Tucker McBride

Return to a time when a boy could be a boy; when life was more clear from the top branch of a tree; when a kid could trade anger and disappointment for action and adventure; when the whole neighborhood was his playground; and the sloppy kiss from a dog could make everything right.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Investigate the World Around You

Hello, my friends. I'm sorry we have not met recently. As you know, I have just finished the third in my Tucker McBride trilogy, Tucker's Perfect Day. It is now available at amazon and other online booksellers. 

You have all begun your 2021-22 school year by now. Isn't learning fun?!

Learning is an everyday experience, not just during school hours. Be curious. Ask questions. Look information up on a computer or at the library. 

Tucker didn't have a computer, but he was a community detective on everything he saw or dug up.

Have your family plan your own field trips. During routine activities around town, make an information-seeking event out of it.

1. If a parent takes the car in for oil change or repair, ask to go along. Look under the hood or check what's under the car.

2. Ask the person at the dry cleaners if they will show you how to get wrinkles out of pants using their big press.

3. Check out how they print the local newspaper. When I was a child, they printed the Dayton Daily News on huge printing presses in front of floor-to-ceiling windows.

4. History museums, Art galleries, community history displays, even sports games can be learning opportunities through discussion.

5. Parents, listen to your children. Enhance their knowledge in the things the child is interested.

Now, look at a map of your area. Make a list of places of interest around you. Have a family meeting and decide which of the locations to visit first. Schedule the other activities for future dates. On many websites, you can wander around inside the Whitehouse or a favorite Zoo. For a new fable I'm writing, I investigated the rooms of Buckingham Palace online.

Have fun with learning. It is a lifelong privilege.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

What Did Grandpa and Grandma Do?

Tucker’s grandfather was the foreman of a bridge crew on the New York Central railroad back at the turn of the century. Works would have hammered these to railroad nails into place in 1923 and 1925. See the dates on the ends? Tucker’s other grandfather owned a dredger. He dug out lake areas, rivers, and waterways that require more depth for safe navigation. Both grandmothers were homemakers, a usual occupation for women in the years before World War III. I purchased the nails for Tucker to remind him of his grandparents.

Tucker was fortunate to have lived with his grandparents to get the stories of family members who had gone before them. He can name his great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. He knows what kind of work they did and where they lived.

Sit down with your grandparents and talk about their work, talents, and joys. They can tell you about their parents and grandparents. You may find interesting people in your historic family. Perhaps a grandMOTHER was a doctor, lawyer, inventor, business owner – someone who was courageous enough to work far beyond what society expected.

Find a place to put it and always put it back there. I talked to my Aunt Ollie about the early family in America, then we moved, and then we moved again. I lost information about my family tree. Luckily, the Fort Wayne, Indiana Public Library has a respected genealogy section.

What kinds of things could you collect that would remind you of your ancestors? Have fun by making a display of your railroad nails or other keepsakes. You could also make a shadow box for the pieces. In a few weeks, I’ll be able to post a cluster of items to represent my newest book – Tucker’s Perfect Day. What kinds of things could you collect that would remind you of your ancestors? Have fun by making a display of them, or a shadow box. In a few weeks, I’ll be able to post a cluster of items to represent my newest book – Tucker’s Perfect Day. Watch for the book in early September. 


Copyright 2021 Doris Gaines Rapp, Ph.D.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

You Can Get er Done

Tucker saw the 4th of July as halfway through the summer. That meant school started after Labor Day, 1947, in Indiana. It was hard for Tucker to give up the freedom of finding new places to investigate, or spending all day at the gladiola farm up the road, helping to weed the rows of bulbs. Since he got the Model A Ford from Old Noah Domonick, that meant he could roam even farther. Even though he was thirteen and had no driver's license, that didn't keep him off the country roads and neighborhood streets. School? Tucker figured that would only slow him down. 

"Gramma, I don't think I can do this?" Tucker drooped along through the dining room and into the kitchen. 

His grandmother was pouring herself a glass of lemonade. "Would you like some, Tucker? And, what is this thing that you can't do?"

"Sure, I'll have some." Tucker leaned his elbow on the kitchen counter. "I just don't see how I'll have the time for school."

"Oh, ya?" she asked in her Pennsylvania Dutch way. "What are you so busy with?"

"Things, Gramma. Lots of things. I help Butch Randolf at the gas station for one."

"That is always nice, Tucker," Gramma said with a smile. "But school isn't an option. You will go to school. You can do it. God will help you find things at school you like."

Tucker answered immediately. "I like my friends and sports, baseball and basketball."

Gramma sipped her lemonade. "Then make the time you spend with friends and enjoying sports a reward for getting your schoolwork done. God will help you. Remember your Sunday school teacher's Bible verse from last Sunday? Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Tucker gulped down some cold drink and burst out. "I know. Mrs. Kline reminded me, I can do all things."

"Nein, Tucker." Gramma sat down at the dining room table. "You can not do all things. It means, if you are doing the will of God, you can do all he wants you to do with the help of Jesus."

Tucker finished off the rest of his lemonade. "I get it. That means school, too."


That is what Tucker figured out a few days after Independence Day. What things do you need help doing? Are they good and right things, things that help others? Are they within your corner of the world? Or, do you believe you have to fly a thousand miles away to help someone? 

Gramma would say... "Just like the garden, grow where you're planted."

School can be fun when you ask God to point out the fun things you find every day... friends, sports, activities, or that special class that is so interesting you search Google for more information about the topic. Less grumbling leaves more time and space for fun. You can get er done.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Celebrate Summer

In the United States, we celebrate our country's Independence on the Fourth of July. We have yummy family picnics of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, potato salad, and cookies decorated in red, white, and blue icing. At sundown, the community provides an explosive fireworks display. 

Tucker loved every opportunity to get together with family and friends. In the first book, Tucker McBride, a special guest came into the backyard on the fourth. 

Who would you want to attend a summer party at your house? What is unique about them? What activities would you plan? What would you remember to tell them?

One activity people enjoyed in Tucker's childhood was croquet. Players drove wooden balls through a course of metal U-shaped points called wickets from one end of the yard to the other. The mallet and ball are colored to match, so each player recognizes their own ball.

As a child, I'd fly out the front door after lunch, hitting only a few of the steps to the driveway and across to the side yard where the croquet game stood ready every summer day. Neighbor friends would gather for a round. Sometimes, even the boy down the street would drop his bicycle at the edge of the yard. He'd stroll into the yard, select a mallet from the equipment stand, and join in a game. He was three or four years older, so it seemed a privilege that an older boy would take time to play a game with my friends and me. 

On the fourth, we'd join cousins, aunts, and uncles at Old River, the company park for the NCR. The evening fireworks were the best in town. 

It's your turn. Write about your special summer day. I'd love to see some of your ideas.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Oh, The Places We Might Go

We just returned from a trip to Houston, Texas. We saw no cowboys riding the range of America’s southwest, or huge cattle drives like Tucker would imagine. We drove out west to enjoy our family and to attend a wedding.

In Tucker’s day, Grandpop didn’t drive. He stepped on the train as it slowed near his home and took him to work, building and repairing railroad bridges.

A road trip for him and Gramma was impossible unless someone else did the driving. But remember, Grandpop worked for that railroad for many years. When he retired, along with his pension, the railroad company gave him a train pass for two. He could take Gramma anyplace the railroad tracks went. It was like a golden ticket to interesting places they had never been.

Even though they could ride the rails from one end of the line to the other, it was hard for them to get away. They had Tucker and his two sisters at home to care for. Tucker’s brother Tim, was older and eventually in the Marines. Still, with a house-full still at home, they rarely traveled.

If you had that magical railroad pass to go anywhere you wanted to go, where would you travel? You could look up the major railroad companies and see where their tracks go. What cities would you see? What activities and attractions would be outside your train window or just beyond the railroad station? Plan a wonderful trip for yourself and your family or friends.

Or imagine that the railroad tracks went anywhere and everywhere you want to go. Draw pictures and write descriptions of everything you would like to see along the way. Perhaps your imaginary train could fly. You could take your entire family with you. Think of the places you could go, the people you would meet, and the things you would see.

Create pieces of art that tell the story of your travels. Write descriptions about your drawings. Keep them safe. Someday, you might really take many trips, on the railroad tracks of your dreams.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

In Memory Of ...

In the United States, Monday, May 31 is Memorial Day. It's a day set aside to remember those who have died while serving in the military. In other countries that follow this blog, I imagine you have days to remember those in your country who have fallen in wars. If you don't have a national holiday, families will remember their loved ones in their own way.

Tucker's family had a flag Uncle Jacob would run up the flagpole. In 1947, when Tucker was young, the American flag only had 48 stars. The stars represent the number of states in the United States. Do you know which two states were added to our union after that? Do a little research. Google the names of the states to find the last two. Find out a little about them: location, climate, special activities, where the people work.

If you are joining this blog from Europe or Southeast Asia, research the meaning of your nation's flag. Ask your family who they remember at this time of year. Do you hang out a flag?

Our activity for this weekend will be to design a flag that represents the activities you enjoy. If you have a special person you want to remember, add symbols that reflect their activities and talents to your flag. If you have a scrap material box someplace in your home. you can sew a cloth flag that completes that design you created on paper about yourself and/or your loved one. Hang the cloth one outside with the nation's flag. 

Many churches display the American flag and the Christian flag. There are pledges for each. Perhaps you can create written words too, that describe your personal flag.

Enjoy your days, every one of them. The Indianapolis 500 car race is also this weekend. Maybe you want to include your favorite car on your flag. Have fun with it. There is never a correct answer in creative activities. There is your answer and my answer. Though different, both are correct.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend. You have time to create something to make your day even more exciting.

Doris Gaines Rapp, Ph.D.

Copyright 2021 Doris Gaines Rapp

Monday, May 17, 2021

Sew a Good Seam

Did you ever reach up to make a basket in the driveway and split the seam under your arm? That's happened to all of us. 

Tucker's Gramma mended and made clothes for her children and grandchildren when they were little. Her sewing machine was a treadle. She taught Tucker to mend a seam and sew on a button by hand sewing. 

I describe how a treadle machine works in the book I'm writing, Tucker McBride's Perfect Day.

It's not electric. The power to make the machine sew comes when you pump the treadle, located at the bottom, with your feet. The needle goes up and down, connecting the upper thread with the second thread in the bobbin under the needle.

When I was very young, my mother had a treadle machine. As an elementary school child, I'd sit on an old kitchen chair in front of the machine, check the bobbin to make sure it was wound with thread, put a spool of thread on the spindle at the top of the machine, and guide the thread through the ins and outs of the machine. Mother's treadle machine was the same one on which my great-grandmother sewed my grandma's baby clothes. 

Your family may not have a sewing machine. That's okay. You can still repair a small tear or rip in a seam. All you need is a needle and thread. For a video on how to put in a hem, sew on a button, sew a seam, and other types of hand sewing, here is a link. Copy and paste it into your search engine.


Long, it's it? Be careful. You might prick your finger with the needle. Little pricks are part of living a full life. If a tiny prick is all it takes for you to walk around with your skin shinning through your torn seam, then you will walk around hanging out for all the world to see for the rest of your life. 

I was so excited when I took a little gold satin dress I had in it, but I did. And that was okay. I enjoyed making it. You can have fun too. 

Be a designer or at least a tailor who repairs a garment. Enjoy life by jumping in and taking care of yourself. You can do it.


Copyright 2021 Doris Gaines Rapp

Investigate the World Around You

Hello, my friends. I'm sorry we have not met recently. As you know, I have just finished the third in my Tucker McBride trilogy, Tucker&...