Letter to the Editor: Coyote attacks

Dear Editor:

First of all, I want to give my condolences to Michelle Mac-Lean over the loss her beloved dog, Maggie. Maggie was yet another victim of the rampant coyote problem in the city of Downey.

I am totally fed up and disappointed with the city of Downey's management of the coyote problem in our community. The city has issued many instructions and warnings on how to deal with coyotes, but these measures are ineffective.

Downey, like many other cities in Southern California, have taken their cues from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. These measures instruct people to take precautionary measures such as leaving their trash sealed, not leaving pet food out, shooing coyotes away if they encounter them. These are measures that so many people in Downey adhere to already, and they at not helping keep citizens or our beloved pets safe.

We need new and effective ways to manage this terrible coyote problem. The city is letting all of us down tremendously. They are leaving the coyote population unchecked and free to brutally maul, kill, and eat our family pets.

Any cursory research on coyotes in Southern California will show you that many cities, notably Long Beach, Irvine, and Seal Beach, have had countless pet deaths and dangerous run-ins with coyotes. Furthermore, any more cursory research online will show you that once coyotes begin to eat pets and lose their fear of people, they usually grow much bolder and begin to attack children and adults. 

Following the Department of Fish and Wildlife recommendations does nothing to help keep us or our pets safe. The city of Downey must take action now.

Pat Aldo
Downey

Paging Dr. Frischer: Prayer

Given my profession, it’s no surprise that I frequently hear the words “I will keep him (her) in my prayers.” It’s a very decent and human thing to say, and shows concern for a fellow human being. I often find myself saying something similar.

Is a strong religious faith good for our own health? Is there real, verifiable, power in prayer, and if so, can we scientifically measure whether praying for another’s health makes a difference? Just what are the important factors for healing: the actual prayer itself, or being a part of a religious community (or any community)?

What is clear is that it’s far easier to measure the effect of a medication on, say, blood pressure, than to measure the effect of prayer on health.

Of course, those of you who are devoutly religious will neither seek nor need my confirmation or denial of the power of faith or prayer in healing.

The effectiveness of prayer has been the topic of various scientific studies since at least the late 1800s. In the early 20th century, Florence Nightingale, a pioneer of modern nursing, was a believer in the effects of prayer. She wrote: “Often when people seem unconscious, a word of prayer reaches them.” More recently, the Washington Post wrote: “...prayer is the most common complement to mainstream medicine, far outpacing acupuncture, herbs, vitamins and other alternative remedies.” 

However, recent medical studies on prayer have shown mixed results.

There is evidence that those with strong connections to a religious community are healthier and live longer lives. The director of Duke’s Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health found that regular worshipers live longer. An additional analysis “indicates people who are more religious and pray more have better mental and physical health.” Scientific measurements show more optimism and lower blood pressure. 

A study from the University of Texas showed that there is a seven-year improvement in life expectancy for those who attend church weekly over those who never do. A study published in the U.S. Journal of Gerontology revealed that atheists had a significantly increased chance of dying over a six-year period than did the “faithful.” The American Society of Hypertension found that churchgoers have lower blood pressure than non-churchgoers.

However, these studies didn’t examine the specific impact of prayer itself. Scientific studies on the impact of prayer have indeed been conducted, often within a medical setting. These studies have used different structural methods, and measured both hard data (such as changes in blood pressure) and soft data (such as anxiety levels and number of doctor visits). They have measured first-person effects (where the beneficiary performs the prayer), second-person effects (where someone with a personal connection to the beneficiary performs the prayer), and third-party effects (where a group of unknown people pray for the beneficiary).

If prayer affects health – one way or the other - then patients, doctors and policymakers should all want to know. However, results have been inconsistent. Many factors complicate the outcomes. There may be biases implicit in the study design, depending on who is conducting the research, and what their own beliefs or end-goals are. How is “dose” to be quantified, as it is in other scientific studies? Is one person’s prayer less than that of an entire group? Are some particular prayers or individuals more powerful than others? What is the mechanism by which prayer works? Does a positive result represent intervention by a higher power, or some unknown energy…or a placebo effect?

Many agree that the power of prayer is a complex issue that would need considerably more hard evidence before the scientific community can count on it as a therapeutic intervention. 

However, let me go out on a limb and conclude with this: In a world divided by politics, race, gender, religion, and economics, I see no harm and in fact great benefit from becoming connected to the well being of the world and everyone in it through prayer, or simply loving thoughts. 

When I look at this subject and the data available, it reminds me to continue to improve my own connections to my community, religion, profession, family, and friends for love, support and health.

Dr. Alan Frischer is former chief of staff and former chief of medicine at Downey Regional Medical Center. Write to him in care of this newspaper at 8301 E. Florence Ave., Suite 100, Downey, CA 90240.

Shared Stories: On the Edge of Danger

If you’re planning a trip down the Colorado River, or even if you’re not, Elaine Held’s account gives a good idea of what to expect.  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns

By Elaine Held


Standing on the edge of the world I was fascinated with the ribbon of water snaking around corners far below. The Grand Canyon is aptly named. Every moment changes the color and formation of the water.  

My experience with the Canyon had always been from the top but now I had a chance to experience the wonder from below with my husband. He had made the trip twelve times before and the men had decided it was time for their wives to be introduced to the magnificent beauty from below.

When we arrived at the jumping off spot the boats were waiting for us. For some reason we were made to wait a long time.  I finally made Bill tell me what was going on.  

He explained we couldn’t start until the Forest Service found the body below us. A man had stepped on his boat the night before and slipped off to his death.

Finally, we boarded the boats with our hearts in our throats. We had two rafts about 16 ft. long and one gargantuan raft that would help carry our stuff. The first day was a learning day.  
Nothing can be left behind, so a huge ammo can with a toilet seat on it sufficed for a bathroom. Second: you never go on board a boat at night. Third: Everyone helps with everything. Last: if there is an emergency, get out of the way.

It takes a while to get used to the world upside down. The walls of the canyon go straight up both sides, creating a small, narrow plantless world. At night the sky is outlined by a ribbon of stars above. 

You keep your personal things in a small ammo can so nothing gets wet. The first night we sat around in chairs and got to know each other better. In the morning our ammo can was open and some things were missing. That wasn’t possible.  

Everyone became a detective, but no one could figure it out. The cans were latched in a way they could not come open on their own. We were in the wilds so no person could have done this.  

The next night our guide, Steve, sat up all night with his camera. Sure enough, as we slept, a long, slim furry body crept from ammo can to ammo can. This animal had a long ringed tail and was named for it. A ringed tailed cat. They have thumbs as raccoons do, so they deftly opened each can and took only what they wanted.  

Two nights later, as we sat in our chairs, a mountain lion walked right between us to the water. After drinking his fill, he walked back near enough to us so that I could have touched him.

For the entire trip, Bill described to me the most terrifying rapid called Crystal. My fear grew and by the time we got there, so I was honestly thinking of walking around it. I couldn’t do that, but I expected to end up in the river.  

We got out and the men went high to observe the water. They had enough experience to read water and knew how to run the rapid by figuring the water. When I got to where I could see it, my terror exploded. As I watched, two people in kayaks ran it and both flipped and rolled until they were through, and then they righted.

Our turn. I concentrated on trusting my husband. Immediately my world was filled with water. Water in every shape roared around me. Bouncing through on rough water we exploded out of the other side. I was alive.  

The water calmed and Bill brought our boat to the side to watch the others. The other two boats both flipped. The smaller one flipped straight backwards and everyone got to the boat as soon as they could. 

One woman was caught under her boat, but Bill got a hold of the edge and she had room to get out from under. We dragged her into our boat. When everyone was accounted for Bill asked if I saw Crystal when we went through?  

Really! He was so excited because the water was a perfect whirlpool and he could see the bottom of the river.

Now I could relax the rest of the way, which I did. Laughing, Bill said there was a little rapid ahead. I wasn’t even looking at it until it ripped me off my seat into the water. Shocked, I turned toward the boat.  

Bill was frantically motioning to me to get to the boat. Not understanding, I did what he was motioning. When I got there he grabbed the bottom of my swimming suit and literally threw me over the side into the boat.  

When I turned, I saw I had been between a huge rock and the boat.  Only then did I look to see why my ankles hurt. We had been told at the beginning to tie our tennis shoes tight so if we went over we wouldn’t lose them. I had done as told but the water was so powerful it tore both my shoes off and my ankles were bleeding. I still have the scars.

Some memories are forever. The beauty we witnessed was heightened by the excitement of being on the edge of danger.
 

Op-Ed: L.A. Times owes Whittier police chief an apology

By the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association

The Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association (LACPCA) Executive Committee fully agrees with a recent Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff’s (ALADS) blog that called for an “abject apology” from the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board to Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper for its claim that Chief Piper “misused” the tragic death of one of his officers to “…lash out at recent criminal justice reforms.” 

Moreover, we believe an earlier ALADS blog was also correct in stating the Los Angeles Times editorial against Chief Piper’s statements was “…a careful parsing of words intended to reach a misleading conclusion.” 

Ironically, the same can be said of those that supported the passage of Proposition 47 (in 2014) by referring to it as, The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act when, in fact, the Proposition’s ballot description was: "reduces the classification of most nonviolent crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor." The website Ballotpedia reports that donations in favor of Proposition 47 reached a level of nearly $11,000,000 during its campaign, while donations against the measure came in at a mere $500,000. 

One can only wonder what the effects of the Proposition 47 campaign might have been had supporters been frank with California citizens about its true description on the 2014 ballot initiative.

The Los Angeles Times editorial in question suggested, amongst other things, that Chief Piper provided “false or misleading statements” in a calculated fashion to sway opinion on important policy matters. We believe that nothing could be further from the truth. Chief Piper’s statements were neither false nor misleading for many reasons – to include those so clearly demonstrated and articulated in the ALADS Blog. 

Still, it is our opinion that the Times editorial went well beyond the reasonable discourse of thought and opinion by specifically attacking Chief Piper for general statements he made during his first news appearance following the tragic murder of one of his police officers. Statements, again, that are well supported by data and information articulated in the ALADS blog. 

In its effort to support the arguably failing social experiment that is Public Safety Realignment - AB 109 today, we believe the Los Angeles Times editorial is also missing the significant difference between the Real Cause and Proximate Cause of events. The editorial suggests that focus should be given to the shortcomings of the alleged killer’s Los Angeles County Probation supervision while on Post-Release Community Supervision from prison, and not the underlying bills or proposition themselves that, as the editorial stated, “…empower counties to better manage their criminal populations.” 

What the Times is missing here in its attack against Chief Piper and other “officials” in the article is that its premise and opinion, at best, deals only with the proximate cause of the issue – where Chief Piper’s statements more accurately pertain to the real cause. Following his parole in April 2016, and pursuant to AB 109 guidelines, the alleged suspect in the murder of Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer was released to County Probation Department supervision, and not State Parole. State Parole violations are taken significantly more serious and can increase jail sentences for violators for up to one year. As a result, the alleged suspect entered into a supervised system that carried with it a maximum 10-day jail sentence for violating the terms of his release from county jail or prison as a general practice. 

The LACPCA Executive Committee is confident that, absent the implementation of AB 109, Officer Boyer never would have been confronted by his alleged killer on February 20, 2017, because his alleged killer most likely would have been in state custody as a result of violating the terms of his (parole) release in upwards of five times since April 2016.

The Times editorial also suggests that compromise rests with the proximate cause of how Officer Boyer’s alleged killer was supervised while on release. Yet, it’s clear to us that Chief Piper’s statements referred to why the alleged killer was not incarcerated in the first place. We recognize that the alleged killer was not released from prison early, and Chief Piper never specifically made that statement during his initial remarks to the media following the death of Officer Boyer. Rather, as reported by the Times editorial, the Chief stated, “We need to wake up…enough is enough. You’re passing these propositions, you’re creating these laws…It’s not good for our community (and) it’s not good for our officers.” 

In its haste to support a specific narrative, we believe the Times editorial jumped to the conclusion that neither AB 109 nor Proposition 47 had an impact on this tragic event whatsoever merely because the alleged killer had not been released early from prison, etc. The Times is missing the point. Simply stated, the alleged killer was being supervised in conjunction with AB 109 following his release from prison which carried considerably less consequences for his cumulative probation violations than the state’s parole system would have prior to the passage of AB 109. We believe that to be the difference between proximate cause and real cause on this matter – in full support, appreciation, and understanding of Chief Piper’s statements on February 20, 2017. 

For these reasons and more, the Los Angeles Police Chiefs Association Executive Committee agrees with ALADS and others that the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board owes an apology to Chief Jeff Piper for their misguided claims against him and his statements.
 

The Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association is a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation consisting of the Police Chief Executives of the 45 independent cities in Los Angeles County. The Association focuses on advancing the science and art of police administration and crime prevention in Los Angeles County; coordinating the implementation of law enforcement efforts by local law enforcement leaders; and developing, teaching, and disseminating professional law
 

Dr. William Smith, Downey physician, dies at 86

DOWNEY -- Dr. William John Smith, MD, a longtime resident of Downey, passed away at his home March 19 at age 86. 

He was born Oct. 16, 1930 in Alberta, Canada. He graduated from Loma Linda in 1960 and spent 50 years practicing medicine as a general practitioner off 3rd Street in Downey. 

He was a teacher before studying to become a doctor. His greatest joy was flying his airplane. 
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Darlene; son, Mark; and two daughters, Michelle and Laura; along with many nieces and nephews. 

He was predeceased in death by all his siblings: Gwen, Bob, Dan and Victor. 

There will be no memorial service. 

Open letter to DUSD

Please reconsider moving the 2017 school board election to November 2018 to increase turnout and engagement in Bellflower, Downey, South Gate, and Bell Gardens, according to new options in state law and to match city council elections in Bellflower and Downey for 2018.

Bellflower Unified voted last month to switch to 2018.

John Paul Drayer
Bellflower

Robert John Naretta March 7, 2017

Robert John Naretta, 64, of Downey, California, passed away March 7, 2017 at his home in Downey. He will be missed by all his family and friends who dearly loved him.

Second of seven children, he was born November 21, 1952 to Eva Gisela and William John Naretta at St Francis Hospital in Inglewood, CA. After moving from Inglewood to Bellflower in 1966, “Bobby” graduated from “Bellflower High School” in 1970. He was honored by the City of Bellflower with the prestigious Community Service Award presented to a deserving Senior. He had a passion for his work in the Drama Department. But even then, he preferred to stay behind the scenes and the spotlight!!


After graduation, Bobby went to work as an Equipment Mechanic for Asco Sintering. The skills he learned would serve him well for the rest of his life as he continued to work in the field of large equipment and Crane Maintenance. He had his own company for a time Consulting others on Computer Controlled Equipment Maintenance and repair. He also worked with a long-time friend in developing and maintaining High Tech Indoor Driving ranges, traveling to Japan and the Far East, Europe and all over North America. He currently worked for Ellison Technology as a Service Engineer.


Bob’s passion in life has been his Service with the Elks Club. He belonged to the Downey Elks Lodge #2020 where he served several years as Secretary and was recently awarded the Elk of the Year Honor in January of this year. Bob was an extremely private and Humble man who always thought of what he could do for others.


He was preceded in death by his Father, William John Naretta. He is survived by his Mother, Eva, of Seal Beach, his Sisters & Brothers; Christine (&Tony) Worley of Hesperia, Cindy (& Dick) Kirkland of Sparks, NV, Richard (& Loretta) of Redding, Cecilia (&Mike) Luckinbill of Riverside, John (& Diane) of Chino Hills and Mary (& Phil) Alfano of Patterson, CA and his dear friend and Roommate Chris Brown. He is also survived by 16 nieces & nephews and 20 grand nieces and nephews.


In lieu of Flowers the family would ask that you make donations in Bobby’s name to his Elks lodge #2020.


A Celebration of Life is planned for Saturday, March 18, at 10:00 am, (reception immediately following) at the Downey Elks Lodge, 11233 Woodruff Ave, Downey, CA 90241 (Behind the BofA Building), (562)803-3557. It will be followed by a Private Scattering ceremony at Sea.

Middle school baseball, softball seasons wrap up

DOWNEY – The Downey Unified School District middle school sports program concluded its fourth rotation of baseball and softball Wednesday afternoon. There were four city championships up for grabs in varsity and junior varsity baseball and varsity and junior varsity softball.

In varsity baseball, Sussman is currently in first place with a record of 4-1, Stauffer is in second place with a record of 2-2-1, Griffiths is in third place with a record of 2-3 and Doty is in fourth place with a record of 1-3-1. Sussman has clinched the city championship outright but traveled to Doty on Wednesday.

In junior varsity baseball, Doty is currently in first place with a record of 5-0, Sussman is in second place with a record of 4-1, Stauffer is in third place with a record of 1-4 and Griffiths is in fourth place with a record of 0-5. Doty has clinched at least a share of the city championship and needed to defeat Sussman Wednesday to win the city championship outright (score unavailable at press time).

In varsity softball, Doty and Griffiths are currently tied for first place with records of 4-1, Sussman is in third place with a record of 2-3 and Stauffer is in fourth place with a record of 0-5. If Doty and Griffiths both won their final games against Sussman and Stauffer on Wednesday respectively, they will share a city championship.

In junior varsity softball, Griffiths currently is in first place with a record of 4-0-1, Doty is in second place with a record of 3-1-1, Sussman is in third place with a record of 2-3 and Stauffer is in fourth place with a record of 0-5. If Griffiths won their final game against Stauffer on Wednesday, the Lady Indians will clinch the city championship outright.

■ The Warren High School baseball team currently has an overall record of 5-1 and will begin S.G.V.L. play when they travel to Paramount on April 4. 

The Bears are currently competing in the Quartz Hill Tournament where they are 2-1. Warren defeated Canyon at East Los Angeles College 1-0 on 3/9, defeated Eastside 12-0 at Antelope Valley College on 3/11, were defeated by Quartz Hill 10-5 on Tuesday and played Lancaster on Wednesday (score unavailable at press time).

The Bears will travel to Redlands East Valley later today, will travel to Cantwell-Sacred Heart next Tuesday and will host Laguna Beach at Warren next Friday in doubleheader action. The Bears have had a busy preseason schedule and things will stay that way until Warren travels to Paramount on April 4. Cross-town rival Downey, Gahr and Paramount will once again be the teams to beat in league play.  

 ■ The Warren High School softball team currently has an overall record of 3-2 and will begin S.G.V.L. play when they travel to Paramount on April 4. 

Warren recently competed in the Redondo Union Tournament where they went 3-1. The Bears were defeated by Mayfair at Warren 5-0 on 3/7.

Warren will travel to Kennedy on 3/23 to play a doubleheader and are also scheduled to host Millikan on 3/27 in doubleheader action. The Bears will also be competing in the La Mirada Showcase Tournament the weekends of April 1 and April 8. 

Warren has had a busy preseason schedule and things will stay that way until the Bears travel to Paramount on April 4. The Gahr Gladiators were the undefeated 2016 S.G.V.L. champions with a record of 10-0. Cross-town rival Downey and Gahr will once again be the teams to beat in league play. 

■ The Downey High School baseball team currently has an overall record of 2-6 and will begin San Gabriel Valley League play when they host Dominguez on April 4. 

The Vikings have just concluded the Loara Tournament where they finished with a record of 2-3.

The Vikings were defeated by Pacifica at Pacifica 8-4 on 3/2, defeated Irvine at Downey 2-0 on 3/4, defeated Wilson at Downey 4-1 on 3/7, were defeated by Millikan at Downey 4-3 on 3/9 and were defeated by Santa Margarita at Santa Margarita 9-5 on 3/11 to conclude the tournament. 

The Vikings were defeated by Long Beach Poly at Downey 6-5 on Tuesday, traveled to Narbonne yesterday and will host Western next Tuesday. The Vikings have had a busy preseason schedule and things will stay that way until the start of league play on April 4. Gahr, Paramount and cross-town rival Warren will once again be the teams to beat in league play. 

Coach Gonzalez, his staff and players are all looking forward to the start of league play. The Vikings finished last season with an overall record of 13-17 and a S.G.V.L. record of 6-4. Downey defeated Redlands at Downey 7-1 in a play-in game before being defeated by Mission Viejo at Mission Viejo 7-1 in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 2 playoffs.

■ The Downey High School girls’ lacrosse team currently has an overall record of 2-2 and began Ocean League play Wednesday against Beverly Hills at Downey (score unavailable at press time). 

The Lady Vikings were defeated by Palisades at Palisades 6-5 on 3/1, were defeated by Crescenta Valley at Downey 7-2 on 3/4, defeated El Segundo at Downey 12-2 on 3/7 and defeated Peninsula at Peninsula 10-2 on 3/8.

Downey will travel to Culver City later today, will travel to El Segundo next Wednesday, will host Santa Monica next Friday and will host Tustin on 3/31. 

The Lady Vikings compete in the Ocean League with Culver City, Beverly Hills, Marlborough and Santa Monica. Downey was the 2106 Ocean League champion after finishing last season with an overall record of 12-5 and a league record of 6-0. 

Downey is the only school that fields a team from the San Gabriel Valley League which explains why the Lady Vikings compete in the Ocean League for lacrosse.

Coach Mires, his staff and players are all looking forward to the start of league play. The Lady Vikings are currently ranked 1274 in the nation and 95 in California.

Shared Stories: My Second Home


Road trips with her father to his home in rural Arkansas were “golden,” formative experiences for Sabreen Adeeba, despite the obstacles facing black families as they traveled in that era.  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns


By Sabreen Adeeba

When I was a young girl I recall my father and I leaving the hustle and bustle of big city life in Los Angeles.  

The familiarity of school, new construction, urban churches, taxi cabs, buses, neon lights, and sirens in the night were exchanged for summer vacations to the South, where my father was born and raised.  El Dorado, Arkansas, was a simpler life and a second home for me.

Road trips were an enjoyable memory for transportation to Arkansas.  I and my father enjoyed traveling by car.  We always began the trip with food he had prepared.

Sometimes I sat in the front of the car with my father, but my favorite place was the backseat where I colored, played with my dolls, and, as I became older, loved to read.  Most of all, I admired the views – horses grazing, cattle, and mountains.

We drove through three states before we arrived in Arkansas – Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. In Arizona there were grand canyons, so colorful. My favorite were orange, though they were all beautiful.  

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New Mexico was my favorite state. It was so cultural and very visual. My father would buy sombreros, moccasins, and jewelry to take home as souvenirs or gifts.  

The last state we passed through was not as intriguing as Arizona or New Mexico. It became a learning experience.  

Hungry and tired my father and I stopped at a small café in Texas. We sat down at a table and waited to be served. We never were. The treatment of the waitress towards us left me confused and my father angry.

“Let’s get the hell out of here,” I remember him saying as I followed him out the door.  

We never stopped at hotels when we traveled to Arkansas. My father usually pulled over to a truck stop where there were restrooms and we slept in the car. All in all, I stilled loved the road trips to Arkansas.

I loved the big farmhouse my father grew up in with acres of farmland, the smell of fresh grass and the distinct color of soil that resembled red clay in looks and touch.  

I have memories of a warm breeze caressing my cheeks, colorful butterflies, beautiful and free. Honey bees sucked pollen from flowers, while birds sang sweet melodies from their nests in the trees.  Hens clucked happily about the yard.  

Rural mornings awakened us with the aroma of baking biscuits in a country oven and the crispy smell of freshly-sliced bacon from Uncle Charlie’s smokehouse. Grits were simmering in butter, fresh eggs from the hen house were waiting to be scrambled or fried, or sunny-side up.  
Jams, preserves, maple syrup and butter, which was kept cool in the cellar, sat on a long wooden table in the kitchen where we all enjoyed the tasty delight called breakfast.

Lunch was simple for us kids involved in rigorous play. Lunch might not be more than biscuits left over from breakfast, with honey and lemonade, or cornbread and buttermilk.

Suppers were early in the South and may consist of fresh collard greens from a well-kept garden that I helped pick and wash. Hot water cornbread, yams, Aunt Betty Mae’s mac and cheese. Fried chicken or fish was a specialty.  each cobbler, sweet potato pie, pecan pies were not uncommon for dessert.

After supper, when the dishes were washed, dried, and put away, we all sat outside on the wide porch. The elders told folk tales, sang blues, and played guitars. All was golden to a young girl’s memories.

Aunts, uncles, and cousins always came to visit when we came to Arkansas. Some stayed while we were there. Days were filled with Southern glee, plus joy. I was never bored.

Arkansas was as much my home as Los Angeles, if not more.  My last visit to Arkansas was at the age of 13, but I remember it like yesterday, when I was a young girl.