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Archive for June, 2010

My first hero….

From the time I was a little girl until I was an adult, this man appeared on television at least once each week. As a little girl I’d rush home to watch reruns of his series and as I grew up his movies appeared on television each Sunday morning. I wanted to, no I knew I would, grow up to marry my hero, Roy Rogers.

Roy was the perfect hero. He had the looks, he had the voice, he had the faithful companionship of his guy friends, and he had the most beautiful horse I’d ever seen. (As a little girl I was constantly asking my parents for a horse. Nevermind that we lived in town and had a regular house on a regular street…I was convinced we could tie the horse out in the back yard and keep him in my dad’s tool shed. Never got the horse…..) Plus he always got the girl! He could sing, he could outwit all the bad guys and he was handsome. He was the cowboy in the white hat who always beat the bad guys in the black hats. Ever notice that? As I look back, he was dressed mighty dandy too for a cowboy in the old West.

Now, I had a problem back then with Dale Evans. I was all of six years old when I realized my hero was married. My sister, cousin and I would often play cowboys and Indians…and I, being the youngest and the least confrontational, was never Dale (which suited me fine because I just knew someday Roy would prefer me). My cousin was Roy and my sister would be Dale and they would ride their stick horses all over the yard and defeat all those imaginary bad guys. I hate to admit it, but they always gave me the role of Gabby Hayes. I never got to help defeat the bad guys…I was usually back at our imaginary wagon cooking mud pies for the hero and his lady-love. I guess this is why our imaginary world of Roy and Dale didn’t excite me nearly as much as his television appearances.

As the years passed, and television changed and reruns of those old cowboy movies became scarce as cable and satellite channels multiplied I forgot my friend Roy. Occasionally I’d catch an old movie and sit with my family and watch it, but not too often. Roy and Dale got older and started a museum in California with memorabilia of their movie and television days. Nellie the Jeep, all their old costumes…even Trigger and Bullet…were on display and I hoped someday to make it there to walk through and relive old times. Alas, that never happened and now I have read that all the contents of the old museum will be up for sale. According to news reports, even Trigger and Bullet and Nellie will be up for auction along with Dale’s horse (now stuffed as are Trigger and Bullet).

It is sad to see a part of my childhood going away. While the museum was in California, and later located in Branson, I figured someday I’d amble through. With the baby boomers getting older our heroes are getting phased out and the heroes of those younger generations will be immortalized in museums for them to see. But I will never forget my first hero.

Happy Trails,

KW

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I remember looking forward to watching American Bandstand when I was growing up. Granted, its long run from 1952 through 1989 spanned from before I was even born till after I was married, but for the most part I recall the years I was a devoted viewer during my preteen and teen years. It was how I, a country kid, learned all the new dance moves. It was also a way for me to keep up with fashion and trends across the country…along with  reading Tiger Beat and all the teen magazines of the day. I used to love the part of the show where they would usually pick two kids from the dancers and have them rate two new songs…and almost always they would rate the songs highly because “it has a good beat and is easy to dance to“. If we heard that once…we heard it dozens of times.

Dick Clark was the host of the show for more or less all these years. He was funny, he was always impeccable and he was loved by the kids. As I grew up it seemed he never changed. Years from the days when Bandstand was televised, he and Ed McMahon would appear on blooper shows or Dick would appear each New Year’s Eve and he always had the same twinkle in his eyes, the same dapper haircut and the same youthful appearance. I honestly thought he never looked to age at all.

Clark suffered a stroke in 2004 and disappeared from the television screens for quite some time. He appeared on the 2005 New Year’s Eve countdown while still suffering slurred speech from the stroke. Subsequent countdown shows showed improvement in his speech and dexterity as he continues to improve. Duties for these televised countdowns were shared greatly with Ryan Seacrest and others. But the important thing to me was that he was actually there.

Sunday, June 27, the Emmys paid tribute to Dick Clark for his forty years hosting American Bandstand. Dick Clark, along with his wife Kari Wigton, was in the audience as the tribute brought tears to his face. I, for one, appreciate all the years he has dedicated to his career in television. Leading me through years of rock music…even hosting some of my favorite game shows and, of course, the blooper shows which always made me laugh.

Congratulations Mr. Clark on a long and prestigious career in radio and in television. You have been and always will be a part of many baby boomers’ lives and I appreciate your enthusiastic performances.

I salute you, Mr. Clark, and for now….so long till next time,

KW

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I am a born researcher. When growing up nothing was more entertaining on a hot summer day or a rainy afternoon than grabbing a volume of our encyclopedia and starting at the beginning and finding a subject to study. I remember a time when I spent many days devouring all the information on the Hapsburg dynasty of Austria. I loved their story. It was a subject that led me to our local library to check out books on their reign, had me reading volume after volume of material about their lives, their marriages and their decline. Maximilian Hapsburg was a sort of hero to me in those times. I could see myself writing a fabulous novel with him as the hero. Never did…..but it would have been incredible I’m sure!

When I began to do genealogy research I was fascinated with old documents. With the wills that left plantations to first-born sons, a few dollars to the other sons and usually a bed and a dollar to the daughters. This was not always the case, but often was the case. Occasionally the daughters received a bed and dresser and perhaps a few head of livestock for their dower. I have often wished I could go back to those times for a while, to experience life as they lived, but then I remember the daughters were not as valued a family member as a son.

Old census pages are beautiful as well. The cursive writing of those earlier censuses is impressive with the fancy lettering, almost to the point of looking like calligraphy. As decades passed and handwriting changed, it is also obvious that the census taker was no longer quite as proud of his penmanship….thus making reading these documents much harder to do.

My favorite old documents? I have to admit to two. First, to letters from family members off at war or visiting abroad or visiting distance relatives that tell of everyday occurrences. They related little things, from their birthdays rolling around to how the family was faring health-wise. With consumption, yellow fever and other diseases that had no real treatment in those days…you can imagine the usual outcomes. My second favorite would be legal documents…the wills, the court transcripts, the land lotteries. Such history and at the same time such a glimpse into live in those times long ago.

All of this has just made my interest in history and in telling tales related to those days grow. I love the gallantry, the pageantry, the simplicity and yes, the hardships of our ancestors. I infuse my characters with a touch of the things I’ve learned from my history fetish….and as I write I continue to pull out those old encyclopedias and tap into the wealth of knowledge on the Internet.

Never stop learning and feeding your mind,

KW

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To all the Dads out there reading my blog, I want to wish you a very Happy Father’s Day! Yes, I know that the actual date of Father’s Day varies from country to country but my wish for all of you is the same.

I had the best Dad a girl could have, and I realize it more and more each day. He was a jack of all trades, he could fix a car, build a house, operate any heavy machinery, catch a wounded pet, remove splinters, and even was a policeman who kept all the boys at bay when I was a teenager. He could be the most gentle of men one moment, and scare the daylights out of a potential date the next. He wasn’t really big and muscular…not the buff sort of man. He just had that air about him. That confidence. That aura that all loving, caring Dads have.

With just a look he could make my sisters and me cringe and wonder what we’d done this time and with another look he could make our hearts melt.

When he got older…and we became more friends and caregivers to Daddy…he became a very special part of my life. I found myself protecting him and wanting to take care of his problems. I guess the roles were reversed. And still, sometimes I still could see that spark of intense intelligence and love; for there was never any doubt my Dad loved us girls. Never. Poor guy, he had to share a home with four females, plus a female dog and a female cat….he just couldn’t get a break. LOL, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Give your Dad a great big hug this weekend, and be sure to tell him you love him. I wish I could have told my Dad how much I loved him more often…but he knew. By the end of his life, my Daddy was my best friend who taught me how to change a tire, install a light fixture and check my oil. He also taught me that having as well as being a parent is one of the greatest gifts in the world….savor the experience. Someday all you will have is memories…and what wonderful memories they can be.

To my Dad, Walter. You taught me what was right, I hope to make you proud…

I’m sure you are leading an angelic chorus today,

KW

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For many years summer in the South meant trips to Florida, sunning on the beach, visits with family and friends, and work in our garden. It was hot, it was miserable….and it was fabulous!!!

As time passed, my family began to vacation on the Mississippi coast….where huge antebellum homes lined the oak laden highway and the beach, a bit muddied by the mighty Mississippi River, was still so exciting to see. Casinos became the focal point in later years…and we’d take in shows and have more family fun poolside as the girls discovered lazy rivers and saltwater pools.

Then, Katrina made a disaster of the beautiful lazy Mississippi coast. Gone were those antebellum homes that had survived well over a hundred or two hundred years of inclement weather, gone was the well situated hotels and motels from my youth, gone were the favorite new places we’d shared with our children. Not only was the Mississippi coastline devastated, New Orleans suffered horrible flooding and hurricane damages as well.

I never thought we’d have to worry about the problems facing our “Southern Riviera” (sometimes referred to as the Redneck Riviera!) like the problems that are here now. While the Mississippi coastline has been relatively blessed to have less damage, perhaps because of our beautiful barrier islands, Louisiana, Florida and Alabama are suffering from the recent BP oil spill. Local television coverage shows great blobs of brown oil on once pristine beaches, a frothy brown topping to the waves that bring more and more of the substance onshore and lots of photos of the wildlife, taken usually covertly, of brown pelicans, dolphins and other sea life affected by the spill. There is one particular photo of a brown pelican that I simply cannot get out of my mind. It sits in a thick gooey sea of oil, cannot move other than to blink its eyes….and it is so sad. I have heard even the air at some beaches has the distinct odor of the oil hanging thickly in the heat.

Hurricane season is here, and we still have this spill in progress. Some say hurricanes will get rid on the problem naturally, some say the damages to the wetland south of Louisiana are irreparable, others say we are advancing on getting the problem corrected. Some even say the hurricanes could spread the problems further.

Many are searching for answers….and I hope one is found soon. It is mind-boggling how many people and animals are being affected.

I miss those old summer vacations on the beach. And I really hope a solution is in place very soon….for all involved,

KW

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I enjoy being friends with other writers on Facebook. It has given me a way to connect with authors who have given me incredible feedback, morale boosts when I’ve needed them and even aid when I have gotten stuck on a thought. It is understandably one of the modern tools of the trade and I don’t see any changes in the near future that would make us stop networking.

My family and personal friends also enjoy Facebook and I love connecting with them as well. Some use it to keep up with old and dear friends from high school or college days, some use it to make plans with current friends and others simply enjoy touching base with friends at the end of a hectic work day.  In all the time I have been acquainted with the idea of Facebook, but not yet a member, I viewed it as more of a tool for teens to interact. True, they are probably a majority of those online, but social networking is now a way of life for many professionals. It is reported over 175 million people use Facebook each day, it is mind-boggling!!

I totally agree that social networking is great for work as well as connecting with known friends and family for ease of access. I do not like the ease that some so-called “friends” have in getting in touch with a person for the wrong reasons. Cyber-stalkers or fake friends are frequently found online. Even as adults we must keep alert for these people who only wish to misuse the system.  Reporting, blocking and unfriending are options often needed and used to deal with those who are not using social networking properly.

Stay alert and see you online,

KW

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How often do you watch others when waiting in a restaurant or sitting in a crowded room? I guess you could say I am a certified people watcher. No, I am not a stalker or a person who sits and stares at strangers until they become self-conscious and run screaming from my presence. I enjoy watching how others interact. It is a practice that helps with my writing.

When a lady speaks to a new gentleman, does she reach to touch his arm when she speaks? Does she seem to look at the floor more than at the gentleman? I imagine conversations. Are they happy to see each other or perhaps she is finding it hard to tell him some bad news. Is this a new relationship? Goodness, are they breaking up??

Couples are my favorite subjects…I enjoy watching how they respond to each other during conversation. I use this in my writing simply because often the body tells more than you could ever tell by mere conversation.  I also love watching group dynamics, when several people are in discussion….who is the loudest? the most forceful? a follower more than a leader? I gain insight about the strengths of different types of people in larger situations. Observing these body language particulars and utilizing it in writing fleshes out characters; I find it helps give my characters more depth and is a great way to communicate much information without the use of dialogue in some situations.

After all, we don’t narrate our everyday feelings….would our hero or heroine sometimes need to show rather than tell a particular emotion?

KW

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