Saturday, March 1, 2014

Editor's Corner

March 2014

"May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song. May each day bring you bright, happy hours. That stay with you all the year long." --An Irish toast.
St. Patrick's Day is around the corner and your editor blesses you with the toast quoted above. Enjoy your March despite the weather changes and enjoy the March issue for 2014.

One article "My Popaw" is from a cousin of yours truly, on the paternal side of the family, Susan Flora Anderson Kelly. Be sure to check her bio for more facts about her interesting grandfather the article discusses. The second article is by your editor's sister Melinda Cohenour about a relationship often discussed which she thoroughly researched for our family tree on Ancestry, "My Strange Relationship with Julia Ann Johnson Whiteturkey Gilstrap Lewis Dalton Johnson."

Jeremiah Raber's creative writing appears again with the two poems "Sandcastles" and "Sit Back and Listen." John I. Blair's five are titled "Booklove," "Moon Shadow," "Goldfinches at 18°," "Bee Talk in January," and "Listening to The Night." Bruce Clifford chose to share "Waiting for Today" and "Make It Come Alive." Bud Lemire's poems center around what is considered a national pastime in this family: "The Fishing Hole" and "Loretta, My Friday Fish Friend."

Columnists in this issue are Michael John Fierro (By the Numbers) who tells how to deal with our Karmic Lessons with numerology. Thomas F. O'Neill (Introspective) in China, discusses how the internet technology furthers the marketing interests of that country.

Judy Kroll aka Featherwind speaks of the value of learning from our elders while we still can, in her column "On Trek."  John I. Blair's column "Always Looking - People Who Made A Difference XV, presents Dorothea Lynde Dix with facts many of today's readers have never seen. Mattie Lennon uses as a tribute to a former co-worker John Bolton, three tales by his late friend, in the column  "Irish Eyes."

Cayce B. Shelton entertains us with "Ghost Story," while Mark Crocker adds chapter 3 to the story of Lexi, the cat who calls herself, "she who must be obeyed."

Once more we  thank Mike Craner, webmaster, for all his creativity and expertise in keeping us online.

We will be seeing you in April !!!

Click on Mary E. Adair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

My Strange Relationship with Julia Ann Johnson Whiteturkey Gilstrap Lewis Dalton Johnson

Yes. I am related to both the Younger Gang and the Dalton Gang through my Younger paternal line. The Dalton's were the children of Adeline Lee Younger and James Dalton. Adeline Lee Younger was the illegitimate child of my GGGG-Grandfather, the Colonel Charles Lee Younger (her mother being Parmelia Dorcas Wilson rumored to have been seduced by the Colonel when he brought her to assist in the household after yet another child was born to his wife, Sarah. Parmelia became a mistress to the Colonel, bearing some seven children who bore his surname). Adeline was a favored child and actually resided in the home of the Colonel and my GGGG-Grandmother, Sarah Sullivan Purcell Younger, as shown by Census records.

Julia Dalton was connected to me through two of her marriages, interestingly enough. She is quite a fascinating character, whose life was spent Hell-bent for excitement, it would appear. She and her sister left their parental home and headed to the Indian Territory when yet teenagers. They were involved with some of the most colorful characters in Western lore and quite romantic tales have been woven concerning the girls, themselves. Julia Dalton was married first in 1886 at the age of 16 to a full-blood Delaware Indian called Albert Whiteturkey. There exists an interview with a Katie Whiteturkey Day (Ka-tel-mah) Albert's younger sister, who indicates their marriage lasted eight years. I do not believe this to be the case, but have information that the marriage (length was closer to eight months, perhaps, since Julia married Robert Gilstrap in 1887) ended by "Indian divorce" meaning Albert tired of Julia, packed his things and left her.

Next, Julia married Robert Gilstrap, who is characterized by all as a gunslinger and outlaw who was ambushed and killed by a Lenape (Katie says a Delaware) Indian outlaw named Frank Leno. Katie claims to have been in the Bartlesville store with her husband and baby when the shop-owner warned there would be trouble, that Leno was "laying for Gilstrap". She says her husband spirited her baby from the store and she hid behind a barrel before Gilstrap arrived and was killed by a single shot without warning by Leno. At least one account I found indicated the killing was occasioned by the dalliance by Julia with Leno who may or may not have killed Gilstrap at her suggestion. Katie Whiteturkey Day was about 74 years of age when interviewed and it is possible her memories may have been affected by her advanced age, although I have found newspaper accounts of the killing of Gilstrap and subsequent trial of Leno.

Jennie Mae Gilstrap was presented as the child of this marriage, although rumor has it she was the illegitimate child of Julia's sister, Lucy Ann Johnson. (Lucy Ann is also rumored to have been the "wife" or mistress of Bob Dalton, another of the Dalton Gang cousins of mine.) Jennie Mae's true parentage is not known although she is listed on the US Native American Enrollment Cards (1898-1914) as "Indian by blood". This would rely upon her being the biological daughter of Robert Gilstrap, who was half Cherokee, his mother being Sarah Jane "Jennie" Blythe of the Rogers clan. (This, by the way, lends credence to Robert being the father, since it was a common practice to name the children after the grandparents, thus the given name of Jennie. We have not yet established whether or not the Gilstrap line itself was of native American descent although they traveled to the Indian Territory and intermarried with Cherokees often.) Jennie would have been about two years of age when Robert Gilstrap was murdered 24 December 1889.

Robert Gilstrap was the son of Andrew Jackson "Jack" Gilstrap, son of Peter Gilstrap, son of Richard Gilstrap by Mary Truitt who was Richard's first wife. My line descends from Richard's second wife, Nancy Ann Wright. Thus, Robert Gilstrap was my 2nd cousin, 3x removed. He died on his 27th birthday, Christmas Eve, as he arrived at the local trading store to do his Christmas shopping. Sad.
Julia next married Robert Ernest "Killer" Lewis, a known outlaw who ran a saloon known as the Uno Bar. He was selling two-percent beer, believing he could circumvent the "no alcohol" law in the Territory because of the dilute content. He had a long history of trouble with the law and engaged two Deputy US Marshals, Keeler and Williams, in gunfire when they entered his bar with the intent of closing it down. He killed Williams and was then shot down by Deputy Keeler. Julia apparently inherited the Uno joint and is reputed to have continued to operate it for some time.

Next in line was Emmett Dalton. When and where Julia and Emmett Dalton first met remains shrouded in mystery, as well. They constructed a romantic tale of having met when Julia was "playing the organ, like an angel, in the little church" where Emmett fell instantly in love. Now, from the history of this girl and her sister, it is highly unlikely this ever happened! They expanded the tale to include Julia waiting for years for Emmett to be pardoned and released from prison. If, in fact, the rumors that sister Lucy Ann Johnson and brother Bob Dalton were secretly married, it is possible Julia knew Emmett before the infamous shoot-out that left the Dalton Gang decimated. At any rate, they enjoyed a number of years notoriety and, even, respectability during the Hollywood era preceding Emmett's death.

Little is known of Roy Johnson Dalton other than the fact he is listed on Census records as residing in the home of Emmett and Julia as a son.

(Please do not use all or any portion of this text without attribution to Melinda E. Cohenour, author. The comments, conclusions and historical references are the product of my research and should not be utilized without providing this attribution. MEC - 14 October 2013.)

Pic at bottom of page is Julia Ann Johnson Whiteturkey Gilstrap Lewis Johnson.

Click on Melinda Cohenour for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


Irish Eyes


A Former colleague of mine, John Bolton, died two days ago.
You may recall that a few years ago I edited a collection of writings by transport workers.
John contributed to it and came up with the title
“ It Happens Between Stops.”
As a tribute I am using three of his pieces.

Christmas Eve

I had to do the last bus to Ballybrack leaving at 21.00 hrs. The second last bus had only gone around the corner, when this very pregnant lady came to the door. She started her breathing exercise before she said anything. I got out and was standing beside her when she asked for Holles Street. I joked with her, that at my age I now go past it. She then asked how she would know it when she got there. I got a fright, she should not be out on her own and she should have visited it and know where it was. To break my tension I said of course you will know, there will be a bright star over head and three wise men.
Town was as dead as a dodo, only had a few on as I left at 21.00 hrs. On Merrion Square, as I got to Holles Street, I stopped in awe! There was a full moon which lit up the Square and Mount Street and just seemed to be sitting on Mount Street Bridge.
When I got to the stop there were three men as drunk as Skunks in a mini scrum with a bus pole in the middle of them.
Before I opened the door to them, I told the pregnant Lady we were near Holles Street now. I told her to look up at the big moon, the bright star and look what's at the stop; your three wise men. To her credit she helped them on board. I told her to stay put and brought her to the hospital corner. I watched her go down the road and up the steps safely.
Out of curiosity, I rang Holles Street on St Stephen's day, to see what the lady had had and just to see if everything was all OK. I was asked what my relationship to her was. I stated I was not related and then the phone went dead.
©John Bolton

“The Eclipse on the Cheap”

The morning news had a full load of Concorde passengers who had paid some £2,000 for a figure of eight over Tenerife to see the eclipse. This way you got to see it from both sides of the plane twice.
For me, I loaded up my single decker to go to Dalkey. I got to Booterstown when I got this eerie feeling. I noticed the light change, but before I pulled back into the traffic, I noticed the start of the eclipse in the dark glass sun visor. The time was spot on between 11.18 and 11.22.
While watching this, an elderly lady asked if I was OK.
I replied, “It’s the eclipse, do you want to see it?”
She and all the rest queued up the centre aisle to see this from the drivers’ seat. I got a great round of applause at 11.25 when it was all over.
I would be barking up the wrong tree to stick them for £2,000 each.
©John Bolton

The Guide Dog

There are people in a severe state, who, I wonder how the hell they can find a Bus.
The paralytic drunk gets there but I still reckon they are dumped by barmen who then run away as we come into sight.
My admiration goes out to our visually impaired passengers, men like Michael Moran, who have to, "Jig Jag" through pavement works.
When he got on, a passenger asked him, "Why don't you get yourself a BLIND DOG?"
"Madam", He replied, "I have enough problems dragging this mortal coil around without having to drag that around also".
Audrey, Another of my passengers, lost her sight as a child. With the eye infection, she was able to navigate the route to school and later to university. It's only in the last two years that she got a Guide Dog.
My "Cleverest Dog" Award goes to a Man in Crumlin, who works in The Blind Factory in Rathmines.
On good days, the Dog gets up at Grovner Road and rings his own bell, which hangs from his neck. He walks from there to Rathmines.
On wet days, the Dog stays put until it reaches Rathmines.
I should know, I saw the Dog stand up, but he didn't ring the neck bell until we got to Rathmines.
©John Bolton

Click on Mattie Lennon  for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

On Trek

Old Folks

One of the biggest regrets we can make in this life, is not getting to know the older folks in our lives. Their experience in life is invaluable. I often thought if I would listen to my elders, and take heed to what they say, I could save myself a lot of heartaches.

However, like most youth, I knew it all. :) So I had to find out the hard way on many aspects of growing up.

My dad is 93 and he is going strong. He was in WW11, raised three children, buried his wife of 53 years, and continues to make his life exciting. Watching him has taught me that life does have it's ups and downs, but attitude is the key.

My daddy's attitude is something to be admired. He finds the good in everything. Recently he and his girl friend took a trip on a train, and they got a sleeping room. They didn't realize how small that room would be, but they made the best of it. My dad didn't complain and moan over it, he laughed, and his companion laughed as well. He said, we were close before, but now we understand what really close means!! To laugh thru a seemingly unpleasant experience made it bearable, and they managed to find it fun.

I have, for the most part, grown to emulate my dad's way of viewing life. We have a choice when we wake enjoy the day, or look for fault. We need to look at the world as a big play pen, taking the good with the bad, remembering all we have learned, and remembering those that have walked by our side.

My grandmother use to butter bread very slowly and methodically making sure she covered every corner, nook and cranny. It was an act of beauty. In those seconds while each of us watched her in anticipation for that tasty, lovingly prepared buttered bread, I failed to realize at that moment the importance of that moment. But later on, it was etched in my heart forever.

I learned that no matter what I do in life, do it with purpose, do it with meaning, do it with love. If we are going to spend the time to do something, then do it right!!. The white hair, the wrinkles, the slow moving body was all attained thru years of learning, trial and error, and tons of love. Why, they still send me love as a spirit.

Bless our white haired souls, and listen and learn from them while you can!!!


Click on Judith Kroll for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Always Looking: People Who Made A Difference XV

Dorothea Dix

Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802-1887), teacher, author, international advocate for improved treatment of mental patients, was one of the most visible humanitarian reformers in the 19th century. Born in Maine, Dorothea ran away to Boston when she was 12. Unusually mature and bright, at 14 she started a series of successful private schools and eventually wrote several popular books for children and parents. Her best known, Conversations on Common Things, 1824, was designed to help parents answer children's basic questions.

Her work was driven by deeply felt moral sensitivities, but for a time she struggled to find an appropriate religious context. She was seeking an emphasis on the goodness of God, purity of heart, openness to new knowledge and responsibility for the good of all society. She had a deep suspicion of doctrines and creeds, did not like theological abstractions and felt nearest to God when she was involved in specific actions that resulted in measurable good effects.

In 1841 Dix was asked to teach a Sunday class in the East Cambridge jail. What she encountered shocked her and changed her life. The jail was unheated. Hardened criminals, feeble-minded children and the mentally ill all occupied the same quarters. Dix got a court order to provide heat and make other improvements. The experience made her check jail and almshouse conditions in other areas of Massachusetts. When she learned that the mentally ill were commonly housed with felons, she embarked on a mission of reform, calling for decent accommodations for those suffering from mental and emotional disease.

At a time when women seldom traveled alone or attempted to influence legislation, funding, or the regulation of public institutions, Dix conducted one of the earliest social research and reform projects in the United States. She found the mentally ill chained in cellars, living in accumulations of their own excrement and often suffering from the cold. Based on her observations, she crafted a powerful memorial that was presented in 1843 to the Massachusetts legislature, which then allocated funds for a large expansion of the State Mental Hospital at Worcester. A major victory for Dix and for the insane poor of Massachusetts, the act stimulated similar efforts in New York and New Jersey, then other states. Hospital after hospital was erected, and additions and improvements made to existing facilities.

Dix insisted on a therapeutic setting for the curable insane and a humanely comfortable setting for the incurable. She hated custodialism, arguing strongly that the mentally ill should be provided therapy, books, music, recreation and, above all, meaningful work. From 1848 to 1854, she developed, then lobbied for, a plan to federally endow a program for the blind, deaf, mute and insane. The plan passed both the Senate and the House, but President Millard Fillmore failed to sign it before his term ended and the new President, Franklin Pierce, vetoed the bill.

Discouraged, Dix traveled to Europe to rest, but once there, she soon learned of the great disparity between private hospitals for the wealthy and miserable public facilities for the insane poor in Europe. Again, she set out to investigate and agitate for reform. From 1854 to 1856, she traveled 14 countries and successfully instigated many changes.

Back in the U.S. in 1856, Dix resumed her reform work, but now the country was torn over the slavery issue. In 1861, as the Civil War began, Dix volunteered and was named Superintendent of U.S. Army Nurses, organizing first aid stations, recruiting nurses, purchasing supplies and helping set up training facilities and field hospitals. After the war she helped trace missing soldiers, wrote letters to families concerning the status of their sons, and helped soldiers secure their pensions.

Although much of the reform work Dix accomplished had to be redone by later generations because of the ravages of time on facilities and programs that were overwhelmed by massive immigration and inadequate budgets, her groundwork set a new, permanent standard by which to judge the way we treat the mentally ill.
Adapted from an article by Wayne Viney at
Researched and compiled by John I. Blair.
Pic of Dorothea Lynde Dix at bottom of page.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

By The Numbers

The KARMIC Lessons

 An important part of a Numerology chart is the Inclusion Table, which is an accounting of the number of times each individual number appears in the spelling of an individual's name. When a particular number is missing, this is a representation of a lesson that needs to be learned in this lifetime. The more numbers that are missing, the more lessons the person must learn. These lessons are not insurmountable. They are indications of the areas of the personality, or being that must be recognized for the improvement(s) that they need. If a person is missing many numbers, then that person has a great deal of work that must be accomplished to become a better and more self-actualized being. If someone is not missing any numbers, then that person can go through life improving various aspects of their own choosing to maximize their potential. Other indications of the missing numbers will manifest themselves as characteristics of personality, or conditions that may exist within the individual's life. If a missing number coincides with a Challenge number, then the indication is that this is an area of life that will need a more dedicated effort to overcome and improve.

Each number from 1-9 occurs an average number of times in the average spelling of the average name and each number adds traits and characteristics to 'who you are'. The number 1 appears an average of 3-4 times and is one of three of the most commonly occurring numbers in a name; the number 2 appears an average of once; the number 3 appears an average of 1-2 times; the number 4 appears an average of 1-2 times; 5 is the second most commonly occurring number at 3-4 times; 6 appears on average 1-2 times; the number 7 is one of the most commonly missing numbers and its average is 0-1 times; 8 is also a commonly missing number and its average is also 0-1 times; the final number, 9 is the third most commonly appearing number at 3-4 times. This chart demonstrates the number attached to each letter of the alphabet. Be certain that in doing any calculations, that you use the alphabet of the language in which your birth certificate is written.

In setting up your Inclusion Chart, draw the tic-tac-toe board and place the count for each number in its appropriate box (top line 1, 2, 3; second line 4, 5, 6; and the bottom line 7, 8, 9)
These are the lessons and conditions associated with each missing number.
ONE - When the One is missing, it represents the inability of someone to stand up for themselves and their rights. This creates a dynamic where the person is easy going, charming and lovely. They may be more interested in others than they are themselves. This individual may lack drive and ambition. If a chart has 0-2 Ones, the person will probably have a self-deprecating sense of humor. This will be increased if there are Twos present in the name. THE LESSON in the absence of Ones is that this person must learn to develop a better sense of self, gaining self-confidence in the process.

TWO - When a chart is missing Twos, this shows that the person may be lacking in consideration for others. They will also exhibit impatience and tact as well as a lack of a sense of true cooperation. THE LESSON this person must learn is patience with, and tolerance of, others.
THREE - Missing Threes in a chart will indicate a person who is lacking in fanciful ideas, sentimental speech, romance, and imagination. These conditions will not be natural tendencies. Doubt, fear, and a lack of self-expression will also be overwhelming tendencies. An inclination toward dullness and rigidity may also be exhibited. Lacking Threes will also invariably create problems in interpersonal relationships as the person will find it virtually impossible, or be very unwilling to express their thoughts and feelings. The result may be a tendency to yell and argue as a personal defense, to cover the inadequacy. A dichotomy may exist in that the person may very well have no problem expressing themselves in the context of their job or career. THE LESSON this person must learn is the art of self-expression, both personally and creatively.
FOUR - The person who is lacking Fours in the spelling of their name will demonstrate a lack of concentration and discipline. The lack of application may be a weakness of their nature. They will receive help through others but must learn to organize and construct their lives. No Fours create laziness and a dislike of order. There may be a tendency towards extravagance. THE LESSON is that this person must learn the traits of discipline, organization and how to work.
FIVE - If a chart is missing Fives, the person will exhibit timidity and a dislike of crowds and will have a desire to be alone. This person is afraid to face the world and will not be very adaptable. There may also be a lack of vulnerability. There will also be an overriding fear of change and an inability to adjust. They are quite content to have things remain the way they always were. THE LESSON is that this person must learn to embrace life and change.
SIX - Missing Sixes indicate a weak sense of duty and responsibility. For this reason, domestic life may be taken lightly. This person must learn to accept that actions will only be reciprocated and not offered by others willingly. There is a caution to guard against co-dependent behavior. There may be many interesting situations and happenings when the Six is missing. No Sixes may also indicate a person of doubtful integrity and loyalty. Another condition may indicate a non-existent or strained relationship with a parent or parents, often the parent of the opposite sex. The possibility exists that the absence of a parent may be the result of divorce, separation or death. THE LESSON is that this person must learn to develop a sense of responsibility and family, while becoming dependent on themselves to establish their position in life.
SEVEN - In Numerology, Seven is the most commonly missing number in the spelling of names. The person with missing Sevens will be open-minded and may experience more inner happiness. This person may be driven to better understand life, but not know which path to follow. It is the author's belief that the prevalence of missing Sevens in the spelling of names during the twentieth century is one of the driving forces behind the metaphysical/New Age movement and the desire of individuals to better understand themselves and the world in which they reside. THE LESSON for this person is that they must learn to become more in tune with self and the world through a spiritual or religious pursuit and belief.
EIGHT - Eights are the second most commonly missing number in Numerology. The person who is missing this number lacks self-control and may be dependent on others. A positive aspect of this number missing is less strain after money in the long run. This eases the pressure of living and finances. This person may have a dislike of finance and handling money. They may have an “easy come, easy go” attitude towards money and life. Missing Eights may attract help and experience luck through others. This person may also be lacking in a sense of personal power and inner strength. THE LESSON is that this person must develop a better sense of personal power and become comfortable handling money.
NINE - The person who is missing Nines lacks broadness, tolerance, and compassion. This person may also have a tendency to be selfish. They may be helpful, kind, and capable without experiencing any feeling of universal forgiveness. Missing Nines limits the extent of accomplishment that may be felt. In order to expand their view of humanity, studies of comparative behaviors, religions, and character analysis will be helpful. THE LESSON is that this person must learn to be more magnanimous and humanitarian in belief and action. They must broaden their perspective of the world in which they reside.
Now, that you have discovered your numbers...learn your lessons!
Blessings of Love & Light ©2013, Michael John Fierro

Michael John Fierro has been working with Numerology since 1984. He is the author of YOU KNOW YOUR NAME...LOOK UP YOUR NUMBERS. He is available for private sessions, corporate and private events, lectures, workshops and book-signings.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


The company boasts of having 277 million members and they are trying to attract an additional 140 million Chinese professionals to its network. There are approximately 4 million Chinese professionals now using LinkedIn.

The company has launched a Chinese language based network giving the company greater exposure. “Given the rapid acceleration and development of China’s economy, the expansion of our offering in China marks a significant step forward in our mission to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful,” CEO Jeff Weiner wrote in a blog post.

In order to do business in China, LinkedIn, needs to acquire an Internet content provider license from the Chinese government. For the license to be issued, China requires that Internet companies actively censor certain content.

Twitter and Facebook were banned from the country for refusing to do so and when Google stopped censoring its search results in 2010 they were kicked off China’s mainland. Now, when users try to access Google in mainland China they are redirected to its Hong Kong site. Traffic on Google’s search engine has fallen significantly in China as well.

In order for LinkedIn to remain competitive in China they will have to comply with China’s demands such as storing data on Chinese users on servers in China. The Company will have to comply with things in China that they would not have to comply with in other countries. That means filtering content and they will legally be required to do so in order to do business with the Chinese.

It’s not clear how often China scrubs posts from social media sites from within its borders. How regularly the government will compel LinkedIn to censor posts is not clear either. Social media users bad-mouthing the Chinese government isn't what the censors are targeting. What the censors are cracking down on are attempts at collective action. They don’t want anyone to collectively control the movement of people to protest against the Chinese government. That’s what could cause the Chinese government to lose its power. It has been estimated that approximately 13 percent of all social media posts are censored or removed in China due to these sorts of attempts at mobilizing protest movements.

LinkedIn, however, may be better positioned to succeed in China due to the nature of its content. That could mean less attention from the Chinese government and less man-hours needed to comb through potentially incriminating posts. The LinkedIn network is not exactly the platform for mobilizing activists in the way Twitter and Facebook have become in recent times.

In America social media sites pride themselves on free speech and censorship is not much of an issue when it comes to freedom of expression. The censorship issue in China though can become a financial headache, especially, when abiding by China’s often vague censorship directives. Micro-blogging sites in China have to invest armies of individuals who spend their time looking through content. They must determine what should or shouldn't be removed and this can be quite expensive for companies doing business in mainland China.

It is not always easy though for America’s social media companies to attract China’s internet users. It is mostly due to the fact that China is already heavily connected online with a variety of its own social networks. Sina Weibo, a micro-blogging service that serves as a kind of hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, boasts 61.4 million daily active users. WeChat, a Chinese messaging and commerce service somewhat similar to WhatsApp, has 272 million monthly users worldwide.

Living in China, I quickly noticed how the Chinese government exerts control over its Internet. The government here for instance easily throttles its loading speeds against American newcomers so that they can’t easily compete with the Chinese-owned incumbents. It can be quite frustrating when using Google services when its internet speeds have been slowed in this way.

American and Chinese Internet firms may soon become direct competitors in America as well. Chinese social media outlets will soon arrive on American shores this year. The social media company Sina Weibo has been quietly testing an English version of its social network and is reportedly prepping a U.S. IPO for the second quarter of this year. WeChat has also launched a promotional campaign earlier this year to lure in more American users. The ironic thing about China’s push into the U.S. market - once the Chinese companies reach the American shores, censorship, will no longer be the law of their new frontier.

As LinkedIn negotiates within China’s borders the Chinese government is in no way easing up on its censorship laws or online policies. For instance, bloggers who post online rumors against the Chinese government that are widely re-shared is punishable up to three years in jail.

American companies wanting to do business with the Chinese should calculate the moral and ethical ramifications of China's stringent censorship laws. Especially, when the law of the land infringes on a person’s freedom of expression or I should say the lack thereof.

The over the top censorship is only hurting China in the long run because it restrains the creative spark of China's energetic youth. Our freedom to express ourselves openly and honestly is part of what makes America the greatest Nation on earth. It's our creative spirit that attracts people from all Nations of the world - they come to our country in order to embrace and emulate our way of life.
My students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou, China, express often their desire to come to America. They want to experience our freedom and our creative energy that seems to transcend all cultural boundaries - that in itself can make one proud to be an American.
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

    Click on Thomas F. O'Neill  for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Sit Back and Listen

Sit back and listen to the flow
most of you already know
back to when I was in huggies
way before they even had snuggies

I always paid attention to the teachers
never really understood the preachers
but I saw it coming even back then
knew all my life I was gonna sin

People watched my life unravel
never stayed long had to travel
gyspy soul running in my veins
always hiding from my past pains

You didn't know my name before
now you think you can walk in my door
Let's drop the act just keep this real
tell me what's up and how you feel

I dont have time to play a game
I told you before I had the fame
the words written on your wall
seen it before I would even fall

You can't knock me out my seat
cause I'll hit you with a delete
My teenage years went by like that
never needed a gun just a baseball bat

Worked my way up from the floor
burning a fire in my core
I thought I was on the track
then again your words were 'wack'

I didn't wait around to find out
no time to listen to 'em shout
times pass by like I'm standing still
another day, hour and minutes to kill

I didn't come back to hear you cry
I came back to give a second try
But you fell at your knees
kept begging and saying please

But sorry to say not this time
my time's worth more than a dime
20+ years have gone past
yet I still remain last

But I'll finish on the top
I promised not to stop
till I hit the road that I had to pave
I took a break as you dug my grave

This isn't the end of me
just stick around and see.

©2/13/14, 3:56am Jeremiah Raber

Click on Jeremiah Raber for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

The Fishing Hole

He had a special bobber for his fishing pole
And he used it down at his fishing hole
He was going to catch a good fish
While there he would hope and wish

He would like to catch a fish while there
But if he didn't, he really didn't care
He watched the birds chirping in the tree
And gazed all around at all he could see

A chipmunk running across the grass
He sure was moving so very fast
The line went down, he had a bite
He reeled it in, oh what a sight

It was a good sized perch on his line
And he thought “And it's all mine”
A Kingfisher from a tree took a dive
And caught a fish and it was still alive

The sun was shining, the sky was blue
It was a warm day, with nothing to do
So he decided to grab his fishing pole
And was so glad he went to the Fishing Hole

©Feb 23, 2014 Bud Lemire

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Sometimes it is more than just fishing,
it's taking in everything around you

Bee Talk in January

When I’m planting hardy flowers in pots,
Soaking up the winter sun
And dreaming of the springtime
Yet to come,

Sometimes a humming honeybee
Joins me there, sharing
My appreciation for the sweetness
Of the flowers I’ve brought.

And I talk to it,
Saying nothing much
Besides expressing my delight
To be there in the sunshine.

I know that honeybees
Might not understand
My words, or even care;
Nonetheless I talk.

My thought: perhaps
What I’m talking to
Is a little bee that dwells
Somewhere inside me.

©2014 John I. Blair

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Goldfinches at 18°

How can I persist
In feeling sorry for myself
When I look out the window
And see goldfinches feeding,

Perched there in the bitter air
With nothing but their feathers
To shield against the cold,
Looking happy

Just to be alive and fed.
Sticking to the basics –
That’s what I must remember
Out of all the ancient wisdom;

Living in the present moment
When food is in my beak,
No hawk swoops upon me
And cats are all asleep.

©2014 John I. Blair

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Waiting for Today

Lost in the days
Lost in yesterday
Waiting for tomorrow to come
Waiting for today 

The minute I reach out
Catching the waves
They won’t let me out
They won’t let me behave

I don’t know where we’re going
These spaces I fear
I don’t know what we’re looking for
I’m not sure what I hear

Lost in the days
Lost in yesterday
Waiting for tomorrow to come
Waiting for today

©2/19/14 Bruce Clifford

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I live with books –
Tall cases lined with them,
Long shelves beside the fireplace,
Stacks on tables, chairs.

I like the way they look,
The way they smell,
The way they feel
Between my hands.

Books have been my doors
Into the world,
My access to the ages,
Portals to the past.

I went public with
My love for them
Many, many years ago,
No shame, and no regrets.

And now that I am old I sit
Among my books for solace,
And fall asleep each night
With one upon my breast.

©2014 John I. Blair

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Loretta, My Friday Fish Friend

This is for my friend Loretta, who comes over for Fish
Every Friday for supper, because it's our favorite dish
Salmon, Whitefish, or a delicious Lake Trout
Eating Fish for supper is what living is all about

 Steamed Asparagus has a wonderful taste
Not a bit of this vegetable goes to waste
Baked potatoes, straight from the oven
With a little butter, it's a taste that I'm loving

Home made Green Tea with a touch of Mint there
To wash down the meal that I love to share
I take a few pictures to share on Facebook
So others can see the meal that I cook

It's time for the arrival of My Friday Fish Friend
An hour or more, for a tasteful time that we spend
Music in the background, to make it just right
As we each enjoy the food, with another bite

We visit for awhile and the time flies
Then she gives me a hug as we say our goodbyes
The Time is special, every moment we spend
With Loretta, My Friday Fish Friend
©Feb 28, 2014 Bud Lemire

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Fridays wouldn't be the same with out my friend Loretta and it wouldn't be the same 
without the Fish we eat.
Thank you Loretta, for your good company and friendship every Friday and each day of the year.

Make It Come Alive

Watching the planes come in
You said it only  happens every ten minutes or so
What you didn’t know was they kept coming in

Since then the years went by
So often I had you on my mind
What I didn’t know was how you always felt the same

You were so full of life
I didn’t know where you went
You made me feel so alive
As if you were heaven sent

The look in your eyes
Stayed with me night after night
I never forgot what was real
What was it that we could feel

You make it come alive
You bring out the best in me
You make everything alright
You make me feel alive

Where did the time go
All the mountains we had to climb 
Is this how our story goes
Or do we give this one more try

You make it come alive
You bring me sunshine in the rain
You make everything alright
But will things ever be the same

Let’s make it come alive
Let’s sit and watch the planes
Are there still answers we’re looking to find
You make it come alive

©2/2/14 Bruce Clifford

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All the sandcastles that I built
were crashed down with a quilt

The water started crashing around
but there's no life guard to be found

As the waves pulled me in deeper
I knew I found my secret keeper

But when I wake I'll finally be free
forgetting who I use to be

There's another name that they'll call
and no one knows about my last fall

It's a secret kept within the ocean
an' I'll follow through the new motion

Creating a new life for me to start
empty, no heart to rip apart

Completely soul less just like all the rest
I'll be surrounded with the best of the best

I already sold my soul before
I never should've asked for more

Now I want chance to remember what I had
before they turned me into something bad

But this is where my new journey will begin
knowing inside that the devil is my kin

This isn't a fairy tale to be told
no one knows how much long I will hold

But I'll keep to my honest word
I'll stay quiet completely unheard

The day they take me out of the game
that's when I'll finally have true fame

But until then I sing with secret riddles
listening to the devil play his fiddles

Remember I said it all came crashing around
Jesus was the lifeguard never found

Take this in with an open mind
because only then you will find

The truth that's hidden in the lies
set me free before my spirit dies.....

©2014 Jeremiah Raber

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Moon Shadow

Chasing my moon shadow down the drive
Tonight, I never quite can catch it;
And that makes me laugh
For reasons I don’t clearly understand.

Perhaps it cheers me just to think
I’m still substantial,
Even in the moonlight
Where phantoms seem at hand.

Perhaps to see the Lady in the moon
Reminds me I’ve been loved
And found someone to love –
Two aspects of delight.

Either way I’m blessed
And I’m alive.

©2014 John I. Blair

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Listening to The Night

Even with my deafened ears
I’m listening to the night;
Hark, and you can hear it too –

Breathing round the corners of the house,
Smoky whispers from the yard,
Moaning in the porchlight.

In the dark a screech owl shrieks;
Tree trunks groan;
Afterward a lone dog barks.

There is a story being told;
I don’t know how it ends:
Or in laughter, or in tears.

©2014 John I. Blair

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My Popaw

Mother’s father was known as Popaw to all his grandchildren because my brother, Billy, named him. The oldest grandchild always names the grandparents it seems. Even though Popaw died when I was 14 years old, I remember him so clearly that I can recall his face, his voice and some of his favorite sayings as if hearing them only yesterday.
    Popaw's full name was James Kellum Vardeman Walley. He was the youngest son of James Sylvester Walley Jr. and Sarah Rayner Walley. My grandfather was at least 1/8 Choctaw Indian and he looked like it even though some of his brothers and sisters took after the Walleys and the Rayners and were blue eyed, extremely fair and had orange red hair.
My earliest memories of Popaw are a collage of different scenes. Granny and Popaw lived in Laurel, Mississippi in an old house that we would later live in. My mother was the oldest child and was married with three children before her sister married and my cousin Faith was born. For many years it was just Bill, Perry who is my younger brother, and me. Mother had a baby brother, Danny, who was just a couple of years older than Bill and he was more like an older brother to all of us than an uncle. Popaw had nicknames for everyone; Danny was Elephant, Bill was Lead Bottom, Perry was Como, Faith was Reno and I was “Que”.

One of the earlier memories was of an accident which happened when I was two or three years old and Billy and I were staying with Granny and Popaw. Billy and Danny were playing outside throwing a Mason jar filled with pebbles back and forth to each other. Now, I know that was a stupid thing to do but keep in mind that they were young too; Billy was about five or six and Danny about eight years old and I am positive my grandparents had no idea what those two were doing. The boys didn’t want me to play because they were afraid I’d get in the way and be hurt.

Well, I wouldn’t listen to their chastisements to stay away and kept trying to get in the game. I remember seeing Danny throw the jar filled with pretty little smooth rocks and I made a run to catch it and I did . . . with my face. The jar shattered on impact and cut my face pretty bad. The odd thing is, I really don’t remember much about the pain, perhaps it knocked me out, I really don’t know. What I do remember is my Popaw rushing me into the car and taking me to the hospital. I remember being terrified of everything that was happening to me. But my Popaw was there always talking to me. I was later told that a plastic surgeon was flown in from New Orleans to sew me up. At this point all I can now remember is that pain was trying to take over my face and the nurses were trying to keep my hands from touching my face and to keep me lying down.

Evidently, that was a daunting task because I remember one of the nurses brought in a straight jacket! Popaw had had enough of their nonsense at this point and asked them why they couldn’t give me something to put me to sleep while they sewed me up. Later, I understood that with head injuries doctors don’t like to give anesthesia because they want to be sure there was no brain damage. Well, the nurses started trying to put me in the strait jacket and I suddenly morphed from Homo sapiens to Homo insapiens.

My wonderful Popaw pushed those well intentioned ladies out of the way and held me down with his body. He told the nurses that no one was going to put his granddaughter in a straight jacket! Since both sides of my face were involved, he whispered soothing words to me first in one ear and then the other as the surgeon sewed me up. I remember only snatches of what he said to me that day. He told me stories, and when I cried out, he said, “Huuuuush” as only someone from Mississippi can and it sounded like it a really long word.

I don’t know how long the surgery lasted, but mother later told me I had the tiniest stitches she had ever seen holding my face together. I barely have any scars today so the surgeon did a great job, but it is my Popaw that I remember most. I remember the clean smell of him and the deep rumbly voice whispering in my ears until I wasn’t afraid anymore and I don’t even remember the pain. I don’t remember ever seeing my face after the surgery, but I wasn’t a child that looked in the mirror a great deal.

Popaw wasn’t always nice. He was a very strict man and sometimes when he was angry he looked like his eyes were made of black rocks. He was part Native American, an eighth I think, and he had dark eyes and dark hair and eyebrows. I always knew he was Indian because he told me so. There wasn’t much foolishness about my Popaw. After we moved to Laurel, Mississippi, we lived in their house in Laurel and they moved out to the country and lived in a wonderful house from a child’s perspective. I suspect, any place your grandparents live is probably wonderful to a child. My cousin, Faith, was born after my younger brother, Perry, and for a time it seemed that Popaw didn’t like us as much as he liked Reno. When we came over to visit Reno was allowed to stay in the house and play but Perry and I were made to play outside in the dirt under a walnut tree.

My granny gave us pots and pans to play with and truthfully, I really didn’t mind all that much because I loved Perry and was happy outside where we played well together. Billy was off with Danny as usual so I don’t have many memories about them. But, I do remember it seemed there was definite favoritism shown to my cousin. I don’t remember Popaw ever being overtly mean to us or spanking us or anything but he just put us away from him and showered affection on my little cousin. I don’t remember having my feelings hurt about it or anything; it seemed things were just the way they were.

I do remember telling Popaw when I had a loose tooth - once. It only took once to teach me what an exceptionally bad idea it was to tell Popaw about a loose tooth. It seems that he felt that the moment a tooth becomes loose it must come out immediately. It wasn't a very good day for anyone in that household, especially me. Even so, when I'd go to visit my Granny and Popaw, I would start to worry about how much time I had to visit with them the very moment I arrived. One time, Popaw said, "Que, you worry so much about leaving, you don't even enjoy being here."

It was during these times I became very close to my granny. She was wonderful, kind, gentle and always made fruit cocktail in little jars just for me to find in her canning safe. She made it into a game where I would ask if there were any more jars of fruit cocktail, and she would ponder that and say, "Let me look and see". Of course, there was always one more in the safe. I never even thought to look for the hiding place where she kept the magically appearing "last jar".

There was no more wonderful place to be as a child than Mississippi. We went outside to play and stayed all day. There were fruit trees growing everywhere, so we didn’t need to even go inside to get a snack. My granny was an organic gardener before it was fashionable and so we ate the very best vegetables and fruits all the time. We had fresh milk, cream and butter. Popaw raised cows and corn. He was always hot and sweaty in the summer but he never smelled sweaty. I still wonder how he got around that. In the mornings he milked his cows, they were Jerseys and mean. He taught me to milk them and once you learn to milk a cow you never forget. Granny, Popaw and Danny had a horse named Daisy and we rode her often, bareback of course. I don’t think they even had a saddle for Daisy. She was such a sweet horse.

Then, we moved far away to Anchorage, Alaska, and those halcyon days of our youth seemed to be over. We lived in Anchorage for two years and then we moved to Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. In total, we didn’t see any of our Mississippi family for over five years. Young memories are very strong though, and while we vacationed in the Fiji Islands on our way back to the United States, all we children wanted to know was “when are we getting to Granny’s and Papaw’s house”? We were totally focused on getting to our grandparents as quickly as possible.

I remember when we drove up in our sky blue Buick and when we arrived on the road to our grandparent’s house, Daddy started honking the horn. It was so much fun. It was also very strange. Everything was different. Danny was all grown up and at least 16 years old. Billy was almost 14 years old and shy. I was at the extremely awkward age of eleven; which to a girl is like being in the middle of nowhere. Perry was still a little boy really, so it was easier for him to slide back into being Como. I remember I had an Australian accent and kept quiet so I could listen to the soothing sounds of my grandparent’s distinct Mississippi accent and dialect.

My Aunt Merle, Uncle Frank and Faith came over to visit that night. Faith was a big girl now, not the little girl she had been. She had begun to refuse to be called Reno and would not answer to that name and so she trained all of us to call her Faith. Faith was beautiful in my eyes. She had dark hair that was long, thick and wavy, green eyes with long curly eyelashes and the most beautiful porcelain white skin I had ever seen. She looked like a young Elizabeth Taylor. On the other hand, as I mentioned before, I was at the awkward age of eleven. I was tall and strong from swimming in Australia. My hair was quite short and several different colors, mostly gold, my hazel eyes looked gold and green and my skin looked gold as I could not tan, so gold was the best I could do. My favorite color was pink which probably was a sad choice for me at that time. I was a big pink and gold thing.

I also remember that before we left for Alaska Popaw didn’t seem to like us much. So, I undertook the task of making Popaw like me again. Whatever it took, I was willing to do it and in my immature mind I really believed I could make Popaw love me best. Slowly, I began my campaign of catering to him. Soon, catering to him became a habit and then it wasn’t a campaign any longer. I just loved my Popaw so much I’d help him with whatever he’d let me do. Unlike many men of his generation, and sadly my own, my Popaw was never a male chauvinist. I’d ask him if I could do this or that and his usual response was “if you think you’re big enough”. In his eyes, I could do or be anything I wanted to do and had the resources to do. I’ve never forgotten that and lift my eyes to heaven every now and again and say “Thanks, Popaw”.

I realized as time progressed that my beautiful, sweet little cousin wasn’t more favored than I had been at her age. Popaw just like to make over his little grandchildren. Popaw was a good man. He was smart even though he never finished elementary school. He had a great memory and could do math so fast in his head it was amazing. He was a Christian man and always said grace before every meal. He did not go to church, but I found him reading his Bible many times. My Popaw was honest to a fault and was one of the worst businessmen I’ve ever heard of. I’m not certain if one thing has to do with the other, but that is just the way it was.

My Popaw died in January and the summer before that I was allowed to spend that summer with my grandparents. Popaw was cranky and he seemed very serious during that visit. But, he told me things that I remember to this day. When I said something with authority that I didn't have he'd say, "Que, who pulled on your chain?” Think about it . . . I remember him teaching me how to fix a lawn mower and he taught me how to take it apart and put it back together again. He was so pleased when I could do it by myself. In Mississippi it rains every day and in the summer the grass grows so fast you almost need to mow every other day. I remember mowing the lawn for him and singing Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" at the top of my lungs while doing it. Popaw supervised my mowing from the front porch with a jar of water in his hand. Because I am very fair, my Granny came out and jumped on him for making me mow the lawn in the hot Mississippi sun. She said I was turning purple. It's the only time I recall Granny getting mad at Popaw. He never told her I insisted on mowing the lawn and took the scolding quietly. This is a bigger deal than one might imagine because Granny was one of the sweetest, kindest people in the world. She was like Mrs. Santa Claus - only better.

There are so many other memories, I can sometimes remember them and sometimes I can't. My Popaw could look at someone and make them feel like they were going to burst into flames, but he never looked at me that way. However, one day he and I got into a squabble over Granny. I thought he wasn't being nice enough to her and I started following him around fussing at him. I thought I was skating on very thin ice. Finally, he sat down in the living room in his rocking chair and watched me accelerate. Evidently, and much to my surprise he found my anger extremely amusing. He told me later he watched me walk out of the room only to come back and put my finger up and fuss at him then turn around and leave only to come back a moment later and repeat the process and I became angrier each time. After that, he didn't call me "Que" anymore, he called me "Dynamite"; actually, he called me "Dynamite - four on the floor" but it was shortened to just "Dynamite". He said I had four speeds of mad.

I missed him calling me "Que". There is no particular reason why I am sharing these memories. I was simply thinking about my Popaw. Even though he has been gone for many, many years; I still think about him. The fact that he is always a thought away should tell you the most important thing about my dear Popaw. When I left for home at the end of that summer, I didn't know I was saying goodbye to him for the last time on this earth. But I now realize that he IS the kind of person who stays with you for a lifetime and you are a better person for having him your life.

Time is often a great judge on the good of things. There are many things in my life that I no longer remember. Time is kind that way. Those special summer days with my Popaw will linger in my memories forever. Time is generous that way. Thanks, Popaw. ©Susan Flora Kelly

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Ghost Town

I’m an old man now. But I can still remember things fairly well. They say you never forget your first love and I remember mine. Sally was my first love and my first wife. I remember that Sally was full of life and never met a stranger. And I remember the day I lost Sally.

I’ve told this story a hundred times, at least, and have never found more than one person who believed me. That person was the one who warned me before Sally was gone but he also told me that he could not help me find her.

Sally and I were married in the summer fifty years ago. Although I had a nice house to take her to, she wanted a honeymoon somewhere else. I liked her idea of a traveling camping trip so we bought a small camping van with about everything we would need in it. Putting my business in the capable hands of my general manager, Sally and I began our cross country adventure. We were on the last leg of our journey as we headed back home to California.

Crossing the Badlands of Nevada, Sally got excited when she saw what looked like a child’s scribbles on a board on the side of the two lane highway. I had seen another one a while back telling us about an old western ghost town, but knowing that such places were only a bunch of worn out buildings with nothing else to see, I ignored the thought of stopping. But Sally was bouncing around in the seat screaming for me to turn into the dusty road indicated by third sign stating, “Ghost Town Ahead.”
About fifty yards off the highway a small guard type building stood like a ghost building itself. As we got closer an elderly man stepped out and waved us down.

“Hi, folks, I guess you want to see the ghost town here, huh?”

I nodded and replied, “Yes sir, at least my wife does. Since you are guarding the place, I reckon there is a charge for the visit.”

The old man grinned and nodded his head as he spoke, “Well, I do charge folks five dollars a person, but you can stay as long as you like until sundown. I don’t allow vehicles in there so you can park over yonder.” He pointed to where two cars were parked off to the right of the road. As I handed him the ten dollar bill, he handed me a pamphlet and began to tell us about the town.

“This here ghost town was a mining town way back in the last century. There were a few ranches about but most men folks worked in the mines. Since it was so hot during the day they worked at night and partied during the day, mostly in the saloon down there. Now, there are a few buildings left down there, mostly weathered and rundown, but the town still exists. You can take cameras but no guns, drugs, or cash. Leave all that in your van, it will be safe.”

I thanked the old man and started the van. He put a weathered and wrinkled hand on the rolled down window edge and spoke with worried voice.

“There is one other thing, fella. Take this stone here and keep it in your hand all of the time. Don’t put it in your pocket and don’t lay it down anywhere. Above all, don’t try to talk to the ghosts you may see there and don’t try to touch them. There is a bunch of them that were killed when the mines began to cave in and a few cowboys who just went crazy.”

Sally and I laughed at the old man who was looking at us so seriously like telling us not to talk to the ghosts. We waved at him and turned to park the van.

After putting our valuables including our watches and the necklace Sally had on into the glove box, we put two water bottles in the small knapsack I could carry and headed down the road toward the ghost town. As we walked over a small hillock, we stopped to survey the few rough looking weathered graying buildings. As I had suspected, there was little else to see. I told Sally that we had seen all there was but she was adamant about getting closer to the ruins. We casually ventured forth.

As we neared a small building ahead of us, the gray of the side boards began to take on a pinkish white glow. As we got closer we could hear muffled voices from within the building and as we rounded the corner we could see through a large glass window two men moving a large box. We laughed and talked about the actors doing their thing without even seeing us. Seeing a couple of cowboys passing by on horses, we followed them to the large building with a sign over the swinging door telling us of the saloon.

As we approached the building, the weathered boards took on the colors we had seen before. We could hear laughter and talking amidst the sounds of a piano playing a lively tune. As we pushed the swinging doors open, we could see the large room filled with small round tables around which were men of all sizes and dress drinking, talking, arguing, and playing cards and dominoes.

As Sally moved through the tables taking pictures of the men and the few women, none of them paid any attention to her or the flashing light when she clicked the shutter. When Sally was approaching the long bar at the rear of the room, I saw a heavy set man wiping the top of the counter with a rag. I hurried to Sally remembering her proclivity toward strangers.

Sure enough, before I got to Sally she was in a conversation with the bartender. Just as I got close enough to speak to her, I watched my sweet wife turn and walk to a small door at the end of the bar. As the door opened, I could see a white room beyond before she closed it behind her. I stood at the end of the bar guessing she had gone to the restroom and waited for Sally.

After fifteen or so minutes, I glanced at the bartender who had been wiping the counter behind me and saw that he was at the far end of the bar. I stepped to the door and turned the knob.

Now, I was a young strong man back in them days but what was revealed to me when I opened that door still give me the shakes. The white I had seen when Sally opened the door was gone. The dusty way between the buildings outside of the saloon caused me to catch my breath. I stepped out to look for Sally dropping the blue stone I had been carrying since leaving the van into my pocket.

At once the sounds of the saloon stopped and the colors of the sides of the few buildings, including the one I was standing near faded into the weathered gray of age. I stepped back into the saloon and could not breathe as I saw there were a few tables and chairs but no people. The piano which had been filling my hearing with such raucous noise was silent. Gasping and choking on the dust in the room, I held my hand to my throat and ran across to the swinging doors and out onto the dusty road.

Silence followed me as I ran stumbling toward the way we had walked into the town. As I tripped over my own feet I looked back at what I had left to see only a few broken down aged buildings which were almost hidden by the blowing dust. I turned and hurried to the guard house.

The old man stepped from the small building and held up his hands for me to stop. I stood in front of him gasping for breath as he stared at me. I saw him look at my hands and I remembered the blue stone he had given me. As I was digging for the stone in my pocket, the old man, anger now filling his face, virtually screamed at me, “You took the stone out of your hand!” I could only nod as I tried to stand up straight.

The old man was staring at me angrily and then, with a twist of his head, he asked, “Where is your wife, mister?”

When I could do nothing but shake my head as I put my hand out to touch the guard house, he screamed at me again, “She’s gone, isn’t she?” When I nodded, the old man slapped me, hard. As I staggered back, he screamed again, “You fool, I guess you saw what happened when you put that stone in your pocket, didn’t you?” I could only nod and wipe my face with my hand. I listened to the old man almost crying.

“Another one gone, shit, what am I going to do?”

I finally got my voice and stuttered out, “The actors, they were not real, were they?”

The angry old man gave me the answer I expected, “Hell, no, you idiot. Those people you saw and who your wife must have spoken to are real ghosts that you can see only when you are holding the blue stone. I found out about the stones when I came out here ten years ago. The place was in the shape it is today then and when I asked in Doubt, the nearest town, I was told not to go there. You see that car setting there close to your van? Well, that couple that owns it has been gone for two days. I called the sheriff in the town but they won’t come out here, out of their jurisdiction, you know.”

“What am I going to do,” I asked, suddenly unable to breathe again. I was shaking with fear that I was not going to be able to see my Sally again.

“Mister,” the old man groaned, “There is nothing you or I can do for your wife, now. She is gone like those other two people and there is nothing we can do about it. Go on, get out of here and get on with your life. Forget your wife. Seeing that such a pretty girl has been taken, I am going to burn that damn town down and make sure no one else ever sees one of them ghosts again. Go on, mister, get.”

In a fit of anger at the old man for letting us get into such an awful place and full of anguish and sorrow for losing my darling wife, I got in the van and headed down the highway toward the town the old man had spoken of. I believed him when he said the police in Doubt would not even try to find Sally in the ghost town, but I had to try, anyway.

I never saw Sally again and I never went back to Nevada.
©Cayce B. Shelton

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Lexi - Chapter 3


If you don’t know who I am my name is “she who must be obeyed” or if you are human I am called rather laughingly “Lexi May” or just “Lexi”. But if you are human and reading this just call me by my real name which is “she who must be obeyed”.

If you are wondering why I always start off with the lines above it is because I want you humans to call me by my real name which is not Lexi May or Lexi. It is “she who must be obeyed”. Is that too much to ask?

Humans really do confuse me.

About once a week or once every other week my human goes off shopping and most of the time he will come back with some kind of toy for me.

I know he is being nice and kind by bring me gifts and when I get out to hunt which is not as often as I would like I bring him gifts to show that he does not need to go and buy food.

But really some of the gifts are just plain silly. A radio controlled mouse that looks nothing like a mouse. I mean really. Come on if you are going to buy me a radio controlled mouse at lest make it look like a real mouse. And it smells nothing like a live mouse. And then he expects me to chase it and play with it and catch it. Oh come on please. I am one of the chosen ones and I won’t lower myself to that level.

Some of the other toys he gets are not too bad and are even fun for a few minutes and I even play with them on and off.

Last week he got me a small ball and when I first saw it I thought “Oh well he wasted his time again”. But when I looked closer it has a fur tail that smelt good and it smelt of a real rabbit.
So I let him throw it for me and I chased after it caught it and hooking it with one claw I was able to throw it back at him.

I like it when I can play catch with my human. It teaches him hand eye coordination and he seems so pleased with himself when I play catch with him. He seems even more pleased with himself when he catches the ball and throws it back to me. But well the whole point is he does not need to buy me toys to play with.

I can make my own toys with almost anything on hand.

I can make a toy out of the plastic ring that goes with the white liquid my human puts in his tea. Or I can make a toy out of a rolled up piece of paper or even an antenna ball. Come to that I can make most things into a toy to entertain myself.

But entertaining myself is not the point of toys.

Long ago, long before I was born or even before my mothers, mothers, mothers, was born we chosen ones made an agreement with you humans.

You see our problem is not one of brains but rather one of something we lack. Something very simple that we just don’t have. I will put it into one word to keep it simple for you humans “Thumbs”.

Now about our agreement and let me explain it simply as some of you humans seem to forgotten our agreement.

Long ago before the agreement between us chosen ones and you humans was made we lived wild and free. We hunted when we needed food and to keep our skills sharp we play hunted.

We caught small animals or bugs that we played with to keep our hunting skills sharp so that when we did go out to hunt bigger things like bird’s mice, rats and rabbits we could do it with ease and provide for our young.

But being smart as we are, we saw you humans storing food in large mud buildings and you always seem to have extra food. That in it’s self created a problem for you and that what the wild things that would come and feed on your food you were storing.

Now we could have stayed as we were which as I said was wild and free. But sometimes food became rare and hard to find.

We had noticed that you had dogs that helped you to hunt and looked after you animals that you used for food or wool or other uses. You had had them for so long that they had forgotten that they too where once wild and free like we chosen ones where. In your counting you, you and dogs had worked together for over forty thousand years.

So having watched you for a long time we came up with the idea of making a trade.

We would keep the mice and rats away from your food supplies and in return you would treat us as was our right. The agreement was made only about eight thousand years ago and next to the silly dogs it seems like not that long ago. And you really needed our help with the rat and mice issue that you had in your food storage places.

But dogs have lost many of the old ways that they use to have when they were wild and free. But they still retain some of those habits of so long ago.

Now back to toys and playing.

Other than keeping our hunting ability sharp, playtime with toys helps to keep us fit, healthy and in shape.

Now I do have a favorite toy and it’s simple and fun.

It’s a long piece of rope with rabbit fur on the end and my human and I play together with it.

He will drag it along the ground and I will lay waiting to pounce as it goes by. Only sometimes he will pull it fast and I have to chase after it. Other times he will pull it slowly by me. And yet other times he will throw it at me and at the last moment before it hits me he pulls it away.

The idea is for me to sharpen my reflexes and if needs be I can hunt and bring us food. But playtime is just more than keeping me fit healthy and in shape. It’s about keeping those very important hunting skills as sharp as possible because you never know when those skills may come in use?

But playtime is not just about chasing things or catching things or pouncing on things. Well yes it is, but also it’s far more than that.

Sometimes when its playtime I hide and wait in ambush. The idea is for me to leap out on things whether it’s from on high or on low or even in the middle someplace.

Playtime as I am trying to get across to you is very important.

Now there are a few different kinds of playtime.

There is just playtime when it’s about nothing much other than passing time between naps.

This kind of playtime is lest important of all but it helps me to kill time when otherwise I might get bored and do something stupid like tipping my water dish other or my food dish or killing the odd plant. Which I do sometimes but not in boredom and I will cover that issue at another time as it is an important issue.

Then there is the playtime about staying fit and healthy.

This kind of play time is important as it keeps my weight down and keeps me active and healthy.
Some of us chosen one do worry about getting over weight and fat. Does that surprise you that we have one of your human weaknesses? I bet it does. But well we have been with you a long time and some of us chosen ones have picked up your habits. And it’s something I myself am not proud off. But there we go. I have admitted that I worry about getting over weight. As it is I am trim slim and don’t have to drag around extra weight. But my human keeps giving me treats and as much as I love them I do worry about getting tubby. But thankfully he only gives them to me about once a week. If it was every day I would get fat.

Ok the next kind of playtime. This one I have partly covered and it’s about keeping my hunting skills sharp.

You see this is important as I have mentioned because there may come a time where I have to hunt for my human and myself to give us food so we can eat and be healthy. It is so important in fact that some of my playtimes is based around laying in wait leaping out and using the power of my hind legs to be able to pounce just right so I can make the kill fast and use as little energy as possible. It’s also the hardest of the play times as it takes great skill to be able to leap out and hit the pray hard enough to kill it. And the toys that my human uses when I am practicing my hunting get beaten up and broken quickly.

Sometimes my human makes the mistake of trying to take toys away from me when I am practicing my hunting. And well sometimes he gets hurt when that happens.

I do feel very bad when I hurt him when I am practicing my hunting but well he should not get his hands or arms in the way as my claws are sharp.

There was one time when he pulled a toy away from me that one of my claws ripped deep into his arm and he bled a lot. But my human is good and he did not get upset nor did he shout out me for hurting him.

Instead he went to his bathing room and cleaned the wound with some things he has in a mirrored box that is mounted on the wall. The sound of his tending his wound was worse than anything I have heard before. Partly because I made the wound and partly from the sounds he was making as what ever he was using seemed to sting and hurt him a lot.

Myself I would have licked the wound clean and then let the air dry it so that it would heal normally.
But I did feel so bad about hurting my human.

I felt so bad that I ran and hid even though he has never hit me or paddled my butt when I have been bad.

Lastly there is the playtime that my human plans.

I’m ok with this kind of playtime but it’s my lest favorite kind of play time as sometimes its not what I want or what I planned.

But well I have to play along and let my human think that it’s what I want and need even though its not and I really don’t want to play.

Now lets get back to toys and the kind of toys I like or I make for myself.

I mentioned a toy I love and that’s the rabbit fur on a rope that my human pulls around for me. But I do have other toys that my human has gotten for me.

But there is one that drives me crazy because I can never catch it on hold on to it or even carry it off as a trophy.

It’s a red dot that my human somehow makes move around. It just appears out of nowhere and even when I put my paws on it, it stays on top of them. I’ve chase that red dot up walls, across floors and even leaping so high that I was shoulder high to my human. But can I catch it? “NO”.

I get so angry with the red dot because I can never catch it. Oh how upset and angry I get. It just makes me so mad because I can’t get it. As I said I can put my paws on top of it and it jumps on top of my paws. Or if I move it’s suddenly on my leg or hip or even my butt. But catch it? No never. And not being able to catch it makes me mutter and chirp and hiss at it.

I could go on and on about the dam red dot but I won’t as by now you have the idea that as much as I love it I hate it too because I can’t catch it ever.

Now I have covered what playtime is about I am going to talk now about what time is playtime.
Anytime I am awake can be playtime. But only when I want it to be playtime and not when my human thinks it’s my playtime.

Playtime can be in the morning. It can be in the afternoon or it can be at night. But it’s never when I am a sleep.

The last part my human does not seem to get sometimes so it should be no surprise to you that sometimes I pretend its playtime when he is a sleep.

This is how I go about my pretend playtime which is really revenge playtime.

I wait until he is deep asleep and has been asleep for a good couple of hours. I will climb up onto his sleeping platform and get to within a few inches of his face. Then as loud as I can I will shout “IT’S PLAYTIME”.

Often my face will be so close to his that I can feel his breath and this helps me to judge when it’s best to wake him up.

A few times I have done my revenge playtime and I have scared him badly.

One time I climb up on his sleeping platform crouched down with my face close to his and I shouted loudly “WAKE UP IT’S PLAYTIME”! I made the mistake of licking my lips and in the darkness my pupils must have been huge. I don’t know what he thought as suddenly pulled his covers close around himself and started to protect his throat.

As if I would hurt him. But he did not go back to sleep for a long while. He just laid there looking at me with a scared look on his face. He should have gotten off of his sleeping platform and played with me. But I guess he was just too scared of little me. Really I ask you. Would I harm my human?
Now having said that, there are times when he is asleep that it really is playtime and well that’s just the way of things.

But playtime can be anytime and that has a lot to do with how I feel and what I would do if I was wild.

There are times when I have just woken up and I am full of energy and ready to play. I am sometimes so full of bouncing energy that I run down the hallway and my back end kind of starts to catch up with me that I end up running sideways and my tail will come around and hit me in the face if I am not careful.

Other times I just can’t help myself as suddenly I get a huge burst of energy and if I don’t run, play, bounce and pounce I won’t be able to nap or sleep or even behave.

My human can’t figure this out and I have tried to explain it to him.

Sometimes we have a conversation about what he calls my “hob nail boots”.

It goes something like this.
    My human “How can such a small cat that weighs 8lbs dripping wet make such loud noise when you run down the hallway”
    Me “Coz I can”.
    My human “I just don’t get it. Its thump thump thump cash. Just how the hell can you do that”?
    Me “Coz I can”.
    My human “Lexi you will just have to be lighter on your feet”.
    Me “I will do as I please and don’t you forget I am in charge around here”.
The sad thing is that when I answer he does not understand me as he does not speak catonees very well.

The whole bouncing and thumbing around is still part of playtime. And I do so enjoy my playtime.
Now there is a play time I have not mentioned or covered and that’s playtime for my human.

Human playtime is odd as I really don’t understand it. It’s like kitten playtime and has no set pattern or plan.

Human playtime could be early in the day when the sun is fresh in the sky or late at night when the moon is low in the sky.

Now human playtime is as fun as playing with kittens. Which is not?

My human will get up sometimes and I will be asleep on the cushion on the long sitting thing and he will sneak up and use his hands like he was a kitten and bounce me. That makes me jump and sometimes I fluff up badly.

Other times my human will be doing something in the human covering cleaning place and I will be watching him. As I walk away he will spin around and tap my back end the same way I play tag. Then he will kind of move sideways which looks so wrong for a human.

Other times I will be laying on the back of the long sitting place and he will walk by and rough me up. I will sit up and then he will tap me like a kitten would. Well then the game is on as he’s pretending to be a kitten. We will box and try and hit each other without getting hit.

I normally win as I am fast and smarter. But once in a while I will let him win. But I have to keep my claws in or I will make him bleed and that’s never good as I have said before.

The whole thing about playtime is you never know when it’s going to happen or what will be used.
And at this point I am going to end.

But before I go I want you to remember one thing. My name is not Lexi or Lexi May it's “She who must be obeyed”. Got that?

Click on Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.