Wearing Out Your Welcome

Reblog of an old post just right for holiday visitors.


Cousins on Christmas Cousins on Christmas

parents wedding picfamily6My mother found this hilarious letter among her things today. My grandmother was in a foul mood when she wrote it. I recalled this weekend like it was yesterday when I read the letter. Grandma was nosy. If she’d been an animal, she’d have been a ferret. She like to get right behind Daddy, quizzing him about his business and his family. “How come your mama moved off the Henderson Place? Seems like she was set up real well there. How come Ella May and her husband separated? They looked like they were doing good?” If she didn’t get enough answers, she picked us kids. “When did Suzie get married?”

None of this endeared her to Daddy. He wasn’t a patient man. If he’d been an animal, he’d have made a fine bear. She had already been visiting two weeks by the time this letter was written…

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Letter to a Patient from a Nurse:


Dear Patient,

You probably don’t remember me,but I was your nurse.  I took care of you when you had your baby, took care of your sick child, comforted you when you were in pain.  I worked extra shifts on holidays and weekends because you needed me.  I rejoiced when you got better.  Cried with you when you needed a friend and tried to help you find the answers.  I sang and talked to you when you seemed unresponsive because I knew you were in there.  I brought Easter baskets for your children so they wouldn’t be disappointed when they came to see you on Easter.  I hugged you and your family.  I talked to you about things outside the hospital to give you something else to think about, trying to bring you a story that would interest you everyday, unless you just needed me to be quiet with you.  I was…

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Laundry in the 1950’s Part 2




clothes line 2Once all that mountain of wash was done, the heavy, wet wash had to be lugged out to the clothes line, no small feat.  Mother had three lines stretched between T-shaped supports.  Shaking each piece to get in basic in shape after its trip through the wringer, the towels and diapers gave a nice, sharp pop!  She propped the heavy lines up with clothes line poles so the wash could dance in the breeze.  Woe be it to the foolish kid who’d run off with her clothes lines poles.  I’ve been known to do it!

She usually sent us out several times to check to see if the laundry was dry.  There is no smell fresher than line-dried laundry.  I just loved sliding into bed between sheets fresh off the line.  The mountain of laundry was likely to be piled on a bed till it could be folded.

Starched clothes came off the line still slightly damp, if she…

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Ruth Elaine and the Exploding Baby

Reblogging an old story from when I first started blogging.


Our class prayed for reprieve as Luther Simpson stumbled through a page of Jane and Fluff the Kitten. As the second-graders dawdled over their sums across the aisle in our shared classroom.

Little Ruth Elaine Lawson, a girl I’d had always thought dull, dropped her head to her desk and snuffled quietly, then burst into great, heart-wrenching, snotty sobs. Startled at this display in

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Home Perms Run Amuk

Five kidsI have enjoyed blogging so much this past year and a half.  I have met so many friends and enjoyed incredible writing.  Following Bunkarydo’s example, I am reposting my first post. Pictured above:  upper left Linda Swain Bethea holding Connie Swain Miller’s hands, Billy Swain, Phyllis Swain Barrington holding Marilyn Swain Grisham.

To curly-haired people Mother might have seemed mild-mannered enough, but beneath her calm exterior she nursed a sadistic streak, committing home permanents with malice aforethought, ignoring her helpless daughters’ protests that “I like my hair this way.” and “nobody but old ladies have THAT kind of hair.” squashing arguments with a terrifying directive, “Don’t dispute my word.” “Disputing my word” assured swift and terrible punishment, followed by a furious lecture about how great we had it and ending tearfully with, “and I would have given anything to have a permanent wave like Margaret Lucille, but I had to wear my hair chopped off straight around.” Had I met Margaret Lucille, the author of my misery, I would have gladly pulled out every permanently-waved hair on her despicable head. I hated her than Mother.

Around July 4th every summer, Mother would casually start to dangle the threat that she had to give us a permanent before school started. We’d protest vainly against her response that “She wasn’t going to look at that long, stringy hair all year.” A procrastinator, Mother didn’t get to the evil deed right away. Just before Labor Day, when the humiliation of last year’s perm had grown out enough to be approaching normalcy, Mother would stretch her budget to include a home permanent for each of us. I would have been grateful for cyanide when she dragged out those hateful pink and white “Lilt” boxes. After a long night of dreading the inevitable, Mother got us up early to clean the house so she could start the long perming process. I dragged over to borrow the pink curlers from Miss Joyce, the next door neighbor, hoping to be hit by a truck. When I got back home, defeated, I surrendered to my frizzy fate. Mother seated me on a kitchen chair and cut my hair, using her time-honored secret for a perfect hairdo. She methodically divided my luscious locks (my description, not hers)into sections, started at the bottom, and held up about fifty hairs at a time, measured them against a mark she’d made on a rat-tail comb, and cut. My mood became increasingly glum as she measured and cut, measured and cut.

After an interminable period, I was ready for the next step. Mother opened the home permanent kit and mixed the deadly chemicals, assaulting the senses with the sulfurous scent of rotten eggs and a healthy touch of essence of pee. Dividing what remained of my hair into tiny sections, wetting it with putrid permanent solution, she wrapped it in papers, and wound it as tight as possible on the hard pink plastic curlers. If my eyes weren’t popping out enough, she’d rewind. Once this misery was accomplished, she sent me on to enjoy the rest of the day, anticipating the frizzy mess I could expect tomorrow, and got to work on my sister’s hair. I tried to stay out of sight to avoid being ridiculed by the neighbor kids.

After trouble and expense of inflicting a perm on us, Mother made us leave the hard plastic curlers in overnight, fearing an early release might let the curl “fall out.” My fine hair was no match for the perm solution, and I was never fortunate enough for my curl to “fall out.” I was glad to get the curlers out the next morning, but dreaded the reveal of the “fried, frizzy, old lady hairdo.” I was never disappointed. Mother took the perm curlers out and we all looked like Brillo Pads. When we complained about how horrible it looked, Mother assured us it would be fine after we rolled it. That just postponed the disaster. When the brush rollers and hair pens came out at the end of the day, it was always even worse than I remembered from the year before. I wanted to die. Mother always tried to cheer us up by saying, “The frizz will wear off in about a week.” When we weren’t cheered by that, she offered the cold comfort, “Well, it will always grow back. Now, dry up.I’ve heard enough!”  I still don’t think she’s heard nearly enough.  There should not be a statute of limitations on those who abuse helpless children with home-perms.

She worked herself into a self-righteous frenzy of pity when we refused to be grateful for the torture she’d inflicted on us just to ensure we’d be social outcasts for another year. We always went back to school with a frizzy mess, looking we’d escaped from an insane granny cult. The fact that my sisters shared my fate did nothing to cheer me. Who wants to look like that bunch of freaks?

Stories About Annie for Dog Day 2015


dalmation 2

I got my daughter a Dalmatian for her thirteenth birthday.  I do believe that was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  For about a day and a half, Annie was sweet.  As soon as she got her bearings, she became a hyperactive, maniacal buzz saw, plundering and eviscerating everything in her path from shoes to the rag top on my husband’s MG, but that’s a story for another post.

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Blackie and the Great Diaper Monster

Repost of an old story


My grandparents, Roscoe and Lizzie Holdaway, a few months after her stroke.  She was about 4″8″ tall.  Note the large, black purse on her left arm.


Grandma had a stroke when she was fifty-eight.  The doctor came out to see her and said she’d never walk again.  Ignoring him, she scooted around in an old desk chair for about three months because she wasn’t about to waste money on a wheelchair she’d never use again.  After that, she put up with a cane for a few days till she was sick of it, then it was business as usual.  Ever afterwards, she was a little weak on the right side and her gait was off a little, but she didn’t let it hold her back.  She just carried her gigantic old-lady black purse on the left side to balance herself.  She crawled in every time the car started, and made every…

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