One Liner Wednesday…. The Winter Blues

The time has come, my husband said,

To talk of many things:

Of grocery bills and no more thrills

Of furnaces and dings

And why the bills are overdue

And why you’ve ceased to sing.


My first attempt at One Liner Wednesday (Yeah I know its kind of long)  It’s how I feel today.

Thanks to Linda for a great idea.  You can read more at this link

Whistle Stop

photo by Dawn Q Landau


“C’mon Ralph!  Hurry up! “

Ampersand jogged alongside the track with Ralph.

When they reached the clearing, helicopters hovered over the area.  Ampersand waved a small American flag and Ralph began to bark.

“Shhhh…Ralph. Behave.”


As the train approached, Ampersand jumped around doing a little dance.  But it was only the train carrying the entourage.

More minutes passed and Ralph and his child became restless.

Finally,  the train came into view, all decked out in red, white, and blue bunting.

“What’s your dog’s name?”  shouted President George Bush from the rear platform of the train.


This week’s story is based on a true event, President Bush’s campaign rail trek that came through Ohio in the fall of 1992.  The train passed near our home and we walked through a bean field to reach a farm crossing, hoping to catch a glimpse of George Bush.  President and Mrs. Bush were on the rear platform and waved to us.  We waved back as he shouted his question about our dog.   You can read a bit more here if you are interested.


Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields at Friday Fictioneers for this prompt.




It was an odd hobby, seemingly fitting for a writer.

Lelajack had saved every pen she had ever used.   When they dried up, she plunked them into a box.  When it filled up, she got a larger box.  Then she found a large plastic bin with a lid and Lelajack immediately dumped the years’ worth of writing utensils into the clear container.

ff 2 20 15

Copywright Marie Gail Stratford


That’s better, she thought.  I can see all the beautiful colors of the pens.

Years passed.  Lelajack continued to write, not succumbing to a word processor or a laptop.

Maybe someday, she would share her writing.


Friday Fictioneers…. using a photo, write a complete 100-word story.  Hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields each week.  Check out this link to read more stories.

Riding my Bike


She was waiting for me at the end of the sidewalk with her hands on her hips.

“You may as well put that bicycle in the garage for the next two weeks. You could have been killed.  Lucky for you that driver had his eyes on you because you weren’t watching where you were going.  Put it away and come in and get washed up.  You can help me with supper.”

“Two weeks!  Mom…. it wasn’t that close.  I had plenty of time to turn around in front of that car!”

“I saw the whole thing out of the bedroom window.  You turned right in front of a car without even looking.  End of story.”

I knew she was right.  I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing.  My heart was still pounding and of course, my Mom had been right there to see what happened.   I parked the bike in the back of the garage and slowly walked back to the house.

That was the end of the conversation.  In two weeks, I had to find enough nerve to ask my Mom if I could ride again.  I was at her mercy.  She was known to stew about things like endangering your life, and she could possibly tack on another two weeks.

It was 1959 and I was a girl in a neighborhood of mostly boys.  I learned  that it was way more fun to be a boy than a girl.  Boys got to wear pants all the time, boys didn’t have to “do” their hair, and in general they just had more freedom than girls.

I was often told that my behavior was not ladylike. I needed to sit like a lady and act like a lady.  I don’t recall boys ever being told to sit like a man or act like a man or be more manlike.

The simple inequalities of childhood were obvious.  My brother was a prime example. The fact that he was five years older than me, played into the inequality, too, but at the time, I just thought it was boys vs. girls.  My brother got to do all the fun stuff.   He got to go outside and help my dad, while I had to stay in the house.   He made stuff out of wood and got a two-wheeled bicycle.  I had to play with dolls and ride a tricycle.  He was allowed to walk back to the woods by himself.  Not me.  I had to stay close to the house.

Things changed for me when I had my ninth birthday.  I got my first  two-wheeled bicycle.  It was a Schwinn, powder blue and I was in heaven.  I had already learned to ride my brother’s three speed English bike, so when I hopped on to my very own bike, it was a piece of cake. There was a steep hill/driveway that led to the back part of our farm behind the granary and it was the best fun to coast down that hill at top speed.  At the bottom was a 90 degree turn to the left and then a little creek to cross.  I was allowed to ride back there all I wanted.  There was also had a bank barn, built with a steep hill leading to the haymow,  It was a shorter run that the hill behind the granary, but just as much fun.  I could coast all the way down, wind blowing the hair from my face, and coast all the way past the corncrib, the house, and finally to the road.  

Finally one day, I was allowed to ride down the road to the next house and back.  (My mother stood out in the middle of the road, ready to throw herself in front of a moving car, if one came along and threatened my safety.)   The feel of the smooth pavement under my bike tires was unforgettable.  Can you imagine how fast I could go if I wasn’t riding on stones or dirt paths?

I had to wait until the next summer to be allowed to ride on the road.  I couldn’t go very far, never out of sight of my mother’s watchful eyes, but it was worth waiting for.   Pumping my legs up and down, standing up to pedal and gaining speed, wind whooshing in my ears.  My first sense of real freedom.

Old School

It was not a remarkable building.  It was like other school buildings that were built in the 30’s and 40’s; lots of red bricks and tall windows, dimly lit wide hallways, institutional colors of paint on the walls, tile floors.  It was sturdy and meant to last forever despite the wear and tear of thousands of rambunctious kids, muddy boots, indoor recesses, and community events.

auditorium HC

Hardin Central Original staff

Hardin Central Original staff

When the old school opened in 1939,  it was the first time this many children had been in one location.  They came from one room schools scattered about the county.  This modern, state of the art building became the focal point of the community.  It wasn’t just a place that opened at eight o’clock and closed at  three.  It played host to Farm Bureau events, Grange contests, dances and sock hops, 4H fashion shows and judgings, Board of Education meetings, school musicals and operettas, penny suppers, spaghetti dinners, art shows, science fairs, traveling storytellers, acting troupes, school carnivals, and basketball, wrestling, and other sports practices and games. It was where childhood sweethearts met, kisses were stolen, notes were written, and best friends were discovered.  There were scores of eighth grade graduations and spelling bees, pie auctions, cake walks and PTA meetings.

 The old school was alive with the lives of the community and it belonged to everyone. It was the community.

When I began teaching at the school, it had already been through a midlife crisis.  A “new addition”  had been added to the east end of the building and it was no longer the “country” school… it had been absorbed into the city school system.  


 It was the beginning of my career.  It’s where I jumped in head first, ready to swim or sink.   It’s where all the college methods courses got tossed out the window and where I made friendships that lasted a lifetime.  It was where I learned to teach.  

A week or so ago, the old school came tumbling down. It was a victim of progress, a change for the better, time to move on.  The children and teachers had already moved into a modern, state of the art building. Once again it  was the first time this many children had been in one location.  This time they came from several elementary schools scattered about the city.   It’s doubtful that this new building will serve the same purpose as the old building. It will be a place of learning, but not a community focal point as schools were in the past. 

 A small pile of bricks still waits for those who want a piece of local history to cherish.  The playground equipment will be gone eventually and a green space will appear, with hopes of new businesses or developments moving in and taking over the site.

 But it will be a long time until the memories of the old school are gone.

Treasures Close to Home

Less than a half hour from my home is a local treasure that we have enjoyed for many years.  The Holland Theatre, in Bellefontaine, Ohio, was built in 1931 and is believed to be the only Dutch-style atmospheric theatre in the United States.  It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is a fascinating old building.  The walls of the theatre were built to resemble a 17th century Dutch cityscape.  Complete with windmills, tulips waving from window boxes, and lighted windows, it is as if you are strolling down the street at dusk through a small Dutch town.  You almost expect a door or window to open and a smiling face to greet you and wave hello.  It has been the home to a local cinema and various cultural programs over the years.  The theatre was closed for awhile when the multiplex cinemas came to town, but was purchased and a local group continues to raise funds to keep it alive and to refurbish the building.

photo credit Robbie Hamper

photo credit Robbie Hamper

photo found on flickr

photo found on flickr

Last weekend, at The Holland Theatre, the Mad River Theatre Works performed an original production by Jeff Hooper titled “Freedom Bound.”   It tells the true story of Addison White, a slave from Kentucky, who finds freedom traveling the Underground Railroad to Mechanicsburg, Ohio.  The play is based on a story told and retold by White’s family and was carefully researched before it was written in 1998.  What made this presentation especially meaningful was the fact that Addison White’s great-grandson, John Booth, and his family were part of the production.  The Booth Family played drums, sang, and recited poetry prior to the play.  John, his wife and two school-age children performed and were well-received.   Also in the audience were other descendants of Addison White who still reside in Ohio.  It was a lovely performance with high-quality actors and original music and a message so appropriate for the weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Day.


Information taken from an article in the Bellefontaine Examiner, written by Reuben Mees

Table for One (guest writer)

A guest writer this week and a good friend, laid up with a nasty broken bone, began to write poetry.  She has no blog, but gave me permission to share her take on this week’s photo prompt.

Visit Friday Fictioneers every week.  Hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, writers create a 100 word story about a photo prompt.  Come here and read or share your own story.

credit:  Jan Wayne Fields

credit: Jan Wayne Fields

The table has long been ready,
She always seems to wait.
The sun is slowly setting
It’s beginning to get late.

Should she eat alone
As she did last night?
Or wait like she usually does?
Has waiting been her life?

This seems to happen
More often than not
Evening shadows are growing long
As she sadly looks at the clock.

She sits down; unfolds her napkin
After putting his plate away
Begins to eat alone
Like she does almost every day.