I had many once-in-a-lifetime moments growing up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. There was the afternoon my father was in the front yard, working in his rose garden and I was sitting at the piano, memorizing Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude.
Daddy came inside to tell me J.E. Brown was outside with some hippie-looking guy and they wanted to see me. At that time, J.E. (later known as Jim Ed, a popular country singer) and I were “just friends” but several years later, we dated seriously. (J.E. even gave me the gift of a beautiful French Poodle named Pierre.)
Walking outside, I was delighted to see J.E. and his friend. Both were standing by a large motorcycle, an expensive Harley, decked-out with shiny chrome and lots of black leather fringe.
J.E.’s friend was good-looking in a different sort of way ---- tight leather pants, black combat boots, greased-back long hair and thick sideburns. He had a pouty mouth which I found very tempting, to say the least. A guy with that look, especially in Pine Bluff, was considered “suspicious” especially if he was riding a motorcycle. (Even today, I love motorcycles and remain fascinated with those who ride them.)
J.E. said his friend had ridden his bike from Memphis because later that evening, he was performing at Watson Chapel, a small community on the outskirts of Pine Bluff. When I stepped closer to the bike for a better look, J.E.’s friend asked if I’d like to “take a ride.”
Before I could answer, my father said “Boy, I don’t trust the way you’re dressed and I don’t like motorcycles but I do have faith in J.E. If he says you’re alright, I’ll go with that. If Sally wants to take a short ride I won’t interfere but, I warn you: She’s precious cargo and you better get her back here in thirty minutes, do you understand?”
I climbed on the bike behind J.E.’s friend, put my arms around his mid-section and held on tight. We had begun pulling out of the driveway when my father yelled, “Fellow, just in case I need to come looking for you-- what’s your name?”
Circling back, the biker pulled up next to my father, extended his hand and said, “Sir, my name is Elvis Presley.”
LIVING WITH FEAR LIMITS OUR LIVES. ONCE I ASKED GOD TO DIRECT MY LIFE....I BEGAN TO FEAR-LESS AND TRUST-MORE.
LAST WEEK, I HAD AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE. IT'S SUCH A BRILLIANT EXAMPLE OF GOD'S HANDIWORK AND I WANT TO SHARE IT WITH YOU. EVERYDAY, I TALK TO GOD. ALL THROUGH THE DAY....I ASK HIM TO DIRECT MY THOUGHTS AND MY ACTIONS..AND...I PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE SMALL VOICE INSIDE ME.
In June of 2018, my home’s roof suffered major damage during a hail storm. I filed a claim with my Allstate Agent and… though several independent inspectors confirmed my roof damage… the claim was denied. The allstate agent who had my homeowner/car insurance, responded to my request for help by calling me a f###ing Drama Queen.
I was the only home in my neighborhood that didn’t receive a new roof. I wasted months trying to contacting executives at Allstate’s corporate office but no one cared to talk to me, their customer. To them, I was just another number.
Imagine my stress, anger, and ongoing fear when, after several months, the ceiling in my living room and entrance hall begin showing wet circles after a rainstorm. With each rain, the circles grew larger and….in several spots, showed signs of mold.
Each time it rained….I was frantic...unable to sleep. I was up and down, fearful that--at any moment-- water would break-through the ceiling and ruin everything in my house. Worst of all... desperate to find another Insurance Company for my home and car…no one would touch me without a new roof!
Word travels fast in a small community and everyone in the village had heard about the “only woman” who didn’t get a new roof. I was also the only woman who didn’t know Allstate had a "reputation" for denying homeowner claims! So---after months of agony, stress, anger, and fear….I woke one morning and decided TODAY would be the day to end my ongoing nightmare.
I called Keith, the owner of the most popular roofing company in the village and asked him to give me an estimate for a new roof. His estimate was slightly under 10,000 dollars. Of course I didn’t have that kind of money but…he worked with a lender so I could make monthly payments over a 12 year period. It was my only solution to being held “hostage” by insurance crooks like Alan Springer, owner of the Allstate Office across from Hot Spring Village's West Gate.
As soon as the new roof was finished, I visited with various insurance agents in the area before finally walking into Farmers Insurance's small office near The Village. The professional qualities I spotted in Mike Kolesar, the Farmers Agent I spoke with that day, caught my attention. For the first time in a very long time, I found someone I could trust. For the first time in months I was free of Allstate.
Leaving the small shopping center that afternoon, I spotted a pretty little black dog on a leash. Then, I took a closer look at the man who was walking the dog across the parking lot. Not only was the man’s lightweight jacket extremely dirty, it was covered with rips and jagged holes. His old tennis shoes lacked shoe laces and appeared to be several sizes too large. I couldn’t help but notice that, despite the freezing cold, the man wore no socks. Even the knit hat on his head was ragged and torn.
I stopped the car next to the man to admire the feisty little dog. It was then that I realized the man was a vagrant, apparently homeless. He had no teeth and his face and hands were dirty and chapped from lengthy exposure to the outside elements. His neglected appearance indicted that he didn’t have access to running water, fresh clothing, or the usual comforts of home. And yet, his dog looked well- fed, groomed, and loved.
I learned the man lived in the nearby woods. He said that, from time to time, people would let him sleep in their carports or outside sheds but…for the most part…he and his four-legged “buddy” snuggled together wherever they could find a dry spot. Apparently, he’d found the dog a few years earlier and taking care of the dog had become the man’s mission.
The man asked if I could spare a few dollars for a hamburger so he and his doggie friend could have lunch. With only a few quarters in my purse, I asked him to wait a few minutes while I went to find cash.
Living on Social Security, I almost-never have extra money. I barely make it to the end of each month….in spite of living frugally. Yet….for the first time in months, I felt free of fear….free of the pressure and panic that started with a damaged roof….fear that continued until I found an insurance professional I could trust. Now, a voice inside was saying this man and his dog needed my help. The man was trusting me, a stranger, to help him through another day.
When I returned to the shopping center, the man and his dog were sitting beside a lamp post, waiting patiently. I handed him two ten dollar bills and—in return—the man thanked me. I asked if he needed me to take him anywhere but he said “No ma'am, you’ve helped enough. My buddy and I will walk down to McDonald’s and get a hamburger and after we eat….we’ll find someplace to sleep for tonight. God answered my prayer when you stopped to help us. I hope he blesses you every day for the rest of your life.” He patted my arm then walked away.
The next day, I felt so satisfied-- so happy to feel alive again. Late in the afternoon when I opened my mailbox, I saw a small envelope... personally addressed to me…but with no return address.
Inside….with no message…were two fifty dollar bills. The envelope was stamped in Little Rock, AR but there was no return address….nothing to tell me who had sent the one hundred dollars. Like manna from heaven, the money will certainly be put to good use. Most likely, it will cover the first-month’s loan payment for my new roof.
Something tells me the homeless man and his dog were no coincidence. God and his angels work in mysterious ways.
In the Bible it says: And the King shall answer: Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:40 says: “What you do for the least of them…you do for me.”
Thank You, God.
From childhood I was bullied, resented, even hated, not only by my mother but by several classmates, some teachers, and a few so-called friends. Who knows why Bullies single-out certain people as their targets? Why would my very presence cause such envy, jealousy and hostility? It was probably a variety of things like....being tall, having good posture, being well-groomed, playing the piano, singing, and my ability to look and act confident. It took time but, eventually... I accepted there would always be critical and spiteful women in my life. Sadly, the world will always have too-many women who are sickly- jealous of other women.
Growing up, I had the opposite effect on boys. I had all the male attention I could wish for. I loved the boys and the boys loved me. In fact, my best friends were always boys. I never dated my best friends; they were more like brothers. In my high school yearbook, next to my picture, is the expression: “If I can’t be with the one I love, I’ll love the one I’m with.”
No, I really wasn’t fickle. I simply loved being in love--with love. And, I loved to flirt. Flirting was fun and innocent. During pretend/playtime, I practiced flirting like I’d seen movie stars do in the movies (my Grandma Heist took me to Saturday Afternoon Matinees almost every Saturday.)
Movies were great teachers. For only twenty cents (the ticket cost ten cents and another ten cents bought a box of popcorn), I learned to walk, talk, kiss, act, and flirt--- by simply imitating Hollywood’s best, like Barbara Stanwyck, Rita Hayworth, and my very favorite, Vivian Leigh. My mirror was the recipient of my playtime, my make-believe, and endless talk. If only my mirror could have talked back.
The summer before my senior year in high school, the ABC affiliate (Channel 7, KATV) invited me to host a weekly television show. Soon, my female critics reacted with blatant hostility. Jealousy is an ugly trait. Many of my female critics considered my life too perfect so--- they felt justified in hating me, criticizing me, and talking mean about me.
I can honesty say: I've never been jealous of another woman. Pretty, classic, elegantly-dressed women were my role models. I used any and all opportunities to learn from women. At home, my mother was my enemy. Unfortunately, she had nothing to teach me but negatives and ugliness.
Certainly my critics, my enemies, never knew my secret; no one would have believed how my mother shamed me--controlled and manipulated me. Determined to hide my secret from everyone, I created the person I wanted others to see and know: A person with poise, confidence, a kind heart, and a pleasant disposition. I worked hard to develop my talents and rise above the ordinary. My tormentors would have been surprised to know…..I was merely a creation of my own hard work.
And, I stayed humble. I was never a snob or an arrogant bitch. I was friendly, always pleasant, and never acted like an intolerable "priss". I was never a "Tomboy" yet..my actions often conflicted with my appearance. For instance:
Growing up, my brother and I shared an army jeep….from the forties…with removable canvas top, sides, and doors. I enjoyed driving the stripped-down jeep with a stick-shift...which seemed to “impress” my guy-friends. I liked being smart. I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new.
For several summers, I worked along-side my father and his construction company crew. I took pride in learning how to set tile, lay brick, paint, and even hanging wallpaper. I also considered myself "handy" because I could drive my father's large, stick-shift trucks.
Most Sundays, I proudly drove the faithful but faded jeep to church. I still remember being all-dressed-up in high- heels, a hat, and matching gloves… and feeling as happy as a Queen.
I've never needed a fancy vehicle to define who-I-am.
THE MOST DEVASTATING TIME OF YOUR LIFE...IS WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT THE CHILDREN YOU LOVED FROM CONCEPTION...NEVER LOVED YOU. JUST BECAUSE YOU LOVE ANOTHER PERSON...DOESN'T MEAN
THAT PERSON IS CAPABLE OF LOVING YOU BACK.
IT'S TAKEN YEARS BUT I KNOW--FOR CERTAIN--THAT THOSE WITHOUT HEARTS CAN PRODUCE CHILDREN WITH THE SAME "HEARTLESSNESS." I NEVER WOULD HAVE BELIEVED IT POSSIBLE EXCEPT....I'VE LIVED IT. I WRITE ABOUT THE SUBJECT BECAUSE I KNOW THERE ARE MANY OF YOU WHO KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT; THAT THERE ARE MORE THAN A FEW OF YOU WHO, LIKE ME, HAVE BEEN ABANDONED....THROWN IN THE TRASH--LIKE GARBAGE-- BECAUSE WE NEVER "MEASURED UP" TO THE SKY-HIGH STANDARDS SET BY OUR CHILDREN.
FOR THOSE WITHOUT HEARTS...LOVE IS
A WASTE OF TIME.
Instead of returning to California after her Father’s Funeral in December of 2010, my youngest daughter, Rosemond, quite handy with a computer, remained in Pine Bluff to help stepmother secure more of Jack’s earnings from online sites like: The Veterans Administration, Social Security, Banks, Insurance Policies, Investments, etc.
One day, Rosemond called my home phone to give me a “piece of her mind.” She expressed her irritation with me, her outrage that only one day after her Daddy’s death, I was online with the Social Security office.
I listened to her rant: “Don’t you realize by getting to the Social Security Site first and announcing that your ex-husband was dead, you blocked Ann’s access to the Social Security Administration for almost one day?!?! Mother, Ann is Daddy’s widow—not you! She was married to Daddy a hell-of-a-lot more years than you! Ann needed my help on the computer to investigate her monetary status and you interfered with that process!" Rosemond was angry and, as she spoke, her dissatisfaction with me erupted, “Mother, out of respect for Daddy and Ann, why couldn’t you have waited before pushing your petty agenda?”
This is the same child who, in 1987, rode the train from NY City to Erie, Pennsylvania (I paid for the ticket), to spend Thanksgiving with me. Along the way, the train crew experienced some weather-induced track problems and once they reached Buffalo, NY, made the decision to end the trip at Buffalo.
Like Rosemond, many of the passengers were students going home for the holidays and the majority had tickets to Erie. She called me from Buffalo (collect of course, this was before cell phones) to tell me the bad news. She said " I’ll be waiting for you inside the Buffalo train depot. Just hurry because it's crowded, cold, and I'm sick." I told her to let me see what I could do and, always the dramatic pessimist, Rosemond said “Mother you can’t do anything! Just get in the car and drive to Buffalo to pick me up.” The Snow was waist deep in all directions. Most of the roads and highways in and out of Erie were closed. Trying to remain calm, I told Rosemond to call me back in 15 minutes, then hung up.
Thinking creatively……..I decided to test my “power of persuasion”. Knowing that bad weather can often create slow-news-days, I called Buffalo’s ABC television station and asked for the News Desk. Introducing myself as a former ABC show host from Little Rock, AR, I detailed a potential story: "Many train passengers are stranded in Buffalo, NY, and won’t be with family for the holidays. Sadly, most are college students who live in Erie, PA. I touched on the dictatorial manner used by the train crew when announcing their decision to end the train trip in Buffalo. I explained that my daughter was a passenger on the train and she was sick. An acting student from NYC, my daughter was headed to my house in Erie, PA, for a much-needed rest, good food, and TLC." The TV Producer asked her name, stating that the camera crew would need a contact person among the passengers.
Soon, the TV crew arrived at the Buffalo Train Station and, with cameras’ rolling, began interviewing the very-emotional passengers. I watched the TV News and, within twenty minutes, a railroad representative spoke to the TV Cameras, announcing that the railroad officials had reversed their earlier decision. The train to Erie, Pennsylvania would be “back on track” in thirty minutes.
It wasn’t long before I received a call from Rosemond, telling me what time to meet the train in Erie. Before hanging up, she scolded me for calling the TV station and “pressuring” the film crew to interview her. She was embarrassed… truly horrified to learn… HER MOTHER had used such “drastic measures”.
My reply: “The train is on track and ready to roll, right? I bet the other passengers would be happy to claim me as THEIR MOTHER. "
A 51-year-old beauty queen from Arkansas realized a lifelong dream recently when she completed a 4,200-mile jog of the Great Wall of China. Along the way, Sally Miller Perdue received threats. She was jailed. She got pneumonia. But she made it.
Earlier this month, she flew back to the United States and stated: "After a little rest, I would happily go back and do it again." After all, Chinese officials have just claimed the discovery of an additional 600-mile section of the wall in northern China. "I guess that's my next challenge," Perdue said. "Maybe, if I do that section I will finally lose my “always-a-beauty-queen-image."
Tell that to Playboy magazine, who, in 1989, offered Perdue, a finalist in the 1958 Miss America pageant, $35,000 to pose nude atop the Wall. She refused.
The above article appeared in both national and international newspapers. I enjoy sharing Playboy’s offer because it’s an interesting story. It was 1989---and I was living, working, and training in Houston, Texas, in preparation for my first-ever journey of the Great Wall of China.
One afternoon, I received a phone call from a woman in Chicago who introduced herself as Playboy’s public relations director. Having read publicity regarding my first-ever attempt to journey ALL THE WALL…. She said Playboy would pay 35,000 dollars for provocative photos of me...on the Great Wall of China.
Without hesitating, I declined. The Playboy director continued to argue with me, refusing to take no for an answer. Several days later, she called me back…offering to increase Playboy’s monetary sum to 50,000 dollars.
Once again, I refused her offer. I stood my ground saying “The Great Wall is China’s most-revered national monument. I would never cheapen my journey--or myself-- by committing such an affront to the Chinese people.”
Integrity is priceless.