knee!)

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day? Flowers? Lavish gifts? A good book? (I have a suggestion if you need one. *wink*) Inquiring minds!


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Saw Mills and Cotton Gins

Allene, this one’s for you!

great-great-granddad-JosephMeet Joe.

That’s really a copy-machine copy of a picture, so it’s not very good, but it’s the best I’ve got. And really, I’m lucky to have it.

Joe was my Grandmother Ruby’s Granddad, which makes him my great-great-granddad. (Is that cool or what?) His name was Josephus (really!) C. Mitchell, and he was born in North Carolina.

He lived in Illinois in 1875 and had moved to West Plains, Missouri by 1881.

I don’t believe Joe came to Oklahoma for the opening of the Cherokee Strip, at least he didn’t get land in the rush. But not long afterward, he owned a saw mill and cotton gin in the Basin–in the spot where the house was that my parents lived in when I was born.

They always called it Aunt Sarah’s house. Now I know why. (Being his step-mother, Granddad Mitchell called her “Aunt” instead of mother.)

lumber-mill-and-cotton-ginThis picture has stacks of lumber and bales of cotton as well as several people standing around. (The man in the black hat is standing on a bale of cotton.)

Two of those people are my great-granddad and my great-great-granddad. GGG also had a post office and general store in that area, too.

great-great-grandparents

This is another picture of great and great great. The baby is my g-granddad.

The woman is Josephus’s first wife (and my g-g-grandmother) Mary. (Looks irritated, doesn’t she? I might have had that look a time or two in my life.)

Mary died at the age of 30 in West Plains, after having three children. The oldest was six, the youngest two, so old Joe remarried.

2nd-great-granddad-Joe's-1s

This is Mary’s headstone. The note that came with the picture says that Mary’s son, G-Granddad N. S., quarried the stone himself. Since Granddad was only about six when she died, he must have done it some years later.

Aunt-Sarah

Aunt Sarah

This is Sarah, Joe’s second wife. He married her eight months after Mary died, while they were still in Missouri. She was 17 years younger than him. She and Joe would go on to have twelve children together. (They named one Okla Homer. Don’t you love it?)

Some of the children died at birth or soon after, and at least two died by the time they were three. Hurts your heart to think about, doesn’t it?

After 21 years of marriage to Sarah, Joe died. Sarah married a man named Johnson and had yet another child. (She was one busy woman!)

Being Terminally Curious, I really wish I knew the story behind their lives. How did they happen to come to the Mannford area? How and why did Joe die? How did Sarah feel when Joe died, leaving her with all those children to raise?

Did Joe make his wives happy? Or were they too busy keeping all those kids fed to notice?

Sarah’s two youngest were five and two when their daddy died. The two-year-old, Jimmie, would die the next year. Doesn’t that just break your heart?

The first time I heard of Joe, I read about him in a book called Cherokee Strip Fever  by Zola Sample. She only mentions him in passing as the store owner in the Basin, but it was a thrill to see my family mentioned in that book.

I think I’ll have to read it again one of these days. 🙂


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Adding a New Season of the Year

Oklahoma has announced it’s going to a five season year. The Legislature has decided that from now on we won’t only have Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. We’ll be the first state to go to a five season year.

Fire Season.

1JOKE

But it seems that every year we start the almost springtime with wild fires. Those fires burn our woods, and our homes and sometime (sadly) people.

This year, it has started already.

firestarter

Tuesday night I was driving home from work behind a slow poke. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw a white pickup with a red and blue light bar tailgating me.

The first time we had a tiny gap in traffic and that pickup passed me like I was parked with a fence around me. I did catch a glimpse of the sign on the door.

“RESCUE.”

When the rescue truck got off the expressway at my exit and made that light bar go hot, I got a little nervous. And when I noticed the sky choked with smoke, I was plain old scared.

fire

The truck wasn’t headed to my house to rescue Miss Molly. (Thank you, Jesus!) They were out to rescue someone else’s family on the other side of the  expressway.

Question: Why do we have wild fires?

Answer: We need rain.

Question: How do they start?

Answer: Many ways.

firewell

I heard one day a couple of years ago fires were springing up in several areas along the highway, someone was driving down the road throwing out something flaming to start them intentionally. It turned out a truck had a chain dragging behind it, which sparked and caught the dry grass. (I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s possible.)

Years ago, my BIL threw a lighted cigarette out the window of a truck. The next day he drove past the same pasture and it had burned from that cigarette.

Sometimes, lightning starts them, but normally it’s humans who do the job. (Fireworks, anyone? Campfires. Outdoor grilling.)

Question: Have you ever been in a wild fire?

Answer: Yes. Before we moved to Pryor Creek, one started and swept across the property we lived on. We had a two story house with a high peaked roof, and those flames were burning higher than the top of that roof.

And for some reason, fire creates wind. At least it seemed that way to me. My cousin lived next door. (We built our houses at the same time.) While G-Man and I’d had trees pushed back from our house (makes yard work easier), my cousin kept as many trees as he could around his. It really is better for your power bills to do that, but when the fires came, his house was in more danger than ours.

firegrassagain

Everyone helped. We grabbed all the hoses we could find, ran hoses from our house to his and sprayed things down. (Yes, we wet our house down, too.)

The fire department was there, fighting. People with tank trucks hauled in water and wet things for us. Everyone pitched in to help.

Luckily, we didn’t lose anything vital. Our homes made it through, but it was scary.

I wasn’t like the people you see on TV who load up everything important and leave. I stayed right where I was. Siblings, cousins, friends were there with us.

firemen

Ever notice when someone you might not know pitches in to help you, they’re suddenly a friend? And how a friend/relative who’s there shoulder to shoulder with you are forever after more than what they were? They’re a hero.

Ooh, another gift for my list!

In the battle (of a fire) we learn who the true heroes are.

Have you ever been through an Oklahoma Wild Fire?

 


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Starting a New

I haven’t been on strike. Honest! I was just sucked into a new world. Alternate reality. The place writers go when they give in to their imagination.

In Other Words (IOW) I started writing a new book. And boy! Am I having fun.

I decided to break all my self-imposed rules. Rules like–Never use family names for your characters and Never base books too heavily on my hometown and people in it.

Right now my heroine’s name is Glory Matthews. This is my son, Matthew, sitting on my mom’s lap.
matt and grandmommie_edited-1
My hero’s name is Eli Daniels. This is my son, Danny, driving a Duck.
danny
BTW: I’m thinking this book might be part of a series.
Question: Where’d you get the idea for this book? (That’s a question I hear a lot.)
Answer: I! Don’t! Know!
All I knew was I wanted to write a light, humorous book filled with emotion, so I sent that idea to the basement for the boys to work on. (Stephen King reference.) SISTERS is what they sent back up.
Question: What’s the series’ basic premise?
Answer: Sisters who run a daycare in a small town world. 🙂  
One sister is an RN. Poor thing couldn’t get used to hurting people (injections, taking blood, giving yucky meds) to make them better. The other sister, Star, is an extremely talented baker. She bakes for the coffee shop in town. (And she keeps the kiddos happy at the daycare.)
Their best friend is Halle Kennedy. Halle owns a gift/antique/junk/flower/coffee shop, and I’ll be writing a book based on her romance, too. (Busy girl.)
 BTW: I might have mentioned I have three sons. The third one, Bradley, will be the last name of my hero in the next book. (Unless I change my mind.)
This is my baby boy, Bradley.
brad-splash
The series is set in Sky, Oklahoma, the state’s farthest north town. (By fractions of a millimeter, but hey! It is.)
So if you wondering where I’ve gone, it’s to Sky, but I’m not Lucy and I don’t have diamonds. (Hello, Beatles!) 
Oh, and the name Sky isn’t a wave at the Beatles, it’s a tip of my hat to Skye O’Malley, by Bertrice Small., one of my all time favorite and the very first romance I ever read. So, so good! 
 
I figure if I’m going to spend most of my spare time and lose sleep writing, I might as well have fun doing it. 🙂
 
Here’s the question of the day:
What’s your all time ♥ favorite♥ book?
Care to share?