From “Duck and Cover” How I Learned to Live Life in The Fetal Position

Mid-19th century, when I was in elementary school (the 1960s, to be exact), we did not have school shootings, with students killing one another. Our main fear, in those days, was atomic war, when the Russians would drop the bomb, and within hours, maybe days, all that would remain of life on earth would be cockroaches.
With that in mind, some brilliant brain trust in the Office of Civil Defense devised a procedure for school children to follow in the event of what seemed to be that inevitable situation.
Part of the process involved the parents completing a card at the beginning of the school year. The form was basically a directive indicating their desired disposal of their child should a natural (or unnatural) disaster require a sudden abortion to the regular school day.

As I recall, the available options on this sort of precursor to the living will were

* Child is to remain at school

* Child will be picked up from school

* Child is to get home the best way he/she can

I was already a latchkey kid, because Mom worked full time, and didn’t drive. So, every year, it was decided that when the air raids started, I should just head home, as usual. That was fine with me, as I definitely preferred to die with my family, rather than at school with a bunch of strangers, crayons, and No. 2 pencils. Continue reading

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Barbara Bush – A First Lady of First Ladies 🌹

I always admired Barbara Bush. In another lifetime (June 1990), I wrote this newspaper column about her.

Sharing it now with apologies to the late Nancy Reagan, for whom I developed a fondness in her later years. 🌹

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Do The Wise Really Need Words?

My mom often used the phrase, “word to the wise” before explaining something to me.

When I was old enough to officially think like a smart aleck, I wondered about the wisdom in that idiom, questioning the need for words to the wise.

Don’t the wise already know everything?

Fortunately, as I grew a bit wiser, I realized only the wise would heed that word.

Aha! A breakthrough, a veritable epiphany! I got it – Any warnings and cautions would be lost on the foolish. Hence the proverb in it’s entirety, “A word to the wise is sufficient.”

And, as Sean Connery’s character Jim Malone in The Untouchables would say, “Here endeth the lesson.”

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Life – Just Another “Long and Winding Road”

Introspection is not for the faint of heart.

I am currently staying in a place that is not my home – at least, not yet, if ever.

Walking with my collie a few days ago, I was just following the sidewalk, pretty much at the same time I would have been walking home from school several decades ago. Thinking back to those days, we often lived as much as a mile or more from my school. I always enjoyed walking. Yet, many days, the trek seemed daunting.

Though I never walked in that proverbial 10 feet of snow, uphill, both ways, the journey had to be made – rain or shine. So, regardless of the distance or weather conditions, my objective was simply putting one foot in front of the other, and following the sidewalk until I made it home to that safe place where I knew my mother and brother would be. Continue reading

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Don’t Be Shocked – It’s Not Just About the Lights

In the old days (read “when I was a child”), most people called the electric bill their “light bill.” Because, lights were pretty much the primary leeches of that magic current flowing into the house.

Even the logo for the power company was “Reddy Kilowatt,”a sort of spokes-filament lightbulb character.

Continue reading

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Happiness is…

“Happiness Is”

In the 1960s, Ray Conniff released a song with that title. It had a typical catchy Conniff melody, with lyrics mainly rhyming the various things indicating happiness was “different things to different people.”

Happiness Is
Simplistic, but so true. Happiness is, indeed, relative. Like many things, it depends on such factors as age, situation, and socioeconomic status. Continue reading

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First Day of School: Annual Tradition; Rite of Passage, and Universal Theme

As another school year begins, I reflect back a few decades ago, when I wrote a regular newspaper column in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  The 1988 school year saw my youngest child start kindergarten and my niece go away to college. The following is a barely edited text of my column that ran September 8, 1988. The theme is basically timeless. However, reading my own words filled with hope for my children’s future is quite poignant today.

Few scenes are more pathetic than a disenfranchised mother, like a mama bird, peering regretfully over the edge of her empty nest.

Case in point: The first day of school at my son’s elementary, where a covey of kindergarten mothers cluster in the hall to commiserate.

​Inside the classroom, enthusiastic five-year-olds proceeded with the business of growing and learning, while outside in the hall, a handful of teary-eyed adults bemoaned their “babies” growing up. There was a difference of opinion, as to whether it was more difficult for those of us blowing goodbye kisses to our last “baby,” or for those mothers who, while gently nudging their first into the world, still had at least one safe in the nest.

​Only one dad was among us, and he left long before the teacher ushered the rest of us to the door. Clearly, nest-nudging is a task that falls under the job description of “mother.”

​Altogether, it was not an easy first-week-of-September.  I was forced to acknowledge the encroaching adulthood of my niece, as she went away to college, and my little boy starting kindergarten. Only my fourth grade daughter lent some sense of stability, by not embarking on any “significant firsts.”

​September – summer’s end, seems to be the season of separation. Oh, I know there are songs from the 1960s, which would have us believe otherwise: “See You in September” and “Sealed With a Kiss.” But, they are about teenagers’ school crushes, distanced by summer sabbaticals. I may have fallen for that romantic rhetoric then.  But, wisdom is in the eyes of the beholder. From the parental perspective, I see September as a time of letting go.

​My daughter’s first day of kindergarten went more smoothly.  And knowing my son’s survival instincts, I should have known he would also ace the first day of the rest of his institutionalized life. Yet, I couldn’t suppress the memory of horror stories I had heard about hysterical kids clinging to their parents’ car bumper on the first day of school.

​Not to worry! The annual inauguration seemed to take its toll primarily on those of us over three feet tall.

​I don’t know about other mothers. But, I probably tend to project my own childhood insecurities onto my more self-actualized offspring. So, I am always pleasantly surprised that, not only do they cope, they conquer new situations.

​My niece and my children represent the secure 80s generation – the boomers’ babies who rarely view anything new as the end of an era Instead, they approach life as an adventure, seeking less to maintain the status quo than to experience something new and grow.

​It’s a great winning attitude – one I have tried to sow and nurture in my children. (It’s always a good idea to raise kids who will be positive role models for you in those formative years – from 30 to 45).

Now, for the requisite call to action:

If you liked this piece, please click “Like,” leave a comment, “Follow” my blog, – better yet, share the link with friends, family, or colleagues you think would enjoy it. It’s the only way a writer can gather an audience. Thanks very much! Nancy 🌹

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