Sterling and Me: Tail of a Mystery Author and Her Dog #3 @TheMysteryLadie

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Killer Deadline marks Lauren’s first venture into mystery’s purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist. 

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram ~ Pinterest

The Mighty Pen: Use with Caution

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Words can be dangerous. Handle them with care.

Writers work with words all day long. Some use them to take their readers on a journey of escape into another world or time filled with mystery, humor, romance, and adventure. Possibly, while conjuring up their adventure, the writer and their readers could learn something about the real world or life along the way.

Other writers use their words for a more noble cause—to inform or educate their readers about matters that may concern them like health, relationships, or professional success.

Through books, our words are amplified across the land to spread our message—or to act as a bomb to destroy our enemy.

Recently, a new writer requested my advice in promoting her recently published novel. Generally, the plot was about a woman suffering in a bad relationship with a charismatic man. The title, bitterly worded subtitle, and book cover screamed: Woman Scorned.

On Amazon, it had a handful of 5-star reviews that I could instantly tell had been written by friends and family. (When you’ve been reading reviews for several years, it is easy to spot those reviews written by reviewers and those written by friends of the author.) They raved about how virtuous the female protagonist was and how evil the male antagonist was.

Before I even spoke to her, I knew that this novel had been written to settle a score under the guise of fiction.

Instantly, the writer broke down into tears and confessed that she was the protagonist in the book, and this was her story. She had to get it out to warn women to beware of charismatic men like the one who had ensnared her.

Without minimizing her pain, mothers have been warning their daughters about these types of men since the days of Cain and Abel. So, her message to readers via this “novel” was not about a new issue.

One could rationalize that this novel was her therapy. If so, from what I saw, it was not very good therapy. Her tears told me that she has never moved on from her experience.

How could she? She’s relived the entire relationship through writing, re-writing, editing, and proofing. With each re-through of her novel, she has forced herself to take another pick at her wounds to make them fresh again.

That’s not to say that writers should never enjoy some vengeance in their books.

I believe most writers, especially crime fiction writers, have killed more than one of our adversaries between the covers of our books. I think personally, I have killed every former boss I have ever had—or made them the murderer to be carted off to jail for their misdeeds.

Thankfully, this has worked well. The mysteries in which I dabbled a bit of vengeance into the plotline were received well by readers and reviewers and sold well to boot. Meanwhile, I enjoyed some satisfaction while taking down my antagonists in a safe fictional environment.

The difference between my revenge and this new writer was that my motive was on writing a thrilling mystery novel to entertain my readers. Vengeance against my foes are just a side order.

My enemies change sex, appearance, professions and even transgressions against my protagonist to fit my storyline. In the end, only a tidbit of their crimes against me are revealed to the world.

Does that matter to me? Not really. In my imaginary world, my enemies are vanquished to prison or executed in a suitable manner. The score gets settled and I am free to move on to my next book… and possibly settle a score against another adversary.

Moving on is the important part of this exercise.

The thought of writing a novel for the sake of revenge reminds me of something that I had read quite a while ago and included in Winter Frost. In this scene, Chris Matheson urges his ten-year-old daughter Nikki to forgive her mother for abandoning them to take an overseas assignment with the state department:

He lowered his voice. “I’m going to tell you a secret about forgiveness.”

She narrowed her eyes. Suspicion filled her face. “A secret?”

Chris looked around as if to make sure no one was listening to them. “When you forgive someone, you aren’t letting them off the hook. You’re actually letting yourself off the hook. You see, when you refuse to forgive someone, you’re hurting yourself more than you’re hurting the other person.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Once, I got really mad at a friend of mine,” he said. “He’d screwed me over really good. I was furious. I was so mad that I was trying to plot revenge against him. I just wanted to get back at him for what he’d done to me.”

“What did he do?”

“I forget.” Seeing that she didn’t believe him, he laughed. “Seriously. At the time, I thought it was something that I could never get over, but now, I can’t remember what he’d done. I guess that means it wasn’t that serious.”

“Mom left us, Dad. How can we ever forget that?”

“The thing is, your grandfather told me that holding on to anger is like grabbing a hot coal to throw at someone else.”

Her face screwed up.

“Have you ever grabbed a lump of hot coal?”

She shook her head.

“You end up burning yourself. That’s what happens when you hold onto a grudge. You end up hurting yourself more than the other person. It takes a lot of energy holding onto anger. Your stomach hurts.” He sat up and looked down at her. “Your stomach hurts, doesn’t it? Anger makes you sick.”


When sitting down to write a novel for the sake of revenge against your foe, you are taking up that mighty pen and shooting yourself in the foot. Meanwhile, your adversary is skipping on with their life – never the wiser.

A better form of revenge would be a revenge make-over.

Winter Frost
Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries #2

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your favorite idea of how to get revenge.

The Dust of Wrath

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to tell us about a time when a different kind of immigrant came to California.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.   //

They stood at the border and gazed upon the Golden State. Their journey was long, their money short, their hopes high. Blocking their way were angry Californians, adamant about keeping them out.

No, this is not 2021. The year was 1930 and the migrants were American. They came from what is now called the Dust Bowl. An estimated 2.5 million trekked west from Texas to Nebraska seeking work.

Quick synopsis of the Dust Bowl history. During WWI there was a huge need for wheat. Farmers planted nothing else. It wore out the soil. A decade of drought and winds came. With nothing to tether the dirt, dust buried everything, including the spirits of the people. The Great Depression would soon follow.

How bad was it? Photos show the Black Blizzard where for 5 days a cloud of dust 2 miles high flew east for 2,000 miles and covered the Statue of Liberty. People contracted dust pneumonia and starved.

I bring this up because I just finished reading the best seller, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. It’s Grapes of Wrath from a woman’s point of view. Also, I live in a small town with a history tied to the migration.


Lemoore is in the San Joaquin Valley, the vast space between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s mainly agricultural. Rumors spread that California had streets of gold and plenty of farm work. Of the 400,000 migrants, 70,000 flooded into the Valley. What they found was hatred and discrimination.

When I moved here in the 60’s, calling someone a “DBO” was an insult. It wasn’t until I read The Four Winds that I understood it meant “Ditch Bank Okies” because migrant camps sprouted near ditch banks, their source of water. Men, women and children worked the fields in terrible conditions and little pay. Steinbeck wrote their story. The government put together a program to document the era. Photographer Dorthea Lange became famous because of her photos.

Credit Dorothea Lange

My other connection with the Depression is from my father. FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps to put young men to work. My uncle was sent to the Northwest and worked as a logger. My father, 18, was closer to home in North Carolina. I have his diary from that time. They were paid $30 a month but were required to send $25 home. At the start of WWII, the CCC was disbanded and most of the men went into the military.

Young men from Camp F-24 in the Civilian Conservation Corps clear rocks from a truck trail in Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington. | Location: Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington, USA. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

To this day, the Dust Bowl has a strong influence in this area. Bakersfield, where oil rigs provided work, roots go deep. Merle Haggard sings of being “An Okie From Muskogee.” Dwight Yoakam sang of “The Streets of Bakersfield.” Buck Owens built the Crystal Palace where country musicians performed.

Growing up, I remember eating at Okie Frijoles. If you’re going to be politically incorrect, why not double down and insult two groups at once? The food was great, fried chicken and gravy, tacos and salsa. It didn’t discreetly disappear like Sambo’s restaurant; they just changed the name to Ole Frijole.

Happily, the people who fled the Dust Bowl were assimilated and became important to the growth and culture of towns such as Lemoore. In fact, in Turlock in 2009, the Dust Bowl Brewery opened up. It’s first brew? “Hops of Wrath.”

And Now for Something Completely Different @JMmystery

Jeanne Matthews is happy to announce the arrival of a new historical mystery, Devil by the Tail, scheduled for release in July 2021.  Jeanne has a yen for travel and a passion for mythology, which she works into her novels whenever she can.  Originally from Georgia, Jeanne lives in Washington State with her husband, a law professor, and a Norwich terrier named Jack Reacher.  Information about her books, including the Dinah Pelerin international series, can be found on her website.  

I set my first book in Australia, the second in Hawaii, the third in the Norwegian Arctic, the fourth in Greece, and the fifth in Berlin.  In my new mystery, I travel back in time to 1867 and the city of Chicago.  My protagonists are Quinn Sinclair, the young widow of a Union soldier, and Gabe Garnick, an ex-Confederate prisoner of war who lost his wife while incarcerated in that city’s disease-infested Camp Douglas.  Quinn’s husband died without having made a will, leaving her homeless and dependent on the grudging charity of in-laws.  Her emancipation comes when she forms her own detective agency with Garnick as an equal partner.

According to the Illinois Supreme Court of the day, “The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life.”  Quinn could not disagree more fiercely, but it takes nerve and inventiveness to defy prevailing social attitudes.  To maintain a vestige of respectability, she uses the alias “Mrs. Paschal” and Garnick has to assume the role of frontman to lend credibility to the new agency.  Garnick and Paschal have a natural gift for solving crimes and in the years following the Civil War, there is no more crime-ridden place on the planet for them to hang out their shingle than the Windy City.

Post-war Chicago was a boomtown – a tumultuous mix of commerce and industry, wealth and squalor, political corruption and cultural aspiration.  Its waterways and rail system made it the transportation hub of the nation.  Impressive engineering feats transformed its water and sewer systems.  New businesses produced fortunes.  Theaters, fine hotels, and dining establishments flourished.

Men poured into the city to fill jobs of processing grain, meat, and lumber and saloons and gambling parlors sprang up to relieve them of their hard-earned wages.  Irish and German immigrants arrived by the thousands, intensifying anti-immigrant prejudice.  Ramshackle shanties occupied certain quarters while mansions arose in others, but the stink of pollution was impartial and universal.  For all its achievements, the city was dangerous, dirty, and beguiling – especially for women.

“Nice women” didn’t work outside the home.  Poor women had no choice.  Immigrant girls took jobs in cigar factories and laundries. Destitute girls from outlying prairie towns drifted into town looking for any way to support themselves and their families back home.  Too often these vulnerable young women were seduced and abandoned.  Circumstances forced some into prostitution to make their living.  Others, penniless or pregnant, ended up in the almshouse or threw themselves in the Chicago River.

In January, 1867, the Opera House staged a production of a play about Medea, the mythical Greek sorceress who was the wife of Jason.  After she saves Jason’s life and helps him acquire the golden fleece, he casts her aside in a foreign country so he can marry the daughter of the king.  Devastated by his betrayal, Medea wreaks vengeance by burning his bride and her father to death.  But the playwright portrayed Medea in a sympathetic light – as the victim of male arrogance, false promises, and cruelty.

The woman who was to become Quinn’s and Garnick’s client attended the play with her own faithless lover who soon thereafter deserts her to marry a rich woman.  Without money or friends, she seeks refuge in a brothel.  Later, when a mysterious arson fire kills her former lover’s new wife and her father, sensationalist news stories liken the murders to those committed by Medea.  It seems a simple case of “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”  But Quinn is convinced there’s a man behind the curtain, a cunning manipulator intent on making her client the scapegoat.

Chicago owes its reputation for corruption in large part to its lurid history of prostitution, a vice from which many in the police department and the city council also profited.  The detectives’ investigation leads them into some of the city’s most notorious brothels, introduces them to shameless madams and embroils them in the complicated, precarious lives of so-called “fallen women.”  But as Quinn and Garnick soon discover, respectability isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Everyone has a guilty secret – the smooth-talking lawyer, the urbane mayor, the charming widower, the murdered wife.  Even Garnick has his secrets.  In a town where innocence is a matter of degree, Quinn can take nothing for granted, least of all her own safety.

Researching and writing about a time when women had so few rights and faced so many obstacles was a completely different experience from my previous books.  Even so, I still managed to work in a bit of mythology while gaining a greater appreciation of the price paid by females of the 19th Century who refused to conform.

Devil By The Tail is currently available for pre-order from the publisher at a 30% discount.

The Hello Girls

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to tell us the story of The Hello Girls, a critical yet forgotten piece of US military history.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.   //

I love it when world history intersects with my own personal history.

My Air Force vet friend, Patricia, turned me on to a discarded part of military history. It was vital to the war effort, forgotten by people and ignored by the Army. I’m talking about the “Hello Girls.” I found a book in the library by Elizabeth Cobbs which finally gives credit to these brave women.

In 1917, when America entered WWI, communication was vital for troop movement and battle plans. Portable switchboards were designed but the men assigned to use them were trained in Morse Code and telegraphs. General Pershing went in search of female telephone operators to send to Europe. Women willingly volunteered for the Army Signal Corps.


One of the reasons women made better operators were because they had smaller hands, more dexterity and could multi-task better than men. They also had cooler heads when dealing with overwrought officers.

Grace Banker. Leader of The Hello Girls

The women were expected to buy their own uniforms. They were also required to be bilingual in French since that’s where the war was. They signed a contract and took an oath. They were in their early 20’s. Pay was $60 a month.

Fast track to 1970. I was fresh out of high school and went to work for Bell Telephone in the Los Angeles area. Operators were respected and telling clerks you worked for Ma Bell got you instant credit in many stores. We even had male groupies who could recognize our voices. The bookies from the Santa Anita racetrack sent us boxes of candy at Christmas.

Vietnam was going on and ITT was looking for single operators with no children to send over to the military bases. I missed the interviews by a day. Instead, I joined the Navy.

I put the signal corps down on my “dream sheet” but the Navy decided I’d make a good dental tech. That’s what they needed at the time. I hated what I was doing but ended up being good at it. When I got out, I got all the benefits of the GI Bill.

After college and after the newspaper I worked on as a photojournalist folded, I found myself back at Ma Bell. AT&T has always been patriotic, and I was reinstated at the level I left four years ago. The pay was incredible. I went to Hawaii twice in one year.

Let’s go back prior to 1917. The Suffragette movement continually pushed to get voting rights for women. Other countries, such as France and Russia, had already allowed women to vote. One of the things the Hello Girls did was make the case that women could participate in war and deserved to be able to have a say in their government. But, in 1920, the Army refused to acknowledge they were really part of the military. The women were denied benefits and veterans bonuses as promised. It wasn’t until President Carter in 1977 gave them the rights they deserved. The woman who accepted the honor was 93. Most of the Hello Girls never lived to see their due justice.


Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln… @JMmystery

Jeanne Matthews is happy to announce the arrival of a new mystery!  Devil By The Tail, scheduled for release in July 2021, pairs the audacious young widow of a Union soldier with an unvarnished ex-Confederate POW.  When they join forces and open their own detective agency, sparks fly – literally and figuratively.  A sensational arson and murder, a yellow press, corrupt politicians, and a bevy of notorious bawdyhouse madams make life in 1867 Chicago a dangerous affair. 

Originally from Georgia, Jeanne lives in Washington State with her husband, a law professor, and a Norwich terrier named Jack Reacher.  Information about her other books can be found on her website,  

While researching my new historical mystery, set in 1867 Chicago, I learned a number of long, fanciful words that were all the rage at the time.  Made up from prefixes and suffixes of complicated, Latin-sounding words, these comical creations had a faux-educated cachet and a delicious mouth-feel.  Absquatulate (to abscond).  Exfluncticate (to destroy).  Discombobulate (to confuse).  While they may sound quaint or corny today, they were in common parlance in the 1800s and some have endured.  We all know what hornswoggle and skedaddle mean.

Sockdolager is my personal favorite of these verbal inventions and the one with the most momentous history.  It can mean either a forceful blow, the point that settles a matter, or an exceptional person or thing.  Its etymology remains uncertain but it was probably cobbled together from sock, meaning to punch somebody, and doxology, the concluding hymn at the end of a church service.  The Chicago Daily Tribune defined sockdolager as “the term for anything that left nothing else to follow; an overwhelming finish to which no reply was possible.”

These splendiferous words, and especially the word “sockdolager,” fascinated the British playwright Tom Taylor.  He wrote a farce intended to poke fun at earnest, naïve Americans and their ridiculous Americanisms.  The plot featured an uncouth American bumpkin named Asa Trenchard who goes to England to claim an inheritance and meet his hoity-toity English cousins.  To Taylor’s surprise, Americans thought the joke was on the English aristocrats who were also skewered in the play.  Our American Cousin premiered in New York City in 1858 with great success and became hugely popular in the United States.  In 1865, the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. scheduled a two-week run of the play, but it lasted 150 nights.  The finale on April 14th was a sold-out performance.

It was a laugh a minute.  Lord Dundreary blabbers his twisted aphorisms.  “Birds of a feather gather no moss” and “It’s a wise child that gets the worms.”  Servants anticipate the American’s arrival with great excitement.  All Americans are seventeen feet tall, aren’t they?  And what about the “wild helephants and buffaloes” that roam the wilds of Vermont?  When Asa shows up, he’s “bumfuzzled” and boorish, swilling liquor and taunting his snobbish cousins.  “Do they think I mean to absquatulate with the spoons?”  Believing Asa to be the heir to a large fortune, Mrs. Mountchessington overlooks his gaffes and tries to manipulate him into marrying her daughter.  Unbeknownst to her, he has fallen in love with a poor dairymaid.

In Act 3, Scene 2, he confronts Mrs. Mountchessington in a way he knows will stop her meddling.  He tells her there’s been a mistake.  He isn’t the heir after all, but stands ready to pour out his affections upon her daughter “like apple sass over roast pork.”  So, he asks, how does she feel about taking him on as a son-in-law now that he’s moneyless?  The lady is indignant.  “I am aware, Mr. Trenchard, you are not used to the manners of good society and that, alone, will excuse the impertinence of which you have been guilty.”  With that riposte, she flounces off the stage in a huff.

Here comes Trenchard’s chance to put this highfalutin biddy in her place.  The actors wait for it – the line that has brought down the house in every performance for the last 149 nights.  “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh?  Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal, you sockdolagizing old mantrap.”

The audience erupts in laughter.  John Wilkes Booth, an actor familiar with the play, has anticipated the predictable roar of hilarity.  He steals into the presidential box and fires a bullet into Abraham Lincoln’s brain.  The crack of Booth’s single-barrel derringer was drowned out.  Lincoln died in mid-guffaw. “Sockdolagizing old mantrap” were the last words he heard in his life.

Those words may have resonated with Lincoln in a more personal and emotional way than we can know.  Biographers report that Mary pursued Lincoln relentlessly, determined to marry him in spite of his unpolished manners and lack of money.  He confided his reluctance to marry her to several friends and broke off the engagement once, having fallen in love with an eighteen-year-old beauty named Matilda Edwards.  But Mary didn’t give up.  She got her man, most likely by seducing him.  He would no doubt have felt obligated to marry her immediately in order to preserve her honor.  Did that make her a sockdolagizing mantrap?

After a long, on-and-off courtship, the marriage was hastily arranged.  While dressing for the wedding ceremony, Lincoln remarked to his groomsman, “I guess I am going to hell.”

Sterling and Me: Tail of a Mystery Author and Her Dog #2 @TheMysteryLadie

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Killer Deadline marks Lauren’s first venture into mystery’s purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist. 

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram ~ Pinterest

Sterling and Me: Losing Battles:
Is It a Surrender or Declaration of Defeat?

This weekend was a rough one in Sterling and my war against the COVID-20 – by that I mean the 20 pounds Sterling and I have put on since the shut down a year ago.

It was my birthday weekend. Shout out of thanks to the many, many birthday wishes on Facebook and other social media platform.

Each birthday is now a horrible reminder that a little over ten years ago, I proudly wore skinny jeans to my birthday dinner of crab-legs and feasted on chocolate birthday cake—declaring that this middle-aged woman was HOT at 50.

My sister and niece came to visit for the weekend, and we spent it eating birthday cake, breakfast pastries, oriental take-out and brownies in between. Sterling’s diet also hit the skids as he feasted on chew bones (brought by my sister), last bites of breakfast pastries, dog biscuits, corners of grilled cheese sandwiches, and anything else he could extract from guests.

In resignation of losing this weekend’s battle, I recalled something my mother used to say, “I don’t drink to excess. I don’t smoke. I don’t cheat on my husband. So, why shouldn’t I get to eat cake?”

My niece said, “But I want to be healthy.”

Does that mean only un-healthy people eat cake?

This birthday, I am 61 years old and not hot anymore—unless you want to count hot flashes. I’m finding myself identifying with Valerie Bertinelli, author of Losing It—and Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time, which detailed her diet journey. I devoured it in one day. Written in plain language, I identified with much of what Valerie experienced and felt in her life—mainly because she and I are the same age.

Middle-aged really became a reality as Valerie’s life went sideways. I don’t know what it is that makes growing older more apparent than weight-gain. I mean, young people can be overweight—right?

So, Valerie Bertinelli became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig and worked months to lose 50 pounds. She celebrated turning 50 with those famous bikini pics splashed across People magazine.

She was 50 and hot—just like me.

Ten years later, Valerie Bertinelli, a Daytime Emmy Award Winning host on the Food Network, says ‘There’s a lot of pride and a lot of shame associated with that cover. I worked really, really, really hard. Physically definitely. I wish to God I had worked just as hard on my mental shape.’ ( )

Cute at 60, Valerie Bertinelli now introduces fans to delicious foods and looks like she truly enjoys what she is doing. She’s enjoying life and everything that it has to offer—like great tasty food. Who cares if it goes straight to the hips?

Maybe we should consider the source when talking about those pounds sitting on our hips. I mean, what kind of people rob lovely, happy, middle aged women of the joy of good food?

During this birthday weekend, I enjoyed the time with my sister and eating birthday cake. It would have been better if I didn’t have the guilt pangs with every brownie I ate.

I wish I could be more like Sterling. When Karen extracted the big shiny tasty chew bone from her purse, he didn’t groan with guilt.

A party-pooper, Guilt was not allowed to his party as Sterling enjoyed the company of good friends and family and embraced every bit of tasty goodness this weekend.

Of course, in our war against unwanted pounds, we haven’t declared defeat. But maybe there are times when we should think about calling a truce.


How Far Is the Past?

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to wonder if the past remembered by older folks means much to the younger generations.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.   //

Every year on Veterans Day, two dentists in my town (Lemoore, CA) give free check-ups and some procedures on veterans. I took advantage, so that’s why I found myself in the chair getting a tooth pulled. The assistant asked what I did in the military and I told her I’d been a dental tech like her. I also told her I’d been in during the Vietnam Era (when you say that, people always assume you were in-country. Except nurses, most military women stayed stateside. But, joining during any war action gave GI benefits).

The young assistant asked if it was like on TV where there were lots of dead bodies. I said no, it was more like M.A.S.H.

“Oh, I’ve heard of that program,” she said.

“I think I saw an episode once. It was sort of funny” said the dentist.

Conveniently, my mouth fell open. Which is when the dentist went to work.

I get it. The show has been off the air almost 40 years. These two weren’t even born. But still. Isn’t this piece of trivia important enough to have heard about or seen reruns? The last episode was the most watched show in TV history. It still pops up on Jeopardy and in crossword puzzles. Oh, that’s right. Only Boomers do crossword puzzles. Unless it’s an app, nobody younger than 50 bothers with them.

Sometimes my own grasp of the past amazes me. My recent crossword wanted the first lady of jazz: Ella Fitzgerald. What Gorbachev reorganized? The USSR. Summoned Jeeves (who’s Jeeves?): Rang.

It got me thinking. Why do my references span decades? Is knowing the past not important in an age where everything moves at supersonic speed? When 45 seconds seems forever when nuking something in the microwave?


And here comes the “Okay, Boomer” moment. Growing up, TV only had 3 stations. There weren’t many children’s programs, but that’s okay because we were in bed by 7:30. We listened to the music our parents had on the hi-fi: Frank Sinatra, Louie Prima, Dean Martin. Lawrence Welk played his accordion, Father Knew Best and we all loved Lucy. We listened to the conversations of adults because children were seen, not heard. We picked up their info.

Yes, some of us got stuck in our own era. I have friends who will only listen to the oldies station. Several years ago, a clerk at a music store dismissed me as being too old to bother with until I asked for Green Day’s “American Idiot.” An Uber driver asked if I wanted to listen to soft rock on the radio, but I requested Cold Play. I still love listening to the silky voice of Nat King Cole, but also enjoy Dave Grohl.


What I’m saying is, although the present is fast paced and hard to keep up with, it’s worth putting in an effort to know about Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendricks and Jim Morrison. To know the names Mae West, Joseph McCarthy and Josephine Baker. It’s important to expand horizons beyond the present.



Hawkeye and Radar O’Reilly would no doubt agree with me.