Bruce’s Roots September 23, 2021

In the 1920’s my Grandfathers were businessmen and friends long before their families were joined by a marriage. What was unique about this friendship was one of them was a Catholic and the other was a Baptist. In the small town this fact would have kept them apart, instead they enjoyed each other’s company.

My Grandfather Clifford would walk my father , Bruce across Main Street to Al Heatley’s barber shop for a hair cut. One day my Grandfather must have though his son was old enough to get a haircut without him. “Go and get a haircut from Mr. Heatley” he said ,here is 50 cents.” My Dad crossed Main avoiding cars and hourses and entered Grandfather’s Heatley’s shop. He was greeted by the smell of cigars, men’s conversation of politics and the constant clicking of scissors. The conversation quieted as Bruce moved to the corner chair where a large pile of comics waited for younger customers.

Soon it was my Dad’s turn. Al got the bench that fitted over the arms of the barber chair to bring children’s heads to his eye level. Flourishing a barber cloth like a matador’s cape he asked, “The works??” Bruce had no idea what the works was but it sounded fine to him. The works started with a head massage, then a hair cut and hair tonic and finally a bit of cologne. After he was finished Bruce gave Mr, Heatley the 50 cents. My Grand father feigned anger at Bruce. “You asked for the works, that is one dollar”, Al bellowed. “Go get another fifty cents from your father.”. Bruce slowly left the shop embarrassed by the men’s laughter heard as the door closed, when he returned to the Northville Electric shop, Cliff was writing an invoice for a customer. He looked at his son and remarked, ”Nice haircut, why so glum?” Bruce blurted, ”I gave Mr. Heatley the fifty cents but he said I owed fifty cents more because I asked for the works.”

Cliff shook his head mumbling, “Damn that Al Heatley!” He gave his son a lecture about asking just for a hair cut as he handed Bruce two more quarters, “You will sweep the store to earn this money.”

These two men continued their friendship for fifty five more years. They died within six weeks of each other. I am sure they are continueing to play jokes on each other for eternity .




Two men, one poor one not.

Living in a small town with prejudices .

They were able to bridge the gap, becoming friends.

I smile, knowing they still are.

copyright 9/23/2021

World Peace Day, September 21,2021

This holiday has been celebrated since 1984 by the United Nations. It starts with the ringing of a bell Made by small coins donated from children around the world. The coinss were melted down to form the peace bell.

Many countries display peace poles. Introduced in Japan in 1955, The monument pole displays the quote, “May peace prevail on earth,” in the language of the country. Along with the original quote, the message is printed in twelve to fifteen other languages.

My daughter’s elementary school constructed a peace pole on their playground. The art teacher had the students make and paint tiles to decorate the pole. They were mortared on a wooden pole in the middle of the play area. The purpose was to direct students to the pole when conflicts occured on the play ground. The act of interrupting the conflict to take time out to walk to the pole cooled tempers and helped resolve differences.

People have made origami peace doves and distributed them on this day. They are a reminder to resolve conflicts and live in peace with each other.

In the past, the United Nations has called for cease fires for this day. The theme for this year’s peace day is, “Shaping peace together.” The emphasis is to resolve conflict in each person’s life.

What will you choose to do on this day? Is there a dispute with a family member or an acquaintance? Giving out folded paper doves is a nice start but will you give a listening ear? Will you try to see another’s point of view.

We don’t have to agree, but we do need to work to live in peace. Go spread the word. Peace be with you.



Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.

With God as our Father, brothers and sisters are we.

Let us walk with each other, in perfect harmony .

Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.

With every step I take, let this be my final vow.

To take each moment and live each moment, in peace eternally.

Let there be peace on earth. and let it begin with me.

Written in1955 by Jill Jackson Liller and Sid Miller

copyright 9/21/2021

Sisters September 16, 2021

In my life, I have had many female friends, but only three of them are soul sisters to me.

Cheryll was my first sister friend at age five. We were both the only girls in our families. She and I went to kindergarten together. Though we attended different schools after that year, she was always in the neighborhood as a playmate and friend. We stayed together through high school and I was one of her bridesmaids. After marraige she moved with her husband to the east coast and we lost touch.

My second soul sister was Laurel. She moved to my small town in third grade from Detroit. She was also an only girl with two older brothers. She and I were inseparable as preteens. We pushed the limits of our rules and were in trouble for it. We continued to correspond during college. When Laurel graduated from U of M law school, she moved to California with her boyfriend from law school.

The third soul sister was a exchange student from Brazil. Adelia was of Japanese heritage, but she was born in Brazil. I met her when I was starting college and she was staying in my home town and going to high school. My parents felt Adelia was not being exposed to the beauty and people of our area. She was expected to babysit when not in school. My Mother picked Adelia up on Friday after school and returned her to her foster home on Sunday night or Monday morning. In addition to taking her to church, they visited Niagara Falls, Mackinac Island and Our cottage on Lake Michigan. I visited on the weekends and got to know Adelia. We kept up correspondence for almost 40 years. In that time, I have met Adelia’s Mothern Her husband and even her friend John when she was able to visit here. I have many fond memories of exchanging cards and letters with her and learning of the flowers and cultural of Japan and Brazil.

Times have changed. I have reconnected with all three of my soul sisters with emails and occasional phone calls. I have gained insight from each of these women.

This weekend is Adelia’s birthday. My hope and wish for her is to be happy and healthy in the coming year. I know that Daddy Bruce and Mother Rita are looking down from heaven and wishing her the same.

I hope that Brazilian John found a good source for the pancakes he learned to love while visiting the States.




There are those born into a family that sometimes don’t get along.

Others join religious groups to have community together.

Others march for one cause or another.

But one is lucky if you find a soul sister to grow and share your lives with.

I am blessed by three times over.

To have three such close sisters, not of blood,

but of the heart.

Different origins but connected by place and time.

We touch each other with written words across the miles.

I feel your love.

Happy Birthday Adelia

copyright 9/16/2021

The Legacy September 14, 2021

This past weekend we remembered as individuals and groups the events of 9/11. Some wished to forget the past and get on with our lives. Others organized moments of silence and prayer vigils. Here in Grand Rapids, at the Ford museum, a line of scouts saluted the flag from sunrise to sunset. They came up one by one to pay their respects and remember 9/11. None of them were old enough to recall that day 20 years ago.

I still have visual flashbacks to video that played over and over on the television. The most vivid images were the people trapped on the higher floors, above the site of the plane crash. Several stay in my mind til this day. There was a couple holding hands as they jumped to a quick death rather that burn to death. Another person made the sign of the cross before jumping. A third young man took as if he took a swan dive to welcome a quick death.

We were all changed by the events and the photo legacy of that day. What I worry about is how we answer the questions of our children. More importantly what are the actions we show to others?

Are we teaching hatred or forgiveness? The people that caused the events are long dead. They can’t feel our hatred. But our children can. What is the legacy that we are teaching then?




With the rising of the dawn, the first boy salutes the flag.

The line of scouts will continue to pay their respects til sunset.

They have no memories of 20 years ago.

Adults whisper, asking, “Where were you that Morning?”

They all know the answer.

Glued to the television or radio.

what are the youth thinking as they wait.

What message have we taught them?

Do we hate or forgive?

The dead will not feel the hate,

but our children will.


copyright 9/14/2021

By the Seat of His Pants September 9, 2021

Here is another story about my dad on the farm in Canada. Author’s note: This story was told to me by my dad when he was in his 90’s. He wore overalls when working on his Grandfather’s farm.

By the Seat of his Pants

My father, Bruce, spent many summers on the family farm in Delhi Canada. He was asked to perform many chores. One of his chores was to collect eggs from the chickens.

Not all the chickens stayed in the chicken coop. Several grew wing feathers and could fly short distances to escape the fenced in chicken coop. They were ingenious where they would lay their eggs. Hay piles, under wagons and occasionally in hay lofts or small trees, there one would find chicken eggs.

One morning Grandma Turnbull found Bruce and said,

“I saw that white hen coming from under the barn this morning, she must be laying her eggs there.”

Bruce replied, “I’ll go look.”

He took a small basket and crawled under the barn. It was dark, and filled with cobwebs. Bruce had to wriggle to the end of the space to see a pile of twigs that must be the nest.

Gathering several eggs, he started to wiggle backwards. Suddenly he was caught by something above him. He couldn’t reach to feel what held him, he couldn’t go forward or backward. He was stuck!

The morning grew warm and Bruce, hot and sweaty, was getting scared. What if no one looked for him?

Finally, he heard his Grandpa calling, “Bruce, where are you?”

Yelling loudly, he screamed, “I”m here, under the barn, I’m stuck!”

His Grandpa, wiggled under the barn holding a lantern. He saw the problem. Bruce’s pants were caught by a protruding nail from above.

“Loosen your jeans,” he ordered.

With difficulty, Bruce undid the straps on his bib overalls. Grandpa was able to work the pants free and slide the pants and himself from under the barn.

“Come on Bruce, you’re free.”

Bruce sheepishly wiggled from the barn. He was bright red from heat and embarrassment.

After that experience, he couldn’t stand confined space





ready to help

urban kid trying to farm

could get into trouble easily

each day

copyright 9/9/2021

Present Day Northville September 7, 2021

Northville’s population has remained about 6000 people. It is surrounded by Northville township on the east and Novi on the west. It is 11 miles away from the city of Detroit and 17 miles from Ann Arbor. It was established in 1825 as a village and didn’t become a city until 1955.

As I walk the streets of my hometown, I see the changes. Both of my Grandparents old homes have been remodeled and painted to the point that I know them by address only. The wrap around cement porch on the Heatley’s home with it’s columns, has been removed and a smaller wooden porch has replaced it. The old Turnbull’s homestead has an attached garage removed and changed to a room in the house.

My childhood home is still standing but the home from my teen years has been demolished and replaced with a Mc Mansion.

Walking downtown, I see the the two main streets are now closed to traffic and it is a pedestrian walkway with outdoor eating. Only two and four legged use allowed. The Methodist church has changed from a house of worship to a restaurant to a private home. The doctor’s clinic is now a Bed and Breakfast.

I recognize most of the buildings but they are now selling antiques and items for tourists.

Continuing my walk to the Silver Spring well, I see that the spring still runs water, but the water is pumped in from Detroit.

The old Henry Ford valve plant is still present but it is now an exercise and training space. Across from the plant building is an area called the Mill Race. It contains many of the older buildings of the village. One small church building was the library when I was a child. On cold winter Saturdays, I would curl up in an overstuffed chair to read by the crackling fire.

This small town will celebrate it’s bicentennial in 2025. I hope to remember the past, enjoy the present and hope in the future of my hometown.



Front Porches

When I was growing up, most houses had front porches.

They were a great place to gather.

I played Canasta on neighbor Anna’s covered porch. We played til the street lights came on and we could no longer see the cards.

My Friend and I set up board games on her large cement porch. It stayed warm even on cool Fall afternoons.

When I had a sleep over at Grandma Turnbull’s, we sat on the screened porch drinking cold Vernor’s ginger ale.

We watched the people park to walk to the harness races.

“Who would be a winner?” we wondered.

Before we left the porch, I took down the barometer, shaped like a house.

It had the figures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck dressed for different weather conditions.

I knew the next day’s weather looking to see who was outside the house.

Grandma Heatley’s porch wrapped around two side of her house.

It was a large covered cement porch, perfect for observing thunder storms in safety.

I could watch traffic on two roads at the same time from the corner lot.

But my favorite porch was on my own home.

Situated on a small hill, we looked down at the street and sidewalk traffic.

The porch was a raised pedestal with cement stairs and a wrought iron railing.

On summer evenings, my family would gravitate to lounge in chairs or perch on the railings.

There we discussed the events of the day while greeting passerby’s.

Often, we stayed to enjoy the cool evenings to watch the first stars appear.

Front Porches have disappeared to be replaced by small cement stoops.

They are a step to quickly enter a house.

I wish for the front porch where I can sit, talk with my family and wave at passersby.

We may feel less isolated from each other.

copyright 9/7/2021

My hometown September 2, 2021

We all have a town that we call home. It holds many of our earliest memories. For me, that town is Northville Michigan.

Northville has always been a small that town of several thousand people. It’s boundaries straddle two counties, Wayne and Oakland.

The joke growing up was our town was as far away from Detroit as you could get without leaving the county. Consequently, in our square mile were the locations of The Detroit Men’s prison farm, The Women’s House of Correction, The Juvenile Correction Center, Plymouth State Hospital for Mentally Impaired, The Northville State Hospital for the insane and Hawthorn Center for mentally ill children and Two tuberculosis Centers. We were accustom to the occasional run or walk away inmate or patient hiding in a church claiming sanctuary.

The town is the highest point in the county. On a clear day in the summer, I could see the high rise buildings in downtown Detroit. The area was refered to as the Alpine hills of Wayne county. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, there was a ski jump located there.

Besides the quaint small downtown area, Northville boasted 5 churches, two cider mills, and a well with spring water free to take in your own containers. The last interesting place was the county fair grounds turned into a harness horse racing track. As a child, I loved to watch the jockey’s driving their horses and sulkies back to the barns. The horses trotted smartly to cross the road at the traffic light.

As an older child, I was allowed to ride my bike to all areas within the town’s borders.

In the downtown area, my grandfather, Grandpa Clifford, had The Northville Electric Shop. My other Grandfather, Grandpa Al, had a barber shop in his home. My parents could keep tabs on me by a phone call to neighbors, friends, and shop owners. My three older brothers were charged with keeping an eye on their sister. I was never alone. My favorite places were the Guernsey Dairy with it’s 10cent cones, and the 5 and 10 cent store where most items were under a quarter. The forerunner to today’s Dollar stores.

More about Northville in the next blog.




My town

for generations.

A blending of old and new.

Downtown for pedestrians to walk, eat and shop.

the outdoor market

I am here in the present

but see the past all around me.

The echos of my childhood beckons.

I and my hometown have parted ways.

copyright 9/2/2021

Look around you August 31, 2021

We are bombarded with scenes of refugees in Afghanistan and we shake our heads saying, “Our help will never get there in time.”

We see the devastation of hurricane Ida and we wonder what we would do if we were there? Would we flee or hunker down to wait out the storm?

The small Island of Haiti has been struck with an earthquake followed by a tropical storm. We are asked to give for relife help but wonder if the funds will be given to those afflicted?

I agree that we should give to help others and allow God to do his work. But what about looking closer to home?

In the heat of the summer, My Dad watched for the garbage men and their truck. He would bring out cold drinks for the workers. They would talk for a few minutes as they emptied their drinks. My Dad was able to know their names and they in turn would pick up a large item put out by my house.

In a grocery store , are we so focus on getting in and out that we fail to see the package dropped . Do we stop to pick it up? Or walk by.

Do we see the senior trying to reach an item on the top shelf? Do we help with a smile?

Do we wish each a good morning or state, “It is a beautiful day.” even if it is storming.

Seeing a harried mother with several children, do we smile and entertain the smallest one in the grocery basket, to allow her time to regroup?

You may ask, how can this help people half way around the world? Small kindnesses are like a small stone dropped into a still pond. The ripple effect seen is simular and more acts of kindness will follow. Eventually, the ripples will spread and intersect to touch all corners of the world. One kindness at a time.



A prayer Shawl

I was given a pattern for a prayer shawl.

The paper was blank.

“What is this, a joke?”

“No, there is no set pattern to prayers.”

was the answer.

“But what stitches do I make?”

“Your stitches will be inspired by the prayer and intentions.”

was the responce.

I started to knit thinking about the person that would need this shawl.

I created a basket stitch around the boarder to hold in the prayers.

In the middle I made seed and popcorn stitches to represent small and longer prayers.

As I worked, I relaxed and let the knitting happen.

It was a work of love.

copyright 8/31/2021

Woman’s Equality Day, August 26, 2021

This day was established to commemorate the signing of the nineteenth amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.

The day, August 26th was designated in 1973 as Women’s Equality Day by Congress to honor women working to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. From President Richard Nixon to the current president, the executive branch has issued a proclamation recognizing contributions of women’s past and current achievements. Women continue to gain recognization in all sectors of American life.

I am glad for this holiday, but I wonder about other marginalized individuals. Where are the holidays celebrating LBGT’s, Hispanics, Blacks, Orientals, mentally challenged, physically and emotionally challenged to name a few. I believe that by breaking up people into tiny compartments, we lose the value of each individual. We have a long way to travel to be equal. May we continue to walk the path to accepting others we meet in our lives.

Viva Equality!



Equality For All

I pledge myself, to equality for all.

I must first accept myself, to reflect my wholeness.

With acceptance of self,

I can extend acceptance to others.

Acceptance blooms into the an equality bouquet .

Copyright 8/26/2021

Don’t Cross the Bridge August 24, 2021

My Dad told me many stories about growing up and visiting his Grandparents in Delhi, Ontario. My brother, Brian, has been researching many of Dad’s tales. Brian commented, “Dad could tell a great story, and some of them were even true!” Below is a story from Bruce’s youth. It is up to you, the readers, to believe it or not.

My Father Bruce and his sister Marian, would often be sent to the family farm in Canada for the summer. There, they could explore the barn, climb trees, and feed the chickens, horses and cows. But they were told time and again, “Don’t cross the bridge over the creek!” There were dangerous animals in the woods on the other side.

  The creek was deep and the banks steep and muddy. The old bridge was narrow and had no handrails. The children had the run of the whole farm except by the creek.

  One day, Grandma called the children, “Bruce, Marian, Go and find the cows. It is time for milking.” They took off at a run. Marian had the longer legs and was faster than her younger brother. They came to the path to the meadow and the bridge. Marian was hot and turned to cross the bridge to wade into the cool water.

  ” Grandma will know we crossed,” said Bruce. “Come on she won’t know,” coaxed Marion . They removed their shoes and stockings and waded into the creek. Laughing as they splashed each other, forgetting about the cows.

  It soon grew darker. Marian was first to think about the cows.

“Hurry, get your shoes on,” she cried.

  They were sitting on the bank when a growling and snarling noise came from the woods. Marian jumped and ran for the bridge. Bruce ran too but his shoes were untied. The thick mud on the bank caught his feet like a cork in a bottle.

“Marian! Come and help me, I’m stuck!”

  But Marian never looked back as she raced to the house.

  Bruce was pulling his shoes from the mud when he heard a growl much closer and louder.

  With a shriek, he pulled his feet out of his shoes and ran home in stocking feet.

  Grandma was waiting on the front porch for the children. One look at their wet and muddy clothes and she remarked, “Crossed the bridge didn’t you.”

  Marian and Bruce started to tell Grandma about the terrible animal sounds they heard on the other side of the bridge.

  Grandma just snorted,”That was your Grandpa teaching you both a lesson in obedience.”

  “Should we go get the cows?” Bruce questioned.

“No, the cows have more sense that you two, they came home on their own.”

  The children were in bed before Grandpa finished his chores. In the morning, Bruce’s shoes were on the front steps, covered with mud. It took him all morning to clean and polish the shoes.

  Marian and Grandma went across the bridge to pick wild huckleberries. Marian had to carry the buckets home . She was tired and sore from carrying the berry filled buckets.

  Bruce learned his lesson. But Marian continued to test the boundaries of the rules. At the end of the summer, Grandma told Bruce and Marian’s Father, “Bruce can come back any time but keep Marian home.”

  For the next 8 years, Bruce came to the farm every summer to work with his grandpa and play. But he never crossed the bridge without permission.

Bruce had many adventures on the fanily farm with his cousins Bob and doug Turnbull. But that is for another day.



Farm Play

Life on a farm is not all chores.

After feeding animals,

mucking out the stalls,

It was time to play.

The boys challenged each other,

to ride every animal on the farm.

The horses and cows gave little resistance

to an occasional rider.

Not the large sow.

One by one a boy would sneak up to her.

Swinging a leg over her back,

they would hold tightly to the neck.

The sow would buck, twirl like a bucking bronco. Finally, she would race under a fence,

knocking the rider into the mud.

The sow always won.

copyright 8/24/2021