Storm Clouds Threaten Fun on the Fourth in Shady Pines

Storm Clouds Threaten Fun on the Fourth in Shady Pines

Could Storms Drench The Fourth?

It’s won’t be long now.  That very American holiday, the Fourth of July is right around the corner.  Excitement is building in the small Southern town of Shady Pines, but so are storm clouds.
This is the frst time our residents are welcoming visitors back to enjoy the festivities since the pandemic began two years ago.
As you can imagine, Mayor Beauregard P. Fibbs is thrilled. He loves to celebrate our nation’s Independance Day and to promote the good things about our story tellin’ town. Oh, and, let’s face it, he likes to ride in his big ‘ole car in the parade down Main Street.
Our mayor will tell anyone who will listen that we’re a tight knit community dedicated to kindness, caring and working together to solve problems. But one problem we didn’t plan for is brewing off the coast.
Tropical Storm Colin is churning in the Atlantic and threatening to deliver a wallop of rain and punishing winds over the holiday weekend. Those rains are already soaking the coastal regions in the South.
Mayor Fibbs and other Shady Pines leaders will  track this storm system closely to make sure they can still go ahead with everything that’s supposed to happen on Monday.

Monday’s Schedule

Besides the parade in the morning which is always a hoot, the Community Center is set to host an afternoon ice cream social for the kids.
Director Rita Morena says this year she’s adding water balloon tossing. The children will get into two straight lines as they form teams.
Then, each player takes a big step back from their teammate and tosses the balloon to them.
The opposite player must catch the balloon without popping it. If a balloon pops, that team is out.
“The idea is to have fun,” says Rita. “At the same time we show the kids the importance of teamwork to achieve their goals.”

Picnics and Sailing

Around 5 o’clock folks head down to Stonewall Park with their picnic baskets and coolers. A lot of our local business like Maggie’s Diner, Fred’s Corner Grocer and Cup ‘O Joe’s coffee shop donate food and drinks.
But everyone is encouraged to make somethig to share with others.  After all, sharing is a form of kindness. We’re all about that in Shady Pines.
Meanwhile, some teenagers will be taking part in the regional sailing races that are held on our lake every year on the Fourth. 
The folks attending the picnic in the park provide a built in cheering section for the kids and their racing boats.  And the winners of each division get a trophy.

Safety First On The Fourth

Once the sailboats are off the water and darkness falls it’s time for fireworks. This is one of our favorite traditions. We love to say, “Ah!” when seeing the explosions of color reflect off the lake.
It’s also a time to remind everyone that our pets and veterans can really be bothered by the sound of those booming explosions. Our small animals get scared, shiver with fear and look everywhere for a place to hide. If you know your neighbors have pets who respond negatively to fireworks, please be respectful.

Pets, Vets, and Kids

Likewise, men and women who have been to war, hear those sounds and it takes them right back to the horror of the battlefield. Look for a sign like this in front of someone’s house. If you see it make sure you don’t shoot off any backyard fireworks anywhere near their home.
Besides pets and veterans don’t forget to watch out for the safety of children as well.Shady Pines Story Town logo  Bottom line, in Shady Pines no matter what the weather or the holiday Compassion Never Takes a Holiday!
Summer Begins In Shady Pines!

Summer Begins In Shady Pines!

Summer Blazes In

It’s here! The actual start of summer has arrived. But for many folks in Shady Pines Story Town, it’s felt like summer for weeks now. Temperatures this June and even before that, have been soaring into the high 90’s. The air often feels like it’s 100 degrees or more.

Over at The Shady Pines Gazette news office, editor Zulah Talmadge has made a decision. She needs to get out and report on summer heat in the South.

“You have to admit this region has all sorts of weather extremes,” says Zulah as she looks for her tape recorder. “I mean we have tornadoes, droughts, fires, and of course we’re smack dab into hurricane season right now. But heat is a separate category!”

She heads downtown to Main Street to see what people are saying about this toasty start to the summer season.

Before she can pop into Maggie’s Diner where gosssip is served up right along with that day’s special sandwich, Zulah runs into Kim Dunworthy. Mail carrier Kim is coming out of Cup ‘O Joe’s coffee shop.

Clearly she has her hands full.

“Hey Kim, may I help you?” asks Zulah.

“Oh, yes Ms. Zulah. That’s very kind of you,” says Kim as she stoops and tries to collect the packages and letters she’s dropped. “I think I got a little ambitious about the number of things I could carry at one time.”

Zulah leans down and helps her collect the scattered items. “While you’re here Kim, maybe you can help me out.”

“Sure. What do you need?”

“I’m doing a story about summer heat in the South, ” says Zulah. “You grew up in neighboring River City, what’s your take?”

“I look at the summer heat as our very own sweat badge of courage,” says Kim. “We seem to cope with sweltering heat that would undo most folks. And, in the words of my momma, we handle it gracefully.”

Zulah chukles as she makes notes in her reporter’s notebook. “That’s great. Thank you Kim. See ya later.”

“See ya Ms. Zulah.”

It’s not enough for Southerners to bravely endure the heat. One thing Zulah knows for sure. They love to talk about it. She decides to do some man – and women – on the street interviews.

“Excuse me ma’am. I’m Zulah Talmadge with The Shady Pines Gazette. When I say summer heat, what comes to mind?”

The stately lady in the flowing dress and wide brimmed hat dabs her face with her hankerchief. “As a Southern woman, I say we don’t sweat. We glisten.”

Zulah nods. “Got it.”

Here are some other reactions Zulah heard.

People Are Talking

  • It’s not the heat – it’s the humidity
  • It’s hotter than Blue Blazes
  • Is it hot enough for ya?
  • Man, it’s hot as all get-out!
  • It must be 90 in the shade
  • This one’s gonna be a sorcher
  • You could fry an egg on the sidewalk

How Hot Is It Really?

  • It’s so hot the swimming pool is boiling
  • It’s so hot the ice cream truck has melted
  • It’s like a steam bath out here
  • I’m wilting
  • I’m burning slap up
  • Could I stick my face in your deep freeze for just a second?

Be Careful In The Heat

After listening to all the colorful ways her neighbors talk about extreme heat, Zulah wants her article to include a reminder. “This kind of extreme heat can be dangerous, especially to kids, the elderly and to our pets. We really need to take some precautions.”

Zulah finds an article: ‘High temperatures and extreme heat can cause children to become sick very quickly in several ways. It can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke​, which is a medical emergency.’  For more information go to:

Final Thoughts

Zulah heads back to The Gazette office with loads of information for her article. She’s discovered some important things.

“It’s amazing how many expressions Southerners can haul out to explain just how dang uncomfortable it really is in our neck of the woods,” says Zulah. “We seem to use humor as a way to deal with extreme situations. At the same time, we need to take dangerous summer heat seriously and watch out for one another.”

And that’s the the most important takeaway of all in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.

A Father’s Day Salute to Shady Pines’ Favorite Dad

A Father’s Day Salute to Shady Pines’ Favorite Dad

 A Father’s Day Gift of Love

We’re just days away now from an important date on the calendar. Father’s Day is celebrated nationwide on Sunday, June 19th.

In Shady Pines on this lazy Sunday afternoon in the Sanders’ home, Harold Sanders is feeling a little down.

He’s in the den slouched on his big, comfy chair watching his favorite baseball team on TV.

It’s late in the game and Harold’s guys are two runs ahead of the other team. What’s so bad?

Harold should be happy. But it’s the commercials that are affecting his mood.

Selling The Day

“Why do they make such a fuss about Father’s Day?” he wonders out loud. “It’s ridiculous.”

Harold’s wife, Edna, is across the room lounging on the couch. She’s looking through recipes in her latest cooking magazine while listening to the ballgame. “What’s that dear?”

Harold swivels and faces her. “I’m sick and tired of all the fuss these advertisements make to get people to buy the right gift for Father’s Day. What IS the Right gift? It’s just a way for companies to sell stuff and make money.”

Edna can see that he’s upset. “Honey, what’s really wrong?” she asks.

Harold turns the volume down on the TV. “What’s supposed to happen when your children are covered in fur? They’re not going to buy me a mower.”

When The Kids Have 4 Legs

Before Edna can answer, a silver cat in full flight charges into the room chased by a handsome Australian Shepherd dog. “Halley, you are such a pain. Give me my toy back!”

Halley’s Comet carries a small chew toy in her mouth. In one clean leap she lands on the wooden desk in the corner of the room. “I don’t see your name on it, Booo-mer-rang!”

“You know darn well that’s my toy,” says Boomer. “Dad gave it to me for my birthday.”

“Funny, I don’t remember that,” says Halley looking down at the angry pooch.

Boomer points at the toy. “Well look at it, will ya!”

Harold sighs, gets up, and walks over to the desk. He throws the birthday cake toy down to Boomer and slings Halley over his shoulder while stroking her back.  “Halley my girl, you love to taunt him, don’t you?”

Edna agrees. “Yes she does. Sibling rivalry just like human brothers and sisters.”

Harold delivers Halley to Edna’s lap and then gets down on the floor to address Boomer. He pets the dog’s head. “Boomer my boy. I love you but you don’t need to get so riled up. Halley lives for that.”

Harold moves over to sift through the toy basket under the desk. “He holds up Mr. rubber lizard. “C’mon Halley. Come here, girl.”

It’s All About Love and Kindness

Halley jumps off of Edna’s lap and trots happily across the room. Harold gives her the toy. “You know I love you, too, girl. But, please, play with your own toys.”

Harold looks over at Edna who is smiling. “What?” he asks.

“Do you know what a wonderful father you are? You show our kids love and kindness everyday. And they love you right back. Look at them.”

Harold still sits on the floor and realizes that his children are beside him.

Harold lowers and shakes his head. “What’s the matter with me?” he asks. “I have a wonderful wife and a couple of rambuctious, terrific kids who love me. I am a lucky husband and father indeed!”

Edna joins him on the floor and hugs him. “Yes, and besides that, they may have something for you next Sunday that you’re not expecting.”

Be Careful What You Wish For

Harold looks straight into her eys. “Oh, please tell me it will not be crawling, slithering or flying through the house. You know how our daughter likes to surprise us!”

Edna laughs. Boomer barks. Halley tilts her head and thinks about what “gift” she can catch and bring to dad. Birds are fun…

And that’s how we leave the Sanders on a lovely Sunday in the small Southern town of Shady Pines!

Boomer and Halley Worry. Are We Safe in Shady Pines?

Boomer and Halley Worry. Are We Safe in Shady Pines?

Are We Safe?

Troubling images flicker across the TV at the Sanders house near downtown Shady Pines. It’s the same in households across the country.

Edna Sanders tries to prepare dinner. But her attention keeps being drawn to the screen on the kitchen counter.

It’s been this way ever since news of the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas was first broadcast. Nineteen elementary students and two teachers gunned down by an 18 year old man with an assault rifle.


“This is horrible,” says Edna. “Those poor little kids. Their parents and families. Those brave teachers. That town. It’s just too much.” Edna buries her face in her hands.

The back door opens and Edna’s husband, Harold arrives with the family’s dog, Boomerang. He took the handsome Australian Shepherd with him to work at his Nut’s ‘N Bolts hardware store. “Honey, we’re home.”

Harold unclicks the leash from Boomer’s collar, hangs it on its hook, and strokes the dog’s head. “I’m proud of you, Boomer. You were a very good boy today.”

Meanwhile, Halley’s Comet has been snoozing on her favorite window seat. The silver streak of a cat is worried. “Why’s mom so emotional? What is she watching on TV that has her in tears?” Once Halley sees Boomer coming through the door, the elegant cat has a complete change of mood.

Offering Comfort

“What on earth could you have done to make dad proud of you?” asks an annoyed Halley.

“Oh, wouldn’t you like to know?” snarls Boomer.

“Not really.”

“I greeted everyone. A lot of them were upset. They petted me and seemed to calm down.”

“That’s surprising. You have the opposite effect on me.” But it got Halley’s attention. “Mom’s been really upset, too.”

Harold takes one look at his wife and rushes to her. “Edna, sweetie, what wrong?”

Edna gets up from sitting at the kitchen table and gives him a hug. “I feel such deep sorrow for everyone in Uvalde. I can’t help wonder, what if that happened here?”

Harold looks at her. “I know what you mean. That’s what everyone is talking about at the store.”

Edna dabs her eyes with a paper napkin. “We like to feel we’re safe in our small Southern town.”

Harold nods. “Yea, except, these mass shootings keep happening at stores, malls, concerts, places where people worship, and again at an elementary school!”

A Loving Family

Boomer crosses the room and plops his favorite rawhide bone at the feet of his parents.

“Why did ya do that?” asks Halley.

“I want them to know I love them.”

With that, Halley wanders over and rubs against her parent’s legs. “Okay, that is actually kinda nice.”

Both Harold and Edna reach down and hug their four-legged children.

“We love you two SO much,” says Edna.

Harold agrees. “And we will do whatever we can to keep you both safe. I just hope it will always be enough.”

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Shady Pines Asks: What Is Your Memorial Day Celebration Missing?

Shady Pines Asks: What Is Your Memorial Day Celebration Missing?

 Setting The Right Tone for Memorial Day


Hi everyone. I’m Mayor Beauregard Fibbs here today with a message that’s a little more serious than usual. You see I have a family member serving in the Marine Corps.

That’s why I’m asking you to use a slightly different approach to this upcoming holiday.

Memorial Day in Shady Pines usually includes a weekend filled with celebrations. It’s also a time to mark the unofficial start of summer.

Teach The Children Well

But there’s something beyond the parades, the picnics, and the family gatherings that often gets lost.

What about the true meaning of Memorial Day?

Do we tell the kids what this national holiday means to our country’s history, our nation’s warriors, and their families?

This is a really awesome learning opportunity not to be missed. Here are some ideas that can make it fun, too!

1) Create and fly the American flag

Help the kids make an American flag craft using construction paper or simply have your kids each draw their best American flag on paper. Staple the completed flags onto straws for flying.

If you own an American flag, you can teach older kids how to fly and fold the flag. There are 13 folds to the American flag and each has a special meaning. Hey adults, here’s where you may even learn something new too!

2) Visit and pay tribute 

You can visit a local Veteran’s cemetery or war memorial. To show honor and respect, bring flowers to place on a grave or at the memorial in remembrance of our nation’s fallen heroes. I’ll be doing this.

If you feel comfortable, as a family you can pray pray for the Veterans lost during service and sacrifice.

3) Sing a few patriotic songs

Why not teach your children America the Beautiful, the National Anthem or say the Pledge of Allegiance, and talk about the meaning behind each one.

Remind your kids to stand and place their hands over their hearts during these songs. This is a perfect way to show them the importance of honoring the sacrifices made by those in our military to protect our nation’s freedom.

4)  Observe a Memorial Day Tradition

Our nation’s flag is flown at half staff until noon to remember Amrica’s fallen soldiers. Aftern noon it is raised to full staff as a symbol to show hope beyond death and to honor the heroes that are still with us. Did you know that?

5) Take a Moment for Silence

Finally, in 2000, Congress passed “The National Moment of Rememberance.”  It asks that “Americans voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of rememberance and respect.”

The idea is for you to stop whatever you’re doing and bow your head for a moment of silent remembering.

Or, you can listen to the playing of “Taps. It’s all done at 3PM local time as a symbol of national unity.


From all of us in Shady Pines Story Town we wish you and your loved ones a safe and meaningful Memorial Day weekend!

– Mayor Beauregard P. Fibbs

May Your Milestones Be Celebrated

May Your Milestones Be Celebrated

Shady Pines Celebrates With Gusto

May is one of those months where there’s so much going on. We just got finished with May Day, Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby and Mother’s Day. Whew! And now there’s more on the calendar with graduations, anniversaries, birthdays and more.

I’m Zulah Talmadge with The Shady Pines Gazette and we have it all covered for you.

Look over there. Why at the Shady Pines Elementary School there’s a graduation going on. All those little tykes have been looking forward to this day.

Graduation Day

But first, they present a play the’ve been working on for months. The moms, dads, family members and friends are just tickled pink to see them perform on the stage at the Shady Pines Community Center next door to the school.

Their version of Peter Pan included the messages that ‘anything is possible’ and ‘dreams do come true.’

Next is the actual graduation ceremony. You’ve never seen so many cameras and phones fly out of purses and pockets. This is an event that a family wants to preserve for all time. And don’t the kids look cute in their caps and gowns? It was a fairly small graduation class this year but there was nothing small about the joyous celebration.

Congratulations to our Class of 2022! Rejoice in your accomplishments.

Wedding Anniversary

Over at Boomer and Halley’s house, their parents are celebrating 16 years of marriage. Harold and Edna Sanders met at a Fall dance back in the day and have been great partners ever since.

Of course they didn’t have children for most of their marriage. Then they adopted the energetic Australian Shepherd dog, Boomerang, and the silver streak of a cat, Halley’s Comet. There hasn’t been a quiet moment since.

“Are we supposed to get them something for their anniversary, Halley?” asks Boomer.

Halley is busy batting her rubber lizard across the hardwood floor. “How would I know?” shes asks. “I’m not sure what an anniversary is in the first place!”

Boomer cannot believe what he’s hearing. “What’s the matter with you?”

Halley snaps her head around. “Whaaat?”

“It’s when dad and mom got married. That day.”

Halley looks confused. “Well, when was THAT day?”

“I dunno,” says Boomer.

Halley licks her paws. “Remember the day we met?”

Boomer shakes his whole body. “That’s not a memory worth celebrating.”

Meanwhile, Harold is watching TV and Edna is sitting in her favorite chair in the den looking at a poster.  “Honey have you seen this?”

Harold turns his head to look at her. “What is it?”  Edna holds it up to show him. “Mayor Fibbs is using this poster of us to promote the idea that people should visit Shady Pines.”

Harold beams with pride. “Well, it is a very spiffy little ‘ole Southern town. And that’s a swell lookin’ family if I do say so myself.”

Edna smiles. “I know. Let’s frame it. This can be our anniversary gift since we’re all in it!”

Boomer barks his approval. And Halley meows.

Birthdays Galore

The other thing to know is that May is chalk full of birthdays around here. Why Maggie, who runs Maggie’s Diner has a birthday coming up on Friday the 20th. And Fred, who own’s Fred’s Corner Grocer has one right after that on Sunday the 22nd.

And just in case you want to start thinking about a birthday gift for a certain Editor of the Gazette, well, um, my birthday is Wednesday May, 25th.

Whatever you’re celebrating this merry month of May remember that kindness is one of the best gifts anyone can give or receive!