I’ve always been impressed with the folks who accomplish wonderful things, mostly out of the public view. As such, I determined to give these heroes a spotlight. My mission started years ago when I began writing about my career as teacher–relating the funny, touching episodes, as well as the troubling. My stories allowed the public a window on the actual world of teaching. I hoped young people would be motivated to enter that career for there was no career of my 3 that satisfied more.
My husband’s life-altering accident on a North Carolina mountain road led to my writing the Grandpa and the Truck books, about his trucker adventures, when he drove the big rig all over America for 30 years. Surprisingly, I learned no one had written a trucker’s tales before, despite the subject being ripe for storytelling. His challenges of icy, snow-clicked highways, crazy drivers, hurricanes and tornadoes, mountainous terrain were all fodder for our stories. Kids love our stories, as do teachers, parents, the men and women who drive those powerful beasts. Truckers are, indeed, America’s unsung heroes.
Our military heroes became my next focus. The first was my own brother-in-law, Rhode Island’s first Missing-in-Action in the Viet Nam war, when he was shot down in his Voodoo jet over enemy territory. That story led to recognition of his valor and helped in the long-awaited identification (50 years) of his remains, a month after my story ran. Now, Colonel Fredric Mellor will become one of a focus of national attention in the campaign to find and recover the remains of others who gave their lives for this country.
But I don’t just write of heroes. I write on topics I believe will benefit others. My latest book, Boomerrrang, tells how to be your own best buyer/seller of real estate and shows how your search for the perfect home might result in a surprising conclusion. And it’s chock full of humorous anecdotes leading one reader to say “Colleen’s book is laugh-out-loud funny!”
You see, I’ve had 3 careers in my life–teacher–realtor for another 8 years and now as writer. On this website, I hope to inform you and give you what I’ve learned in this life.
That said–If you have a hero you’d like me to focus on, send me an email at email@example.com
They (the naysayers, that is) can say what they wish about Rhode Island but we who have traveled and lived elsewhere know our little state is where we want to be…for perpetuity (my ashes will be tossed—elegantly, I hope, off Rhode Island waters, while he’ll be ceremoniously interred in Veterans’ Cemetery.)
For many years, we’ve lived in the Cowesett section of Warwick, whose delightful stone walls and expanses of tree-studded lawns, run along, right up the hill from Main St. East Greenwich. In other words, we’re a stone’s throw from coffee shops…restaurants… a perfectly fine grocery store, even a shoe cobbler, for God’s sake. Not every town in Rhode Island has a town center for gathering (note that—does yours?).
If we wish to go to another favored destination, we can easily jump on the main connector, route 95, to Mystic, in Connecticut (38 mins away), while lovely Little Compton is 45 mins. in another direction.
As Rhode Islanders in every season, we enjoy estuaries, salt marshes (I love how the tall sea grasses turn a pinkish hue in fall)… We ride the back roads to discover houses we’ve never seen before…houses that delight for their individuality. I shoot photos of these. They needn’t be impressive, size-wise…just unique.
Then we top off our quest with a gustatory delight at our favorite ice cream store, next door to the diner in Nowhere, Exeter. They serve our most preferred—Gifford’s maple walnut (can’t even get it in most of the South.) We’ve studied each of these dairy emporiums. Some we find too chalky…some too sweet…Even one in nearby Connecticut (yes, we cross borders) actually loads too nuts in the ice cream. We look for a perfect balance…
A close second in quality and price is Clementine’s on Main St. East Greenwich (we also like the 3 year owner/operator Warren). Clementine was their cherished dog whose picture graces one wall of the interior.
So… quaint towns…marshes…proximity of all we love…ice cream gustatory delights (and we’ve sampled them ALL) to top it off. Our needs are simple.
These are just some of the reasons we came back “home.”
Last week I was in a small supermarket (oxymoron?) in Wickford, Rhode Island, when a young woman called out: “Hello, Colleen…I’m Kerry (last name I omit). You helped my husband and me buy a home some years ago.”
We hugged and chatted; she told me they’d sold that home and bought a new one in North Kingstown. Then she asked what I was doing (because she knew I’d left my highly successful real estate career after 8 years). I told her I was writing, publishing books, and guest speaking. I also told her I was intent on helping change Rhode islanders’ attitude regarding their own state because we have a bad habit of self-sabotaging. Then I added that I was excited because I was going to be interviewed by Dan Yorke on his television show “State of Mind” the next day.
At that very moment, a woman in quest of a tub of ice cream in the freezer behind us overheard, snapped around, and interjected: “Dan Yorke? I LOVE his show.” Now, the 3 of us began talking, literally creating a traffic jam in the aisle. She’s going to wait and watch for the program with me as guest (they’re taping it for future showing.)
Below is that actual taping of my appearance on the Dan Yorke show. At this date, I’ve spoken before 10 audiences on my book, Boomerrrang; I did a radio guest shot with Frank Prosnitz, in Westerly; and now this TV appearance. I’ll start my own Podcast soon where I’ll interview former students and weigh in on a host of issues. My topics will be varied and provide useful life tips–things I wish someone had told me. At times, I’ll have a partner in podcasting–a younger woman and I’ll bring on a variety of guests–former students I’ve had who now have exciting careers or lives, in their own right.
Feel free to comment and offer suggestions. After watching the tape, see if you can answer the following, in the Comments section: What is the most serious hurdle facing people who self-sell their homes? Do you recall what realtors call self-sellers? (Clue–It’s a weird amalgamation of letters, representing words.)
And to see my on Dan Yorke’s “State of Mind” click on this link.
Happy Thanksgiving, all….and I’d just like to say: In recent years, I have many Rhode Islanders to thank, for what’s happening in my life.
First, I thank Providence Journal Vice-President and Editorial page editor, Ed Achorn, for running my columns, monthly. In these, I hoped to give the public a window on the world of teaching. (I spun out, into other areas as well.) I thank Executive Editor of the Providence Journal, Alan Rosenberg, for featuring my Memorial Day story about my brother-in-law, Lt. Colonel Fredric Moore Mellor, Rhode Island’s first casualty of the Viet Nam war.
I thank all who invited me to speak before their groups—the American Assoc. of University Women, LeisureLearning of East Greenwich (both over 100 in audience), Allen Gammons, Greg Dantas, and David Iannuccilli, 3 broker/owners who saw the value of my book, Boomerrrang, apprising the public of how to best use the skill of a realtor; Bristol Rotary, North Smithfield Rotary, Tavern Hall Preservation Society, RI Aviation Hall of Fame, Mount Hope Farm,among others.
I thank all who bought my books and came to my guest talks, for I deeply appreciate your support.
How’d this journey begin?
In 2010, my longtime partner, Paul Wesley Gates, was hit on a mountain road by a 12-year-old girl, in a region we’d chosen for retirement— Asheville, North Carolina. He suffered a broken neck and “died” following complications of surgery. Staff brought him back, but it took two years of recovery. In that process, amazing things happened.
First, he and I published 2 Grandpa and the Truck books (link on this website) for children., based on Paul’s 30-year career as a big rig driver who traveled every state in the United States—except one.
Then, I published Boomerrrang—my book about our life in the South for 9 years.
In that capacity, I speak before audiences as to how we identified the region …the town…the home (condo or stand-alone home) for retirement. I discuss drawbacks/benefits of all. And because much of my life (30 years) was teaching junior high students, I package my “lessons” with lots of humor. I address why we rejected coastline communities…I tell why we’re not Naples, Florida types (tho’ Naples is gorgeous). I talk about the troubles for those who hopscotch between northern and southern homes in the “Two State Shuffle.” I warn why it might not be good to identify as Floridian, if you keep your Rhode Island home, too.
I tell you why we love Asheville, North Carolina. I tell you about the minstrels playing outside smaller supermarkets…the chair massages in retail stores (so very civilized). I even tell you how this older woman went hurtling through the trees and over deep chasms, ziplining with her daughter. I tell of our volunteer activities (he ran blood for the Red Cross ; I taught women in the Asheville jail) … how I broke into that same jail one night, to fulfill a promise to my women prisoners. I tell how Paul filed a Missing Persons Report on me with police. Even more stunning? Police put an APB out on me!!
I tell how a laid-back region populated with mostly older hippies, charmed us completely.
Throughout, I share what I learned.
Boomerrranggives long-overdue credit to Rhode Island for being the winner in our ultimate choice of where to live. Oh, we made the serious attempt to leave. In the end, Rhode island lured us back. In the book, I tell why (the reasons are NOT what you think.)
Jane M. of Warwick said of my book: “Thank you for allowing me to see Rhode Island with a different set of eyes,” while a young woman who wants her Florida Mom to return to Rhode Island offered: “I’m getting this book for my mother, so she’ll consider returning.”
Boomerrrang is funny (read the reviews on Amazon). It’s touching…It shows how to get what you want (I had to fight the bureaucracy of a top hospital and neurosurgeon who kept telling me Paul was ‘fine and ready for discharge,’ when he was bat**** crazy.) It’s a quilt of humor-laced stories.
It tells you how to shop for a home…anywhere. It even tells you how to sell your home, yourself, if you’re brave (or crazy) enough to go that route.
Boomerrrangwill tell you why we made the choice to return to the colder New England, after 9 years in the South.
Finally, Boomerrranginspires for it shows how personal crises became our springboard to go higher.
Yep…This year has been one giant wave of success, affording me venues I’d never have considered. So, to all–I say “Thank you!!” To others who consider me for speaking, contact me: My plan is to go across Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, with my message.
Please note: If you wish a personal, author-signed copy, please order through this website and put your request for how you want it signed in “Special Instructions.” To get for holiday gift-giving, you must order the personalized book by December 12th.
My book is also sold at Barrington Books in Garden City and in Barrington, the Savoy Bookstore in Westerly, Malaprops in Asheville, NC, Amazon and Kindle. In outlets other than my personal website, you can order books later than the Dec. 12thdate.
Lastly, thanks to the Dan Yorke “State of Mind” TV showfor having me as guest. Below is the link to my recent guest appearance.
That’s right–Asheville, North Carolina was always on our Bucket List but you know what? The Tar Heel state ended up being our 2nd. most favorite state of all 50. No small accomplishment. North Carolina just couldn’t outpace our #1 favorite–the smallest state in the U.S….little Rhode island, our home state. So, after living 9 years in Asheville, in the Blue Ridge/Smoky Mountain enclave of artists…writers…nature-lovers, we went home.
Last Sunday was a gorgeous day. With that, Paul and I checked out the Mt. Hope Farm, in Bristol, Rhode Island, where I speak on November 7, at 7:00 PM. My topic? “Downsizing…condo-sizing…Buying/Selling a Home When One is Older” (even out of state buying, as we did, in that mecca for so many discerning home buyers–Asheville, North Carolina).
My talk is based on my book Boomerrrang and in that vein, I go all about, speaking as to why folks just might want to prepare themselves for a move—anywhere. I also “talk up” Rhode Island and Asheville, North Carolina, in the process, giving folks something to chew on—a different perspective.
But mine’s no stodgy talk…I manage to weave in great fun. For instance, in this talk, I’ll mention the folks I just met on Sunday’s walk.I even mention that vicious little dog (why are they always little?) owned by the first woman– a dog that repeatedly tried to savage my ankle.
When we checked out my speaking site, we walked the grounds. There was an event going on in the barn… a wine-tasting. Following the parking guide’s directions, I went back out to the gate on the main road and drove down the road to the parking area. When I passed a great green expanse, I recalled that I’d been there before—about 50 years ago for a polo match (yep–I’m getting up there, age-wise.) Why did I remember it? The event was wildly impressive: white linen tablecloths atop tables, aside the playing field…fresh flowers in cut glass vases…expensive wines and glass goblets, along with picnic goodies in baskets that people brought.
Those in attendance were dressed in finery, too, with the women wearing picture hats with broad brims, a la Kentucky Derby (you know, the horse race that evokes mint juleps in frosted metal cups). All so elegant. Then we watched the match where men hit a very tiny ball, while galloping atop giant steeds. All very Brit and very posh.
While walking the paths, we met two couples… both interesting. The woman of the first set lives in Bristol and readily admits: “I never go beyond this immediate area.” She simply would never have an occasion to go to where we live—East Greenwich/Cowesett area.She admitted that, laughing at her travel-challenged lifestyle. In fact, she was impressed we go all over. She was, I’m guessing, in her 40’s.
The second set—a couple in their 80’s (yes, I asked) we got to know quite well, for we spent a good forty-five minutes chatting with them. They were sitting on the steps of the log house which turned out to be our ultimate destination on the grounds. He (Ree-chard is Richard with a French accent) met Claudine when he was stationed in World War II, in France. She became his war bride (remember, the French regarded Americans as heroes and saviors from occupation by Nazi Germany). They’ve been married 60 years. They’ve lived in Florida but now they are back in Rhode Island as full time residents. They’re just two more Boomerrrang-ers (btw, I’m forming an actual group of such, because as I speak, more and more folks are coming up to me, saying: “We’re Boomerrrangers, too…We lived in Florida for 8 years but that was enough. So, we came back to Rhode Island.)” Therefore, I’m forming a club, so please add your name to the subscription list on this site, if you, too, want to be a member.
Ree-chard is a sailing aficionado…They’re not golfers. That’s important to note. I told them that we’re neither. That was a crucial determinant for how we chose where we wanted to live, in retirement, for we saw no reason to pay the extra fees that go with joining a boating or golfing condominium community. Plus, we didn’t want our conversation always rotating around subjects about which we know little.
So, a glorious fall day. The temperature climbed to almost 60 degrees. We had a lovely walk along the Bay. Another couple told us a seal was sunning himself on one of the rocks, but he’d disappeared before we could see. That’s not unnatural: Nearby Chatham, Massachusetts has been a mecca for seals in recent years, hence the Great White shark increase, too, for seal is the favorite diet of sharks.
Today, we met 4 friends. Another thing I noted? No one leaves Bristol…and if they do, it’s not for long. When the second couple asked where we lived, I told them Cowesett. The man seemed puzzled, so I said, “It’s up from Main St., East Greenwich…the harbor.” He then offered: “Oh, we never go to that far..”
I thought: “Here we are, in beautiful Bristol, a historic enclave in little Rhode Island, with folks who’ve been to France (one was raised there—the other was military-sent) but they admittedly never travel to our section of the state. Then again, we’d heard the same from the other couple….
So my conclusion? “What happens in Bristol stays in Bristol.”
And that means most definitely her people.
***Join Colleen at one of her speaking engagements (call Mt. Hope Farm if interested for this Wed’s talk) where she gives all a truly different perspective on Rhode Island and tells you how to succeed whether you’re downsizing, condo-sizing, moving to a different region (in or out of state). Her “rules for success” work anywhere…for anyone. Her book, “Boomerrrang, is available at Barrington Books in Barrington and Cranston’s Garden City; the Savoy in Westerly; Malaprops in Asheville, NC, and on Amazon and Kindle. If you buy through her website (colleenkellymellor.com), she will personalize and autograph the book per your instructions.
PS. If you’ve never been to Mt. Hope Farm in Bristol, RI, check it out…Walk the grounds. Bring your kids and dogs (we were the only ones without a furry critter.)
P.P.S. Thanks, again, to Colleen’s recent audience at Tavern Preservation Society in Kingston. She loves the fact they’ve now made her an honorary member of their interesting group. Colleen was so impressed she recommended they get author Ed Iannuccilli as speaker, for one of their future events. Ed, in turn, recommended Colleen to Mt. Hope Farm—Bristol, where he’d spoken.