November 15, 2011

Creating Donovan’s Brain by Bev Hamel

I am always thankful when the day’s rush hours are over and although each day typically ends in frenzy the same as the day begins, the ending frenzy is more relaxed and fun. Sometimes we all make dinner then homework, baths, hugs, giggles, and a monster mom story, which usually turns into bedlam when girls, dogs, and cats, chase after me from room to room. We act out each story; one of my silly ‘monster mom versus girls’ where the villain is always subdued with hugs and kisses.
Tonight I rushed through the routine because of my own homework; a writing assignment for one of Forsyth Tech classes. Finally, the girls are settled in their room pretending to be asleep but will probably be for real soon, so it was okay for me to attend to my own needs.Read more at

November 11, 2011

Veterans are Not Just Men . . . Women Were Soldiers Too

Three pairs of eyes stare out from the photographs of three women, each wearing a Women's Army uniform from three different wars. A photograph of me in my Viet Nam era uniform sits next to one of my mother in her World War II uniform along with one of my daughter in her camouflage fatigues from the first war in Iraq.

I see me in my mother's reflection and I see my mother in my daughter's reflection. But it is the eyes that stare back at me, all three pairs, that tells me my inner strength comes equally from the women in my life as well as the men.
I had always thought that my mother's name was Millie until I stumbled across her birth certificate after she died and found that her given name was Amelia. I think the name  Millie suited her better. In this portrait, she is twenty-three and on the back is written; 'red hair, hazel eyes.' Both my daughter and I have brown hair and brown eyes but I think even a stranger would agree that we have Millie's eyes.

My mother was a beautiful woman in her youth. Her eyes are full of life, of hope, of promise, of high expectations she set for herself, and instilled in me. Her eyes fit her personality, the one that I still remember. Not the Millie I knew during those troubled years of her battle in another war, the one that eventually took her life, the war with breast cancer.

I remember when I was seven and my brother was stricken with polio. I didn't know the sacrifices she made but realize now the necessity of why she instilled in me high ideals for my own self , for teaching me to be independent, for teaching me to look to my faith to guide me in troubled times, and to believe in myself.

I was nineteen when my mother died. She never saw me in my WAC uniform. She never knew my daughter Dana.
In this portrait, she looks stern and strong. Her eyes penetrate my very soul, and still have the capability to take my breath away. The first time I looked into her eyes, I was hopelessly lost, hopelessly in love. My daughter's eyes - so big - so brown so deep - like the ocean.

Dana looks like my mother, and she looks like me. It is in her eyes. They reflect her strength and her courage.

We are separated by distance but not by heart. And yes, I hurt not to be near her, and my five beautiful grandchildren, two who I have never held but in my dreams. Soon, she will be a grandmother and as I watch my granddaughter Tori and her tummy grow, I hope one day we will all be together again.
Any given moment of the day I only need to turn to facebook and there they all are, second best though it is, I can watch all of them grow.  

I look so young in this picture and wonder where did this young woman go. Images of my life and all my yesterdays wash through me like a kaleidoscope of colors. I see thousands of tiny pieces that represent a moment of my life between then and now. In my now moment of life I can still see the young me peering through my glasses. My face shows fine lines of age, though I don't see them  I know others do. I know where I have been, I know how I have lived, and I know there is still so much I want to do.

But lines on faces from age and life - I don't want to erase - each one is memory - good - bad - indifferent. I earned them. I learned from them.

My mother taught me. My daughters and granddaughters taught me - all of them - because my family is and has been blended.

I come from family lineage from both American and foreign lands where the men stood up to fight for their county's freedom, but I also came from a long line and heritage of  women, who were soldiers too and in so many ways, stronger then men.

November 10, 2011

Why I Went Square and Ditched My Credit Card Machine

My Square
Being Square is the best thing since sliced bread, because now my bank can no longer steal from me.
First there is no longer monthly fees of a minimum discount fee of $15.00 a month or higher. Then there is no longer the $5.99 charge for being in compliance. Then there is no longer the $5.00 access fee. Then there is no longer the actual discount fees each credit card company charges. And then there is no potential additional fees should I wish to speak with Merchant Services more then twice a month, and lastly there is the total avoidance of not having 28% of my merchant deposits held for a new law going into effect January 1, 2012.  

Square and Mackie in
MyTouch 4G Khaki
Square is only 1 inch by 1 inch and is as portable as my cell phone. I just plug it in the top of my phone, tap on the app and speak into my phone or type in the necessary information. I am asked if I want receipt by email or SMS and then I'm done. Money is in my account at end of day and customer goes away happy.

So today I gleefully called Merchant Services and told them good by. I pulled the cord from the VeriFone, and the land line, and will now be placing it for sale as a genuine antique in my shop.

Very soon I will be doing this with my land line company and broadband provider, but I am still researching the possibilities which may be finalized as early as next week. Although I have to say I am tad bit nervous because the last time I did that - all hell broke loose.
We'll see.
Antique VeriFone For Sale

October 29, 2011

Thieves in the Night and Reward for Stolen Statues

Stolen Statues
Stolen Grecian Lady Statue

So we put up more lights including motion detectors. Lights even go on inside and in the room above over-looking the front of my building. We even have seven Yorkie watch dogs, and a daughter whose two rooms are in the front of the building.

Empty Spaces

More Empty Spaces

So somebody needed them perhaps to sell at a flea market so they can make money. Or sell them to customers because the thieves are yard workers, or avid gardeners. One thing for certain, they are local and they drive a truck or van. All totaled they stole over $1500.00 worth of statues.
Even More Empty Space

I hope they are caught and get their just due.

More Empty Space

Empty Places
As for me, I am offering a reward for their safe return. But I doubt it - thieves are thieves after all.

A List of the Gone But Not Forgotten
1. Grecian Lady approx 4 ft tall
2. Pair (2) of Victorian Maple Leaf / Pineapple Statues about 65 pounds each - sand painted.
3. Light House Bird Bath - Silver, black, Red
4. Giant Stork/Heron Statue
5. Red Gnome/Elf
6. Easter Island Statue
7. Maui Head
8. Planter with Evergreen
9. Frog Statue
10. Tiered Frog Bath
11. Victorian planter
Giant Green Frog as seen on the upper right side of picture.

October 20, 2011

In Banks We Trust . . to keep coming up with new ways to steal our money.

Free checking is like a dinosaur with most banks these days, extinct. Even though my checks are perfectly plain, I think twice before I write one because it costs me $.17 for each check. 

Pity the poor banks who now have to"adjust our pricing to reflect today’s economics" as one was quoted saying in a newspaper article. Oh, but don't worry, if you keep a minimum balance of several thousand dollars to as low as $15, 000 on hand in some of the California banks - you won't be affected.

To quote another paper, "and with a new rule that just took affect that limits banks’ ability to make money from merchants, it also means paying for the privilege of swiping your debit card."

I expect momentarily for my bank, BB&T, to follow suit with the likes of Bank America, Wells Fargo, Citi, and a myriad of other State and local to join one of the greatest organized theft rings in the country, not to mention the world even though the French started (the trend) first.  Give me a break, please, how can you test charging banking customers for using there own money? A debit card is a direct route to a bank account isn't it. It's bad enough if you can't find one of your own bank's teller machine and use another bank - you are often charged twice for the transaction - by your bank and the teller machine's bank. 

Are we suppose to feel sorry for banks now because they can't over charge you for bouncing a check or screw the retailer with too high credit card processing fees. Wait a minute -  first what you are not being told is that banks have been continually devising new ways to take both consumers and retailers' money. 

Wait . . . You're the teller. I'm the customer!
No . . . I'm the teller. You're the customer!
I am both a consumer and a very small retailer and I am struggling to make a decision as not to take debit or credit cards in my shop, and to post a check or cash only sign. While this can and will hurt my business, my bank has been ruthless in slamming my account with fees. They have actually come up with a way to cover their perceived losses. One is called PCI DSS certification fee for the sheer pleasure of being compliant with your credit card machine. (excuse me - this the machine that  I had to purchase from their merchant department and who processes all my transactions - but I am the one being charged).Then there is a net work access fee (oh- I pay for the phone line). Then there is the discount due, the card pass through fee is still there, and won't know the difference until next month, but last month, they took a whopping 45% of my sales. This isn't all - I received a letter from my bank as to another new law advising me that they must hold 28% of my payment card transactions due to a new IRS law if I don't comply (but they can't tell me how I need to comply).. 

There's more to come and I imagine law makers in every state across the country jumping on Louisiana's band wagon. It seems the state just initiated a new law that bans cash for second hand transactions. This was posted on a Louisiana Eye Witness News:

I hope you read the lame excuse that it's because the " bill is targeted at criminals who steal anything from copper to televisions, and sell them for a quick buck. Having a paper trail will make it easier for law enforcement."

Yeah - right on again. Just another new plan devising a way to get more of our money. The consumer has to pay with a debit or credit card; the shop owner must maintain a merchant account, and the credit card companies and banks will be happy again. 

I can't wait to hear what they come up with next - - - any bets?

Hmm - now that I think of the criminals are to blame for this new law - so does this mean that the merchant can only purchase goods with a credit card in order to resell an item, and the crooks must also have a credit/debit card machine? Huh - Did I miss something here?

Merchant: "Hi Mr Crook - Sure I'll buy it, but I can't give you cash. Do you accept Visa/Master Card/ American Express or debit card?"

Crook: "Certainly. I have a wireless machine. They're fab"

October 2, 2011

Dixie Classic Fair in Forsyth County NC

Me Like You . . . YUM!
Today was one of those beautiful Autumn days and what better way to while away the afternoon, but at the Dixie Classic Fair.

There was a time in my life when I used to go for the rides, but now I go to eat my way through the food, which, seems to get more outrageous every year. Such as the deep fried Kool-Aid and cheese cake. My favorite is the Gyros - The food vendor comes from New York where they know how to make real Gyros meat, not to mention the cumber sauce.

Super Heroes
The meat and fixings are so good, I send my husband there several times during the week (because he can get in for free) just to pick up a Gyro to-go-box, and one that we can reassemble at home.

Ceaser/Howdy Doody/Nero
Then there are the buildings and exhibits. Every year my daughter Beverly II's school, which is a special education school, participates, primarily through the art department. So the Education building is the second stop (after the Gyros). Earlier last week, Beverly who goes to Carter High School in Winston Salem, said, "Mom, Ms Goodwin asked if I could bring Ceaser to school so that she can enter him in the fair."

Ziggy the Cat
"You mean Ceaser aka Howdty Doody, aka Nero?." She giggled. She gave the bust to me for mother's day this past May and it has had a place of honor in my house since then. When I look at the face, I am torn between, Ceaser, Howdy Doody, and Nero. I just love the naivety and the kind of kooky happiness and grin that looks back at me.
"Of course you can, but we need to wrap him carefully," I said.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when we walked down the aisle and I immediately say Howdy sitting with a Blue Ribbon next to him.

Carter HS Class Project
But behind Howdy was a collective class project which not only had a Blue Ribbon, but a Judges Best in Show Purple Ribbon, and then there was Ziggy (our cat) colorfully hanging on the wall with a Red Ribbon for second place next to him.

There was only one thing I could do and that was to go win a prize for my talented daughter. I tried bingo first, but that was a drag and after loosing $5.00, I decided to go for the gold.

My Shining Star and My Very
Own Super Hero
"You know, the booths with the biggest stuffed animals?" I told Beverly II and my husband, Bud the Plumber, "The biggest prizes mean the game is next to impossible to win. It's fixed."

So I bought a bucket of rings for $3.00 and tossed them on to a bottle and WON!

It was a piece of cake - almost as easy as eating the deep fried cheese cake.

September 25, 2011

For My Father

Like father like daughter, we hide
behind gray puffs of smoke,
crave the acrid spice of nicotine.
His is Misty menthol,
mine Misty light.

A nasty habit that oddly comforts me
as once a month arrived
a slim white envelope
bearing his handwriting,
tidy, neat and even strokes
like ripples on a pond,
mailed from Pennsylvania
to Carolina, where cigarettes
were half the price.

I fed his addiction,
a ruse to keep his letters
binding him to me,
by a long distance cord
of a slim white paper cigarette.
Always bringing back,

Pictures in my mind,
scattering in slow motion through
a kaleidoscope, where
I could see him young with hair
untouched by grey,
tall and strong,
my anchor in the wind.

Take me for a ride daddy,
and he lifts me up into the air
high above his head
I will never let you fall,
higher still he thrusts me to the sky
beyond the billowy puffs of clouds
Now just reach for any star,
they’re all yours, he said
then taught me how to make them mine.

I went away to gather tiles
to build the mosaic of my life,
minutes vanished into days
years withered into air,
his hair now grey as evening sky,
bent and weak, he is
a pillar toppled by a winter breeze.

The letters stopped years ago, but in my    
mind  they still come
connecting us by a long distance cord
A slim white papered cigarette -
his is Misty menthol, mine is Misty light
and when night time shadows fall,
billowy clouds  will always smoke
behind the stars that he made mine. 

I love you daddy

September 14, 2011

Guilty Sunday Blues

Instead of sitting in church, we are sitting in our car traveling north on Highway 52 from Winston-Salem. Our final destination is the winery at Chateau Morrisette which is nestled in a valley a short distance from milepost 171.5 along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd, Virginia. Once there, my husband, daughter and I will indulge in one of the best Sunday Brunches that I have ever had (not to mention awesome wine tasting). Before we arrive at this destination, I indulge in another ulterior motive for our adventure – antiquing and junqueing along the highway through Mount Airy, North Carolina and Cana, Virginia. Read more at All Things Girl online

September 11, 2011

Remembering New York and 9/11

1928 View Wall Street
On this eleventh day of September 2015, I will say a prayer and remember. I will remind myself that life can be taken from us at any given moment and I will try to treasure this day. 

As a child I lived in Pennsylvania in a tiny town near the center of my father's large family. My mother's family was less than three hours away, in New Jersey and New York City. I grew up in a contrast of languages, my father's Pennsylvania Dutch, and my mother's Slovak, Polish, Russian, and other languages which confused me even more. I loved going on long extended visits to see my New York relatives. The sounds, smells, and sights of the city became embedded beneath my skin. After we moved to Florida, I quickly adapted to southern living and culture. As a young adult I got to travel to many places, some exotic, and some not so exotic. But this is how we grow, how the world goes around, changing places and changing faces.

I traveled to New York City on a fairly regular basis throughout my adult life as it is one of the main retail centers in the world. I had to be there during every major market week and many smaller mini-markets throughout the year. My first office in New York City was in the Empire State Building, on the 79th floor. One particular elevator always seemed eerie to me. Sometimes the noise seemed deafening, particularly on the rare occasions when I was the only one in the elevator. I also hated walking the winding corridor to the ladies room where heat and more noise radiated through the walls. The July of the first year after I joined the company, I found out why, although I was still in Chicago packing for a trip to the Big Apple. Parade magazine ran a big article on the military plane that crashed into the Empire State Building on July 28, 1945 --- smack dab into the 79th floor leaving a gaping hole 18 feet high and 20 feet wide and destroying the offices along the corridor to the ladies room.

Manhatten 1928
I had other offices, one on the Avenue of Americas, and one across fro the World Trade Center. I used to stop in the deli there for a bagel or breakfast sandwich. Occasionally I even had business meetings at the Trade Center, and friends. I left the corporate world for good when I opened my antique shop, but never forgot the excitement, or sounds, smells and sights of New York City.

In August of 2001, my husband and I had decided to move to another part of North Carolina and had just begun the process of purchasing a plantation and estate, looking to turn it into a B&B along with selling antiques. We had just returned from a final view of the property before making an offer when 911 happened. I know that the world stopped for many people on that day which forever altered our lives from one corner of the globe to the other. For me and my family, we stopped and took a long look around us and realized that home to us, was right where we were and should be.

Ground Zero 1928
Now ten years later, I realize even more how dramatically my life changed. I went back to College and then on to earn my MFA. I made many changes, some difficult and some because the world as we knew it, had changed. We are and will continue to be in a constant change of flux,

On this eleventh day of September 2015, the cloudless sky is crystal blue, the air holds a hint of the fall season soon to come. Summer still lingers, but shadows dance upon the walls minutes earlier then the day before. I imagine at the ground zero sight, at a field in Pennsylvania, and where ever people lost their lives on this fateful day, thousands of shadows dancing and I hope that they are at peace, hope they are at rest. 

September 10, 2011

Communications Error PART III

A Comedy of Errors
To say that I am not happy right now, is an understatement.

Pure and simple, the companies that supply my cell phone lines (4), my landline (1) which also happens to be my Internet connection, and now my bank  - SUCK.

Having made this announcement, I am certain my service will go from pathetic, to worse. I mention my bank because they keep coming up with new ways to keep my money.

After my last post on Communication Error Part II, my cell and land line service almost seized to exist.  

This week did not start out very well. I had no bars on my 4G cell phone, and my land line had no dial tone. Although I was able to get on the internet with some of my computers, the internet speed was less then 1400 kbps. My land phone though, was dead (except if you attempted to call the number, you would get a busy signal).

First, T Mobile. Over the course of the past few months, due to many issues including being billed for text from a place called Mauritania, I connected with a supervisor named “Jennifer.”  She has supposedly been overseeing my account because of the problems. So much for promises, such as free phones for renewing your contract, and that “Don’t worry, I have everything under control,” she tells me, and for a while I thought she did and did not worry. Our last conversation was that she would call me on September 2nd. I guess she meant a different year then 2011.

Moo Yorkie
But this isn't the half of it because I elected to go paperless billing and my T Mobile bill is still mysteriously not available to me, although it claims I owe them $444.00 (less change) for current charges. The bill was $644.00 but they evidently applied a credit of $200.00 based on a phone I purchased in July and which, instead of applying my charge card purchase to the phone, they applied it to a bill which did not generate until 11 days later (but they did ship my phone).

So beginning Monday, and successive days throughout the week, I spoke with numerous customer reps who had thick accents. After hours of trying to explain my months of T Mobile hell and nightmares, my connection with said reps, was dropped. Whether or not they cut me off (which, has happened often in the past) is another issue.

I am getting extremely tired of speaking with people who are very difficult to understand and I am still waiting to view a valid bill.

But at least the outcome with Windstream – my landline and Internet carrier – faired better. 

It isn’t that I care about my land line although it my connection to the Internet, but I have had this number for almost 20 years and my family often forgets our cell phone numbers. I also keep this landline because on occasion, I accept credit card purchases in my shop.

I wont though after January 1, 2012.  Accept credi card purchases that is. Not when my bank (BB&T) sent me a letter informing me that they must keep 28% (known as Federal backup withholding). 


They already charge me $5.00 a month for the sheer pleasure of using a credit card machine. They already charge me a pass through fee meaning just swiping a card through the machine. They already charge me $5.99 a month for being in Compliance. They already charge me a base fee of $15.00 a month as a minimal charge for Charges/debits. They already charge me an additional fee for said credit/debits of up to 6% a month depending upon the credit/debit card name/company. Not to mention that my previously free checking is no longer free and should I wish to pay by check, said check will cost $.18 per check to write. In short, I loose between $400.00 and $800.00 a year for doing business with them.

I Have a Headache
 So much for being a loyal customer. Which is why my cell phone company, my land line company, and my bank, who all want my business, suck. 

September 1, 2011

Cell Phones, Landlines, and Communications Error Part II

Help. Get me out PLEASE!
I have been a loyal customer of TMobile who bought out SunCom and before that I had Verizon, who screwed me royally. I won’t go into that but it was about “only the primary number" had allocated minutes and subsequently I was charged $600.00 for additional minutes, although my total minutes were unused.

The explanation was very simple – the line who used the minutes was not the primary number.

I will fast forward to the present and the past three months which have totally sucked up every ounce of patience I thought I had.

This particular time (yes – there was another ugly time when I tried to go wireless (and if you care to read about it – click on Communications Error by Bev Hamel), has been abysmal. It’s true, history does repeat itself, particularly on Sunday afternoons when I clean up my computer from a weeks worth of internet surfing, or when my cell phone contract is about to expire and I need to make a decision whether to stay with my current company, or not.

We are!
Up until a few months ago, I had been happy with my cell phone carrier, T Mobile. I had not been happy with my two teenage daughters and their cell phone usage, but I was safe – I had family allowances and could control their usage. What I couldn’t control was their carelessness in taking care of their cell phones. There have been mysteriously broken phones, dropped phones in places where one does not want to go fishing, not to mention confiscated phones that only a parental figure can reclaim. We have had stolen phones and phones that disintegrated through wear and tear – but no one admits to being responsible.

This is not T Mobile’s fault, but the unauthorized text messages and charges to my account when parental controls were in place, is. No one in my family knows any one from Mauritania, nor do we even know where it is though through Googling the number and name, Mauritania is a country in West Africa and an Islamic Republic.

Not one of us received a message – just a charge. Okay so $.20 is nothing, but it does add up. The first time I called customer service, I was told – text back to “STOP.”

“How do I do that? The phone doesn’t ring and there is no record of receiving the message on our actual phones. The only way I know about this is because the charges are on my bill!”

“That is not possible,” a very thickly accented voice replies.

Where is Muriatania?
“Can you explain to me why I have my phone turned off and I am asleep at 3:00 in the morning? In fact all my other three cell phone users are asleep as well. Can’t you stop this?”

“No,” the voice said. ”We can’t block International calling or text, besides you have parental control and family allowances.”  

I'd rather have the parental controls.  The messages continued and so did the charges. I continued to spend quality time on the phone with T Mobile customer service. requesting the charges be removed. Every person I spoke with had a different solution.

So, this was my first problem – I talked to many customer service people until I demanded a supervisor. But it still took hours, days and weeks to resolve. I am not sure if this was finally resolved because  I condescended to renewing my contract, getting new phones, adding an unlimited text and data plan for my family, with the exception that the two teenage people in my family  - have 500 minutes each. One of these people used the minutes in a few days, and although the text messaging was unlimited, the other teenaged person, made international calls to Morocco (which were not in the plan), while the male parental figure accidentally downloaded a bloat ware app though I told him the Android Market is loaded with free apps.

Ok, so I love my new Khaki Slide!
This, though is not the last straw. It seems somehow, my new family plan racked up a whopping $653.00 bill this month.  It seems there was a little bit of communication error, between customer service reps and supervisors, not to mention it turned out the free phones we were suppose to receive, weren't free after all.

If only this was all, and I wont go into detail, but between the severe storms, earthquake, my Windstream land line and broad band connection went puff! New phones, new modem, new plan, and two weeks later, a new bill, I am ready to become a hermit.

However, we no longer have text messages from Mauritania showing up. They are now coming from EGYPT!

August 24, 2011

Earthquakes and In Memory Of a Best Friend

Between yesterday and today, I am in a daze and heartbroken. I have recovered from the event of yesterday, after all it was a mere earthquake.

Yesterday just before 2:00, I was sitting at my desk when I heard my puppies howling and barking then came a a roar and I felt a rush of energy burst through my shop. The overhead pipes, ceiling fans and even furniture rattled and shook. The phenomena seemed to last for minutes and as quickly as it began, stopped in dead silence. I called my husband and asked him what happened - he didn't know because he was outside. I had him go through the building both inside and out even though I didn't know at the time that what I felt was an earthquake and besides, we don't have earthquakes in Bethania, let alone North Carolina, or the East coast. I heard it on the news later in the evening. It  was a weird feeling to find out the jolt registered 5.8 on the Richter scale.

Then this morning I heard a loud rush of speed, a thud and a thump from the same location by my desk. The noise came from outside the front of my shop. I went to look and saw a man in the middle of the street - he was a neighbor from up the road who had been walking his large dog, a pretty and friendly honey colored Lab mix. A car had zoomed by, going at least double our 25 MPH speed limit and is why I am heartbroken, dazed and numb. I watched as he lifted the lifeless body and took him to the side of the road and held the dog as it died. The car driver never stopped.

I have seven Yorkies and all of them are my best friends. I am so sorry for you my neighbor, and I feel your pain and your loss. We all do.

My husband just returned from the post office which should have taken only a few minutes and instead it took thirty - A van in front of him hit a small dog and took off and left it there on the road. My husband and another man went to help. They saw a tethered leash and an empty collar on the porch. The owner of the dog was inside, but in a wheel chair.  The puppy was dazed but still needed care - I hope it will survive. This is a day I just want to stand outside and scream at all the speeders to slow down.

Tonight I am going to have a free-for-all with my puppies, give them extra treats, and watch their favorite movie. I will let them kiss my face as much as they want and let them help take away the sadness of this day. But then, they always do.

August 13, 2011

Writing History is Like Putting Together a Puzzle

Miller and Green Store Pauls Valley, Indian Territory

Although the sign says it is the C. J. Grant Store, the building was the original Miller and Green store and initially operated by Frank Miller before he took on a partner named Thomas M Green. 
I know this because of the trip that I have been on --- lost in Pauls Valley, Indian Territory before it became the state of Oklahoma, traveling through time and space from Winston, North Carolina, before it became Winston-Salem, To say that that it's been an amazing trip, is not the least, because I have also met several wonderful historians and writers whose knowledge of the west and its settlement have fueled my research and detective work. The problem is, my puzzle is growing at the same time the pieces are falling into place. The picture above was forwarded to me by OK historian Mike Tower and courtesy of the Pauls Valley Depot Museum. The photograph was taken after 1888, before the building burnt to the ground. Mike tells me that the only reason the picture of the store exists is because C. J. Grant had it moved parts by parts on wagons from its original location, which was located on the confluence of Rush Creek, about a mile south of where the present town exists. 
I already knew that Frank Miller sold the business to Grant after Green was killed in 1886. But what I didn't know was from early Garvin County Historical notes that Miller gave half of the business to a Tom Martin who was a nephew of Miller or Green. But then it hit me from already tons of my local Winston Research, Tom Martin was the son of Dr Samuel Martin of Winston, who married Miss Limmie Miller in 1856, daughter of Harmon Miller Esq, and Frank Miller's oldest sister.

C. J. Grant is Calvin Grant, son of Colonel Thomas Grant who was one of the first settlers in Pauls Valley. The Colonel is the first cousin of Ulysses S Grant. A co-incidence is that the house the former president lived in before and after the Civil War, in Galena, Illinois, is identical to the home that my husband and I restored in DeKalb, Illinois, for JJ Kingsley who is considered the father of Hybrid corn. But before I go off on a tangent and another story I need to write, I need to finish the one I am on, which is an amazing saga spilling from two Victorian trunks, and pieces of papers and letters spanning 200 years.

August 1, 2011

Pauls Valley Indian Territory and a Man Named Frank Miller

Pauls Valley
I was going to post a new blog much earlier then this, but because of the state of our Nation's budget crisis, I'd keep the publication up. Sometimes prayers can be far reaching. Besides I have been on a long journey of discovery taking me back through time in researching historical records of place and elements of life for a book that I have not yet determined to be a history book or a historical fiction book.

Frank Miller taken about 1870
St Louis 
My quest involves Cowboys, Indians, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and a man named Frank Miller who arrived in Pauls Valley, then Indian Territory  from Winston, somewhere around 1870, though he most likely was in the West earlier. The story is an intriguing one because Harmon Miller, Frank's father was one of the first to settle Winston, in the new county of Forsyth, NC in 1849. Before Harmon's death in 1861, the family had amassed considerable property, had a hotel, brick buildings, a mercantile store, and land throughout several counties.

Jesse James
Frank's two brothers, both ranking officers, were killed in the Civil War. Frank was in the war too, and served at least, some of the war in New Bern and Wilmington - the home of Smith Paul, originally from New Bern NC and who Pauls Valley is named after. We have Frank's brothers (war0 records available, but we do not have Franks. Family history though suggests that he may have been a blockade runner.

Because of numerous historical facts an some very interesting records and letters, also allude that Frank Miller may have served on the side of the North. This material is intricate, but documented because there were many men of southern origins who did not believe in what the American Civil War was about. That there were Southern deserters who lost there faith in the war and the cause is known - the war took its toll on human frailties.

The aftermath of the war and reconstruction era, was a nightmare at best,; but southern men who had defected were perhaps more ostracized then even African Americans, and Northern deserter. Although Frank Miller's family roots were deeply embedded in his birthplace, along with the family's land investments that were able to be sustained through many careful and cautious manipulations, even the disintegration of confederate currency,  did not create financial difficulty.

Forgiveness from within the local deeply southern community which Frank Miller lived, would take many years. This was not uncommon and many Civil War veterans removed their selves, as well as their families away from the community in which they had known.

"Go West, Young Man, Go West" an unknown source quote, published in a newspaper published by Horace Greeley, became the inner most thought of many men - young and old alike. The idyllic image of growing with your country, of greener pastures, of untamed wilderness, of roots- hog - or die, and of adventure - opened up a chance for a new life, and for possibly forgetting and for forgiveness. 

By the early 1870s, Pauls Valley became known as a way station for the cream of the crop, wild, wild west bad buys and gangs; such as Billy the Kid, the James Brothers, the Younger Brothers, so the well known Bounty hunters, along with sheriffs, and the Calvery made frequent pit stops there including Custer. It was not an uncommon sight to find dead men along the dirt roads, hanging in trees, or lying half submerged in water. Some would still have their hair and other's would not. The same way with their boots, which became a must for cowboys - hoping to die with their boots on.

Gen George Custer
Frank Miller had to have "True Grit" because he operated a trading post, was licensed by the Government to,  pay the freighters who drove cattle through the rich valley and supplies to Ft Sill and other Forts within a wide range. He was also the postmaster for many years, raised several thousand heads of cattle on his spread, had a telegraph, financed the first bank in Sherman Texas, Sacremento, Ca, Oklahoma City and in Pauls Valley. (Not to mention back in Winston, RJ Reynolds and his tobacco endeavors, and then his brother in-law - George Hinshaw's bank and the bank that would become Wachovia).

But back to Frank Miller and the Wild West. By 1872, he had a partner named Thomas Green and in 1877, he returned to Winston, took care of some business, and married Ida Wharton, a prominent Clemmons Doctor's daughter and brought her to his home in the West. She too must of had grit because she bore Frank five children, two boys died in infancy.

Pauls Valley
Frank spent about 15 years, that I can document, In Pauls Valley; but the date that seems to point to the family's retrurn to Winston and North Carolina is about 1886, when the railroad came to Pauls Valley. This is also when his partner Tom Greene was killed while herding cattle and preparing for the trip near the Washita River. This is also about the time the Wild West became even wilder. Ida too, was expecting, so I think Green's death was the last straw for her.

I still have some research to do, but the story has been bubbling inside me for too long a time now and is hankering to come out. In the mean time . . . . .


July 2, 2011

The First Prayer in Congress published by H. V. Wright, Washington City

This is one of the first printed  copies of The First Prayer in Congress made available to the public and was published by H. V. Wright, Washington City.  He notes, "In "Thatcher's Military Journal," under date of December 1777, is found a note containing the identical "First Prayer in Congress," made b the Rev. Jacob Duche, a gentleman of great eloquence, Here it is - a historical curiosity."

The prayer was published in Thatcher's Journal in 1823. You can read more on this historical document at The Foundation Forum

Historians of the 20th Century differ on the actual date and year it was read, but the prayer is grounded in the birth of our nation and as fitting for our stressful time as at any previous time in our country's struggles.

Enjoy and have a safe and happy Fourth of July! 

July 1, 2011

Celebrating the First of July

The Bombardment of Fort Henry
by Bill Alderfer

Today is may dad’s birthday. I will not say the year that he was born, except that he is possibly older then dirt and candles should be banned from his birthday cake.

On the other hand, my dad is an amazing artist, still handsome and brilliant. 

My dad is a WWII Veteran, wanted to study linguistics, and speak Chinese, But he had a growing family – three children and a wife who demanded that her husband concentrate on “bringing them up.” including learning cooking, books, and anything that had to do with paper besides books – but real period paper, 16th -  17th - 18th  and 19th century material – the stuff that most people ignore or throw away.

Some of the papers came from our 17th Century home in Pennsylvania, which is how the bug for old homes became imbedded in my life, as did antiques. The papers were used as insulation beneath floor boards and stuffed between log walls and beams.

I remember going through boxes of  my dad's "stash,” and pulling out an original newspaper with George Washington's address to the troops from Valley Forge.  Then there were boxes of old letters and other papers from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War.

Which brings me to the fact that in a few days, on July 4, our country, which is also older then dirt, will be celebrating its 235th birthday.

My dad isn't that old, but I sent him one of those talking cards that warns the people who live in the vicinity of his apartment in Hatfield, Pa -  to run for cover because there is a fire going on but actually its his birthday cake with all its candles.

I warned you dad --- Happy Birthday!

June 12, 2011

Why I Have Six Yorkies in My Bed

Actually on occasion, I have seven - when my daughter visits or asks us to "puppy sit." Said puppy is my "grandpuppy" and while she is not with us all the time, she remembers and knows who we are. Anyone who believes that dogs don't have memories, let me assure you they do. When Mizzie comes to visit - pandemonium erupts and we have a wild and crazy time. First Zoie and Zack (the parents) attack her, and then the rest of the gang. They immediately run into my bedroom and have a free-for-all on my bed.

I am to Cute for you to be Mad
This is a daily occurrence and the main reason why my bed never gets made. In reality, life with six Yorkie puppies in our house everyday is a wild and crazy time because the puppies like to party - they are after all Yorkshire Terriers, which is very close to terrors - which right now is synonymous with termites - (they like to chew and are going through an exceedingly long teething stage). Besides toys, chewbones, every  paper product imaginable, we have glasses, cell phones, remote controls, every flavor of wood in furniture, pillows, foam, each other, and of course, anything that drops on the floor - such as this Jalapeno pepper, which fell on the floor while I was making "Garnachoes."

Teeth Marked Jalapeno 
So if anyone cares, I am a glutton for my Yorkie puppies and except full responsibility for their care and upbringing. Thet have been potty trained (sort of) since they were three weeks. They are healthy, have all their shots, and one by one or getting neutered. We never expected for Zoie and Zack to have five puppies, but even more so was the fact that I simply could not sell any of them, particularly after being there from birth through it all.

I am Lizzie and I Love to Kissie You
I watched as Zoie would rush into the puppy palace and nod her head then bark as if she was counting to make sure all puppies were accounted for.  Call me crazy - I am - crazy for my Yorkies and well not having a well-made bed --- who gives a d_ mn!

We no longer have a four poster bed that one needed a ladder to climb into. All the puppies can climb easily in and out, but more importantly, so can my husband, "Bud the Plumber,"  when the puppies let him that is.