Drive #Monday Musical Memories

This was one of my favorite songs when I was in college. Now, even though it’s about love gone wrong, it makes me think of my dad, especially when the vocalist sings, “Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?”

In 1973, when I started the sixth grade after we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, my dad insisted I walk to  and from school. I’d always wanted to do this, having read stories about other kids walking to and from school every day. In Tucson, Arizona, where we’d lived before, this hadn’t been possible because the state school for the blind, where I spent the first five and a half years of my education, and then the Miles Exploratory Learning Center, where I was mainstreamed six months before we moved to Wyoming, were miles away from our home.

But here in Sheridan, our first house was just up the hill from the elementary school. So, walking to and from school was easy, except in winter when snow and ice made the hill treacherous. Occasionally, Mother or Dad drove me, but most of the time, I walked.

When I started seventh grade, the junior high school was a mile away. Dad claimed he’d walked that far when he was a kid, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that, and Mother agreed with me. She and I prevailed, and I only walked a few blocks to  and from the bus stop each day.

In the spring of my eighth grade year, we moved to another house that wasn’t within a school bus route. So, I had no choice but to walk the mile to and from school each day. The good part of this was that my route took me through downtown Sheridan, and I often stopped at a cafe for a milkshake on my way home from school.

The high school was closer, but the route there was difficult, taking me across a busy street, with no lights or stop signs, and up a hill that was treacherous during the winter months. In favorable weather, I walked, and it’s a wonder I’m still here to tell the tale, not having been killed while crossing that busy street. In the winter, Dad or Mother drove me, and Dad often grumped about doing this.

Now, here’s the irony. As an adult, after completing my music therapy internship and moving back to Sheridan and finding an apartment and a job, Dad said he regretted being so hard on me about walking to  and from school. On the contrary, I told him, I’m glad he encouraged me to walk when I could. Because participation in physical education classes was difficult due to my visual impairment, walking to and from school gave me some much-needed exercise.

A few years after I started my job at the nursing home, Dad sold his coin-operated machine business. This gave him more time. So, he was available more often when I needed a ride. I used the local transit service to get to work, but sometimes, I wasn’t finished until five thirty in the evening when their buses were no longer running. In those cases, Dad often picked me up after work.

After I married Bill and after he suffered his strokes, Dad often gave us rides when the transit service wasn’t running. When we acquired a wheelchair accessible van, Dad was our main driver. After Bill passed, and I sold the van, Dad still gave me rides when I needed them and couldn’t use the transit service.

Dad left this world suddenly in 2013, not having a chance to wonder who would drive me home or anywhere else. I’d like to think that he, like Bill, is watching me from above and at peace, knowing I can usually get a ride, either from the transit service or from friends.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Memoir Offers Escape to Childhood Innocence #Thursday Book Feature

I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood

by Philip Gulley

 

With a lot of humor, this author’s memoir talks about his life growing up in the 1960-s and 70’s. Born the son of a bug spray salesman, he starts by talking about his childhood, sharing memories of how he delivered newspapers, did extra trick-or-treating around Halloween, created home-made bombs from his father’s bug spray collection, and engaged in other antics with his friends. He also explains how he fell in love with his sixth grade teacher, hence the title.

After that, he describes his adolescent years: how he worked for the Youth Conservation Corps, then as a stock boy in a grocery store, and other jobs. Having been raised a Catholic, he discusses his experiences with and ideas about religion. He describes how he met and married his future wife and touches on how he became a Quaker minister.

I was born a couple of years after Mr. Gulley. So, some of his stories brought back memories of my own. I remember story math problems involving trains that I could never solve and how much I hated showering naked in front of others after gym class. Of course, I never engaged in any of Mr. Gulley’s antics, but I wouldn’t have put it past my brother to have done so. In a world of violence, corruption, and hatred, this book offers an escape back to a time when the only thing you had to worry about was what would happen when you told your teacher your dog ate your homework.

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Outside Myself #Thursday Book Feature

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Outside Myself

by Kristin Witucki

Copyright 2018

 

When eleven-year-old Tallie, struggling to adjust to her blindness, calls the adult reader services division at a library for the blind, she connects with Benjamin, an elderly customer service representative who is also blind. As they develop a friendship over the phone and eventually meet, they learn about each other. This story is told from Tallie’s and Benjamin’s alternating points of view.

We learn about Benjamin’s life growing up: how, as a boy, he denied his visual impairment along with his parents and how, as an adult, he lost his vision and came to terms with his total blindness. This is in contrast to Tallie attending public school and receiving braille textbooks and other accommodations. At the end, the author, who is also blind, explains how she was inspired to write the book.

I’m glad I read this. Although it’s written for young adults, it can be enjoyed and appreciated by people of all ages. It carries a powerful message about blindness and acceptance.

 

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Coming Soon: The Red Dress: A Novel

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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Song Lyric Sunday: Smokin in the Boys Room

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.According to newepicauthor, this week’s theme is “school/books/learning.” In case you’re wondering, I never smoked in the boys’ room. For one thing, I wasn’t a boy, and for another, after learning in elementary school that smoking is bad for you, I decided not to do it. When I was a kid, though, I liked to listen to this song because it allowed me to be bad vicariously and not risk getting into trouble.

How about you? Did you ever smoke in the boys’ room or the girls’ room? Were you ever caught? I hope this song brings back memories for you as it does for me.

Smokin in the Boys’ Room–Brownsville Station

How you doin’ out there? Ya ever seem to have one of those days
Where it just seems like everybody’s gettin’ on your case?
From your teacher all the way down to your best girlfriend?
Well, ya know, I used to have ’em just about all the time
But I found a way to get out of ’em
Let me tell you about it!
Sitting in the classroom, thinking it’s a drag
Listening to the teacher rap, just ain’t my bag
The noon bells rings, you know that’s my cue
I’m gonna meet the boys on floor number two!
Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Now, teacher, don’t you fill me up with your rules
But everybody knows that smokin’ ain’t allowed in school
Checkin’ out the halls, makin’ sure the coast is clear
Lookin’ in the stalls, “No, there ain’t nobody here!”
Oh, my buddy Fang, and me and Paul
To get caught would surely be the death of us all
Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Now, teacher, don’t you fill me up with your rules
But everybody knows that smokin’ ain’t allowed in schoolAll right!
Oh, put me to work, in the school book store
Check out counter and I got bored
Teacher was lookin’ for me all around
Two hours later, you know where I was foundSmokin’ in the boys’ room (Yes indeed, I was)
Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Now, teacher, don’t you fill me up with your rules
But everybody knows that smokin’ ain’t allowed in schoolOne mo’!
Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Oh, smokin’ in the boys’ room
Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Now, teacher, I am fully aware of the rules
And everybody knows that smokin’ ain’t allowed in school!
Songwriters: Cub Koda / Michael Lutz
Smokin’ In the Boy’s Room lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

 

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My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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Walking to School

One thing on many parents’ minds is how their children will get to and from school now that classes are in full swing. Some students take the bus while others are driven, but how many children walk to school anymore?

During the first six years of my education in the 1960’s and early 70’s, we were living in Tucson, Arizona. Because of my visual impairment, I spent the first five and a half years at a state school for the blind before being mainstreamed into a public school. Because these facilities were too far to walk, and there was no bus, my parents drove me to and from school each day. However, I read stories about other children walking to and from school and longed to be able to do that.

When we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1973, my wish came true. For the first couple of years we lived there, our house was at the top of a hill, and the elementary school my brother and I attended was at the bottom. During sixth-grade, I delighted in walking to and from school with other kids.
When I started seventh grade, the junior high school was farther away. Dad wanted me to walk, but Mother prevailed, and I took the bus. I did walk half a mile to and from the bus stop each day, and that was fun.

In the spring of my eighth grade year, we moved to another house that was not within a school bus route. This time, Dad said I could walk, and Mother didn’t argue. It was a mile, the longest I’d ever walked. The route took me through downtown, so when Dad walked with me, he showed me how to cross busy streets with traffic lights by listening and watching the direction the vehicles were traveling.

Once I got the hang of it, I loved the long walk to and from school. I often stopped downtown, either at Brown Drug or The Palace Café, and had a milkshake. That was my after-school snack.

High school was a different matter. My main obstacle was a busy street with no four-way stop sign or light. At this point, I was given a cane that I held in front of me while standing at the corner in the hope that someone would stop. Hardly anyone did, and I often waited a long time for a break in traffic before dashing across.

After that, it was smooth sailing, through the park and up the hill. Thanks to that intersection, though, I soon lost interest in walking, especially in winter when the boardwalk up the hill was slick with snow and ice, and there was no railing. I was only too happy when my parents started driving me to and from school each day, although I could tell my father was disappointed.

I understand his disappointment. Because he had to walk to school every day as a kid, it was only fair that his children should do the same. I wish I’d continued to brave that intersection. Better yet, I could have taken a longer route.

In the good old days, many children in rural areas walked over a mile to and from school each day. I remember reading in The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder about Laura and her sister walking home from school one day during a raging blizard.

Nowadays, I see children getting off of school buses every day but rarely encounter them walking to or from school. Because of security concerns, real or imagined, many parents are too over-protective. This is sad. Whatever happened to the good old days?

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
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