Shower of Gold

Sometimes its hard to recognize blessings when they fall on you.


Story is the Family Connector

Gus Keasler:
 Clemson College Football Team - 1904

 This year I discovered my grand-father, Gus Keasler. I tell his story in
Finding Gus . He was a missing link in our family. Finding him answered questions and it opened doors.

 But perhaps most important knowing Gus provides a wonderful hook to connect his time and our family today.

Clemson College Football Team - 1904
20 year old Gus Keasler is sitting in the center of the front row.

This year for the first time I am following the Clemson Football team and rooting for them. Proud and happy for them over their strong season - because I feel connected to them. I know that Gus is there with them when they play their home games - he is remembered on a brick on the terrace where the players enter the field.
Gus Keasler, 1904, 1905 - - -

Have you ever noticed that at half-time on TV Clemson shows pictures of their historic teams? I can't help but feel it as a "southern" thing. And, I am grateful for it. Its that same impulse that brought me to storytelling and holds me there - the need to tell the stories of my family and to connect the threads of the past to today.

For instance: our grandson is a Senior in a California High School. He plays on a football team that
everyone thought would place last in their city. But never under-estimate the under-dogs, right?
These guys have proved themselves to be the "little team that could." They finished first in their city league - undefeated - and have won two of the bigger State play-off games against much stronger teams. Next week they tackle an even tougher challenge. Its like a chapter from the popular TV show, Friday Night Lights.

I look at our Dan wearing his sleek blue and white well-padded uniform - and I think of Gus. It makes me happy to tell Dan about his great, great grandfather - a South Carolina farm boy who was recruited to Clemson by the fabled John Heisman 107 years ago when football was in its infancy. Just as Gus lives in his story - - - I believe he lives in Dan.

You see  - - I believe that if you know the stories and connect them - they will both live on and on and on - adding new pieces as time goes on.


A Tradition and more

Willliamsburg Wreath re-dux

To celebrate Advent I am going to post a series photos of Williamsburg Christmas Wreaths until Christmas.
I took these photos in 2005 - the year our family gathered in Williamsburg to celebrate Jim's and my 50th wedding anniversary.

Williamsburg Wreath - 2005
Photo: e.schoettler

Today the annual Christmas Tree sale opened outside our church. The pungent perfume of the piles of fresh cut spruce and fir triggered many memories.

Here is a story about the Christmas of 1949 -


Thinking of Charles Kuralt, storyteller with a Video

The Night the Stars Fell, e. schoettler, collage

My friend Jennie called to share her delight at listening to an old audio tape of Charles Kuralt reading from his book, On the Road.

Born and bred in North Carolina Charles Kuralt was the kind of consummate storyteller I grew up around.  After he graduated from the University of North Carolina - ( Chapel Hill, will do for those who know and love it )  Kuralt returned to Charlotte to begin his career as a journalist. He found stories at every turn and he carried his ability to capture ordinary people into his career in NYC - - -  it resulted in his famous and well-loved "On the Road" television program.

Hearing his voice brings me back to earlier days in Charlotte and reminds me of my debt to and  appreciation for Kuralt's ability to translate the ordinary into "story".


Life - Mixed Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving
   A time for gathering a few memories.
Going with my grandmother to Morrisson Farms to pick out the turkey from those clucking in the 
farm yard.  Once it was tagged she would return in several days to pick it up - plucked and ready   
for her roasting pan.
Favorite dishes: sweet potato casserole, dressing - hot on Thanksgiving and cold next day,
jellied cranberry - for years I thought you could only eat that at Thanksgiving, now I serve it
year round and ambrosia - with coconut.

Jim and I will celebrate our 56th wedding anniversary December 30 - so this is our 58th Thanksgiving together. We often talk about the first - when a Hopkins Nursing School classmate and I cooked a dinner for Jim and his room-mate. He married me later dispite the biscuits that day which could have doubled as hockey pucks. Since then I serve delicious biscuits --- from a tube.

Another turkey memory. A few years ago I invited a gaggle of folks got Thanksgiving Dinner. 
Bought the Turkey - frozen - the day before - - -a twenty four pound turkey does not thaw in a
minute. My daughter Karen and I sat up all night running warm water over the "bird" - inside and 
out - so that I could cook it Thanksgiving morning. It worked but I don't recommend it.

 This year I will not be cooking the Turkey. My cousins are bringing the dinner - ready for the table - and it is a wonderful blessing. 

We have many blessings to celebrate today - but Jim's health is not one of them.
His cancer has returned. Back on Chemo which we hope will soon take hold and suppress things. At the moment he feels lousy. Please remember him in your prayers.


Tweet Tweet

When I am just out of words
I call up a bit of this and a bit of that
to tweet for me.


Touching Base with History

Stepping into today's history:

We flew to San Antonio with a group of service men and women returning from duty in Iraq.

At the airport we watched as two young children holding balloons ran into their mother's arms to welcome her home.

So we stumbled upon one aspect of the history of today -

We also revisited our own history.

Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX was Jim's first assignment when he was drafted into the Air Force in 1958. Maybe some will recall there was a "doctor draft" in those days so Jim knew that as soon as he completed his internship he would be called up - commissioned a Captain. He was assigned to this very building which was the School of Medicine for his training as a Flight Surgeon.

Bringing our history up-to-date:
Our son was 2 and half when we moved to Texas. 

Because Jim was an Officer we had a blue decal on the front and rear bumpers of our green Ford Station Wagon. When we drove through the front gates the guard spotted that decal, staightened to attention and snapped a salute. Jimmy loved that. Standing on the front seat of the car next to me he would stand straighter and snap a salute back to the guard. Then he'd laugh!

This afternoon Jimmy was driving. When we entered the gate the guard came forward , " ID please." When Jimmy handed his ID to the guard he eyed it, then straightened to attention and snapped a salute. 
"Have a nice afternoon, Colonel."
We all laughed.

After our visit to Randolph AFB we drove around to the other side of town to visit Brooks Air Force Base - now decomissioned and called Brooks City-Base

In 1959 the School of Medicine moved from Randolph AFB to Brooks AFB into these new buildings. Once he had completed his training as a Flight Surgeon Jim as assigned to the faculty at the new School of Aerospace Medicine.  This was the early days of the new space effort and they were conducting research and experiments to determine how the human 
body would acclimate to space, pressures, isolation and many other aspects of space flight. Jim was assigned to teach a course in Aerospace Medicine and he tells us today that he essentially made it up as he went along.

Space talk was in the air. And a friend and I got caught up in it. We had been in a writers group in Baltimore and we decided to interview the wives of the astronaut candidates to find out how they were coping - especially with their husbands being sequestered in the isolation chambers for long periods of time. My friend's mother was a novelist and her NY agent agreed to handle our manuscript. We had just submitted it to him when Commander Alan Shepard was lobbed into space and the whole scene changed  - - - making our women's story yesterday's news. But it was a great experience and we agreed we learned a lot from the doing.

A history surprise:
Jim was transferred to his Psychiatry Residency at UNC in Chapel Hill, NC in July1961...and we lost track of the fine points of what happened at the School of Aerospace Medicine.
So we were surprised when one of the current staff mentioned the connection with President John F Kennedy.
We walked around the Bedwell Building, (named for General Bedwell, the Commander when Jim was there) to see this plague.

President Kennedy came to Brooks on November 21, 1963 to dedicate the Bedwell Building and then flew to Dallas. It was his last public speech before he was killed in Dallas.

A note on the phrase: " We threw our cap over the wall":
From Wikipedia:
Frank O'Connor's early years are recounted in An Only Child, a memoir published in 1961 which has the immediacy of a precocious diary. U.S. President John F. Kennedy remarked anecdotally from An Only Child at the conclusion of his speech at the dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center in San Antonio on November 21, 1963: "Frank O'Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall--and then they had no choice but to follow them. This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space and we have no choice but to follow it."[7]

So many threads weave our stories connecting us to history.


Ode to Balancing

Balance is everything, isn't it
Whether in a piece of art work
or in life
I am trying to remember that
My days would run much smoother if I could.

Somehow I can achieve balance much better in a collage than I can in my life
In the collage I can manage and control even the smallest bits
In life ---
Everything is beyond my control.

It is about how well I can "go with the flow"
or play the hand I am dealt.


It's About Time

It's About Time
e. schoettler


Life Never Stops - A Collage


Life never stops

That's how it is around our house  -
some days are wonderful, others not so.
We live with Jim's cancer around here - which keeps us on our toes.
You never know when the silent beast will raise its ugly head and stir things up.

Turn on CNN and wallow in stories of other kinds of beasts -
   war, rape, murder - election debates that leave me uneasy
actually nervous and scared by threatened cuts to medicare and social security.
On that I know I know I am not alone.

Sunny days and storytelling help me keep the "dementors" away. 

Right now our grandson is playing on an undefeated high school football team
  that won their first play-off game last night

This team originally expected to rank LAST - keeps charging ahead -
like the little engine that COULD.
The coach said, "I don't know how they are doing it. Maybe we should just leave them alone."
Go Cougars
Keep making your own story.

Lets keep cheering.

Life never stops
Playing two sides of the coin at one time.


NEW Video: Adventure in Kenya

Storytelling is so great - gives you an opportunity to relive an adventure and even if it was harrowing -
you can see your self in it with better perspective.
Recently when I was one of the storytellers for an event with Better Said Than Done, I told An Adventure in Kenya. It is still so vivid in my memory that it does not see 26 years since the 1985 United Nations in Nairobi - it could have been yesterday.
Really appreciate BSTD Director Jessica Piscitelli - for inviting me as one of the tellers and for this video to share.


New Video: A Conversation with Storyteller Linda Goodman

Stories in Focus: an interview with storyteller Linda Goodman - plus she tells a wonderful personal story of her childhood.


United4Equality - The 2015 Campaign

Very happy to tell Pushing Boundaries last night in support of United4Equality and their efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

So comfortable to be back in a group of feminists, male and female who care about this issue. I felt very at home and realized how much I had missed these groups.

My time on the staff of the League of Women Voters was tiring, challenging, exciting and very satisfying.  Working on the Equal Rights Amendment made me feel so connected to history - to the connection with the Suffragists.

Carolyn Cook, the Founder of United4Equality, is a woman of passion and determination, on the issue of ERA and reminds me of so many women I knew during the 70s and 80s - who worked for ERA across the country. She is like those women who put their hearts into the Campaign.

I never thought I would have a chance to tell my ERA story to a group of activists  continuing the effort to pass the ERA - - - what a wonderful opportunity for my Diamond Jubilee.


Back on the Campaign Trail

Tonight in Rockville, MD I will be telling Pushing Boundaries, my story of morphing from a 1950s housewife into an ERA activist at a Fundraiser for United 4 Equality.

Carolyn Cook, the founder of United 4 Equality will talk about the campaign to ratify the Amendment by 2015. Carolyn is a woman who is determined and passionate in her efforts to bring equal rights for women into the US Constitution.

Being able to work in support of ERA is another touchstone
for my Diamond Jubilee Year.
I am very happy to share my story in support of a new ERA Campaign because I believe it is a way to gather stories from other Second Wave veterans as well as a way to ignite young women to want to see them selves protected in the US Constitution.


Veterans Day 2011

Veterans Day - 2011

The Missing Man Memorial
Randolph Air Force Base
San Antonio, Texas

Grateful thanks to all those who serve and who have served in the Military.


Gretchen Marie Schoettler: 1961-1964

To gather our whole family we have to visit Arlington National Cemetary where our daughter Gretchen is buried.
Today would be Gretchen's 50th birthday. 
Seems a long time ago and at the same time yesterday.


Ghost Stories in George West -

The George West Storytelling Festival in G.W., Texas was mighty fun! Just being in Texas was wonderful and I have a lot to say about it - but thought I would start my series of blog posts with a story.

The Ghost Story concert on Saturday night was the last event of the Festival. It was held in the Performing Arts Center which is a classic movie house that has been lovingly restored.

Ghost stories are a popular event at any festival and this was no exception. With lights down the Dobie Theater was a great place for the scary stories and the full-house audience loved them. Megan Hicks led off with an original and v e r y scary story followed by Mark Babino who told a chilling version of the "white dress" story. Consuelo Samarippa told a wonderful darker version of the witch of Cordoba than I have ever heard. Jay Stailey lightened the mood with Boo Baby and you could feel the audience appreciate it. I followed with one of my favorite ghost stories, The Cussing Cover, an Appalachian story and  DeCee Cornish brought down the house as he closed the show with his telling of a scary story that turned into a joke.

San Antonio storyteller Larry Thompson set this line-up and his choice to move from scary stories to laughing worked really well.
Here is a recent version of The Cussing Cover which was recorded at Channel 16 and aired on Stories in Time.