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Celebrating WORDWALK’s Eighth Anniversary

January 20, 2021

Celebrating WORDWALK’s Eighth Anniversary

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                On this 19th of January of this much-anticipated year of 2021, as we await tomorrow’s Inauguration, I am recalling the two times when I had the pleasure of touring Washington, D.C., and also surprising myself with marking the eighth anniversary of the initiation of this WORDWALK blog.  During this National Braille Literacy Month, within these thoughts of our nation’s capital and my blog’s anniversary is a braille connection.  So, let’s begin to connect the dots that will weave together this anniversary blog post.

                Fortunately, for my older sister and me, both of my parents enjoyed traveling:  throughout the years of vacationing with our parents, we visited thirty-eight states and many historical sites.  In August of 1965, after Mary Elizabeth had been graduated from Clinton High School and I was looking toward my sophomore year, our parents planned a summer vacation for the four of us in Washington, D.C.  As usual, this trip was a road trip.  Thanks to then Indiana Congressman Richard Roudebush, my mother had secured for us special passes to visit The White House, Capitol Building, the Smithsonian Institute, and other points of interest.  Despite the summer’s heat and humidity and a great deal of walking each day for a week, I greatly enjoyed touring the historical buildings and museums, as well as visiting the National Cathedral and watching the changing-of-the-guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. 

                At that time in the 1960s, a tourist could visit more rooms of The White House.  For whatever reason, the silk wallpaper most impressed my sixteen-year-old mind.  The Red Room was strikingly beautiful while The Blue Room was attractive in a stately manner; The Green Room completed this trio of famous rooms that were etched into my memory.  Near the kitchen, the guide told us about The White House china patterns, some of which were displayed in a special case.  Later, for my souvenir of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, I purchased a beautiful, full-color book simply entitled THE WHITE HOUSE.  Through the decades, I practically memorized the photos in this lovely book; happily, I still have this book on one of my bookshelves. 

                From 1983 through the first half of 1984, I worked on eighteen lessons of the Library of Congress course to become a braille transcriber.  After completing the eighteen lessons, which were checked by a Terre Haute (Indiana) resident who had already been certified as a braille transcriber, I selected a large-print book about President Harry Truman and First Lady Bess Truman for achieving the transcription of twenty-five brailled pages–11-by-11.5-inch pages–to be graded by someone at the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C.  By the time I completed all of the meticulous work for this braille transcription course, I decided that I had put more effort into this course than into my first master’s degree:  my parents felt the same way.  Thus, rather than mail my manuscript of twenty-five brailled pages to our nation’s capital, my parents and I chose to take a second road trip to Washington, D. C., so that I could hand deliver my manuscript to the proper office at the Library of Congress.  Amazingly, in the summer of 1984, we did.  Although the office was in the annex of the Library of Congress, hand-delivering my meticulously brailled manuscript at the Library of Congress was a thrill. 

                During this second trip to D.C., we visited the Capitol Building again and even saw Senator Ted Kennedy coming down a stairway.  Although we did not tour The White House again, we tried to see some places which we had missed previously.  For example, we especially enjoyed touring Mount Vernon and taking a night tour to see the historic buildings in lights.

                In September of that year, a few weeks after our return from Washington, I was delighted to receive in the mail my certificate which is dated August 23, 1984, and verifies my being certified as a braille transcriber by the Library of Congress.  The accompanying letter noted that I achieved the score of 98 of 100:  I had made in those twenty-five pages of single-line spaced braille two cells of errors that I had not caught during my brailling and proofreading.  What a relief to know that I had achieved my goal!  This goal eventually led to other opportunities for me, including a fellowship grant for earning my second master’s degree in blind rehabilitation at Western Michigan University and a full-time job teaching braille and other rehabilitation courses before returning to the traditional classroom to teach English.  Yes, I am tremendously grateful that learning braille and training with my four Leader Dogs led to such wonderful opportunities.

With braille always nearby and Leader Dog Willow ever at my side, I look forward to another year of sharing my writings with my WORDWALK readers.  My special and sincere thanks to all of you, especially those of you who have been following WORDWALK since January 19, 2013.  Finally, my continuing appreciation to my friend Jenna who on a Saturday afternoon eight years ago, helped me to initiate this blog.  In January of 2013, I never imagined that I would average fifty or more posts each year for eight years … and still happily counting.

With great gratitude for your joining us on this 8th-Anniversary WORDWALK,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

January 19, 2021, Tuesday


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  1. An enjoyable trip to Washington D.C. in this writing Alice. It is so amazing that you still have the book from that time period on your shelves. And, I was happy to read that you got to deliver your Braille manuscript in person. That would certainly be a highlight of a lifetime! I always enjoy a visit to your Word Walk Blog. Congrats on the anniversary.

    • Good morning, Lynda–How very nice to find both a comment and “like” from you on my blog this morning!  Many thanks for your kind and encouraging support through these past years!  I look forward to reading your upcoming books and blog posts.

      Take good care–Alice and Willow

  2. This is always a good weekly morning read. I am greatful for God’s gift of memory, especially for you, Alice, as you recall so many details! Keep going for many multiples of eight years!!

    • Good morning, Linda–Always so wonderful to hear from you on WORDWALK!  Yes, memory is such a gift–especially during this COVID Era.  The periods of traveling that we took for granted for so long will be extremely appreciated in the future.

      “Hello” and blessings to all at the cottages!

      Take good care–Alice and Willow

  3. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Happy Anniversary for WORDWALK! I am always amazed how much I learn about you as I read these weekly blogs. This was an exceptionally interesting blog which I started reading while watching the inauguration proceedings in Washington DC. Just now, I’m ordering the Louis Braille book you mention earlier and really looking forward to learning more during this Braille Literacy Month. Thanks for your interesting and educational postings.

    • Good afternoon, Sue–After all of these posts, I am so pleased to hear that you still feel as if you are learning something from my posts.  I am delighted to hear that you plan to read the C. Michael Mellor book about Louis Braille; I know you will enjoy the biography and all of the photos.  Many thanks for your encouragement and support of my blog throughout these eight years!

      Stay warm and well!

      Alice and Willow

  4. Carole permalink

    Happy 8th Wordwalk Anniversary, Alice! Your recollections and descriptions never cease to amaze me! I’ve enjoyed visiting Washington D.C. and the historical sites on several occasions, but still have the White House Tour on my Bucket List. I, too, still have the lovely White House book that was a thoughtful gift from you and the family.

    Congratulations for maintaining an interesting and evolving blog through the years!

    • Good evening, Carole–Thank you for both the “like” and nice comment on this blog post!  When traveling once again becomes a part of our lives, I do hope that you and Tim will be able to tour the White House.  With your flair for decorating, I am certain that you will greatly appreciate each room of the tour.

      Take good care–Alice and Willow

  5. Francetta Rayce permalink

    Hi Alice,
    As several others have commented, I am both amazed and thrilled by the many details you recall and express so well. Often your writing jars loose a time and memory of my own. I often learn something new or recall a similar experience. I’m certainly grateful that your friend Jenna helped you get started on this pleasing and successful blog.

    Thank you for sharing your gifts of memory and writing. A weekly blog is a huge commitment and you deliver with grace and skill.

    Best to you and Willow,

    • Good evening, Fran–Especially at this time, I do greatly appreciate your taking the time to read my blog and post such a well-crafted comment.  Throughout the years of this weekly blogging experience, your written and verbal expressions of encouragement, support, and kindness have been special to me. WORDWALK gives form to my week, and my journalistic upbringing still finds satisfaction in meeting each week’s writing deadline.

      May the writing of your own family history bring you much joy and satisfaction during this new year,

      Alice and Willow

  6. Happy anniversary, Alice! The 8 years have been full of wonderful poems and memories. I am so happy that your blog is thriving, and I hope for many more years of excellent writing! Congratulations! Jenna

    • Hi, Jenna–I am smiling to have a comment from you on this anniversary blog post!  Huge thanks for all!!

          The gingerbread biscotti were the absolute best ever!  I predict a blue ribbon for the State Fair, and let us hope there will be a state fair in August.

          “Hello!” to Harper.

      Take good care!

      With our gratitude and good wishes,

      Alice and Willow

  7. mfanyo permalink

    Hello, Alice,
    I am delighted to add my comment of praise and congratulations on the 8th Anniversary of your Wordwalk blog! I know that since 2013 you have literally walked hundreds of miles with your precious Leader Dogs Zoe and Willow to generate interesting ideas and to recall countless details to create the beautiful pieces of writing that I have thoroughly enjoyed!

    With Washington, D.C. at the forefront of the news in recent weeks as well as your life-changing experience at the Library of Congress, I have been thinking about our special family trip to the nation’s capital over fifty years ago. I have a souvenir that I have treasured all these years—a beautiful pearl rosary which is still in the original box. Inside the box is written “The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Washington, D.C.” I keep the rosary on my night table, and it is still as beautiful as the day it was purchased, even after being used many times.

    Prayers of appreciation and best wishes for you and Willow!
    Love, Mary

    • Good morning, Mary–Thanks for adding your recollection to this blog post.  Yes, I do remember the rosary you described and our going to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C.  At the large gift shop there, when you purchased the rosary, I made two purchases.  One was a contemporary, elongeated oval-shaped holy medal  (necklace with pendant) of the Madonna and Child; of course, I still have this medal in its original gift box, but have not worn it for decades.  The other small item which I purchased at this modern cathedral’s gift shop was a small (one inch by 1.5 inches) pale blue plastic folder shaped like a church.  On the front of the folder is a very small clear plastic pocket in which is a tiny statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Inside the small folder, one finds, on the left side panel, a photo of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; on the right side panel is a copy of “The Memorare of the Blessed Virgin Mary” prayer.  After the purchase of this folder in August of 1965, for either the following Advent or Lent, I memorized this beautiful and inspirational prayer.  During these past decades, I have often turned to this memorized prayer and know that you also pray this “Memorare.”

      With gratitude and good wishes,

      Alice and Willo

  8. Katherine Binole permalink

    Alice, Congratulations on celebrating 8 years of your Wordwalk Blog. I love when you write about Indiana and family. It brings back so many memories.

    I so enjoyed this blog about your trips to Washington D.C. Your memory of details and descriptions of the White House is amazing! We took a few day trips to D.C. when living in New Jersey, sadly never making it to see White House. We took my mother and Bill’s mom when visiting us to D.C. Both enjoyed visiting The National Cathedral. Mother insisted on seeing JFK’s grave site. Needless to say, we had already done a lot of walking. It wasn’t easy for mother with her severe arthritis, but she did it!
    Alice, keep writing your blog. Love, Aunt Kathy

    • Aunt Kathy–How wonderful to have your comment on this blog post!  Also, I do appreciate your kind words and encouragement about my blog.  Yes, the Indiana posts seem to be the most popular; and I do enjoy writing them to keep the memories.

          I do recall how thrilled Grandma “Farm” (Massa) was to visit Washington, D.C.  How much she saw and did in her lifetime!

      Stay warm and well!

      Best wishes–Alice and Willow

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