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...a mantel for sharing photos, memories, and other dust.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

I am pleased to announce the publication of my book "Behind Shooters Bar." (link below)

Follow me as I take you on a journey through life in the 1950's--a time of ice boxes, early television, the beginning of rock and roll, and outhouses.

Discover how I turned tragedy into triumph that you, too, might be an overcomer.

Here are some Facebook comments:

If you live in Danville or if you don’t this book is a must-read. I’m not even halfway through and already I have laughed, cried and been transported back to a town 20 years prior to my birth and can see it clearly ... some things changed, antics among kids surely did not ... 😂 tick tacking and soaping of windows .. not knowing how our parents found out such things ... this small town .. the one I couldn’t wait to escape but so glad to be raising my son in ... this small town so rich in history, family roots and culture. ❤️
Kay .... I’m loving this story ... your story so much!

Kay, your book was beautiful that it brought back many memories of the early times of my childhood, teen, and adult years. I'm not usually a reader, but I couldn't put your book down. Read it in one sitting. Loved the beautiful flow of words onto each situation, your descriptions of the times and of your search to find your roots. God definitely walked with you your entire life. I'll definitely read any of your new books. May u always have peace, serenity, and inner calmness in your life. You are a gifted writer.

Spent the afternoon reading Behind Shooters Bar for those of you that have not read it I highly recommend it great job Kay Derr I truly enjoyed it !!

I got the mail around 4 p.m. this afternoon; by 8:00 p.m. I am 118 pages into this great book. I am not much younger than Kay and love remembering so many things she has covered in this book. They are not all great memories, but like Kay writes these are the things that bring us to our Lord and Savior and reminds us of our need for Him and He never fails us. On to finish the book!

 "It was fun reading about some of the things (trailing pine, arbutus) and places (ice plant) I had forgotten." Isn't it interesting how memories flashback, not to haunt us, but to refresh our spirits and somehow sometimes we feel like a kid again?

Please visit and view the first several pages.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The house that Greg built--the house that God built.

In the springtime white wild roses bordered my son's house, perfuming the air with a delightful fragrance. It was his dream home, constructed from magazine-purchased plans.

Nestled in the woods, each summer the family splashed in the sparkling blue waters of the pool in the patio area. I was proud of the home Greg built for his wife and daughters.

One day, following a path from the yard to a mini hillside behind their house, Maddie and Charissa led me to their Narnia. Much like a fantasy setting from my own childhood, Narnia was a plot among the briars, brambles and bushes of their backyard.

We stayed there only briefly before the girls yelled "Here ducky, ducky," calling the fowl in a neighboring pond. To my surprise and delight, the pair of mallards flew directly toward us and landed at the girls' feet. I'd never seen anything like it!

The girls have grown now but sometimes I ponder those days and the house Greg had built with the wrap-around porch, perfectly suited for his family. I envision the gorgeous wooded surroundings and the clear blue sparkling water of the swimming pool. In my dreams I catch a whiff of the sweetly scented wild roses, feel the mist splattering off the ducks' feathers, and the rippling creek bordering the roadside.

In my enchantment, I am reminded of heaven. Jesus told us in Revelation 18: "And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19 "And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.
The first foundation was jasper;
the second, sapphire;
the third, a chalcedony;
the fourth, an emerald;
the fifth, sardonyx;
the sixth, sardius;
the seventh, chrysolite;
the eighth, beryl;
the ninth, a topaz;
the tenth, a chrysoprase;
the eleventh, a jacinth;
the twelfth, an amethyst.

21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it."

In life's moments, we bask in the beauty of life as we have known it here on earth. But God has told us that "Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow." We are like a mist that appears for a little time; then vanishes.

I am grateful for the memories of the carefree moments when Maddie and Charissa were little girls and the storybook lives we shared, but nothing on earth can compare with the beauty and joy that awaits us in heaven.

But only if we put our trust in Jesus will we spend eternity in heaven. The Bible tells us that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Only when we are willing to admit that we are sinners, and ask Jesus for forgiveness can we ever hope to see heaven.

Jesus offers us a free gift: "But as many as received him, Christ, to them He gave the right to become children of God." Jesus stands at your heart's door, knocking, waiting for you to invite Him in. When you pray, accepting God's free gift of eternal life, you have the assurance that you will one day see heaven. God's precious gift of salvation is irrevocable and everlasting, a promise of heaven with no end.

Monday, April 18, 2016

What you can expect from researching your family tree.

Last July, curious to know something about my ancestors, I opened an account and began my family tree.  Though I had signed up for a family tree search maybe fifteen years ago, I was not prepared for how much content had already been done on my family tree.  You see, you get to look at and reap information from other family trees, related to yours.  Thus, there is a wealth of family facts for which to discover when you do a family tree.

At the same time, I registered for "world" information and, though I found little in that one month subscription, I did uncover an official wedding document in which the bride (my great-great-grandmother having yet lived in England signed her wedding document with an "X."  Jane and William later came to America to my present home town in which their memorial is located in a local cemetery

Soon I realized that I might be able to piece the family members together were I to subscribe to
What a surprise to not only discover facts I never knew, but also the little nasty reports about my grandfather.  I knew Moses was a rebellious sort, but I hadn't known he was a rascal.  In the search, I recalled his anger when I was a pre-schooler and whirled a ball of clay at him, hitting him in the neck.  (I was as much a rascal!)  Nevertheless, I was stunned to discover he met with the local police more than a few times and had spent at least one night in the local downtown lock-up.  It seems my grandfather, after his wife died, had a tryst with a town gal which ended in his having been shot in the shoulder.  No problem.  He survived and lived until I was eleven years old.  

Aside from all this, I uncovered much information from this two month newspaper subscription.  In my grandfather's favor was the loss of his wife at mid-life, the illness and death of a one year old daughter, and the death of my natural mother (his only daughter) at age 21 to the tragic incident for which I have already blogged in an earlier post.  

Other discoveries involved my husband's family tree which uncovered some rather notable people in the Berk's County area of Pennsylvania, at least one town Lobachsville, named for its founder, a Lobach relative of my husband.  

My paternal family tree took me to Berks County as well, the Beyer family having arrived in Pennsylvania in 1731 on the ship, Philadelphia Merchant.  Ironically, the passenger list revealed that the Lobach's were on this same voyage!  

The Lobach family, as well as the Beyer family was traced all the way to the 1500's, or 1400's.  This spring I plan a trip to Berks County to visit gravesites for which family members are buried, some memorials engraved in German.

It is honorable, above all other information I uncovered, that many male ancestors fought in four wars, including the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.  My great-grandfather Earp, in fact, was wounded in the Battle of Antietam.  Sadly our American heritage has been degraded to a level that most Americans no longer place their hands over their hearts during the National Anthem (a flag rule by the way).  My grandfather Earp came to America shortly before the Civil War.  He came here from England to pledge his allegiance to America and soon offered up his very life for his newly adopted country.  

If you haven't done your own family tree, you might be in for some real surprises!   I'll never regret having spent the time and small investment in doing my family tree.  Evidence of some family members have indicated they knew Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  I rejoice in that one day I will meet some of my ancestors in heaven.  One thing for sure, I will already know a few facts about their earthly life in the United States.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Why I sacrificed a promising, even glamourous, career.

In 1943 I was adopted at the age of 22 months. The events leading to my adoption were tragic. However, my adoptive parents remained faithful to my birth father's mother in taking me to see her.

Forever etched in my memory is my Grandmother's lush back yard. Elegant trees dwarfed her tiny rustic cottage. Red, pink, and yellow hollyhocks danced along a rustic fence that bordered the quaint landscape. Amid a gay variety of greenery, bleeding hearts graced the gray-slated sidewalk. Their lovely lockets of lavender pink dazzled me, however, I was yet to discover that each blossom held a sense of magic!

One day, while I was playing in her flower garden, my Grandmother plucked a tiny heart from the vine. Dividing it into three parts, she explained, “Here's a pair of earrings, these two are sandals, and look, we have a pair of bunnies!”

It was a beautiful summer day the last time we went to visit my Grandmother. As we pulled into the alley and neared her house, my excitement grew. But my eagerness was short lived when we realized the grass had grown tall and the window blinds were pulled. My Grandmother no longer lived there.

Twenty-five years would pass before I'd discovered that my Grandmother had abruptly moved to Illinois to live with her son, my natural Uncle. Though I was adopted out of my Grandmother's family, I never forgot her. Her sudden disappearance left a great big hole in my heart.

In 1990 I relocated to Kalamazoo, Michigan to partner in a traveling and speaking ministry with Nancy Dorner. While there I trained and received my license in the listing and sales of real estate. Though it was a real challenge in a new city where I knew next to no one, I was headed for success in a high profile office. I had excellent training and soon had a nice portfolio of listings. I was living in the best of both worlds traveling the Christian Women's Clubs circuits with Nancy on off times and scouting for listings on my job. At the same time, I had joined the Toastmasters club where I made a number of new friends while honing my own leadership and speaking skills. I was also receiving small writing contracts for Christian publications, thus spent time at my kitchen table typing. By then, I had purchased a little English style cottage on Parker Avenue and was, thus, becoming rooted in my new location. I had found many single friends in various church groups, including my Sunday school class at Calvary Bible Church on Drake Road. This was my life for three years in Michigan and I loved it!

Whenever I had an “open house” at one of my listings or another office listing, I'd go over to Meijers 57 superstore, not far from my house, to purchase a bouquet of beautiful gladiolus---they were only a dollar! While there I also looked for a new story book for my three year old Grandson back home. I'd record the story on cassette, ringing a bell (or blowing a whistle) with each turn of the page. Then I'd mail him the book and the cassette. Soon I had a new Granddaughter, and later another Grandson.

Then one day I was at my typewriter writing about the vignette in my Grandmother's lush back yard where the bleeding hearts grew. Then all at once it hit me!! I had left Danville abruptly leaving my Grandson just as my own Grandmother had left those many years ago. I stood to my feet feeling anew the sting of that day when I realized she was gone. In the days that followed my heart continued to call me back home. It was more than emotions, it was real, and I knew there would be still more grandchildren. If I remained in Kalamazoo my Grandchildren would never know me and I would never really know them. Furthermore, it was a priority that my Grandchildren heard from me about Jesus. I was filled with a deep desire to be a godly role model to them. After filling my duties at my real estate office, I packed boxes to return most of my stuff by UPS. Then the day came, car packed, I began my drive home.

While there are still many times I feel the tugging at my heart for the good days at Kalamazoo, I have never regretted bonding with my Grandchildren. Another Grandson came along, as well as another Granddaughter, after I moved back home. Have I ever regretted making that decision? If I had remained in Michigan I would have missed taking Veggie Tale videos from the church library every Sunday to my Grandsons. I would have missed singing “Jesus Loves Me” to Charissa when she was a few months old. I would have missed hearing about the girls playland they referred to as “Narnia” and playing baseball with the boys. I would have missed all the school events and going to the Grandsons' roller skating parties, Charissa taking a bow at the end of the Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble's “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” and Maddie catching me on an April Fool's trick.

My Grandchildren are all grown now, but I look back with no regrets. I may not have the potentially lucrative career I might have had in Kalamazoo, but I have something far more valuable: decades of memories that are priceless. And that is why I sacrificed a promising, even glamorous, career.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How I overcome depression.

Since the untimely death of America's beloved Robin Williams there has been much advice going around the Internet on the subject of suicide.

I do not write as a professional and, thus do not claim to have all the answers. It is said that life's most valuable lessons are learned from experience. I write as one with a background of experience.

First all because I lived with an ill-crazed dad over a six month period of deep darkness.  Second, because my natural father lived with depression.  His depression led him to unthinkable destructive acts, having taken the lives of my mother and four year old brother.  Third, I write because I believe every person who has lived alone has felt the sting of loneliness and depression simply because they are often isolated. As a thirty year widow, I am no stranger to living life alone.

Having provided information about my background, I want to share with you how I overcame, and still overcome, depression.

There are several things I find helpful:

First, I find it lifts my spirit if I sing or play worshipful music. This helps, in particular, if I have no real opportunity to get out of the house.

Second, though it may seem extraordinary, when I have faced deep disappointment, I seek a new challenge. I find it therapeutic to take on some new project.

Third, I find satisfaction delving into something for which I have procrastinated such as washing my windows. (while playing music)
Years ago I experienced a deep disappointment which totally wracked me. Without even thinking, I went home and cleaned my Velcro hair rollers. Never in my wildest thoughts, had that been a part of my plan for that day. I talked out my frustration while I whisked the hair out of my rollers.

Forth, though I do this far less as I age, I get out of the house and go shopping. I may not have any plans to make any purchases, but getting out of the house can be a key to overcoming depression.

Fifth, and most healing, I seek God's wisdom. I find comfort and peace in the midst of life's storms as I meditate over appropriate Scripture verses.  

A twin to depression, in my opinion, is sudden panic attacks. I had gotten panic attacks for years before I realized that I was not the only one who experienced this, to me, a phenomenon. Later I discovered there was a name for this malady. I have believed that my panic attacks were the result of fear. Financial fear is, perhaps, at the highest level of a single person's concerns. Thus I am going to share with you how I overcame panic attacks.

In l993 I was working for Christian Publications in Camp Hill, Pa as a telemarketer to their clientele. My boss had recommended a “mom and pop” home where I stayed through the week and drove home Fridays after work. One Friday, my “mom” called to advise me not to go home. Due to a storm that March day, there were trees across some roads, etc. But to stay there over the weekend meant that I would relinquish my refreshed spirit over the weekend, both at home and at church.

So I gassed up my car and hit route 11 to Danville. When I reached home there was several inches of slush on the grass. As I sprinted across the yard, my foot landed in a former post hole. Mid-air, I heard the crack. I was down. A jogging neighbor heard my cries for help.

It was stunning to hear the Doctor pronounce “eight weeks in a cast.” That meant that I had no income whatsoever for eight weeks. I was in a tailspin.
During those first weeks living in a recliner chair, I had more panic attacks than ever. Finally, one day when I felt an attack about to strike I pondered Romans 8:15: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” I meditated on that verse several times that week with each new threatening attack. I can honestly say that, from that time forward I have never again had a panic attack. On rare occasions, I feel the early pangs of an attack, but remembering that Scripture sends the enemy sailing.

Fifth, and foremost, the healing I experience over depression and anxiety came in l972. That is when I gave my life to Jesus Christ. A sinner, such is each of us, I repented of my sins and invited Jesus into my heart. He has promised, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. Though I may never be free of anxiety, near-panic attacks, nor depression I have that promise that Jesus never fails and He will see me through. Jesus offers victory over mental illness. He may not always heal, but He has already defeated the enemy of our minds when He rose from the grave victorious over death.

Someone has said that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Whether we accept that as truth or not, hell is permanent. If we die today by our own hand, or by God's, and we have not accepted His free offer of salvation, we face an eternal darkness far worse than any depression. After death, according to God's Word, it is too late.

Read how God used a rat to return my family back home after my depressed (adoptive) Dad hung himself in our basement:

Read how I was orphaned as a toddler, a result of my natural father's depression: “It happened behind Shooter's Bar”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

But it's just the way we were back then.

They were twins. While I hadn't known them well, they were neighbor boys from my teen years, now home on leave from the military.

It was Christmas, l959 and I had been graduated from high school the previous June. I was at the skating rink when, from the rink floor, I saw them come through the door.

By then I was no longer called “Olive Oyl” and had, for the first time enough speck on my bones for which to experience some sense of attraction to a guy. I noticed I had caught their eye from the sidelines and hoped I might get a phone call from one of them that week.

Sure enough. The phone rang and it was Wesley (not his real name). Of course, I said “yes” when he asked to take me out. The plans were for Saturday night.

I could hardly wait for the week to fly by, but at the same time, I worried about all those things for which most girls back then feared. “Would I make an etiquette mistake?” “How would I introduce him to my mom?,” etc. For days I practiced: “Mom I'd like you to meet Wesley.” “Wesley, this is my Mom.”

Saturday night came and I got through that part. Then I waited while he opened the car door. It all felt very strange to me because I grew up skinny and dates were not a part of my life. Oh yes, I had a boyfriend a short time while in high school, but he thumbed rides to Riverside to see me and our relationship wasn't much different than that of the kids with whom I went roller skating. Plus, I was never serious about him

Wesley took me to see Peyton Place!” We arrived at the theater in Berwick and, as we crossed the main street to the theater, I felt ten feet tall next to this man in Air Force uniform. I hoped I wouldn't blow it by saying something stupid.

Then, somewhere in the middle of the movie one of the actors asked, “Did you ever go swimming in the raw?” Everyone laughed. Except me. I turned to ask Wesley what swimming in the raw meant. Awkwardly, he waved his hand and said, “it means swimming without any clothes on.” I thought I'd die! My adoptive dad was a worry wort and didn't allow me to go swimming. I not only didn't know how to swim, but I certainly wouldn't have thought of swimming in my birthday suit. I knew that was my first blow at a chance for anything to blossom.

It was customary, in our day, to stop at a roadside restaurant after a date. I knew it was coming and I was filled with dread. I had never eaten much EVER. But to eat in front of a guy was totally nothing I ever wrote about in my diary!

The waitress brought us a menu. As I recall we were the only ones in the restaurant that night which added to the coldness in the air. Finally she came to take our order. Rather sheepishly I said, “I just want a coke.” Thus he, too, ordered a coke.

As we drove home I knew my worse fears had overtaken me and I had blown my chances. Hope escaped me. Halfheartedly, in the days that followed, I waited for the phone to ring. But our little pink Princess sat silent.

Later, I drove past Wesley's house. I had to pass it since it was up the street from my place. I saw his twin brother close to the road and stopped to talk to him. Immediately I was totally comfortable with him.

A few days later he picked me up in his mom's '57 Chevy. Conversation came easy and I was elated walking to the theater with this young man in full Navy uniform.

Our friendship grew as we continued to date.  He was stationed at Newport, RI and thumbed a ride home every weekend. For Valentine's Day he gave me a black onyx bracelet (which I still have today).

That same February, amid tears, we parted for his return to the naval base. His ship was leaving for an eight month Mediterranean cruise. The following October I had a shoebox full of letters, each embossed with the print of his ship. I waited, longing for his return.

He did return, but not to me.

It was Ralph Lloyd Tennyson who wrote:

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

I know today's teenagers are far less naive than those from my era. But it's just the way we were back then.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

That whole nest might have done me in!

In l997 I worked for a memorial park. I loved the park, therefore, I loved working even on Saturdays. I, too, believed in pre-planning one's certain final plans for which I have my own filed for my sons.

The park had gardens which identified each burial section by name: Memory Garden, Resurrection Garden, Garden of Prayer, Sunset Memory, and my favorite, Garden of Honor where the veterans are buried. It was a serene spot on the edge of the park where all that could be heard in the still of a day was the clanging of the flag against the staff.

I also loved “The Rose Garden.” A cement bench and trellis sat amid the roses for which set it apart from all other gardens on the grounds. However, that year the weeds had grown tall around the roses and I had been determined to weed them as soon as a Saturday came for which it had not rained.

Finally, after three Saturdays of rain, the sun showed. I finished the work in my office and headed for the Rose Garden. As I walked across the newly showered grass I noticed the bees bumbling around in the clover. Since I was wearing sandals, I offered up a quick prayer: “Lord, please don't let me get stung by a bee, I really want to weed this garden.” Because it was a Saturday I was alone in the park.

I began on one side, working my way around the cement bench. At times it was easier to sit on the bench, the trellis just above my head, and do the weeding. From time to time, I gazed around the park but kept weeding. Finally, I had reached the last of the weeds behind the bench and under the garden trellis.

As I stood back to enjoy the fruits of my labor, I saw it! Just above my head was a huge live hornet's nest and the hornets were circling. Then I remembered my prayer. I can't tell you how relieved I was that those hornets had not attacked me.

The following Monday I related my story to the other park personnel as we stood around the office. I had marveled at how God answered my prayer and had not let me get stung. Then the park caretaker said, “That's why I didn't weed the garden.” I was awe-stricken!

Later when I told my son about how I had been there alone and....

He said, “Mom you can be glad that whole nest hadn't done you in!”