Kindness and Caring in Shady Pines Story Town Pays Off!

Kindness and Caring in Shady Pines Story Town Pays Off!

Kindness Sells

Chattering customers and clinking glasses fill the ar in Nuts ‘N Bolts Hardware. An old fashioned soda fountain sits smack dab in the middle of the downtown store.

This is THE place to be on a hot summer afternoon in Shady Pines Story Town to catch up on hot topics.

“One super duper sundae coming up.” Owner Harold Sanders pours fountain drinks and scoops up all sorts of ice cream concoctions. Kids and older folks gather ’round. “Mr. Sanders, may I have chocolate on mine?” asks seven year old Tommy.

Along with the cool treats, today there’s a big ‘ole dollop of concern being served.

What’s Happened To Us?

“I can’t take it anymore,” says Fred who runs Fred’s Corner Grocer. “Why are people so angry and downright mean these days?”

Twelve year old Martin adjusts his glasses. “Seems like when people watch the news or go on the internet they get so riled up.”

Harold rinses out a glass and sighs. “My wife, Edna, says the same thing. She has friends who barely speak because of one thing or another.”

Scoop the Cub Reporter with his shock of red hair stands next to Fred. He realizes he’s gonna need to talk to his editor, Zulah Talmadge.

This could be a story for the next edition of the Shady Pines Gazette. He clears his throat to get everyone’s attention. “What are we going to do about it?”


“Well,” says Harold, “why don’t we find a way to remind people that this town is all about kindness and caring?”

Fred agrees. “I like it. But how do we do that?”

Harold claps his hands.  “We’ll show them that being civil to one another matters AND it’s good for business!”

The Campaign Begins

“How’re you gonna do that? asks Tommy.

Harold looks at the boy. “If we all put our heads together I bet we can figure it out.”

And that’s how the ‘KINDNESS and CARING’ campaign got started.

To kick things off, Harold headed straight to the office of Mayor Beauregard P. Fibbs.

“What’s up Harold?” asks Mayor Fibbs. “Heard you have something on your mind.”

“I do,” says Harold. We want to start a campaign promoting the best qualities of our town. We think it would be good for business.”

Mayor Fibbs sits back in his chair. “I’m listenting.”

The idea is for shops around town like Pets Galore, Maggie’s Diner and Cup ‘O Joe’s to put a big logo in their front window.

That symbol tells customers the folks who run those shops will be kind, courteous and really care about them.”

The mayor says, “Hmmm. And that’s why you’re calling this effort, the KINDNESS and CARING campaign?”

Harold nods his head. “Yes. Being good to one another is what our close knit community is all about!”

“People just need to be reminded,” agrees Fibbs. “Harold, this could work. When  people feel they’re being valued and treated with respect they’ll keep coming back to those shops.”

Harold agrees. “That’s the bottom line!”

The mayor lights up. “Why we’ll give those businesses in nearby River City a run for their money!”

Kindness and Caring Pays Off

It didn’t take long. The campaign is now underway and people are already talking about it. Of course Scoop and Zulah are helping to spread the word.

There’s even talk the kids in town are getting involved.

We’ll have more on that later. 

In the meantime, what do you think of this Shady Pines Story Town campaign?

Can you think of somes businesses near you that could use this approach?

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A Call to Action For Civility from Shady Pines Story Town

A Call to Action For Civility from Shady Pines Story Town

Be A Civility Champion

Can we talk? My name is Mary Jane McKittrick. (old photo) For more than a decade I’ve been writing stories about cartoon characters living in and around the fictional Shady Pines Story Town.

While the number of residents of Shady Pines has grown along with the number of locations in town, the intent of this project has always been the same: To inspire young children and the adults who love them to be good and kind.

The humans and animals of all ages and backgrounds living in this small Southern town tell stories with positive messaging infused with life lessons and delivered with gentle and sometimes wacky humor.

Their mission is to ‘Restore Civlity One Kind Gesture at a Time!’

Often situations that happen in the “real world” are reflected in this fictional world. Our characaters talk about everything from severe weather outbreaks and national holidays to current events in a way that young children appoximately 6-9 years old can understand. It’s also an opportunity for their caregivers to start a discussion on these topics.

Time For Change

Sadly, a groundswell of violent events and verbal sparring in this high octane politcal environment has shown us just how much we need civility right now. More than ever we’ve got to modify and soften the national tone. Otherwise we are doomed to sink further into the abyss of mean-spiritedness, mockery and division.

I can tell you that kind of negativity is not the Shady Pines Way. Our characters discover how to work together to find solutions to problems. They believe in cooperation instead of confrontation. Anger and hatred are not tolerated. Kindness and caring are celebrated.

For a long time I stopped using the word civility in my marketing. Do you know why? So many people kept telling me Civility is dead in America. Ugliness, they said, has taken hold and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Let’s Spread Good News

Well I have news for you. It shouldn’t be that way and it’s not in Shady Pines Story Town because we haven’t given up on the hope that “real world” communities should strive to be more like this one.

And in case you’re wondering this site has no agenda – political or otherwise. For more on how it got started you can read The Back Story

The truth is, we’re just trying to encourage and uplift. We want to underscore the urgent need to restore a gentler way of communicating with one another that transcends all boundaries and ideologies.

I hope you feel the same. Here’s our call to action:

Please join us in spreading the word as we continue our national award-winning quest to promote Civility. Share this post on your social media or by email. Talk to friends and loved ones about the need for change.

And most importantly, thank you for listening!


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It’s Safety First on the Fourth of July in Shady Pines Story Town

It’s Safety First on the Fourth of July in Shady Pines Story Town

 Be Careful!

It’s here. The Fourth of July. But this year there’s a catch. All kinds of commotion swirls around Town Hall and Mayor Beauregard Fibbs in downtown Shady Pines Story Town.

Lack of rain and near drought conditions have put restrictions on this year’s celebrations. Employees scurry from office to office.

They have to find ways to let their neighbors know what they can and can’t do on the Fourth.

Join The Parade

The good news is that the Big ‘Ole Barbeque in Stonewall Park is still on the schedule for the afternoon. Tents and tables will be up and loads of great food and cold drinks will be available.

The Soda Fountain in Nuts ‘N Bolts Hardware store is always a gathering place between events.

And the parade down Main Street kicks off at 9am like always. You gotta see it for yourself. It’s a hoot!

Fireworks Could Backfire

At the top of the list of concerns this holiday – fireworks. Because of the dry conditions those colorful blasts can be a fire hazard. So only the official fireworks display over Lake Shady Pines will be allowed this year. The fire department will be on hand to make sure everyone stays safe.

There’s another issue sparking concern. Even though everyone who lives here is being discouraged from using sparklers at their houses we know some will do it anyway.

That’s why messages about fireworks safety need to go out soon. There’s so much to do!

Mayor Beauregard P. Fibbs sits at his big wooden desk in his office at City Hall and answers one phone call after another. He gets more frustrated by the minute. Finally, he calls for his assistant.

“Beth,” he shouts, “Will you come in here please!”

A moment later a tall young woman appears in the mayor’s doorway. Beth Dowd has been the mayor’s assistant since graduating from college three years ago. “How can I help?”

Mayor Fibbs gets up and starts to pace back and forth. “Beth, there’s not much time. We need to get our arms around this Independence Day situation.”

Beth can see that the mayor is really upset. “I completely agree. Here’s the good news. The planning committee is meeting downstairs right now. They’re working on getting the word out.”

Remember Pets and Vets

As he paces with his hands clasped together behind his back, the mayor is nodding. “That’s good. You know, this fireworks situation is real. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve taken from animal rights groups. Don’t folks realize how much our pets get upset by the sound? The poor animals don’t feel safe in their own homes for cryin’ out loud!”

Beth understands. “My dog, Scruffy, runs into the closet and hides at the sound of the first fireworks he hears. He just shakes. It’s really bad.”

Mayor Fibbs is getting worked up. “And another thing. What about our veterans? I just got a call from one of our retired generals. He reminded me these men and women have been to war. The sound of fireworks takes them right back to the battlefield. You talk about upsetting.”

Beth frowns. “Oh, my gosh. That makes sense. I’d never thought about that before.”

Mayor Fibbs has an idea. “Beth, call over to The Shady Pines Gazette newspaper office, will you? Ask Zulah and Scoop if they can come over here.”

Beth claps here hands. “That’s perfect. They can do a story and spread the word. I’m on it.”

As Beth leaves, the mayor returns to his desk. He knows what he wants to say in the interview he is about to give. Besides safety for pets and veterans on the Fourth of July, he wants safety for children included in the story as well.

A Final Word

“We all need to pay attention to the needs of others and be sure the most vulnerable among us are protected,” he says out loud. “Compassion should never take a holiday.”

And that’s cause for celebration in the small Southern town of Shady Pines!

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The Heat Is On in Shady Pines this Summer

The Heat Is On in Shady Pines this Summer

Good Golly It’s Hot!

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 awhile. Temperatures this June heading into July 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 reporter’s notebook and 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 categoryand folks need to be prepared!”

Zulah 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.  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 scoop up 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 honor,” 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 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 come up with 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 cope with this sort of weather. 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. Working together to help others in need is what we do best in the small Southern town of Shady Pines!



A Famous Shady Pines Father is a Good Role Model

A Famous Shady Pines Father is a Good Role Model

Why We Honor Fathers

A father is so very important in the lives of his children – even if his children have four legs!

A good father guides, encourages, supports and loves his kids unconditionally. That’s why in honor of Father’s Day, we want you to know Harold Sanders is that kind of dad.

He’s also the most famous father here in Shady Pines Story Town.

Harold and his wife, Edna, never had children of their own. But the day Boomerang, an Australian Shepherd dog, and Halley’s Comet, a silver streak of a cat came into their lives, everything changed.

When they adopted the two strays, Harold and Edna officially became parents. They had no idea the challenges they would face as the Sanders became a family of four.

Not So Fast

Boomer and Halley weren’t all that excited about becoming an instant brother and sister act. Boomerang had grown up out west on a ranch where his herding instincts made him a natural for rounding up cattle.

He left U.B. Good Ranch in a pickup truck with his favorite ranch hand bound for a dog show. That’s when everything changed. Clint stopped to fill up the truck with gas. Boomer heard a squirrel in the nearby bushes and took off. He wound up lost in Shady Pines.

Meanwhile, Halley was living the good life with a family up north in a beautiful neighborhood.

The little girl of the family spoiled her with gifts and all the tuna she could eat.

The silver kitty was used to going on trips with the family. But one vacation where they headed down South turned everything around for Halley’s Comet.

The family left her in the car for just a minute to go inside a restaurant to get lunch. They left the windows down a bit so their favorite feline would have enough air.

That’s when Halley heard a bird chirping. Instinct took over and the silver streak was out the window and gone. You guessed it. She found herself lost in Shady Pines.

Family Unit

You know the best part about this new family? They learned to live together with rules, laughter and love. Even though the Sanders’ family gets a lot of attention around town due to Boomer and Halley’s antics, it never goes to their heads.

They’re not stuck up at all. Oh, sure, Halley can be a little snooty at times, but she was like that from the beginning. And Boomer always puts her in her place.

Edna is so creative and fun. Harold is the steady one who sets such a good example. He is a decent, hard-working man who looks you right in the eye when he talks.

He believes in doing a good job, loves to laugh, and doesn’t have to raise his voice to get attention. Harold walks with quiet confidence and leads by example.

It’s funny but Boomer and Halley seem to want to please him. They feel really badly when they disappoint him. Don’t get me wrong. they’re kids after all, so they can get into trouble.

That look he gives them when they’ve done something wrong is enough to snap them back into good behavior.

Folks around Shady Pines admire the man who owns the town’s Nuts ‘N Bolts hardware store with its old-fashioned soda fountain slap dab in the middle of the store.

That’s where locals enjoy listening to Harold spin a story. Harold Sanders is like a lot of our neighbors who love to tell stories filled with positive themes. Seems all they want to do is inspire young children to grow up and be good people.

That’s why we’re known as Shady Pines Story Town where  kindness and caring is a way of life. People here don’t just talk about being good to one another, they actually try to live that way.Adults reading a book

Just another reason to celebrate the contributions of Harold Sanders and all the fathers making a difference in the lives of their children!

If you’d like to help your kids make their own Father’s Day gifts we found a site for you GO HERE


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Shady Pines Shares Info about Mother’s Day You Might Not Know

Shady Pines Shares Info about Mother’s Day You Might Not Know

A Little History 

Springtime weekends in Shady Pines are chock full of things to do. We have festivals, concerts, fundraising events and so much more. But there is one date on the calendar that gets more attention than all the others

Can you guess what it is?

Mother’s Day! This year we celebrate the moms in our lives on Sunday, May 12th.

Do you know how this yearly celebration started?

Most folks believe the beginning of Mother’s Day in the U.S.  can be traced to Anna Jarvis, a woman from Philadelphia. Way back in 1907 Anna began a campaign to establish a national day to honor mothers everywhere.

She convinced her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death. That date fell on the 2nd Sunday of May.

Anna’s Mom

Anna’s mother had gumption. Her name was, Ann Reeves Jarvis.

She was a young homemaker who taught Sunday school lessons in her Appalachian mountain home in West Virginia. Back in the 1800’s she organized “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs.”

Ann wanted to help educate mothers about nutrition; the importance of a clean house to fight off illness; and how to make a diference in the lives of their children and their community.

During the Civil War, the mission of the Mother’s Day Work Clubs changed. The women began caring for soldiers wounded in the fighting. Those battles raged across the mountains during the first years of the war.

Mother Jarvis encouraged her members to help out no matter which side their men had chosen.

After the war she proposed a Mothers’ Friendship Day to promote peace between former Union and Confederate families.

A Special Day Goes National

Given her mother’s  valuable work, it’s not surpising Anna decided it was important to publicly celebrate the incredible women who care, nurture and inspire us. 

You may be surprised to know that Anna Jarvis never had children of her own.

But her continued efforts to get recognition for the women who do have kids was finally recognized. President Woodrow Wilson made it official on May 9, 1914.

Shady Pines Celebrates

Back here in our small Southern town folks are planning all sorts of ways to show the mothers in their lives some love.

Why even over at the Sanders’ house Boomer and Halley are showing affection for their “mom” Edna with a card. Of course Harold had to help them out a bit.

However you wind up expressing your love and gratitude for that special mom in your life, we hope you have a wonderful and memorable day!

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