“An old cowpoke went ridin’ out one dark and windy day…” except  that Stan Jones, cowpoke, Park Ranger, songwriter, and actor…was not old when he died on December l3, 1963 at the age of 49, leaving his wife, Olive, son, SJ, friends from all walks of life, and a musical legacy in John Ford and Disney films, western television series, educational radio shows, and, of course, his most well-known song, “Riders in the Sky.”

For five years, my daughter and I lived with Olive and Stan, a household alive with music, laughter, and the comings and goings of various friends in the movie industry.The day after his death, people started arriving at the house with condolences and food…..Harry Carey, Jr. and his mother,Olive, Dorothy Ritter (Tex’s wife and once a schoolmate of Stan’s in Arizona),Ken Curtis and his wife, Barbara Ford(John’s daughter),Joanne Dru, Helen O’Connell, Wendell Corey, and The Sons of the Pioneers.The rooms were filled with memories and laughter and tears. It was a true Irish Wake for a beloved Welshman.  During the next few days, calls came in from Fess Parker, Ben  Johnson, Lorne Green, Dale Robertson, James Arness, Ken Tobey, John Bromfield, Rex Allen, Walter Brennan,Brian Keith, and on and on from composers and singers, all expressing their condolences, friendship, and offering to help in any way.

Through it all, the music of “Riders in the Sky” and the theme from “The Searchers” kept running through my mind, along with memories of listening to Stan play his guitar while composing a new song, and recording sessions. There were memorable days from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the sessions conducted by Carmen Dragon and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Stan’s songs for The Standard School Broadcast, to being approached by Frank Sinatra’s company to use some of his songs in his latest motion picture. They wanted the music, but only if Frank’s name appeared as co-composer. Stan’s reply,”It appears only if he wrote it, and he didn’t, so the answer is ‘No’. ” He was turning down thousands of dollars because integrity was more important.After I left Desilu, I worked as Stan’s assistant for two years before his death, the time filled with creativity and wonderful people.

There were times when we had religious discussions, and I will never forget what he said to me in utter frustration one day. “Why do you keep pretending you’re brass when God made you pure gold?” That remark struck home, and I have passed it on to hundreds of my students who, turn, remember it as well. He revered the gifts of God in nature and people and expressed them in his music. Stan was a composer/storyteller, and his stories were usually about men of the West. Take a look and a listen to “The Horse Soldiers,” “Wagonmaster,” “Ten Who Dared,” “The Searchers,” or the series “Cheyenne” or “Texas John Slaugher,” or “Spin and Marty,” for examples. One of his songs, “Wringle, Wrangle,” popular in the 1950s, was a light-hearted ditty, but “Riders in the Sky” says it all about the Western cowboy.   Farewell, Stan, and I hope you’re surrounded by the red cliffs and sage and land that you loved, riding a lot of trails, and composing new songs.

As our paths cross……

Purplerays gives us this this inspirational thought.

Originally posted on Purplerays:

Photo & text credit: Snecana Imper on Facebook


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Today’s Quote

Here is a thought for every day. Thank you, Soul Gatherings, for posting it.

Originally posted on Soul Gatherings:


When I run after what I think I want,
my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety;
if I sit in my own place of patience,
what I need flows to me, and without pain.
From this I understand that what I want also wants me,
is looking for me and attracting me.
There is a great secret here for anyone who can grasp it.

~ Rumi ~

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The saying is “No good deed goes unpunished,” and “tis true,’tis true.

Tom and I have been close friends for 43 years As we say, we need to be because we know each other’s secrets.  He is about to turn 70 years of age this month. I am 88, He has been having internal problems and was informed by his doctor that a surgical procedure was necessary. He is also the owner of Danny, a 110-pound, blond Labrador/Greyhound mix. Now neither of these facts seem to jibe except that while Tom was scheduled for the operation on Wednesday and would have to stay at the hospital overnight, at least, it would mean that Danny would need to be fed and coddled and ministered to. This is a  BIG dog, and he is a sweet dog that I have known since Tom adopted him several years ago, and so when he asked me to stay at his house with Danny for three days and a night, I, of course, said, “Yes.”

Tuesday, the day before his operation, Tom picked me up to drive to his home in a town that has no convenient stores, bookstore, or movie theater and doesn’t care.  The house is on a hillside with the driveway and stairs slanting downward to the street. I’m used to navigating them.  Inside, Spanish slates lead to the sunken (one half-step) living room. I have been to this house many, many, many times. I know this half-step exists. For most of Tuesday evening I navigated this step. Then, after dinner, I walked into the living room. Correction! I fell into the living room, square on my left side rib cage. Shaken, rattled, and rolled, I grabbed Tom’s hand and got to my feet. Agony on the left side. Ribs outraged.

And so it went and still goes.No time to get to a doctor for an Xray. Tom was due at the hospital very early in the a.m. After he left,Danny and I languished in the living room for the next couple of days, he moping for Tom, and I moping because I wasn’t recovering as fast as I did when I was 25.  Yesterday, Friday, Tom and Danny drove me home.

I still hurt. I still grip my left side when I get up or down. I still sleep in chairs. Gradually, gradually, the pain is subsiding except when I cough or laugh.  I think my good deed has been punished enough, not only because of the  fall, but also because I was unable to read your blogs for those days.  I have a lot of catching up to do…….and I am really watching my step.

Oscar, the Garbage-Can Kitty

Calling all animal lovers, especially cat people. This is a story that will first alarm and then charm you.

Originally posted on Morning Story and Dilbert:

Morning Story and Dilbert Vintage Dilbert
April 21, 2003

Oscar was named after the Sesame Street character who lives in a garbage can because that is where we first became acquainted.  I was working at a pizza-delivery chain and had been assigned garbage duty.  While tossing bags into a dumpster, I heard a faint meow.  I began digging through the trash, and several layers down I found a cat – bruised and thin.  I wasn’t sure if the cat had crawled into the Dumpster to scavenge for food or if he had been put there purposely.  Our establishment sat directly behind an apartment complex, and unsupervised and abandoned pets were common.

Back on solid ground, it became evident that the cat had an injured leg.  He couldn’t put any weight on his right hindquarters.  The situation created a dilemma for me.  Finances were tight, and I was moving back home to my parents’ house…

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At this stage of my life, I know I know nothing……except that the world is drastically changing. The United States is changing into a country that is foreign to me. When I was a teenager, we were engaged in WW2, but the United States was united. People pulled together to sacrifice, to learn to do without, to use ration books, to worry together about our friends and family overseas, some in Europe, some in the South Pacific, or about a bomb attack when the air raid sirens screamed.  At the beginning of the war, I lived in New York. During the last years, I lived in California, so I experienced both coast’s qualms and fears. we all did something. I was a volunteer in the American Women’s Hospital Reserve Corps in NY, volunteering at a hospital during the summers. My father gave blood once a month. My mother knitted for soldiers. Everyone pitched in somewhere somehow.

When the war ended, I married an ex-GI hero who had received the Bronze Star. We lived in a GI trailer camp in a GI trailer in South Dakota while my husband went to college on the GI bill to become a lawyer. All the camp husbands were ex-servicemen.Everyone lived in long, narrow trailers with no running water and no toilet. We hauled the water in buckets  to wash the dishes and cooked on on a tiny, two-burner stove with no oven. There were communal bathrooms. It was freezing in the winter and red hot in the summer. But, we were young and there was an air of togetherness in the camp.

I was divorced in 1952 when that was not common. There were problems being a single mom, especially as my husband never contributed the child support the court had decreed. There were problems being a divorced woman. There were economic problems. Still, people were mostly kind and polite and not violent towards one another. There was little everyday hate. We were all just trying to live the best we could without harming each other.

Today, the world is filled with hate. Our country is filled with hate. Our politicians think only of themselves and their personal agenda, not about what their constituents need or want.  Human life means nothing. People commit mass murders. Women and children are being murdered.Crime is escalating. “Ethical” is an alien word to a vast number of Americans. Even the weather and nature are not in harmony with us because we have abused and violated both Earth and atmosphere.

I am reminded of two poems. One by William Wordsworth titled “The World is Too Much With Us,” in which he says, ” The World is too much with us, late and soon,:Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers. Little we see in Nature that is ours. We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon……….For this, for everything we are out of tune: it moves us not.”

The other is by W.B. Yeats, titled “The Second Coming,” in which he writes, :Turning and turning in the widening gyre, The Falcon can no longer hear the Falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world……..And what rough beast, its hour come at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

I am heartbroken, I am terrified. I am enraged.   How do we gather up the broken pieces and put our country and the world back together? If we don’t, it’s little world, goodbye.

As The Trees Bud (take off of As The World Turns)

On The Homefront gives us this lovely post that I want to share with you.

Originally posted on On the Homefront:

Remember that famous Barbara Walters’ query she is rumoured to have posed to many of the celebrities she interviewed back in the 1980’s? I believe it was: “If you were a tree, what tree would you be?” And we all kind of thought she was wacky? Well it turns out Barbara may have been onto something. Though the real story of the question is a bit different than the lore, the legend lives on. Not to burst your bubble, but according to Cynthia Littleton in Variety, Walters apparently asked Katherine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be, after Hepburn “described herself as feeling like a very strong tree”. Hepburn’s reply was that she would “prefer to be an oak rather than an elm to avoid Dutch elm disease.”

Barbara’s alleged question came to mind this morning after reading something a friend posted on Facebook this morning. It is a…

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My show business friends are not dramatic in real life. Well, sometimes Chris Atkins sends me emails announcing “I’m in Sweden” or “I’m in Holland,” or “I’m on my way to Australia” all in one week, but that’s an exception. It takes some of my non-show business people to supply the drama. As in the situation a week ago.

We have a friend who was going to be married. Location set. Luncheon ordered. Wedding Cake specially ordered. Rings bought. Dress bought. Honeymoon in Hawaii reserved. All in order. The day before the wedding,she arrived on our doorstep, pet Bichon, Bessie, on leash, in tears and laments, wailing that the wedding was off. There had been an uncontrolled, drunken rage by the intended groom the night before and she had fled to anther friend’s house for the evening. Said friend accompanied her to our house.Another friend arrived. While the future bride sobbed and languished on our couch with Bessie beside her, the friends plus my daughter, called every wedding guest to tell them the startling news. After a couple of hours of this, I timidly asked? “Has anyone informed the groom that the wedding is off?”  There was a silence. From the couch came the answer, “No.” The two friends went to break the news to him. He had already been notified by his relatives who had received the telephone calls. That night she stayed in the same hotel where they were to be married in the room that had been reserved for them that night.

The next day, we heard nary a word. The day after that, a very rainy one,suddenly our kitchen door was flung open, and there she stood, her face far wetter than the rain,gasping for breath, hysterical, finally screaming, “What has happened to my life?”Instead of answering, “You just threw it away,” I calmed her down enough to ask, “Where’s Bessie?”  The answer was “At the apartment.” That is where she lived with her ex-groom.  “You’re back there?” I asked in wild surmise. “Well, it’s my home, too,” was the answer.  I guess so. She was in shape, finally, to drive and left.

The next day, both prospective bride and groom sauntered through our living room to talk with my daughter. They have returned several times, once to ask if they could have the wedding in our back yard. You can imagine what the answer was. They are still living together, trying to work out their problems. As long as they’re quiet about it, that’s fine with me, but I need no more drama from the bride who said, “I don’t.”


My teenage years, from 14 to 19 were spent during WW2,split between New York and California. On the east coast, we dealt with threats of German U-boats in NY Harbor. There were air raid warnings that demanded all lights off, dark curtains drawn across the windows,and created an aura of fear. Rationing was rampant: meat,butter, sugar, gasoline, silk stockings, for example.  I was a member of the Womens’ Hospital Reserve Corps at Forest Hills High School. In the summers, I worked at a local hospital as a volunteer. My boyfriend was drafted and sent to the South Pacific. My male high school friends were girding their loins to enlist in one of the armed services. It was an uneasy time, yet, being teenagers, we still went to the  drugstore to drink cokes after school, to go ice skating in the winter and to the beach in the summer. We took the subway to NY city to see plays and movies and Frank Sinatra.  When we moved to West Hollywood in California, where I spent my high school senior year away from all my friends, I had to make new ones. My father was a publicist for MGM Studio. I went to a private school from 8 to 12 as it was geared for show business teenagers. At noon, I’d rid the streetcar to the beach by myself and do my homework on the shores of the Pacific Ocean before heading for the apartment where I lived with my parents. I made friends, and most of them were connected to show business in some way.

Virgina Weidler, an extremely talented child actress, (“Philadelphia Story,” “The Women,” among many other films)was one of my first and dearest California friends.We originally met in NY when we were l6 and she was in town for publicity on an MGM film.My father  was assigned to show her and her mother around town,and he took me along. Ginnie and I hit it off right away. So,when we moved to West Hollywood, she was the first one to knock on the door and welcome me. We did what teenage girls did in those days….went to movies, lunches, and dances with servicemen who always wanted to go to the Palladium where the big bands played.  After we both married, when I returned to see my parents, Ginnie and I would take our little children out for ice cream.

I met Lucille Norman, a well-known concert singer, in a strange kind of way. My boyfriend was overseas serving in the Army Air Corps, and I was always afraid for him.One Saturday, my mother and I went to see the film “For Me and My Gal” in Manhattan and were going to meet my father for dinner at Sardi’s. In the movie, Lucille sang “Til We Meet Again,” and that did me in. I cried my way out of the theater all the way to Sardi’s.  I finally calmed down and ate dinner. After he paid the check, my father said, “There’s someone I want you to meet,” and ushered me to a table where an Army Colonel and his date were sitting. My father introduced me. The date was Lucille Norman. It was a stunning moment for me. When we moved to California, she and I became good friends, but I never asked her to sing that song.

Another friend was Eddie Ryan, a young heartthrob at the time of his appearance as the youngest brother in the film,”The Fighting Sullivans,” a real life story about five brothers who served together in the war and were all killed.  Because of that, the Sullivan Law was passed. “Saving Private Ryan” was based on that incident. Eddie was in love with Ann Blythe, who had been in a Broadway play with him, but it came to naught. He was a friend of my future husband who served in the Army  in Germany where he received a Bronze Star before serving in the Army of Occupation in Japan.He,Eddie, and I often played cards with  Eddie’s folks or went clubbing to hear Harry the Hipster and t he Slim Gaillard Trio…..if you could see them through the haze of marijuana smoke. “Benzadrine,” the Hipster would whisper from onstage, “aspriin with hash marks.”  Piano bars were popular then.

When I was an adult, working in show business, my closest woman friend was Margo Albert, a well-known stage and movie actress (“Lost Horizon) and wife of Eddie Albert, actor. She was a jewel of a human being, and one day I will write about her. She died in the 80s, and I find it hard to put down  the wonderful memories I have of her. Some day.Another close friend was Stan Jones, the songwriter and actor. He is another person I am finding difficult to write about, but that, too, will come.

Today, I am still friends with a lady I have known since grammar school. She lives in Florida, so we don’t see each other, but we call once a week and talk. We share a lot of memories. Today, in California, I have a group of seven friends with whom I go to the theatre, birthday dinners, etc. We are a mixed bunch of  a stage director,a dealer in movie posters, two CPAs and their wives,and my closest male friend…a retired Spanish teacher who used to work for Universal Studios. My closest woman friend now is Peggy Lennon, one of the original Lennon Sisters. She is one of the most loving, spiritual, intelligent people I know. On Sunday mornings, she picks me up and we attend an 8 am service at The Little Brown Church near me, followed by breakfast. Think of it…I get to sing hymns with a Lennon Sister!

I have been most fortunate in my friendships with people who are bright and caring and giving of their talents to others. They and my daughter are the truest treasures of my life.