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Born With a Rusty Spoon: Episode 63

"Visiting my folks on the ranches they worked was sometimes relaxing and other times chaotic,'' writes artist Bertie Stroup Marah, continuing her autobiography.

It was sort of like Forrest Gump's box of candy "You never knew what you were going to get!" I took advantage of these visits to photograph and study animals, old barns and other scenery to paint.

Things got off to a bad start one morning when Gloria and I walked in and I realized Mama and P.G. already had a few beers under their belts. I was disappointed and did not hide my disapproval.

"What have you guys been doing?"

Mama turned rigid, looked me squarely in the face and cleared her throat. "I thought you'd never ask." This ended any further questioning on my part. I knew that it was not a good time to lecture on the finer points of sobriety.

Later in the evening a family fracas started when Phyllis's second husband, Howard, started picking on her. We intervened when their heated words threatened to turn into physical violence. Just when things seemed under control, P.G. jumped on the kitchen cabinet and dove through an open divider into the living room. Like a monkey, he landed on Howard's back and, with a mild chokehold, extracted an apology from him. I was mortified by the ridiculous exhibition. Tell and Gloria, amused, rooted for what they considered justice.

After things settled down, Mama proved to be far ahead of her time when she demonstrated how to serve potato chips.

"Do you have a bowl to put these chips in, I asked, holding a bag of Ruffle potato chips.

Mama grabbed the bag, ripped the top off, and dumped them on the table declaring, "This is the way you serve chips!" Years later I saw a TV commercial showing people serving chips in the same manner. Did they steal Mama's idea?


To buy a copy of Bertie's wonderful book please visit

To see some of her pictures click on


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