Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries." (Julius Caesar; Act 4, Scene 3).

Category: Local (Page 2 of 14)

Specific Times & Stations for Radio Tour

It was pointed out to me that potential listeners would not know, from my previous post, what station to tune in to (if they happened to be in cities ranging from Ocala, Florida to Minneapolis, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington.)

So, here is a more specific update by station and show and time for May 18th, Wednesday, only. There will be an additional 5 stations on May 19th and then it will jump till June 1st.

Don’t forget: on May 18, 19, 20 and June 1 and 2, you would be able to download BOTH “Obama’s Odyssey” books for a total of 99 cents, because of the radio tour. Volume II will be totally free and Volume I will only cost 99 cents (normally $4.99) for the dates mentioned here.

Wednesday, May 18:
1) Harrogate, TN, WCXZ-AM with Tom Amis in the Morning from 7:30 to 7:40 a.m.
2) Willmer, MN, KWLM-AM with Bill Dean’s The Morning Brew from 7:50 to 8:00 a.m. (*Note: Bill Dean once attended the Mason City, IA, auctioneer college.)
3) Charleston, SC, WTMA-AM with Charlie James from 8:06 to 8:16 a.m.
4) Minneapolis, MN, KBEM-FM, with Ed Jones from 8:40 to 8:50 a.m.
5) Charlotte, NC, WSAT-AM, with Buddy Poole from 8:50 to 9:00 a.m. (*Note: Buddy is now General Manager of the station, but he owned it up until 2014.)
6) Lexington, KY, WMST-AM, Dan Manley’s Mid-Mornings on Main from 9 to 9:30 a.m. (*Note: this is a full half-hour on Kentucky radio. Yee haw!)
7) Hartford, CT, WJJF-FM with The Lee Elci Show from 9:40 to 9:50 a.m. (*Note: Lee used to play pro baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals.)
8) Ocala, FL, WOCA-AM, Larry Whitler’s The Source from 10:05 to 10:15. (*Note: This is a Fox News Outlet).
9) Festus, MO, KJFF-AM, Matt West’s The Morning Magazine from 10:30 to 10:40 a.m. (*Note: Festus, Missouri, is just south of St. Louis, I’m told.)

Thanks to all the radio hosts and wish me luck at those hours in the morning!

“Obama’s Odyssey” (Vols. I & II) on Radio & Specially Priced

For all of you who, like me, are watching this year’s presidential race with mouth agog, I thought I would remind you that my book about Hillary Clinton’s last run for the presidency, [when she was soundly beaten by the upstart Barack Obama], is going to be on a national radio tour of 18 major markets, starting tomorrow, May 18th.

In honor of my dragging myself out of bed and speaking to morning drive talk show people from coast to coast (list to follow), I’ve lowered the price of Volume I of “Obama’s Odyssey” (e-book only) to 99 cents for the dates May 18, 19, 20, June 1 and 2 and we are giving Volume II away absolutely FREE during those same dates. (Normal price: $4.99 in e-book; $14.99 per book in paperback).

If you don’t know much about either book, you can see me explaining my light-hearted approach to political coverage in a YouTube video that was shown on Chicago television. Simply go to YouTube and type in Connie Corcoran Wilson. You’ll see a picture of Joe Biden, one of the many politicians I tracked through the snowy wastelands of Iowa (and elsewhere) for close to 24 months in 2008.

My 1,000 articles were “hit” over 3 million times by Yahoo readers, and I was named Yahoo Content Producer of the Year for Politics. The books came later—not until after July 14 of 2014, when the Content Contributor Network I served for 10 years was dissolved to employ Katie Couric, instead. ($10 million for Katie; $0 for us).

The company informed us they were not going to maintain the servers to keep the thousands of articles from those of us in the Content Contributors’ Network up on the Internet.

So began MY Odyssey of hiring public school teachers who were off work in the summer to assist me in getting my articles down off the Internet before they would be trashed. And, once down, it seemed as though there were too many pictures–especially unused ones still in my pictures file— for just one book, so I divided the campaign up into 2 parts: 1) The run-up to the conventions, when various candidates jockeyed for position to be their party’s nominee and,
2) The campaign itself, right up to and through the Inauguration.

Volume I has 67 blog posts from the field, with only 27 photos. Volume II has 60 (sixty) previously unpublished historic photographs taken all over the country and within the DNC and RNC, town hall meetings and the Ron Paul Rally for the Republic, with 27 accompanying articles.

My appearances on various radio stations began with a small station in Brownwood, Texas at 7:10 a.m. Tomorrow, 9 stations will speak with me, as follows:

1) Harrogate, TN, WCXZ-AM, Tom Amis in the Morning
2) Willmer, MN, KWLM-AM, Bill Dean’s the Morning Brew
3) Minneapolis, MN, KBEM-FM, Ed Jones
4) Charleston, SC, WTMA-AM, Charlie James
5) Charlotte, NC, WSAT-AM, Buddy Poole
6) Lexington, KY, WMST-AM, Dan Manley, “Mid Mornings on Main”
7) Hartford, CT, WJJF-FM, Lee Elci, “The Lee Elci Show”
8) Ocala, FL, WOCA-AM, Larry Whitler’s “The Source”
9) Festus, MO, KJFF-AM, Matt West’s “The Morning Magazine

On May 19th, Thursday, I’ll be chatting with:
10) Burlington, IA, KBUR-AM, the Steve Hexom Show
11) West Chester, PA, WCHE-AM, Geoff Harris
12) Seattle, WA, KORE-FM, Ken Johannessen
13) Minneapolis, MN, KLTF-AM, Ron Specker’s “Party Line”
14) Yuba City, CA, KUBA-AM, Moe Howard

Then, I’ll be silent (and sleeping in) until June 1st, when I’ll be heard on:
15) Centralia, IL, WILY-AM, Tootie Cooksey
16) Amherst, VA, WAMV-AM, Bob Langstaff’s “We, the People”
17) Albuquerque, NM, KPCL-FM, Annette Ayoub’s “Day Brightener”

If you’re anywhere within listening distance of these stations, tune in. If you’re not, I recommend the YouTube video, which I may post here momentarily.

And, regardless, please consider downloading (or is it uploading?) a FREE copy of Volume II of “Obama’s Odyssey” on the days it is free (May 18, 19, 20 and June 1, June 2) and a 99 cent copy of Volume I on those same days.

Anyone who knows my aversion to early mornings knows I won’t be doing THIS again any time soon, so get them while you can!

Blog Tour Ongoing for “Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. I)

Right now, there is an ongoing blog tour for the first volume of “Obama’s Odyssey,” complete with some giveaways for a free copy on some blogs.

Originally, the tour was to kick off as I returned from Cancun (April 23), but apparently it started while I was out of the country, so I will attempt to find the dates and blog links to report to you, but, in the meantime, go out to Amazon, type in my name (Connie Corcoran Wilson) and check out the 6 new reviews for Volume I (which is the only one actually “on tour” currently).

I will be doing a radio interview with a Texas station this coming Thursday morning at 7:40 a.m. and the book is currently on the shelves of Book People, the largest independent bookstore in Texas, in Austin on Lamar Boulevard.

There is also a giveaway ongoing until May 28th on Goodreads for Volume I in paperback.

As soon as can, I will post the blog tour links for this timely book, but you can see many of the reviews posted behind the Amazon listing.

Ghosts of Austin, Texas?

Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas.

Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas.

We’ve been adventuring here in Austin and one of the first places you hear about is the old Driskill Hotel, which is reputed to be hugely haunted.

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The Driskill first opened in 1886. It opened and closed many times over the years, but has much history, including LBJ’s stints there watching the returns come in from his various elections.  For years, until the event outgrew the hotel, the Governor’s Inaugural Ball was held in the Driskill’s Ballroom.

Lobby ceiling.

Lobby ceiling.

There’s the story of the old vault that still stands in the lobby area. In March of 1933 FDR put a temporary halt to all banking activity in the land, leaving the Driskill guests stranded without cash. Hotel manager W.L. Stark opened the vault to let guests take some out temporarily, asking only that they repay it (he did not even make them sign promissory notes.) The guests not only repaid the money they had borrowed, they put more back, besides.DSC_0174

Maximilian Room

Maximilian Room

Then there is the Maximilian Room, which was formerly a smoking lounge. The room’s enormous Carlotta mirrors were intended as a gift from Austrian archduke Ferdinand Maximilian to his wife, Carlotta.  After years of civil war in Mexico, conservatives attempted to replace the elected President Benito Juarez with the Emperor Maximilian, but this effort, backed by the French, failed. Carlotta fled to Europe and never saw her husband again. Nor did she see the mirrors, which are coated with diamond dust and bear her image atop each of the 8 mirrors, which the Driskill picked up in San Antonio when they learned of their history. Ghosts are supposedly frequently seen in their reflections.DSC_0176

Probably one of the most interesting ghost stories involves a little girl whom the restaurant manager referred to as “Samantha.”

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DSC_0180Her portrait hangs on the 4th floor and is very odd, with what appear to be shadows behind her. (My husband says, “That’s just your flash reflecting,” but you decide.) Samantha was in the hotel waiting for her father, a Senator, to finish a meeting when she followed a bouncing rubber ball and fell to her death down the steep stairs pictured.DSC_0168DSC_0169

Stay tuned for more unearthly tales of this and other Austin haunted sites. It is one of the most haunted cities in America according to the experts.

25 Things You Might Not Know About Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses (4 days away), here are 20 little-known facts about Bernie Sanders, courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek, which ran Bernie’s picture on its latest cover with the logo: “Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Want Your Vote” (going on to explain that many of its readers are hedge-fund managers).

  1. Sanders  became a national political figure by giving a speech on Dec. 20, 2010 that lasted 8 and 1/2 hours. The speech railed against extending Bush tax cuts and seemed like a filibuster, but it wasn’t. It was so popular that it was later made into a book.

2) Sanders does not enjoy selfies.”If I had my options, I’d prefer to shake hands,” says Bernie.

3)  Bernie grew up with an immigrant father in a tenement with 3 and 1/2 rooms.

4)  Bernie has attracted crowds larger than Trump’s: 28,000 in Portland, Oregon; 27,500 in Los Angeles; 20,000 in Boston; 15,000 in Seattle.

5)  Sanders has a son named Levi, who is a paralegal at Greater Boston Legal Services.

6)  When asked to describe the U.S. to a Martian he used the phrase “wealth and income inequality.”

7)  Sanders’ former Chief of Staff says he had 2 interests when Mayor of Burlington: basketball and wealth inequality.

8)  Sanders has the highest constituent approval rating and lowest disapproval rating among U.S. Senators.

9)  Sanders is a graduate of the University of Chicago and once was arrested during a civil rights demonstration (he was a member of SNCC, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, among others.)

10)  Sanders spent most of 1972-1976 running in Vermont as a third-party candidate for governor (2x), for senator (2x) and once got 4% of the vote.

11) Sanders won a weird race for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont (four-way race) by 10 votes, becoming their mayor for 8 years, a period during which the city boomed.

12)  Bernie ran for Congress twice becoming the first Independent elected to the House in 40 years.

13)  Bernie spent 16 years in the House before running for the Senate in 2006, with the backing of the Democratic Party, which he officially would not join.

14)  Bernie has 3 labor unions backing him, representing about a million workers. (*Clinton has about 18 unions representing 11 million workers supporting her.)

15)  In the 1960’s, he lived on a kibbutz in Israel for a few years before moving to Vermont. When he arrived in Vermont, he first lived in a maple sugar shack and cooked food over a coffee can filled with a roll of toilet paper soaked in lighter fluid, a poor man’s Sterno which his friends called a “Berno.”

16)  His brother, Larry, who first got him interested in liberal issues, is a Green Party politician in England. (*Donald Trump’s father-in-law and mother-in-law are both members of the Communist Party in their native land.)

17)  Until 2015, Bernie had 5 digits’ worth of credit card debt.

18)  When he ran for President of James Madison High School in Brooklyn in a 3-way race, he came in last. (*His elementary school basketball team won a city-wide championship, however.)

19)  There is a Bernie Sanders Drinking Game where, every time he mentions a free government program, you take a drink of someone else’s beer.

20)  Invited to speak to a United Way fundraiser once, he attacked the group in a short speech, telling them that they shouldn’t exist; that taking workers’ pay to do the government’s job was shameful.

21)  At Bernie’s rallies, Steve Earle’s “The Revolution Starts Now” and Bob Marley’s “Revolution” play, but not the Beatles’ famous song because it ends with the line: “Don’t you know it’s going to be all right.”

22)  Bernie ascribes to this FDR quote:  “We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.  Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today.  They are unanimous in their hatred of me—and I welcome their hatred.”

23)  Robert Reich (economist and Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton) says, “Essentially, America faces a choice between authoritarian populism, represented by Donald Trump, and reform populism, represented by Bernie Sanders.”

24)  In college, Bernie also belonged to the Young People’s Socialist League, CORE (the Congress for Racial Equality), SNCC and the Student Peace Union.

25)  Bernie’s message is that of Martin Luther King, which King termed “the urgency of now”: “If you see stuff that’s bad and you don’t respond with the urgency of the moment, you’re not alive.”

Writers Digest Weighs in on This Year’s Xmas Cats

The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer (Book #4 in The Christmas Cats series, www.TheXmasCats.com)

The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer (Book #4 in The Christmas Cats series, www.TheXmasCats.com)

3rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards

Entry Title: The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer

Author: Constance Corcoran Wilson

Judge Number: 100

Entry Category: Children’s Picture books

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking. Our system only recognizes numerals during this portion of logging evaluations. As a result, a “0” is used in place of “N/A” when the particular portion of the evaluation simply does not apply to the particular entry, based on the entry genre. For example, a book of poetry or a how to manual, would not necessarily have a “Plot and Story Appeal and may therefore receive a “0”.

*If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 3rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards.” You may cite portions of your review, if you wish, but please make sure that the passage you select is appropriate, and reflective of the review as a whole.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 3

Voice and Writing Style: 5

Judge’s Commentary*:

Our judges all have professional experience in their background, whether it’s as a teacher, editor, publisher, agent, published author, etc.

Judges are asked to write a short commentary, which you will find below. Some judges use this as an opportunity to critique, others as an opportunity to review, and others yet may choose to combine the two. Some judges choose to speak largely, or in general terms, about a work so that they can cover as much as possible. Others choose to hone in on a few key points, leaving out larger portions but hopefully giving examples on a smaller scale that can apply to a larger one.

The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer presents with a classically illustrated cover that reminds me stylistically of old cartoons. I really loved this presentation.

And really, who wouldn’t love cats in hats? Great concept and a clever way to both entertain and inform children by using the things that they love to keep their attention. Children will adore the cats and their adventure as the screech in to save the deer from mean old hunters. I really loved this book from cover to cover. Great job!

In fact, my only concern was on some of the word choices. Will kids know words like “vandalism”? Just keep these choices in mind as you market this to your target audience.

Otherwise, the illustrations were lovely. The author’s voice was perfect for this genre and I was happy to find that the author has written other books. I hope this series is continued and I plan to share this one with my own children. It will be the perfect addition to any child’s library.

Interactive pages was a delightful touch! I commend you on an entry well done. Hope to see more from this author in the near future. Best of luck!”

Christmas in Chicago: Happenings in and Around the City at the Holidays

I came in to Chicago to pick up the daughter (from Denver) to drive her back to the Quad Cities, but good friend Mary Gerace had some other festive ideas for things to do in and around the city, including the free Chicago Youth Symphony concert at Chicago’s Symphony Hall, the Tuba Christmas concert at the Palmer House, and a performance of The Assassination Theater, which purports to prove who really murdered JFK (ending soon at the Museum of Television and other such things.

TubaXmas 013The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra performance, which was free, was just as good as when I saw them perform with Ben Folds a month or so ago. No Ben, this time, but just as great a performance, with a tour de force performance from a young trumpeter who was voted the 2nd best in the U.S. in a competition.

TubaXmas 057Then came 266 tubas of all ages and sizes. Performers come from all over the state (the youngest was 10 years old) and outnumber those at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Tubas don’t often get to carry the melody, so it was fun to hear that many of them playing well-known Christmas carols. The audience was encouraged to sing along to the second verse. The house was packed. We had to arrive by 9 a.m. to get colored wrist bands or risk being in the “spill-over” room watching it on a TV feed. This was the 30th year for the event.

Then there were the lovely Christmas trees, including the one in Millennium Park barely a mile down Michigan from me, and the one in the Palmer House Lobby.

And, of course, Water Tower Place beckoned with shopping galore. Last night, when I was there, they planned to be open until midnight! Christmas Eve, demonstrators plan to demonstrate on the Miracle Mile, which the shops along there have claimed has cost them at least 30% of their normal business.

Last, but not least, I received word a while ago that I was one of the Finalists for the title of Best Indie Thriller of 2015 and had been named one of the Top 100 from among 12,000+ entries. I was sworn to secrecy until the newest issue of “Shelf Unbound” online magazine was published, however, and the Dec./Jan. issue is up now. I think “KHAKI=KILLER” is on page 58 (or 60?). Here is the link:

You can see the issue here: http://issuu.com/shelfunbound/docs/shelf_unbound_december-january_2015

Khaki = Killer is shown on page 58 or 60.

Lastly, MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all, and if you are of a different religious persuasion, as our Christmas card said, “Merry Everything.”

Christmas Schedule for New Xmas Cats Appearances

“The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer,” 4th in “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” series, has been on a virtual tour for the past month and receiving generally five-star reviews from bloggers.

This year, there is a hard-cover book for the first time ever, but it is available only from me at the appearances listed below or from the book’s website (www.TheXmasCats.com) using PayPal. The paperback and e-book versions of the book are available on Amazon, but the hard cover is only available from me in person or on the Xmas Cats website.

Here is my Christmas Schedule, as far as I know it now. It starts this Friday (December 4th) with an appearance from 7 to 9 p.m. at Razzleberries in LeClaire, Iowa. Come join me and celebrate the season with the store cat on Friday night! (You never know when the Cat-in-the-Hat might show up to lend moral support.)

Christmas Stops for “The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer”

(Some of these are tentative. One of my former stops burned down in May, but re-opened today. I apparently asked too late for the Four Seasons, so I will be at a new restaurant in Geneseo that is just opening called “Genevino’s” from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

December 4, Friday: Razzleberries in LeClaire, Iowa from 7 to 9 p.m.
December 5, Saturday: Moline, Illinois, Public Library with other local authors. I am the first author of the day, at 10:30 a.m., who is to read or speak for 15 minutes. I will share the newest Christmas Cats book, which takes 3 minutes to read in its entirety. After that, I’ll mention my 4 other series and miscellaneous titles. This gathering of local authors ends at 2 p.m
December 5, Saturday: Village of East Davenport, (Iowa) Freddy Fritters’ Dog Bakery: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., hopefully with the Cat in the Hat stopping by. Freddy Fritters had a ribbon cutting ceremony on December 2nd to celebrate its re-opening after a disastrous fire near Mother’s Day. Come help us re-launch Freddy Fritters!
December 11, Friday: Gallery Hop in Rock Island, Illinois. Consult their map upon arrival. I am tentatively scheduled to be within a dining establishment. 6 to 10 p.m.
December 12, Saturday: Geneseo (Illinois) Christmas Walk. Although I’ve been at the Four Seasons in other years, this year I will be within Genevino’s, a new dining establishment at 217 South State Street in Geneseo, Illinois, near where the parade ends.
December 13, Sunday: There may be a Breakfast with Santa opportunity in Geneseo; stay tuned for further developments. I will know more about this after Monday, December 7th and will update on my blog.

       Other Series and Miscellaneous Books:
“Ghostly Tales of Route 66” (which recently reached #1 as a Kindle e-book with over 3,000 downloads). Volume I – Chicago to Oklahoma; Volume II – Oklahoma to Arizona; Volume III – Arizona to California’s Santa Monica. Quixote Press.
“The Color of Evil” novel series, with 3 entries – “The Color of Evil” (Book #1); “Red Is for Rage” (Book #2) and “Khaki=Killer” (Book #3). “Khaki = Killer” was named one of the Best Thrillers of 2015 in the December issue online of “Shelf Unbound” magazine from over 12,000 entries.
“Hellfire & Damnation” short story series, with Volumes I, II and II. Short stories that illustrate the crimes or sins at each of the 9 Circles of Hell in Dante’s “Inferno.”
“Obama’s Odyssey”, Volume I (Caucus to Convention) and Volume II (Convention to Inauguration). Nonfiction. From-the-field reporting on the 2008 presidential campaign from the 1,000 articles (3 million hits) that earned me the title of Yahoo’s Content Producer of the Year for Politics.
“The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” series, with “The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats,” “The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats,” and “The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer.”

Miscellaneous: “Laughing through Life” (humor columns gathered from 5 different newspapers.
“Training the Teacher as a Champion” (nonfiction, teaching, from PLS Bookstores)
“It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now” – movie reviews from the Quad City Times, with 76 photos and interactive trivia. The Merry Blacksmith Press.
“Out of Time” – science fiction novel from Lachesis Press
“Both Sides Now” – memoir
“Never Fear Phobias” – horror anthology. Fear of dreams and dreaming is one of 19 stories in this anthology.
“Never Fear Christmas Terrors” – anthology. One story: “Black Friday”.

Iowa City Book Fair on Oct. 3 & 4 Attracts Robert Reich

On Saturday and Sunday, October 3rd and 4th, three of us journeyed to one of only eight Cities of Literature in the world (and the only one in the United States) to take part in the annual book fair.

David Dorris and I in Iowa City on Saturday, October 3rd at the Iowa City Book Fair.

David Dorris and I in Iowa City on Saturday, October 3rd at the Iowa City Book Fair.

David Dorris and I actually had participated in the Iowa City Book Fair when it was held the year I was named Midwest Writing Center Writer of the Year (2010). David had the idea for a Midwest Writing Center Book Fair that year, and we both worked hard on pulling that together and pulling that off (over some nearly insurmountable obstacles) on May 8, 2010. Since then, we’ve attended some bazaars and book fairs together and, this year, we were joined by Lesleigh Nahay of Chicago.

Chatting with a passer-by.

Chatting with a passer-by.

The weather was cold and windy. Had it been sunny and warm, as it was during our first Iowa City Book Fair, I’m sure it would have a bit more enjoyable and less c-c-c-c-old. As it was, the impression that most of us had was that the passers-by were not there for the book fair. They were students on their way somewhere else. If the weather had been more favorable, I’m sure it would have brought out more enthusiastic book buyers, because there were quite a few at that long-ago event, which has since been moved from behind the main library to the pedestrian mall outside of the Sheraton.DSCN0904

On Saturday night, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, now a professor at Berkeley (and formerly on faculty at Harvard) spoke at the downtown Englert Theater for free. An enthusiastic crowd listened as he promoted his newest book “Saving Capitalism,” which posits the fact that the middle class is losing ground while the rich get richer. One surprising thing, for me, was that Reich is such a short man, probably under 5′ tall. His speech was thoughtful and enjoyable, but a woman in the back kept interrupting with inappropriate laughter and seemed to be extremely needy, desiring attention for her remarks. That was annoying and unnecessarily disruptive.

Book fairs are a lot of work to put on (I know; I did it) and this one was quite extensive, with readings all over town over the space of 2 days and tents set up and dismantled for those of us participating.

Gene Murphy and I at my reading from "Obama's Odyssey," Volume I.

Gene Murphy and I at my reading from “Obama’s Odyssey,” Volume I.

I hope it is warmer next year and that the powers-that-be let me know sooner about participating. My two new political books (politics was the theme of the book conference), Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House and Obama’s Odyssey: Volume 2 (Convention to Inauguration) were launched in style, at least.

Happy 92nd Birthday, Nelson G. Peterson!

I am posting this on the eve of one of my very best friend’s birthdays: Nelson G. (for Gene) Peterson of Moline, Illinois.  Nelson was born Aug. 20, 1923. He is 92 today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NELSON!

I first met Nelson when I began teaching at Silvis Junior High School in the 1969-1970 school year.I taught Language Arts to 7th and 8th graders. He taught History in the room across the hall from me. In fact, we taught across the hall from one another throughout our years on-staff (my years there ended in 1985; Nelson retired earlier).

But teaching was not Nelson’s only job. He is a World War II veteran (the Battle of the Bulge, I think) just as his own father before him served in World War I. He also worked at the Arsenal and came to teaching later in life. Nelson used to say his initials (N.G.P.) stood for “No Good Prick” but that’s not true.  He is one of the sweetest, kindest, nicest people I know. He has always been my friend and has never waivered or let me down or tried to hurt my feelings, intentionally or unintentionally. Nelson has never come to a funeral home and gone out of his way to snub me, as a different old friend has done on two  occasions. If the funeral is that of someone who was a mother to you for close to a half-century (my mother-in-law) it is particularly distressing and upsetting to be on the receiving end of mean-spiritedness at an already trying time. (Better not to come at all than to come just to be mean.)  But that’s the way some people roll— although not Nelson. He even came to one of my book signings at the (now-defunct) Book Rack in Moline and another one at the Hy-Vee Grocery store in Silvis— in the middle of winter— for a children’s book, despite having no children or anyone who needed books. He has truly gone out of his way to be the great friend he remains today. (Thanks, Nelson! I appreciate it!)

Nelson G. Peterson

Nelson G. Peterson

Since Nelson, at 92, is the Renaissance man who literally has everything, I stole the idea of 3 of his other friends  who took him out to dinner on his 91st birthday. That was a GREAT idea. Kudos! My husband and I decided it would be the best way to salute Nelson on (or near) his special day.

I purposely did not plan dinner for the REAL day, because Nelson, who speaks fluent Swedish, has many cousins in the area and many other friends from his Baptist Church who probably also want to fete him on his birthday today (the REAL day). For example, 3 friends who taught with him for a long time, (as did I), took him out to dinner last year. Perhaps they plan another such outing for this year on August 20th, or perhaps the cousins in town will be “on the case.” [Best not to muck that up and ruin 2 dinners out for the Birthday Boy—although Nelson did say, as we dropped him off at home, that he hadn’t been out after 8:00 p.m. in a long time !]  One of Nelson’s cousins, Rose Fuller of East Moline, has shuffled off this mortal coil, but also taught with us at George O. Barr Elementary School for years, so, sadly, she won’t be among the relatives there for him. (R.I.P., Rose). Nelson never married.

I love Nelson and appreciate his sense of humor and his loyalty as a friend, which mirrors my own. I try very hard to be the Best Friend Anyone Could Be, remembering special days, offering help if needed, and just generally trying to be a friend, for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.  I don’t need (or want) thousands of superficial friends. I only want the really good ones, like Nelson. I won’t befriend you simply because I think you are going to do some good for my social status or because you have a lot of money or any of those other bad reasons that can come into play. I have only ever befriended people I truly like, who (seemed to ) truly liked me.

On this night, I gave him a card that said, “Everyone is young once…(and, on the inside) Your time is up.” He laughed and seemed to enjoy that and the catfish dinner he selected from the menu at Short Hills Country Club. We were (literally) the only people dining on Tuesday night and out-numbered the staff. I asked the waitress if she could turn down the air conditioning, as it was  frigid. The waitress said, “Well, you’re the only people here, so why not?” The A/C was promptly reduced to something that did not threaten to turn me into a popsicle during dinner, for which I am grateful. (Thanks!)

I am also grateful for true-blue friends like Nelson. It is possibly my aversion to early mornings that makes me an unsuitable friend for invitations to join others as they take  (took) trips to Chicago or Wisconsin or Las Vegas or wherever over a 40-year span. (Anything before 10 A.M. is verboten.) I admit that early, early mornings are not my thing; I write late into the night (30 books, so far). I didn’t know that being a Night Owl made me a bad person, but apparently it is a fatal flaw. Speaking your mind is not appreciated, either, but I have always spoken out and been honest about things, both for myself and for others, and if that is a flaw, I plead guilty with a certain measure of pride. It is not always easy suffering the backlash of being outspoken, but, for instance, during 4 terms as President (or Co-Chairman) of the Silvis Education Association, it was necessary in order to unionize our district’s teachers. And there are many occasions in a classroom setting where a teacher has to intervene to insure fairness. When I have spoken my mind, it has sometimes been applauded and other times, [because the truth hurts if it is unflattering], I have been reviled and, later, treated very poorly. One should, instead, play their cards very close to the vest and pretend they like people that they (may) actually despise—maybe even send them an oh-so-proper little note of some kind to suck up to them. I never aspired to such dishonesty.

Craig, me and Nelson as the evening ended.

Craig, me and Nelson as the evening ended.

I try to be loyal, honest, and true-blue— not a phony or superficial or sometimes friend . But I don’t play golf, don’t like early mornings, and I never was a teacher at our local high school (UTHS), United Township High School. I’d say that was a criteria for inclusion in dining out with Nelson in a group, although one guest last year  [Judy LeMaster Patchin] was not a teacher at UTHS, either, but taught with him in Silvis, as did I.   Judy made the guest list; I did not. (She is better with early mornings, for sure, but I don’t think that is the entire story.)

I was judged and found wanting, probably because I tell the truth instead of currying favor with one and all by any means possible.  I am positive I am just as good a friend of Nelson’s from our mutual teaching days as any of the other attendees with whom I also taught, and the Amish “shunning” thing is both childish, hurtful and unnecessary. Is 10 years of that not enough for having noted that the invitations to the “fun” things went to others, but the invitations to help out or pitch in came in pretty regularly and routinely, and I did my best to comply.

Then, too,  I’m usually off on an adventure of one sort or another that others don’t find interesting or noteworthy (*Nicest compliment of the week from someone I did not know in a store I frequent: “Your life is an adventure.”)

Yes, my life IS an adventure. It is true, as Shakespeare wrote (roughly paraphrased), “If you cut me, do I not bleed?” It is hurtful to be shunned when you have done nothing to deserve it. If you must be punished for feeling left out (when you were left out) and saying so, is that a life sentence? It is also sad to realize that people you thought were your good friends don’t stand up for you in the face of  meanness directed at you for over a decade without good cause, don’t remember your special day (even if  you always remembered theirs), and disappear without a trace. But, c’est la vie—right gang?

I’m lucky, though. I have a wonderful husband, wonderful kids (my daughter drove me all the way to Indianapolis to see the Rolling Stones for my birthday in July!) and at least one truly wonderful, loyal, long-time Quad Cities friend: Nelson G. Peterson. (I’d name a couple of others, but I’m a believer in quality over quantity and I don’t want to jinx my good fortune or cause them to be ostracized.)  I’m pretty sure Nelson won’t leave town and move to a remote location without so much as a phone call to me, nor, intentionally or unintentionally, forget my birthday, (which he remembered this year, as he has every other year.) I’d recite a list of other loyal friends, beginning with my college roommate (who does not live in this area), but this post is for Nelson on his special day. [If you see him, wish him a “Happy Birthday!”]

Nelson G. Peterson, my good and special friend, long may he live and be my friend and here’s to many, many more birthdays! (We’re aiming to have Nelson replace the lady who was the Oldest Living Veteran at age 110.)

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