Saturday, December 15, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger




Thanks so much, Tinker, for the opportunity to guest blog at your place. I’m currently in the midst of a  blog tour to promote my new novel TELL THEM I DIED. Amazon has paperback copies listed for 8.99 and an Amazon Kindle version for $3.99. You can find it also on BarnesandNoble.com in NOOK version for $3.99. I need reviews to help generate word-of-mouth buzz and interest in the book.



TELL THEM I DIED is a romantic adventure that doesn't conform to the usual romance novel genre in that the protagonists are all over fifty years of age, retired, and with discretionary time and funds to enjoy life, and online friends to share every minute.  And unlike other romances, much of the action takes place on the internet on social networking sites. The story was inspired by the many people I came to know and love over many years on social networking sites.  People who are not online a lot don't realize how real those long-distance relationships can be.  Over all those years, my online friends have married,  had children, divorced, and some have died.  And then there is the travel element.  My husband and I travel a lot, and we share our travel photos with our friends online.  Several friends have suggested that I write a book about my travels.  I think travelogs can be rather boring, but I decided to waeve some of our adventures into the story. 

The main characters of TELL THEM I DIED are Laura (Screen name: A1QTEE), owner/operator of Blaq-Kawfee.com, and the men in her life who come in an out of the social networking scene.  There is Laura's number one confidante and forum moderator, Angela (Screen name: Angelplaits), and her husband "Bodine." The men in Laura's life, ex-fiance', Jackson (JackDaniels), Lester (TheGuy), Laura's son, Carlton, and her some-time boyfriend Harman all present challenges for Angela as she tries to find out what happened to her dear friend when she gets the news that Laura has died.

I hope you’ll take the time to check out TELL THEM I DIED and write a review at Amazon.com or on your blog. It's a light-hearted page-turner of a story, that my early reviewers have said they hated for it to end.

My tag line: When it comes to long-distance internet romances, sixty is the new seventeen.

Here is an excerpt:

Jackson hardly knew what day it was. He had been awake over twenty-four hours, and although he was tired, he knew he still would not sleep soundly. He showered and dressed so he would be ready for his morning trip to find Carlton. He set the clock for six a.m. and lay down on the bed fully clothed. At least he’d had a good meal at Bonita’s house. Now he could laugh at how ridiculous that scene had been. 

Internet hoochie-mamas. Those girls were so tame online. I never would have guessed. And Stacey was married. Laura probably had them all figured out, but Angela was so naïve. What a set-up.
 
He slept for a few hours before the alarm rang. This time he drove his rental car and picked up a cup of black coffee on his way. The built-in GPS took him to Carlton’s place in a short time. Carlton lived in a small bungalow on a quiet street. Jackson parked down the block where he could see Carlton whenever he left. After Angela told him how he lied, he didn’t want to take a chance on being dodged.

The front door opened after Jackson had been waiting close to an hour. A young woman with a toddler emerged. Jackson recognized them as Carlton’s wife and baby. He had never met them, but had seen photos Laura had posted on the web. Jackson headed them off before they reached their car.

“Good Morning, Keisha. I’m so glad I caught you before you got away for the day.”

Keisha didn’t know this man, but she smiled and stopped since he called her name. “Good Morning.”

“We’ve never met, but I’m Jackson Gooding. I was Laura’s friend. I met Carlton, but I never met you. I would like to talk to Carlton, if you don’t mind. Is he in?”

“He goes to work around ten, so he’s not up yet. Why don’t you call him later?”

“I don’t have his number. Can you give it to me?” Jackson knew how to turn on the charm. He hoped Keisha would trust him enough to give him the number. She did. She gave him Carlton’s mobile number and work number.

“Thanks, Keisha. I know you working moms have to get going in the morning. I don’t want to make you late.” He helped her with getting the baby into his car seat, and held her car door while they said goodbye. He didn’t want her to know he wouldn’t leave until he saw Carlton.

Jackson settled into his car again. This time he allowed himself to nap until about nine. He thought by then Carlton would be up and getting dressed. When he rang the doorbell, he listened for movement inside the bungalow. He could hear a television and someone approaching the door. Jackson stepped back, expecting the door to open. He knew Carlton had to be on the other side of the door watching him through the peephole. When the door didn’t open, Jackson knocked, and said, “Carlton, it’s me. I know you’re in there.”

Carlton opened the door, looking down at his feet.

Jackson extended his hand to shake it. “Hey, man. I’m so sorry about your mom. When Angela told me, I took the first flight I could get.”

Carlton still stood in the doorway, not motioning for Jackson to come in.

“Can I come in? I know you have to go to work, so I won’t take too much of your time.” Carlton let him in, and led him into the kitchen, where Carlton had been eating a bowl of cereal.

“Tell me what happened. How did she die?” Jackson asked.

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY - January 2013
I am giving away four (4) autographed copies of TELL THEM I DIED through a giveaway administered by Goodreads.com.  If you're not already a member of Goodreads, it's easy to join. Go here for the giveaway:

http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/40065-tell-them-i-died

(the link will work in January)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Gordon Weathersby is the youngest of seven siblings, and the first to migrate back to the South after living in DC, New Jersey and New York. She is a retired Information Technology professional who lives in Raleigh with her husband, and their imaginary dog, Dusty. Sarah is the author of a memoir, Motherless Child - stories from a life, and publisher of a family saga, The Gordons of Tallahassee, written by her sister LaVerne Gordon Goodridge. Tell Them I Died is her first work of fiction.

You can contact her online at www.sarahweathersby.com
 http://blogspot.sarahweathersby.com
 http://www.facebook.com/saraphen
And Twitter @saraphen

 I appreciate your time and consideration, and I hope you’ll enjoy my novel. Thanks so much, Tinker and friends.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Its So Nice To Meet The Weathersbys



I was born is a small town in Mississippi just a little north of Rt-82 on Highway 45 called West Point. And back then the only people whom I ever knew who had the name Weathersby, besides me, were my mom, Vivian, and my dad, McCoy Weathersby. Now I am sure that when I was a kid of about 4 or 5 I did visit my grandfather, Soule Weathersby, who lived in McComb, Mississippi. But my bet is he was introduced as “grandpa” rather than by his name. And I may have even seen some other Weathersbys in my family. But they were most likely also introduced to me as aunt or uncle somebody. The only one of these that I remember was Ms. Icy and I remembered her only because she had a hump back; I guess she kinda frightened me because of that. I do remember traveling at about that age to McComb, Liberty, and Summit, Ms, as well as Videlia, Lousiana and Lake Village, Arkansas to visit relatives. But I don’t remember any specifically introduced as Weathersbys. My dad’s sister (my aunt) who lived in Lake Village was a Weathersby by birth but I always knew her as Aunt Rose (Bates).

When I was 10 years old we moved to Washington, DC and still the only Weathersbys I ever knew were my parents, sister and brothers; and later on their kids and families. All through grade school, high school and college I was always the only Weathersby in my classes. Whenever I looked in the telephone books for DC and the Maryland suburbs the only Weathersbys I ever saw were my relatives and there were not many of them. After I started working I never met any Weathersbys until about 12 years later in 1973 that I met a Weathersby who was not my family.

One day a young man walked into my office and asked if I was Mr Weathersby. I replied yes and he said so am I. He then he explained that he had seen my photo and name on a poster in my office building. The poster was showing all of the EEO counselors for my agency. His name was Cary Weathersby and we had a long conversation in which he related that his family was from Texas, near Houston as I remember. So we compared family notes for a while and could not conclude that we were related based on the information we had. But we exchanged phone numbers and agree to talk again. We actually ended up working for the same organization about 12 years later.

The rest of my work career of almost 40 years I never ran into another Weathersby. My job took me all over the country and I never met another Weathersby. I traveled also on vacations all over the country and never met another Weathersby. On one occasion, in about 1995, I had to visit Piney Woods Counytry Life School just south of Jackson, Ms. When I met the people whom I was to work with one asked me which of the Weathersby families I was a member of. He said there were two rather large Weathersby families in the Jackson area. I replied that I was not a member of either and that I didn’t even know of them. Then as I was taken on a tour of the campus and when we got to the school’s museum there was a huge portrait of a person named Dr. Weathersby. I was told that this person was a former instructor at the school and that he at that time lived in the Los Angeles, California area. As I recall they even gave me a phone number for him but I did not use it.

When I got back to the hotel that evening I immediately look in the white pages phone book and to my surprise there was a full two column page of Weathersby. So I torn the page out of the book; not sure what for because I would never just call folks and say, “Hay, I’m a Weathersby too”. But after that trip whether it was business or personal travel, I always checked the white pages phone book just to see if there were any Weathersbys. In most places there were none but sometimes there would be 2 or 3 and I would keep the page. Yes, I still have most of those pages although I don’t know why.

In 1998 I made a trip to Disney World in Florida and while I was waiting to board a schuttle to the park entrance I looked at the person in line standing next to me and he had a name tag on his shirt that said WEATHERSBY. I was shocked and asked him if he was a Weathersby and where he was from. He explained that it was his girlfriend’s family name. He was with her and a group of people. She then told me her father’s name and that they were from Detroit, Michigan. She even gave me his phone number but I never called him. What was I gonna say?

So all through my live I never knew any Weathersbys except my immediate family. And never ran into any Weathersbys in school or work activities. I was always the last one on the attendance roll call in schools. Usually had to sit in the back of the classroom is grade school because the teachers had us sit in alphabetical order to make it easy to take attendance. I had to endure what I’m sure other Weathesbys endured, persistent mispronunciation of my name. Sometimes this was accidental, other times on purpose. I was called Whithersby, Weatherby, Weatherbee, and a bunch of other variations of that. One of my neighbors used to just call me Wess. Then I learned from my dad that in the McComb, Liberty, Summit area the Weathersby name was truncated to WESBY. Now that was cool. So I and my older brother had it for a long while on our auto vanity plate; he lived in DC and I in Maryland. I still use the Wesby acronim because I find it convenient, especially for on-line stuff.

Even after I started expanding my horizons on the internet I never ran into any Weathersbys on any of the many social networking web site I have been on. That is not until I got to Facebook. Just for kicks I did a search on Facebook and found well over 500 Weathersbys. Wow I said, I am gonna go through the list and invite some of these members to be friends. So that’s how I got so many Weathersbys on my friend’s list. My real goal is to see if I can make a connection with my family.

Several of the Weathersbys whom I have invited immediately said, ”who are you?’, and/or “are we related?” My reply was this: “I am just one of the more than 500 or so Weathersbys here on Facebook, many of whom have connected only because we ARE Weathersbys and kinda feel like somewhere in our backgrounds there is a real family connection. I use Tinkertoy as my screen name on all web sites but my last name is also Weathersby and my family, dad was from McComb, Ms, Grandad was from McComb, Ms, great grandfather was from Amite County, Ms which encompasses the town of McComb, Liberty and Summit I believe. ”

Several Weathersbys have exchanged family information with me and I have had email and phone conversations with one other Weathersby whom I met on Facebook. Thus far I have found one person to whom I AM related. As I understand it her dad is an uncle of my dad’s brother; or something like that.

I joined both of the Weathersby groups here on Facebook, the "XGeneration Weathersby", and the "Weathersby Family" to see what connections I could find. I have two brothers on here, my son, my daughter, and a bunch of nieces, and nephews who are Weathersby also.

But its nice to meet all of the Weathersbys here in Facebook, Even the ones who pretty much ignore me and never say anything to me, never comment on anything I post. Even still, I have looked at photos and discovered that Weathersbys are all over the country, have nice families, are attending colleges, and are having big family reunions. So to all of you I want to say hello, its nice to meet you. And, it would be nice to exchange family tree information just to see if there are any connections.

The Weathersbys that I know on my family tree are these:

Great Grandfather: Joseph Cobb Weathersby who was a slave and lived in McComb, Ms and as the story goes was sold on a stump right there in town, way back when.

Grandfather: Soule Weathersby was one of eight (8) siblings. The others were Pinckney, Henry, Doll, Lillie, Eddie, Icey, and Elizabeth Weathersby

Father: My father McCoy Weathersby had three Weathersby siblings, Herbert, Rose and Wilma Weathersby. He also had half brothers and sisters who were Thompsons. Demus, JW, Samual, Robert and Jessie Lee Thompson.

Grandmother: My dad’s mom was Leona Webb Thompson and her mom, my great grandmother was Estella Webb Reed. Estella’s father was Hiram Webb.

So that’s the lineage that I know. It would be great to make another connection. As I said all of the people I mentioned originated in Amite County, Ms in the towns of McComb, Libert and Summit, Ms.

HOW, WHERE, AND WHEN “TINKERTOY” WAS BORN



In 1974 when most young guys were buying the new fast car on the block, the 240Z, I bought a British car that I had fallen in love with after driving one on the freeways in California.

My TR-6 with the personalized tag EDS TR6.
I kept it clean outside and under the hood
I won a few trophies at car shows too.

Then it was about 1976 when I got involved with a car club that was composed of guys and dolls who had British sports. Most of them had, like me, a Triumph TR-6, but some also had a Triumph TR-7, a Triumph Spitfire, or a Triumph TVR. We started off just meeting in Rock Creek Park on Sunday afternoons, no organization, just everyone freelancing. We would stand around jawing with the car hoods and trunks up. Then someone would suggest that we drive somewhere, usually Haines Point Park in DC and off we went, tops down, mufflers blazing. The club eventually got organized formally, elected officers and started organized club activities, trips and dances.

meeting in Skyline Drive, Va
meeting in Rock Creek Park, in DC

It was as a club member that my pseudonym started. Remember the CB radios? First 23 Channel and then 40 channel CB radios. Well my CB handle was ROADMAN, for the obvious reason that I had been on the road traveling a lot. Then one day one of the club members started calling me the GADGET MAN because I would regularly show up at club meeting/get together's with a new gadget on my car.....LOL, and the handle fit. The club lasted about 6 years and disbanded in the early 1980's.

When I finally got on the internet years later I tried to use that Gadget Man handle but it was taken, so I thought about it for awhile and came up with a somewhat synonymous handle of TINKERTOY. I was surprised that on some sites Tinkertoy was taken and so I started using primarily Tinkertoy2000. Tinkertoy was officially inaugurated in February 2000 when, at my daughter’s suggestion, I registered on some internet dating sites. I became TINKERTOY2000 on Match.com, Blackplanet.com and several other sites. One of the first things that I learned about the internet was protect your identify. I made the mistake, only once, of giving my full name to someone with whom I had been emailing on one of the web sites. A few days later this person called my house to invite me to dinner. Mind you, this was not someone whom I really knew. And for sure not someone I would give my phone number to. Then I discovered for myself, and from Saraphen whom I had just met, that you can “look up” just about anyone on the internet if you have just some basic information about them. I did it a couple times myself. In both cases I had just a portion of a name and a city and an email address. Using those I was able to not only find where the persons lived, but also print a map with directions directly to their house. So all of you beware that this is still possible, maybe even more so now. From that day forward I always register with my PSEUDONYM and only use my real name on official business cites like my bank, or if I am ordering something using a credit card. But that's the full story and I am sticking with it.

My Online Friends

MY ONLINE FRIENDS AND WHY

When I was a kid growing up I never had many friends. I was used to being alone because I was an only child up until I was a teenager and my sister and brothers came along. I had 3 or 4 friends on my street (well actually it was a dirt road) down in Mississippi; George, Ray, Andrew, and Carl Jr. Then when I moved to DC back in the 1950's I never had many friends there either, in part because we moved several times. I was shy and didn’t make friends easy and I remember that when we moved from one neighborhood to another I would cry a bit because I missed the friends I had made at school and in the neighborhood. The one exception to that was when we moved after I had met my best friend Ernest, whom I blogged about a few months ago. That’s because we have kept in touch to this day.

And I never was one to join organizations and make friends. I just continued to be pretty much a loner in high school and in college. I did a few things but never joined a fraternity and made no lasting friendships in college. I have no high school or college friends whom I am in touch with now. My circle of friends, other than those on the internet, includes all of about five people. Then along came the internet and my world changed. Like many of you I started my online odyssey on the Blackplanet web site. Then I migrated through Black Voices, Ebony Voices, Urban Dour, Yahoo360, and finally now Facebook. Now the great thing about the internet is even though I moved from Maryland to North Carolina I have retained as friends a lot of the great people I have met online. Some of my internet friends I have known from previous web sites about eight or nine years. Many of my online friends I have known so long that I have forgotten which web site I met them on. And that does not matter as the important thing is that after all of the years we are still friends.

Our meet & greet in Kansas City

One of the great things about meeting people online is you get to know them and they get to know you without leaving your home. But the bonus for me is when I get to meet them in person. Its kinda like seeing a long lost friend for the first time in years. Or like meeting a relative that you didn’t know that you had. It puts a more personal touch on that person’s face and page on the internet. You feel closer and more connected to them because that’s someone you spoke to face to face and shook a hand and/or with hugged.

When I periodically clean my friends’ list of people who don’t communicate with me there are three categories of people who get to stay. First are those who communicate with me on at least an occasional basis. Then those who are family regardless of whether we communicate. And finally, those whom I have personally met always get a pass because they are to me just like family. It does not matter to me for the people in that group how much, or little, we communicate. They are special friends.

Some of you know about the many meet and greet affairs that have been held around the country. They were first called Blackplanet Meet & Greets because when they started most people who attended had a web page on Blackplanet. Now they are just called Meet and Greets. And they are not for hookups or match making; they are just ways to meet your online friends in a nice non-threatening and pressure free environment. Some men come alone and/or with other male friends. Some women come alone and/or with other women friends. A few couples come also. However, there tend to be more women attending than men. And that’s an issue that we wish we knew the answer to; why men will not attend the gatherings the same as women will. Its not like the events are costly because there are no ticket sales and the venues are usually places where at most there may be a small cover charge for admission. And, most importantly, there is no obligation to buy drinks for yourself or anyone else. All you have to do is come and have fun, dance if you want to or just sit and talk, laugh and have a great time. And while the affairs tend to draw the age 30 and over people, there is generally a variety of music played at the venues selected, especially the latest line dances like the "Wobble". We Wobbled in KC; at least some did and other watched like I did.

Some have proposed reasons why more women attend than men. And its usually a discussion of why the guys don’t show up. One recent post about the subject proposed that some guys don’t show because they have been “hitting on” one or more (and likely the more) of the women who will be there and they don’t want to be “busted”. There is probably some truth to that for some. Now I don’t believe its because they are cheap or strapped for funds because as I said the is really little or no cost to attend. I think some of it is related to men having an aversion to meeting other men online. I will not mention a name but I remember having one guy reply to me when I sent a friend request that he was a straight person and not gay. Back in my time on Yahoo360 I remember that I would often have male friends who posted regularly on the pages of women but rarely if ever said a word to me. It was as though they only wanted to be friends with the women. Now I have no problem with being friends with the women but friendships with the guys can be great also.

In the beginning when we met someone on the internet we would more than likely know them only by a screen name, like Tinkertoy. But it is through the meet and greets that we really get to know people and their real names. And that’s one of the joys of the meet and greets, learning more about your friends by sitting around just chatting. There are some great guys that I have met face to face as a result of online friendships are.

I must mention first my friend Donny, who along with a couple other people, started the Blackplanet Meet & Greets. And Donny has done a great job of promoting internet friendships with the meet & greets and also by making the trips to wherever the events have been held around the country. Another person who is doing a great job of promoting internet friendships is Sam. He is a member of a group called The Inner Circle which produces affairs all year long. But Sam is also a huge supporter of the meet and greets, travels to many of them along the east coast.

I think I first met Naquam on Urbandour. We didn’t meet Terrence ... aka Naquam, at a meet & greet but through an arranged meeting place in Los Angeles. We were traveling through LA and just asked whether we would be near where we could all meet face to face, have lunch and chat a while, and he said yes. Naquam is a great guy and a talker who has lots of great stories to tell about his life. I think I met TDubs on Urbandour also. We also met Lamar ... aka ... Tdubs at the same time and place as we met Naquam. We learned a little bit about his occupation and also that he plays a bass in a band; he’s a real music lover.

I think I first met Howard, ..aka, BDCC, BigdaddyCC, on UrbanDour.. And then again on Yahoo360 with the link to his personal web site. My all time favorite of his blogs is the one about the Gopher Wood and Noah’s Ark. It was great to finally meet this prolific writer at a meet and greet in Atlanta, Ga. He’s really different in person from the writer you read online. We first met Robert ....aka .... RBC at a Blackplanet meet & greet 7 or 8 years ago. Discovered that we are both graduates of the same college. As I recall I first met Harold, ... aka ... Hoss: online on Yahoo360. But it was great to see him in person when we had a brief stopover in Chicago. When you see him in person you know why the name Hoss is very appropriate. I just met Kevin on Facebook and after a little chatting concluded that we are related somewhere on the family tree. We had the pleasure of meeting him in person just a few months ago in Las Vegas.

Now there are other guys I met and/or have been communicating with online for a while whom I hope one day to meet in person. People who have been friends online for years like Darrin, Carlos, Tucker, Gene, Mike ... aka ... Magic Mike, and Shelly ..aka ... Solemann King. My point of this rambling piece is that the internet is a great place to meet friends and a personal meeting at a meet & greet, or even one you arrange yourself, is a great way to solidify friendships. And I purposely mentioned only the guys I have met to show that there is benefit in meeting the guys and no reason to be afraid to have male friends. When we see each other we give a hug just like family.

We met these friends in Atlanta; they came from NJ, Texas and Maryland

We met these friends in Las Vegas ... knew them from the Blackplanet site.




Enjoying our friends in Wilmington Delaware at a new years gala




Met these friends in Chicago on our way back home from a train trip

Met this great guy in Los Angeles; he drove about 50 miles to meet and have lunch with us.

My Rice Family Tree

My Rice Family Tree


It was about a year or so ago, August, 2009, when I wrote a blog about my Weathersby family. You can read that Facebook note at this link: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=137074478768 . Now I want to talk a little about the other side of my family tree, the side that I actually grew up thinking I knew about but later found out I didn't.

I was named after my favorite uncle, my mom's brother Edgar. I guess its appropriate since he's my role model. I could write a very long blog about why this is. Then my parents gave me the family name as a middle name, Rice. And my dad's family name is Weathersby. So that was my given name that I had to live with, like it or not. I was always at the end of the roll call in school and most of the kids couldn't pronounce my name properly.

As a youngster I got a lot of teasing because my first and middle names are the same as the author of the Tarzan stories, Edgar Rice Boroughs. He wrote the Tarzan stories and back in the 1940's and 50's there were a bunch of Tarzan comics and movies that made that name well known. Since I was named after my uncle, all of my family members called me by my first AND middle name, Edgar Rice, all of the time. That was to distinguish me from my uncle; so family member would know which Edgar they were talking about.

I lived in a small town in Mississippi, down in the country as many would say. And it was common in the south for people to be called by both their first and middle names. So you might hear Lillie Mae, or Bobbie Joe, or Clara Lee about any time. But I really didn't like being known as and called Edgar Rice because I thought it was "country". But to this day most of my cousins still call me Edgar Rice. Now my younger brother tagged me with an entirely different handle when he was about 10 years old, "Eggs and Rice". And to this day he still calls me Eggs. Even Sarah has now started calling me Edgar Rice.

So where did this Rice name come from? Well this is my great grandfather on my mother's side of the family.

FRANK C RICE Sr. This photo was posted by the front door in the "front room". (Some of you may remember what room that was) of our house in West Point; this is the house as it looked the last couple times I saw it, still standing after about 80 years.
I also lived for a while in this house
which was the church house, parsonage, for my grandfather's Presbyterian church. Frank Rice Sr was a former slave who, records show, was born in Alabama. He was married to Alice Jack in 1878 and they had 14 children. The only known photo of Alice is this very small one that does not reveal her features.

Growing up I knew there were some people called the "Jacks" that my family would visit and/or talk about but I really didn't know who they were relationship-wise. Some of these relatives even lived a few houses from where we lived and I heard full names called but I still didn't know who they were.

******* I need to digress for a minute. First, it has been speculated that since Frank Rice Sr was born in Alabama there could possibly be some relationship way down the line to the family of Condelessa Rice which is also from Alabama. All of my relative categorically disavow any relationship there. .. LOL On the other hand, we are very willing to claim the great football player, Jerry Rice, if there is a connection. ... Second, many of you remember our late friend from Yahoo360 and Facebook, Jacqueline Jack. When she and I first because acquainted and I learned that her last name was Jack we discussed the possibility of a family tree relationship. We even sent each other copies of family tree information that we had available. I have been to only one Jack's reunion, in the year 2000, and don't know them at all, except Artley Jack who still lives in West Point. So as a consequence of looking at our respective family trees Jackie and I then started calling each other "cous" because it was/is a remote possibility. She passed away a couple years ago and I do truly miss her, my cous. *******

So I grew up knowing Frank Rice Sr from his photo, all the while thinking he looked just like Santa Claus. And I knew only 6 of his 14 children; and only 4 of them really well. Grandpa Rice had 80-some acres of land in/near West Point that remained in the family until recently. Its my understanding that it was given up for back taxes because none of his descendants was interested enough in it to take over responsibility for it and use it. But back when I was a kid I visited the property many times and saw a few relatives there. The wood frame house that was on the property has long since fallen down and these days you cannot even see where a house may have been.

It was not until the year 2000 when I and my relatives started planning a family reunion that I learned how little I know of my Rice family. My uncle Edgar gave me a listing of the names of all of Grandpa Rice's children and my aunt Velma gave me copies of pages from her mother's family bible which contained names, dates of birth and death, and dates of marriage, along with a few other significant dates.

Its a blessing that someone took the time to record and keep these records.

So we produced a reunion booklet with all of the names and available photos

. I grew up knowing my grandmother Minerva and her sisters Minnie, Ola,
and Mary (not pictured). I lived with my grandmother and grand father for several years
up until my grandfather died in 1953. So I knew Minerva very well. She had a nickname for me, Little Beaver. I think she got that from an old comic book character, Red Ryder, who had a young boy sidekick called Little Beaver.

I remember Aunt Mary also because she lived across town from us; actually about a mile or so away across the cow pasture that was across the highway from my grandparent's house. She was a seamstress and had one of them dress forms in the front room of her house. And she was good at making doilies and had a bunch of them all starched and spread over the tables and arms of the chairs. (You young folks don't know a thing about such). Aunt Mary had one son, Thaddeus, and he had four sons, James, Pat, Percy, and Victor, and a daughter Joyce, who all lived on the other side of town and I occasionally had a chance to visit and play with them. They were the cousins I knew best because all of my other first cousins lived other places around the country. Pat and Percy are twins and to this day I cannot tell them apart. I loved visiting them because they were always into some "devilment", which for young boys was really fun. They both attended Jackson State University majoring in music and became music teachers.

I also knew Aunt Ola very well as she and Uncle Hal lived "out in the country" not too far from the Rice property. I loved to go out there also because they had a swing in the front yard. Mom told me recently that they had a school and also a small store, kinda like a 7-11 with a few supplies so neighbors didn't have to go all the way to town for things. And it seemed like every time we went out there they made a five gallon size batch of home made ice cream. Well if it wasn't five gallon it was a huge hand crank ice cream freezer and everyone had a turn at cranking it. I also knew Aunt Ola after she moved to DC and will always recall her very fondly because she was always very jovial.

She lived to the age of 100 and although she was very ill then the family had a birthday party for her.
I also know many of my relatives on Aunt Ola's branch of the family tree and have actually met many of them.
But there are a lot whom I have never met.

I didn't really meet Aunt Minnie until I moved to DC in the 1950's and always remember that she lived on French Street NW with her husband. Funny thing was I didn't find out until the 2000 reunion that his name was really Uncle Led; I thought it was Uncle Ed. He was blind from a job related accident I am told and had to scoot around on the floor as he lost the use of his legs after he went blind. Even though Aunt Minnie's kids lived in DC, I got to know only Roscoe and never met any of my cousins on this branch of the tree.



Now I remember meeting Avant, who was called Uncle Chub, but I don't recall every meeting uncle Frank Jr. Uncle Chub was rather rotund when I met him and never had much to say when we visited the Rice property. So from the 1950's until the reunion in 2000 those were all of the Rice relatives that I ever knew. I think I may have met Aunt Josephine but I don't really remember her.

When my Uncle Edgar told me to be sure to send all of the reunion information to his cousin Ed Rice Sr. in Chicago, I was shocked to learn that there was more family that I didn't know about. Now it was not like it was being kept from me or anyone else, the other family members were just never talked about. Or if they were talked about I didn't know who they were talking about and how we were related.

In preparation for the reunion Ed Rice Sr and I talked on the phone a couple times and he eventually sent me a copy of the Rice family tree that he had been keeping on his computer. He also sent me a few photos of his branch of the family.

The one interesting thing that I learned was that my grandmother Minerva had six kids, five girls and one boy, while her brother Frank had four kids, one girl and four boys. I know very well all of my mom's sisters and brother, pictured in the center of this collage.

And I know and have met all of my first cousins, their kids. But I have never met any of Uncle Frank's children. I did have those phone conversation with Ed Rice Sr and met his son Ed Rice Jr at the reunion.

Thus in the year 2000 I met for the first time Rice family that I did not previously know. And now as a result of Facebook connections I am meeting more of my Rice family, like cousins Jon and Joe Rice, and Aaron Rice. The problem that I still have is trying to keep straight in my mind who is who's kid. That's why I keep a printed copy of the family tree handy. And one of the regrets that I have in looking at the family tree is knowing that several of my grandmother's sisters and brothers passed away in the 1960's when I was almost 20 years old. I wish that I had had the interest back then to talk with them before they died, especially Aunt Mary who I knew pretty well. But I guess I was like most young people, no interest in the family tree until its too late to have a conversation with family.

Keeping a family tree is not a lot of work even though adjustments are always necessary, people pass away and babies are born. What I have found is that there is very little interest on the part of family members in keeping the family tree up to date. A few years ago I asked family if anyone wanted to take over the project from me and had no takers. The sad thing also is its very very difficult to get some family members to even give up the information about their branch of the tree so that the existing parts of the family tree can be completed for once. I have asked some of my family members over and over and their reply is "OK I'll send you the information", but they never do. And all I want is dates of birth and, if applicable death, and names and dates of birth of children. That's easy information to assemble and get to me, especially by computer. But I am thankful for what I have and hope that some day a family member will step forward and say, let me do that and keep it up. I am just about the oldest of my generation on the family tree and hope that someone from the next youngest generation will step forward. With what I have assembled already going forward will be much easier than it was up to this point.

And finally, the one good thing is I have more than 35 of my Rice relatives on Facebook and both of my kids and all of my grand-kids. And I hope that they all read this and that some of them learn something new from it.

More Christmas Staff

More Christmas Stuff

Cooking for Christmas ... Ambrosia

Back when I was a kid living with my grand father he would make Ambrosia every Christmas. Somehow he would get a basket of fresh grapefruit and oranges from someone in Florida. And he would make ambrosia. His recipe was simple and the one that I follow;

- Orange sections

- Pineapple chunks, tidbits, or crushed

- Coconut, about a cup shredded

- Raisins, about a hand full

Mix it and chill it

Ambrosia

Some of you may have seen an Ambrosia recipe that does not include the raisins and I have seen people make it and mix it into cool whip, and even use fruit cocktail along with or instead of the oranges. But this recipe I like the best. Eat it for breakfast, lunch or after dinner.

Sarah bought me a new hat for Christmas so I decided to show it off along with some of my Christmas toys.

My new Christmas cap, courtesy of Sarah

You can see the animated version of the hat on Sarah's profile page.

Some more of my toys for Christmas that Santa brought me last time

My Elmo's and Hess trucks

I was just thinking today that I really miss the old days on Blackplanet before they made all of the changes.

My BP cap, bet not many people still have one of these

before they made all of the changes. By the way Blackplanet has a new page format coming out soon; they are showing previews of it now and it looks a lot like the Facebook page ....LOL Anyway, way back when I first started on Blackplanet one of the things I loved was posting guestbooks for holidays. And I had a bunch of tailor made posts for each holiday. At Christmas time I would post every one of the people in my guestbook and on my friend's list with a holiday greeting. Something maybe like this:

I had some really fancy ones with lights flashing and scrolling lettering

This would be animated
a sparkling wreath

That was back when you needed to know how to do some HTML stuff and it was fun. Now days most people don't even know what HTML means..

anyway ..... MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!

I Love Christmas

I LOVE CHRISTMAS !!


Our downstairs live tree


I guess I love Christmas so much because I was born exactly six months before Christmas, June 25th. I actually remember my first Christmas, somewhat. What???? , you don't believe I can remember an event when I was six months old. Well I do,.... er.. or maybe I was 18 months old. You were not there so you don't know and better than I do ... LOL. But anyway what I remember was my/our first Christmas tree. It was about the prettiest thing I had ever seen and it kinda mesmerized me. I remember that it was about 3 feet tall and since it was in the bedroom it may have been on a dresser instead of the floor. It had one string of pretty multicolored C-7 lights; the kinds with the type bulb you now have in nightlights. It had one box of shiny very fragile glass globes. And the thing that made it so pretty to me was the angel hair. It had angel hair all over it and that made the lights sparkle even more. It was kinda dreamy. And I remember my parents telling me not to touch the angel hair. After all it was really just white fiberglass and it would cut you up pretty good. And if you got it in your clothes or bed it would make you itch pretty good. And yes I did touch it.

The next Christmas that I remember was when I was about 6 or 7 years old. About that time I was staying with my grandparents in West Point.

Downtown West Point, Ms .. Commerce Street
 And at Christmas time the town had a Christmas parade with a Santa riding on the town firetruck. There was also a clown who to me was kinda scary but he was the one throwing candy to everyone gathered watching the parade. The town shopping area was only 3 blocks, shaped like an "L" and they always had decorations on each light pole and lights strung across the street between the poles. One department store, "Pryors", always had Christmas decorations in the window. It was great just to ride through town during the Christmas season while the decorations were up.

Back then most kids, like me, loved cowboy movies and we would go to the "picture show" (cost a whole $.10) and see serials of westerns like The Cisco Kid, Whip Wilson, Lash LaRue, Hoot Gibson and other cowboys. When you went to the show they would show maybe two 15 minute serials and the second one would end with things not settled and you had to come back next week to find out what happened. That was in addition to a cartoon or two and a newsreel. Then you would have to come back the next week to see a couple more serials. So anyway with westerns so popular of course I wanted to be a cowboy and have a cowboy outfit. My grandparents would get a Sears and Roebuck catalog in the mail and I would get it and look though it at the toys but spend more time looking at the cowboy outfits. I wanted a cowboy hat, a shirt with them frilly things hanging on the front and sleeves, some jeans, boots, and two cap guns in holsters, plus a Winchester cap rifle. So every year I would look and drool but never got all that. Then one Christmas I did get the two gun holster and rifle, and some caps. (Ya'll do remember what a cap pistol and cap rolls are/were??) I remember getting up Christmas morning and finding that and I think I put clothes on, but I do know I went out on the front porch, filled all the guns with caps, and blasted away. I blasted the whole roll in both cap guns and then in the rifle and was left standing there in a big cloud of smoke. LOL Then I think that's when they yanked me back inside. So I have a couple of good memories of my early childhood Christmases.

When I moved to DC in the early 1950's each Christmas we always had a Christmas tree and I maybe got a couple things. But Christmas was not a time to remember because I rarely got what I wanted. Dad was not big on Christmas and didn't want to spend any money on it. Mom would make sure that I got some clothes, maybe a new pair of shoes and/or a coat. But that was about it. I remember one year I wanted a new bike and dad waited until Christmas eve and we went together to someone's house who had placed an ad in the newspaper and had a bike for sale for $10.00. That was my bike for Christmas, a used bike. Then about 6 months later somebody stole the bike; we lived across the street from the projects. Even then I really didn't know we was poor. I loved going to my cousins house on/after Christmas because he always got all of the great new toys for Christmas. A bunch of years went by and while we did have a Christmas tree each year there was nothing special to remember about any of them. A few years later after we had moved from the ghetto I did get a new bike for Christmas. But Christmases were not memorable or special.

When I got married and my kids came along I always made sure that they had great Christmases (ask them).

Tammi on her trike and Mike in his car
I tried my best to do things exactly the opposite of how my dad did them. I tried my best to get whatever they wanted and make surprises for them like hiding the toys at a neighbor's house until they were in bed on Christmas eve. One year after we moved into our first house we got them a puppy for Christmas, and named him Chris.
Tammi and the surprise dog for Christmas, Chris

When we got our first house in 1972 was when I first tried my hand at outside decorations. We had a Christmas tree up inside and was looking at my neighbors' houses and decided I am gonna do that too. So I bought one string of outdoor lights, about 100 lights on the string. I wrapped the string around an evergreen tree by the front door of the house and plugged them in. They looked good too. So then that evening when it was time to go to bed I went to turn the outside lights off and they were off already. So I opened the door and got a shock. Somebody had stolen my string of lights!!!!!!

Christmases with the kids were great for me as well because I loved getting them the "stuff" they wanted and making surprises for Christmas mornings. I don't recall anything I or we did that was outstanding other than have good Christmases and go visit relatives for a while on Christmas day. Of course the kids wanted to get back home to play with toys.

Years later, after my divorce and when I met my late wife Donna was when I really began to enjoy Christmases the most. In years past it had been about making the kids happy. But then I began to enjoy the spirit of Christmas. Donna had a big family and at Christmas time the tradition was for all or most family members to meet at her aunt's house. "Aunt Goo" and "Uncle Joe" had a small Cape Cod style house. It was close inside when everyone got there but it was still fun and cozy. The family Christmas gathering was not so much about decorating and exchanging presents as about family being together. Yes the house was decorated modestly inside and out and yes there were presents exchanged. But what we did was wait for everyone to get there and then after dinner was when all of the presents would then be exchanged and opened. So everyone got to enjoy everyone else's present. And Uncle Joe would take a few of the guys down to the cellar and open a jug of his home brew for us all to have a cup.

I guess it was about the early 1990's when Aunt Goo and Uncle Joe had passed on and Donna suggested that we have the family Christmas gathering at our house.

Me and my Christmas tree in 1985
I was all for that because our house was larger and then we could invite my family as well as her family.
the decorated tree with all of the presents
I had been doing a tree for Christmas and putting up a few decorations outside.
house decorated outside before I really started decorating
So the next year I decided to do more outside decorating and so bought a nativity scene.
my house in Maryland with the nativity scene
Then I started paying attention to all of the decorations in stores and what I could buy to add to the nativity. That's when things took off. I bought a bunch more nativity stuff and when the internet came along I found I could order stuff from companies that specialized in outside Christmas decorations. Our house had a bow window so I found some animated Christmas decorations: Santa, Mrs Santa, Angels and a Snowman.
the bow window with animated decorations
Fortunately back in the early 1990's they had these available in Black also.

Animated Santa and Mrs Santa
Animated Angel

When I started doing the outside decorations I really didn't know what I was doing and one year almost set the house on fire when I had too many strings of lights on one extension cord. I had three strings of outdoor lights attached to an indoor extension cord that was laying on some leaves next to the house. One of my neighbors was walking by and rang the doorbell to tell me a fire was starting next to the house. I got that put out with no damage, except to the extension cord which was ruined. Then was when I decided I needed some more juice. So I got an electrician to run me two 20 AMP circuit outside lines just for Christmas lights. Then I as on my way.

All Christmas season I would browse the stores looking for new and/or bargain priced Christmas decorations. Our house was on a corner lot so I had the house and the equivalent of two yards to fill up. And that's just what I did; enjoying it all the way. I can't remember where I got all of the stuff but I bought two more camels, a Shepard and Shepard boy, and angels for the nativity scene. Then I bought a Santa in a sleigh and three reindeer that I hung over the roof. I bought icicle lights and found rope lights for all of the windows and at one point had also curtain style icicle lights for the windows. I had a snow man and snow woman and a North Pole sign.

my house in Maryland with the North pole decorations
my house in Maryland with the North pole decorations
Decorations with Santa sleigh on the roof

Then I found an igloo with a penguin and then bought two more penguins for the North Pole. Since I was on a corner lot I had bushes and trees and I filled all of them with net lighting. Our neighborhood was an incorporated city and the city government had a house decorating contest every year. One of my neighbors about a block away had won a couple years in a row and I decided to challenge him. So I upped the ante with more decorations. A year later I did win the decorating contest and got as a prize a really nice crystal platter with a nativity scene in it.

We continued to have great family gatherings every year that made Christmas really special. Donna and I would go shopping every year on "Black Friday". We would head out early and have breakfast somewhere and hit the mall as soon as it opened. By about noon or 1:00 PM were were done. I would buy things for her, my parents and kids, and grand-kids. She would but things for me, her mom, brothers and sister. And we would buy a few things together for aunts and uncles. We didn't buy expensive things but just something to express our love. Then a few days later we would start wrapping presents. I really loved making presents pretty with ribbon and bows. I would sit on the floor in the family room for several hours wrapping while I watched TV. And we would end up with a big pile of presents under our tree, all for other people. Looking back, those were the best Christmases ever.

Christmas tree another year

My tree with all Christmas bows

The shopping, wrapping, and decorating along with the family gathering and great food made every Christmas special.

Then after Donna died I tried to keep my spirits up by continuing to make Christmas special. I remember her sister encouraging me to still have the Christmas family gathering and decorate the house. And that first year after Donna died was a good Christmas because I planned to have all of the family over. Since Donna was gone I took my mom shopping for Christmas. She was most interested in buying gifts for her grand-kids and I always paid for it all. I would wrap all of the presents and take her's to her house. I made dinner for all and continued to decorate the house to the max.

me and mom at Christmas

We had great family gatherings and even had my mom's sister and her family from Kentucky and my dad's sister from Arkansas for one Christmas.

Christmas at my house with my dad's sister and my mom's sister and Donna's mom
Ready to eat

When I met Sarah and she came for her first visit at Christmas she was flabbergast at all of the decorations. She called her brother and her son to come see. ....LOL. Then I went to visit Sarah in North Carolina and saw she had a Christmas tree up and a few small decorations inside, I said no, we gotta do better than this. So while she was out one day I went to the store and got some outside decorations for the front of her house. She didn't have a lot of space so it was not that much, just an improvement.

When Sarah and I were married and moved into our house we of course had a lot to decorate. It took me a couple years but I have managed to fill it up with decorations. Now I had a problem with outside decorations since we don't have much front yard, at least compared to my house in Maryland. So I gave my youngest daughter a bunch of stuff and kept basically all of the Nativity scene and the window rope lights ans stuff. Then I found out that my daughter was not even using what I gave her so I asked her to bring it to me the next time she came. That's how I now have the North Pole stuff and the toy soldiers.

Christmas house decorations in Raleigh in 2003
Our first tree together
Decorations in 2004

I think it was the second year in our new house that I "fired up the cul-d-sac" with every light I had. First I got an electrician to install two 20 AMP breakers for outside lights so I could go all the way. Sarah teased me that people could see lights from our house from the highway a mile away. But Christmas is MY time of the year. I kinda miss buying all of the presents and going shopping but now my shopping list is really small, Sarah and mom. But I can still decorate, mostly inside. I don't want to go up the ladder too far any more; getting too old for that. So I decorate the first floor of the house. Back about 10 years ago I bought one of those fiber optic lighted trees that was popular back then and that's the one that I have in the bedroom. I love to enjoy my easy chair with the tree lighted.

my fiber optic tree in the bedroom

Back when I first met Sarah I had the first version of Elmo that had just come out. Then I found out Sarah had one too. Then when the next version came out I bought it also. And when the last version came out where Elmo falls all over the floor laughing I bought two of those. So now we have 7 Elmo's. Sarah knows I like toys for Christmas so she bought me my first Hess truck (actually my second one because the first one my grand-kids wore out playing with it). So every year I get the new Hess truck from Santa. When i met Sarah I had a couple Cabbage Patch dolls also, actually they belonged to Donna. And then I found out Sarah had a couple too. So now we have 4 or 5 cabbage patch kids that we put under the Christmas tree every year along with the Elmo's and Hess trucks. And I am happy about all of that because I am still just a big kid who loves Christmas.