Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tradition! Tradition! Meow!

Fresh, free-range turkey
right from the oven.
The hit of Thanksgiving Dinner--home
made butter.

I’m beginning to think it’s a family Thanksgiving tradition. Not having turkey (yes, we did that with son Chris as chef and mighty good it was, not to mention the homemade butter). No, taking in lonely cats threatens to become a habit.
Ginger--once upon a time
            Almost five years ago a cat appeared on our porch in Southwest Georgia. For months I told him, “Shoo, scat, cat.” He didn’t. He told me firmly speaking in a squeaky cat-ese, that this was his home and we are (yes, are) his family. Finally, on Thanksgiving day, 2007 I gave him a handful of cat food. The rest—history. I wrote about it in this blog in January, 2008 Gentling Ginger I. I’ve updated now and again, and now it’s history repeats herself.
            Ginger, named for his ginger coat, quickly managed to make himself the lead family cat. He even made the move with us to Houston where he now feels right at home.
Ginger now--surveying
his domain,
New cat on the block
            But last March, complications. Douglas appeared. Now Douglas wears a tag that says he lives a block away. That’s what they think. Douglas thinks he lives right in my yard where we’re sharing him with our neighbor Michael.  

Mac and Arthur, or is it Arthur and Mac?
(Check out my March 15 and 17, 2011 entries here.) Not only did Douglas appear. He brought two “nephews,” Mac and Arthur. The boys remain happy to eat outside and run. But Douglas? Douglas tells us plaintively (he tells Michael the same thing, and he’s as soft a touch as I am.), "I'm a house cat. I love you."
            And now—instant replay. Thanksgiving morning, I felt mellow, generous, loving and one more time—I opened the door. Immediately, Douglas accepted. That was a week ago. Now Douglas has made himself right at home—and with Ginger’s grudging permission. When will this end?
            No, Mac!
            No, Arthur!
Well, not until next Thanksgiving. Maybe.
Maybe too much at home!
Douglas makes himself at home.



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Once upon a time

I know where I was 53 years ago today—in my family backyard, renamed ‘the garden’ for the occasion. At precisely 9:30 in the morning, my friend Carol Brown started working her way through Handel’s Largo, I took my father’s arm and all of eighteen (for a whole month) I floated down the stairs into married life.
            Bob stood at the alter shifting from one foot to the other; such a mature man. He was nineteen. The garden alter was lovely draped in ivy and white chrysanthemums. Forty-eight hours earlier, it had still been the big swing set made of three-inch pipe and set in concrete. Mother didn’t want any tipping over. Swings down, flowers up. Instant alter. Years later, I watched my children hang by their knees on the spot where we made our vows. That’s the side of the ‘alter’ to my right in the picture.
            I didn’t feel nervous. I didn’t think I was nervous, but the minute we got to where Bob, our fine and understanding minister, Burnette Dowler, stood waiting and Daddy released my arm, I started shaking. It was the first time. It was the last time. I felt and probably looked like a fern in the water. The something deep in me was yelling, “Watch out.”
            We proceeded. When the time came to take Bob’s hand, I was fine. The fern found her roots. Rings changed, cake eaten, clothes changed, hop in my folks car (they later drove ‘our’ well-decorated Plymouth down Polk Street, Amarillo’s main drag) and off for our romantic honeymoon.
August 30, 1958
            Been a long, long road with ups, downs, curves and even a few detours, but we’re still on it looking for new adventures, old books, and fun. 
Bob and Trilla, 2011

Fun: When Bob saw the  wedding picture for the first time in a few years, he asked why I was holding hands with Buddy Holly. What do you think?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good reading weather

August in Houston--the best thing to do is stay home with a
good book and a mammoth glass of iced tea. 
Wow it’s hot in Houston. Yesterday, Whitey the 10, maybe 11, year old Jeep complained about it. It’s an old man in Jeep years, and never, not once, no, never had his thermometer rolled around to 110 degrees. “Hey,” he yelped in Jeepanese, “I didn’t know I could go that high. Now cut it out or get me air conditioning.”
            We haven’t managed the air conditioning, but we do have a nice shady carport. Whitey’s been spending lots of time there, because it’s also too hot for me. I’m not out running around; I’m in the nice, cool house reading. It’s been a reading summer.
            Since I’ve gone off on my history of the New Deal—more about that in an entry soon, it’s a major project—I’ve been reading lots of history and fiction from that period. But the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading for fun, and fun it is.
            I got an e-mail teaser from Amazon about The Call, about a small town New England veterinarian and his family. I don’t remember now why it appealed to me, except maybe that New England is cool; I ordered it. I’m in love. In love with the story and with the writing of Yannick Murphy. I was totally unfamiliar with her. Now I have one of her children’s stories for darling Dasha, my granddaughter and her novel about Mata Hari on order. Good, good reading.
            David Appleton is the vet. He puts me in mind of  Steinbeck’s description of “Doc” Ricketts in Cannery Row, "Doc has the hands of a brain surgeon, and a cool warm mind. Doc tips his hat to dogs as he drives by and the dogs look up and smile at him. He can kill anything for need but he could not even hurt a feeling for pleasure.”  
            In the unusual format of a call log (hence, The Call) David brought me into his family, in to sympathy with his long suffering writer wife Jen (Murphy is married to a New England vet—hmmmm, I wonder?), into the family.
            It’s a book I recommend. Man, do I recommend it.
Check it out. And, say, if you like it, mark the box. (Thanks.)
            This should be up on the Story Circle Book Reviews in a few days as well.
            Now I’m off to read my next fun book—Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgiveness by Alexandra Fuller. I read her Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. It’s a trip to Africa. If you need me, I’ll be in Rhodesia this evening.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In print--again

Wow, I’m happy. I’ve hit print again in Houston History. This time I’m telling a little bit about Houston's fascinating but often overlooked Fifth Ward.
            The historic ward system of Houston went away over a century ago, but residents of the former fifth ward cling both to their neighborhoods and to their nickname—The Nickel. The Nickel was rough and tough, a place you thought twice, or maybe three or four times, about going into at night—even the late afternoon. But the Nickel was also the home of active churches and stable families. A girlchild of the Fifth grew up to be a national heroine—Barbara Jordan; while an almost bad boy grew into an Olympic champion, George Foreman.
            Want to know more about the Fifth? You can read the article at

And while you’re there, check out my piece on the Fourth Ward and it’s two heavily contrasting neighborhoods.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Someone's in the kitchen

This book confused me. Not too many pages in, and I didn’t know what to do. Turn on the light as evening fell, skip dinner and keep on reading? Go to the kitchen, roll up my sleeves, pull out the pans and start cooking (oh! that garlic sauce on page 126)? Or head for the computer to order Mastering the Art of French Cooking, maybe with overnight delivery?
            I read.
            But the next day, I cooked and ordered. Glad I am that I did all three.
            On first glance the book seems like a simple enough approach—a compilation of letters between two friends as their individual and interesting lives unfold an ocean apart. But, the two friends are Julia Child and Avis Devoto, both gifted writers. The letters alone zing off the page as they offer not only reports of their personal lives, but a study of a growing, rich and deep friendship, commentaries on the confusing world of the 1950s, the even more confusing world of book publishing, and, naturally, cooking, eating, parties, planning, more cooking, cooking , cooking. I ate it all up.
            In 1951, a young American living in Paris read Bernard DeVoto’s column in Harper’s. He lamented being unable to find a kitchen knife that an American housewife “can cut something with.” The American, Julia Child, knew about knives and where to get exactly what he sought. Off she went, bought a knife, put it in the mail.
            DeVoto, a busy man and popular author didn’t respond. His equally busy and talented wife Avis did with a more-or-less routine thank you note. Julia answered Avis. Avis wrote back to Julia. Years of writing and friendship began.
            Here’s an aside concerning the DeVoto family. It’s a familiar name to me. My dad about whom I’m blogging ( more about that another time—another time soon) was a journalist-historian of Texas and the Southwest. He greatly admired Bernard DeVoto and owned many of his books. I grew up with The Year of Decision, 1846 and Across the Wide Missouri. I never, until now knew or even wondered much about the author—just another famous writer. And I never thought to wonder about his wife although I knew my dad would never have enjoyed the career he had as a writer without the support, help (writing and otherwise), hard work of my mom. This was the case in the DeVoto household. Avis was a writer/reviewer in her own right; plus, she acted as the business manager, the personal secretary, the proof-reader, and, I suspect, sometimes co-author. I have a new heroine.
            More than a half-century after they wrote the letters I’m grateful that both women were not only fine writers and dependable correspondents, but that they both kept things. I recently came into possession of box full of my father’s letters to my mom. She kept things. Apparently he didn’t. Now I ache for her letters to him. Three cheers for Avis and Julia.
            As their friendship grew, so did the range of the letters. Of course, there was lots of cooking, and entertaining. Together they wrestled around with a perennial hostess problem—how to throw an elegant dinner party without help and without the hostess being held hostage in the kitchen by the demands of a “serve immediately” menu.  They’ve got some dandy solution—some show up in Mastering the Art. Politics took up lots of space coming to a peak during the outrageous and outraging McCarthy hearings. And, naturally, they spend lots of time discussing the perennial “what happens next in my life?” The friends are candid and engaging. Avis knew the ins and outs, the snarls and the pitfalls of publishing. She gave Julia more than just advice on writing and managing unruly co-authors, she shepherded Master the Art of French Cooking across the decade, yes, I said the decade, until its triumphant publication in 1962.
            The friendship was not always in letters. Exchanging over 100 letters, the nw fast and best friends met. The friendship deepened and became not only between the women, but between the families. It continued as long as both lived.

Lamb with garlic sauce. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
            A great story, a great friendship, a great book, two great lives, and lots and lots of good times and food. My two word review: Read it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bouncing with anticipation

I clearly am still a little girl. And I have no plans for growing up. I am as excited now that my birthday is tomorrow as I was maybe, no maybe about it, 65 years ago—yep 65—waiting to be six—finally old enough to go to school. Bounce, bounce.

And already—I’m bouncing because the greetings are beginning to roll in. And a box arrived from Oklahoma yesterday. I’ve got two cards from Alaska—they are all on the mantel. No peeking ‘til the big day. BUT

I got a wonderful card via e-mail. It’s so fine, I must share—right now! No waiting.

Thanks go to Linda Clayton Hicks of Amarillo—where else?—in the growing up years and now of Massachusetts. Creative person? Just a little bit! She sent another draft—and I can’t decide between them.
 Linda knows my writing love/anguish. I'm posting this one over my worktable.

Linda is an artist, quilter, beader, friend par excellence! Lucky me! Lucky you getting to visit Linda's quilting blog--

and her website--outta sight!

Monday, July 04, 2011

A Honey of a Patriot--Happy July 4th

It’s the glorious Forth of July, celebrate, eat hot dogs and peach ice cream, and take time on this happy day to fly the flag and remember some of our early patriots—and, remember, we have American heroes and American heroines. One of my favorites is Nancy Hart who was - -

A Honey of a Patriot


 Up in Wilkes County, around Washington, Georgia, things were rough ‘way back in 1780.  It looked like the English and their loyalist supporters (the Tories) were about to win the war and force Georgia to resume her role as a colony.

            But the woods held many American patriots who didn’t agree.  They kept fighting the battle for freedom whenever a chance came along.  According to legend and folk history, one young patriot was galloping along with several Tories in hot pursuit.  Then, suddenly, he disappeared--vanished into nowhere.

            A few days later, six Tories retraced their steps and stopped at the cabin of Nancy and Benjamin Hart.  Nancy and her daughter Sukey were tending Nancy’s herb garden, while Ben and the boys labored in the field.

            A tall woman, some say over six feet, and rough, Nancy told them straight out, yes, she’d helped that poor lad.  When he came up to the cabin, she’d thrown open both doors so that he could gallop right through and disappear into the swamp.

            Her story outraged the men.  But they didn’t shoot her.  Instead, they shot her turkey—the last one scratching around the cabin yard—and insisted she cook it for them.  Nancy put the bird on the fire, then she offered her unwelcome guests a tot or two of Ben’s homemade whiskey.

            Meanwhile, with a wink, she told Sukey fetch some spring water so she could make hoecakes to serve with honeycomb alongside the turkey.  Sukey, a patriot herself, ran not for the spring, but for the conch shell the family used to call the men in from the field; then she brought her Mom the water.  The Tories, getting relaxed, stacked their guns up and enjoyed another round or two.

            Nancy served the turkey and hoecake and sent Sukey back outside.  While the men ate, Nancy slipped over to the stacked guns and began passing them through a chink in the cabin wall to Sukey.  When a couple of the fellows noticed and demanded that Nancy quit, she raised a gun and told them she’d kill the first one who moved.

            This concerned them all, because, the story goes, Nancy was crossed-eyed and they could not be sure exactly who she was looking at.  She spoke to them in no uncertain terms—she was known for her salty language.  No matter.

            One of them moved.

            Nancy shot him.

            No one else moved until Ben, the boys and some men from the neighborhood appeared.  They decided to shoot the other five Tories.  But Nancy shook her head.  “Too good for a Tory,” she decreed.  They ought to be hung.

            And they were, the legend continues.  The last thing they heard was Nancy singing “Yankee Doodle.”

            In later years, some folks said this was a good story, but that was all.  Nancy never lived, and no six Tories ever died.    But in 1912, workmen constructing the Elberton and Eastern Railroad found a grave near the Hart cabin site.  In it—the remains of six human skeletons.

            Folklore recounts that Nancy’s neighbors held her in awe.  One man said she was “a honey of a patriot, but a devil of a wife.”  Her Cherokee neighbors called her “Wahatchee”—“War Woman.”  A creek by her old cabin bears this name.

            Nancy’s stories gained wide circulation as early as 1825 when the Milledgeville Southern Record told of her bravery. (However, this account says the meat was venison.)  A later account, embellished a bit, and with the number of Tories reduced to five, appeared in the famous women’s magazine, Godey’s Ladies Book.

            Nancy is more than a legend. The Daughters of the American Revolution recognize her as an American Patriot. Some DAR members trace themselves as Nancy’s lineal descendent rather than following the more usual pattern of tracing back to a male revolutionary.

            The State of Georgia acknowledges this brave daughter.   In 1853, the state created a new county from portions of Franklin and Elbert Counties—Hart County.  Writing in 1919, Rebecca Latimer Felton (later the first U.S. woman senator) lamented “True it is, she married a Hart, yet it was Nancy who captured Tories. . . Hart County should have been called Nancy Hart County.”

            Nancy’s full name appeared on the marker when, on November 11, 1931, in Hartwell, Hart County, Georgia, Senator Richard Russell retold the story of Nancy Hart and dedicated the Nancy Hart Highway, which begins in Hartwell and runs though the entire state.  It is the first highway in the United States dedicated to a woman.  In 1997, Georgia recognized Nancy Morgan Hart as a Georgia Woman of Achievement.  Her portrait hangs in the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.  (She looks considerably calmer and more cleaned up than she probably did the afternoon she captured the Tories.)

            Nancy’s life went on for a good while after the Revolution.  She and Ben pulled up stakes and moved to near Brunswick, where Ben died.  Nancy then went to live with her son John in Clarke County.  About 1803 the family moved to Henderson County, Kentucky.  Nancy lived there until her death in 1830.  She is buried on John’s farm in a grave marked by a monument erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

            After all the excitement on that eventful afternoon, it would not surprise me to learn that Nancy grabbed the leftover turkey, sent Sukey to the garden for tomatoes and greens, then whipped up supper. I’ve substituted canned broth and tomatoes and bagged frozen vegetables.

Revolutionary stew—in honor of Nancy Morgan Hart

 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup diced onions

2 cloves minced garlic

 2 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes

1 cup corn kernels

15 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 quart chicken stock

3 cups diced turkey (or ham or chicken)

salt to taste

2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (or fresh rosemary and thyme to taste)

1 generous cup frozen collard or turnip greens

            Cook the onions and garlic in the vegetable oil until soft.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste for seasoning, and serve.

            Nancy probably offered leftover hoecakes.  I made corn muffins. 

            There are many stories about Nancy Morgan Hart.  I’ve told only a few here.  If you’d like the references to learn about her, or if you have some stories to share, please get in touch.

 A longer version of Nancy Hart’s story appeared in my food and history column, “Stirring Up Memories” in the Bainbridge, Georgia Post-Searchlight  January14, 2004

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Poems of Awakening

Poems of Awakening

I'm still busily reading and reviewing for Story Circle Book Review--and sometimes other places. Here's my latest. It a great nature-based poetry anthology. Read it under a tree or by a river. Watch out folks with birthdays coming up!

Poems of Awakening: An International Anthology of Spiritual Poetry

Betsy Small

Outskirts Press, 2011  

Early in the morning, late at night, in quiet times and busy ones—there is a poem for the moment. Betsy Small, a practicing yoga as well as a professional musician has combined her skills and talents to bring together an array of works from across the globe and across time. Her well-accomplished goal she tells us in the introduction is to offer the works of poets who share their “experiences of living joyfully in the moment. . .”
            The selection of authors speaks to Small’s arduous efforts to reflect the world: generally know names like Mary Oliver, Sara Teasdale , May Sarton, and e.e. cummings join the less familiar Dogen Zenji, Uvanuk, and Zagajewski. Despite the variety, each selection speaks to a moment.
            Reflecting the author’s yoga background and designed by her to be used as part of yoga practice (savasana), the anthology will have a broader appeal. Any person who relishes her life, her days, will find moments to appreciate and to identify with from the majesty of the earth and her creatures (Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese,” Wendell Berry’s “Sabbath Poem”) to the mundane busyness of daily life, finding glory in washing a wine glass, seeing crockery as a mandala, or letting in a cat to dine and share a bed (May Sarton’s “New Year Resolve”).
            Small suggests that while a “reader can savor poems individually, as integral elements of sets, or as part of the entire collection, which can be read in one sitting as a poetic essay consisting of linked sets.” I chose to do the latter, grabbing my book and heading for a nearby park where I could sit on the ground beneath an old oak tree.
            I recommend the experience. The intertwining of the emotions of the selections is powerful. But once, or, at least, once in a while, is probably enough. For the most part, I plan to keep the book on my reading table where I can often reach out for a poem that allows me to find joy in the moment at hand.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shopping Around

Brand new Whole Foods Market


It's good old Fiesta

No question about it. Fiesta is my store. Friendly, nice people. Friendly, nice customers. Great produce and fish. Interesting cuts of meat. Fun to go. When that enormous, monster HEB that’s going up across the street on Dunlevy opens, I’m going to do my best (I’m not taking bets) not to even walk through the HEB door. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Fiesta is definitely my store, but still! When a new Whole Foods opens less than two miles from my front door, and when it’s not just any old Whole Foods (if there is an “any old Whole Food”), but a state-of-the-culinary-art Whole Foods, a Whole Foods that is so state-of-the artsy that the Houston Chronicle food section runs a long, many pictured article about it—don’t know what the other advertiser thought of that—what’s a body to do?

Well, go on Day 2. Bob, grandson Hunter and I made it our weekly adventure. We’d case the place, fill up on free samples—the article promised lots and lots—and each pick out dinner our own dinner. Lots of fun.
Gee! WF has everything--even
vending machines with original art.

Enough chocolate? Maybe.
And enough salad.

Yummy samples on every aisle.

Not to mention the wine and beer
bar--just to get you in the mood.

"I know it'll be pizza,
but which one?
Finally, we get to go home and eat.

Yummy pizza.
Yummy mac and cheese (what else?)
Yummy ribs with the fixin's.

I ask, "Who knows about food?"
The firefighter from nearby Station 16 say,
Y’know? Maybe once in a while.  But Fiesta is still my store! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Surprise Dad! Let's Eat!

Before we do Father's Day lets flashback to Mother’s Day. A great day. A superlative family brunch.
            “Would have been perfect,” I told daughter Katy, if only you’d been there. No comment—for a few days, and then I got an e-mail: 

You said something that hit a chord with me ... I'm thinking maybe I'll fly in Saturday before Father's Day and fly out Monday. It's a cheap ticket - $160!
I would have just seen you guys, but that makes it all the more fun. I was thinking I could Taxi it from Hobby to Spanish Village, where you will tell Bob you want a late lunch (or anywhere you'd like and only if you guys are free) and when you get there, or I get there, we'll surprise him. Flight lands at noon, so I could be there by 1 at the latest.

What do you think? Can you keep the secret?

 Could I ever? Not real easy, but I did.

Plans for Spanish Village, the world-class enchilada capital of Houston and site of many happy memories from Katy’s kidhood.  Everything was right on track. Late the week before she clued her brother Chris. Yes, he and his crew would join us. What a surprise.

You said it. Saturday morning, Katy e-mails, “Flight delayed.” I cook up a ruse, “Chris and Nancy are running late. . .” He buys it. Finally, it’s cheese enchiladas at around 2, with no Katy and four people trying not to spill the beans. Bob is mildly curious why we’re having lunch today when we’re doing Father’s Day tomorrow. “We got to talking about enchiladas. . .” 

Home again. Text from Katy, “Cancelled. New flight leaves at 3.’

Text from Katy, “On tarmac.”

Text from Katy. “No crew, back in terminal.”

Finally around 5 she’s on the plane. A call, “I don’t want to come to the house. No fun. Meet me at the West Alabama Ice House.” That’s our down-the-street refuge for beer and good, easy goin’ company. “Don’t know how I’ll pull that off, but I will!”

Call just before 7, “I’m waiting for a cab.” Bob’s curious again. “Katy’s bored.” I explain.

Then a few minutes later, “After those enchiladas, we won’t want supper, but I’ve gotta get out of here. Let’s go down to the W. Alabama.” Bob never has to be urged. We’re in the car and headed down the street. If it weren’t over 100 degrees we’d walk.

We walk up to the bar, when a woman touches Bob’s arm, “Sir, may I offer you a beer!”

Surprised? Just a little bit!
The Ice House welcomes all.
It's a friendly place!

Spanish Village--Just as good
the second time around.

Bob models a favorite gift.

The whole crew--Jim and Nancy, Trilla,
Chris, Bob, Katy, Hunter in front.
Bob and his babies
Hunter, Chris, and Katy
Silly family, silly family

Next morning papers and the wait for noon and a family Feast at Feast, another, but newer favorite. The whole gang—this time, Katy included. Feast is a "snout to tail" adventure.

Bob declared he’d never eat again, but by evening—off to another of Katy’s kiddy favorites—the Hobbit CafĂ©. The restaurant has moved but the menu is the same, so we indulged in Gandalph and Bilbo sandwiches.
My Gandalph. It's a "slim." Jut
imagine a "classic"!
Monday morning, thank goodness, this time right on schedule, Katy heads back to Atlanta. A happy lass leaving a mighty happy dad!
Bye, Daddy. I love you.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fiddlin' Around A Father's Day Tribute

In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a tribute to a fine, fiddling, farming Texas Dad—my grandfather, Charles T. Nordyke, husband of Narrie (see my entry about Narrie on May 8, Mother’s Day), and father of my dad, Lewis T. Nordyke. This entry is at both and I don’t overlap often, but today, I do.

Fiddlin’ around

All of his life Charlie was fiddlin' for friend, family
and party-line pals.

Charlie couldn’t remember when he didn’t have a fiddle in his hand. Everyone in his family did, or a guitar, or banjo, maybe a mandolin. About the proudest day of his life was when he was 12. He got his own violin. No more borrowing or waiting his turn. His own violin! It was beat up and old when he got it but he treasured it and played for the next 75 years, but not every day, he’d promised his mother he’d never play on Sunday until he was 80. (I remember many joyous Sunday evenings listening to “Turkey in the Straw, “The Soldier’s Joy,” and, of course, “Listen to the Mockingbird” after that awaited birthday.) The violin was always Charlie’s proudest possession.
            Born in Missouri, Charlie and his family followed the bumper sticker dictum and got to Texas just as fast as they could. When he was only four, he rode a gray mare tied behind his family’s wagon as the wagon train wound its way to Texas. Once there Charlie’s branch of the family bid good bye to friends and some family in Callahan County and headed south to Limestone County, where Charlie grew up, hating farming and loving his fiddle.
Narrie and Charlie Nordyke
married December 24, 1899
            When he was a young man he determined to live by the fiddle and not the plow. He headed to Ft. Worth where he ended up in the red-light district. He could handle that, but not the requirement that he work on Sunday. He headed back to Limestone County. But he didn’t give up his quest. He decided to set off fo Alaska and the Klondike, but first a trip to Callahan to say good-bye to the Nordyke kin. That changed everything.

One of those dratted mules.
            Young Nancy Narcissus Coffey (Narrie) flat stole his heart. There went the Klondike, here came the wedding bells. On December 24, 1899 Charlie and Narrie married. For the next 50 years Charlie farmed by day, cussin’ mules, hauling cotton, hating it, but in the evenings—ah! Out came the fiddle, here came the neighbors. Right through seven children, Haley’s Comet, two world wars, the great depression, Charlie fiddled, thumped his foot and was happy.
            So were the neighbors who came from all over for their fiddle fix. Lewis, his middle child and my dad, speculated that the Nordyke family may have set up the country’s first network when they figured out that if Charlie fiddled into the telephone, all their party-line friends could join in.
The family gathered, probably for Narrie's sixtieth birthday
in April, 1934. Standing behind their parents
Alda, Clarence, Bessie, Lewis, Elsie, Noel, and Peaches. The
live-giving windmill towers over them.

 Lewis didn't grow up to be a fiddler; he grew up to be a writer, and, in 1960, he wrote a piece about his fiddlin’ father for the Saturday Evening Post.  You can read about it and download the article at Perfect reading for Father’s Day afternoon 
Here’s to Charlie, Lewis and all the great dads celebrating their day.