Archive for the ‘ Family ’ Category


It’s funny, not ha ha funny, but odd funny, how a simple thing like a trip to the post office can bring back a flood of memories.

Christmas has changed.

OK, I know, not really.  Christmas is and will always be Christmas; the celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I get that, I know that, I’m good.

But Christmas is different every year.

I was reminded on Saturday while mailing small boxes to six different addresses how at one time, and for a long time.  I sent one box.  And I sent it to one address.

Mom’s.  Everyone came to Mom’s for Christmas.



This is our third Christmas without mom and our seventh without dad.

It’s hard to believe, but standing in line at the Lilburn, GA post office I was slapped in the face with the fact that things have changed.

As a kid, I looked forward to what I’d get.  Sure, sure there was a big meal, but there was always a big meal at our house; Mom made sure there was something on the table that everyone could eat.  So Christmas dinner, though it may contain turkey, ham, and dressing, was little different than any other meal.  There was always plenty.

Mom used to say, “We have Christmas all year long.”  I was an adult before I realized that we had plenty; plenty of food, plenty of clothes, plenty of toys, and plenty of love.

She was right.

As a young single adult, Christmas changed from what I got to what I could do for my first niece and my first nephew, Amy and Charles.

When I got married, it was what I could do for TLW.

When the kids came along, it was the joy and excitement in their eyes.

And now that they are adults, it’s just about the season and getting to see them.

We still have plenty.  We still have presents. We still have joy and excitement.

And we still have Jesus.

Yes, we have plenty.

Old Blue Eyes

My son turns 29 today.  He hates it when I talk about him on the blog.

But, too bad – and he never reads it anyway – Happy Birthday Donovan, I love you.

He not only shares blue eyes with Sinatra, he shares a birthday with him as well.

Frank would be 102 today.

Quite frankly, no pun intended, Sinatra never goes out of style!

Here are some of his many keepers…


My great-grandfather, John Alexander Brads was a private in the Confederate Army.  One of thousands of bounty soldiers, he was inducted for a $50 bounty into the Rebel band taking the place of a rich man.

Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.

John Alexander and Mary Elizabeth Campbell Brads

One of Jackson’s foot soldiers, he was wounded and captured at Harrisonburg, Virginia after the battle of Good’s Farm and during the Battle of Harrisonburg.

Wounded and captured in a battle his army won, he spent 18 months as a Union Prisoner of war, was released in a prisoner exchange and came home with a wounded and gangrenous shoulder.

His mother put maggots in the wound to eat the decaying flesh.

I doubt that Great-Grandpa cared a whit about states’ rights, agrarian v industrial societies, or slavery; the family wasn’t wealthy, owned little, and the only land deeded to anyone with our surname at the time was the property of distant relatives;  a mere 22 acres.

He was a working man, a subsistence farmer.

When my great-grandfather was a child his own dad died while they were living in Ohio.  His mother walked with her two children from the Buckeye State’s Greene County to Rockbridge County Virginia.  She came home with little more than her children.

There was a Bible of course.

She came home because war clouds were gathering and her family in Virginia was her main hope of survival.

Great-Grandpa died in 1913, some eight years before my father was born and nearly forty before I came along.

I didn’t know him, I only knew of him.

There were no great war stories to tell, there was no telling of the lost cause, there were no tales of bravery and courage.  He was just a poor man fighting because an army had invaded his homeland and he was called.

Like many before and millions after him, he went when called, true to his state and his nation.

The fact the cause was not as noble as we’ve been led to believe does not belie the fact that he was a patriot even though he was a rebel.

He fought because he had to; I can’t condemn him for that.

Great-Grandpa came home to Kerrs Creek, Virginia, took the oath, became a Republican, followed Lee’s advice and claimed the United States as his country.

There’s no statue, there’s no plaque to remind us, there’s no Confederate Battle Standard tucked away in a drawer.

But as my ancestor, his picture remains.  It reminds me that I came from a line of principled men who fought for what they believed, realized when they’d been defeated, and cherished the fact that they survived to tell the story.

His picture will remain, my Confederate Great-Grandfather; he is the Confederate Soldier on my wall.

Front row, 6th from the right, under the window. Reunion of Confederate Soldiers in Lexington, VA 1900 or 1901. They are standing in front of the Court House; the picture was taken from the steps of the Stonewall Jackson House.

Back Street

Susan Hayward would have turned 100 today.

She died at the age of 57 after developing brain cancer.  Most likely, Hayward was another victim of radioactive poisoning from the movie set of The Conqueror, which was filmed in St. George, Utah a former atomic test site.

There were 220 people on the set, 91 would develop cancer of one sort or another, and 46 had already died from the disease by 1980.

The deaths included Agnes Moorehead, John Wayne, and Dick Powell.

Hayward isn’t remembered for the way she died, she’s remembered for her films.

Moving to Hollywood in 1937 to land the role of Scarlett O’Hara (she didn’t), the girl who would eventually live on a large farm in Georgia, started her career as a model, and quickly found bit parts in films throughout WW II.

After the war, she was “discovered” by Walter Wagner and signed a seven year contract.

Wagner, apparently a visionary, paid her, a veritable unknown, $100,000 a year.

In 1947, she received the first of five Academy Award nominations when she played an alcoholic nightclub singer in Smash UP, the Story of a Woman.

She went on to become one of the public’s favorite leading ladies, delighting audiences by portraying Rachel Jackson in The President’s Lady,  another boozer in I’ll Cry Tomorrow, and a California murderer, Barbara Graham, in I Want To Live.

She won her only Oscar for that one.

But my favorite and one that gets little attention is Back Street, a lavish Ross Hunter re-make of an earlier film.

No one played the role of the “other woman” like Susan Hayward, and Rae of  Back Street was an “other woman” role like no other!

Back Street is one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite memories.  My sister, Zola, and I would stay UP late, lie in front of the black and white swivel bottom TV, get as close as we could get,  turn the sound low to keep from waking the house, and watch Back Street.

Mother of course, would come out and tell us to get to bed; quite frankly, I think I was an adult before I saw the end of the film.

Melodrama at its best, Back Street is the story of a wealthy department store heir’s love affair with a small town dress shop owner.  The dress shop owner dumps him when she finds out he’s married.

Of course, she runs to New York, becomes a fashion designer, moves to Rome and becomes the brains behind a salon and becomes an even more famous designer.

The heir pursues her, telling her his lush of a wife won’t give him a divorce, pledging his love yadda, yadda, yadda.

Of course, she caves, they become lovers, things happen, the wife shows UP, Chautauqua hits the fan…you know the drill.

I won’t spoil the end, but it’s one of Old Hollywood’s classiest.

Check it out, make a new memory.

Hey, it’s gonna be hot this weekend, and you need something to do.