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Posts from the ‘Quips & Quotes’ Category

Write About Your Community

May 13, 2016

Susan Marg

A few years ago I worked with Marie Rudisill on her life history. If the name sounds familiar, Marie has a couple of claims to fame. She was the aunt of Truman Capote, and she helped raise him in Monroeville Alabama, whenever his mother dropped him off on her way to New Orleans. She is also known as “The Fruitcake Lady” from her appearances on The Tonight Show in Jay Leno.

Marie’s book is labeled a memoir, but it is also a personal story, a family tale, an account of all the places Marie laid down roots after she left home.

Photo by: Daniel Mennerich

Photo by: Daniel Mennerich

Wherever Marie lived, she found a community. During the 1930s, she lived in New York City to be near her older sister Lillie Mae and her nephew Truman. Of the Big Apple she comments, it “didn’t have one of anything. My goodness, no. There was not just one square, skyscraper, movie house, art museum, science museum, park, playground, hotel, restaurant, deli, diner, dance hall, concert venue, night club, racetrack, bowling alley, outdoor market, or department store, but lots of everything to suit just about everyone.”

Marie made her home in Greenwich Village, of which she writes, “Greenwich Village, in particular, was a real melting pot of Italians, Germans, Poles, Africans, and Jews. They were mostly of an older generation who had immigrated to American through Ellis Island, but they peacefully co-existed with the painters, writers, and intellectuals of the next generation. Into the mix were young, single, working professionals who were attracted by the neighborhood’s low rents and Bohemian lifestyle. In the summertime everyone gathered on the front stoop looking for a breeze to cool off, but there wasn’t much relief from the humidity, even after the sun had set. When the weather turned cold and nasty we took refuge in the tearoom and coffee shops.”

On a personal level, Marie notes, “The best thing about the Village was its friendly atmosphere, and it attracted lots of Southerners. With my pronounced Southern accent, as strong as it ever was, I had always felt like I stuck out. In the Village I fit right in.”

When she married, she moved with her husband to the Carolinas. Of Charlotte, she writes, “Another thing about Charlotte is that the people are so damn nice. They truly are…. Neighbors know each other and talk to each other… In Charlotte, when a new family moved into the neighborhood, we welcomed them with a fresh meringue pie. That custom is still true, unless we’re talking about Northerners who haven’t learned to mind their p’s and q’s. Them we’ll ice up. Southerners can be very clannish.”

Marie saves her bon mots for Florida, where she retired to be near her son. She never really appreciated the Sunshine State, and she writes, “It is not a Southern state, not to me. It has no history, no civility, no gentility. It’s all flip flops, short shorts, and hairy legs.”

What is community? One simple definition is that it’s a social unit that shares common values, resources, and preferences. Those in a community take risks together, and they benefit from taking those risks – together.

Community can be a part of a life or family history. It says something about where you lived and when you grew up. Why not write about it?

© 2016 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Only You Can Tell Your Story

April 8, 2016

Susan Marg


Charles de Lint writes novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, and lyrics. He has a distinctive style, incorporating American and European folklore into his urban fantasies. I want to thank Chris White at Routine Matters for inspiring us with this great quote.


Go For It!

February 18, 2016

Susan Marg

Photo by:

Photo by:

Patricia Arquette has had an interesting life. While growing up, her family lived for a time on a commune. As a child, she refused braces for her teeth, as she thought her flaws would make her a better actress. From starting in the movies in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) to winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, among other awards, for BoyHood (2014), she also has had star turns on television in Medium (2005-2011) and now on CSI: Cyber. Her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all performers, and her siblings are in the business. Now she’s going to write about it.

Arquette has inked a contract with Random House for her book, although a release date has not yet been set. Of her new endeavor she says, “Writing a memoir is a lot of different things. It’s illuminating, painful, interesting and strange. … It’s very personal and a big challenge.”

Are you up for the challenge?

© 2015 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Time is Short

December 1, 2015

Susan Marg

Illustration by: © pereca

Illustration by: © pereca

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon.

December is here before it’s June.

My goodness how the time has flewn.

How did it get so late so soon?

—   Dr. Seuss

What Do You Remember?

August 3, 2015

Susan Marg


Brevity by Dan Thompson at

Are your memories keeping you awake?

Get up, and write them down.

In the morning,

have a strong cup of coffee

and call a personal historian.

Say “Bye-Bye”

April 24, 2015

Susan Marg

Stock image: Depositphotos

Stock image: Depositphotos

I worked for AT&T for almost fifteen years. When it was the telephone company. When it was called Ma Bell. Before there were cell phones and other mobile devices, smart or not, and everyone had a land line.

And that’s why A.A. Gill’s commentary in the April issue of Vanity Fair titled “Good-Bye to ‘Hello’” was like someone dumping a bucket of ice water on me. I didn’t need the wake up call, although I still subscribe to magazines and check out books from the library. As Gill observes in his article, “We are coming to the end of the age of the telephone call and that may be a good or a bad thing, but it is a thing.”

I remember the age of the telephone call very well. I remember my grandmother being concerned about the cost of a long distance call. I remember my mother chatting on the phone while she did the family’s ironing. I remember my father working the phones at his place of business. I remember calling my folks weekly to check in when I was in college and for years afterwards.

Now, it’s all about texts and tweets. But even words are being replaced. Who needs them, if you can cut and paste emoticons and emoji? And, they’re so cute. And international, too.

There’s a saying that when you let go, something better will come along. You might even learn about it in a phone call, if you still have one. Me? I’m not hanging up. Not yet, anyway.

© 2015 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

When Batteries Go Dead

April 13, 2015

Susan Marg

Did an older relative, maybe a parent or grandparent, ever describe how tough they had it as a kid? Maybe they told you how they had to walk to school… uphill… both ways… in the snow. Times were tough, but no tougher than now, as demonstrated in a Pickles comic strip by Brian Crane on March 8 of this year.

Photo by: © Nik_Merkulov

Photo by: © Nik_Merkulov

Mrs. Pickles asks Nelson, her grandson, “Did you brush your teeth?”

Nelson replies, “I can’t. The battery in my toothbrush is dead.”

Mrs. Pickles refuses to accept that excuse, telling him, “I’ve been brushing my teeth since before you were born, and I’ve never needed a battery to do it… Just put some toothpaste on it and brush the good old-fashioned way.”

Nelson refuses to go along with the program, and he complains, “Aww! This is like living in the olden days!”

As a kicker she responds, “And when you’re through with that you can churn some butter.”

Thank you, Brian Crane, for once again pointing out that no matter how much the world changes, we don’t lose our sense of humor, as we get older.

Happiness is Being Part of a Family

March 25, 2015

Susan Marg

Charles M. Schultz rhapsodized, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Comedian George Burns joked, “ Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”

Since so many life histories and memoirs are about family, I thought it’d be fun to find some quotes about those whom we know best. I mean, if we can’t laugh at our family, who can we laugh at – besides ourselves?

A family is a unit composed not only of children, but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.

Photo by: KIDS – © everett225

Photo by: KIDS – © everett225

  •  Ogden Nash

No amount of law enforcement can solve a problem that goes back to the family.

  •  Edgar Hoover

Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.

  •  Cary Grant

I know it’s a cliché, but the whole family is just whacked. I mean, we’re all out of our minds. They’re the funniest, most eccentric bizarre people I’ve ever met, my siblings.

  • Dana Carvey

To each other, we were as normal and nice as the smell of bread. We were just a family. In a family even exaggerations make perfect sense.

  • John Irving

Your basic extended family today includes your ex-husband or -wife, your ex’s new mate, your new mate, possibly your new mate’s ex and any new mate that your new mate’s ex has acquired.

  • Delia Ephron

There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.

  • Jerry Seinfeld

I think it’s fascinating that I receive attention for what people perceive to be a level of manliness or machismo, when amongst my family of farmers and paramedics and regular Americans, I’m kind of the sissy in my family.

  •  Nick Offerman

I looked up my family tree and found out I was the sap.

  •  Rodney Dangerfield

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

  •  George Bernard Shaw

So clear out your closets and make your family skeleton dance by writing a life or family history.

Ten Quotes on Childhood Recollections

October 6, 2014

Susan Marg

Photo by: ToniVC

Photo by: ToniVC

As we get older we find it difficult, if not impossible, to remember our early childhood. Yet we all have a first memory. Mine is the time I tied my shoes by myself. Oh, I was so excited and proud. I raced down the steps to tell my Mom.

Here are ten quotes of early childhood recollections. They all make perfect sense, give the paths the speakers have taken and the careers they’ve had.

I spent my childhood eating. The only exercise I got was trying to twist off the cap of a jar of mayonnaise.

— Richard Simmons, fitness guru

Playing guitar was one of my childhood hobbies, and I had played a little at school and at camp. My parents would drag me out to perform for my family, like all parents do, but it was a hobby – nothing more.

— Bonnie Raitt, singer

I have a love affair with tomatoes and corn. I remember them from my childhood. I only had them in the summer. They were extraordinary.

— Alice Waters, chef

My earliest thought, long before I was in high school, was just to go away, get out of my house, get out of my city. I went to Medford High School, but even in grade school and junior high, I fantasized about leaving.

— Paul Theroux, travel writer

One of my earliest memories was me singing ‘Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ at the top of my voice when I was seven. I got totally carried away. My grandmother, Sarah, was in the next room. I didn’t even realize she was there. I was terribly embarrassed.

— James Taylor, singer

–My earliest memories are doing commercials and TV.

Jodie Foster, actress

I played music and sang from my earliest memories. The first pictures of me show me wandering around with a guitar that was larger than I was, and it became almost second nature to me.

— Dwight Yoakam, singer

I still love making hamburgers on the grill. I guess whenever I eat them childhood memories come up for me.

— Bobby Flay, chef

Chocolate is the first luxury. It has so many things wrapped up in it: deliciousness in the moment, childhood memories, and that grin-inducing feeling of getting a reward for being good.

— Mariska Hargitay, actress

I’m just lucky. I do have very clear memories of childhood. I find that many people don’t, but I’m just very fortunate that I have that kind of memory.

— Beverly Cleary, children’s literature author

Try and remember your earliest childhood recollections. It’s a first step to telling your life story.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Pickles Wisdom by Brian Crane

September 14, 2014

Susan Marg