Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Animators: Enduring Friendship

When Thomas Wolfe used his home town of Ashville, NC in his first novel Look Homeward, Angel his portrayals of its residents were offended. You Can't Go Home Again, his posthumous novel, describes the less than warm homecoming he received afterward.

The artist's problem of how to use one's own life experiences in one's art remains a problem. Because we don't live or grow in a vacuum, telling our story necessitates talking about our relationships--and other people.

Where is the dividing line between an honest memoir and harming others? Do we have an obligation to tell our truth, unvarnished, or must we gloss over, alter, or lie to protect the innocent? Can we live with the consequences when we cause pain?

Kayla Rae Whitaker's novel The Animators is about two women who use their life stories in their animated films and bear the consequences.

The novel took me on a journey with unexpected twists and turns as I followed the friendship and working partnership of animators Sharon and Mel over ten years.

Sharon has escaped her Kentucky childhood when she wins a scholarship to an Upstate New York college,and  never looks back. She is internal, diffident, and controlled. Mel is a city girl, a party girl--talented, unvarnished, unpredictable.

They quickly bond as outsiders, becoming best friends and artistic partners. It is a relationship that both reinforces their darkness and supports them in their need.

Their animated movies flay open their souls, which Mel insists is therapeutic.Their first movie is Mel's story growing up with a mother who sold tricks or drugs to get by. Mel insists their second movie will be Sharon's story, beginning with a traumatic childhood incident, going on to her stream of bad relationships, to the stroke that nearly ended her life.

The first pages were so funny. Sharon's parents are resigned to life and their failing marriage. As she leaves for college her father thumps her on her back as if she were another guy; her mother hugs her too hard while whispering, "don't come back pregnant."

Sharon feels disassociated from the wealthy students at the private school until she meets Mel and feels a kinship to her forthright honesty, come what may. They love the same things and recognize in each other a talent for animation.

Sharon is the grounded one who keeps things in order, the clean-up lady when Mel crashes. Mel is the idea girl, the wild kid whose addictions to women, alcohol, and drugs wears Sharon down. But it is Sharon who suffers the health meltdown, and Mel reels herself in to become caretaker.

As the women deal with the burdens of their childhood, the struggles of the artistic life, and a series of failed relationships the reader is pulled into their world like a boat in a whirlpool. We don't always like Sharon and Mel, but we come to learn their burdens and respect them for their strengths.

The path to adulthood, which takes some thirty years, is hard. Sometimes we survive growing up. Sometimes we do not.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Animators
Kayla Rae Whitaker
Random House
Publication January 31, 2017
$27 hard cover
ISBN: 9780812989281

Monday, January 30, 2017

75 Years of Little Golden Books

It is the 75 anniversary of Little Golden Books. The first book was Pokey Little Puppy published in September, 1942.

My first books were Little Golden Books. Mom brought them home from the grocery store.  They cost 25 cents at the time. We did not have much money, and sometimes Mom had trouble coming up with money for the paper boy and robbed Dad's coin collection! It is a testament that Mom would buy me books when she really shouldn't have spent the money. I grew up a book lover.

I collected a long shelf full before they were passed down to my little brother. Years later I only had a few left of my original books so I recollected them to share with my son.

The books had engaging stories and amazing illustrations that captivated me. I loved J. P. Miller's art. Lucky Mrs Ticklefeather was one of my favorite Golden Books. I felt so bad for Little Galoshes when the farm animals would not recognize him without his galoshes.

 Pantaloon was another favorite story. I adored the art work in I Can Fly, created by Mary Blair who became famous for her art work for Disney. The Blue Book of Fairy Tales had beautiful illustrations.

I thought the children in Frosty The Snowman were me and my cousins Linda, Elaine, and Stevie. Dogs, The Sky, and The Moon are some of my original books. I always had an interest in science. Donald Duck's Adventure included his being bit by a turtle! I liked the Autumn trees in the illustrations.

This is a later edition of A Child's Garden of Verses illustrated by Eloise Wilkins. I am sure my copy led to my lifelong love of Stevenson's poems. I have a collection of different illustrated editions now.

There are over 400 Little Golden Book titles available now and over 1000 titles have been punished, amounting to billions of books.

My love of story and of art are rooted in these books.

What were your favorites?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Eugene Gochenour's Memoirs: Working at Chrysler's Road Test Lab & Installing a HEMI for Petty

Dad's first job at Chrysler was in Road Testing. His initial pay was low and he took a temp job--working on race cars! No wonder he loved 'muscle cars' and was proud of the HEMI engine in his RAM-1500.
Gene Gochenour
"On many days two mechanics would work together. One of the mechanics was named Herman Jacobs. Herman was old. he had worked for the Oakland Car Company when he was young. As old as he was, he was a very hard worker. He would work all day without taking lunch or other breaks, then leave about an hour before everyone else. Herman was the Police Chief for the town of Frazer, and when he left he went to work there. I don't know when he slept! Whenever we finished a job and took [the car] for a road test he always insisted on paying for the coffee because he said he had an expense account. Herman retired soon after. He had worked for the company for fifty-two years!

Another mechanic I worked with was John DiV***. Whenever we were on a job, John would work for a few minutes then say he would be back in a few minutes and leave. I would continue working. In a while he would come back and work a few minutes and leave again. This went on all day long and he spent more time gone than working. I later found out he was selling numbers, gambling tickets. I soon decided working with John was like working alone. Even though this always went on, I never heard a foreman complain.

Working at the Road Test Garage was an African American floor sweeper. His name was Sam. His job was to keep the floor clean of oil, grease, and water and other spills. Sam and I often talked and he was a fairly well educated man. He told me he had always sold the numbers because he knew he would never earn much money on the job because of his color. He said the money he made on the side had put his son through college and that he was a doctor.

No one ever approached me at work to sell me a number for gambling, and I never did buy one.

Ed Kasky was a very large Polish mechanic who worked in the Engine Buildup Room. He was pretty old when I started working at Road Test but was an expert at anything to do with engines. One day I was given a work-sheet and Ed and I were given the job of installing a Chrysler six cylinder engine into an American Motors car. This meant making special engine mounts, exhaust system, and other adaptations. It took a while but when it was completed it made a good submission. I don't know if Chrysler sold them the engine, but everyone liked it.

One day the foreman asked if any of us would be interested in assembling some race cars at a private conversion company as an after work job. The job paid ten dollars an hour, and about four of us said we would.

So every day for a week, after our day job, we would work at a shop in Birmingham until ten o'clock at night. When Saturday came we felt like zombies. We were all worn out. These cars had a big Hemi engine and plastic body parts. They were on a tight schedule, and Saturday they had to ship the cars to California, even though they were not completed. Richard Petty thanked us for the work we had done. After we left that Saturday we went to a bar and had a drink to celebrate the end of the job. I had to pay because the others had no money on them! The place where we had worked on the race cars normally converted large cars like Cadillac into hearses and ambulances.

At Road Test every day was a new experience. Sometimes we would spend all day auditing new cars as they came from the factory. If we found anything wrong we were to fix it. At other times we would go to a competitor's dealer and pick up one of their new cars, bring it back to the garage, and completely strip every part from it. The parts were measured, weighted, and cost evaluated, then displayed for anyone to check out. We were always picking up competitive vehicles for comparison and to find any new ideas or features they had.

Many of our own [Chrysler] cars were stripped of their parts and stored to be put back on later. Experimental parts were installed and tested, then later the original parts were reinstalled and the car was taken to a lot where it was sold as a used vehicle.

If we installed a new engine in a vehicle we had to drive it at least a hundred miles to break it in, so we would usually drive to Port Huron.

One day another mechanic and I were asked to go to where a retired executive's car had broken down, take him home, and wait for a dealer to come and pick up the car. When we got there the other mechanic took about fifty pounds of meat and groceries from his trunk and took the man home leaving me with the car until the tow truck came. When it came I went to the dealer and I waited until my buddy came, and then we went back to work. This guy had some pull even after he retired!

When I went to work for Chrysler I started at the lowest pay for a mechanic, and after a few months of work I thought I had proved my worth and went to my foreman and asked him to see if I could get a raise. His name was Pete and he and another foreman named Al Ferrari went to the department manager and tried to get me a raise, but he would not give a raise to anyone. but a few days later they told me of an opening at the Air Conditioning Lab.

I went there and talked with them and got transferred there. This put my pay to $113 a week. On top of that they were working overtime, so I was finally drawing a decent pay."

Herman Jacobs was indeed a Frazer, MI chief of police. In the 1950s he was asked to patrol the village after his days working at Chrysler. Later he was promoted to Constable and then Chief of Police overseeing six officers and two patrol vehicles.
Richard Petty's Plymouth with a Hemi engine won the 1964 Daytona 500. Sadly, the Hemi engine was boycotted by NASCAR and in 1965 his Barracuda with a HEMI crashed and killed a child, leading to a lawsuit against Petty and Chrysler. Read about the HEMI and Petty at

Friday, January 27, 2017

Coretta Scott King Tells All

In her later years Coretta Scott King shared her story with her chosen biographer, Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, resulting in the posthumous autobiography My Life My Love My Legacy.

Most remember Coretta as the wife of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Coretta wanted us to know who she was, not only as the supporter and partner in her husband 's work but in her own right as a life-long pacifist and human rights leader.

Coretta's courage and determination was sustained by her deep Christian faith, which gave her strength to endure what would break those of us made of baser metal.

From her childhood she was cognizant of racism; as her father endeavored to run businesses to support her family he was victimized, his businesses destroyed. The family home, built by Coretta's grandfather, was burned to the ground, and her uncle lynched. Her education was sub par and yet she won a scholarship to Antioch College.

Coretta had the gift of song and music and planned to pursue a career as a concert singer. Then a friend introduced her to a young minister who wanted a wife; his standards were very high and he was frustrated that he would never find his perfect helpmate. Until he met Coretta.

At their first meeting Martin Luther King Jr. identified Coretta as the woman of his dreams--a woman with character, intelligence, personality, and beauty. She quickly found herself falling in love. Leaving her dream of performance behind she instead graduated with a music education degree. Coretta, raised Methodist, found herself a Baptist minister's wife with all it's obligations and limitations, living in a parsonage.

Martin and Coretta shared a commitment to pacifism and a dream of social justice in America. Coretta was a strong, independent, and committed woman who sometimes chaffed at Martin's expectations to be wife and mother and keeper of the home fire as he went out to slay dragons. She considered herself an equal partner in her husband's work and not just a helpmate. She aided in fundraising through Freedom Concerts and speeches. She offered Martin a safe haven were he could grapple with depression and dejection, seeking renewal through prayer and introspection.

Coretta covers the harrowing stories of non-violent protests met with hatred, murder, beatings, and police brutality. That the freedom fighters were able to forgive these actions can only be attributed to their deep faith. At times I had to put the book down; at times I found myself in tears. I know about these events, yet Coretta's words affected me deeply.

The later part of the story, after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., we see Coretta blossom into leadership on her own. She tells about her work creating the King Center, establishing Martin Luther King Day, her anti-war work and support of feminism, and attacking Apartheid. We learn that she makes mistakes and learns from them. We hear her anger when she and other women leaders in the movement were sidelined. She shares her feelings about presidential support, or lack of support, of her causes. She rejects stories about her husband's infidelity as lies and holds a belief that government agencies were behind the murder of her husband. And she talks about her children.

The publication of Coretta's autobiography is timely, a lesson in how resistance movements can alter policy, raise awareness, and impact cultural norms. On the other hand, we now also understand that the battle is ongoing; each generation must commit to standing up to injustice in all its forms.

I received a free ebook from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

My Live My Love My Legacy
Coretta Scott King with Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds
Henry Holt & Co.
Publication January 17, 2017
$30 hard cover
ISBN: 9781627795982

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mini-Reviews: Another Brooklyn, Eight Hundred Grapes, and The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project by Grame Simsion was my book club's January pick. My hubby read it before e, and frankly, his constant guffaws and laughter reverberated throughout the house, and he frequently interrupted my reading to share a scene with me. He was having a great time. So, I knew it was a funny book before I opened it up.

And it is a very funny book. It is a romantic comedy with a happy, tied-up-with-a-bow ending. It is a nice anodyne to the worries of the world.

Still...I have to say the ending seems too idealized and improbable, and I had great concern about laughing at a man with Asperger's syndrome. I felt it was in bad taste to laugh at Don.

If the author hoped to make Asperger's a relatable and charming personality trait to promote understanding I might feel differently, but I don't know his motivation for creating Don Tillman. I wondered how the book would be received by those who treat Asperger's or have a family member with Asperger's. At book group a friend shared the story of her daughter who has Asperger's. She loved the book. Frankly, she admitted a lot of things her daughter did were funny.

The group gave the book high ratings and discussion was lively.

I had heard so much about Another Brooklyn by Jaqueline Woodson that when I saw it at the library I brought it home. The librarian's eyes shot up--did I have time to read it? she asked. Its a small book; I'll fit it in, I replied. 

I read it in an evening. 

What a beautiful book. I loved it. Woodson wanted to write about growing up a girl in this country, drawing from memories of her teenage years. She created four girls whose friendship creates a safe haven.

August came north to Brooklyn with her father and little brother. She watches and envies the girls who play on the street below their apartment. When she finally meets them, they claim her, saying, "You belong to us now."

 "And for so many years, it was true," Woodson writes. 

"What did you see in me? I'd ask years later.

You looked lost, Gigi whispered. Lost and beautiful. 

And hungry, Angela added. You looked so hungry. 

And as we stood half circle in the bright school yard, we saw the lost and beautiful and hungry in each of us. We saw home."

And with that scene I was caught in Woodson's story-web, wishing I had been one of those girls who had so early found a home in a threatening and changing world.

Adult August returns to Brooklyn for her father's dying and death, the memories return of growing up, of changing bodies attracting men, the discover of hidden talents and gifts. It is a story of 'white flight', addict war vets lurking in hallways and accosting young girls, and of parents who want the best for their daughter or who are incapable of caring for their children. The girls grow up, imagining 'another Brooklyn,' another reality to be claimed.

Woodson writes. "Creating a novel means moving into the past, the hoped for, the imagined. It is an emotional journey fraught at times with characters who don't always do or say what a writer wishes...in many ways, the characters a writer creates have always existed somewhere." 

These girls will live in my heart for a long time.

When Off the Shelf offered a giveaway for a book they promised would make me feel good, I entered. I really, really needed an escape for a bit. They understood, and I won Laura Dave's Eight Hundred Grapes.

So many on Goodreads call this novel a "beach read,"  which usually sounds an alarm for me, being (in my head) short for a plot driven romance with little staying power, the literary equivalent of hooking up. 

Instead I discovered a solid Literary Romance with good writing, nice characterization, an interesting family, and a heroine who at the tender age of twenty-five discovers what her "has to have" is in life. The importance of family is the enduring message. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Eugene Gochenour's Memoirs: 1963: Test Driving Chrysler Cars

Dad's memoir recalls his early days working at Chrysler in Highland Park. Here he talks about test driving new and modified cars, including the protoype Barracuda with a V-8 engine.
Dad and Mom around 1969. Yes, I had an Avocado green piano!
 My sister Alice and her husband Ken came to visit us during the summer and while they were there we got to talking about an interview I just had at Chrysler. I had previously been hired, but that job fell through because one of their existing workers was transferred to that lab. This time I was quite discouraged, though, because while they said they would hire me the starting salary was only $98 a week. But Joyce and Alice and Ken talked me into going back and accepting the job

So once again I told Harvel that I was quitting and went to work for Chrysler at their Road Test Garage. They pay was so small I would not even look at it. To make more money I got a part time job at a nearby Shell station as a mechanic where I worked evenings and Saturdays.

Road Test Garage* was in a very old building that was originally used by the Oakland Car Company at the beginning of the [20th] century. I enjoyed working there because all the cars were new, and before we worked on the, they had to be washed, and then road tested after we worked on them. No more rusty cars! When we took them for a road test would usually stop for a coffee break and on paydays we were allowed to take a care to cash our checks at the bank.

There were about seventy-five mechanics that worked at the garage, and there were two shifts. i worked the day shift. Some of the mechanics worked on boats at a marina on the Saint Clair River at Algonac, some worked at the proving ground at Chelsea, and many worked at Highland Park where I worked. Probably the total number of mechanics at that time was about 500.

The work was interesting because I never knew what I would be working on from one day to another. One day I had a job on a Chrysler turbine car and when I finished I got to road test it. Chrysler had made 250 of them as test vehicles. Before I took it out on the road I was told to turn it off if the temperature exceeded 1500 degrees. It was a strange car to drive and it got a lot of attention.

To me, the traffic at Detroit was quite intimidating. I had not worked there very long when they gave me a brand new car that had just came from the factory, and a map of the city of Detroit, and told me to drive the 22 mile course marked on it. The object of the drive was to put 50,000 miles on the vehicle as fast as they could. I drove the car all day in the city, then another driver would drive to Chelsea, drive it on the high speed track, then back to the garage so I could drive it the next day.

The first day I took the vehicle I had white knuckles from watching the cabs, buses, and other vehicles, and watching for the streets marked on the map. But after a few days it got to be old stuff, and I became at ease driving [in Detroit].

There were five other drivers with different model cars driving the same course, and most of them knew the city very well. Sometimes we would play follow the leader, and the leader would drive through back alleys and trucking lots, trying to lose us. Sometimes he would and we would find each other going in different directions, or coming from cross streets from which we could not follow. When we became too dispersed we would give up and go back on course.

Second Street was a rough area and prostitutes walked the streets and some of them would even call from the windows of their houses as you passed by. Some of the drivers would stop to talk with them and as the gal was to get into the car, drive off. They thought that was fun.

Every day we would go to Palmer Park where we would eat our lunch at a picnic table, feed the ducks, and take a walk.
Vintage postcard of Palmer Park in Detroit, MI
One payday I decided to cash my check at a bank on Grand River Street. All our cars had a device in the trunk that wrote on a paper disc to show that the car was in motion, so I hoped to just pop into the bank, cash my check, and get back on the route.

Well the line I was in had a lady in front of me, and in front of her was a man talking to the cashier. The man left, then the cashier left, and a man came from the rear of the ban and asked us to move to another line. In a few minutes a policeman came in and then I found out that the bank had been robbed by the man in the line ahead of us. The detective asked if I had seen anything, and I never saw a thing. I wanted to get back to the car because I was worried that the disc record would show I was not driving, and I was hoping the car had not been stolen. I turned the record in at the end of the day and nothing was said the following day, so I had gotten away with it.

It was summer and one of the cars I was given was a convertible and I put the top down and it was great! Each day we were given instructions to run the air conditioner, or the wipers, in an attempt to simulate real life use. If anything went wrong with the vechicle we were to report and repair it. This went on for a month, then we went back to work at Road Test. After a month of driving city traffic I was no longer intimidated.

One day I was given a work order and it said to install a special instrumented and modified automatic transmission into a new car that I was provided with. I was to remove the right front bucket seat, the floor mat, and cut a large hole in the floor board so that the transmission could be looked at. The transmission had a window of Plexiglas at the torque tube so its inside could be viewed. When I was done with the job two engineers and I took the car for a test drive. While I was driving each engineer would get on his knees and look at the window in the transmission. They were trying to find out when and how much oil was going to the real seal. After each of them looked we changed places and I looked. That job went pretty well.

Another job I was provided with a new Barracuda and asked to install a V-8 engine in it. It was the first V-8 engine ever put in that model car. When I was done with the job a different pair of engineers and I took the car on the road to test drive it.

We drove it down Second Avenue in Detroit. It was running along just fine until the driver kicked it into passing gear. When he did this, the car jumped, kicked, and shuddered. We stopped the car, opened the hood, and looked inside. The wiring harness was all burned up. What they had not thought of was that when the accelerator was depressed all the way, the rod in the engine compartment contacted the starter relay, which burned out the wiring harness.

Luckily we could still drive the car back to the garage where I repaired it.

* According to Marc Rozman the Road Test garage "was the first concrete poured-wall building in Michigan a high tech building" with forms in concrete walls. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Last year I read Sarah Pinborough's book The Language of Dying and liked it very much. Since that book had a magical element I early expected that Behind Her Eyes also involved something of the same.

Behind Her Eyes was a fast read, but I did not read it in one sitting as publicity warned might be the case.

The story is rather tawdry: single mom Louise meets David in a bar and they 'connect', but he says he can't and leaves. The next day she learns the man is in fact her new boss. Then 'by accident' the bosses wife, Adele, meets Louise and pursues a friendship. Adele hints at a troubled marriage and a controlling husband. Louise likes Adele, but then David shows up at her door and they act on their mutual attraction; an affair ensues.

Louise struggles to compartmentalize her life between Adele and David. Meanwhile, chapters from Adele's viewpoint reveal she is not what she appears to be, and her backstory is slowly revealed to Louise.

David and Louise are caught it a web, a trap, with a shocking and unpredictable ending, they get what they thought they want.

The novel carries the reader along and the pacing is great, and the reader is kept guessing and sidetracked by unreliable information.

Personally, the strange double coda of an ending seemed manipulative to me. The characters are not people we like, although because of their lack of self determination. So the emphasis is on the complicated and twisting plot.

I expect this new contribution to Domestic Noir will be a best seller. It is better written than several other thrillers I read in the last year.

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Behind Her Eyes
Sarah Pinbourough
Flatiron Books
Publication January 31, 2017
ISBN 978-1-250-11117-3

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

In 1985, eighty-six year old Lillian Boxfish once again defies stereotypes and the advice of others, walking alone at night through New York City, revisiting and ruminating on her past, while still very much alive to the present.

Lillian's aunt Sadie was a Manhattan career girl who wrote poems about her elegant advertising creation Phoebe. She inspired Lillie. In 1926 Lillie arrived in Manhattan, secured a copywriter job at R. H. Macy's, and in the 1930s became the highest paid female in advertising--and a best selling published poet. Lionized and the media's darling, sophisticated and daring, Lillian had been on top.

Now it is New Year's Eve, 1985. Lillian puts on her forty-year-old fur coat, applies her signature lipstick, Helena Rubinstein's Orange Fire, pulls on a pair of boots, and takes to the sidewalk. She has planned one last adventure to end the year. Destination: Domenico's for a do-over of a steak dinner that ended badly twenty years previous.

Lillian's life is revealed in bits and pieces through her memories; she came, she conquered; she fell in love and became a wife and mother; she lost herself, and then her man. Once a household name, her books are found in the sale pile outside the bookstore--worthless.

Don't think she is held hostage by her past. Lillian likes to keep up to date. She likes hip-hop for its use of words and is thrilled by break-dancing. She has a 'nostalgia for the new.' She makes friends with everyone she meets along the way, and fearlessly bargains with muggers. The city has lost it's lustre, the old places are gone or declined, but Lillian has never wanted to be anywhere else.

Non-linear in structure, the book must grab readers by Lillian's personal charisma and the mystery of her past. When Max arrives on the scene the drama picks up considerably as we learn about their passionate love and the marriage that required Lillian to give up her career and brought depression and alcoholism, shock treatment, and Max's affair.

The novel was inspired by a real ad woman, Margaret Fishback. Kathleen Rooney felt a deep connection to Fishback and wanted to bring her story to a new generation. The novel is also a love story to the city, memorializing its heyday but also celebrating its 20th c multicultural vitality.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Kathleen Rooney
St Martin's Press
Publication: January 17, 2017
$25.99 hard cover
ISBN: 9781250113320

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Eugene Gochenour's Memoirs: Life Goes On: Moving to Royal Oak

Dad continued his memoirs to include his new life in Royal Oak, MI. It is a story of the American Dream of the 1960s, a time when we believed that hard work and short-term sacrifice would lead to financial security.

Dad a few years after we moved
My Ramer grandparents and Mom's brother and sister were already living in Metro Detroit. Mom wanted to be near her family; Dad dreamt of a job in the auto industry. Dad was 34 years old and without retirement, life insurance, or health care. Working for the auto industry meant benefits, especially health insurance for Mom's psoriatic arthritis that was destroying her joints. 

Here is Dad's story.

Life goes on.

During the early 50s Joyce's family moved to Detroit where her father went to work for General Motors. Her sister Nancy was married and her husband Joe moved there also. Joyce's brothers Don and Dave were still living at home so they went, too. Her only relative living in the area was her grandmother, Delia Greenwood, who lived on Englewood Avenue in Kenmore.

We made a few short trips to Detroit, but I really did not like big cities. Occasionally, Joyce and Nancy would take a train to Detroit to visit Joyce's parents. Joyce had a serious skin disease called psoriasis and while she was there she would go to the Henry Ford Hospital in hope of finding a cure.

In 1959 our son Tom was born, so now there was Joyce, Nancy, Tom, my mother and I living together. Running the garage was a hard life, and I thought I had better make a change before I grew too old. I knew the mental and physical stress was wearing me down. Even with all the hard work and time spent at the station all we ever did was barely make a living. So, Joyce, Mother, and I started talking about selling the hose and business. We talked about buying a motel in the Adirondacks, or my going to work at a factory, or working as a mechanic at a car dealership, but I really didn't like any of those options.  I knew I did not want to go into another business.

Joyce wanted to be near her family and since my mother was living with us we decided we would move to Detroit where I would get a job with one of the major car companies. I hoped to get work at General Motors where my father-in-law and brother-in-law Don worked.

We put the property on the market but real estate sales were slow and we did not get any offers. When it was found out we were selling the business we lost some customers because they decided to find another place to service their cars. it took many months before we got the first offer and it was much lower than the price we were asking, but we decided to take it. The man who bought the house and business was named Harper and he used the station to run his gutter business.

Mother continued living in the same part of the house after my father died. Joyce and Nancy and I lived in the same upstairs apartment but we all agreed it would be better for Mom to have company and we moved to her apartment. At the time we sold the business Mom had lived with us for six years, and Joyce and Nancy and Tom loved her dearly, so we planned to all move to Detroit together. After the offer on the station was accepted I had to sell and give away many things to get ready for the move.

it was decided with Joyce's family in Detroit that we would move our things in and live with them until we got our own home.

My Grandparent Ramer's home on Gardenia in Royal Oak
I made several trips to Detroit, hauling my boat and other things, but our furniture and appliances were hauled there by a moving company we hired. I remember the day they loaded the van. All our furniture and possessions only filled about a quarter of it. It cost four hundred and fifty dollars for the mover.

When we finally moved in with Joyce's parents, their basement, attic, and garage was packed full. They were probably surprised by how much we had brought. It was a pretty big house, but we sure did fill it up!
Grandpa and Grandma Ramer with a relative
in back of their home on Gardenia, RO.
While we lived with them I slept in the second story
screened porch off the master bedroom.
My mother did not come with us when we moved in with Joyce's family. We planned to bring her when we bought our own home. In the meantime she lived with my sister Alice and her family in Tonawanda.

One day I went to General Motors employment office and had an interview for a job, then went back to Joyce's family's house, expecting to get a call saying I was hired, but it didn't happen. After about a week or so I decided I should look elsewhere for a job.Then my brother-in-law Don Ramer told me of a shop that needed a mechanic. Louis Scott worked with Don at the General Motors Tech Center and his father Paul owned Scott's Garage which was located on Hudson Street in Royal Oak. So I went there, talked with Paul, and was hired.

The building looked like a garage from the thirties. It was deep and dimly lit. I remember that we had a radio there and I was listening to it on the day John Kennedy was assassinated. I was the only mechanic, and Paul did not have many customers. I knew only Joyce's family in Michigan and since it was not very busy, I had lots of time to think. One day I was sort of depressed and thought to myself, "What am I doing here, away from all my relatives and friends?" Back home I had dozens of relatives, many friends, and hundreds of customers. Here I knew almost no one.

But the feeling soon passed and when I would meet new people I would think, "that person reminds me of someone I knew back home." It was like a game, and many of the people I met did remind me of customers or friends form the past.

Paul did not always have a full weeks work for me, so I decided that I had better look for another job. One day Joyce saw an ad in the newspaper for a job as a mechanic at a Shell station that was located at Lincoln and Main Streets in Royal Oak. I went there and was interviewed by the manager whose nae was Bob Cupp. Bob was a fine and likable person and he told the owner about me, and I was hired.

I had worked for Paul for about a month when I told him that I had to have a full weeks work to live on and would have to quit. There were no bad feelings, because Paul understood.

I started at the Shell station at a weekly pay of 60% of the labor on the jobs I did with a guarantee of $126 a week. Harvel Akins was the name of the owner, and he was a fine person, and a good and honest boss. Harvel had served in the US Navy and the station was always spic and span.

He and all the station attendants were from Kentucky or Tennessee. They all had a Southern accent and the station attendants told many redneck and hillbilly jokes. This is one of the jokes they told:

Mother had a cat and every day when she walked into the bedroom she would see the cat sleeping on the bed next to a pile of cat poop. She told a friend about her problem and the friend said she knew how to cure the cat. She said the next time that happened to grab the cat by the neck, push its head into the poop, and throw it out the window. Well, the next day when she went into the bedroom the cat was again sleeping next to a fresh pile, so she grabbed it by the neck, stuck its head into the pile, and threw it out the window. Then on the following day when she went into the bedroom, the cat saw her, stuck its head into the poop, and jumped out the window.

She sure solved that problem!

I was the only mechanic and repaired any problem on any vehicle that came into the station. I overhauled engines, did wheel alignments, brake work, exhaust systems, tune ups, etc., on all makes and models. Even though I had power tools it was hard physical labor.

I had told Harvel when I started that I felt I had to go to work for a major car company because at 34 years old I needed to find a job with a good retirement plan.

All during this time Joyce and I were talking to real estate agents trying to find a house we liked and could afford.

Since I had never heard from General Motors about a job I decided to try Chrysler. One morning I went to Highland Park to their employment office and was interviewed for a mechanic job. They gave me many tests and when they finished they told me the would hire me for $113 a week. I accepted the offer that Monday and they told me to start on the following Monday. So, I went back and told Harvel that I had the job and had to quit. I told him I was sorry for the short notice.

But then on Wednesday, Chrysler called me and told me they could not hire me because one of their union members wanted the job. So, I told Harvel that the job had fallen through and he was happy and gave me a raise. But I told that sooner or later I would have to leave.
Photo of 211 W Houstonia from realtor
After checking out many houses we finally found one we thought liked and could afford. It was on Houstonia Street in Royal Oak. So we moved all out things from Joyce's parents' house after we cleaned and painted the inside of our new home.
Houstonia house, 1963
Since my mother was to live with us we wanted a house that could accommodate us all. The house we chose had two bedrooms downstairs and two upstairs. It had a two-and-a-half car garage and a large backyard. We paid $12,000 for it and put $3,000 down.

Then we called Mother to tell her about the house and I drove to Tonawanda to bring her and her belongings back to our new home to live with us. Joyce and the kids were very happy to see her. Moving out of Joyce's family's house must have been a happy day for them! While Mother lived with us she was very homesick.
Me, Tom, and Grandma Gochenour. Christmas 1963, Houstonia,
You can just see part of the remodeled kitchen on the right side.
This photo shows Nancy, Tom and Mother. It was taken at the dining room of our house on Houstonia Street in Royal Oak, Michigan. Not long after, Mother went back to Tonawanda, New York, to live with my sister Alice. This broke Joyce's heart, because Mom had lived with us for six years and she and Joyce were very close. She was closer to my mother than to her own.

Houstonia was a very nice street to live on, and we soon got to know most of the neighbors. At the house west of us lived John and Jerry Voight. At the home east of ours lived Mr and Mrs. Reynolds, an older retired couple. Next to them lived Laura and Irv Beaupied and their six children. Then came Jean and Gordon McNab with their two boys. On the corner of Houstonia and Main Streets lived Ruth and Bud Brehm and their two children. Across the street from them on Houstonia lived Edna and Art Lentner and their two children. So, because of the children, we all got to know each other.
Dad painting the Houstonia house
After we moved in we put in new cupboards, kitchen counter tops, a new oven, and remodeled the kitchen. I painted the outside, put shutters on the windows, and a wrought iron railing on the front steps. We also put in an above ground pool in the backyard.
Grandma Gochenour in the kitchen during remodeling

Here I am in the kitchen Dad was remodeling.
It had light orange painted walls and the Formica
countertops included an orange boomerang motif.
I worked five and a half days at the Shell station, on the house during the evening, and repaired cars in my garage on the weekends. That did not leave much time for play.

Here are photographs of our first Christmas in our new home. Mom painted the walls light turquoise, still a trendy color in 1963.

Dad trying on a new robe while Tom checks out what Santa left him

Dad, me on the couch

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Another UFO Put to Rest & Book News

I finished a 2015 Row by Row into a table topper. Small strides...

We have been redecorating a bedroom to become a home office--Hooray! I won't have to write in the family room or kitchen! It's a north facing room and I wanted a warm color. I decided on a deep orange.

The room has white trim and cellular shades. I am searching for drape fabric, preferably a MCM print on a white ground.

My blog has reached over 191,000 hits! Book review readership has skyrocketed!

Scheduled book reviews include:

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney: a once famous MAD woman recalls her life
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough: a Domestic Noir thriller with a twisted ending
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker: a story of enduring female friendship 

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Ngyun: moving stories of the refugee experience in America
Hit Makers by Derek Thompson: the science of popularity and success
The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis: a debut family drama, insightful and beautifully written
High Noon, The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glen Frankel
The Typewriter's Tale by Michiel Heyns: Henry James' typist tells all

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan: a history of ecological peril
Like Death by Guy de Mausppant: a classic story of obsession
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar: often funny, often wise debut novel of redemption
Whereas, poems by Stephen Dunn
Peggy Seeger by Jean R. Freedman: the life of folk musician and activist sister of Pete Seeger

Over the Hill and Far Away: A Life of Beatrix Potter by Mathew Dennison
A $500 House in Detroit by Drew Philp: seeking a new way of living in a resurrecting city

The Reminders by Val Emmerich: a charming tale of friendship

Galleys I have on my shelf include:

Ice Ghosts by Paul Watson about the ongoing search for the Franklin Expedition of 1845
Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker, a retelling of Jane Eyre from a new view point
Grief Cottage by National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin
The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios
We Shall Not Sleep by Estep Nagy, a debute family drama set in Maine
Manderley Forever by Tatiana de Rosnay, a biography of Daphne du Maurier
and Madame President by Helen Cooper about the first female president of Liberia

And the spring titles are just showing up for review requests!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"Hope is the thing with feathers":The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I read Nicola Yoon's new YA novel in one evening. I had enjoyed her first novel, Everything, Everything; Yoon's second novel The Sun is Also a Star is even better.

First, I will admit that a story only about teenagers falling in love won't catch my interest. I'm not a hopeless romantic, and my teenage days date to the 1960s. But for those readers who love a good love story, Yoon delivers.

What I adore about The Sun is Also a Star is how Yoon combines a good love story, vivid characters with complex families and backgrounds, philosophical discussions on the nature of love, science, and human nature, and social commentary.

Daniel: "I think we are all connected, everyone on earth." Natasha:" Even the bad people?" Daniel: "Yes. But everyone has at least a little good in them...I think all the good parts of us are connected at some level....I think that's God. God is the connection of the very best parts of us." 

The Sun is Also a Star brings together, seemingly randomly, two high school seniors and depicts their one day together as they slowly reveal who they are and fall in love. Everything they do impacts other people, changing their lives as well.

Daniel is the son of South Korean immigrants who expect him to use his American opportunities to earn a high profile career and big income. At heart, Daniel is a poet. Natasha and her family are illegal aliens from Jamaica; her family is ordered to leave the country that day. Natasha holds to science and objectivity, distrusting romance and sentiment. Daniel falls for Natasha and spends the day convincing her to love him.

As we learn about the characters and their families we also learn about the realities of immigrant life, the feelings of displacement and hard cultural adjustment. A chapter on Korean American History explains the history of how South Koreans became experts in African American hair care. Daniel's brother desperately wants to be 'American' and rejects his heritage and his family in the process. Natasha's father came to America to act, and he has a remarkable ability but his thick accent precludes his advancement. His family lives in near poverty, Natasha and her nine-year-old brother sharing the living room as their bedroom.

As Daniel and Natasha progress through the stages of new love, even to their first fight and separation, Yoon shares their thoughts in lovely epigrams.

"We tell ourselves there are reasons for the things that happened, but we're just telling ourselves stories. We make them up. They don't mean anything."

"Touching him is like order and chaos, like being assembled and disassembled at the same time."

"Maybe falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself. I like who I am with her."

The lovers struggle with the impact of their families expectations and experiences of racism and class. "Who are we if not a product of our families and their histories?" wonders Natasha. Parents "can't see past their own history," and they want to protect their children by encouraging, or forcing them onto paths for their own good Daniel learns.

 The book has been on the YA bestseller book and won acclaim. For good reason.

I received a free book through Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Sun is Also a Star
Nicola Yoon
Delacorte Press
$18.99 hard cover
ISBN: 978-0-53349668-0

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

"They had wanted to love. They had gone too far."

Parental love, it's obsessive envelopment and fierceness, is the theme of Shanthi Sekaran's moving and thoughtful novel Lucky Boy. I loved the writing, the characters are sympathetic and real, the story heartbreaking.

Kavya and Rishi Reddy have spent their savings on fertility treatments. While investigating adoption they are sidetracked into foster parenting, with hopes of adoption of their foster child.

Solimar Castro Valdez is determined to leave her impoverished Mexican village to find a better life in America. Her journey is harrowing and terrifying, but for Checo, the young man who protects her and with whom she conceives a child. Soli finds her place in Berkeley, CA working for a troubled family that also tries to care for her. Soli's love for Ignatius, her Nacho, is her home, her reason for existence.

When Soli is found to be an undocumented alien she is separated from her son and interned in a series of horrific prisons where she is brutalized and dehumanized. Meanwhile, her son has been welcomed into the Reddy home, newly christened Iggy by Kavya who has fallen deeply in love with the child.

The battle for this lucky boy takes the Reddys and Soli on a journey fraught with dangers, the most dangerous being broken by the loss of one beloved child.

Sekaran's writing is amazing. Her insight into her characters and human nature is spot-on, imparted to the reader in beautiful and insightful language. Anyone who has known couples struggling to conceive, who have turned to adoption, will recognize the Reddy's difficult and emotional journey. I applaud the author for tackling the divisive and politically explosive issue of immigrants and immigrant rights, creating a character who gives a face to the unnamed masses who by any means come to America dreaming of a better life and the ability to improve the lives of family left behind. The descriptions of detention centers, the justice system, and the prejudice encountered will enlighten readers to realities behind the headlines.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Lucky Boy
Shanthi Sekaran
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
$27 hard cover
ISBN: 9781101982242

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My 1963 Diary

For Christmas in 1962 I received a Girl Scout Diary with a key. During the last months spent in my childhood home in Tonawanda, NY, I wrote about my family and three-year-old brother; school; Nancy Ensminger and Janet L.; the death of Phil Ensminger, Nancy's father; Girl Scouts; piano lessons; reading Man O'War by Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry's Sea Star; snow storms and the ice jam at Niagara Falls; Dad's frozen toes; going to Sunday School at the Broad Street Baptist Church; and a lot of television. I added links to the actual television show I watched!

Tommy and me, 1963

One Year Diary
Property of
Nancy Adair Gochenour

A Wonderful Diary, but now just wonderful things in it. I wish I had all of ’63 in it, then I wouldn’t have to count on my memory on remembering Buffalo, N. Y.
Nancy G.[later addition]

January 1
Today when I got up I watched TV with Tommy. Then we went outside. I baby sat Tommy while Mom, Dad and Grama went to a funeral. Nancy E.’s father died December 30, 1962. Then I played with Tommy until dinner. I was tired from staying up until 12:00 last night, so then I went to bed.

January 2
Today was the day we go back to school. I got up, dressed and ate breakfast. Then I watched TV until it was time to go. In school we went to gym then we had music. We did artih., spelling, and Cit. Ed. In Social Studies we started the unit about the Middle Atlantic States. Nancy E. didn’t come to school because she went to her father’s funeral. We had Girl Scouts today. We made our “crest.” It was a penguin. After dinner I listened to my Wonderful World of the Grimm Brothers record. Then I watched TV and went to bed.
Nancy Ensminger pics. I am in lower left photo on the left.

January 3
Today I went to school. In school today we had art, then Arth., Lunch, Cit. Ed., and Science. In Science we are starting a unit about geography. Nancy still couldn’t come to school. Tomorrow, she might. After I came home I did my Arith. homework and practiced.

We ate dinner and then went over to Kuhn’s. When we came home I fiddled on the piano until bedtime. Then when I was in bed I remembered I had spelling to study, I studied my spell. And went to bed.
Me and my brother at my piano

January 4
Today I had school again. We had gym. We also had a spelling test. We did Arith., Read., Science, Cit. Ed. Today. Nancy didn’t come to school today. After school Janet called. She wanted to play. got an American Girl Magazine today. Janet gave me a gold [autograph] dog for Christmas. It was a late gift though. After dinner we went to Skip [Marvin]and Katy’s house and Jerry’s house. Then we came home. Tommy and me went to bed. It was past 10:00.
Janet L. posing at my house near our Christmas tree. December 1962.
January 5
Today is Saturday. After watching TV I ate breakfast. I practiced and went to piano lessons. I then played with Nancy. After that I played with Janet until 3:00. Then I came home. Soon it was time for dinner. We ate dinner then I played with my Barbie and Ken dolls. I dried the dishes. After that Daddy and I looked at different things through my telescope. We then watched Saturday Night at the Movies. I like the movie a little. The movie lasted until 11:00. Then I went to bed.

January 6
Today was Sunday. I went to Sunday School. In worship service I said a prayer. When I came home I watched TV. Then I played with Janet. We played with my horses and dolls. I played with Janet until 5:00. Then I put my toys away and watched TV. Grandma went to the bowling alley across the street to get our dinner. After dinner I watched TV until 8:00 then I read in bed until 9:00.

January 7
I woke up and played laying in bed. Then I got up and I didn’t feel like going to school. But I got up and ate breakfast. I got ready for school. In school we did Arith., Spell., Reading. Then we went to lunch. After lunch we did Cit. Ed., and then the people went to religious instructions. After school I walked home with Nancy. After school I played in my room until dinner. After dinner Mommy told me that the TV was broken. Tommy and I played until bedtime. When I looked in my jewelry case I couldn’t find the key to my diary but at last I found it.

January 8
Today I walked to school with Nancy E. In school we did writing, Arith., Reading, Lunch, Spell., Science. We also had a story and game. After school I practiced and played with Tommy. Then we watched TV until dinnertime. After dinner I did my dishes then I did my homework. I forgot, after school I went to the library. I got Man O’ War and Sea Star After I did my homework I had an orange and watched TV. At a little past 9:00 I went to bed. Tommy was still eating his apple so he went to bed latter.

January 9
Today I walked to school with Nancy. We were a little late for school. First thing we had gym. In gym we are doing basketball. After gym we did Spell. then Arith., then we had lunch. After lunch we rested 5 mins. Then we had Social Studies. In S.S. we had a filmstrip. After school we had Girl Scouts until around 6:00. Then I came home and had dinner. After dinner I baby-sat Tommy and watched TV until 9:00. Mommy came home, but I watched The Beverly Hillbillies. Then I wrote a poem for school. In reading we have to write a poem. The poem is called,

The Bat
There was a bad
Who lived in a hat
And there he sat
And sat and sat.

One day he flew
Into the blue
And there he grew and grew.

And he grew old
And was Oh,
So cold, so cold.

So he flew back
To that hat
And there he sat
And sat and sat.

January 10
Today I went to school. I walked with Nancy. In school we did Arith., Spell., Reading. Then we had lunch. After lunch we had chorus for an hour. Then we had Cit. Ed. Then it was time to go home. I walked home with Nancy. Then I practiced and did homework until dinner. After dinner I watched Sea Hunt. Then I played with Tommy and made a Valentine for Nancy. Then I watched Dr. Kildare until 9:30.

In reading we read a story and while making Nancy’s Valentine I listened to my record The Wonderful World of the Brother’s Grimm.

January 11
Today was Friday. We had Arith., gym, spell., Lang, then we had lunch, Story, Cit. Ed. After school I practiced them played school until dinner. After dinner I played and watched TV. I watched SilentPlease, half of Flintstones, and 77 Sunset Strip. Then I went to bed. In gym we had basketball again. Also at lunch I got to talk with Nancy.

January 12
Today when I woke up I just laid in bed. But I did get up, ate breakfast. Them almost for the rest of the morning I watched TV. Then I made lunch for me and Tommy. After lunch I played with Nancy until 5:00. Then I played with Tommy, watched TV, and helped make dinner. Then at 6:00 we ate. After dinner I watched TV. Then I read books to Tommy. Then he went to bed. I watched TV for the rest of the day.

January 13
Today when I woke up I didn’t feel like going to Sunday School. I was tired. But I did go to Sunday School. After Sunday School, Aunt Alice drove me home. Then I got into some play clothes and watched TV. After I watched TV I called up Nancy to see if she could play. he could play. I went to her house. We played all afternoon. My mother called up and said she would pick me up and that we were going to eat dinner out. After dinner I watched Wonderful World of Disneyon TV. Before I watched TV I ate lunch.

January 14
This morning I got up and saw that there was snow all over. I got ready for school. On the radio it said that there was school. Then Uncle Skip [Skip Marvin] came and said that there was no school. So, I didn’t go to school. I ate breakfast and went outside. The snow was above your knees. Then after a while we came in and ate lunch. After lunch I played indoors for a while. Then I played with David [Ennis] until dinner. After dinner I watched TV, read, then I laid down and went to bed at 9:30.

January 15
Today there was school. The snow was deep. I walked with Nancy. In school first we did writing, Arith., Spell., lunch, Cit. Ed., and Science. Then it was time to go home. When I got home I played with Tommy until dinner. After dinner I washed the dishes, practiced. I took a bath. Then I played with Tommy again until bedtime.

January 16
Today I went to school. In school we had gym, Arith., Spell., lunch, Science and Cit. Ed. After school we had Girl Scouts. I was late because I washed the boards. In Girl Scouts we played games. I was walking with Nancy when Grandma came and picked us up. We dropped Nancy off and went home. After dinner I read books and watched the Beverly Hillbillies. Then I went to bed.

January 17
I got up, got dressed and ate breakfast and went to school. In school we had Arith., Science, Lunch, and Cit. Ed. After lunch we had chorus. Then it was time to come home. I had homework. I had to write as many uses of coal I could think of. I came home and played in my room until dinner. After dinner I practiced. Mommy, Tommy and Grandma went to Great Grandma’s [Greenwood] house. She also went shopping. I watched TV. After I practiced til 9:30. Then I went to bed.

January 18
Today I went to school like usual. We had Cit., Ed., gym, Science, Arith. After school I played with Janet until 5:00. Then I came home and watched TV until dinnertime. After dinner I watched TV until 11:00. I practiced before school.

January 19
Today was Saturday. I got up and watched TV. Soon it was time for lunch. After lunch it was time for piano lessons. Piano lessons lasted 2 hours. Then I played with Nancy until 5:00. We ate dinner and then I watched TV. After watching TV I did my projects. Then I watched the last half an hour of Saturday Night at the Movies. Then I went to bed.

The ice jam in the Gorge 1963

January 20
I woke up and just layed [sic] in bed. Tommy came in and layed [sic] in bed with me. Today I didn’t go to Sunday School. I watched TV, ate breakfast and got dressed. Then we ate lunch. After lunch we went to Niagara Falls. I saw the ice jam. Then we came home and ate dinner. We looked at pictures until 5:30. Then we went to Beverly’s [Ennis] birthday party. We had cake and ice cream. Then I copied my reports. Then I watched TV until 9:00. Then I went to bed.
Niagara Falls, January 1963

January 21
Today there was a snowstorm. We stayed in the kitchen all day because it was cold in the parlor.

January 23
For the last three days I stayed home from school. The second day (Jan. 22) we could go in the parlor. The first night we slept at Aunt Alice’s house on the couch. The couch could be made into a double bed. The second night I slept on the davenport at our house. Most of the time I played with Tommy or read. The third day I slept upstairs and I played with Janet. My father got 1 frozen toe on each foot.

January 24
Today I went to school. I had gym then arith., spell., science., cit. ed., and reading. When I came home I watched TV. Ate dinner and went to bed.

January 25
I got up and watched TV. Then practiced and ate lunch. Then I went to piano lessons. After piano lessons Nancy, her mother, Judy, and me went shopping for dresses for Nancy. I ate dinner at Nancy’s house. Then I came home and watched TV and went to bed.

January 26
Today I had eggs for breakfast. After breakfast I went skating with Aunt Alice from 12:00 til 4:30. Then when I came home we had dinner. Then I watched TV until 11:30.

January 30 Nancy E.’s Birthday
Lucky Nancy. She got a Blaze King, a scarf and handkerchief, and I don’t know what else. We had spaghetti for dinner. I ate at her house.

February 13
Miss Manos came today and she really surprised us. We had candy and of course plenty of Valentines.

March 17
Well of all things, it was beautiful this morning, but the rest of the day it rained.

March 19
Long time no see! Well I got mixed up back in January. I’ll tell you what I did. Miss Manos came on Valentines Day and St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t do anything today, except the old routine. I am going to catch up. Bye!
My Brownie uniform. I don't have a pic of my Girl Scout uniform.
March 20
Today was Girl Scouts. We got something like $235.80 cookie money.

March 21
First day of spring. It snowed. Almost all day! We had art today. We had had a student art teacher for weeks. The art teacher had a bad leg and had to stay in a hospital. Well, bye! I have to clean my room. A man is going to look at the house.
Mrs. Sellers

March 21, 1966
Three years ago I wrote that. Three years ago I was in Buffalo. I moved to 512 W. Houstonia. I came to Michigan to stay. I know how to write in a diary now. I’m 13. I was 10 then.

[Later, undated entry]
Silence all around me. Except the ringing in my ears.
12:00 midnight.
All in bed, except Mom.
I will now write.
Starting my greatest story.

(Later entry:
March 19--

? I know it couldn’t be the saucer—Atom? I can’t and don’t remember.
The man who was going to look at the house was Mr. Harper who bought the house and gas station from my family. I remember knowing we were to move, but I also know I had no idea the implication or reality of what it meant 'to move'. 

The last entries, added when I was still thirteen, refer to my first short story, The Saucer. It was about a space alien stranded on earth and assisted by children, very influenced by Star Girl by Harry Winterfield, a book read to my class in elementary school. My story was written and illustrated for a school assignment. My Eighth Grade teacher Mrs. Hayden was very supportive of my interest in writing. I had never felt so affirmed by a teacher before.