Ready to Read

Ready to Read
Historical Novels -Bobi Andrews

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Alzheimer's victims need to keep their mind occupied,
otherwise you can't imagine the mischief they can and
will get into.
Throughout the disease's progression, some of the mind
stays in the real world.  Problem is, we don't know
which part.  A bored, agitated patient is more than unpleasant
to handle, so its worth the effort to try to keep
them active at least in the first couple of developmental
stages. Don't look for perfection--just busy hands.

So far, I've had some limited luck with

1)         Pasting family pictures in picture albums.
2)         Organizing a coin collection (This has limitations if
                        they think they can get rich by selling
                        the coins.)    
3)         Keeping a calendar of appointments/activities
4)         Playing Scrabble with himself (spelling doesn't count)
5)         Writing short stories (or a few lines) about what he
                        sees in pictures.
6)         Looking at bird and flower books, to use with
                        adult coloring books (Avail through

Any other ideas???

Saturday, August 16, 2014


After a hiatus from writing for six months tending to the early
medical needs of my husband, I'm settling in and blocking
time for writing.  I've missed my friends at my writers' group,
book clubs and stitchery group. 

I' M EXCITED -- I'm ten chapters in a new project and
my muse is going wild.  Some writers hate the research part of
writing a novel, others get started and can't quit gathering stories,
events and ideas. (I'm in the latter group.)

The title of my new story is "THE TIDEWATCHERS"  (circa 1760)
which begins with a young lad's experience in Wales watching his
Quaker mother tied to a stake in the bay at low tide and drowning
with other persecuted Quakers when the high tide rolled in. The vicar,
who ordered the persecution, becomes the boy's enemy and his
retaliation and misery lead him to runaway to London to become
a member of a body snatchers gang servicing cadavers to the famous
London medical community.  To avoid prison, he indentures himself,
coming to America to become a Baptist minister settling in Kentucky.
Through thick and thin, he has one friend, his dog, Vundermutt.

Thought I would share some interesting items my research turned up.

·        The death by tidal drowning began in early Egypt,
spreading across Europe and Great Britain for the
persecution of non-conformist religious
                           believers.  (Most often Mennonites and Quakers).

·         Barber-surgeons were medical practitioners who
picked lice from a person's head, trimmed and
shaved beards, extracted teeth, performed
   minor surgical procedures and bloodletting.

·        A barber pole (the red and white striped symbol
for barbering as we know it) was symbolic: 
The 1780 barber poles had a brass ball at its top
where leeches were kept, and a basin at the bottom
to receive the patient's blood.  The pole itself was
used for the patient to grip during bloodletting to
bulge the location of the veins. The red and white
strips represented the bloodied and clean bandages
which were washed and hung to dry outside the shop. 
The wind twisted the bandages together creating
the spiral patterns we see today on barber poles.
                           (Ref:  Wonders and

·        The town of Stoke on Trent was actually a
combination of six communities banded together for
mutual interests and trade.

              The Town of Towcester was one of the oldest Roman
              towns and was noted  then as now for the manufacture
              of china and dinnerware.  Go to any
              department store and likely the origin of the
              companies displaying china was Towcester, England.

·        For several generations, body snatching was an
accepted and profitable business for medical and anatomy
schools. However the practice became corrupted by gangs,
and body snatching from ill-repute hospitals and graves
became subject to arrest and deportation.  Accusations
of murder in order to harvest a dead body was quite

If any of my readers have information or interests during this
time period, I'd love to correspond with you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

ALZHEIMERS -- A Demon on a Scooter

Four years ago when my husband, Bob, 
lost his mobility to drive a car, he found the
thrill of driving at our local Randall's
store: The in-store scooter!  His second 
favorite  hobby was eating so what better
match than going grocery shopping on a 

The Randall's store is on the way to 
the YMCA where I exercise during 
the week, so it was a natural for Bob to be dropped off while I went to exercise and then I picked him back up on my
way home.   He soon became friends with the Randall's 
Store personnel--Max and Martho who would see him 
coming and get his scooter ready, Pam and Jan who checked 
him out often chiding him cheerfully on groceries not on
his sugar-free diet. If he forgot his pin number for his debit
card, it was  no problem for Pam and Jan to process a credit.  
Other employees who'd find him lost helped him on his way.

Another signature attraction was the "coffee bar" where he'd 
get his cinnamon latte (and frequently sneak a sweet treat.)  He 
was "Bob" to everyone and they all seemed to know when he 
was in their store.

Soon an hour was not enough, particularly after he patronized 
the coffee bar. Without much difficulty,  he could spend two or 
three hours in the store. Going to Randalls was the highlight of 
his week.

As his Alzheimers advanced, he no longer read labels nor 
stayed true to his grocery list.  I began  to be there before he 
checked out, and re-shelve  items not sugar-free and/or not 
needed.  When this became excessive, I would stay with him,
splitting the list and meeting him at the check-out counter. 
There came a time when he could no longer read labels or 
"find" the items on the list.  Sometimes "sweets" were the only
items in his basket. My  returning items to the shelves began to
bring on bursts of Alzheimer's temper, and he wandered the 
store at random on the scooter.

Although his continuation of going to Randalls is tenuous at best, 
I cannot express adequately my disappointment that this phase
of his life is ending.    

The kindness of strangers is not lost in America. Whether offering 
to help load groceries or reaching for an items from the shelf, 
many good and sensitive people helped make his "job" possible 
for over three years.   

To Randalls (Karl, its manager), Jan, Pam, Max and Martho
and all the others--a mere thank you is not enough.  I hope 
they know what a contribution they made to an elderly gentlemen 
who loved to shop!

Saturday, July 26, 2014


REVIEWERS have found HETTY'S SONG, The Death of the Skylark
to be a captivating heart-felt story of a young girl making the journey
from despair to triumph.



"Hetty's Song, The Death of a Skylark, is set in the
late Victorian era when women's options were limited,
particularly Hetty's because her family's religious
background was very male dominated. Hetty's desire
to sing dominates the story line. She escapes her
stringent background & makes her way to the big city
& fame. Along the way she has many challenges.
The story line runs full circle & she is a survivor.
From start to finish, I couldn't put the book down."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

PILGER, NEBRASKA, Small Town, Big Memories

The town of Pilger, a small village near Humbug Creek, in
Stanton County was largely destroyed on the afternoon of
June 16, 2014.  However, the memories of Pilger and of my family
roots can never be destroyed by a tornado.  Growing up in
Nebraska, tornados were a rather common threat, but often
limited to small, open farm areas.  But wind storms came each
summer. As a child, I remember the heaviness of a searing,
hot afternoon, the dead ominous silence while leadened storm
clouds formed and turned black,and the hurried escape to the
outside cave before the circling wind tore down trees in our
cottonwood grove.  On one occasion in the late 1940's, the
neighboring town of Winside was hit especially hard and I
remember seeing bathtubs in the field and stalks of corn penetrating
clear through telephone poles. 

Pilger is special to me.  It is where my grandfather and
great grandfather are buried. It is where on Decoration Day
(yes, that's what we used to call Memorial Day), my extended
family drove from Wayne and gathered in the Pilger
Cemetery placing on their graves large red peonies and multicolored
bearded irises, which we worried would bloom in time
for the occasion.  While older folks placed their memorials
and remembered, my cousins and I roamed the graveyard,
tangling sky-blue buffalo beans into long strings of necklaces. 

My great grandfather, Cephas Ellis, farmed near Humbug
Creek, but loved best fishing in the Missouri River.  It was
here, he, a converted Quaker, carried on his own lay ministry
and earned the affectionate title, Father  Ellis.  It was here
Gr Grandma baked those so-good cookies and believed that
God intervened and saved her husband from a broken ice floe
in the Missouri River when bringing their son's family from Iowa
to Nebraska during an especially frigid January.

Grandpa Charlie Ellis owned a livery barn, a gathering place
for boasting,  carrying on local gossip, and hearing the latest
news.  Now, you have to understand, Charlie (I was old enough
to remember him) was a special Charlie--a bronco rider, and
teller of great stories when the Indians inhabited the great prairies. 
He wouldn't have been Grandpa if he didn't fish at Two-Bit
lake and crank home-made ice cream.  He made for my sister and
me a special fishing pole from a broomstick, eye screws,
and an old reel to use during our annual fishing trips to
Park Rapids and Bemidji Minnesota lakes.  There was something
special about this fishing pole--it attracted bullheads better than
my brother's store-bought pole. Grandpa with loving patience
and with copper twisted above his forearm to take  the pain from
rheumatism, cared for my grandmother through years of debilitating
illness.  He was a man of good humor and extraordinary kindness.

Over the years, there have been many coincidences where I have
been reminded of my Nebraska roots.  In the 1960's my husband
and I moved cross country to Delaware.  As it turned out, our new
next door neighbors were from Stanton, Nebraska. Although I'd found
extensive Quaker records of Ellis's, during my early genealogy research
I was at a brick wall needing to discover the identity of my great
grandfather.  My brother returning home to Broken Bow happened to
stop by the Pilger cemetery where he found Cephas Ellis RIP waiting
to be discovered.   

My brother, celebrating his 84th birthday this year, has lived most of
his adult life in Broken Bow. My  Nebraska nieces and nephews frequent
Facebook and generously share their families and activities. The Pilger
Centennial Book published in 1987 has been a genealogist's dream.
The church organist in Sugar Land Methodist is from the same area in
Nebraska. And wherever Nebraskans congregate, the by-gone feats
of Saint Tom Osborn and the return of good fortune for the Big Red
Nebraska football team is to be forever hoped for.

My thoughts, prayers, and best wishes for the victims of the Pilger tornado
are in my heart.  God Bless!

Thursday, June 12, 2014


A number of individuals finding on Amazon my historical novel,  Dear
Mama, Love Sarah, tell me of their new-found awareness of the
profound effect the Revolutionary War had on families, such as the
family of Reuben Simpson.  The focus of the story is Sarah Sherrill
who found herself in the untenable position of her Sherrill family
entrenched and staunch Patriots and her husband, Reuben Simpson,
a loyal Tory. The story culminates when Reuben leads a regiment of
Loyalists against the Patriots in the Battle of Ramsour's Mill.
Disowned by her father, her children lose all contact with their
grandmother, and Sarah, sadly loses her  mother with whom she
enjoyed a very close relationship.  It is an emotional and heart-felt
story of tragedy, danger, retaliation, and renewal.

In writing historical fiction, I recant historical events and
circumstances of remarkable people, not necessarily aiming to
mirror any particular happening in today's world. 
However, with Dear Mama, Love Sarah, I have become
acutely aware that the story is not just recollecting and interpreting
history, but understanding that families are being divided by war
and politics every day, and have been since before and after
the Revolutionary War.  Of course, the Civil War was rife with
stories of brother shooting brother, with its accompanying hatred
reaching down challenging reconciliation to each succeeding
generation including our own.

Today, families in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq --numerous African
countries -- are forced to fight or flee their countries leaving members
of their families split in both distance and  philosophy and facing
constant danger.  As parents become elderly, adult children often try
to keep in touch and provide the necessary support for their safety and
well-being.  We may find this difficult even if the separating 
distance is but a few miles.  What if you were here in America
and your parents were across the world in one of the war torn areas.
If parents, how would you keep your family together and raise your
children in a refugee camp?  How would you handle the anger and
disillusionment of kin who chose to support the "other side" of a
controversy?  Would you, like Sarah, dream at night that your kin
was shooting the members of your family in the heat of battle? 
What if  this conflict was under one roof splitting your family
and years went by with no resolution?

When family separation hits home, it is shattering.  I have a writer
friend who has faced the Syrian crises with her parents and other
close family members.  In Syria, her kin experienced their homes
destroyed, children separated and sent out of  the country to
safety, and elderly parents displaced and forced to move a
number of times--daily conflicts even to the point of losing a
parent to illness without being with them in their final hours.
Loss of family is not just a word, it is a monumental tragedy!

The one unifying belief among diversified cultures is the reverence
and  importance of family ties.  We do not get here by ourselves nor
do we live  in isolation of others.  Sarah with her letters kept hope
alive that she and her children would again be in the company
of her Mama.     

A pause . . . a prayer . . . a gesture of understanding.
Peace comes within the hearts of each individual.  Families of
the past and families of the present deserve no less. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

90's the new 60's -- The Longevity of our Ancestors

The fastest growing segment in our population is the individuals
entering their 90th (and above) years.  My previous blog, "Amazing, Really 
Amazing" highlighted such an individual. You need to know more about 
Bernice Steele! 

She and her daughter visited my sister, Rose, recently.  They got to
talking about Dear Mama, Love Sarah.  We have to remember
individuals entering their nineties were born sometime in the early
1920's (many years before electricity), with some born as far back
as the turn of the century.  Taking into consideration they knew their
parent's and perhaps their grandparent's lives brings alive a unique
perspective into how our forebearers lived.  This insight indeed lends
credence to how Sarah ( Dear Mama, Love Sarah) lived.  I could
write an "addenda" to my story based on Bernice's personal revelations
of the times.

--She remembers the days they ground horseradish with a hand
grinder.  The entire house stunk something terrible.  (I knew that
making soap was disagreeable, but not about the horrors of grinding

--With ten children in the family, Bernice did every kind of work,
often outside shocking oats in the field.  Her mother would bring
out ginger water which consisted of ground ginger, vinegar, sugar
and water from the pump well--no ice.  She remembers it tasting
great on a hot afternoon.

--Bernice remembers her mother as always being pregnant.  (With
Sarah's thirteen children it would have been no different for Rilla
and the other children of the Simpson story.)

--The rare treat of opening up a jar of home canned beef.  One
can only imagine the amount of work that went into preserving
beef in a jar.  Pickled hog's head (head cheese) was a treat in the
winter.   An entire meal could be put together from food stored
in the cellar.

--Her family consistently went to church on Sunday. Bernice's
mother would get up early and make three pies and put a
roast in the oven before they went to church.  Her dad always
invited people from church to come and have dinner with them.

--Because of their large family, her mom made ten loaves of bread
every third day.

--Her dad and mom made their own beer and root beer.  (I
remember my dad telling his story of his home-made root beer
exploding in their attic on a hot day in Nebraska.)

Because there was always so much work to do, Bernice's social life was
limited. The first time she "ate out" she was with her boyfriend.  She was in a
complete dither when he asked her what she was going to order.  The
dialogue went much as follows:

            She stammered, "What are you ordering?
            Upon his response, she answered, "I'll take the same."

Bernice related that with all her responsibilities, she didn't have time to
be creative or grow her own interests.  Even though the family consisted
of ten children, each child was wanted.  The work load, however, fell
on older brothers and sisters.

Bernice at 98 years is alive and vibrant to this day.  Today, we believe
that beyond the genes we inherit, our longevity is largely based on modern
medicine, our chosen way of life, diet, and exercise.  To many, faith in
a higher being strengthens our years on this earth. 

Discovering Bernice's life's journey, I can't help but draw some parallels
relating to "diet and exercise" so promulgated today. They didn't need 
to take the dog for a walk or join a fitness club.  Let's take a look:

Their food was largely "organic"--straight from the garden to the table. 
Don't suppose they did much "bug spraying" or find foods loaded with
preservatives.  (From my own ancestors' causes of death, there was
too  much "lard" and other cholesterol-producing meat and fat products.)
During many earlier periods, sugar was not always easy to come by,
but any decent supper included "dessert".    (My parents didn't have
canisters of sugar or flour, but had entire bins where sugar and flour
were bought by the 25 pound sack.  Some of our clothes, particularly
pinafores and aprons, came from printed flour sacks.)

Our current YMCA "Silver Sneakers" or other popular exercise programs
do not come close to the exercise regime of our mothers and grandmothers.
Take a chart of recommended exercises and see what I mean:

 1.  Churning butter                                 Exercise of the arms and forearms.

 2.   Scrubbing clothes on a washboard   Exercise of back and arms

 3.  Hanging wash clothes on a line         Stretching of the back 

 4.  Scrubbing floors on hands and knees  Exercise of the back and arms

5.  Making beds                                     Stretching arms and shoulders

6.  Kneading bread                                Stretching fingers and wrists

7.  Walking a crying baby                       Exercise and balance of legs and

                                                                 thigh hamstrings 

8.  Shocking barley and oats                   Lifting and muscle development

9.  Milking cows                                      Arm, hand and finger exercise

10.  Peeling apples                                  Finger exercise and coordination

11.Sweeping                                            Arms and shoulder coordination

12. Scooping chicken feed                       Arms, shoulders, back exercise

13. Spading a garden                               Every muscle in the body

14. Stooping to pick beans and peas        Back muscle development; squats

15. Digging potatoes                                Back and arm muscle development

16. Spinning                                             Arm, foot, and eye coordination

Our ancestors theme of longevity was often Eat well, Work hard, and Bless the Lord!