This storyteller is no longer nervous

The following first appeared Oct. 3, 1995, in the Tribune:

A solo violinist who plays regularly for thousands of strangers might get shaky knees in a similar recital facing old friends and neighbors. It was like that when I gathered some things together and made an appointment with the Tribune's managing editor, Jim Robertson. I'd pleased some pretty important editors by mail, but I had never sat across the desk from one.

"You wouldn't want to buy any of my stuff, would you?" I asked, or words to that effect.

Robertson said, "Let me see what you have there," and I handed him a copy of some things I'd written for my seven grandchildren. "Granny's Notes," he read on the cover. "That's what we'll call it!"

It was that simple.

How fast the 52 Mondays have flown by! Writing for the home front is great fun. One week the auctioneer who sold me that truckload of used ice skates punched me on the shoulder and said, "I enjoyed that; I sold those skates to Manuel for 50 cents a pair, through the years." A longtime acquaintance and friend called about one of my early articles and said, "Oh, then you mean that your family really did have a fire and live in a tent for five months?" Yes, Dorothy, what I write is true to the best of my knowledge. If it's not, I'll say so.

Early on, a woman called the Tribune and asked, "Who is that Sue Gerard, anyway?" When told, "She's a pot thrower," she misunderstood and thought I was a pot grower! Not so. I "throw" pots of clay, on a potter's wheel.

Friends often say, "Tell about the time when we did this or that." I reply, "I'll think about it." People stop me on the street to say, "When you run out of ideas, do one about ..." I appreciate that, but the well is not going dry. There are five more volumes like the one Jim Robertson saw. He gave me free rein but suggested I keep each column to 500 to 600 words. That requires careful rewriting because I'm naturally wordy.

I used to meet our rural Tribune delivery person at midafternoon each Monday and search for "my" special page. Someone unknown to me wrote the titles, but I was usually happy with them. Once, when I omitted a word, someone inserted a word of a different meaning, and I was embarrassed because many readers know me well. Our roots here are deep.

My grandfather came to Boone County about 1860. Grandpa James L. Henry was a farmer, merchant, Confederate soldier and stagecoach driver between Sturgeon and Centralia. His oldest son, John L. Henry, was elected to Boone County offices for 24 consecutive years. Grandpa's oldest daughter was the wife of probate judge Arthur Bruton. Uncle Lawrence survived the trenches of World War I.

My brother and I were born on a dairy farm located near Stephens College's golf course. We both attended elementary and high schools operated by the University of Missouri and have bachelor's and master's degrees from MU. Our adult children and their families live here. We're pretty local, I'd say. 

I still face each Monday with anticipation, but my knees shake no more!

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