The Aboyne Highland Games- CAVE ADSUM!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

I’m off on my Scottish high horse yet again, today, to sell my books… and on this blog. This time I’m manning a stall at the famed Aboyne Highland Games, a large event by many local standards. Recently on this blog, I seem to always be posting about historical events or historical references. Today continues in that vein as my trip is to another place that’s steeped in tradition.

The latin motto- CAVE ADSUM doesn’t refer to the latin motto of the Aboyne Highland Games but it IS the motto of the JARDINE clan and means ‘Beware I come…or …Beware I am here!’ Guess they better watch out for me.  🙂

Aboyne games

The Aboyne Games are part of the Scottish Highland Games Association and the Grampian Games Association. Though not the largest Highland Games Event even in Scotland, the Aboyne Games has a long tradition of being an excellent, fun day out. When you read to the end of this post, you’ll maybe realise that the Aboyne Games are also very important on the highland dance circuit for specific reasons!

The Aboyne Highland Games are a very different sort of gathering from last week where I attended the Banchory Show which is primarily a large gathering for showcasing farming stock. The tradition of the highland games features people rather than animals and this year there are hundreds of events on the Aboyne Games programme. The visitor can watch live competitions of strength in the heavy events; competitions for individual pipers and pipe bands; competitions for highland dancing; track event competitions and competitions for fiddlers. It will be a noisy and exciting area to be in – of that I’m sure because I’ve attended as a tourist myself. The list here of events is a long one…

The Highland Games of Scotland are replicated world wide and for many people visiting those far flung games, it may be the only image they retain of Scotland. Yet, in a weird way, those highland games in places like Canada and the United States may have had games going on almost as long as similar ones in Scotland. 

7570452_sHow can that be? You may well ask and the detail of the answer is in the history.

What led to the establishing of these highland games, the ones we recognise today? The history is fascinating for someone like me who is super proud of my Scottish heritage, yet being history it also gets pretty detailed. On my own blog I’ve gone into the reasons in more detail and you can read that HERE.

The shorter version is that highland games, of one sort or another, have been going on since Celtic times when the chief organised a gathering of Celts to show off his own tribal champion and to emphasise the prowess of his warriors. Later, similar gatherings were made – Clan pitted against Clan – to show off how successfully warlike they were. The notion of any friendly/ sporting reasons for the Clan gatherings don’t seem to appear in history before King Malcolm III (1058-1093).

James VI
James VI of Scotland – Wikimedia Commons

Various political and religious reasons from 1603 onwards made the gatherings problematic- since any get-togethers which included weaponry could have been for seditious purposes. By 1603, the Union of the Crowns of Scotland and England (Wales included) took place. This meant the countries were reigned over by James VI– the Scottish Stuart king who became James I of England. During the years to follow, the Clan system was divided as they chose to support the catholic Stuarts or the protestant factions. Any gatherings tended then to be warlike, probably with little sportsmanship involved!

The history of the Aboyne Highland Games gets interesting by 1703 – a few years before the Scottish and English Parliaments were united (1707).

In 1703, the Laird of Grant (Clan Grant) requested 600 of his clansmen to gather together at Aboyne for a more sporting and leisurely purpose. This raised a number of eyebrows and was sufficiently suspicious for it to be recorded by the governor at Fort William (The ‘UK’ government forces base in northern Scotland). The gathering went ahead but the participants were requested (read ordered) to be very distinctive and thus easily identified. Records state that those going ‘hoisting and hunting’ should wear: “Highland coates, trewes and short hose of tartane of red and greine sett broad springed, also with gun, sword, pistol and dirk.”

Sir Walter Scott- Wikimedia Commons
Sir Walter Scott- Wikimedia Commons

Sir Walter Scott began his first accounts of these kilted highlanders who engaged in competitive athletic competitions; tossing cabers and throwing the shot put (a rounded stone). After the military struts and demonstrations of military prowess, these highland men also skirled the bagpipes. Read Sir Walter Scott’s  Waverley Novels to find out how his description embellished and brought the scenes to life.

These organised ‘kilted’ gatherings continued, at times, till approximately 1746 but by then the Jacobite rebellions had again made them problematic. After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the government of the United Kingdom issued the Act of Proscription. This banned the wearing of plaids/ tartan; the playing of bagpipes; having gatherings and the carrying of arms. They were all forbidden under penalty of death. Over the next decades, much of the clan system traditions of pitting strong warrior against his neighbour, under any kind of circumstances sporting or lethal, were destroyed.

It wasn’t until Victorian times that the Aboyne Highland Games were established again in all of their full highland glory since Queen Victoria and her husband Albert were impressed by all things tartan. Queen Victoria began the tradition of attending the Braemar Highland Games in 1848, elevating the status of all of the games.

The Aboyne Games recommenced in 1867 and, with the exception of the 2 world wars, they have continued annually ever since. It’s interesting to note that some US and Canadian highland games were also started around this time – the idea having been transplanted by Clan members who emigrated from Scotland.

Aboyne dress US photo
I’m very excited about being a tiny part of such a prestigious gathering. I don’t expect to manage to get any photos as I’ll be behind my stall inside a dedicated marquee for FOCUS crafts.

I might not get to see any of the ‘Aboyne Dress’ worn by some of the dancers and that’s a great pity because I’ve only just learned that it was at the Aboyne Games in the 1970s that a new style of women’s highland dress was decided upon. The traditional, and more masculine, kilt type of outfit is only worn at the Aboyne Games for a couple of the very traditional dances with the less formal ‘Aboyne Dress’ worn for the Scottish country dances and the bulk of the highland competitions.

Have you ancestral origins which have similar ‘games’ traditions? It will be interesting to know…

Have a lovely weekend!

Nancy Jardine writes: historical romantic adventures; contemporary romantic mystery thrillers, time travel adventure for Teens/ YA markets. Her novels are available from Amazon; B & N; Smashwords and other ebook stores.

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Outer Banks

by Joe Stephens

As folks who are part of this blog group may know, I’m currently on vacation at the Outer Banks. Specifically, we’re renting a condo in Southern Shores, which is essentially Kitty Hawk. If you’ve never been here and you live within driving distance, it should go high on your bucket list. We’ve been here enough times that we did less sightseeing than in years past, spending the majority of our time just enjoying the sights in front of our condo, though we did take a couple of short trips. Since this place is so beautiful, I thought a photo essay was the appropriate response. Here we go:

Outer Banks 2015 (1)
A panoramic picture of the view from our porch. It was so peaceful to get up before dawn and share the sunrise with my brothers. It’s nourishing to the soul.
Outer Banks 2015 (14)
Here’s our condo. We were right next to the Kitty Hawk Pier. It was quite nice. We spent the vast majority of our time on the porch.
Outer Banks 2015 (32)
We took advantage of this philosophy quite often. And we also struggle with the fact that, oddly, having a clock with nothing but 5s on it makes it somewhat difficult to tell what time it actually is. Either it’s a brain thing or we’re just stupid.
Outer Banks 2015 (37)
The view from under the pier. This is my attempt at artsy photography.
Outer Banks 2015 (57)
Being a morning person, I was up for most of the sunrises, which may well be my favorite part of being at the ocean. This particular morning was quite spectacular. I love how the sun reflects off the water.
Outer Banks 2015 (74)
We took a dolphin cruise. I found that I am quite talented at taking pictures of the little eddy on the water where the dolphin used to be, which is why I didn’t include any pictures of dolphins. This my family as we prepared to get on the boat. The trip was a pleasant experience. The weather was perfect and we saw about eleventy billion dolphins.
Outer Banks 2015 (130)
We went yesterday to the Wright Brothers Memorial. This obelisk commemorates the distance of their fourth flight on December 17, 1903. It was 852 feet, or just under 3 football fields. The first was only 120 feet. It boggles the mind how things have changed in just over a century.

It’s been a spectacular trip so far. I’m already getting sad because tomorrow is our last full day here, after which it’s back to the real world, including getting ready to start school and all the just-before-school stuff I have to do, like doctors’ appointments and classroom preparation. But I’ll go back energized by my time here. This trip has convinced me, though, that I need–not want–more time at the ocean.

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey and Kisses and Lies, both of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from
Amazon, from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg, and from the author’s trunk.

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Back to School Shopping

This post by Jennifer Flaten

The school supply list posted last week. I figured it was bound to arrive soon, after all the stores have not only placed the school supplies on the shelves, but they have Christmas items waiting at the fringes of the store ready to knock the school supplies off the shelf and rush us into the holidays.

I printed out the list and the kids immediately pored over it, as if it contained the secrets of the universe, and maybe it does. Perhaps, if you have just the right pen, just the right notebook and the exact three ring binder then your school year will go perfectly.  file491253208393

From the master list the girls created individual color-coded and indexed shopping lists. Armed with these lists and grandma they descended on Target for an epic shopping spree.

Each notebook, pen and binder was carefully examined and chosen, not for their usefulness or perceived longevity, but for how aesthetically pleasing they were. Finally carts laden with colorful notebooks, pens and pencils the shopping trip was done, list complete mission successful.

Ah, but it doesn’t end there. Once home the items must be spilled out onto the floor and admired. Then it must be redecorated. Yes, that notebook that was purchased because it was the perfect shade of pink needs just a little bit of enhancement from washi tape, glitter and glue. Now it’s perfect.

Then everything is arranged by class and shoved into the backpack where it stays until the first day of school.

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SJ New PhotoBy S. J. Brown

As a wildlife photographer I love what I do. Getting close to wild creatures and recording that moment is awesome. Spending time outdoors enjoying Mother Nature is also a great part of what I do. Another part of what I do that I love is Sharing. Sharing my images, sharing my knowledge, sharing my experiences with others.

A local high school teacher encouraged me to share with her students many years ago. This opened the door for me to share my love of nature with students of all ages. Elementary school children want to tell me their wildlife story as much as they want to hear mine Middle school and High school students want to hear scary stories like if I have ever been attacked by a bear.

1 Bear

One memorable high student was so inspired by my talk he ran home and located his mothers camera. He was excited about the prospect of connecting with wild critters and recording the image. He decided to start in his own back yard since he didn’t have a car.

2 Bluebird

He quickly discovered he was scared to death of wild animals. But he loved the feel of the camera in his hand and the idea of capturing an image to share. So when we met again at a book signing he was experimenting with photographing interesting flowers, colorful scenic shots and unusual people. Everyone has to experiment a bit before they find their nitch.

3 Deer

By sharing I helped that student discover a love of photography. I have peaked the interest in nature in more than one attendee at my presentations. I am able to introduce some to the local art word and the opportunities they pose. I share my images so others can get a close up view of critters they may never see in the wild.

4 Puffin

Hopefully I inspire others both young and old to to pursue what they love. It doesn’t matter if you write, photograph, paint, sketch or run a successful business we can all share a little of ourselves and help others along the way.

5 Ibis

My books are a way for me to share with those that can’t attend one of my talks. Images I sell to magazines and calendar companies also allow me to share my images and love of nature. Although I think I donate as many as I sell. I am not that business savvy, but I do manage to continue to do what I love and share that love with others.

What is your favorite thing to share?

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Life Happens – NaNoWriMo Planning Starts Now

CindyCarrollEUp until the end of May, 2015 was a good year for the most part. June 1 came and everything changed. I won’t go into boring details about what happened but there were three fronts of attack on my happiness and security that left me with no will to write. No will to do anything really except sit on the sofa and watch television shows marathon style on Netflix. I went for my go to feel good shows. The shows that gave me comfort. Not used to despair and the helpless feeling that plagued me, I wanted shows that would pick me up, dust me off and tell me things would get better.

Copyright feverpitch via Depositphotos
Copyright feverpitch via Depositphotos

During my marathons, of which there were many, we discovered Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Great show with awesome writing, it made me laugh out loud more than once. I needed that. I went back to old favourites like Charmed and Friends. But the one that helped the most was starting Supernatural from the beginning. The Winchester boys always make me smile. And eye candy always makes me feel better. Plus those guys never give up even when things are bleak.  Posts to always keep fighting from Jared Padalecki’s Facebook page ticked by on my news feed as I got reacquainted with the Winchester brothers. I love what he’s doing to bring awareness to depression and help those affected by it.

I had big plans for June and July. Plans to get tons of words written, stories finished, stories published. But life happened and robbed me of the desire to do anything. In those two months I might have written 1500 words. I had to explain to people who were waiting for stories why I couldn’t meet their deadlines. I’m behind on just about everything even commenting on this blog.

Things are looking up. I received good news two weeks ago and I cried for half an hour because I forgot what it was like to feel that moment of happiness. The depression is lifting. I’m lucky in that the wave of depression that hit me was brought on by short term events. Lots of people suffer much longer and to greater degrees than I did. I’m still not ready to go back into the office. Working from home these past two months has been a huge help for me. But I know it can’t go on like this indefinitely. Eventually my employer will want to see me at my desk working away.

Because life happens when you least expect it I’m planning for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) now. Despite being derailed for two months I’m determined to get back on track even though I’m woefully behind. I have a new writing schedule that I know I can stick to if I put my mind to it. As always with NaNoWriMo the plan is to clear the decks for November.

To prepare for November I’ll need to get my writing obligations done early. I have monthly deadlines for some projects so I have to get November and December stories done by October. Once that is done I can concentrate on NaNoWriMo. My goal for this year is a complete 80,000 word novel. I just have to figure out what novel to work on. And I need to figure it out soon. I’m starting a world building class on Saturday so I can hammer out details. The key for me to winning NaNoWriMo is planning. Since story ideas drop in all the time I have a large pool to draw from. Which story to work on though?

I love them all and will eventually work on all of them. Assuming my dystopian trilogy is complete by October like I intend, which one of theses would you work on for NaNoWriMo?

1. Book 2 in an urban fantasy suspense series where Book 1 is done.

2. An erotic thriller involving a stalker

3. A serial killer plaguing the art community

4. A serial killer with their heart in the right place

5. A thriller set in the future about a government conspiracy

6. A thriller set in the future about genetic weapons

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ReflectionsFinal2A road trip goes wrong for a group of friends trying to help one of them get over a break up. They find an inn where the mirrors are cursed and they realize they don’t know each other as well as they thought they did.

A road trip without a plan sounded like a good idea when Lena and her friends hit the road. A mini vacation and support for Steve, recently dumped, have the friends travelling through small towns and back roads. After hours of driving in the heat in a cramped car they’re all ready for something to eat and a good night’s rest. Reflections Inn looks perfect for the group of friends. A little run down, it hides a supernatural horror.

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The Gift of Balance

Post copyright by Doris McCraw

hhj spc 3

I rarely talk about myself. My nature I am an intensely private person. In today’s post, I am opening the door just a bit to illustrate the idea of Balance.

As some of you know on June 15, 2015 torrential rains caused an overflow of water in the sewer and drain systems in the hilly area where I live. Not only my self, but numerous other homes sustained some kind of damage. In my case, a complete obliteration of my basement. We are talking completely full of water. Since insurance will not cover the damage and the water company denies any wrong doing at this point, we are left to deal with this on our own. For me, I set up a gofundme account to help defray some of the cost. This site is a go to for people who need help with personal financial burdens. Thankfully friends have stepped in when companies were unwilling to clear out the damage, because insurance didn’t cover it and I didn’t have a few thousand sitting around. (okay, I’m being a bit catty there).

columbine 2

Now, this could be all I think about, but as I stated at the beginning of this post, life does give some balance. Since the disaster happened, I have had a short story released from Prairie Rose Publications in the anthology “Cowboy Celebration”. I have signed the contract for another novella to be released at sometime in the future called “Angel of Salvation Valley”. If all goes well, I will also submit a short for another anthology to be released later this year. This same company is having a Christmas in July Fandango on Facebook July 27 & 28 in the evening. Plenty of giveaways and chances to meet the authors. I will be involved with the Fandango and look forward to the fun of talking with people I’ve not met. Here is the link if anyone would like to stop by:

But that isn’t all. As much as I’m thrilled with the publication of my writing, which by the way my fiction is written under the pen name Angela Raines, there is more. If you don’t believe other people read these posts, think again. I was recently contacted by the great great grand daughter of one of the women doctors I have been researching. She wants to get together to share her stories and pictures of this amazing women.

So you see, life is about Balance. We may not always like what is happening, but if we are open to options, life has a way of balancing the scale. I truly do believe things will work out as they should on my basement, that the work will get done. I also know, that by being aware, open and grateful for all the blessings in my life, I bring in more. So the next time life throws you some grapes or lemons make wine or lemonade. It all Balances out in the end.

Photo and Poem:

home for his heart angela raines

People Versus Dolphins

Sarah M. Chen photo

by Sarah M. Chen





When I travel, I research A LOT because that’s just in my nature. But also I like to know what my options are, such as must-see points of interest, the most intriguing neighborhoods, where the best food is, etc.

For my most recent trip, a cruise to the Bahamas, I did all the planning and research. It didn’t matter that it was my friend’s 40th birthday. He is definitely not much of a planner and wisely left everything to me. All he said was this: “I don’t care what we’re doing because when I look back on a trip, it’s all about the people I meet.” I waved him off. What does he know? It’s all about the excursions, the ports, and most importantly, what kind of cabin we get!

Well, we were both right. Yes, there were a lot of benefits to my extensive research. I chose a nice suite with a private balcony. We used our private balcony a lot to take in the sunset while sipping wine and eating the cheese and bread we stole from the buffet earlier…

beautiful sunset Or to wake up and step out to this first thing in the morning…

view from cabin

Swimming with dolphins was THE highlight of the trip for me, maybe even my entire life. This is an activity that I read every single review, and it ranked as one of the top excursions for every single passenger. IMG_20150716_144042

Another activity—well, I don’t know if I can call it an “activity”—that I looked forward to every night was discovering what cute towel animal our cabin steward so thoughtfully left on our bed with the next day’s itinerary. My friend and I enjoyed guessing what they were. Bear? Yoda?bear or yoda

But I have to admit, the people we met on this trip were absolutely lovely: from the sweet couple who were our next door neighbors celebrating their 50th anniversary on the cruise to the elegant couple celebrating the wife’s 70th birthday listening to smooth jazz in the lobby of our Charleston hotel. I will never forget that our cabin neighbors asked me to sign their conch shell when they found out I was a mystery author. How cool is that? I felt like a celebrity. Or when the elegant couple invited us to stay with them in Mt. Pleasant the next time we visit Charleston. Because obviously there will be a next time! Talk about Southern hospitality.

Which got me thinking…is it the people I met on this cruise—like my friend said—that makes the trip? Or is it the exciting activities I planned, like swimming with the dolphins? Because I mean, come on…swimming with dolphins!

smiling at dolphin

Then it hit me: it’s exactly how I feel about books. Is it the twisty suspenseful plot of a wonderful mystery or thriller that grabs me or is it the complicated three-dimensional characters that I love? It’s actually both: the plot is what grabs me when I first pick up a book but it’s the characters that I take away with me long after I’ve finished.

When I write, it’s the same thing. Sometimes I’m inspired by a scene. I envision a scenario between two people, a what-if situation. Other times, a certain person I see on the street or someone I meet briefly in a coffee shop grabs my interest and I’m inspired to put them in my short story.

How about you? Do you look back fondly on a trip and think of what you did or is it the people you meet?


Check out Sarah M. Chen’s crime fiction short stories on

Relatives and Mountains

My selfie

by Neva Bodin

My brother-in-law has a license plate holder that says, “My Happy Place is in the Mountains.” And he spends time at his happy place with our family each summer, this year for the eighth year. At times we’ve had 16 family members present. This year there were only nine of us and three campers.

This butterfly was quite small but posed for me amongst the colorful rocks.

Yellow, black and rust-colored butterflies escorted us at times. A heady, sweet fragrance reminiscent of honeysuckle permeated the air. A carpet of bright yellow and brilliant white, with swirls of various hues including purple, blue and pink spread out before us. We were over 9000 feet in altitude and rising. The purest blue sky cradled white cotton-ball clouds above us. We were on a four-wheeling trail ride on our annual family camping trip.

Our son-in-law who lives in Wyoming between the Rockies and the Bighorn Mountains is our trip planner. He has hunted and played in those mountains since he was young, a tradition he now carries on with his two children.

The peace and freedom felt on those mountain tops is unique. The lack of cell phone and internet services is freeing. The amount of cooking and eating we do is stupendous.

On the trail.

Our four-wheeling trips that last 4-6 hours include a picnic lunch of sandwiches, fruit, chips, cookies and soft drinks, and now coffee with my son-in-law’s new butane coffee maker for campers! It is delicious.

Relaxing by the campfire: (L to R) my dog-in-law, son-in-law, and husband.

Back at camp we have T-bone steak grilled over the campfire, with grilled potatoes that include lots of onion and butter, all wrapped in aluminum foil and tender and tasty, smoked ribs, baked beans, home-made caramel rolls, bars, cookies and salads. We also had smoked roast, S’mores and the usual brats, wieners and hamburgers. This year we had chicken pasta primavera one night. It is most definitely a “mountain top experience.”

We saw lots of pronghorn antelope and their babies, white tail deer does and fawns, a huge bull moose, mountain sheep and babies (through a spotting scope), and some in our party saw elk and bear. Rock Chucks, ground squirrels, called Picket Pins by locals, a Martin, squirrels, chipmunks, Jack Rabbits and a variety of birds popped into our sights. The Mountain bluebirds are like blue jewels with wings that contrast sharply with the landscape colors.

We visited Kirwin, WY, a now-ghost mining town where Amelia Earhart was having a cabin built when she disappeared on her famous airplane flight. We visited the Double D dude ranch where she stayed and had friends. All now silent and all but abandoned save for the Forest Service and sight-seers.

We heard the story of a very interesting “house of ill repute” that was apparently a “mountain top experience” also. And learned where the highest placed oil well in the United States was drilled. Watch for these stories in future blogs.

Scene on one four-wheeling trip

And as we soaked up the scent of pine and fresh mountain air, as well as the ice-cold mountain shower that dumped on us during one four-wheeling trip, we wondered about the trappers, miners, and their women and children, who lived in log cabins, rode the stage coach trail near our campsite, and had the courage and fortitude to exist in this beautiful, bountiful, yet rugged land. It’s a place set apart from our high tech world in many ways.

I am always disappointed when an empty pop can, candy wrapper or beer bottle jars my effusive adoration of the mountains. How can someone be so callous as to mar this rugged landscape where nature still rules with a heavy hand?

Aside from that, we had another glorious time of admiring nature, staring into a campfire, and bonding with family. And eating, did I mention that we ate well?

I will segue into a couple more stories related to this trip in future blogs. Stay tuned.

Through the Gates of Yesteryear’s Amusement Parks

This post is by Mike Staton.
This post is by Mike Staton.

Just three weeks ago we revived a childhood memory and again rode the passenger trains of the Santa Fe Railroad.

Now we’re going to catch some new memories and walk through the gates of “Yesteryear’s Amusement Parks.” Some are still around, like Disneyland, but vastly changed and updated with 21st century technology. Others are gone, victims of declining attendance and rickety rides.

Back in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, I lived for trips to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. In our San Bernardino neighborhood just off Foothill Boulevard (travelers passing through knew it as Route 66), boys and girls loved to talk about Space Mountain and the jungle ride at Disneyland or the shootout re-enactments at Knotts Berry Farm’s Ghost Town. My next-door neighbor, Roger Gall, wore a beaded Indian-style belt purchased at Disneyland. I was envious; pestered my mom and dad so they had no choice but to buy me one when we made the pilgrimage to the Magic Kingdom. In the early 60s it seemed like every kid at Meyers Elementary School had an Indian belt.

Grandpa Frog took me on this sports car ride at Disneyland. He had to do the driving. I didn't meet the height requirement.
Grandpa Frog took me on this sports car ride at Disneyland. He had to do the driving. I didn’t meet the height requirement.

We always looked forward to visits by grandparents. That’s when we’d go to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. Dad always took home movies at the parks. I’ve got a DVD tucked away in the closet that shows scenes of those visits now almost 60 years in the past. They’re precious because all the faces – except for me and my sister Jody – are gone. One scene shows my mom and me exiting a Disneyland boat ride, walking briskly toward the cameraman… of course, my dad. She had my hand, and I struggled to keep up with her. The ride had malfunctioned, and we’d been marooned for quite a while – long enough to leave mom in a tizzy.

In another scene, Grandpa Frog and I come around a curve in a sports car. He’s driving and seven-year-old mike is no doubt wishing he could be in the driver’s seat. The roadway doesn’t yet have a guide rail, so grandpa is actually driving. If I’d have been tall enough to reach the height line, I could have driven. Sadly, that would have to wait for a future year and another trip.

In 1964, my cousins Candy and Pat paid a visit and we went to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. Here we're having supper at our home in Corona. That's dad serving us.
In 1964, my cousins Candy and Pat paid a visit and we went to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. Here we’re having supper at our home in Corona. That’s dad serving us.

The last time I rode the Matterhorn – in 1964 during a visit by my Ohio cousins Candy and Pat – I finagled with my safety belt for the entire ride. The teenage ride helper hadn’t secured the belt as tight as I thought necessary and I struggled to make it snug as the bobsled began moving. I held the belt tight against my waist as the bobsled twisted left and right along the rails darting into and out of the mountain. Was the belt truly loose or was my overactive imagination at work? Frankly, I don’t know.

My memories of Knotts Berry Farm are not as vivid as those of Disneyland. I do recall my aunts Hortense and Avis sharing a bench with a couple of saloon floozies. If you’ve been to Knotts Berry Farm, you know what I’m referring to… the floozies are statues. Thousands of photos have been taken over the decades of folks cuddling up to them. Of course it helps that dad’s Kodak Brownie 8mm movie camera captured the moment.

That's me, folks, getting a lesson on pseudo Indian ritual. Looks like I'm being a bit uncooperative.
That’s me, folks, getting a lesson on pseudo Indian ritual. Looks like I’m being a bit uncooperative.

I do recall eating in Knotts Berry Farm’s chicken dinner restaurant. The fried chicken and biscuits were good, but the boysenberry pie still awakens my taste buds more than fifty years after I last spooned it into my mouth. I know the train robberies and gunfights should be my favorite memories, but they’re not close to my slices of boysenberry pie.

In my childhood, train and car trips to Ohio to visit relatives included making memories at quaint amusement parks patterned after Coney Island. Only Cedar Point adapted to changing times. Chippewa Lake and Meyers Lake amusement parks are gone.

I took my first roller coaster ride in 1960 at Meyers Lake in Canton. Grandpa Frog took me on the Comet. Family members said I was pale as a corpse as grandpa led me away from the wooden structure after that wild ride. Grandma Mid chastised him and made sure he kept the rides no scarier than the ferris wheel, merry-go-around and bumper cars.

slide of the week, americana
Back in ’59, my aunts Hortense and Avis sat beside these saloon doves

The memories of Chippewa Lake are not of rides, but of my mom’s stories about her teenage years and dances in the Starlight Ballroom. Sometimes it was a Saturday night date and jitterbugging or slow dancing to bands such as Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey. Other times mom and several girlfriends would pile into a car and motor across the county line to Chippewa Lake. It must have been a dazzling sight… the way the ballroom’s light reflected off the lake. The last time I went to the amusement park was 1969, and it was a shell of its former self. It closed in 1978 and was razed in 2009.  If you think the kids of the late 19th century had nothing to do but go to church picnics and play piano recitals for their grandmothers and aunts, think again. Chippewa Lake opened in 1878.

We took many trips to Cedar Point with my cousins Candy and Pat after we moved back to Ohio in 1965 when I was in 8th grade. There’s a blur of memories, but one stands out… climbing into a bumper car and taking aim at Candy. Another fun memory: riding in the back of their dad Jack’s stationwagon on the way to Cedar Point and singing Chattanooga Choo-Choo.

I took my first roller-coaster ride at Meyer's Lake in Canton, Ohio. Again, it was my Grandpa Frog who rode with me.  I'm told I was white as a sheet as the coaster cars came to a stop.
I took my first roller-coaster ride at Meyer’s Lake in Canton, Ohio. Again, it was my Grandpa Frog who rode with me. I’m told I was white as a sheet as the coaster cars came to a stop.

You’d think I’d have a ton of snapshots of those long-ago days at Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm as well as those Ohio amusement parks, right? I’ve done days and days of scanning over the last few years, but I found only one photo for this post. An Indian wearing a headdress is showing me the proper way to cross my arms and hold them high. Did any Indian tribes actually do this?

I’ve never learned how to take the home-movie DVD and convert it to an Internet video file format that can be downloaded onto YouTube. But I wanted to end this post by leaving a link to a video of Disneyland in 1957. Here it is: Notice how well the adults dressed, the women in dresses, the men in dress shirts and pants, some with ties and sports coats. And not a tattoo anywhere.

Meyers Lake and Chippewa Lake amusement parks are abandoned. This is Chippewa Lake's ferris wheel. Mom told me many stories of her teenage years when she danced to Big Band music in Chippewa Lake's ballroom.
Meyers Lake and Chippewa Lake amusement parks are abandoned. This is Chippewa Lake’s ferris wheel. Mom told me many stories of her teenage years when she danced to Big Band music in Chippewa Lake’s ballroom.

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Mike’s the author of two fantasy novels, The Emperor’s Mistress and Thief’s Coin. They’re the first two books of a trilogy. He’s working on the third novel, Assassins’ Lair. He’s been at it for four years, but he promises he’ll soon have it shipshape for his publisher.

Work It

This post by Jennifer Flaten


This post by Jennifer Flaten


My daughters expressed interest in going to work with me. It wasn’t because they are interested in my profession, more that they wanted to escape the house on a summer day. Plus, they are extremely curious (okay, really more like nosy).


And really, if I were in their position I would want to go to work too. Staying home means hanging out with their younger brother. Plus if they are home they have to do chores like mowing the lawn and what preteen girls likes to sweat?


After relentless hounding me about it for a month, I gave in and agreed to take them in one at at time. Taking the both of them would be akin to releasing a wild rhino in a crystal shop.


No, one at a time only.


I took the youngest shyest kid first. Her job was to report to my oldest more outgoing kid. If the shy kid survived then the other kid would consider going.


As I am a bookkeeper I could offer them such glamourous tasks as adding up columns of numbers, stuffing envelopes and using the postage machine. They both diligently did the tasks I asked of them and still managed to get in a fair amount of instagramming.


Both expressed interest in returning. I think it is because they got to sit in a spinny chair.file8571246480502


Did you ever help you parents out at work?


Hop on over to my Etsy shop, Dragon and Butterfly Design. Place an order for earrings, necklace or bracelet and get free shipping with coupon code SUMMERSHIP.