In 1905, five-year-old Beth Ripley left home alone. She walked down a busy street that rattled with rickety, wobbly cars. She had a destination in mind.
When she was discovered missing, her mother, Rose Ripley, flew into a panic. They had no telephone or other means of communication, so she threw on a coat, gathering her long skirts close around her, and raced three city blocks to her husband’s dry goods store. Rushing in the front door, she scream, “Albert. “Beth is gone. Someone has stolen her.”
But Beth wasn’t gone at all. There she sat, comfy on a pickle barrel, swinging her legs, all fine and dandy. “I came to visit daddy,” she announced.
Right then, Beth’s parents knew that their daughter would find her way. Indeed she did, graduating from Smith College in 1921, marrying Harvard graduate Leslie Lyon in 1922, giving birth to a son, Lee, in 1924 and a daughter, Beth Louise, in 1928.
Among her many volunteer activities, Beth Ripley Lyon worked for the Red Cross, taught blind women to weave beautiful table linens, and volunteered as a food truck driver in the Motor Corps during World War II. She was a crackerjack bridge player and late in her life, became an artist par excellence.
She passed away twelve years ago at the age of ninety-seven, but I don’t guess it’s ever too late to say Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
What we won’t do to protect our children. It sounds silly now, but in the 1950’s, the infamous cold war between Russia and the United States had us believing Russia might drop a nuclear bomb. Clayton and I had two little boys and a baby girl. The Civil Defense League recommended we all build bomb shelters in our backyard. I begged Clayton to do it, but he said our basement walls were three-feet-thick limestone, so we’d be protected.
Up the street was Jerry’s Grocery Store, a small place that carried just about anything you’d ever need. The kids and I walked there often. We’d shop, meet the neighbors, and chat with Jerry who handed out copious amounts of free advice. Our daughter learned you don’t remove things off the shelves when she had to return a candy bar to Jerry and apologize for taking it. (She must have thought it was free, too.)
One day, I asked him what we’d eat when the hydrogen bomb hit. (The government assured us it would happen and we should be prepared.) Of course, Jerry had just the thing—a gallon-sized paint-can-looking container filled with a ‘nutritious’ powder and the reassuring words, General Mills, on the side—the same Kansas City based General Mills we all knew and trusted. The directions said to mix the powder, a scoopful per person, into a glass of water, stir, and drink. Done three times a day, it would keep each of us alive for a month. General Mills should know. Right? I bought five cans.
It’s hard to believe our schoolchildren were taught to “duck and cover,” duck under their desks and cover their heads. Even General Eisenhower went to Washington’s hydrogen bomb-safe tent city when the sirens went off.
Jerry’s grocery store is long gone and so are the paint-can size containers of life-giving powder, but not the eternal desire to protect our children. It never goes away.
This is what people in Buffalo saw on July 2o, 1954.
Our farm in the Ozarks had a thick, twenty-acre oak and cedar forest sprinkled with dogwood trees. Blooming in the spring, the dogwoods looked like slender, teenage girls with flowers in their hair. They dotted the woods with bright beacons of white blossoms—some scatter beside the little creek that bubbled awake from its winter sleep. Later, flowers gone, the little trees faded into the background, but burst forth again in the fall with bright red berries that nourished the birds through the winter.
They tree looks nothing like a dog so where did the name dogwood Cornus florida come from? The wood of the dogwood is quite hard and has been used to make the heads of golf clubs. Some say the Celtics used it to make a sturdy tool called a dag or dagwood. Another source reports that the Cherokee Indians saw the trees as the homes of little guardian gnomes they called the Dogwood People. Some say it was the wood used to make the cross for the crucifixion of Jesus.
I prefer to see it as the lovely tree that heralds the coming of spring, my favorite time of the year (next to fall, of course.)
It’s tornado season again, a scary time of year.
Once a long time ago, we heard the sirens go off. I rushed the children to the basement while their foolhardy father stood outside watching a swirling cloud that sounded like a freight train as it pass overhead.
I was ‘on call’ that day. It wasn’t long before the phone rang asking me to come to the hospital immediately. That swirling cloud had come down on Ruskin Heights. A suburb of Kansas City, it had been devastated. Houses blew off there concrete slabs, trees were uprooted, and telephone poles disintegrated.
Racing down 63rd street and then north on Troost, I wheeled into Menorah Hospital’s parking garage along with numerous doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel.
The emergency room was a grisly and frantic scene. While competent hands attended the badly injured, I rushed to take x-rays and helped pull splinters out people’s arms and legs.
A few lost their lives that day in Ruskin Heights, and a total of fifty-nine Missourians died due to other, numerous weekend tornadoes.
Since then, there have been many tornadoes sightings and countless warnings in our area, but Ruskin Heights is the one I can’t forget.
Anti-Semitism is not new. When we lived on our farm in the Ozarks, we sometimes got that niggling feeling in the pit of our stomachs, for we could see ADAM’S NEEDLE from our front door. It was a cliff upon which stood a large white cross.
ADAM’S NEEDLE tells the story of deceit and fear, love and hate, cowardice and courage through the eyes of an extraordinary boy.
It is 1980. Drought blankets the Midwest. Cornfields wither and die, but Jewish researchers George Klein and his young wife, Sarah, believe they have engineered new seeds that will flourish. To prove their theory, they buy the perfect farm near the quiet, little town of Pecan Grove in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks. Little do they know that an unscrupulous preacher has arrived at the Truth in Christ church.
Powerful and page-turning, you won’t want to miss ADAM’S NEEDLE , available on Amazon.com and the Kindle.