“J” is for “John, Jean, and Judy”

In the 1950s and 1960s, while public school kids were reading the adventures of Dick, Jane, and Sally (DJS), parochial school tyros were following John, Jean, and Judy (JJJ). I haven’t compared the two series personally, but apparently JJJ were living their counterparts’ lives. JJJ originated in the 1940s, when a crusading Rev. John A. O’Brien, Ph.D., tinkered with the DJS stories, keeping the original book titles and character names but adding or creating moral or religious themed stories more in line with Roman Catholic values. By the 1950s, for some reason (copyright issues, perhaps?) his characters were reborn as JJJ.

Rev. O’Brien’s career as a children’s book author was very much in line with his main passions, Catholic education and conversion. In fact, his contribution to the world of children’s literature is primarily a footnote in his life. Beginning with the 1938 publication of his best seller “The Faith of Millions,” he wrote 45 books and hundreds of pamphlets and articles espousing Catholicism. He taught the first accredited courses in religion while earning his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, where he remained for 22 years. Thereafter, he spent the rest of his life teaching and writing at the University of Notre Dame, devoting hectic summers to conversion campaigns in 50 American dioceses and preaching throughout the South. The late Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former President of Notre Dame, said “perhaps no priest in the history of the Church in America was responsible for more Catholic converts.”

Of course, Rev. O’Brien’s proselytizing meant nothing to six-year-old me when I first encountered JJJ at St. Cecilia’s School. I came from a home with plenty of Catholic books and had learned to read our copy of the Little Golden Book Life of Jesus. While I was impressed that JJJ had a character named Judy, the JJJ reader wasn’t as impressive as the Nancy Drew library books I hid under my desk.

Choosing my own reading material was relatively easy, since upwards of 50 kids were packed into 1950s classrooms. Alphabetic seating meant I was usually in the middle or back of the room; out of sight of prying nuns’ eyes. Unfortunately, I blew it for myself because I basically talked/whispered non-stop to everyone around me. My alphabetic seat wasn’t enough to protect me from being moved to the front of the classroom under the nun’s nose. Never later than Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, I still remember my Nancy Drew stories but not JJJ.

Written for the A to Z Challenge and for these prompts: #YDWordPrompt tyro; The Daily Spurs’ rebirth; Word of the Day Challenge hectic; and Fandango’s #FOWC never. Research materials include The University of Notre Dame’s archives, Find A Grave memorial; Library Things’ Cathedral Basic Readers series description, and, of course, Wikipedia

Song Lyric Sunday — “Run” — Snow Patrol and Leona Lewis

Jim Adams’ challenge for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is one word song titles. There are so many to choose from. The one that has been on my radar lately is “Run.” With lyrics by Gary Lightbody and music composed along with his bandmates Iain Archer, Jonathan Quinn, Mark McClelland, and Nathan Connolly, the Northern Irish band Snow Patrol released the song in 2004. It peaked on the Irish Singles Chart at 25 and on the UK Singles Chart at 5.

“Run” has been covered by multiple diverse performers, most notably English singer Leona Lewis, who first performed it on a live BBC Radio show in late 2007. She recorded and released it as a digital single in 2008 after she won the UK’s singing competition television show “X Factor.” Lewis’s version shot to number 1, becoming UK’s fastest selling digital release ever, with 69,244 downloads in the first two days. Following her success with the song, Snow Patrol’s original re-entered the UK Singles Chart at number 28.

The videos following the lyrics listed below are live versions recorded circa Snow Patrol’s and Leona Lewis’s original release dates.


I’ll sing it one last time for you
Then we really have to go
You’ve been the only thing that’s right
In all I’ve done

And I can barely look at you
But every single time I do
I know we’ll make it anywhere
Away from here

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I’ll be right beside you dear

Louder louder
And we’ll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can’t raise your voice to say

To think I might not see those eyes
Makes it so hard not to cry
And as we say our long goodbye
I nearly do

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I’ll be right beside you dear

Louder louder
And we’ll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can’t raise your voice to say

Slower slower
We don’t have time for that
All I want’s to find an easy way
To get out of our little heads

Have heart, my dear
We’re bound to be afraid
Even if it’s just for a few days
Making up for all this mess

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I’ll be right beside you dear



“I” is for “Ireland”

Ireland is in my blood, literally, confirmed by DNA testing. Originally lumping Ireland and Scotland together as 58% of my DNA, the current refined Ancestry.com algorithm reports my Irish and Scots DNA separately as 48% and 26%, respectively. Despite this heritage, although I have spent a bone-chilling weekend in Edinburgh, I have yet to set foot in Ireland. What courses through my veins is their common language — poetry, folklore, and, especially, music.

On “C” day of this A to Z Challenge, I wrote about Scotland’s unofficial anthem, “Caledonia.” Today, I’m thinking of what some consider Ireland’s unofficial anthem, “Ireland’s Call.” Written by Northern Irish Derryman Phil Coulter, “Ireland’s Call” was intended to unify Ireland’s rugby fans.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) commissioned the song for the 1995 World Cup, where teams are introduced and honored by the singing of their national anthems. The IRFU team represented the entire island of Ireland, and some Northern Irish IRFU members understandably objected to using the Republic of Ireland’s national anthem, “Amhrán na bhFiann” (Irish) or “the Soldier’s Song” (English). I say “understandably” because “Amhrán na bhFiann” is a “rebel song” which became a rallying cry for the Irish Volunteers during the War for Independence from England. That War ultimately resulted in the creation of the Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland), with Northern Ireland remaining as part of Great Britain.

Although I know nothing about rugby, “Ireland’s Call” stirs my blood. I first heard it when Celtic Thunder’s then-music-director, Phil Coulter, revised and added it to their setlist. Ironically, CT’s only Scotsman, George Donaldson, led CT onto the stage while singing the first words. It quickly became a fan favorite, especially after it evolved into a performance full of swirling kilts.

The first of the following two “Ireland’s Call” videos shows the entire lyrics as written for the IRFU. The second shows Celtic Thunder’s original performance before the theatrical addition of kilts.

The third video is a freebie: Luke Kelly and the Dubliners’ “Song for Ireland.”



“H” is for “Habit”

Habits are those recurring things you do, often without even thinking about it. Get up in the morning and brush your teeth. Turn right at the intersection, even though turning left would get you there faster. Forks on the left; knives, right. After a few repetitions, you’re pretty much on autopilot. Common wisdom says you’ll have created a habit and turned on autopilot after repeating the same behavior for 21 days. Common wisdom is trite and not always right.

A 2019 article on Healthline.com points out: “According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. The study also concluded that, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.” That’s not to say no one develops a habit in 21 days. When you got your first job and had to be there by 9:00 a.m., you likely developed that habit far sooner than in 21 days. On the other hand, years of New Year’s Resolutions broken by February 1 tend to support the postulation that habit development generally takes more than 21 days.

I’ve been thinking a lot about habits lately, probably because I’ve developed so many bad ones. Well, let’s say “unproductive.” For example, I’m a night person. Always have been. I never quite got the hang of the “get to work by 9:00 a.m.” habit. Mine was more like “as long as I’m there by 9:30 I probably won’t get fired.” That seems to have worked, since I retired under my own steam six years ago. Not only did I no longer have to even try to get anywhere by 9:00 a.m., I didn’t even need to get out of bed before 9:00 a.m. That also meant I didn’t need a fixed bedtime. Yay, me! My natural sleep patterns kicked in and kicked me out of whack with most of the rest of world, even other retirees. I got so used to my new habits, I was always surprised to discover how much people did before noon — going to the gym, out to breakfast, to doctor’s appointments, shopping. And since my days started later and later, I had fewer hours left to fit in all the stuff other people did before noon.

Then came 2020 bringing “senior hours.” When going to the grocery store became a potential matter of life and death, I had to get up even earlier than when I was working if I wanted to shop with fewer potentially contagious people. It was a struggle and definitely didn’t become a habit after 21 days. However, I found that, once up and caffeinated, I was less stressed and got a lot done before noon. Most important, I wrote more on those days, earlier in the day, than on the days I slept to … well, let’s say “close to noon.”

Writing makes me feel good, like a whole person. And I need to figure out a way to have more of those days. It has finally dawned on me that being retired doesn’t really mean I can do whatever, whenever, I want. Without some sort of schedule, the days just drift along, and I realistically don’t have an awful lot of days left to waste. I need to develop some better habits, starting with a set sleep schedule. I just hope it doesn’t take any longer than 21 days to get to autopilot.


written to include Your Daily Word Prompt “trite”


“G” is for “Garanimals”

Once upon a time, there lived a children’s clothing brand called Garanimals. The concept of this line of matching separates was simple yet genius. Each color-coordinated article of clothing had a sewn-in tag with a picture of an animal and a large number. Children, or their fashion-challenged parents, could learn to dress by pairing tops and bottoms having the same animal tag. Shopping for kids’ clothes was a piece of cake because the animal/number tag sewn inside was duplicated on a large outside hang tag visible from several feet away. Plus, the clothes were reasonably priced. For a childless favorite aunt/step-grandmother like me with an assortment of kids to buy for, Garanimals was a godsend. The brand weathered the 1970s and 1980s, declined some time in the ’90s, was resurrected in 2008, and is sold exclusively at Walmart.

Now, I suppose I could end here, but I feel a little guilty after “cheating” with yesterday’s reblog. So I did a little research to see what else I could learn about Garanimals. Here’s what I found out:

  1. “Garanimal” has been used as a slang term for an adult who still dresses “matchy-matchy.”
  2. Novice roadies have also been called garanimals. (Roadies are the people who do the heavy lifting backstage at rock concerts.)
  3. Kids who grew up dressing with Garanimals yearn for the good old days, wishing someone would make Garanimals for adults.
  4. One of those wistful kids has a Pinterest site called “Garanimals for Adults — Capsule Wardrobes.” Wikipedia defines a capsule wardrobe as a “small collection of garments designed to be worn together which harmonize[s] in color and line.” Doesn’t that sound just like Garanimals?
  5. (Saving the best for last) “Garanimal” is a marijuana strain touted for its ability to deal with symptoms of anxiety and stress.