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finch-shoe-box Written by Bobbe White, for The White Pages on WTAD.COM 

Rekindled Friendship, a Bright Future and Fallen Finches

Last Thursday, the Facebook Messenger indicator was lit. Kind of like, “You’ve Got Mail!” A mutual friend asked me to call Debbie T. Hello past flash! Debbie and I go way back. Waaaaaaay back. Our dad’s worked together at Heintz and Hurley Shoes forever ago and we grew up together –sort of- except she was a parochial and I was a public, but we never held that against each other. We both ended up in Orlando around 1977. Seeing as the only other person in Orlando was my old swim coach, it only made sense to reconnect with someone closer to my age. It opened the door to a social life, rather than remaining a dust collecting doormat in a large city.

While in Florida, I became engaged and married and eventually, Jeff and I moved back to the north. Debbie and I neglected to keep in touch after that move. Cell phones, texting and Facebook were still futuristic.  Sure, we could’ve used land lines, but we just didn’t. Sometimes that happens. So, I called her Saturday and we talked. And we talked. And we talked. And we talked.  For nearly 2 ½ hours, which by the way, could be my all time record on the phone. It was an instantaneous catch-up.  Just. Like. That. (Queue: a snap)

It seems that Debbie and her spitfire friend, Sharon, have had some unusual – make that, unbelievable- health experiences. They now have the desire to share their stories, with whoever needs to hear them. The ladies hope to share their messages through speaking and writing. There are at least two things that were great about getting re-connected with Debbie:

  1. How cool it is to pick up with a friend, after, ohhhhhhhh, say, 40 years
  2. That she would think of me to be her sounding board for their dreams

There’s a third thing, which is perhaps the biggest thing: these two women have endured nearly impossible health circumstances and have come through them with unscathed spirits and selfless desire to help others.

There’s one vivid memory, however, of hanging out with Orlando Debbie, that isn’t so great. It’s one which congers up feelings of regret. It may or may not involve two finches, in whose well-being I was entrusted for a week. She delivered them to me in a spacious, two-tiered cage. What Debbie received upon her return, was an empty cage and the birds in a shoe box. And, yet, we are friends, I hope, after reminding her of this sad ending.  Gosh, I still feel bad about those birds…



Posted today on THE WHITE PAGES at WTAD.COM


There used to be three taboo topics we were instructed to avoid at all costs:Sex, politics and religion. As everyone discusses the upcoming election, the only taboo anymore would be your grandmother’s perfume, “Tabu”.  This post is not to get knee-deep in support or criticism, but may I encourage you to take a break from reality, and watch a couple of episodes of Saturday Night Live (SNL)? I don’t often watch it on the actual night, because I’m out partying like a college girl at that hour. Seriously, we get up at the crack of G-d at our house, so it’s a rare occasion if I’m still awake and alert by 10:30 p.m.  Fortunately, in our YouTube world, it doesn’t matter anymore.

I’ll caution you: SNL is not for the prudish. Watch with an open mind. The humor is twofold: the debates – presidential and vice-presidential- are funny, because you get to laugh at both parties. Even at the moderator! Or is he/she the mediator?  I’m intrigued by the nuances adopted by the actor, of each candidate’s expressions and body language. Regardless of content, impersonation is truly a talent and art form.

SNL too raw for you? Okay, here’s another suggestion, that I guarantee you will get a boot out of. Search YouTube for “political humor videos” and further, “politicians fail compilation 2016.” You’ll witness world leaders’ mishaps, faux pas and klutzy moves. There’s Obama, where the presidential seal falls off the front of his lectern during a speech and members of Congress, Parliament, the Politburo, and other houses of leadership, fixing their hair, biting nails, picking their ear or nose, surfing the net and even snoozing. You’ll witness dignitaries from Korea and India, whose dentures escape from their mouths at critical moments. One leader bops a man, right on the head, during his speech and then says, “He deserved that.” It could be Curly, Moe or Larry.  There are trips, falls and stumbles. For some reason, I found one of funniest scenes to be a foreign dignitary, who was placing a king-sized wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. As he bowed in respect, the big honkin’ wreath, which was as tall as he was, falls right at and on his head. It’s great. Why is this material funny?  With SNL skits, the humor – in my opinion- is equally distributed between all subjects. In the political bloopers, these mishaps are only supposed to happen at a local level, like at our offices, not on the world stage.  Life is funnier as the bar of importance is raised.

So, do yourself a favor, seek out some humor in all of the political turmoil. It won’t solve the election dilemma, but will offer much needed respite from it. Or as Michael Prichard said, “Laughter is like a dry diaper…it won’t take care of the problem, but it will make it bearable for a while.”



Written for Bobbe White’s “White Pages”  for WTAD.COM

At the “Wizard of Paws Mutt Strut” Saturday, there were hounds by the handful; dogs by the dozens. My friend, Michele and I, took Louie, her handsome Pointer.  While volunteering at Quincy Humane Society, Michele’s family adopted Louie.  The car ride alone was like Christmas. Louie had no idea what awaited him. Imagine Dr. Seuss’s book, “Go Dogs, Go!” in real time.

There were big dogs and little dogs;                                                                                                             fat dogs and skinny dogs.                                                                                                                                 Dogs with snouts that resembled pigs…                                                                                                   and dogs with bodies, bigger than big!

There were brown dogs and black dogs and white dogs, too. There were purebreds and mixedbreds and dogs with bed head. We saw Labradoodles, Goldendoodles and weinerdoodles. Not kidding.  One king-sized Great Dane should enter the Preakness, not the Mutt Strut. Seriously, do you need a guest house for a dog of that magnitude?

It wasn’t just a dog party, but a fundraiser for furry foster children, in need of forever homes. The staff even remembered Louie, after four years!

Add a party theme and there’s entertainment for hours. One Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, too, were dead ringers. I loved the Golden, with c-c-c-courage to wear a perfectly matched lion’s mane. The dog/owner look-alike contest was a crowd pleaser, too.  I’d vote for the Dachshund and wicked witch, wearing pointy hats and wild hair, or the platinum-haired lady and Bishon.  Apparently, they use the same hair stylist and blow dryer. Can a doppelganger can be a dog?

Humane Society staff and volunteers do this, because they simply adore dogs.  Vendors donated hundreds of free dog treats.   Watching so many people and pets smiling or laughing at each other’s dogs and their antics was like an endorphin fest, which included a LOT of barking, wagging and sniffing. Only one dog ran away from its owner and one Labrador was trolling for a babe. The former was eventually caught; the latter was told to get a room…  The Mutt-Strut isn’t exactly the opportunity you’d pick, to answer your own pup’s birds-bees questions.

Besides the strut, the organizers set up a timed obstacle course. Louie excelled, but we left before awards. After two hours of a park full of canines, which possibly had too much coffee before coming, we were exhausted and headed to Starbucks for a free Puppacino. Next year, if you need a mood boost, attend Mutt Strut and consider a donation of any amount.  Happier hounds, you’ll never see. I’m wondering, “Is there a Mutt Strut for cats?” I mean, you can’t put them on a leash, can you? If they’re not in the mood, the obstacle course would be a total snore and they’d roll their eyes at an owner/cat look-a-like deal. I envision the cats’ equivalent as more of a spa-day, with tuna, milk and lots of couches to hide behind.

Oh Arnie, What Was I Thinking?

Written for WTAD.COM 9.29.16 arnold

My first, big-girl job after college was Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, FL.  I was like a golf pro, except with more water and less money. My responsibilities included pool maintenance, lifeguard supervision, concessionaire, coach, swim lessons, and concierge to the pool guests. Oh, and janitor. That was yucky.  The funny thing about that first job is that we could enjoy and do a much better job of it, decades later.

Every day, my personal goal was to park next to Arnie’s limo.  It just seemed cool. Whenever the valets polished his black Caddy, it was exciting. I’d inquire about his arrival.  “Yes Ma’am, he’s coming today,” as they continued polishing like crazy.  Arnie visited occasionally, spending most of his time split between his home course in Latrobe, PA and gobs of golf events, as you know. His wife, Winnie, and daughters, Amy and Peggy, spent more time at Bay Hill.  In fact, Winnie actually hired me. Nice lady, that one was. Sidebar: the club pro’s name was Dick Tiddy. That always got a giggle…

One day, the king came to my pool, not to swim, just to look.  Unbelievable! This is where you ask, “Did you get to meet him?”  “Was he nice?” “What did he say?”  And I would gush, “Oh, yes, he shook my hand, we chatted for an hour,  he asked if I liked working at Bay Hill and complimented me on the pool area. He asked about my golf game, invited me to play sometime and THEN gave me a big hug as he left. And, he insisted that I call him Arnie, not Mr. Palmer.”

Except none of this would be true, except for the part, where he did come to the pool.  No handshake, conversation, compliments, golf invitations or hugs. He didn’t even see me. I remained in the concession hut, doing probably nothing, when I looked out and spotted him. Sadly, though, at 22 years old, I was not very assertive at times like this. Any brainiac would’ve gone out to meet him, extend a hand, chat for a moment and thank him for the opportunity to work at Bay Hill. But, not Bobbe. I just stared, from afar.  Then, he was gone. An opportunity of a lifetime, lost. Jeesh. As celebrities go, he was one of the least scary, because that’s what Arnie did best; he simply loved people. He was everybody’s pal. I liked his Dad-like face. I told myself, “Self, NEXT TIME, GET YOUR FLIPPERS OUT THERE!” Except there wasn’t a next time. Sniff, sniff. Snooze, lose.  He’d be thankful he didn’t encounter me today!  Nothing, short of a hurricane, would stop me now, because, as I’ve aged, I recognize cool opportunities, when I see one.  Don’t miss cool opportunities. You may only get one shot. FORE!


WRITTEN FOR WTAD.COM/The White Pages                             

Every time I drive by our AMTRAK station, it reminds me of the last time I had a ticket for the 6 p.m. train to Chicago. With three books and a peanut butter sandwich, the 4 ½ hour trip would be both relaxing and productive. Another bonus: time to review my speech for a morning presentation in Gurnee, IL.

Suitcase? Sandwich? Purse? Check, check and check. After a few steps towards the platform, I stopped cold and thought, “Too quiet. Nobody’s waiting in line. Maybe the evening train lacked popularity. Ahhh, a distant whistle; it’s just running late. But a freight train zoomed by, going south.

My watch said, 5:32p.m. – plenty of time for a 6 p.m. departure. Still, something was off. I checked my ticket for the first time, in a month. I ride the train frequently and know the schedule, but, and this is a BIG but, it read, “Departure- 5:30p.m.”  I re-read the ticket; adrenaline coursed through me. I’D MISSED IT!  Noooooooooo!  Yessssssssss!    After kicking myself for five seconds, I threw my stuff into the car and fell back on my only option: “Okay Big Girl, you’re driving to Chicago!”  Oh, the joy I felt, as I calculated the mileage and ETA: 11:30 p.m.

I needed to call Jeff.  Not yet. I’d been a bozo; no reminders needed. Still, he needed to know. Three hours later, I got some gas, bubble gum, and the gumption to call Jeff. For the next 150 miles, he checked in with me, suggesting I stop for the night. His motto is: “Getcha a good night’s sleep and finish driving tomorrow.” His approach was more sensible than mine, but by now, I was fired up with coffee, sugar and a desire to wake up in Gurnee. I turned the radio off and contemplated how my travel plan had imploded. Jeff signed off, with instructions to text him upon arrival.

During this quiet drive portion, several thoughts bubbled up:                                                                                                 1. Missing trains makes me mad.                                                                                                                                   2. Still, I’m proud of my reaction, which took five sections. It’s like the dropped food rule, except for anger. Five’s all you get. Then move on.                                                                                                                       3. Everyone should drive solo for six hours sometime, to think and sing.                                                                          4. Always call home when plans change.                                                                                                                          5. Bubble Yum rocks!                                                                                                                                            6. Always review your ticket, prior to departure.

It is said that, “WE TEACH WHAT WE NEED” in ourselves and how I needed this lesson! Accept what befalls you, admit your faults, adapt and grow. At least on the return drive, I could stop and purchase new shoes because I was on MY schedule, not AMTRAK’s. So there was that…

And as always, laugh at your own expense, because, sometimes, you are the joke.  In fact, do you remember these jokes?                                                                                                                                                                    

When God passed out…                                                                                                                                             noses, I thought He said, “Roses”, and I asked for a big red one.                                                                          Heads, I thought He said, “Beds”, and I asked for a big soft one.                                                                                          Brains, I thought He said, “Trains”, and I said that I’d take the next one.

Except sometimes, there isn’t one.








TEN FOR WTAD.COM/The White Pages


To Pull Up, or Not To Pull Up?

First written for WTAD.COM WHITE PAGES 9/14/16

Recently,  Jeff and I got fast food VIA the drive-through lane. Not to throw any business under the bus, but the little girl on the logo has red hair, pig-tails and freckles. Her name may or may not start with “W”.  We had a fairly simple order, a triple-burger and a salad. There were three cars ahead of us and four behind us. The cashier returned my debit card, without a food bag, and said, “Please pull up. We’ll bring it out when it’s done.”

“How many minutes until it’s done?” I asked.

“We really don’t know.”

“You don’t know????”

“Nope, there’s no timer on it.”

“Then, how will you know when it’s done?”

“We just will. It just lies on the grill ‘til it’s done.”

I’m imagining the burgers getting very cooked, while sunbathing. Except their beach is the grill.

“Before we pull up, I need a small, vanilla, ice cream. We have a nervous dog in here.”

The cashier smiled with half of her mouth. She hadn’t grasped my goal yet: to consume as much time as possible, so that our triple sow-cow might be done, before we pulled up to wait. She snatched my debit card as she announced, “Fifty-four cents.”  This was possibly a new White house record: lowest debit card purchase EVER!

Still, there’s no burger-bag in sight. Begrudgingly, our car crept ahead to the dreaded waiting zone, as slow as when exiting the car wash and the dryer flashes, “35 seconds”, but your car is already 7/8 of the way through the process.

“I wouldn’t have pulled up,” Jeff said. He just won’t. I represent the other half of humans who’re compliant; we pull up. When our kids were little, they would chirp at times like this, “Daddy won’t pull up!” Would they be AATPU’s (Adults Adverse to Pulling Up), too?  We’re all motivated differently. Personally, I fear how they’ll treat my food, if I don’t pull up.

Then the fun began, because this is a single drive-through lane, with no wiggle room. There were at least five cars behind us. The possibility of maneuvering around me was zero. Picture this: we’re waiting, Lily White, the black Lab, is happily eating vanilla ice cream to kill time, and the cars who received their orders, can’t get around us. It’s a perfect storm! Jeff and I laughed, because, the restaurant and we had each gotten what we wanted: they got us to pull up, but it had the same effect as if we’d waited at the window. For once, Jeff and I were both glad that we’d pulled up!


Written for WTAD.com blog 9 05 16

Seriously? Still Watching Our Weight in our Nineties?

My mom turned 92 yesterday. It sounds better in dog years: 13.14. But she’s not the oldest of her resident family. We had Cassano’s Pizza, Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake and Pepsi for the residents and some family at Bradford Villa, an assisted living facility at 12th & Kochs Lane. Oh yes, and also Diet Pepsi, as requested for a 95 year old resident, we’ll call, “Pearl”.  Pearl STILL watches her weight and I’m quite disturbed by this, because of what this means for those of us under 95.

The first time I heard Pearl pass on dessert and exclaim, “I’ve gained two pounds!” I laughed. Until I realized she wasn’t kidding. It’s never occurred to me that weight would still be an issue when I’m 95. I was so hoping that, eventually, I wouldn’t give a hoot in an old age stage.  Great, just great.

On the other hand, I realized, this is kind of cool : here’s this 95 year old Pearl, a gem who still catalog shops for clothes and jumps (well, hops low) at the opportunity to go to the mall. In Yiddish, that’s what we call having, “Chutzpah”! And she’s got it BIG time. Pearl also loves the cosmetic gift bags; you know, spend “X” amount and get free Lancôme stuff in another zipper travel bag, of which we all have dozens. Pearl dresses fabulously for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And THAT’s daily.

Recently, she showed me her new Chicos scarf.  It’s beautiful, but it’s longer than she is tall and could double as her bedspread. I offered to take her scarf home to steam it, due to shipping wrinkles. I smiled, while steaming her scarf, because Pearl’s weight-watching is not a curse, as I’d originally thought. Instead, it is a blessing; a high level of pride and a sign that life and hope pulses strongly through this woman. In that respect, and as much as it wears me out to think about weight-watching all my remaining years, I guess I should hope I still want to watch my weight, wear makeup, cologne and cool clothes, whether I’m 61 or 101. Hold the chocolate sauce, just give me the ice cream. Make that one BIG scoop. Oh, yes, and a Diet Pepsi.