Personal Notes

I talked to Mom this Friday morning, as I do every day, and she says the birthday card count has leveled out at 144. Our goal, of course, was a card for each of her 91 years. So, she’s thrilled and we all are.

Thanks to so many who wrote these terrific notes and cards. A special thanks to you who went the extra mile with a personal note or, in several cases, enclosing a dollar or two. Even though we did not ask for it, several included money and Mom she ended up with over $150. That was lagniappe, as we say in South Louisiana. A little extra.

One of my Texas cousins wrote, “Hey, I didn’t know everyone was sending money. No one told me.” I wrote her back that that was not part of the deal, that we were just asking for notes. The money business got started over 15 years ago when Pop was coming up on his 82nd birthday (we thought that might be his last; he’d had health problems) and big brother Ronnie–always one to figure the money angle, being a Baptist preacher and all–thought we should get him that many cards, and ask everyone to include a dollar bill. Pop ended up with over 200 dollars and had a lot of fun opening the cards and reading the notes.

This week, we’ve had a death in the family–Mom’s youngest sister, Lorene Kilgore McKleroy, from Lake City, Florida–and our family is sad and coming together in love. Since they’ll be flying the body to North Alabama, and that will incur extra expenses on her husband, my siblings thought our bunch ought to contribute financially to help. When Pop suggested to Mom that she give some of her birthday money, she responded in typical half-serious, full-teasing mode and said, “I didn’t tell you what to do with your birthday money, and you don’t tell me.” I’ve laughed at that ever since.

We’ll appreciate the prayers for Mom and for the McKleroy family–husband Ordis, daughters Mary Beth, Sandra, Sharon, and Sarah Anne, and son Michael. Out of nine children in the Kilgore family, Mom, who was number 6, and Cecil, the youngest son and now age 86, are the only ones remaining. My line about large families–of which I am glad to be a member–comes to play here: “The worst thing about large families is that someone has to be the one to go to all the others’ funerals.” Mom is still undecided on whether she’ll be physically able to attend.

One certainty about the internet: you never know who’s reading what you write. I keep getting pleasantly surprised. Earlier this week, we relayed the account from the local newspaper of the Slidell couple who came close to losing their house over a tax bill of $1.63, and all the legal complexities that followed. Today, I noticed that Mrs. Atwood herself has read our article and left a comment at the end. ( and scroll down to the article, “Oops. Never Mind.”)

A few weeks ago, when the newspaper informed the public of the arrival of New Orleans’ new (and first) Inspector General, Robert Cerasoli, I waxed eloquent (or as the kid said, “waxed an elephant”) on the duties before him and wished him well. A few days later, it was nice to see that Mr. Cerasoli himself had logged on and left a gracious comment. He identified himself as a born-again believer. Since, we’ve been in touch through the internet. A nice little serendipity. (Go to and scroll down to June 23’s article, “Day of Small Things.”)

Our webmaster for this site, our second son Marty, arrived from Charlotte Thursday evening with his family, wife Misha, daughter Darilyn, and son Jack. After settling them into their quarters, we all joined Neil’s family (wife Julie, son Grant, and daughters Abby and Erin) at New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood for supper, then brought the moveable party to our house. The girls and I camped out in a back room and read the first three chapters of the second volume of Nancy Drew. This one is titled “The Hidden Staircase.”

Nancy Drew is being asked to solve the mystery of ghostly noises and strange thefts in an old mansion where two elderly sisters live. No one can figure out how these things keep occurring. Abby said, “Grandpa, they give it all away in the title. There’s a hidden staircase.” She paused a moment and said, “It’s like the first story. Where in the world could Josiah Crowley have hidden his will? The book is ‘The Secret of the Old Clock.’ Well, duh!” We laughed at that. She’s right, of course.

My hunch is that kids 50 and more years ago were not as sophisticated and bright as they are now. Either that, or the writers (there were numerous “Carolyn Keenes”) underestimated them.

Our girls say they are also reading the “Little House on the Prairie” books, of which our church library has a complete set. When I suggested they look into the “Bobbsey Twin” series, they announced they’d already read them. Sounds like a great way to spend the summer when you are 10 years old.

I recall back in the early 1990s finding all these shelves of ancient children’s series in our church library (the Hardy boys are there, too) and thinking what dinosaurs they were, that surely no one reads them any more. I was so wrong. The library record thing (our church library is very low-tech) on the inside of this second volume of Nancy Drew shows that it was checked out about 15 times in the 1970s, same in the 1980s, twice in the 1990s, and now my grandchildren are the first in this millennium.

From what I’ve read, a high percentage of the women judges in this country and women newspaper editors and executives and college presidents and other achievers, all say they were influenced by the Nancy Drew books in their youth. Here was a young woman who drove her own car, had lots of independence and a brain of her own and the trust of her father, and did amazing things.

Every child ought to be exposed to such influences.

4 thoughts on “Personal Notes

  1. Great article, Joe, as usual. It makes my heart happy to know my girls love to read. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent as a young girl living a different adventure every time I had the pleasure of reading a great book. Even now, I’d rather escape to a quiet corner with a book than do just about anything else! As a friend of mine used to say, “Aren’t words cool?”

  2. The “Trixie Belden” books are another good series for the girls. A lot like Nancy Drew but Trixie is a little younger. I have all of mine in the closet if you need to borrow them!

  3. Great article Joe .I am a pastor in Kenya East Africa and used to read Nancy Drew and many other books from the public Library. I have two little girls who love to read.Is it possible to get a few of those oldies for My church library. This is the first time I have logged on to your web and it surely won,t be the last. I logged on from and Your article on Personal Evangelism was great.

    Till next time and God bless. Regards to your Mom and may she live to blow 101 candles

    Mark Evans

  4. As I was reading your article about the Nancy Drew books, I thought also about the Trixie Belden series. My favorite was “Trixie Belden and the Gatehouse Mystery.” Glad to find a fellow Trixie lover, Donna!

    Thanks, Bro. Joe, for reading to your grandkids and creating memories for them. My own 11 month old granddaughter will reach for a book over a toy almost every time.

    Leanna Mohr

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