Before our wedding in August 1958, Robin and I wanted to earn a little extra money. That’s when we began making and selling sandwiches each night in our college dorms.

My enterprising fiancée got the idea from one of his buddies who had been selling sandwiches in their dorm that winter. However, his friend decided to stop, so that summer, Robin took over the business.

Two or three times a week, he’d jump into his blue and white ’52 Chevy and make a trip to the local grocery store, buy mayonnaise, mustard, multiple loaves of bread, fresh ham and cheese, canned tuna, and peanut butter and jelly.

Then I’d meet him at the Wesley Foundation’s little house across from the main gate of our campus. The two of us were active in both the Methodist students’ organization and the Presbyterian students’ Westminster Fellowship, but the Wesley Foundation had a nicer kitchen.

We’d clear off the long counter, wipe it down well, and lay out all the bread slices. From there, it became an assembly line as we slapped together the ham and cheese sandwiches first, then the tuna fish, and finally the peanut butter and jelly. Each sandwich was slipped into a plastic bag. Then we bundled them together in larger bags of each kind and placed them in the fridge until evening.

That night, we’d each go through our dorms, selling sandwiches to those who were studying or playing cards or visiting. The ham and cheese sold for a little more than the tuna or peanut butter; neither one of us can remember the exact prices now. However, I do remember we did sell out of our merchandise every night, and our sandwich fund began to grow.

In July, we decided to branch out and sell sandwiches at a discount to some of our sorority and fraternity friends who would peddle them in their residences too. By the time Robin graduated on August 7 and we married on August 8, we had quite a nice little account with which to begin our life together.

The following year, we learned that college officials no longer allowed students to sell food in the dorms. Maybe there were health regulations they needed to adhere to, but by then we were well on our way to other adventures.

Road Repairs

This afternoon I traveled down Barcelona Road, one of the main thoroughfares here in Hot Springs Village.

One might think that’s not so remarkable, but the street’s been under repair for weeks, and we’ve been detouring over the mountain on a narrow, hilly, winding road. Today I glided across the smoothly-paved black patch above the newly-installed culvert, and it thrilled my heart.

Yesterday, I attended a memorial service for an 87-year-old friend. His older daughter thanked the congregation for coming, and she told us how she and her younger sister had planned to surprise their father by visiting him together before he passed away.

Again, one might think that’s not so remarkable, but the sisters had been estranged for years, and they had recently worked to repair the rift. Sadly, they didn’t get to surprise their father, but the two of them and their children and grandchildren were together again at the service. I’m sure their mother was thrilled.

Road repairs, both literal and figurative, are beautiful blessings on life’s journeys.

This morning I’ve been thinking back to what turned me on to writing stories as a child. One of my earliest memories was Mother walking to the local grocery store several blocks from our home in Kansas City, Missouri, and she’d sometimes return with an Uncle Wiggily storybook for Cathy and me. This was during the ’40s and money was tight, so it was a special treat when we received these paperback books. My little sister and I read them over and over!

Uncle Wiggily was an “elderly gentleman rabbit” who usually had to deal with a “bad chap” trying to outwit him or harm him in some way—unsavory characters like Woozy Wolf, Bushy Bear, or Skillery Skallery Alligator. Of course, he also had many amicable friends who helped him out of his predicaments—Sammie and Susie Littletail, his nephew and niece; Lulu, Alice and Jimmie Wibblewobble, the duck children; Uncle Butter, a goat; or Dr. Possum, the local physician; to name a few.

Uncle Wiggily’s dramatic episodes inspired me to write similar stories, and my teachers often let me read my stories to my classmates at school. Their laughter and clapping cheered me on.

Today I went online to read more about the creator of these tales. American author Howard R. Garis worked for the Newark News beginning in 1910, and he wrote a new story every day, except Sundays, for more than 30 years! He published 79 books within his lifetime, and his stories are still available. What a great legacy!

Do any of you remember reading Uncle Wiggily stories too?

L’Audible Art

Every year, the Village Writers’ Club presents a free program for our friends and neighbors in the community. We call it L’Audible Art. Each member who would like to participate has five minutes to share an original story, essay, poem, or memoir, and we serve complimentary wine and cheese. This year our program will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 15 in the auditorium at Coronado Community Center here in Hot Springs Village. I hope many of you will be able to attend.

The first year I participated in L’Audible Art was 2004. I’d been a member of the club all year, but I still felt uncertain about what to read and how the audience would react to what I read. However, others in the club encouraged me, and I decided to go ahead.

That year I had written a piece called “Dear Cathy,” a letter to my younger sister. There was a twist at the end where the audience suddenly realized that cancer had taken my sister’s life, but I was speaking to her as if she were still alive. I did not become emotional as I read, but the piece touched several in the audience.

Afterwards, one of the club’s longtime members, Mary Ann Robertson, came up to me and told me how much she had liked my reading. Her words of affirmation meant so much to me! By the way, Mary Ann was a participant in L’Audible Art from the very first year it began in 1997 until she died in 2012.  Her legacy lives on!

See you on Monday, May 15!

Monday, Feb. 27, the Village Writers’ Club enjoyed a presentation by Janis F. Kearney, noted Arkansas memoirist and publisher, entitled “Writing Our Lives—Recovering Lost Memories.” She led us to recall incidents from our past that perhaps we had forgotten—or perhaps even repressed because of the emotional toll it had taken. An early childhood experience popped into my mind.

I must have been five or six when this happened:

During those early years, Mother sewed most of the dresses that my little sister, Cathy, and I wore, and she spent many hours at the sewing machine. One day she accidentally slid her finger under the needle, and it penetrated all the way through. She cried out, and I panicked.

“Manny, run next door and get Mrs. _________,” she screamed.

I started to cry, and I bounded out the door, rushed to our neighbor’s house, and banged on her door.

She was home, thank goodness, and she and I hurried back to our house. By that time, Mother had been able to turn the sewing machine wheel enough to lift the needle from her finger, and our kind neighbor helped her care for the wound.

I don’t remember our neighbor’s name or even if Mother eventually went to the doctor, but now, over 70 years later, I can still recall how frightened I was to see my mother helpless and in pain.

Today, millions of children all over the world are experiencing those same emotions.


Time Will Tell

Recently, a friend commented about whether or not a letter I had sent to our local paper would be printed. “Time will tell,” she said. She was right. I’m still looking for my letter to be published.

That’s true for everything in our lives, I think. None of us has ultimate control. We can plan carefully for upcoming events, but we are not assured that we will be able to carry out our plans.

As a school administrator, I learned that lesson over and over. Many times, circumstances arose that caused us to alter our plans, and yet we came through, often in unexpectedly positive ways. I’ve also learned that lesson in my personal life.  Sometimes illness or accidents occur or death of a loved one interrupts our lives, but we adjust and carry on.

Today, I take heart in knowing that only “time will tell” how the future will unfold. When actions taken by our national leaders are harmful to our citizens and to others seeking asylum within our country, I see how these bumbling actions are stirring up a mighty revival of voices united for decency and justice.

This ground swell is only beginning!


I am ashamed to say that in all my 78 years I have never marched, either to support something or to protest something. But one of the great privileges we Americans have is that we can raise our voices in protest or in praise.

Yesterday, millions of women and men from all across our nation marched in small towns and large cities to tell President Trump and the U.S. Congress that we will not support any policies or reforms that trample on civil rights or basic decency. If, as Trump says, he wants to “return power to the people,” then he needs to take notice of the massive crowds that came out yesterday and declared that the core values of this country will not be destroyed.

We will not tolerate the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act if it hurts those who now have health insurance in spite of pre-existing conditions or if it deprives thousands of our poorest citizens from affordable care.

We will not tolerate the dismantling of any laws that protect women’s rights to make choices about their lives and their bodies.

We will not tolerate any laws or practices that discriminate against persons because of their race, religion, or gender identity.

We will not tolerate the deportation of undocumented young people, brought here as children through no fault of their own, who now attend school and/or work to contribute to our society.

We will not tolerate the deportation of any undocumented immigrants who are now living in our country peacefully.

We will support President Trump’s desire to defend our borders more carefully, but we will not tolerate any attempt to screen persons based on their religion or ethnicity.

We will expect our President to speak truthfully, and we will also expect our news media to call him out when the facts do not support his statements. We will not tolerate any denigration of our free press.

I applaud those who marched yesterday! And I stand with all who are working to uphold the core values of this great country.