A solo violinist who plays regularly for thousands of strangers might get
shaky knees in a similar recital facing old friends and neighbors. It was like
that a year ago when I gathered some things together and made an appointment
with the Tribune’s managing editor, Jim Robertson. I’d pleased some pretty
important editors, by mail, but had never sat across the desk from a real-live
one. “You wouldn’t want to buy any of my stuff, would you?” I asked, or
words to that effect. Robertson said, “Let me see what you have there,” and
I handed him a copy of some things I’d written for my seven grandchildren.
“Granny’s Notes,” he read on the cover, “that’s what we’ll call it!”
It was that simple.
How fast the 52 Tuesdays have flown by! Writing for the home front is great
fun. This week the auctioneer who sold me that truckload of used ice skates
punched me on the shoulder and said, “I enjoyed that; I sold those skates to
Manuel for 50 cents a pair, through the years.” A longtime acquaintance and
friend called about one of the early pieces and said, “Oh, then you mean that
your family really did have a fire and live in a tent for five months?” Yes,
Dorothy, what I write is true to the best of my knowledge. If it’s not, I’ll
Early on, a woman called the Tribune and asked, “Who is that Sue Gerard,
anyway?” When told, “She’s a pot thrower,” she misunderstood and thought I
was a pot grower! Not so. I “throw” pots of clay, on a potter’s wheel.
Friends often say, “Tell about the time when we did this or that.” I reply,
“I’ll think about it.” People stop me on the street to say, “When you run
out of ideas, do one about....” I appreciate that, but the well is not going
dry. There are five more volumes like the one Jim Robertson saw. He gave me
free rein but suggested that I keep each column to 500 to 600 words. That
requires some careful rewriting because I’m naturally wordy.
I meet our rural Tribune delivery person at midafternoon each Tuesday and
search for this special page. Someone unknown to me writes the headlines and
I’m usually happy with them, but when I once omitted a word, someone inserted
a word of different meaning, and I was embarrassed because many readers know
me well. Our roots here are deep.
My grandfather came to Boone County about 1860. Grandpa James L. Henry was a
farmer, merchant, Confederate soldier and stagecoach driver between Sturgeon
and Centralia. His oldest son, John L. Henry, was elected to Boone County
offices for 24 consecutive years. Grandpa’s oldest daughter was the wife of
probate judge Arthur Bruton. Uncle Lawrence survived the trenches of World War
My brother and I were born on a dairy farm located near Stephens College’s
golf course. We both attended elementary and high schools operated by the
University of Missouri and have bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MU. Our
adult children and their families live here. We’re pretty local, I’d say. I
face each Tuesday with anticipation, and my knees shake no more!