Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Party Line

I'm taking a class offered on-line through jessicasprague.com, called Stories in Hand. In a nutshell, it's a system that includes tools, guides, and a way to organize the stories that we want to tell. In the class we were presented with several downloads that include "sparks," or questions about your past. The intention is to "spark your memory," and make you think back, waaaaayyyyyy back.
One of our first writing assignments was to choose a topic from the "roots" section... there must have been over a hundred "sparks." We could write in a journal, make a scrapbook page, or blog. Of course, I chose the latter. In one of my conversations with my sister, Janie, I told her about the "spark" that I was thinking about; it was, "what technology do you remember your family having?" She shared a conversation that she had several months ago with Jennifer, my niece, her daughter, about a party line. Jennifer (age 27) had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, and I bet most folks age 50 and younger are right there in the same boat. For those of you who are clueless, let me explain.
I can remember in the 50's when I was in elementary school, we had a party line. That meant that several families shared the same line. Each family had their own ring so they would know when to answer an incoming call. Back in the day, we didn't stay on the line forever like we do now. Okay maybe my mother did when she talked to Mrs. Lewis, Jimmy's mother, about our fifth grade social studies homework. It took them several minutes to figure out what neither Jimmy nor I could explain.
There is nothing good that I can say about having a party line. It never failed that when I wanted to make a call, some unknown woman (always a woman) would be talking. The only way we could get others off of the line was to torment them. Our parents didn't behave like that, but we (kids) did. Here's an important thing: we never, absolutely never told our names. It was all secretative. There were several methods of tormentation (is that a word?). I was an expert at two of them. First, was the heavy breathing. It let them know that someone was waiting to use the phone and second, was the constant clicking. That worked the best because it drove them crazy. I picked up the phone every thirty seconds until they gave up and got off the phone. I'm sure I had something important to say to someone.
The strange thing is that I don't remember when the party line was dropped and we had our own private line. You would think that would be of utmost importance because I was approaching puberty and talking on the phone was an integral part of that period of my life.
I finally found a picture of an old telephone, but I remember ours as having a smaller handle and body. I can still remember part of our phone number. Something like JA-23565. Our telephone, we only had one, was located in our hall. But it wasn't really a hall, it was more like a room with a hall leading off in the back to the dining room. There was a Tiffany lamp placed next to the phone on a table. I can still see my mother sitting and crying there in the hall as someone on the other end had just told her that her brother (Leland Davis a newspaper reporter from Cincinnati) had died. I didn't realize the impact that had on me until now.
This picture will give you some idea of what they looked like.

Although most of us have several telephones in our homes today, we also have cell phones, blackberries, Iphones, etc. We can talk to anyone at anytime. Good grief, now we can actually see who we're talking to in real time. Below is an image of my niece courtesy of Skype. We just started using it last month and it is unreal! I know it's been around for sometime now, but I'm just getting into it.

Get this. You can even do a conference call on Skype. The only drawback is that you can't see everyone. I'm sure someone, somewhere is working on that.

From party lines to private lines to skype, can it get any better?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Employees of the Months

Every now and then when something out of the ordinary occurs at Casabella, I make an Employee of the Month Award. Coming from the world of education, we always gave a Teacher of the Month Award and a Parapro of the Month Award. These were things we did to recognize those who did something special and deserved the attention. The staff voted each month.
But let me back up. A few years after I left education, I began working part-time at a store called Casabella. One day when I wasn't scheduled to work, the manager (the other Nancy) called and asked if I could come in to work. Noticing my hesitancy and my lack of enthusiasm, she said, "You know, if you come in today, you will be Employee of the Month." This was a joke. Until that minute an employee recognition program had never existed. To make a long story short, I agreed to go in that day, but before I did I made myself an award. It was a hoot! Not only did I give myself the award, I made myself Vice President of Employee Recognition. For then on, every couple of months, I present these awards to those I feel worthy. There isn't a deadline, there aren't any rules, and there isn't any voting, I just do it and get away with it.
So after hearing from several of the girls about what happened a week or so ago, I though it was time to reinstitute the recognition program. Here is the latest award.
Employees of the Months Award
is proudly presented to
Julie and Penny

for sacrificing life and limb by stopping cold and callous criminals dead in their tracks, and for leading to the arrest of know felons (who have on several attempts tried to pass their bad checks), by commandeering these bad people by withholding their drivers license until the authorities arrived. So smart.

These strong and courageous women need to be commended by all of us at Casabella for saving the store over $1000 (this includes the previous attempts) and ridding the community of these low-life reprobates.
Pictured above, Julie (aka Starsky) is holding a copy of the fake drivers’ licenses and the fraudulent check. Penny (aka Hutch) is holding the receipt showing over $600. of merchandise that the thieves tried to purchase. By their quick thinking and talking in code, they were able to
bring this sham to a screeching halt.
Thanks ladies. All of us at Casabella appreciate your brains, your bravery and your guts. You make us proud. There’ll be a little something extra in your next check.
At work yesterday, I asked one of the girls how she knew that these were the infamous criminals. She replied, "How many people do you know who would buy over six hundred dollars worth of childrens' merchandise, but wouldn't spend money to fix their teeth?" Deep. Just remember, crime doesn't pay.
Vice-President of Employee Recognition

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Art In The Park, October 08

For those of you who have not been fortunate enough to actually attend the Art in the Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I thought you would like to see my set up. The blue and white canvas is a "get them in the tent" trick. Since I don't have dancing bears or male strippers, I have to work with what I have. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Last year I sold my red and white stripped canvas similar to the blue and white one. I really liked it and it was hard to part with, but the money meant more. I don't mean to sound cold, but it's all about exposure and profit. If I want to make this a profitable hobby, I need to part with the works that I really like. Yes, there are a few that I've taken that I don't like, but my friends do, so I take them with me, hoping that someone will buy them.
The golf shots were my sister,Janie's idea. She accompanied me last October and noticed that there were a lot of golfers at the show. I really didn't see them, but I trusted her and last winter and spring I started taking millions of shots with different old clubs. Tom and I even went to a local golf course early on a Sunday morning where I spent an hour or so on all fours taking shots of golf tees. Most of these shots have been made into note cards. Very cute if I do say so myself.

In the picture below you can see the general design of the tent. I thought the colored panels would add a little "ump" to my tent. Every time I go, I have a different design. In the bottom left you can see the large image of the Brooklyn Bridge that I took Labor Day. (See post dated September 10)

I like to write about visitors to my tent. For this post, I thought I would write about three different groups of people who visited and actually BOUGHT matted prints. They all had one thing in common, they were all from West Virginia. I just love people from West Virginia, mainly because that's where I was born and raised. So here goes.

Early Saturday morning as I was unpacking my wares, before the show opened, (okay I lie, I was late), a couple walked right by my tent with absolutely no intention of stopping. Lucky for them I saw the WVU logo on the man's baseball cap and said "Go Herd." Most of the time that totally pisses off WVU fans. That got his attention. One thing led to another and I must have held them hostage for at least thirty minutes. We talked about Marshall and WVU. We talked about coal and they told me that Haliburton was drilling in the mountains. I didn't know there was oil in West Virginia, but apparently there is. Scott and Judy H were from Martinsburg, a fair distance from Huntington, where I'm from. Eventually, they broke down and bought a print. They didn't have the heart to leave without buying something. I just love people from West Virginia.

If you don't take someone with you to give you a break, you just have to leave your tent unattended and just take your chances that a bunch of thugs won't steal your cute little notecards with the plaid ribbons. I really wanted to visit my friend Liz's tent. She lives near Litchfield, south of Myrtle Beach and she always has great shots. Fortunately, her tent wasn't far from mine so I could see if anyone was going into my tent, so I moseyed over for a quick visit. This was Sunday afternoon, and the crowds were thinning out, but I still kept one eye in the direction of my tent. As I glanced in the direction of my tent, I saw a group of women walking towards it, so I scampered back without looking desperate. One of the women had a, you guessed it, Marshall University blouse. We started the, "where are you from," and "who do you know", and discovered that we attended the same high school at the same time. She is two years younger. Her brother was in my class, but I remember that he was in the smart group (Harvard bound), so I didn't have any classes with him. She and her friend moved to the beach a year or so earlier. Her friend teaches at Coastal Carolina and she plays golf. They bought three, yes three, of my matted prints. Like I said before, I just love people from West Virginia...especially golfers.

Next came Maggie. At first I didn't know she was Maggie. She was a hoot. Her skin still had a deep, deep tan and her hair was short and greyish blond. She had that old lifeguard look... very outdoorsey. During our conversation I discovered that she was originally from Huntington, but has been living in Myrtle Beach for a number of years. She told me that when she was young, her family vacationed at Myrtle Beach and she loved it. She told me that her mother worked for Butler Furniture in Huntington and I told her that my aunt used to do Mrs. Butler's hair. Small world. As she talked I learned that she was a former teacher and had spent some time after graduating from Marshall teaching in Annapolis. When she introduced herself as Maggie S., I thought to myself, "this is the girl who my sister, Janie, knew when she taught in Annapolis." This was too weird. Then I blundly asked her, "Are you Maggie S who dated a midshipman from the Naval Academy who was killed in a submarine accident in the sixties?" She said, "Yes, how did you know?" I told her about me overhearing a conversation between Janie and my mother forty-five years ago. I remember thinking at the time how awful it would be to die like that. We kept talking and talking as she looked at my prints. I called Janie to tell her who was in my tent and she talked with Maggie. It seems that they would ride home at holidays together in Maggie's car. Those were long trips from Annapolis to Huntington. Before she left that afternoon, she bought a print, only to return the next day to buy another one! If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, I just love people from West Virginia.

When I returned to Atlanta after the show, I googled the submarine accident and included it in this post. Sad, but interesting reading.

History of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Related Resources:
List of Personnel Who Perished in the Loss of Thresher on 10 April 1963Online Photography of USS Thresher


The second Thresher (SSN-593) was laid down on 28 May 1958 by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Naval Shipyard; launched on 9 July 1960; sponsored by Mrs. Frederick B. Warder; and commissioned on 3 August 1961, Comdr. Dean W. Axene in command.Following trials the nuclear attack submarine took part in Nuclear submarine Exercise (NUSUBEX) 3-61 off the northeastern coast of the United States from 18 to 24 September.On 18 October; the submarine headed south along the east coast. After calling at San Juan, Puerto Rico, she conducted further trials and test-fired her torpedo system before returning to Portsmouth on 29 November. The ship remained in port through the end of the year and spent the first two months of 1962 evaluating her sonar system and her Submarine Rocket (SUBROC) system. In March, the submarine participated in NUSUBEX 2-62, an exercise designed to improve the tactical capabilities of nuclear submarines , and in antisubmarine warfare training with Task Group ALPHA.Off Charleston, the ship undertook operations observed by the Naval Antisubmarine Warfare Council, before she returned briefly to New England waters from whence she proceeded to Florida for SUBROC tests. However, while mooring at Port Canaveral, the submarine was accidentally struck by a tug which damaged one of her ballast tanks. After repairs at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Company, the ship returned south for more tests and trials off Key West. Thresher then returned northward and remained in dockyard hands through the early spring of 1963.In company with Skylark (ASR-20), Thresher put to sea on 10 April 1963 for deep-diving exercises. In addition to her 16 officers and 96 enlisted men, the submarine carried 17 civilian technicians to observe her performance during the deep-diving tests.Fifteen minutes after reaching her assigned test depth, the submarine communicated with Skylark by underwater telephone, apprizing the submarine rescue ship of difficulties. Garbled transmissions indicated that--far below the surface--things were going wrong. Suddenly, listeners in Skylark heard a noise "like air rushing into an air tank"--then, silence.Efforts to reestablish contact with Thresher failed, and a search group was formed in an attempt to locate the submarine. Rescue ship Recovery (ASR-43) subsequently recovered bits of debris, including gloves and bits of internal insulation. Photographs taken by bathyscaph Trieste proved that the submarine had broken up, taking all hands on board to their deaths in 5,500 of water, some 220 miles east of Boston. Thresher was officially declared lost in April 1963.Subsequently, a Court of Inquiry was convened and, after studying pictures and other data, opined that the loss of Thresher was in all probability due to a casting, piping, or welding failure that flooded the engine room with water. This water probably caused electrical failures that automatically shutdown the nuclear reactor, causing an initial power loss and the eventual loss of the boat.Thresher is in six major sections on the ocean floor, with the majority in a single debris field about 400 yards square. The major sections are the sail, sonar dome, bow section, engineering spaces, operations spaces, and the tail section.Owing to the pressurized-water nuclear reactor in the engine room, deep ocean radiological monitoring operations were conducted in August 1983 and August 1986. The site had been previously monitored in 1965 and 1977 and none of the samples obtained showed any evidence of release of radioactivity from the reactor fuel elements. Fission products were not detected above concentrations typical of worldwide background levels in sediment, water, or marine life samples.
30 July 2001

There were many more interesting folks who visited my tent. So many were from the New York and New England area. One lady who bought my framed pavilion image was from Alaska. She didn't know Sarah, but she liked her. What's not to like?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's My Day

This morning as I was writing this post, I took this picture from my window. The trees are just gorgeous this time of the year. Although my birthday is today, I'm not crazy about fall. I absolutely hate cold weather, and fall means that winter is just around the corner.

Here's another one.
As usual, I've waited until the last minute to get my car tags. In Georgia we have to renew during our birthday month, so off I went to get my car inspected. I talked with the man in charge who was a nice, older black man. We talked about Obama and McCain. I think he detected a little concern on my face because he said it's all in God's hands, so I shouldn't worry. He said McCain is a good man and Obama will be getting his help. I told him that I felt sorry for McCain, and he told me that according to the bible, McCain, in his seventies, is in his strong years, so he'll be fine. I felt better.

Off I went to the tag office to buy my new tags. As I was waiting for the tags, my sister, Janie, called to wish me a happy birthday. I love getting these calls. An old, old friend, Stan left a voice mail wishing me a great day, and Barbara called and sang "Happy Birthday." Later Penny called and sang a song that she said she saw in some movie with Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue. Summer Place?

After a quick trip to Home Depot I spotted these trees on my way home.

A little after I got home, these were delivered. Daisies, my favorite, from Marcy. I love them. Thank you sooooo much.

And, it's not over. Dinner tonight with Tom and tomorrow night, dinner with Barbara and Penny. Friday, I'm meeting Sharlene at Lenox for shopping and lunch. I just love birthdays.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I voted today. I took my chances by not voting early last week, and standing in line for six hours. Tom did. He arrived at one of the early voting precincts at 6:15, and waited for the polls to open at 8:00. It only took him two hours, but that didn't sound inviting to me, so I rolled the dice. Took me FIFTEEN MINUTES. When I called Tom to gloat, he said there was a name for people like me. Of course I asked what, and he said "bitch!" I should have replied, "what, smart ?" but I didn't. I just laughed. Bless his heart.

I'm copying an email sent to me by Doris, my Huntington friend. She tries her best to keep me informed. Many of you have probably received it, but just in case you haven't, here it is. Good article.


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

(Lucy Burns) And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.' They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Lewis) They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women. Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. (Alice Paul) When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/nwp/prisoners.pdf So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining? Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder. All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient. My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.' HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco and Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think little shock therapy is in order. It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.' Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote. History is being made.