Folks, I have a little story to share with you, but I need your input. I think this would be a good idea for a lengthy story or a novel. Please let me know what you think.

Here goes.

Chick was a young man from upper New York state. Kitty was a southern belle from Albemarle, North Carolina. Even though they came from vastly different backgrounds, they met at college at Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Massachusetts.

They dated for two years in college and got engaged. She went back to Albemarle to plan the wedding and Chick stayed in New York to work at several jobs.

While Kitty was back home, she could not understand why Chick was not staying in touch. This was a time before the Internet and cell phones. You either used a regular phone or you wrote letters to stay in touch. And, Kitty was not hearing from Chick at all.

After quite some time, Kitty became so frustrated at the lack of communication from Chick that she called off the engagement.

With the engagement no longer on, they each went their separate ways. Kitty’s dad was a Southern lawyer who did quite well. Behind the scenes, Kitty’s mom orchestrated a match between Kitty and local boy Jim, who had just returned from the Navy. After a brief courtship, they married. They moved to Mexico where Jim attended medical school.

They had two children, Vicky and Jim. Kitty settled in as a wife and mother.

Chick left college, moved to Florida, and, after a brief stint in the service, met Liz.  They married and moved to upper New York state and he took a job with a brand-new company, called IBM.

Over the years, Chick and Liz had two children, Lee and Charla, and he climbed the corporate ladder, doing very well with IBM.

All the while, Kitty stayed in touch with her college roommate, Virginia. Chick stayed in touch with his friends from college, Andy AND Virginia, who married.

Over the years, Kitty and Jim and Chick and Liz and their respective families lived their lives.

After the usual transitions that families go through, raising kids, sending kids off to college, enjoying the empty nest and growing older, Jim died.  That was about three-four years ago. About 18 months ago, Liz died.

Kitty continued to live in Albemarle as a widow and Chick as a widower was in Florida when he was not taking his RV all over the country.

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, here is the rest of the story.

Seems that when Chick and Kitty were engaged, Chick did indeed write passionately and often to Kitty. Many letters and sometimes more than once a day.

But, Kitty’s mom, who did not approve of the relationship because he was a Yankee, was the routine gatherer of the mail in the household and hid the letters from Kitty. But Kitty’s mother did keep all the letters.

One day, Kitty’s mom told Kitty that she had intercepted the letters from Chick when they were young. She had hidden them from her because she did not want her daughter to marry a Yankee. She gave Kitty the letters.

Flash ahead to present day. Andy and Virginia were hosting Chick in their home in Florida for his 80th birthday this past March. When Kitty heard about the visit through Virginia, she mailed Chick’s favorite cake, a German chocolate one, to Andy and Virginia’s home for the birthday, which facilitated a conversation.

Virginia was able to tell Chick a long-held secret: that Kitty had always loved him.

Then the phone calls between Chick and Kitty began and the letters resumed and were unintercepted. They got through to Kitty this time.

Does this sound like a great story for a novel? I think so. There is just a slight twist: this story is not a novel; it is true.

Chick  and Kitty were married yesterday in Albemarle, North Carolina in the swing they sat in decades ago when they were planning their future. Kitty never got rid of the swing. Andy and Virginia were the best man and maid of honor.

Some dreams are worth holding onto forever!

Best wishes to Chick and Kitty!


Duroc, or Dorock

For whatever reason, I have always had nicknames. It started when I was a baby. My first one was Bruno. I understand from my mom and dad that they gave me that moniker shortly after I arrived in Cushing, Oklahoma. I have never known or understood where Bruno came from. As a child, I wasn’t known as Derek around the house; it was Rick. To this day, my sister calls me Rick.

Sometime around the time I entered college, the given name of Derek stuck … for a while.

In fact, my first byline when I was a reporter for the University Star at Southwest Texas State University was Derek Aldridge.

I have learned to answer to all names, whether friendly or blasphemous.

From there, the list has grown. I have had so many I  have forgotten many of them. Because I wore glasses through high school, my friend, Fred, called me Bottles. That one stuck among a few of my high school friends.

I have also answered to Radar, Mom, among others, and there are doozies of stories for each, but there is one nickname that has pretty much followed me around the country.


When I was a copy editor at the Columbus (Ga.) Enquirer shortly after graduate school, a friend there, David, began calling me Dorock. We played clay tennis together in the humidity of Carson McCullers‘ home town of Columbus, Ga. It was a really fun bunch working together at the Enquirer. On one occasion, reporters and editors decided we needed to get some green plants and raise them on our desks. We should have known the likelihood of this being a lasting event was slim to none because there were no windows in the newsroom. Someone decided we needed to name our plants after known or attempted assassins. I named my ivy after Squeaky Fromme, who tried to kill Gerald Ford.

Gavrilo Princip

Sitting across the newsroom from me was a very talented reporter, who happened to have been a Rhodes scholar. Of course, he named his plant Gavrilo Princip, the assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which precipitated the start of World War I. Kinda figured for a Rhodes scholar.

For some reason that escapes me, Dorock has followed me from journalism to public relations to consulting. Many years after Dave planted that nickname on my shoulders, I learned that a duroc was a breed of pig. For a few moments, I wondered how much of a friend Dave really was. I believe his motives were pure.

Any way, so just recently when good friends Gary, Kathy and their daughter, Elizabeth, were touring the sites of Paris, they had a moment that reminded them of their friend here in Dallas. At one of the stops on the Paris Metro, there is a Duroc station. I am so proud.

I share this picture with you because I think that if someone gives you a nickname it is a symbol of affection. For example, I call my daughter, Casey, Lou-Baby. She knows that if I call her Casey, I mean business. Just about all the time it is Lou-Baby. JD and Patti have both been Red in their past. Can you guess what color hair they have?

While on our honeymoon, I gave Patti a copy of the book “How to Talk Southern.” As you can imagine, it was a book of humor, really making fun of Southern mannerisms and idioms. At that time, I became Hub and Patti became Waf. Again, more evidence of nicknames.

If you have a nickname, cherish it. Someone out there loves you.