Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Sweetheart Statue

I wrote a little article on Bubblews about the little sweetheart statue beside the rooms my parents lived in right after their marriage and the way it symbolized their marriage. Here's the link:

The Sweetheart Statue

Friday, August 30, 2013

Another Purple Star!

My article "Meet Shirley Plantation's Cat, Tunnah" has been awarded a Purple Star! This makes two out of only seven that I have on Squidoo so far.

"My Grandfather's Songs: The Music of John H. Craton" continues to climb. After a brief dip from #55 down to #59, it's at #42 today, and #2 in Music.

I've been having a lot of fun "bubbling" (yes, that's what it's called) at Bubblews. There's a real sense of community on the site, and I've been making new friends. The neatest thing happened to me my first day there. After I had posted only two, maybe three posts, someone wrote a post introducing and recommending me that brought a number of new readers my way. Read what she said about me here.

And while you're there, you can find my posts on my profile page.

Some people use Bubblews as a site to publish their articles, while others use it more as a personal blog or a social network. If you like interacting with online friends and making posts to Facebook (ones you write yourself, not ones you share from somewhere else), you can do that on Bubblews and get paid for it. You don't have to consider yourself "a writer", you can post about anything you want (within reason), and the minimum post size is only 400 characters, so a hundred or so words is fine. If it sounds interesting, check it out here. I'm earning money posting pictures of my cat. What could be better than that?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bill Craton's Last Mission in World War II

Debbi posted a shorter version of this story earlier but I think people may be interested in more details.

Our father never talked much about World War II when we were growing up but the story of how he survived his last mission on a B-17 bomber has been part of the family history for as long as I can remember. He was standing in a burning, crashing B-17 and had his parachute only half-way on when the bomb load exploded.

Later in life (50+ years after the war) he began to open up. On one occasion, he told this story which was recorded on an audio tape. His granddaughter, Cathy Murphy, edited and transcribed the oral version onto paper. He called it "The One Who Got Away."

He enlisted immediately after Pearl Harbor at age 18. After about a year of training, his unit was sent to North Africa. The invasion of North Africa, beginning in Nov. 1942, was the first time Americans fought against Germans in the war. Bomber crews stationed in England (the 8th Air Force) received much more publicity and are better know today. In Dad's part of the war, targets were military rather than industrial or urban. After the Germans were defeated in Africa, attention turned to Sicily. His last mission was part of the preparation for the invasion of that island by Allied ground forces.

For those not familiar with the history, American bombers in WWII were heavily armored. B-17s had ten machine guns each, and they flew close together in close formation to concentrate their defensive firepower. Dad was the engineer on his crew (actually the 2nd most important position for flying the plane after the pilot) who also manned the upper turret during combat. (See the photographs after the story)

Enough from me -- here's his story:

Bill Craton

The time was early morning, July 5 1943, as the sun was making its presence know over the eastern horizon. The place was an airfield located 60 km west of Constantine, Algeria. Four-man tents dotted the countryside. Larger tents for operations, administration, and mess halls were also close by. More impressive were the forty sleek-looking B-17 bombers all lined up in their parking spaces.

This morning the world was just right. Everything was in order as Bill, Jay, Harold, Frank, Louis, and I rolled out of our tents, did our personal chores (shave, wash, dress, etc.), and prepared to head for breakfast. Everything was beautiful. We had flown five missions in a row and today we were Number 10, meaning we would show up at the aircraft until the 99th Group with its 24 bombers and four airborne ‘spares’ were in the air on the way to the target. We then would be on our way to the nearest town to eat a meal prepared by a local family. What good food! I can taste it now.

The four officers on the crew had to attend the mission briefing after breakfast and we enlisted men went straight to the airplane to ‘preflight’ the aircraft. No sweat – we weren’t going anywhere but to town to eat. The crews loaded on board the aircraft, and the six B-17s assigned to the mission – and one spare – of the 348th Squadron (part of the 99th Bomb Group) began to start their engines. The engines on Number Five Aircraft turned, turned, and then stopped. My heart sank, but no problem – Number Eight could go in its place.

As the 348th Squadron’s airplanes began to slowly taxi to the runway along with the planes of the three other squadrons in the group, one of them never left its parking space. The crew shut down its engines and got out. Number Nine pulled out to replace it. We were the ‘ground’ spare now and brought our engines to life. Still no problem.

Thinking of the food we were to soon eat, I wasn’t looking, but I did hear the pilot say: “Oh, no, not another one.” I looked as another aircraft pulled off with an engine fire. My heart sank further as I felt our plane take off and move into the airborne spare position.

Still no need to worry, so we kept up the chatter on the intercom as we climbed up and formed the squadron and group. We were still the spare; we would turn around at the designated spot. But then a deathly silence came over the crew as we noticed fuel streaming out of the left wing of one of the planes. It wasn’t long before they noticed it and turned back to base. It was real to us now that there would not be any food today. We were on the way to the target as the 348th Number Six crew. Never in our history had we had so many aborts. Boy, this must be some tough mission.

As we continued to climb and form up our formation, our pilot started to brief us over the intercom. “Our target is a German airfield in southeastern Sicily and we are to destroy as many aircraft as possible. This will be a rough one so make sure all the guns are in good shape and be very diligent in your watch. We are supposed to have a P-38 [a type of American fighter aircraft] escort, so watch for them.”

“No wonder there were so many aborts,” I heard someone – it sounded like Jay – say.

“Hold that kind of talk,” the pilot commanded.

Things got very quiet as each of us realized the danger we were in. We were in the low squadron, the outside aircraft of the last element, always the first to be lost.

Twenty-four beautiful, sleek B-17s in formation were an awesome sight as they started climbing to their bombing altitude as we approached the island of Sicily. Before the coast was visible, turrets stated moving and guns blazed in short bursts as each gunner tested his weapon. Reports came in over the intercom: tail gun checks okay, left waist gun okay, right waist, ball turret, radio gun, upper turret, and finally nose gun.

“Where are the P-38s? Don’t see them yet,” someone remarked. We kept our eyes peeled, straining to see our fighters materialize in their usual place as we closed in on the coast. From my upper turret, I could see upper and lower turrets moving, waist gun doors open, even the heads of the tail gunners in other aircraft turning as everyone searched the skies for our escort. I could see everything from my vantage point as we crossed the shoreline. Everything but P-38s.

“There they are at 7 o’clock,” was the first word from Harold in the tail.

“No, those aren’t P-38s – they’re Me-109s [German fighters]. Here they come!”

Seconds seemed like hours, then all hell broke loose. Bogies were coming from every direction. Every gun was shooting in short bursts.

The tail gunner was the first to report. “Got him. Frank, check him going down.”

I heard Frank’s reply from the ball turret. “Roger, Harold. He’s going down – there is a chute.”

“Good job,” came the pilot’s acknowledgement.

I reported two fighters coming in from the left but our wing was in my line of fire. Then the wing dipped and I opened up with both guns. I could see the tracers hitting all around the lead bogie. His engine started smoking and then blazed. He rolled over and a chute appeared.

As I swung my turret away, I noticed No. 1 propeller was feathered. [Meaning the outer engine on the left wing was destroyed.] Looking towards the nose, I saw we were dropping behind the other B-17s. “Slow down and help us please,” I thought to myself. [Damaged bombers which could not keep up lost the protection of the mass firepower of the formation.]

Our one aircraft dropping back alone was like disturbing a yellow jacket nest. Fighters attached from every direction. I got my third kill coming in from about the 5 o’clock position. “That’s eight,” I heard the co-pilot count off the planes shot down by our crew.

Still more enemy fighters were coming in to attack, but as I pressed my trigger there was no sound. Looking in the ammo box, I saw I was out of ammo. I couldn’t believe I had shot 1200 rounds in such a short time. I had 500 extra rounds stored on the floor. I quickly got it and started trying to reload my ammo boxes. It seemed to take hours. Finally it was loaded, but when I got back in the turret and tried to fire the gun, nothing happened.

Frantically I grabbed a screwdriver that I carried for emergencies, removed the electrical firing solenoid from the left gun and actuated the firing solenoid manually. Thank God it fired. I couldn’t do the best job aiming but a least I could spray bullets.

There weren’t as many reports of fighters on the intercom as there had been although both waist guns were firing and there were fighters everywhere. Why weren’t Harold and Frank talking?*

Two fighters were coming in at 4 o’clock. I aimed at the lead aircraft and started firing. It was then that I heard a frantic “12 o’clock! 12 o’clock!” Before I could respond, another bogie came over our right wing straight into my line of fire. It couldn’t have been 20 feet away. I saw the tracers hitting him and then it blew. I can’t imagine what would cause it to explode like that but it rained metal all over our aircraft. I don’t know what happened to the incoming bogies I had been shooting at. I remember our co-pilot calling out, “That’s ten.”

Number 4 engine gave up the ghost, belched, and stopped. A quick glance told me only No. 2 was running. Maybe we could make Malta. If not, we could ditch at sea.

Things seemed to be moving at a slow pace. Suddenly there weren’t as many fighters. Maybe we could make it. It was then that I saw two bogies out of range at about 7 o’clock. It looked like they were starting their run in. They were still out of range but I decided to try to scare them away. I elevated my guns and let go a short burst in their direction. I couldn’t believe it, but one plane started smoking, dropped down, and then I saw a chute.

The other one didn’t stop. I shot and shot, never letting go of the firing pin. I could see tracers streaming all around him. I could see his 30 caliber machine guns open up and then the flash of his 20 mm canon. Time moved in slow motion. What must have happened in seconds seemed like an eternity. I saw a 20 mm shell hit in the radio compartment and I thought, “Poor Louis.”** Another hit in the aft part of the bomb bay and I thought, “The next one is mine.” I heard a loud bang, felt the turret shake, felt the pain, and found myself on the floor.

I picked myself up slowly. Blood was coming from the back of my head. I found a piece of metal there and removed it. It was only a superficial wound. Plexiglass had cut my left hand, but not badly. I tried to get back in the turret but the Plexiglass top was gone. The left gun barrel was twisted up in an awful position. The 20 mm shell had hit just under the barrel. What a mess!

It was then I heard the awful sound of the last engine. The pilot was yelling, “Bail out! Bail out!”

I started putting on my parachute, handed the pilot and co-pilot theirs, and got my right leg strap hooked. There was a jam-up down at the escape hatch so I opened the bomb bay door. The bombs were still there and a fire was raging. I closed the door and yelled to the pilot that we had to leave by the hatch.

I heard a rumble as the bombs exploded. I hit the top of the fuselage and passed out.

When I came to, I was slowly drifting down with my chute open, only one leg strap holding me in. I heard the rat-a-tat of a machine gun and felt a sharp burning sensation in my right leg. Quickly I slumped and tried to convince the shooter I was dead. It worked.

I came to rest in the middle of the target. Fires were everywhere. So were German soldiers. I was taken to their headquarters where they were eating lunch at a table. They offered me food but I was in too much pain to eat it. Just then the air raid sirens sounded over the headquarters. They grabbed me and we ran to the slit-trenches just outside. The only word of theirs I could understand was “Lightning” (P-38s) but evidently they were getting clobbered.

The slit-trenches zigzagged about every 15 feet. I remember thinking that if I could get around the corner while they were watching the air battle, I could get away. I started running. As I turned the corner, I saw a German and a rifle butt, and all went dark.

*The men referred to were Harold Yorton, tail gunner, and Frank Curly, ball turret gunner. Both were injured but bailed out and survived. Curley was paralyzed by his wounds.
** Louis Snitkin, the gunner in the radio compartment, was killed.

The rest of the crew:
Pilot: 1/Lt Martin Devane (killed)
Co-pilot: 2/Lt Howard Freeburg (killed)
Navigator: 1/Lt Edward Dreuding (bailed out)
Bombardier: Name Unknown –a replacement for their regular bombardier who was sick (killed)
Radio Operator/Left Waist Gunner: T/Sgt Harold Pennoyer (wounded in legs but bailed out). Pennoyer and possibly other crew members saved Frank Curly, who was too injured to evacuate the airplane, by throwing him out the door with his parachute.
Right Waist Gunner: S/Sgt James ‘Jay” Harold (killed)
Except for Curley who was rescued by the Allied army in Sicily, presumably after the retreating Germans left him behind, the survivors spent the next 22 months as P.O.W.s.


This photo of the crew shows their names and was taken in Jan. 1943 just before they left the U.S. All except Lt Doyle were on the fateful mission.

I downloaded this photo from the internet to show where the crew members were located in the plane.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Old Roads Once Traveled is Now on Bubblews

I just submitted my first post to (appropriately and cleverly titled Introducing OldRoadsOnceTraveled on Bubblews. I am so creative).

If you're interested in reading more of my random musings, here is my profile page. My user name is the same as on Squidoo: OldRoadsOnceTraveled.

I hope to write at least one post most days, so I won't be linking them here unless I feel it's something special. I'll keep them all short, so you can read several of them quickly if you'd like to check in every few days. I would appreciate it.

The way I understand it, I will get paid a penny for each unique visit, plus a penny for each like or dislike and comment, so feel free to click the button of your choice and leave a comment if you wish.

If Bubblews sounds like a site you might like to write for, you can join via my referral link.


"My Grandfather's Songs: The Music of John H. Craton" is up to #60 on Squidoo today, and still #4 in Music.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Middlebrooks-Littlefield House: My Parents' First Home

Marietta St., Powder Springs, GA
Middlebrooks-Littlefield House
After my father was liberated from Stalag 17B by Patten's army near the end of World War II, he returned home to Dallas. After a very short time of trekking to Lost Mountain to court my mother, they were married in July, 1945. For a short while, they made their first home together renting two rooms in the Middlebrooks-Littlefield House in Powder Springs.

Maggie & Bill 1945

Marietta St., Powder Springs, GA
My parents' first home: the ell on the right and the front corner room in the main block beside it.

Marietta St., Powder Springs, GA

Marietta St., Powder Springs, GA
Perfect place for a sculpture of two lovers.

The honeymoon suite

Return to this section of the Powder Springs Walking Tour

Historic Downtown Powder Springs, Georgia Walking Tour Part 11

Marietta St., Powder Springs, GA
See Powder Springs

We'll wrap up our walking tour of downtown Powder Springs with the north side of Marietta Street from the First Baptist Church to New Macland Road.

The Lackley-Florence-Tapp House, childhood home of teacher and Powder Springs historian Virginia Tapp, was built prior to 1877.

Marietta St., Powder Springs, GA
Florence-McTyre-Conlon House
The Florence-McTyre-Conlon was built by Wallace Florence, a cotton buyer, in the early 1900s. The house was later owned and renovated by J.B. McTyre.

Formerly the library, this building, now known as The Garage,
belongs to the First Baptist Church of Powder Springs.

Office of Dr. James Boyle, DMD

Marietta St., Powder Springs, GA
Middlebrooks-Littlefield House
One of the oldest houses in Powder Springs, the Middlebrooks-Littlefield House was probably built around the time of the Civil War. Dr. J.D. Middlebrooks purchased the house in 1900 and moved his office there. The current owners of the Gothic Revival house found a pouch of Confederate money cemented into the chimney and an 1886 silver dollar hidden in the ceiling.

I want to be able to enlarge as many pictures of the Middlebrooks-Littlefield House as Blogger will let me, so it will get it's own post.

Return to Part 1

Return to Part 2

Return to Part 3

Return to Part 4

Return to Part 5

Return to Part 6

Return to Part 7

Return to Part 8

Return to Part 9

Return to Part 10

Continue to The Middlebrooks-Littlefield House: My Parents' First Home

Meet Shirley Plantation's Cat, Tunnah

Shirley Plantation's Unofficial Greeter

Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia, is more than just a place to see beautiful and unique architecture or delve into the rich history of Virginia's Carter family. If you are an animal lover, you'll also find chickens and goats, perhaps spot some of the plantation's wildlife, and if you're fortunate, meet one of the Carter dogs or cats.

Shirley is a pet-friendly attraction. While pets (other than service animals) are not allowed in the historic area, there is a designated area for walking dogs on a leash across from the visitor parking lot. Note: it's on the opposite side from the goat and chicken pastures.

I was fortunate to have been greeted by Tunnah, Shirley Plantation's tabby, on my last visit. After coming to greet me, my beautiful feline host graciously posed for a number of photos in her kitchen.

Shirley Plantation's cat
Tunnah the tabby at Shirley Plantation

Seven Springs Museum Review on Yahoo! Voices

Seven Springs Museum is a delightful free museum that showcases life in a small Georgia town.

Seven Springs Museum in Powder Springs, Georgia
A Great Little Small Town Museum in a Great Little Small Town

After driving past Seven Springs Museum in my hometown of Powder Springs, Georgia, hundreds of times, I finally made it a point to stop in recently. I wish I had done so sooner. I love history, especially local history, and Seven Springs Museum did not disappoint.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Historic Downtown Powder Springs, Georgia Walking Tour Part 10

After more than two months of rain delays, the weather and my schedule finally allowed me to finish my walking tour of downtown Powder Springs. Walking from the Methodist Church to New Macland Road and back only took a few minutes, and the traffic was pretty light around 11 o'clock on a Friday morning. Garbage day isn't the optimum time to take pictures, but beggars can't be choosers when it comes to sunny days this summer.

Let's continue on the south side of Marietta Street from the First Methodist Church to the intersection of New Macland Road.

Note: the photo formatting issue is still ongoing in Blogger, only letting me select large photos on about three pictures per document. Click on a photo to see a slideshow of larger images.

Marietta St., Powder Springs, GA
S.E. Smith House. First Methodist Church visible next door on right.

The S.E. Smith House. S.E. Smith was the depot agent for the Southern Railway Depot from 1894 until the 1930s.

Marietta St., Powder Springs, GA
Camp-Boyd House

The Camp-Boyd House was built around 1900 as a wedding present to her son, Charlie Camp. The house features decorative spindle work and a corner tower on the porch.

H.C. Miller House

The H.C. Miller House was built in 1920 for Harry Cole Miller, a rural mail carrier in Powder Springs from 1918 to 1928. Sarah Frances Miller, a local historian and the only child of Harry Miller and his wife Ethel Leake, lived in the house until her death in 2002. Sarah Frances Miller founded the Powder Springs Historical Society and the Seven Springs Museum. The Craftsman bungalow currently is home to Judith Ann Photography.

McTyre-Hunter-Herrigel House

The classic Italianate McTyre-Hunter-Herrigel House was built by Charles Marshall McTyre,
owner of a general store and cotton gin.

< Lost Mountain
^ Austell
^ Marietta
< McEachern High School

The top of the hill and the intersection with New Macland Road (GA 176). Powder Springs Road (to Marietta) is the street you can see continuing straight at the new light, while Austell-Powder Springs Road (to Austell), hidden behind the garbage cans, turns right.



Friday, August 23, 2013

Purple Star!

Humongous, gigantic news on the Squidoo front!

My article, "My Grandfather's Songs: The Music of John H. Craton" (the one I almost didn't write because I wasn't sure I could make the deadline and I didn't think very many people would read it anyway), continues up the ladder by leaps and bounds.

Day        Rank
1             15,930
2               3,501
3                  644
4 (today)      139

Yesterday afternoon, I got the following email:

Hey OldRoadsOnceTraveled,

Yes. It's true. Not too good to be true, but almost.

An especially stellar Squidoo lens of yours was just handpicked by our editorial team to WIN the Purple Star award. Purple Stars are awarded sporadically, when we come across editorial excellence, to our very favorite lenses on the site.

Purple Star Trophy

You received a Purple Star!

for your lens My Grandfather's Songs: The Music of John H. Craton

I knew there was a reason purple was my favorite color.

I continue to be amazed how well this article is doing. Can't wait until tomorrow.

Update 8/24/13: We're up to #98 and # 5 in Music

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5 (actually 8) Life Lessons I Learned Teaching Piano Lessons

Wow! Two posts in the same hour. Impressed?

My latest Yahoo! article has just been published. Just thought you'd like to know.

5 Life Lessons I Learned Teaching Piano Lessons

I was being polite when I wrote it, so I didn't include important lessons like:

  • Save the candy for time for them to go home to their parents.
  • Don't leave certain kids unsupervised around bug spray.
And most importantly:
  • Send the kid to the bathroom when they start wiggling.

My Grandfather's Songs: The Music of John H. Craton

I know I'm behind on blogging, for which I apologize. I promise I will eventually finish the series on downtown Powder Springs. At the time I was taking the pictures, I was thinking, "Oh, there's too much traffic now. I can come back and finish this up any time."

I didn't realize at the time how long I would be delayed by the need to track down gopher wood to build an ark.

If the sun ever shines again, I will get the rest of those houses featured and link them to the rest of the series. What's even more frustrating is that one of them is the one house that I most wanted a picture of, the one my parents rented rooms in when they were first married, and the one I've been telling myself for several years that I need to stop and take a picture of.

In the meantime, I have big news on the Squidoo front. I am taking part in a series of training challenges for new "squids", which carry the benefit of being read and sometimes critiqued by established Squidoo writers, and being promoted on a weekly showcase list.

This week's challenge was to write about something special in our home, an assignment that would normally fit well with Squidoo's marketing niche. But the first thing I thought of was my collection of singing convention songbooks, many of which contain songs my grandfather, a singing school teacher, wrote, and some of which he published. My grandfather died before I was born, so his music is his legacy to me.

That's probably not the commercial approach Amazon would have hoped for. It's certainly not "keyword" friendly. I doubt very many people are going to type "Pie John" into a Google search box.

But I didn't care. It would be a fun article to write (although I do admit crying through it). I titled the Amazon module "Things Pie John Might Have Liked", but after the Cathedrals "An Old Convention Song" album and the Baptist Hymnal, I was a little at loss for what my grandfather, who was born in 1881, died in 1961, and made a living on the singing school circuit and raising cotton, might have ordered from Amazon. They say Amazon sells everything, but they don't sell tractors. I checked. So I picked out a nice tiller instead. Awfully inconvenient for more than a backyard plot, but it beats plowing 40 acres with a mule. A nice hoe for hoeing corn and chopping cotton, maybe? I know! An iphone! Gives you directions, plays music, and hey, you can make phone calls with it, too!

I'm really not expecting someone born in 1881 to sell an iphone (although the referral payment would be really nice). But then, I really wasn't expecting anyone but a few family and friends and a few fellow Squidoo authors to read it. It would be fun, I'd add some content to my profile, and maybe a few people might find it a nice read and come back to read something else.

Squidoo ranks articles by some formula (known only to them) that includes views, likes, social media shares, and clicking on links. I don't know how many articles are currently on the site, but the initial rank of "My 5 Favorite Recordings by the Cathedral Quartet" was #1,449,113 before it bumped up to #69,893 on Day 2.

"My Grandfather's Songs: The Music of John H. Craton" got a pretty good initial amount of traffic from my Facebook post the first day it was published. The next morning, it was ranked #15,930, the highest ranking any of my articles so far. Then several people shared the link on their timeline, and when I checked my stats today, it was ranked #3,501 overall and #102 in music.

I don't know yet how a ranking that high will translate into my payment since I've been on Squidoo for less than a month. I won't be paid for August until October. I don't yet have a clear understanding how all that works since there are so many factors that come into play on Squidoo (unlike Yahoo!, which simply pays per view with occasional advance payments). But from what I've read, this is high in the second tier (2,000-20,000). Lenses with that average over a month seem to be the ones that are the bread-and-butter (if you have a number of them). Tier 1 is where the real money-makers are.

I don't know that this article will get that high, and I certainly don't expect it to maintain an average like that. I'm expecting it to drop once all the people who have some connection to someone who has some connection to it read it, and then maybe maintain an occasional readership from people who happen to see it on my profile page. But it has definitely introduced a lot of people to my writing, and hopefully they will read other articles or find their way to this blog.

My initial estimations are that it will take about six months to build an appreciable income from my freelance writing. This makes me very hopeful about that goal. I love being self-employed, and I love teaching piano, but that's not an income that I can depend on. Hopefully a good supply of articles online will provide more of a financial stability.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has read this or shared it so far. That means so much to me.

If you haven't read it, here's the link:
My Grandfather's Songs: The Music of John H. Craton


I've probably followed in Pie John's footsteps more professionally (except I've never picked cotton in my life), but I look more like "Emmer". I definitely inherited her front teeth, but caps fixed that.

While you're at it, check out some of my other work. My profile pages will have links to all my articles on these sites.

If you want updates on new articles and new blog posts, you can "like" this blog's Facebook page. I usually post links there. Sometimes I also share photos or articles related to something I've written about. I don't like to use any photos that I don't own unless they are public domain, so when I find an interesting related photo, I share it there.

While I'm thanking people, I want to thank the loyal readers that I have here on Old Roads Once Traveled (you know who you are). To those who just happened by, pull up a chair and set a spell.

P.S. If you're looking to buy an iphone on Amazon, I've got a link for you. See my grandfather about that.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

London Now & in 1940

Having been in London on vacation this spring and after reading a book about WWII, I decided some spliced photos were in order.


                St. Paul's >>>>>

Tower Bridge

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pastel Paper Clips, Pens That Aren't Purple, Shoeboxes, and More Nearly Free Toothpaste

My Squidoo Back-to-School Challenge lens "Confessions of a School Supply Junkie", in which I opined about purple pens, chartreuse binders, pastel paper clips, purple magnetic staplers, and purple coupon binders, is doing well. Originally ranked at about #124,000 out of however many lenses were on Squidoo on it's first day, it has been bumped up to #35,822 on Day 2. I've had some great comments. My favorite is:

suepogson Aug 6, 2013 @ 11:30 pm |                         
Take a deep breath ma'am ... now walk away from the stapler .... Put the pastel paper clips down ... Ma'am ... I need you to put the pastel paper clips down NOW . Move away from the stapler ....
Honestly - you're not safe to be let out.
Howled with laughter at the lens. Thanks!
In case you missed the lens, here's the link again: "Confessions of a School Supply Junkie".
In the meantime, I headed to Walgreens today for 29 cent pens that weren't purple, but I'm stocking up for Samaritan's Purse Shoebox time. They also had Colgate Total Zx toothpaste on sale for $3.49 with a $2.50 Register Reward. I had two $1 coupons, which netted me premium toothpaste for twenty cents each in tax after I redeem the Register Reward.

Note: If you have multiple coupons, be sure to make multiple transactions because only one Register Reward will print per transaction. Also don't use your first Register Reward on your next transaction or the subsequent Register Reward won't print.
And what should spit out of the machine but two more $1 coupons for the same toothpaste? Looks like I'm going back to Walgreens tomorrow.
So other than sticking it in Samaritan's Purse Shoeboxes, what am I going to do with my growing stockpile of free or nearly free toothpaste?
If you have to ask that, then you apparently didn't read my Yahoo! article "Putting Toothpaste to the Test". It doesn't just review 11 uses for toothpaste (including cleaning the bathtub and brushing your teeth), but includes bonus tips, such as "Cleaning only the pooped-on section on a dirty car makes the rest of the car look worse."
It's an invaluable resource. Everyone should know this stuff.
My 20 cent toothpaste, my pens that aren't purple, my pastel paper clips, and my coupon binder that isn't purple on my box that's more lime than chartreuse. I used a coupon to pay $1.60 for the paper clips last week, and now they're on sale for $1.00. Is that enough reason to go buy more?


Change in Kroger Coupon Status

I found out today (at Publix) that some coupons issued with the Kroger logo on them are now manufacturer coupons rather than store coupons.

The ones I used were the Catalina coupons printed at Kroger stores (the ones from the little machine) and the white ones from the little magazine-type mailing (the ones that are just annoyingly enough too wide to fit into a trading card pocket, but that's an issue for another post). Both were marked Manufacturer at the top.

I'm so used to just plopping down my Kroger and Target coupons along with my manufacturer coupons at Publix, I didn't even notice the label until the clerk pointed it out.

This is good news or bad news (or both), depending on what you do with your Kroger coupons.

As manufacturer coupons, you should be able to use them at any store now, not just Kroger or another store that accepts competitor coupons.

But, if you're like me and you like stacking manufacturer and competitor coupons at Publix for the really good deals, this is going to be a bummer. So much for my plan to make 67 cents on a bottle of salad dressing today.

Now that Kroger is issuing manufacturer coupons, are they going to start doubling them, or treating them like their digital coupons and not double them?

I checked my binder for other Kroger coupons and found that both the white and the red mailed coupons were marked either Manufacturer for name brands or Store Coupon for Kroger brands. I didn't see any newspaper coupons with the Kroger logo, but I'll pay attention the next time I clip one. I noticed on some Catalinas from both Kroger and Walgreens that they say Manufacturer.

In my opinion, this is another blow to couponers, although I certainly can't complain about all the coupons Kroger and Target have generously supplied me in the past to use at Publix. What do you think? Leave me a comment.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Almost Like Being Back in School

So far, all of my freelance submissions have been on topics of my own choosing submitted on my on schedule, but I claimed two assignments last week and have been working towards--oh, horrors!--deadlines. After working since breakfast today, I got the first one in with 15 minutes to spare.

(And everyone who knows me is sitting there reading this right now, and thinking, "Fifteen minutes? Wow! That early?")

I'm not real good with schedules.

The topic was something I could have a lot of fun with: Back to School Supplies. Really. It was fun. I read the assignment, and got really excited. I've spent the past several days (no, I did not wait until this morning to start it) thinking of all the ways I could make fun of my obsessions with filler paper and binders and purple pens.

And then after using the recurring purple theme through the whole thing, I checked everything five or six times, and hit publish with 45 minutes to spare.

And then realized several minutes later that after having purple on the brain for a week, I forgot to format the page to use the purple visual theme. I went to the page and, sure enough, my purple school supplies lens was Default Blue.

Fortunately on this site, I can edit after publishing.

I needed a intro photo, so I decided to arrange some of my new purchases of things I really didn't need spilling out of the new purple backpack I really semi-need, and just as I was getting ready to snap some shots, guess who decided to jump into the picture?

Okay, maybe fame actually has gone to his head and he's come to expect being published. But it fit the theme (Guiness loves to lay on books and paper, especially if I'm using them), so I left him.

This lens was written in response to a challenge for new "squids" (yes, that really is what Squidoo calls its writers), so I'm interested to see how other writers try to be creative, interesting, and personal with school supplies when some of them are featured tomorrow.

Here's the link:

Confessions of a School Supply Addict: My Life-Long Battle with Back-to-School Sales

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Putting Toothpaste to the Test

You can never have too much free toothpaste. It's such a great donation item. It's a perfect size to tuck into a Samaritan's Purse shoebox at Christmas, and it's always needed at food pantries and homeless shelters.

I don't pay for plain old toothpaste, the kind that usually goes on sale for about the value of a coupon. For the good stuff, I might go 25 cents. Maybe 50 under extenuating circumstances. But usually, if I'm diligent, a drug store deal is going to come along that will bring a ridiculously expensive tube down to a net cost of little or nothing after coupons. As someone who has to use a formula for sensitive teeth, I'm always on the lookout for cheap or free premium varieties. But even though I don't use regular toothpaste on my teeth, I don't walk away from it when it's free.

Okay, I admit it. I am addicted to free toothpaste.

So other than donating it, what can I do with it?

The results are in my new Yahoo! Voices article.