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Groundhog Day

Happy February!

It’s Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil has given us his forecast for an early spring for 2016. There were celebratory cries in Pennsylvania from the crowd when this favored prediction was announced in poetry this morning.

The daffodils in my yard would agree, since they are half out of the ground. And one of the forsythia bushes has one, bright, yellow bloom. New growth on bushes and blooms on some of our neighborhood trees also are in agreement.

This animal oracle was officially named in 1887by a group of groundhog hunters, and next year this prognosticator will celebrate 129 years of hits-and-misses.

Believe it or not, Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day. The clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for the winter. These candles were always long, and many, because expectations were clear for a cold winter.

This Christian holiday is celebrated annually, mainly in Catholic and Church of England congregations, on February 2. It celebrates three occasions: the presentation of the child Jesus, Jesus’ first entry into the temple, and the Virgin Mary’s purification. There is emphasis on Jesus being the light of the world, and so the candles become important.

Germans pushed this thought a bit further by selecting a hedgehog for predicting the weather. When German settlers came to America, they continued the tradition, except they switched to the groundhog predictions, which were more plentiful here.

Anne Lamott said, “I am going to notice the lights of the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the lights of our candles as we march, the lights with which spring teases us, the light that is already present.”

It is time to light some candles to chase away the shadows on this cloudy, rainy day. What about you?

Thankful in 1793, 1942, and 2015

I grew up in a family that ate our meals together at the kitchen table or the dining room table. We had assigned seats at each place that I never figured out. The kitchen table was round, and the dining room table was a rectangle. Mother fixed and served our childhood plates.

My dad was a stickler for manners on all occasions, even at the table. “Please” and ‘Thank you” were phrases that were expected to be used. If we wanted the ketchup bottle, we had to use the required “please.” If “thank you” was not our response, the ketchup would be taken away. We learned in a hurry to not forget the phrases.

I clearly remember a few weeks at the supper table that provided special entertainment. My brother Critt was around three, and I was six. Picking up his milk glass for a drink became a challenge for some reason. He took several sips and then spilled the rest of the glass on the table, the floor, and himself. I remember watching him to see when it was going to happen, and then suddenly he stopped. To this day, I don’t know whether it was on purpose, and he finally grew tired of the game or what. I was certainly sorry the spills stopped, but am sure my parents were thankful.

One of the most heartfelt notes I have seen about Thanksgiving was written on Thursday, November 21, 1793 by 75 year old Samuel Lane of Stratham, New Hampshire.

Here it is, in part:

“As I was musing on my Bed being awake as Usual before Daylight; recollecting the Many Mercies and good things I enjoy for which I ought to be thankful this Day;
The Life & health of myself and family, and also of so many of my Children, grand Children and great grandchildren…
for my Bible and Many other good and Useful Books, Civil and Religious Priviledges…
for my Land, House and Barn and other Buildings, & that they are preserv’d from fire & other accidents.
for my wearing Clothes to keep me warm, my Bed & Bedding to rest upon.
for my Cattle, Sheep & Swine & other Creatures, for my support.
for my Corn, Wheat, Rye Grass and Hay; Wool, flax, Syder, Apples, Pumpkins, Potatoes, cabages, tirnips, Carrots, Beets, peaches and other fruit.
For my Clock and Watch to measure my passing time by Day and by Night.
Wood, Water, Butter, Cheese, Milk, Pork, Beefe, & fish, &c.
for Tea, Sugar, Rum, Wine, Gin, Molasses, peper, Spice & Money for to bye other Necessaries and to pay my Debts and Taxes &c.
for my lether, Lamp oyl & Candles, Husbandry Utensils, & other tools of every sort…
Bless the Lord O my Soul and all that is within me Bless his holy Name…”
And there you have Thanksgiving in its glory in 1793.

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell   

The above painting, Freedom from Want, also known as The Thanksgiving Picture or I’ll Be Home for Christmas is one of four oil paintings that the American artist Norman Rockwell painted.

This work, and three others, were inspired by the 1941 State of the Union Address of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which he called the Four Freedoms. Roosevelt outlined “four essential human freedoms” in 1941: “Freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.” If you are interested in reading this inspiring speech, you can find a copy at

Rockwell created this painting in November of November of 1942, and it was published in the March 6, 1943 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. The people in the picture were all friends and family of Rockwell that lived in Arlington, Vermont. He photographed them individually and then painted them into the canvas. It is obviously a Thanksgiving holiday meal, but has become an illustration of all family meals. Interesting footnote to the turkey is that the family ate it; Rockwell commented that he had never eaten one of his paintings before.

Last week, we celebrated Christmas with my sister-in-law, nephew, and his family in Charleston, SC. There was no snow on the ground; in fact, the air conditioning was on, and most of us were either in sandals or barefoot. We celebrated Christmas Eve at Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church with caroling, readings from scripture, and the observance of the Lord’s Supper. It was a treasured time for me, because Critt introduced us to this service at his church six years ago. Children of all ages are welcome, and the noise level at times is a tad high.

We left there and went to Carol’s for a low country boil meal. The next day began with another homemade feast of shrimp and grits. And then we ended the day with a rib eye roast and all the fixings. No one went hungry for sure, and our fellowship was around the table.

There was something about the table fellowship at both homes. Phones were not around, and the conversation included everyone, especially the two-year-old twin girls. There was little silence as we truly ate far too much. But stories were shared about other Christmases and the menus we had. We talked about those that were missing from our Collins family time. There was much laughter, as we enjoyed each others’ company once again; reconnecting was at its best. The time we spent with each other was the best Christmas present for me, and I so thankful for it.

My grandmother Lulu passed on a recipe to my mom called Charlotte Rouge, and my nephew Ryan loves it, so that was one of my contributions. It is a simple recipe using marsh mellows, lemon jello, crushed pineapple, and whipping cream. This light dessert was enjoyed by the fifth generation in our family this Christmas.

One of my favorite authors is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was inspired to write this poem in 1863 during the Civil War when his son went off to fight for the Union against his wishes.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play, 
And wild and sweet 
The words repeat 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

And thought how, as the day had come, 
The belfries of all Christendom 
Had rolled along 
The unbroken song 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Till ringing, singing on its way, 
The world revolved from night to day, 
A voice, a chime, 
A chant sublime 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Then from each black, accursed mouth 
The cannon thundered in the South, 
And with the sound 
The carols drowned 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

It was as if an earthquake rent 
The hearth-stones of a continent, 
And made forlorn 
The households born 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

And in despair I bowed my head; 
“There is no peace on earth,” I said; 
For hate is strong, 
And mocks the song 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; 
The Wrong shall fail, 
The Right prevail, 
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

This poem gave birth to the carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Here is a version of it sung by Casting Crowns that you might enjoy.

Being thankful for so many and so much, as this year 2015 ends.









Laura Land Tour: De Smet, SD – Part 1

My advice if you head to De Smet:  plan to stay a couple of days.  As Laura Ingalls Wilder fans know, By the Shores Of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town On the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years were all set in and near De Smet. The First Four Years, published posthumously, also takes place here. And there is a lot for visitors to see.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society operates the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes. Start your visit here to purchase tour tickets, browse the gift shop, and see family artifacts.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes De Smet SD

The Society currently maintains more than 2,000 original artifacts pertaining to Laura and her family. Photos are not permitted in the exhibit area, but it contains some real treasures.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes De Smet SD A glimpse of the artifact storage area. Although not normally open to the public, it gives a hint of the Society’s holdings.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society De Smet SD The former…

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December 7, 1941 in Charleston, South Carolina

For most Americans, news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came as an interruption to their favorite radio programs on that Sunday afternoon on December 7th, 1941.

An Associated Press bulletin at 2:22 PM Eastern Standard Time first reported the attack to mainland news organizations and radio networks. After confirming the initial bulletin with the government, the major radio networks interrupted regular programming beginning at 2:30 PM, bringing news of the attack  in progress. CBS broke in on the Redskins and Eagles football game.

On that December 7, 1941, Samuel Moore Collins/my father and some of his fellow cadets from The Citadel were enjoying a movie at a theater on King Street. They were at liberty from the college on this Sunday and looking forward to their Christmas break



At the King Street Newstand close by were comic books and ice cream for sale. The young men were looking forward to the ice cream, as they enjoyed the show.

And then the movie-showing was interrupted with news of the Pearl Harbor attack. Shock immediately consumed their minds; the cadets rose from their s eats as one and briskly walked out of the theater. Knowing they needed to immediately return to the Citadel, they started running to the nearby bus stop. Urgency was in every step.

The Citadel trained men to become soldiers. This included discipline and control. The fourth class system taught the importance of obedience, and plebes learned to avoid the consequences of compliance. Already other cadets had joined the war in Europe, even before the involvement of the US. Some had lost their lives.

There was little chatter on the bus, but there was much speculation as to when the service to their country would begin. It was inevitable now. Soul-searching was another part of that trip back to the Citadel campus.

The attack continued for two hours and twenty minutes and resulted in 2,400 American casualties, 1,200 wounded, and over 300 aircraft and 18 ships damaged or destroyed.

Several months later, theaters once again announced news about this attack. Before a feature, a MovieTone news reel brought the reality to moviegoers.

Each of those Citadel  lives changed forever on this day.

On the following Monday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt responded to this attack.

My grandmother Lulu/Daddy’s mother often said that her happy-go-lucky son went to war, but a solemn and quiet man returned.

I want to salute today my dad, his brother Wallace Crittenden Collins, my aunt Dottie Collins, and all of the others from our country that stepped up and never wavered in their “pledge to the United States of America.” They responded to the call of their country to defend it “from all enemies, both foreign and domestic.”

As Tim Brokaw named you in the title of his book, you were a part of The Greatest Generation.

Thank you for your service.


Here is a link to an article I wrote about my dad’s class at the Citadel. Theirs is an amazing story.



Happy November!

November Newsletter

“One day a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country for the sole purpose of showing his son how it was to be poor. They spent a few days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.”

“After their return from the trip, the father asked his son how he liked the trip.

‘It was great, Dad,’ the son replied.

‘Did you see how poor people can be?’ the father asked.

‘Oh Yeah,’ said the son.”

“’So what did you learn from the trip?’ asked the father.

The son answered, ‘I saw that we have one dog, and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek that has no end.’”

“‘We have imported lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.’”

“‘We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them.’

The boy’s father was speechless.

Then his son added, ‘It showed me just how poor we really are.’”

This story puts what we own and what others own in perspective, doesn’t it?

In a few weeks, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, a national and family holiday in our country. We will gather together for fun, food, and fellowship. But will we be thankful for what we have?

Will we count our blessings? Name them one-by-one? Will we serve others?

I am so thankful that you support me and my writing. I am grateful and appreciate you more than you could ever realize. I am rich because of you!

November Events 

  • November 7 – Historic Camden Field Days
  • November 13 – Book Club in Spartanburg
  • November 30 – Steele Creek Historical Society in Charlotte, NC

A Living Link to the American Revolution: South Carolina’s Marsh Tacky


In June 2010, the Marsh Tacky horse, a breed now on the verge of extinction, became the official State Heritage Horse of South Carolina. If you’ve never heard of Marsh Tacky horses, you’re in good company. This horse is a living link to the history of South Carolina.

Most people haven’t, but I found out about them when researching Elizabeth Jackson. She and her sons rode Marsh Tackies, just like General Francis Marion and his troops did. Over and over the sure footedness of these horses kept the British from capturing Marion in the Low Country swamps during the Revolutionary War.


Listen to David Grant talk about his Marsh Tacky herd.


As Mr. Grant said, Marsh Tacky horses are descendants of the horses Spanish explorers left behind on the south Atlantic coast in the 1500s, which bred with the stock Spanish settlers later brought to the New World. They are native to our state.

They are beautiful animals. John and I visited a Marsh Tacky farm in the lower part of the state several years ago and watched them enjoying themselves in a field.

Marsh Tackies got their name from the fact that they live in marshy areas, and the term tacky, which means common. Feral herds adapted to the conditions of America’s southeastern coastal regions. Sturdy and smaller than many common breeds at only 13 to 15 hands high, Marsh Tackies adapted to swamps and wooded wetlands, surviving on marsh grass and other available forage that couldn’t sustain most breeds. Their distinctive gait provides a greater stability in the terrain, and when stuck in quagmires. This is called the “Swamp Fox Trot.” They learned to lie down on their sides, pull their feet free, and get up, instead of panicking as most horses would.

Marsh Tacky’s habitats originally ranged from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. They were widely used in the Gullah community for transportation, farming, and hunting until cars and trucks became prevalent.

During the Civil War, these horses became popular again. Because the Marsh Tacky was such a quality worker, he was seen in every yard in those days. They delivered the mail, plowed fields, brought people to visit and functioned in every way required of a horse in a community. During WWII the Tacky and his rider roamed the SC seacoast looking for German U-Boats.

But by the mid twentieth century they could be found only on outlying islands. Fewer than 300 Marsh Tackies remain today, none in the wild, and efforts are being made to save the breed from extinction.

For some beautiful pictures of these horses, visit

The Carolina Marsh Tacky Association was formed in 2007 to preserve and promote the Marsh Tacky horse; check out their Facebook page for information about their work.


We need to pay attention to what we read and hear about these Carolina horses; the Marsh Tacky is ours.

Welcome Home! And Thank You!

Image result for vietnam war commemoration flag

On Saturday, October 10, Kate Barry Chapter NSDAR celebrated our local Vietnam Veterans with breakfast and certificates of appreciation. Three local businesses, the Beacon, Cake Head Bake Shop, and Westside Chick Fil A, helped us. WSPA filmed some of the event and interviewed the veterans.

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and “in conducting the commemorative program, the Secretary shall coordinate, support, and facilitate other programs and activities of the Federal Government, State and local governments, and other persons and organizations in commemoration of the Vietnam War.”

Statistics Fact Sheet

Our National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) were encouraged to become a commemorative partner, and my chapter did. A partner had the opportunity to assist a grateful nation in thanking and honoring our Vietnam Veterans and their families.

For several months, we worked with the local Vietnam Veterans group to thank and honor these men and women for their service.

It was pouring rain as the veterans arrived that morning; they had a short meeting, and then we invited them for a buffet breakfast of grits, eggs, bacon, chicken biscuits, fruit, and a variety of muffins. To quench their thirst, orange juice, iced tea, and coffee was available. It was wonderful to see some of them go back and fill their plates a second time!

With a few remarks, I introduced them to NSDAR and our purpose in promoting patriotism, helping to preserve American history, and promoting the education of this history. This is a 125-year-old lineage society. We trace our ancestors back to those Patriots that fought in the Revolutionary War, and we continue to reach out to local veterans to say thank you for your service.

Then we started giving out certificates of appreciation and lapel pins. These lapel pins were given to us from the Vietnam Commemoration Committee. The son, an eight-year-old cub scout of our Chapter Vice Regent, presented these in a dignified manner to each Vietnam veteran. He shook hands with each one, and big smiles were exchanged. It was an emotional time for all of us.

This lapel pin is symbolic. The eagle represents courage, honor and dedicated service to our nation. As one of the most recognizable and notable American symbols, it is emblazoned with distinction on numerous military insignia. The color blue matches the canton of the American flag and signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice. The circle shape and blue color also match the official seal of the Commemoration. Laurel Wreath is a  time-honored symbol representing victory, integrity and strength. The stripes behind the eagle represent the American flag. The six stars represent the six allies who served, sacrificed and fought alongside one another: Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and the United States. The message, “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You,” is embossed on the back, closest to the heart of the veteran who wears it.

We also presented the group with a commemorative flag.

This war was fought on a tiny land mass and followed by citizens on nightly television. Movies tweaked the reality of those rice paddies and deadly land minds. Lyrics spoke against it, and politicians spouted words.

This version of the “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” music video was created by Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum as part of its ongoing effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The men who are featured in the video are all Vietnam Veterans who have helped to build the exhibit. “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” was one of the most requested songs by United States Armed Forces members

For those who spent time in the Hanoi Hilton and other camps, for those who gave their lives, and for those who returned home, I am so grateful. I honor you and thank you for your service.

Whatever our thoughts then and now of the US being involved in this war, we are late in saying thank you to the men and women that fought in Vietnam.

This YouTube video reminds us of the importance of this. It’s never too late to say thanks and welcome home!




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