December 4, 2012

Phred the BalloonMeister



FredeMy friend Phred-Fred, a professional clown and balloon-maker, asked me for help the other day. The Huntsville, Alabama, resident wants me to help him generate five-hundred visits to a video he just had made about his balloon-making ( ).

My family met Fred Wells while we lived in Atlanta, Georgia.


My husband Monte, daughter Sandy and son Nolan moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia, in August 1982. Monte had just retired from teaching physics at Slippery Rock University (PA) and was beginning seminary at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta. We chose to live in Stone Mountain because the good friends we made in Slippery Rock, Shirl and Wayne Murray, had moved there several years previously.

At the time Nolan was interested in clowning. When I heard about a clowning class in December 1982 I enrolled him and presented the entrance form to him for a Christmas gift. The classes started January 18, 1983, on his eleventh birthday.

On the sixteenth of January I was told he was too young to register for the class—he had to be eighteen. I objected, not wanting to disappoint Nolan. I was given the name of the teacher who said yes, he could enroll, he could try it. It was a great experience for Nolan.

In July 1983 Nolan was hospitalized for a ruptured appendix. After his surgery he developed an abscess and had another surgery. The combination was devastating and he wasn’t doing well. I thought a visit from one of the members of his clown class would cheer him, so I called the restaurant where I could contact the teacher with my request. The teacher, Dave, wasn’t there but Fred was.

Fred had participated in the class briefly, and was willing to visit Nolan. Later Fred called me to ask if I could make a clown hat for him (I had a craft and sewing business in Atlanta).

And so a friendship began that continues today, not only for me but also for my family.

Before we left Atlanta our home became Phred’s residence while he did gigs in the Atlanta area. We had soon discovered we had a friend in common, Mark Murray, son of Shirl and Wayne.

In 1983 we had to have him investigated because we were (more…)

Two Christmas Traditions: A Christmas Pickle and the Belsnickle




The longer I live the more I learn about different holiday traditions. Two I recently learned about are the Christmas Pickle and the Belsnickle.


Many, many years ago, when my son Nolan was recently returned from a post-doctoral position in Munich, Germany, he and his wife Tammy presented my husband Monte and I with a German Christmas ornament, a pickle in a jar. I’ve had it out each holiday season since.

According to German tradition, the pickle brings (more…)

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