Pat Wahler

Penning stories to savor.

Month: September 2016

A Promise is a Promise

Valentine Tapley, in all his hirsute glory.

Valentine Tapley, in all his hirsute glory.

The political season will soon (thankfully) come to an end. Some will be thrilled by the result, and others will be appalled, but I wonder if anyone will have the kind of reaction chosen by Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri.

Mr. Tapley had a passion for the Democrat party. If Republican Abe Lincoln became president, Tapley vowed he would never shave his beard again.

Not one to argue his way out of a promise, when Lincoln won in November, 1860, Tapley threw away his razor for good. And as his beard grew, so did his pride…and his fame.

Tapley cared for his whiskers like a mother would coddle a baby, wrapping them in silk and winding the length of his beard around his body or draping his whiskers around his shoulders so they wouldn’t drag untidily through the dust. For obvious reasons, Tapley never worked around a fire, but there is no record of how he kept food and drink from dirtying them. I have a strong suspicion that Tapley’s long-suffering wife, Caroline, must have often said things like, “Valentine, you’ve got potatoes stuck in your beard again.”

Hey, I’m married to someone who grows facial hair. I know how it works.

Valentine Tapley died in 1910 at the age of eighty. His beard measured over twelve feet long and his pride in it prompted him to set up extra security to keep guard over his grave. He didn’t want any robbers trying to dig up his coffin, cut off those infamous whiskers, and put them on display with a traveling sideshow.

Tapley was a man of integrity. He  stuck to his promise, no matter how hairy it got.

Oh yeah? Well, I promise not to come down from this cat condo until the political commercials all go away. They're making my ears bleed.

Oh yeah? Well, I promise not to come down from the cat condo until somebody poop-scoops political ads. They make my ears hurt.   


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A Political Comment (Sort of)

September 23 marks seventy-two years since President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a famous speech. Why do I bring up a political speech at a time when most of us want to cover our ears over anything related to politics? Simple. The speech had to do with Fala, FDR’s beloved Scotch Terrier, easily my favorite presidential pet, and almost certainly the most famous dog in American history. Fala traveled everywhere with his master, sniffed heads of state, and received so much fan mail he needed his own secretary.

After a trip to the Aleutian Islands in August, 1944, FDR came under attack by political opponents who started a rumor that Fala had been accidentally left behind after the presidential visit. They claimed FDR dispatched a Navy battleship to bring the pup home at a cost of many millions of dollars to taxpayers.

FDR addressed this fur-flying fib at a dinner hosted by Teamsters. Check out a snippet of his response below. His deadpan delivery is priceless.

Politicians take note. If your speeches were clever as this one, I’d be more inclined to listen.


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It’s Official!

Early last fall, Sheree Nielsen, friend and author of Folly Beach Dances, called me about collaborating on a writing project. She had an idea for a picture book about a one-eyed cat named Midnight, based loosely on her own cat by the same name.

I’m a sucker for an animal story, and needed no convincing to jump into the world of children’s book writing.

Sheree and I got together over coffee, tea, and chocolate; spending hours brainstorming, creating and revising.  Finally, like birthing a baby, the time came to push our little manuscript out into the world.

After studying the market and sending our story, we found an editor gracious enough to  give us concrete feedback and suggestions. This meant more coffee, tea, and chocolate; and, of course, more rewriting. The story left our hands again, and several weeks ago we were thrilled when Amphorae Publishing Group, a well-respected local press, offered us a contract.

Doing the happy dance!

Doing the happy dance!







Once all the details had been ironed out and confirmed, a formal announcement came from Amphorae on September 8. The book is scheduled for release in 2017.

We are so excited to see our story, tentatively titled Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat; with its uplifting messages about friendship, courage, and self-confidence, brought to life. Thank you, Amphorae!

You wrote a story about a cat? Pfffft!

You wrote a story about a cat? Pfffft!


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It’s Labor Day

Labor Day has arrived again, filled with picnics, barbecues, and parades; marking not only a day of rest and recognition for American workers, but the end of summer. However, things weren’t always so rosy.

In the 19th century and earlier, it was extraordinarily difficult to make a living. Most people worked twelve hour days, seven days a week, and still had trouble making ends meet. During the Industrial Revolution, even children as young as age five or six could be found working around dangerous equipment in unsafe factory conditions.

People were frustrated and angry. They wanted fair treatment.

On September 5, 1882, working men marched in support of American workers. Later, strikes and riots over the issue caused bloodshed. Yet eventually labor unions made headway in helping to improve conditions, and Congress extended an olive branch by officially designating the first Monday in September as a day to recognize the value of American workers.

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then, baby.

Labor Day parade 1900-Library of Congress

Labor Day parade 1900-Library of Congress

But even as we celebrate, let’s not forget that some don’t have the luxury of relaxing on Labor Day. So here’s a special shout-out to law enforcement, fire-fighting personnel, military, medical practitioners, retail workers, and all others who give us help when we need it, whether it’s a holiday or not.

We hope you enjoy your day in whatever way makes you happiest!

Winston and Bogey in a rare moment of rest on Labor Day. Just think what I could accomplish if Labor Day came more often.

Winston and Bogey in a rare moment of rest on Labor Day. Just think what I could accomplish if Labor Day came more often.

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