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Ronda Rich

Stories by Ronda

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RICH: A heroic family

It’s been 20 years without Davey Allison and I, at last, am able to laugh at his antics rather than recalling just the sorrow. And there are the lessons, too, that he taught.

RICH: Raised to shop better

I do not believe it is a coincidence that our family from Mama and Daddy’s generation lived, for the most part, long and healthy lives. There were no preservatives in their food and their water came either directly from mountain streams or deep wells.

RICH: Remembering the men of war

When the military guard stood at attention at Mr. Hoyt’s casket and taps played, I put my hand over my heart and cried.

RICH: Beautiful in a different way

She did not squander time on life’s foolish pursuits – shopping for pretty dresses, parties, choosing a new lipstick color or beach vacations. She was, all would agree, a statue for sturdiness, a monument to women who looked life and its troubles squarely in the eye and stared down those challenges.

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RICH: The little girl with red dirt feet

About the only thing that has changed is that Mama doesn’t make my clothes any more. And that is both a good thing and a bad thing.

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RICH: Lives in common

This is my South of which I am so proud, a community, broad and vast, where tribulations and triumphs alike are shared.

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RICH: Looking to help

When it’s born in you, you just keep doing the best you can to help those in need.

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RICH: The ugly casserole dishes

Any self-respecting Southern woman has a list of casserole recipes a mile long ready to bake at a moment’s notice. You got a sickness or a death in your family, we’ve got just the casserole for you.

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RICH; Well, bless my heart

She said it, of course, with smirk. Those women who really don’t understand the ways of the women of the South seem to always speak about us in words that are vividly cloaked in disdain.

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RICH: The final story from Charlie Tinker's grave

Charlie Tinker had a front row seat to history, ranging from a friendship with Lincoln to the Civil War to the hanging of those convicted. Thanks to his diaries, we are able to see what he saw.

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RICH: Don't wait on some day

“Some day,” Daddy used to say often as I was growing up, “I’m going to the Holy Land. I want to walk where Jesus walked.”

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RICH: Teaching independence

Having helped raised Mama to independence, I can tell you —be it teenagers or elderly mothers, independence is a good thing for everyone.

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RICH: How General Grant Became Mr. Grant

Upon discovering Charles Almerin Tinker’s leaf-strewn grave in Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, we – one of us more than the other – began to study the names and dates engraved on the towering monument.

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RICH: Don't overlook the importance of a pretty package

The renowned bow maker in my hometown died. Only in the South would this probably be news because we Southern women do admire a package well wrapped.

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RICH: The way she was

The way she was was a long way from what she became. I can't help thinking about how life veers so far away from the beginning of the journey and how the destination can vary drastically from where it all started.

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RICH: Where Charlie Tinker is buried

It was a long, and very worthwhile, walk to observe the grave of Tink's great-great grandfather.

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RICH: Remembering the poor dirt farmer

Farming knows no boundaries. Cows are born on the rainiest days and get out, usually scattering into the road, in the darkest of nights, water lines burst on the coldest days and tractors break down in the field under the most scorching sun.

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RICH: Tales of woe

For those who have no idea how good they've got it, how blessed they are in life, introduce to them to the other folks.

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RICH: The book within you

We've all got stories, we just don't all turn them into books. But that's not to say we shouldn't.

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RICH: The last lap

Somehow I ran across an out-of-print book called "The Last Lap." It is now 15 years old but tells an intriguing, timeless tale of the early days of America's first stock car racers.

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RICH: Life in a small town

You can't buy history like this. You can't earn it, either. You just have to thank the good Lord for giving you the gift of a small town family.

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RICH: When Mama made up her mind

With Mother's Day here again, my thoughts drift back to Mama and how she put me through college.

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RICH: Speaking the truth

The truth isn't always pretty. Or easy. But it certainly gives respect to those who tell it.

RICH: The importance of the chipped bowl

At a garage sale, that bowl would bring no more than a nickel or a dime, bought by someone who would use it for dog food or fertilizer or such. But from me, you couldn't buy it for a million dollars.

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RICH: A loss of decency

Though I come from hardscrabble folks where education was a luxury, they had enough learning to know that others should be treated with decency and respect.

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RICH: Old-fashion harmony

In churches like ours, the men gather on one side and the women on the other so they can sing parts and blend deliciously together. To me, it is simply beautiful to hear songs like "I'll Fly Away" or "When We All Get To Heaven" sung with such gusto, almost always ending with a soprano refrain.

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RICH: An Easter parade surprise

Oh how I love a parade.

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RICH: Miss Eudora's house

I can't wait to return and tour the home again, under official guidance.

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RICH: Remembering Mr. Bobo

Mr. Gene Bobo was special. There's no denying nor disputing that. He was a courtly Southern gentleman, his manners impeccable and his vocabulary belonging to a genteel past.

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RICH: A memorable bio

Honesty isn't always pretty, but sometimes it gains respect, no matter how unpleasant.

RICH: The 'Rocky' method

I love dreamers who have courage. That's even better than an Academy Award.

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RICH: In the South, everyone is (sort of) kin

It's six degrees of separation. Southern style when it comes to knowing people in your neck of the woods.

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RICH: The rusty truck

Now I understand all the other folks who have quoted such high prices -- returning calls and showing up makes a person valuable so they can charge more.

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RICH: Being Danny McGuire

I've been thinking about kids in the middle like me.

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RICH: Uncle Jesse's truth

Twain once said, "A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read." When it comes to writing, I'll spin that a bit: The writer who won't invest thought in the lives of others has no advantage over those who can't.

RICH: Best wishes for a happy new year

I'll probably be repeating these resolutions again next year. Just like all my previous resolutions.

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RICH: Mama loved a long story

"Have you ever told a short story in your life?" I asked one day during one of marathon length. She twisted her mouth tightly as oft she did when annoyed. "If it's too short, it ain't worth tellin'. Why waste the time?"

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RICH: Coming home

As Truman Capote, the Alabama-raised writer, often said, "Every Southerner goes home sooner or later, even if in a pine box."

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RICH: When Lincoln dies

The third, and final, installment, of a look at Charlie Tinker's diary.

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RICH: Looking for a woman

A picture can really be worth a thousand words.

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RICH: Giving thanks for Christmas traditions

As you reflect on your many blessings and celebrate them for Thanksgiving, please think of how you can share those blessings during Christmas. A card, a casserole or a Christmas tree could be the most important gift you give. I guess what it boils down to is this: A merry Christmas starts with a happy, blessed Thanksgiving.

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RICH: Charlie's diaries

The second installment of my husband's great-great-grandfather, Charlie Tinker, a White House telegrapher who had been friends with President Abraham Lincoln.

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RICH: Soaking up knowledge

The future belongs to both those in age and those in youth. May we all be wise enough to know when to teach and when to learn, for to each, there is a season.

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RICH: An introduction to Charlie Tinker

Charlie Tinker, great-great-grandfather of my beloved, was close friends with the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The pair had met when they both lived in Illinois and Lincoln had become fascinated by a new-fangled invention that Charlie had become an expert at the telegraph.

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RICH: To the rescue

Who man or woman wouldn't want to be rescued? Life is hard. Who of us would turn down the chance to have life easier? Who would put a foot down and say, "No! Don't do something for me that takes worry away!

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RICH: Don't mock how we talk

Nothing makes me madder than folks who make fun of Southern accents.

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RICH: Gate installation leads to a difference in opinion between spouses

Putting up a gate in front of our house was more difficult than I imagined. What wasn't a surprise, is that my idea for the design won out.

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RICH: Flirting with success

You can be a good storyteller without being a good flirt. But you cannot be a great flirt without being a terrific storyteller.

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RICH: A lack of empathy

I am most saddened by the lack of empathy that some folks have. I lacked it, too, in my ignorant youth. But you grow up and your thoughts on things like that change.

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RICH: The art of grooming and the artless way of pointing it out

I have decided that it isn't grooming that I or any typical Southern woman have, it is more appropriately termed as "polish."