The Adventures of Ralph, The Presidential Dog (Part 2)

Retired Ruth

Ralph as a pup....Ralph as a pup….

One summer, we decided to go away for the weekend.  We were heading to Lake Erie and Cedar Point, an Ohio amusement park.  Ralph knew his way in and out of most of the barns on the property.  So we left plenty of dog food and water for him and headed off  with the kids.   When we returned home, Ralph was nowhere to be found.  That was unusual because he was usually our greeting party.  We all thought the worst.  He might have gotten hit by a car or a truck.   We searched the ditches along the road, we searched all the barns, checked with neighbors to see if they had seen him.  There was no sign of him anywhere.   The kids were heartbroken.  So was I.   But we were tired, so I got everyone into bed.   The next morning, we hoped to wake up with Ralph waiting outside…

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A chicken wing

FlorenceChristmas Dinner. Meet the parents. After three years of dating it was finally happening.  I carefully chose a white angora sweater and a blue plaid Bobbi Brooks skirt; it was 1970 and people still dressed up for holiday dinners.  I was nervous.  Not only was I meeting the parents, but three brothers, two sisters-in-law, and a niece and nephew.

Roger’s Mom, Florence, made everything for dinner from scratch; fried chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, pies, and yeast rolls.  I had no idea if others helped  but I doubted it.  Florence looked like she was in charge.  I offered to help and was told to scrape the bowl of the Sunbeam mixer filled with potatoes.  I then watched Florence heat milk and butter and slowly add it to the potatoes to make them creamy.  The rest of the family steered clear of the kitchen and soon Florence shooed me out as well.

Soon we all gathered in the dining room and everything was on the table.  Pass to the left or to the right?  I watched to see what everyone else was doing.  I was seated next to Roger’s dad, Henry.  I passed each dish to my future father-in-law.  The platter of chicken started with me.  I wish I had gotten this one last.  I didn’t want to seem greedy and take the best piece of chicken.  I carefully searched through the heaping pile of chicken and pulled out a wing.   My father in law was watching me the entire time. I placed the wing on my plate and handed the platter to him.

He pounded his fist on the table and said, “Dorma,  you’ve got some competition… she took your favorite piece!”  My heart sank, dreading to look at Dorma who seemed a little forbidding anyway.  Then the whole table burst into laughter.   Evidently it was a joke.  Because seriously…. how many people really want the wing?

The rest of the day was kind of a blur. Presents were opened, brothers fell asleep on the floor, the women helped clean up.  There was a loudness to this family that was nothing like my own soft spoken family.  Lots of shouting, a few arguments, and a lot of laughter.  Conversations centered on neighbors, friends, and some local gossip.  Roger’s little brother, still in high school, got the biggest laugh after a particularly long conversation about a local scandal.

“I wonder who’s sitting around the table talking about us?”



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Everyone else was looking at the moon that night.  A celestial event, which made the whole thing even easier to pull off.

She quietly removed the lace curtain from the rod, twisted it,  and tiptoed across the room to the sleeper in the twin bed.  Just enough space between his neck and the mattress for her to slip the cloth underneath and wait for the right moment.

The seconds ticked off slowly and at the exact same time the fireworks were to begin, she yelled, “Surprise!” and tightened it with all her strength. She wanted him to see her face.


photo credit to Gah Learner

A 100 word story inspired weekly by a photo prompt and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff Fields.  Click the link to read other stories.

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Almost the Last minute.

Yesterday we celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary.  In honor of that occasion, a few stories from the past came to mind that I probably should share.  Here is the first one.

It was late July 1971.    I would graduate with my B.S. in Education in a couple of weeks.    I had landed my first teaching job and would start teaching August 28.  Roger had been farming the home farm for several years and had a part time job at a local factory.  Our wedding would take place on August 14.    Things looked good except for one minor detail… we did not have a place to live.

I’m pretty sure Roger thought we would move in with his parents at the farm.  They had purchased a house in town and we were to move into the farmhouse after we married.  But his parents did not get possession of their new home until October 1.

In fact, my mother-in-law-to-be said to me,  “You could move in with us.  It will just be for six weeks. But I really don’t think that’s a good idea.”  Her words were not as ominous as the look she gave me after speaking them.

She and I immediately went searching for an apartment.  Something close by, that would give us a short term lease.  Luckily, we found an upstairs apartment on W. Franklin Street which was available and the landlords were willing to let us sign a lease until October 1.  It had a kitchen, bath, living room and bedroom.  Perfect for a short term arrangement.  We didn’t have any furniture yet anyway.

A week before the wedding we went shopping at Rexins Furniture and Appliance store, bought a Harvest Gold side-by-side refrigerator and matching stove, and a lime green recliner.  (What was I thinking!!  Roger was color blind so he had no clue.)    Roger’s oldest brother and his wife sold us their hand-me-down couch and chair for twenty bucks.  I had refinished an old bed and dresser which my parents started out with in 1945.  An old wooden table and two chairs were hauled out of Roger’s parents basement to use in the kitchen and we were set.    Oh, of course we had a TV set.  The old Admiral TV I had hauled back and forth to college with me for a couple of years.  It was bulky and big and black-and-white and it took up the entire front seat of the 1963 Chevy Bel Air my parents had given me.

Somehow things fell into place.  We got married on a hot, August day,  took a two day honeymoon, and moved into the apartment. I graduated with my degree, and the first day of school found me ready to teach.  I honestly don’t know how we pulled it off.  But we did.

I should have been a little more aware of how things happened during that crazy summer.


source: unknown

“The Last Minute” became a recurring theme throughout my life.  Wait until I tell you about moving out of the apartment and into the farmhouse….



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Unlocked Doors

Our doors were seldom locked.  There were no nearby neighbors just rolling fields of wheat, corn, soybeans, or pasture.   Until I was in high school, we had no security lights anywhere on the farm.  The was a light on a pole in the barnyard that could be turned off and on when needed.  There was a porch light at the front door and one at the back, but only used when someone knocked on the door or visitors came after dark.  It was more for safety, being able to see the steps and the walkway to the car, not for security.


My trust was destroyed last week, when we discovered someone had entered our home uninvited and left with things that were not their own.

I know that the state of the world is not as it was when I was growing up.  I understand the spam and scam emails I get,  I have friends and relatives who have sophisticated alarm systems.  I understand locking my car and being aware of my surroundings when I am out and about.  I thought I was keeping up with the ways of the world.

I was wrong.  I wasn’t cautious enough.   I need to step up my game when it comes to security.

There is a new lock on the door to my kitchen/office.  Plans for motion activated lights are in the works as well as a new back door with dead bolt and more security lights around the farm.  The world is not like it was in the fifties and never will be again.

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You Say it’s your Birthday?

Reaching down (ew) into the back of the toilet…..That’s how I started my birthday today.  Even before I had a good cup of coffee.  But when you are ready to flush….and nothing happens… what are your options?

Luckily (?) the mechanism inside the back of the toilet can be replaced and I will be good to go.   Hmm.

It did make me stop and wonder though.  Is this hand-in-the-back-of-the-toilet an omen of the year to come?   Is this the year that everything goes down? Or maybe nothing goes down?   Or should I look at it in a more positive way;  when you start in the toilet, everything after that should be an improvement!

I will keep you posted!

tp birthday


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Summer memories

These past few hot days have reminded me of summer when I was young.  No air-conditioning anywhere; not in homes, not in businesses, not in hospitals.  My poor mother had both of her children in the middle of July…and spent over a week in the hospital with each of us.  I can’t imagine.

I grew up in old farm houses and all the bedrooms were upstairs.  We didn’t even have electric fans when I was small.  Windows were wide open all the time and we were trained to jump out of bed in the middle of the night if a thunderstorm or shower occurred, close all the windows, then lay there and wait for it to be over so you could open the window again…It was difficult to get a good nights sleep when the weather was hot.  No air moving, hot air in a stuffy upstairs bedroom was just not a great way to get any rest.


Bike riding was a great activity for hot days… until you stopped.   We lived close to a river, so wading and “accidentally” falling into the water was a popular past time.  But those mosquitoes!

Taking a drive in the car was a good way to cool off, too.  Until you stopped!  All the car windows were cranked open and sometimes a trip to the local dairy queen made it all a little more bearable

On Sunday mornings I am sure you could hear me complain.  Church meant wearing your Sunday best which included a slip and a dress and stockings and dress shoes.  Sunday School wasn’t too bad because our classes were in the basement of the church and it was cool down there.  But when church started, we would trudge upstairs and sit shoulder to shoulder in uncomfortable pews and sweat the service away.  I couldn’t wait to get home and strip off those hot dressy clothes and put on my shorts and go barefoot!

When I got a little older the local swimming pool brought some relief.  I also remember making homemade ice cream with lots of ice and salt to make it freeze., and Kool Aid Popsicles frozen in little cups or in ice cube trays.

swimmingpopsiclesice cube tray

We were probably a little tougher back then.  If you’ve never had air conditioning, your body gets used to the heat.

I remember getting whole house air conditioning  in 1990….our furnace died that year and we decided to add on the a/c unit.   I would hate to live without it now.




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