Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Read ♥ Read ♥ Read

Maybe I’m biased (who? Me?) but I’ve never understood people who didn’t love to read.

When you read you can go anywhere, see anything, be anyone, experience anything at all and every emotion under the sun!

In just the books I’ve written I’ve been accused of kidnapping (TO SCHOOL A COWBOY) a touch psychic (BLIND SIGHT) and a werewolf with a biting sense of humor (MAKE ME HOWL.) Yes, as Jazzy, the werewolf, I could stand on my own two–make that four–feet. 🙂

When I was growing up, I was Will Rogers with a dry sense of humor, Jane Adams who married a president, Jane Addams who started the first child care centers in America, Amelia Earhart, who had such a sense of adventure she built her own roller coaster as a kid and later learned to fly, and Molly Pitcher, whose husband passed out at his cannon during the Revolutionary War, so she took over for him.

In my years (AND YEARS) of reading I’ve played with Dick, Jane and Spot and lived in a harem. I’ve been a pirate, where I learned to sword fight, I’ve fallen in love over and over again with heroes of every ilk, and I’ve explored the west with Louis L’Amour.

I’ve even walked with Jesus.

I can’t think of many places I haven’t read. Under the covers when I was a kid and supposed to be sleeping, the car, a plane, on a train, college libraries, classes, even on the delivery table when my youngest son was born. (The nurse wrestled the book from my hands when the actual delivery happened.)

The greatest gift I ever received or gave someone else was the love of reading. One of my biggest joys in life was taking my younger siblings and later my children to get their own library cards so they could check out any book they wanted. That was a real gift! (And it didn’t cost a dime.)

Have I mentioned I like to read? (Yes, I get a little passionate about it.)

How about you? What do you like to read?


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To You, Blue

#1 son told me last week at his birthday party that he reads my blog, except for one day of the week. “I don’t like to read recipes, Mom. They’re boring.”

So, no recipe today, and it’s Danny’s fault. As the number one son, and being the possessor of an outrageous imagination, I’ve heard that phrase more than once in my life. And, to be very honest, life with Danny has never been boring. 🙂

Once when he was just out of high school, he decided to take a Route 66 car trip with a friend. He wanted to go all the way to the ocean, but his friend got homesick for his girlfriend, and at the Grand Canyon, they turned around and came home.

I’m not a Route 66 know-it-all, but there are a ton of books out there that can tell you all about it. They have pictures of all the great attractions along the way between Chicago and LA.

From what I read on one site, Route 66 is the way the route the mountain men and immigrant wagon trains took when they went west.

And so it began.

Cyrus Avery, an Oklahoman who wanted to improve the highways to and through our state, is credited with the Great Idea.

Supporters of the major east to west route from Chicago to Los Angeles wanted to follow the Old Santa Fe Trail, which would by pass Oklahoma.

This road would be linked with the Old Santa Fe Trail across the Southwest, which would then be connected to Beale’s wagon route through California to form the National Old Trails Road.

Avery knew that a major highway through Oklahoma would boost that state’s economy so he relentlessly pushed for an alternate route.

Cyrus Avery used a little known trail from the California Gold Rush that ran through Oklahoma, as he drew plans for the route that would become Route 66. He was successful in his bid to have the new route pass through his home state.

This route was designated U.S. Highway 66. On November 11, 1926 a bill was signed in Washington creating the American Highway System. Route 66 along with the rest of the early two-lane roads became a reality.

Route 66 would become the most celebrated and famous of these two-lanes. Route 66 was about to become the “Main Street of America.”

For a while, anyway. Route 66 is still in use in some places, and pretty much ignored in others.

There are lots of wonderful places to visit if you follow it to California (just ask Danny) such as in Claremore, Oklahoma, where you can see the Will Rogers Museum and the Davis Gun Museum, and Catoosa, Oklahoma, the home of the Blue Whale.

Have you ever visited the Blue Whale?

Sadly, I haven’t. But I’ve seen him many times alongside the road. There’s a great story about where he came from. A very imaginative man built him for his wife for their anniversary. (And it wasn’t her idea!)

For a while they opened it to the public as a swim park. Wouldn’t that be a great place to play in the summertime?

The whale fell into disrepair for a few years, but in recent years, it’s been adopted by the City of Catoosa and Hampton Inns.

See the cap on Blue’s head? I always wondered if that cap originally belonged to Jonah.

What do you think?




A Will Deal

This morning, after my commune time, I flicked on the flat screen and to my disappointment, there was a silent movie on my favorite movie channel. At least I thought I was disappointed, until I saw what it was.

Know who this is?

Will Rogers.

 The movie was a documentary (travel film?) he’d made called “Roaming the Emerald Isle.”

Ireland (a country my man and and I have always planned to visit, but haven’t. Yet. God willing, we will some day!) and Will Rogers–one of my childhood heroes. What’s not to love about that?

What I enjoyed most was Will himself. Will died in 1935, a couple of days before I was born. (My parents were 4 and 5.)

Did you know Will was Oklahoma’s favorite son? He was also one of my heroes when I was a kid. (I read his biography and later watched the movie about his life, which starred his son.)

From Wikipedia:

Rogers was born to a prominent Cherokee Nation family in Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma). (From Susan–between today’s Claremore and Oolagah.) He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50 silent films and 21 “talkies“),[2] wrote more than 4,000 nationally-syndicated newspaper columns,[3] and became a world-famous figure. By the mid-1930s, Rogers was adored by the American people. He was the leading political wit of the Progressive Era, and was the top-paid Hollywood movie star at the time.

Will had a great way of turning a phrase. Here’s one of my favorites.

 Isn’t that the truth?

I’ve seen some of his talkies, but watching him in this travel film, I saw something I’d missed before. His hat.

I knew he wore a hat–nearly everyone did until the ’50’s and ’60’s–but the way he sported and handled his fedora caught my eye. The man moved and looked like someone I’ve known. Or should have known. 😉

Or maybe it reminded me of my granddads.

This belonged to Granddad Reeves.

Kind of looks like Will borrowed Granddad’s hat for this pic, doesn’t it?

Granddad was a slow talking guy. Tall (in my mind, at least) with a perpetual cigarette in his hand. If he wasn’t smoking, he jingled coins in his pocket or fiddled with his lighter.

I don’t remember him saying a whole lot (Grandma said enough for both of them!) but he raised a passel of great kids and taught them a great work ethic. He built, wired and plumbed at least two houses that I remember. In World War I he was an army cook and such a great guy that my grandma lived in a tent to be near him.

  This belonged to Granddad Ray.

Will is the guy on the left. His hat isn’t very different from Granddad’s, is it?

Any guesses what that stain on Granddad’s hat is? If you guessed oil, you were right. (I’m not sure if that’s hair oil or petroleum.) This granddad was in a lot of different businesses from butcher shops to insurance sales to oil to farm/ranching. And he was a dandy. Always looked and smelled good! (Mama said before men’s colognes were available, Granddad would sometimes wear women’s cologne.)

He lived next door most of my growing up years and I remember a lot of things he said. How upset he got when my boyfriend brought another girl home from college. How proud he was of my brother when he went to college. And how he didn’t recognize me in Sister Debbie’s wedding. (That’s a real shocker.)

When my grandparents passed away, the thing I asked for was a hat. I got one of each of theirs except Grandma Reeves. (She had big straw hats she wore in the garden. I don’t know where they ended up, but I hope it wasn’t the trash.)

“Well, I can understand a man perhaps being eccentric enough to want to own a silk hat.”

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries.”

“A fool and his money are soon elected.”(Susan–Can I get an amen?)

“A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.”

“A remark generally hurts in proportion to its truth.”

“A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.”
Will Rogers

Wow. Wish I’d had a chance to be around Will. For a guy who didn’t graduate from high school, he had a lot of knowledge to share! If more people had his morals and values today, what a beautiful world we’d have!

You can read more about Will Rogers and his wife, Betty.

What kind of heroes did you have as a kid?