Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


The New Look

Small Town World has a new look. Did you notice?

A long time ago, Mom told me about life during World War II. Food was rationed, coffee scarce, chocolate practically nonexistent because it went to the guys fighting the war. She said fashions of the time reflected the scarcity of fabric.

Long gathered skirts were out. Slimmer skirts were in.


I know people planted Victory Gardens back then. I remember wondering when Mom told me about living with those clothes, which she said she got really tired of, if they called them Victory Skirts.

Probably not. 🙂

When the war was over, Christian Dior came out with The New Look.


From Design Museum , 1947.

SMT’s new look isn’t as different or beautiful as Christian’s, but it probably didn’t take him nearly as long as it took me, either.

Here are a couple of my attempts. (Yes, there were others.) spring collage  Too busy. And just doesn’t quite fit.

marchie collage

Close, but no cigar. 😉

Even though after the 17th, I’ll need to lose St. Paddy and play with my look some more, I like the header I ended up with.

That said, I don’t think Christian has to worry about losing his title of The New Look King.

  • 1940-1947 (

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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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Granddad Ray & a Vaca

There’s a blog about vacations called Bucket List Publications. The author is an adorable young woman who travels all over, photographing the world and having grand adventures.

I’m willing to bet she didn’t have a granddad like mine.

The sibs and I grew up living next door to our paternal grandparents. If you ever wondered what it would be like to have two sets of parents, ask me sometime.

Granddad Ray taught his children and grandchildren a great work ethic, and he did that by LOVING his work. He had many jobs in his life (butcher, PA, grocery store merchant, rancher, farmer and You-Name-It-He-Done-It-In-The-Patch) and from what I’ve been able to tell, he loved the guts out of every one of them.

What he didn’t love–honestly didn’t understand–were vacations. It wasn’t that he thought something bad might happen when he was gone. He didn’t even worry that someone would steal what he thought was his.

Granddad just loved working so much, he wanted to be there. He thought everyone should. He didn’t understand why anyone ever wanted a break from it. Of course, that didn’t stop his sons from taking vacations. 🙂

Because my fam lived next door, if we took a vacation, we usually invited G & G to go with us. Often, Grandmother would go. Usually, Granddad did not, but once in a while . . .

One year, Granddad went to Branson with us. I’m not sure why, because we hadn’t been there long when he threatened to take his car (the one I was driving to college, and had driven directly there to meet them) and go home.

Another time, just after we got to Colorado, he wanted to head home.

Grandmother, on the other hand, loved going and happily stayed without complaint. She was a real trooper. Of course, she might have taken after her father.

Granddad Mitchell operated a filling station when my dad was a kid. Dad’s the youngest in his fam, and Uncle Frank is #1. When UF graduated high school, WWII was just underway, and his girlfriend had moved to California. (I’m guessing it had to do with her father and war work, but I don’t know for sure.)

UF missed her and wanted drive out to visit, so Granddad suggested Grandmother, Aunt Phyllis and Dad should go along, too.  As they were on their way out of town, they stopped to fill up at Granddad Mitchell’s gas station.

“Come and go with us,” Grandmother quipped as her dad filled up their car.

“I’ll be right back,” he answered.

Ten minutes later, they headed west. Grandmother, Frank, Phyllis, Dad and Granddad Mitchell.

First time I heard that story, I was more than a little surprised. Who can decide and get ready to go on a vaca in just ten minutes? What about having enough clothes? Planning which way and where to stay?

And what about money? Even though someone had already planned and was carrying enough money to pay for gas, etc. on the trip, Granddad would be an extra mouth to feed, and an extra bed to rent. They didn’t have credit cards back then. What did they do?

Dad said Granddad took a ten dollar bill along. I know things cost much less right after the depression, but three meals a day, all they way to California and back for $10? That’s some budgeting.

And what about the station? Who took care of it?

Grandma Mitchell, of course.

I asked Dad if Grandma M got upset with Granddad for taking off like that.

He said Grandma was never upset with Granddad.

“I never saw her mad at him. She was a hard worker, always busy with one thing or another, and she never complained. Anything Granddad wanted to do was ‘jake’ with her.”

On the way out there, they had breakfast in a small town in New Mexico. Aunt Phyllis ordered a hamburger for breakfast, surprising Dad and the rest of the vacationers.

When they were in the car later, Phyllis swore the burger tasted so bad, it had to have been horse meat.

He never did figure out how she knew what horse meat tasted like.

Our family vacas aren’t even close to the ones Lesley has on her Bucket List, but with relatives like mine, we go at them from a whole different angle. 😉


My Cup Runneth

A friend gave me a gift that makes me grin everytime I look at it.

Can you read the caption? It says, “DRAW FREELY UPON YOUR IMAGINATION.” And under the quote, it says, “Albert Einstein.”

I love the cup! I drink coffee out of it every chance I get. 🙂 But even more, I love the idea that Albert was so cool. I mean, he’s the guy who came up with the theory of relativity. E=MC2 right?

Who knew a guy who could use his brain like that could also design such cool cups? After drinking out of that cup for several years, I thought I’d see what else Al had to say. Turns out, he was quoted quite a lot.

  •  “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Oooh, I love that, because I have way more imagination than I have knowledge. (Okay, we won’t go there.) I’m glad to know at least Albert thought it was a good thing.

Love it, Al!

I kept looking, then landed on this one.

  • “I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.”

Albert Einstein knew God? I’m so gold to know that.

  • “God is subtle but he is not malicious.”

He did know about Him!

  • “God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.”  All righty, then. 😉

I wondered what else he said about God.

  • Before God we are all equally wise – and equally foolish.”
  • “God always takes the simplest way.”
  • “God does not play dice.”
  • “God may be subtle, but he isn’t plain mean.”

The way Al worshiped God might not be the same as I do, but he knew Him. Here’s another of my favorite quotes of his–

  • “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”

Maybe we should combine this quote with “imagination is more important than knowledge,” and we could have some fun with our CPA. Or, wait. Did Al Capone already tried that?  😉

Amen to that, brother!

Maybe I should introduce him to Terminally Curious.

I think they’d really like each other. 🙂

Of course, Terminally Curious wanted to know more about him. He was born in Germany in 1879, later moved to Switzerland, where he became a citizen, moved back to Germany in 1914 where he became a citizen, but renounced his citizenship in 1933 for political reasons.

That’s when he came to America.

He was married twice, divorced once, and had three children–two boys and a girl. And that makes me wonder, Did he bring his children to America with him or did they live out WWII in Germany? How sad would that be?

Did his children have his brilliance and imagination?


My Favorite(s)!

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the tr...

Image via Wikipedia

What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day? (Once you get past the wonder-awe of watching rain fall.)

Mine is to stay home, watch old movies and knit. Oh, and eat popcorn! Or apples. (If I lived in Seattle, I’d weigh half a ton.)

I really enjoy old movies. So much that, when they were little, one of my kids asked me once if the world was black and white when I was young. (I still wonder if he was being a smart alack. LOL!)

Some of my favorite oldies? “Valley of Decision” with Greer Garson and Gregory Peck. (Yum!)

A servant in the mill owner’s house falls in love with the son of the house. But her father bitterly hates the mill owner (and anyone connected to him) because he was crippled in the mill.

It’s a fantastic 1945 movie with a not-so-wonderful title. If you get the chance, watch it! Naturally, it has an HEA.

Another favorite of mine is “Now, Voyager.” This 1942 movie stars Bette Davis, Paul Henreid and Claud Rains. Bette is a spinster whose mother has kept her under her thumb. The movie is about her breaking free and her growth as a person. And for some reason, I love it!

If you have a few moments, watch the videos. The first one introduces Charlotte. (Bette)

This next one shows Charlotte after she’s been away from her overbearing mother and grown into her own person.

Another movie I watch over and over, especially on rainy days, is Mrs. Miniver.

Greer Garson (again) and Walter Pidgeon star in this 1942 movie. It’s a wonderful story about the life of an English family in the first months of World War II–1939–and the strength of the mother of the clan.

You can probably find snippets of all these movies at Youtube, but they’re best when you watch them in their entirety with a big bowl of popcorn in your lap.

So share with us. What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?