Born on the day of the stock market crash in October 1929, Pattie grew up on a subsistence farm in Stewart County, Tennessee during the Depression years of the 1930’s and World War II years of the 1940’s. In her rural neighborhood of Standing Rock Creek, there was no electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, or telephone service. At her high school graduation, Pattie was sixteen and too shy to give the valedictory speech. She entered Murray State College in Kentucky that fall of 1946 and graduated four years later, at age 20, with a degree in Elementary Education, certified to teach elementary school. Continue reading



It has long been my wish to write this story and begin by announcing I have, at last, beaten Brad at chess. That is not the case.  For more than two years, Brad and I have played chess on-line. It is called Chess by Post, and I have yet to win a game. I don’t even know what winning at chess feels like. I have never won a chess game with anyone. Brad is patient with me and apparently not bored. He and his wife, Cheryl, moved from Gainesville to South Carolina and he still stays in touch, and still beats me at chess. When he is in Gainesville, he comes to visit me. I will try to explain our relationship. Continue reading


“Miss Vada” Dillon never knew I wanted to grow up to be like her.  In our farming community of Standing Rock Creek, TN, when someone was having a baby, “Miss Vada” was summoned. I never knew what she did exactly once she got there, but neighbors seemed to think she needed to be wherever a new baby was arriving. In my child’s mind, she was the wise one, the “go to” person who had all the answers and knew what to do in a crisis. Continue reading



Kentucky Lake and Paris Landing State Park were created in 1945 when the Tennessee River was dammed near Paducah, KY, by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for the purpose of bringing electrification to our rural area. I was a teenager about to graduate from Dover High School in Dover, TN (class of 1946), and preparing to enter nearby Murray State College in Murray, KY (class of 1950) when this change to our landscape took place. I recall driving with friends from the Murray State College campus to Paris Landing just to see where the park was being formed at the new lake edge. The lake started filling in late summer of 1944 and completed filling in spring of 1945. Continue reading


Julie O’Donnell was three years old, and my daughter, Clea, was one when they started playing together. In 1966, we, the Macurdy family, were new in our neighborhood on Siesta Key in Sarasota, FL. My husband, Col. Harold H. Macurdy (Mac), had just retired from twenty-five years in the USAF, and we were living in a sprawling old fixer-upper on Bayou Louise at the north end of the island.  Among our neighbors were Julie’s parents, Jim and Anna O’Donnell, whose divorce was in progress. We continued to socialize with both parents, so we saw Julie a lot. Continue reading


Born into a Methodist family in a rural Tennessee community, my first exposure to religion was in a small Methodist country church, surrounded by my parents, my three sisters and one brother, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and a few neighbors. All were decent, honest, hard-working, law abiding people. We did not have well-educated pastors assigned to our remote circuit, as the smarter pastors went to urban churches. We got the uneducated preachers, and listened to many fire and brimstone sermons, based on the threat of burning in hell forever if we sinned. Continue reading


Growing up in rural Tennessee, in the 1930’s and 40’s, I had experience with our family’s Kodak camera. It was called a box camera because the housing was basically a six to seven inch cube made of black cardboard. Most families owned one as they cost just a few dollars and rolls of film were cheap. Pictures were made, usually of people posed, standing in a row. All photos were taken outside, usually on Sunday when we were in our best clothes, and usually in full sun as there was no flash on a box Kodak. The limited number of exposures on each roll, either twelve or twenty four, were used with careful forethought to make each one count. Continue reading


I strolled slowly across the grounds of Paris Landing State Park near my childhood home in Tennessee. The park was established after the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) dammed the Tennessee River in the mid 1940’s, created Kentucky Lake, and achieved rural electrification in the area. Emily and Alex Hancock were with me. They were the young children of my daughter’s new husband, John Hancock. “Oh, look”, I said. “Here’s some moss. Let’s touch it. Don’t you just love the way it feels!” Emily and Alex barely knew me, so they obediently reached down and touched the moss, but didn’t say anything. Continue reading


“Your dinners are already paid for” says our waiter as he hands me back my credit card. “I don’t understand” I say in disbelief and confusion. “The gentleman sitting at the next table paid your bill as he left”, the waiter explained. I remembered thinking the man was sitting so close he must have heard every word Stephen and I said. The man’s only companion was his young son who spent the entire time on his smart phone. Stephen, my twenty-nine year old grandson, and I had been squeezed into a tiny table in the corner, right behind this fortyish, professional-looking man who had no choice but to overhear our conversation. Continue reading