Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Column marks milestone alongside the Tribune

These first days of summer 2002 are exciting ones for the publishers of the Columbia Daily Tribune, Tribune Publishing Co. and me! The weather was pleasant Saturday, the people were happy, children played, the band performed, and hundreds viewed the Tribune’s new printing enterprise. We columnists met readers, old friends and newcomers to Columbia.

Saturday was also a milestone for me: I’ve now written "Granny’s Notes" for 400 weeks! In that time I’ve written about my many experiences, including these:

● As an infant born in Columbia two days before the triggering of World War I.

● As the second child of O.D. and Nancy Meyers.

● As a tomboy helping Dad with the work on our Boone County dairy farm.

● As a graduate of Missouri University’s laboratory, elementary and high schools and then MU’s journalism and education schools.

● As an instructor of swimming, life saving and recreation at Christian College, now Columbia College.

● As the wife of Walter Frank "Chub" Gerard, an MU School of Engineering student, dairyman, Coast Guardsman, Rural Electric employee and finally an MU inspector of new construction. Chub passed away in 1998 at age 88.

● As the mother of Nancy Russell, who is known for her Friends Together Antiques shop and her many years singing with the Sweet Adelines Chorus and Lucky Star Quartet.

● As the mother of Walter "Walt" Johnson-Gerard, who is known as the young boy who started Walt’s Bike Shop and who was later employed at Rusk Rehabilitation Center because "He can create just about anything." Walt now does similar work for DW Auto & Home Mobility Specialties Inc.

● As a female bike tourist in this country, Canada, Europe and China.

● As a retired woman digging and working with local clay,"telling history in three dimensions" with folk art and with wheel-thrown pottery, some of which was fired in a wood-burning kiln and glazed with salt.

Aging, I reverted to my experiences in journalism and wrote "My First 84 Years."

Then people said, "I wanted to know about bicycling in China and Newfoundland," or "You didn’t tell about Leonardo de Vinci or how Benjamin Franklin taught swimming or about the big change in CPR." Some said, "You must tell how to clean that clay you dig near the city limits of Columbia."

Others said, "I thought you’d tell about that frightening experience in the Berlin Corridor and the times you’ve dealt with drowning victims and about those big water shows the girls put on at the college - and about youth hostels."

The result of this was that I started another book! That was more than two years of writing, sorting through hundreds of photos and researching a wide variety of subjects. And no, the books are not a compilation of the Tribune’s "Granny’s Notes." Of course, I’ve lived only one life and some of the stories are similar, but I have worked for more depth, more "how to" and for totally different stories.

Peter Gerard, a student at Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland, is the designer and publisher of both of my books. He and two of his Scottish friends are visiting here this week. They’ll help us celebrate "My First 84 Years" and launch the second 100 stories.

Pete’s brother, Cole Gerard of New York City, was an important final editor, and he plans to join us for the launching. We’re planning a gala day for our staff.

The title of the book we launch? That was the first line I wrote because it helps me explain how I found time to do unusual things: "Just Leave the Dishes."

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