Tag Archives: memoir

School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews

School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Sherri Matthews, memoir writer, essayist, short story writer and blogger. It seems Sherri and I have been friends forever. We love to hang out (online) at each other’s places as time permits and are always understanding when life gets in the way. We know we will pick up where we left off.  Sherri’s Summerhouse is always open to visitors and she has been one of the most active in raising awareness of SMAG (Society of Mutual Appreciation and Gratitude) and I love that, after four years since its inception, she still refers to it in her comments.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Sherri to tell you a little of herself:

Sherri once worked in the medical and legal fields. When she got laid off, she praised the heavens for the chance, at last, to write her book. Six years later, her memoir, Stranger In A White Dress, is in final edits. Blogging at her Summerhouse along the way, Sherri also writes from her life as a Brit mum raising her children in California and as advocate for her youngest, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at 18. Sherri also shares snippets of life with her dear old jailbird dad. Today, Sherri lives in England with her hubby, Aspie, two black cats and a grumpy Bunny Nutkins. She walks, takes photos and finds joy creating a garden full of bees and butterflies with her dad’s words, ‘Keep smiling, Kid’, ringing in her ears. Especially when the robin sings.

Sherri Matthews reminiscences of school days

Welcome, Sherri.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

England, first in Surrey, then at ten moved to Suffolk.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

Government.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I left high school at 16 with enough ‘O’ Level qualifications to get a semi-decent first job. Buying a car was my priority, thanks to living miles from town. And yes, even turning down the opportunity to go on to University, fully funded by the Government (I know, I know…kick me, someone, please…). But at 19 and wanting better prospects, I returned to full time education and was accepted for a full time, year-long course, at my local college, attaining an RSA (Royal Society of Arts) Diploma as a Personal Assistant with business and legal studies.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

Sherri Matthews reminiscences of school days

At first thought, nothing at school influenced me, finding rather than choosing my job as a Postal Officer, which I enjoyed. Had my own till and everything. I was always drawn to both the medical and legal profession, but it was my diploma that influenced my eventual chosen profession of paralegal when I moved to California. But now you ask, Norah, I always secretly flirted with the idea of becoming a ‘real’ writer…you know, in that far off distant realm of pipe dreams. This, thanks to Mrs Anderson’s English Literature class so on reflection, school held more influence for me than I realised…

What is your earliest memory of school?

Feeling homesick and counting the seconds to the last bell and the school bus ride home. And calling my teacher ‘Mummy’ by mistake, going bright red when she smiled and gently corrected me. She had white, fluffy hair I recall, strangely and rather amusingly reminding me of Rupert Bear.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Oh, I loved to read! I had a lot of Ladybird early reader Janet and John books at home and was able to read by the time I started primary school. I adored all of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five books, especially Five Go To Treasure Island, a wonderful ripping adventure. I loved the tomboy Georgina. I had the A A Milne paperback book set of Winnie The Pooh and felt very grown up reading Now We Are Six when I was…well…six. Most of my reading, I recall, was in bed waiting for my dad to come home from work.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

My earliest memories are of scribbling illegible ‘notes’ in the margin of my reading books and getting told off by Mum. At school, I practised letters in a lined exercise book, graduating to daily ‘Morning News’ about the night before, mine usually describing eating baked beans on toast and watching Jackanory. Later, we learnt how to write italics with ink filled fountain pens, beautiful flowing cursive I would not recognise as my own today. Being a leftie, I always ended up with ink smudges on my hand and arm.

What do you remember about math classes?

Sherri Matthews reminiscences of school days

Not liking it, except when my maths teacher turned up in old tweeds, a projector and slides of his safaris in Africa. No wonder I didn’t learn much. Yet mental arithmetic I’ve used in several jobs, so I must have learned something. But algebra and the like? Forget it. The best maths lesson that actually helped me in life came from the headmistress of my village primary school in Suffolk. At the end of each day, our class stood up reciting by rote until we knew by heart the entire Times Table. We grumbled, but it’s ingrained to this day.

What was your favourite subject?

Creative writing, biology, music, athletics and gymnastics. And country dancing, because we girls got to hold hands with the boys.

 What did you like best about school?

Sherri Matthews reminiscences of school days

The last bell. I jest…or do I? In primary school, I loved being Milk Monitor, when every child was given a third of a pint of milk in a bottle for mid-morning break. I got to poke the straw in the foil cap and hand them out. I loved quiet reading and writing time and holiday times like Christmas when we got to make homemade gifts. By high school, I loved meeting my friends, having fun being silly. I met my then best friend playing flute in the school orchestra. And drama was fun, though I scraped my shin falling off the stage once and still have the scar.

What did you like least about school?

I enjoyed my Food and Nutrition class, but each week I had to write an in-depth essay and bring all the ingredients to school. I then had to travel home with my cooked dishes. Not easy, since I travelled 20 miles each way by two buses, and often with no spare seat on the public bus. By the time I got home, I was sick to my stomach of the smell of my food, but my Mum and brother couldn’t wait for ‘tea’. I also didn’t like the girl gang headed up by a really mean girl nicknamed, Noddy.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Because my children were raised and educated mostly in California, I am more familiar with the system as it was then, though students here seem now to have the same more relaxed relationship with their teachers as there, from what I have observed. The teachers in my day were much stricter. I got my knuckles rapped with a wooden ruler once and it hurt. No more of that, thank goodness. I think there’s more interaction today in class, fostering more interest from the students instead of the boredom of rote learning of my day.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I was struck by the way my children’s elementary classes in California fostered a climate of being kind and thoughtful to others, of being awarded for not just academic progress, but for good citizenship. I was fully hands-on as a volunteer, but I never saw my parents at school, except for sport’s day. Nobody noticed when I cried at school, but today I think there is more awareness generally for struggling children, though there is still a great need for improvement. My youngest slipped through the cracks and wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome until eighteen.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Sherri Matthews - how schools could be improved

Which leads me to…less focus on those dreaded OFSTED ratings (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) and more on the individual.  The expectation that all students should be good at all subjects is something I think needs to go. More emphasis on each student’s talents and strengths in smaller classrooms and rapport building between the teachers, student and parent is needed, fostering mutual respect. My youngest and middle boy finished their schooling years in England at a high OFSTED rated school, yet despite my frequent calls asking for support for my youngest, we got none.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Sherri. It’s been a pleasure to have you here. I enjoyed reading about your own school experiences and agree with your suggestions for improving schools through smaller classes and better relationships. It is disappointing to know that your own daughter was one of those who ‘slipped through the cracks’.

Catch up with Sherri Matthews on her blog

A View from My Summerhouse

Or connect with her on social media

Facebook Author Page: A View from My Summerhouse

Twitter: @WriterSherri

LinkedIn: Sherri Matthews

Blurb for Sherri Matthew’s soon-to-be-published memoir Stranger in a White Dress

‘We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.’
~E. M. Forster~

Set against the backdrop of the late 1970s, the story of a chance meeting one summer’s night between two eighteen year olds unfolds: Sherri, an English girl living in rural Suffolk, and Jonathan (Jon), an American G. I. from California newly posted to a USAF base nearby.

They fall in love fast, but Sherri, delighted to show off her homeland to this “new boy”,  soon discovers that although growing up thousands of miles apart, they share dark similarities, which quickly threaten to unravel their relationship.

Their mothers divorced from alcoholic fathers, both were raised by abusive step-fathers.  Jon’s increasing drug use and resulting paranoia clash with Sherri’s insecurities as hopes of “fixing” him and of the stable family life she dreams of slip away.

Los Angeles and lust; obsession and rage; passion and the power of love: theirs is a love affair defined by break-ups and make-ups, and then a shattering revelation explodes into this already volatile mix, altering the course of both their lives profoundly and forever.

A tale of darkest tragedy, yet dotted with moments of hilarity and at times the utterly absurd, this is a story of two young people who refuse to give up, believing their love will overcome all.

Not until decades after their chance meeting, and during a return trip to Los Angeles in 2013, does Sherri discover that Jon’s last wish has been granted.

It’s then that she knows the time has come to tell her story.

♦♦♦

Other publications by Sherri Matthews

Sherri Matthews - writing

You can find a list of where Sherri has been published in magazines and online here.

Her writing also appears in these anthologies:

The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1

Lady By The River: Stories of Perseverance

Slices of Life: An Anthology of Selected Non-Fiction Short Stories

Heart Whispers: A Poetry Anthology

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Barbara Vitelli

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

Carol Taylor

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

School Days, Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Book Club Mom Barbara Vitelli, fellow book lover, librarian, blogger and fiction writer. We’ve been following each other’s blogs for a few years now. I enjoy reading Barbara’s book reviews and have read the occasional book as a result of Barbara’s recommendation. In fact, I’m currently listening to The Other Wes Moore One Name Two Fates, a memoir and New York Times Bestseller that Barbara reviewed. What a fascinating story with a strong theme of ‘that could have been me’ and how circumstances influence life’s outcomes. What makes the audiobook even more special is that Wes reads it. A great recommendation, Barbara. Thank you.

Barbara also dabbles in fiction of her own. I’ve been enjoying her serialised story A Man and His Phone, the most recent episode of which can be read here. If you haven’t already met Barbara, I suggest you pop over to her blog and say, ‘Hello’.

Before we begin the interview, I’ve invited Barbara to tell you a little of herself:

Barbara Vitelli is a mom of four children and works part-time as a Reference Librarian at her local library. She also runs a blog called Book Club Mom, home to book reviews, indie author profiles, bookish talk and some occasional original fiction. Before settling into semi-rural suburban life in Pennsylvania, she lived in New Jersey, upstate New York, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Maybe someday she will publish a novel, but in the meantime she’s happy to work her way through the many great books already out there.

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

Welcome, Barbara.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I attended elementary school, junior high and high school in Madison, New Jersey, college in upstate New York and business school in Washington, D.C., all in the United States.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

I attended all public schools through high school.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

After college, I earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and my major was Finance and Investments.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

My first job out of college was as a secretary for an air conditioning and refrigeration trade association outside of Washington, D.C. My only goal at that time was to get a full-time job with benefits. I was thinking about graduate school, but I needed time to decide. After a year, I switched jobs and worked for a Sheraton Hotel chain in the Washington, D.C. area. I worked there for 5 years while I attended graduate school at night.

What is your earliest memory of school?

I attended Kindergarten in the same school as my next older brother and one day at recess, the school bully pushed me into a muddy puddle. I had to point out the bully to one of the teachers and the offender was promptly sent to the principal. The bully was a boy in my brother’s class and we worried that he’d take it out on my brother. Nothing happened, though!

What memories do you have of learning to read?

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

We all started to learn to read in Kindergarten, although I mostly pretended to know, “reading” books that my mother and father had read to me so much I had them memorized. My favorite book was A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You by Joan Walsh Anglund.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I remember using big fat red pencils and paper with wide rules and dotted lines in the middle. I liked learning how to print and write cursive. I still like writing cursive!

What do you remember about math classes?

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

I remember learning my times tables in third grade and when I got into fourth grade, learning long division. In high school, I loved Algebra because I liked solving problems where everything worked out on both sides. I wasn’t a big fan of Geometry, but I got through it. I took no math in college, but I had to take Calculus in graduate school – that was a struggle!

What was your favourite subject?

I didn’t have a favorite subject in the lower grades, but my favorite subject in high school was French (despite my love for Algebra). I even thought about majoring in French in college (I also considered Music and Peace Studies), but in the end I majored in English because I like to read. Now, besides reading, my favorite thing to think about is marketing. If I could do business school over again, I would pick that as my major. Finance and Investments was the hot major at the time (think Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen in Wall Street) so I just went with the flow. 

What did you like best about school?

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

 As a young girl, I liked the beginning of the school year when all our supplies were new. In junior high and high school, I liked that but I also liked the social side of school where I played sports, was a class officer and was in a lot of clubs. I was a little less active in college and focused more on a smaller group of friends and activities.

What did you like least about school?  

I generally liked school so I can’t say I disliked anything in particular. But I loved summer vacations because my family and I spent them at the Jersey shore. I had another group of good friends there and I was always excited to finish the year and see them. I was also sorry to see the summer end.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

Without question, the biggest change has been technology. Kids now do a great deal of schoolwork on a screen, rather than writing it on paper. In many ways, technology helps kids do their work quickly and efficiently, but I think they miss out on the thinking part that happens when you write things out by hand. I think this is especially true for working out math problems and writing.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

On the flip side of my technology comment, I think our schools have done a great job keeping up with technology and making changes to their curriculums to reflect this. These skills, particularly knowing how to use computer programs and do research on the Internet (besides using Google), are required skills in college and the workforce.

How do you think schools could be improved?

I would like to see approaches that encourage resiliency and independence. I think kids need to learn how to better handle disappointments and adversity. Perhaps that’s something that we parents are responsible for, but I think teachers can also make a big impact on our children in this area.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Barbara. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I’m sorry you got pushed over into the mud when you were in kindergarten, and can just imagine how concerned you were that your brother might also be bullied. I love that you didn’t mind school but that summer holidays were your favourite! Like you, I also loved my new supplies at the beginning of the year. There is nothing quite like the smell of new books.

To find out more about Barbara Vitelli visit her blog

Book Club Mom: bvitelli2002.wordpress.com

or connect with her on social media

Twitter: @BookClubMom
Facebook: @BookClubMom

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

Carol Taylor

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

School days, reminiscences of JulesPaige

School Days, Reminiscences of JulesPaige

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce JulesPaige, poet, flash fiction artist and creator of gems that sparkle on the page.

I met Jules at the Carrot Ranch where we both participate in flash fiction challenges set by Charli Mills each week. Jules is one of the most engaged and supportive participants. She always has something encouraging to say and is quick to offer helpful advice when a request is made.

We have wonderful conversations about education, parenting and grandparenting on her frequent visits here. I think we would have a lot of fun entertaining our grandchildren together, if only we lived closer.

Before we begin the interview, Jules will tell you a little of herself:

I use the nom-de-plume JulesPaige because words are like jewels on a page. I am a poet for over fifty years, writer of flash fiction, and crafty creative person. More than less retired and love learning, but on my own terms. I have included a shadow photo as I wish, at this time, to remain anonymous.

I’ve had poetry included in school and college literary magazines. Poetry has also been accepted in chapbooks, the local newspaper, and online zines and linked to both poetry and flash fiction prompt sites. Recently I earned two first places and an honorable mention in Flash fiction contests via Carrot Ranch. Some of my stories feature in The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol 1.

I am an active participant in several prompts for Flash Fiction and poetry:

Carrot Ranch

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

Pure Haiku

Thanks, Jules, and welcome. Let’s talk school.

 First, could you tell us where you attended school?

New York and New Jersey, USA.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

All public schools. The last being a two-year community college that I paid my own tuition for.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

The profession I choose was Early Childhood Education Assistant. I did not want to go into business or be in the same classes of a sibling who chose the arts. I wanted to help children with their educational beginnings.

What is your earliest memory of school?

I remember being in a kindergarten class and wanting to play house, I didn’t get too many turns there. Then in first grade I ended up in the same room with the same teacher – who apparently didn’t like me. Since during the first days of class she allowed me to play in the housekeeping section that had not yet been restocked. I don’t have many memories of early school. I had a family tragedy and withdrew from getting attention which ended up getting me labeled as ‘slow’.

What memories do you have of learning to read and write?

I do not have all that many early memories of school. But since I was labeled ‘slow’, my stepmom made it a point to help me learn to read by reading to me every night. Perhaps in 5th grade I was in what was called an intermediate school. That was when I was around ten. That’s when I had a couple of English teachers who encouraged creative writing. At that time in the late 1960’s in that school, creativity was more of a focus than basics. So my math and grammar skills are lacking.

What did you like best and least about school?

I was always the new student at my schools. The odd one out and did not have many friends even in High School. No bonds were made in College. I liked my art classes. I did not like the negative or lack support of either my parents or most of my teachers. I only had a select few teachers that encouraged my creative avenues. While I attended the same High School for all four years 9-12, we moved mid-way through, which made seeing the friends I had difficult, and left no chance of participating in any after school programs.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

I am not entirely sure that public schools have changed for the better. While addressing bullying, special health needs and catering to highly intelligent prodigies… there still lacks a complete need to address all children with equal fairness. This is from the experience of raising my own children in the local public school system and having to invoke my ‘Parental Rights’ for my own children’s needs. The Parental rights to fair education is not something that the schools promote. I found out about them through another friend who was a teacher.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Public Schools need to prepare our children by starting language in the early grades and not waiting until older grades. Special language immersion classes were available in later years (of my children’s schools) for a select amount of students who were selected by a lottery. Public Schools also need to make sure basic math and estimation skills are taught without the assistance of calculators or iPads. Public schools also need to encourage acceptance of differences.

If you choose to send your child to a public school, then you need to accept the parameters set therein. Public Schools also need to keep religion out of the schools. And if vaccines are a requirement, there should be no exceptions. Just one unvaccinated child can bring disease to a whole school population.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Jules. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I am sorry that your school days were not the most pleasant for you, but I am happy to know that you have done what you can to ensure the school days for your own children and others were more positive. It is always encouraging to hear stories of negative cycles being broken.

Read more of Jules’ work on her blog Jules Pens Some Gems.

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Susan Scott

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

school days reminiscences of Debby Gies

School Days, Reminiscences of Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye)

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye), author and blogger extraordinaire. I can’t remember when or how I met Debby, but I do know that very early on I read and thoroughly enjoyed her travel memoir Have Bags, Will Travel. While Debby has done far more travel than I, there was much in her book with which I could identify. I remember laughing out loud in places, surprised to find there was someone else who shared similar obsessive behaviour.

Debby is a prolific writer, mainly of memoir. I have read others of her books and never been disappointed. Her style is open, from the heart, and conversational. You could be having a chat with a best friend over coffee, sharing love, life and laughter. In fact, those are things we both have in our blog taglines. How could we not be friends?

Since our first encounter, Debby has been a constant supporter of both my blogs, always dropping by to share some words of wisdom or encouragement — a true champion.

D.G. Kaye and books

But perhaps I should allow Debby to tell you a little of herself:

Debby Gies is a Canadian non-fiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. D.G. is born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart, and women’s issues hoping to empower others.

Why I write: I love to tell stories that have lessons in them and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest, hoping that others can relate and find that we always have a choice to move from a negative space to a positive. We need only the courage to take the leap.

Describe yourself in three words: Optimistic, funny, worry-wart. (Is that four words?)

Best advice: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Never do something to someone you wouldn’t want done unto yourself.

Welcome Debby.

Now let’s talk school. First of all, could you tell us where you attended school?

I’m born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I originally began grade 1 going to a parochial school. Before the school year ended, I was stamping my feet demanding I wanted to go to ‘real school’, lol, meaning public school. I got my wish and grade 2 was Kenton Drive Public School where I was thrilled to have Miss Jacobs for my teacher as she was very compassionate toward me. In middle of grade 4, we moved (again) and changed schools to Rockford Road Public School till grade 7 where I spent my 3 years at Fisherville Junior High. In grade 10 I went to high school at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate – far out of my living district,  but considered higher academically than the one near my home. It was a half mile walk to the bus and 3 busses there and back a day throughout high school.  After high school I moved away from home and began working and taking night school classes for business and accounting where I received diplomas, which proved useful for many of the secretarial and admin jobs I had through the years. I also became a certified travel agent and then proceeded back to University of Toronto to study voice and theory in music.

Debbie Gies High School Photos

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

They were all government schools.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

High school diploma and the school of hard knocks.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

While in school I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to do. My initial goals were to become a journalist or a lawyer. I had the grades to do so but not the inspiration nor the encouragement to follow through. I worked in the clothing industry for a few years in my early twenties, started as a salesgirl, working my way up to managerial positions and buyer. The fashion bug hit me early. I then became an executive secretary for a general manager of the Carlton Inn Hotel – best job ever! And then I moved on to run an office for a construction company for a friend and later did the same work for an architectural firm. After ‘those days’ I went to ‘dealer’ school where I became a licensed blackjack and poker dealer and worked in the casino business until I met my husband. I also spent the better part of my twenties trying to catch a break in the music industry as a singer. Fun times in bands doing gigs. I recorded a demo tape, but eventually I gave up the dream.

What is your earliest memory of school?

My earliest memory of school was a kind teacher I had in kindergarten – Mrs. Wagner. She knew my emotional struggles and paid me extra attention. I came from a severely, ongoing, broken home situation and a few of these teachers I pointed out were like angels with radar.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Honestly, I don’t have any memories of learning to read other than I loved reading. Nobody ever read to me at home and we didn’t have any books. I must have had some great teachers!

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I couldn’t wait how to learn to write. I do remember I began writing as soon as I learned how to write as a tool to release my thoughts and feelings. I wrote poems and love notes on scraps of paper and made cards. Some I gave to intended recipients – some I never showed a soul.

What do you remember about math classes?

I enjoyed math until high school and always had good grades, but I lost interest when we began learning physics and calculus. I much preferred English and French classes. Languages have always fascinated me.

What was your favourite subject?

It’s a toss up between history and geography. I loved to learn about other countries and cultures, even as a child. But I’ll have to go with geography, which I think stimulated my interest to travel.

What did you like best about school?

My teachers. I had developed several rapports with teachers in many grades. When I look back on those days, I know it had to do with the compassion and extra attention they gave me that I didn’t receive at home.

What did you like least about school?

I hated gym class. I was not an active child, more of a thinker than a doer. I didn’t like the ugly uniforms we wore that weren’t the least flattering, especially for girls carrying extra weight, and I didn’t enjoy sports. I was the proverbial girl chosen last when picking teams. Here’s the girl who always kept a high 80s average throughout high school until the year I actually failed gym, which cut into my good grade average. Seriously, who fails gym?

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Oh my, that’s a loaded question. Even though I never had children, I’m quite aware how much the system has changed. There have been many cutbacks in after school programs, classrooms have too many students in them, and I hear complaints from parents that their kids are inundated with homework nowadays. Not to mention, the whole computer era that wasn’t our world then. The saddest thing I think that’s happening is the decision to no longer teach cursive writing. How on earth can they not teach that anymore? It’s sad the art of letter writing is on its way out with time. It also makes me wonder if children will even learn how to sign their name where print doesn’t cut it.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I’m not too familiar with what’s happening nowadays in classrooms, but I do know from having a 7-year-old great niece and having picked her up from school a few times, the system for safety seems to be excellent before picking up children from school. I must sign in, and my niece (her mother) must call the school to alert them someone else will be picking up her child.

How do you think schools could be improved?

They could definitely use more government funding, more teachers, more after school programs, and more benefits for the children whose families can’t afford supplies and books for their kids, and for field trips.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Debby. It’s pleasing to know that you enjoyed school and that you had compassionate teachers who helped you blossom. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I learned so much I didn’t already know about you.

Find out more about Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye)

and connect with her on social media or any of her author and blog pages

www.dgkayewriter.com

www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (Of course there’s a story to this name!)

www.facebook.com/dgkaye

www.linkedin.com/in/DGKaye7

www.mewe.com/i/debbygies

www.instagram.com/dgkaye

www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7

Debby invites you to come join our Literary Diva’s Library Facebook group for writers and authors

And our #ABRSC –Authors/bloggers rainbow support club.

We are also on Mewe – https://mewe.com/join/theliterarydivashangout

 

 

BOOKLINKS:

Conflicted Hearts

 Conflicted Hearts

Meno-What

MenoWhat? A Memoir

Words We Carry

Words We Carry

Have Bags, Will Travel

Have Bags, Will Travel

P.S. I Forgive You

P.S. I Forgive You

Twenty Years After I do

Twenty Years: After “I Do”

Visit me at my Amazon Author Page

School Days, Reminiscences of Charli Mills Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications. This week, I am pleased to introduce Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye), author and blogger extraordinaire. I can’t remember when or how I met Debby, but I do know that very early on I read and thoroughly enjoyed her travel memoir Have Bags, Will Travel. While Debby has done far more travel than I, there was much in her book with which I could identify. I remember laughing out loud in places, surprised to find there was someone else who shared similar obsessive behaviour. Debby is a prolific writer, mainly of memoir. I have read others of her books and never been disappointed. Her style is open, from the heart, and conversational. You could be having a chat with a best friend over coffee, sharing love, life and laughter. In fact, those are things we both have in our blog taglines. How could we not be friends? Since our first encounter, Debby has been a constant supporter of both my blogs, always dropping by to share some words of wisdom or encouragement — a true champion. But perhaps I should allow Debby to tell you a little of herself: Debby Gies is a Canadian non-fiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. D.G. is born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart, and women’s issues hoping to empower others. Why I write: I love to tell stories that have lessons in them and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest, hoping that others can relate and find that we always have a choice to move from a negative space to a positive. We need only the courage to take the leap. Describe yourself in three words: Optimistic, funny, worry-wart. (Is that four words?) Best advice: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Never do something to someone you wouldn’t want done unto yourself. Welcome Debby. Now let’s talk school. First of all, could you tell us where you attended school? I’m born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I originally began grade 1 going to a parochial school. Before the school year ended, I was stamping my feet demanding I wanted to go to ‘real school’, lol, meaning public school. I got my wish and grade 2 was Kenton Drive Public School where I was thrilled to have Miss Jacobs for my teacher as she was very compassionate toward me. In middle of grade 4, we moved (again) and changed schools to Rockford Road Public School till grade 7 where I spent my 3 years at Fisherville Junior High. In grade 10 I went to high school at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate – far out of my living district, but considered higher academically than the one near my home. It was a half mile walk to the bus and 3 busses there and back a day throughout high school. After high school I moved away from home and began working and taking night school classes for business and accounting where I received diplomas, which proved useful for many of the secretarial and admin jobs I had through the years. I also became a certified travel agent and then proceeded back to University of Toronto to study voice and theory in music. Did you attend a government, private or independent school? They were all government schools. What is the highest level of education you achieved? High school diploma and the school of hard knocks. What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice? While in school I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to do. My initial goals were to become a journalist or a lawyer. I had the grades to do so but not the inspiration nor the encouragement to follow through. I worked in the clothing industry for a few years in my early twenties, started as a salesgirl, working my way up to managerial positions and buyer. The fashion bug hit me early. I then became an executive secretary for a general manager of the Carlton Inn Hotel – best job ever! And then I moved on to run an office for a construction company for a friend and later did the same work for an architectural firm. After ‘those days’ I went to ‘dealer’ school where I became a licensed blackjack and poker dealer and worked in the casino business until I met my husband. I also spent the better part of my twenties trying to catch a break in the music industry as a singer. Fun times in bands doing gigs. I recorded a demo tape, but eventually I gave up the dream. What is you earliest memory of school? My earliest memory of school was a kind teacher I had in kindergarten – Mrs. Wagner. She knew my emotional struggles and paid me extra attention. I came from a severely, ongoing, broken home situation and a few of these teachers I pointed out were like angels with radar. What memories do you have of learning to read? Honestly, I don’t have any memories of learning to read other than I loved reading. Nobody ever read to me at home and we didn’t have any books. I must have had some great teachers! What memories do you have of learning to write? I couldn’t wait how to learn to write. I do remember I began writing as soon as I learned how to write as a tool to release my thoughts and feelings. I wrote poems and love notes on scraps of paper and made cards. Some I gave to intended recipients – some I never showed a soul. What do you remember about math classes? I enjoyed math until high school and always had good grades, but I lost interest when we began learning physics and calculus. I much preferred English and French classes. Languages have always fascinated me. What was your favourite subject? It’s a toss up between history and geography. I loved to learn about other countries and cultures, even as a child. But I’ll have to go with geography, which I think stimulated my interest to travel. What did you like best about school? My teachers. I had developed several rapports with teachers in many grades. When I look back on those days, I know it had to do with the compassion and extra attention they gave me that I didn’t receive at home. What did you like least about school? I hated gym class. I was not an active child, more of a thinker than a doer. I didn’t like the ugly uniforms we wore that weren’t the least flattering, especially for girls carrying extra weight, and I didn’t enjoy sports. I was the proverbial girl chosen last when picking teams. Here’s the girl who always kept a high 80s average throughout high school until the year I actually failed gym, which cut into my good grade average. Seriously, who fails gym? How do you think schools have changed since your school days? Oh my, that’s a loaded question. Even though I never had children, I’m quite aware how much the system has changed. There have been many cutbacks in after school programs, classrooms have too many students in them, and I hear complaints from parents that their kids are inundated with homework nowadays. Not to mention, the whole computer era that wasn’t our world then. The saddest thing I think that’s happening is the decision to no longer teach cursive writing. How on earth can they not teach that anymore? It’s sad the art of letter writing is on its way out with time. It also makes me wonder if children will even learn how to sign their name where print doesn’t cut it. What do you think schools (in general) do well? I’m not too familiar with what’s happening nowadays in classrooms, but I do know from having a 7-year-old great niece and having picked her up from school a few times, the system for safety seems to be excellent before picking up children from school. I must sign in, and my niece (her mother) must call the school to alert them someone else will be picking up her child. How do you think schools could be improved? They could definitely use more government funding, more teachers, more after school programs, and more benefits for the children whose families can’t afford supplies and books for their kids, and for field trips. [thank you] Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Debby. It’s pleasing to know that you enjoyed school and that you had compassionate teachers who helped you blossom. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I learned so much I didn’t already know about you. Find out more about Debby Gies (D.G. Kaye) and connect with her on social media or any of her author and blog pages www.dgkayewriter.com www.goodreads.com/dgkaye www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7 www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (Of course there’s a story to this name!) www.facebook.com/dgkaye www.linkedin.com/in/DGKaye7 www.mewe.com/i/debbygies www.instagram.com/dgkaye www.pinterest.com/dgkaye7 Debby invites you to come join our Literary Diva’s Library Facebook group for writers and authors And our #ABRSC -Authors/bloggers rainbow support club. We are also on Mewe - https://mewe.com/join/theliterarydivashangout BOOKLINKS: [image] Conflicted Hearts [image] MenoWhat? A Memoir [image] Words We Carry [image] Have Bags, Will Travel [image] P.S. I Forgive You [image] Twenty Years: After “I Do” Visit me at my Amazon Author Page [books] If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here: Charli Mills Sally Cronin Anne Goodwin Geoff Le Pard Hugh W. Roberts Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST. Coming soon: Pauline King Jules Paige D. Avery With more to follow. Note that, as next Sunday is Easter Sunday, I won’t be posting an interview. Pauline’s interview will be posted on 28 April. See you then. [thank you] Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

bio infographic of D.G. Kaye

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh W. Roberts

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Pauline King

Jules Paige

D. Avery

With more to follow.

Note that, as next Sunday is Easter Sunday, I won’t be posting an interview. Pauline’s interview will be posted on 28 April. See you then.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

results of the Carrot Ranch flash fiction memoir contest

Rodeo #2: Memoir Winners

Results for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #2 Memoir are in. “She did it” was the prompt; and she did it, she won, but do you know who it was and what she did? Check out the results at the Carrot Ranch and join me in congratulating the winners, the runners-up and all contestants. Well done, everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

By Irene Waters

She Did It was the prompt for the memoir ride in the Rodeo.

The four judges were given a judging sheet: was it a complete story, grammar, and spelling, structure, use of language, adherence to memoir rules (not accusing, showing the bad- not telling, reflection and was it believable) and then a subjective score worth 35% of the marks.

I couldn’t have asked for better judges with Helen, Angie, Gil and myself all being diligent in reading and evaluating the pieces.

Reading memoir is quite different from reading fiction. As a reader of memoir, you have a pact with the writer that you will believe the facts being told and this, makes the focus of your reading change. You read to gain understanding, to see how someone has coped and how it has changed their life. Memoir also touches our emotions and shows us ways of dealing…

View original post 1,063 more words

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #2 Memoir

Rodeo #2: Memoir

The first contest is done and dusted and the second is out of the chute. This time Irene Waters is the Rodeo Leader and she has challenged writers with a memoir prompt, “She did it”. (I think she’s done it this time. I don’t think I can do it. :)) Pop on over to the Ranch for all the finer details.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

By Irene Waters, Rodeo Leader

Memoir is a passion, so I’m thrilled to once again host the memoir section of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest. Hoping you’ll tighten your saddles and put on your spurs and join in. [READ MORE…]

Last year we had Scars – this year?

“She Did It.”

Three little words can hold so much meaning and have so many stories that come to mind. For the memoir prompt “She Did It” write a true story or a BOTS (based on a true story) keeping in mind the tips on writing memoir.

THE RULES:

  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the net as this will be the one I use to check the entries. Entries that aren’t 99 words will be disqualified.
  2. The genre is memoir although BOTS (based on…

View original post 201 more words

how much of history is fiction, is fiction simply history that might have been

Fiction: History that might have been

I have just listened to When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin D. Yalom and was intrigued by the thought that fiction, perhaps more so historical fiction about real characters, tells a story that might have been, of situations that are equally as plausible as the real events. The only difference is, they didn’t happen. The author explains how the events he wrote about, a fictional meeting between the doctor Josef Breuer and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, could almost have happened, were but a hair’s breadth away from happening.

(Note: The book was a recommendation by author Anne Goodwin. Read her review here.)

I often wonder about coincidences, those chance events and meetings that influence our futures, those things that may not have occurred had we been even one second earlier or one second later. It can be fun to contemplate the possibilities of our current situation had an alternate major decision been made. But what of the little events that slip by us every moment. How could a difference in any one fraction of time change our lives?

Memoirist Irene Waters asked a related question in her article Life is a Memoir: What is Fiction? shared at the Carrot Ranch a few weeks ago. Irene begins by saying that Truth is considered fundamental in writing memoir” but then tells us that memory is not exact, and that it is “a construct and will vary at different times and places”. She asks, As our remembering creates our identity, then, is our self a fiction?”

Knowing that each witness or participant may tell a different version of an event adds layers to that question. Which versions are fact and which are fiction? Are all enhanced with the fiction of our own perspectives?

Any teacher of young children, or perhaps anyone involved in jury duty, or any viewer of news stories knows, there can be many alternate histories of an event. Deciding where most truth lies can be the difficult part.

“He did it.”

“She started it.”

“It’s mine.”

“He punched me first.”

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Fannie Hooe

When Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Fannie Hooe. Although she is a legend in the Kewenaw, feel free to go where the prompt leads, I wondered what I could possibly write. I know nothing of the Keweenaw or of Fannie Hooe.

However, in her post, Charli explains that much of what is known about Fannie Hooe is from snippets of things “They say”, alternate histories perhaps, with either some or little resemblance to the “truth”.

Charli wrote, “legend has it, Fannie was a little girl, perhaps the daughter of an officer, who went missing. As they circled the lake they called, “Fannie…! Fannie, hooe! They say, they never found her body.”

Further in her article, Charli goes on to say, “Two historians … knew a great deal about the real Fannie. She was from Virginia and came as a single woman to Fort Wilkins to help her pregnant sister. She was not a girl, but a young lady. They say she went missing, mauled by a bear or murdered by a spurned lover.

Truth is, she returned to Virginia, married and lived a long life.”

This disparity between truth and fiction reminded me of a television program from years ago. As I recall it: three contestants professed to be the person described by the host. Each presented information about “themselves” to panellists whose role it was to judge who was telling the truth. The real person had to be truthful but the imposters could lie. After votes had been cast the ‘real’ person was asked to stand up.

This is my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you enjoy it.

Truth or Fiction: Will the Real Fannie Hooe Please Stand Up

Contestant 1: I am Fannie Hooe. My pregnant sister was an excuse to escape my abusive husband. After the baby’s birth, I ‘disappeared’, started a new life in Canada, and never remarried.

Contestant 2: I am Fannie Hooe. While visiting my sister, I was abducted by miners and forced to be their slave. When I escaped, I was so disfigured, I wanted no one to see.

Contestant 3: I am Fannie Hooe. I was pregnant, unmarried, and begged my sister to hide me. She refused and banished me. I started a new life in Virginia as a widowed mother.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.