Ronda Rich's blog

How Gen. Grant became Mr. Grant

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(This is the second of a three-part series on the discoveries made after a visit to Charlie Tinker’s grave.)

Upon discovering Charles Almerin Tinker’s leaf-strewn grave in Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., we — one of us more than the other — began to study the names and dates engraved on the towering monument.

Three of his children, all born after the Civil War ended, were named in honor of men that Charlie had apparently held in great esteem: Lincoln, Stanton (Secretary of War, Charlie’s immediate boss) and Grant. Read More»

The bow maker

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The renowned bow maker in my hometown died. Only in the South would this probably be news because we Southern women do admire a package well wrapped.

At 85, Miss Betty was still holding court at the drug store where she took great pride in her masterful skill of producing the most gorgeous packages. They were simply stunning.

Well, they were more than that — they were a work of art. Whenever I got a gift she had wrapped, I would smile and say, “I know where this came from.” Read More»

The way she was

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The way she was was a long way from what she became. I can’t help thinking about how life veers so far away from the beginning of the journey and how the destination can vary drastically from where it all started.

To begin with, she was a beautifully made young girl with curves and a tumbling mass of blonde hair and bright blue eyes that danced with endless joy. Her laugh was contagious and her stories endlessly entertaining. Read More»

Charlie Tinker’s grave

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[This is a second three-part series on Charlie. This is the first installment.]

It was during mid-flight, perhaps somewhere over Virginia, that a thought hit me and I turned suddenly, excitedly toward Tink.

“Let’s visit Charlie Tinker’s grave while we are in New York!” I exclaimed. The notion sank into his brain and washed slowly across his face. Silently, he nodded in agreement. Read More»

The poor dirt farmer

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There’s nothing glamorous about being a farmer, nothing charming, little endearing and certainly few things easy about it. It is either a calling or a curse, depending on how one looks at it. Some are born into it, and some just can’t find a way to escape it, for it’s all they’ve ever known. Read More»

Oh, the stories of woe

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Oh, the stories people tell. Not always good ones, mind you, but the kind that will make you fall down on your knees and thank the good Lord up above that you don’t have a story like that. Read More»

The writer in you

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Over lunch the other day with friends — all in the newspaper business — I mentioned that I occasionally speak at writers’ conferences.

“Everyone has a book in ‘em,” I commented, something I most surely believe though they all looked surprised. “They do,” I insisted. “Everyone has a story to tell that is interesting enough to be read by others.”

As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., poet and doctor, once said, “I have tasted the intoxicating pleasure of authorship.” Many long to do it but they never follow through. Read More»

‘The Last Lap’

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Somehow I ran across an out-of-print book called “The Last Lap.” It is now 15 years old but tells an intriguing, timeless tale of the early days of America’s first stock car racers.

These colorful characters ruled the sport 30 years before I ever set foot at a track. The legend of many of those men outlived their years on earth, so I sometimes heard tales of their wild, renegade ways. Whenever we raced at Riverside International Raceway in California, someone was likely to mention Joe Weatherly. Read More»

Small town life

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Around the corner, out in the country where we live, is a hardware store owned by a guy I have known since the day I was born. Our bassinets were next to each other in the hospital nursery.

Down the road a piece is a dairy co-owned by a guy whose bassinet was on the other side of mine in the nursery. When I need a helping hand with a lawn mower stuck in the thicket or a pasture that needs bush hogging, I call that guy and he is Jerry-on-the-spot to help. Read More»

Changing fortunes

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It happened in Memphis. A lot of history and interesting stuff occurs in that magical city that sits grandly on the Mississippi River. Elvis held court there, the blues grew up there and barbecue is queen. Elvis, of course, is still king. Read More»

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