Separated at Birth: Looking for My Twin

I have always known I was adopted. My mom told me numerous times how she met a lady on a street corner  in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, and I was handed  over to my dad and her. Right there something doesn’t sound right. I was also told my birth mother was at the Florence Crittenton Home in Wheeling until she gave birth. I don’t have proof of that, however, as all the birth records before 1960 were deliberately burned………….. Say what?

Yes, years ago I called Florence Crittenton and was told by the director that the records were burned. She wouldn’t have been able to give me information anyway, since things were confidential. I just wanted to know if I had a twin for sure. I still would like to know that. So, I have decided in my ripe old age of 57 to find out.

Light years ago, when I was a junior in college, my sister called to tell me she met my twin. Sure, people have people who look like them, but when she told me, “No, I mean, your REAL twin,”  I just had to hear the story.

My sister was in a bar and noticed a girl across the room who she said looked exactly like me and had my mannerisms. She approached her with a laugh and told her she looked exactly like her sister and if by the chance  was she was adopted?  Why, yes she was. She then told my sister her birth date…same day, month, year, AND city of Wheeling. We were on to something.

We decided to meet.  Her name was Joyce and although I didn’t think we looked exactly alike, we  did look like sisters and found a lot of  things in common. From what I remember, we both had kidney problems when we were little, and well, that’s all I remember at this time.   She lived right across the river in Steubenville, Ohio. We both brought our birth certificates. Hers had the hospital but not the time of birth,and mine had the time of birth but not the hospital….or something like that. We were sure we were twins. What are the odds that babies would be born on the same day in 1956, from the same city, and hospital, and both were adopted….and we looked alike. Yeah, we just had to be twins…


We were going to get together and get a blood test to see for sure, but we drifted off, never to talk again at all.

I find that weird now, but at the time we were young and I guess didn’t feel the need to form a sisterly bond. I don’t know.  And so in 2014, I have no idea where she is or if she is still alive.

I’m going to find out.

It’s funny, but on my real birth certificate, the name of the birth mother giving their child up for adoption is supposed to be completely blacked out. Mine was not. Someone put a simple line through the name: Nancy Jane F*******, age 17. That could have been a made up name for all I know. That would make my birth mother 74 years old if she is still alive…. I’m so good at mathematics. Maybe my birth mother was a math teacher.

My adopted parents were told that my birth mother was from Philadelphia and that her dad was a big time lawyer who brought her to Wheeling all hush hush….and that Nancy played the piano to bide the time….all lies. My birth mother was a local girl.  The director at the time told me all the adoptive parents were lied to as  to where the birth mother was from. I wish I would have known that before my mom made me take piano lessons. That didn’t last too long as I was as talented as a piece of drift wood.

I was also told my birth name didn’t necessarily come from my birth mother. My name on my birth certificate was Deborah Lee….Debbie. My name was Debbie, but probably named by a nurse….. or a janitor. I had no idea.

I did locate several Nancy Janes…one was from a city near Wheeling. Of course, again, that name could have been a lie too. But, if it is true, that Nancy Jane had another set of twins about 12 years later…so there may be a whole lot of me walking around.

I had no desire to locate my birth mother for a while, as I was sure she was bony and hunched over,  had long bleached blonde hair, wore a tube top, carried a pack of cigarettes, and had a smoker’s croupy laugh.  Mainly, I didn’t want to upset my mom and dad. Besides, you could open the door to a whole new world of Cousin Eddie’s. On the other hand,if my birth mother drove up in a Mercedes and spoke French and Italian in the same sentence, and had hundred dollar bills falling out of her fur coat, I would sit up and take notice.

My brother hired a detective and delivered 6 Nancy Jane F*******s for me, wrapped in a bow one Christmas.  My husband at the time even drove to Ohio to check it out and even talked to the one woman. She denied being that age. As he drove off, he noticed a gigantic jade tree in her picture window. I too, had a gigantic jade tree in my kitchen. So,of course,that had to be my birth mother. We laughed, but not really. I then decided to not pursue it again.

So, back to my twin….

So, the years went by and I still talked about Joyce but still did nothing except for same comment, “One of these days I’m going to try to find my twin.” I don’t know how many times I have said that. I don’t remember what high school she went to, but she may have graduated in 1975 unless she started school early like I did and graduated in 1974.

But, I’m going to find out this time. I really am.

I am going to start with Facebook.

So, Joyce, adopted from Wheeling 11/56, and raised in Steubenville, Ohio…. leave me a note here.



PS…if people are reading this from Facebook, please share on your facebook wall. It’s already getting a lot of hits. Thanks!!!

West Virginia Day Tripper

I’ve started a new blog about my jaunts around the mountain state for those who enjoy armchair traveling. I thought I would keep it separate from my blogs here.  I have a lot of  photos of my travels and plan on doing more, so I thought it would be good to house them all in one place. I hope you will visit  West Virginia Day Tripper. Thanks!


West Virginia Barns

As you can tell by my lack of  blog posts lately, I have become preoccupied with photography. I should be working on my third book or writing here more often, but it seems to have taken a back seat to what has become my passion: pretending to be a photographer.

My father was a photographer when he wasn’t working as owner and broker of his real estate company. He used a press camera which I wish to God I had in my possession. He loved taking pictures and vacationing through West Virginia meant getting out of the station wagon at each hairpin turn so he could get a photo of the “beautiful view.” There were at least 150 “beautiful views” per vacation. I didn’t mind because I was little and a ham for the camera. He has since passed, but I honestly feel him beside me when I frame a shot.

I love photography more than writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy receiving a royalty check each month from Amazon for my 2 ebooks.  It’s not much, but it still pays a bill or two, so that is nice. But, I’ve decided to concentrate on writing after I retire in a few years. My summer writing time has been replaced by day tripping and photography.

When you focus your camera, it is interesting to find out what your interests are. I had no idea when I started taking pictures that my eye would find old barns appealing. Old stuff. Maybe that’s why I like to haunt antique shops.

But, I credit my love of old barns to my grandfather.  He didn’t actually live on a farm, but purchased one to house his prized palomino horses. He named it Cherry Farm and I loved going there.  I believe he rented the house  to a family who took care of the horses. There was an old barn full of pigs. And I was sold. A couple of years later that barn and the pigs inside burned to the ground, but my love of barns lived on.

So, the first time I decided to take a drive, I was surprised what caught my eye. I seem to like old bridges, barns, and abandoned buildings. Who knew I would take back roads in hope of finding a wonderful farm to photograph. Here are just a few of the barns I have photographed in the past few weeks.


Old Route 250 on the Marion/Taylor County line. It’s a goat farm and I love driving by it.


Dean Drive. This is on the road behind my former home. I’ve driven by it hundreds of times…funny how it is now a

focus.IMG_2972Near Seneca Rocks, WV

The rest are from my little jaunt yesterday.



I took about ten photos of this “truck graveyard.” Of course, that’s not really what it is.


Near Watter Smith State Park

Near Watter Smith State Park












Had to put the dead tree in this shot.


This is the best I could do. It was on a winding road with no place to pull off. I rolled down my window, and aimed.

This is what happens when we finally get a break from the snow and the sun is shining on a Saturday afternoon. For those readers who are barn lovers, I drove from Fairmont south on I-79 and took the Lost Creek Exit. I drove on Route 270 from Lost Creek to West Milford and took Duck Creek Road (love the name) to Watters Smith State Park, which was CLOSED…bummer. I doubled back to get some photos I missed on the way and then took I-79 to the Jane Lew Exit in Lewis County and took Route 19 to Clarksburg. I had never been on either road before, so I had fun.

When I was young I told my grandma I had been on every road in West Virginia. She laughed at me and I got mad at her. In my defense, it seemed like I had. My dad couldn’t be away from his real estate business for too long (although I know now he really didn’t want to be in the car with my mom for very long), so our vacations were traveling around West Virginia.

I still love traveling around this state. The barns are becoming old and decrepit. Pretty soon a  new Walmart  or housing development will spring up on old farmland and  yet another barn will be just a memory. I hope to photograph a lot of them before time, or perhaps another derecho takes one down.

Blackwater Falls

I am ready to move to a warmer climate. I am tired of snow, spinning tires, and 2 hour school delays. But, despite this long snap of frigid weather and mounting snow drifts, I still find inspiration to get in my car and snap some photos. It would be much easier to snap pictures during the other three seasons, when I actually want to get out of my car for different angles, but right now I am basically a “shoot from the car window”  kind of pretend photographer.

When my son was in for Christmas, we decided to drive to Blackwater Falls right after a frigid couple of days. We wanted to see if the falls were frozen. What was I thinking?


We stopped to take photos of this lovely old house.

Blackwater State Park is located in the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County, West Virginia near the town of Davis. The park is about 1 1/2 hours away from my home.  It is named for the cascading falls of the Blackwater River, whose amber-colored waters plunge 62 feet and then tumble through the Blackwater Canyon, which is roughly an eight mile long gorge. The so-called “black” water is from tannic acid from the nearby fallen hemlock along with red spruce needles.

According to

“The river enters Blackwater Falls State Park at an elevation of 3,040 feet. For the next 2.2 miles it is a wild river, dropping 57 feet at the main falls and then descending another 560 feet, before leaving the park. The river, geologically young, has carved the spectacular, deep, and almost vertical walls of Blackwater Canyon, which cuts through the surrounding plateau. Blackwater Lodge opened in 1956 on the south rim of the canyon, and a 65-site campground was opened in 1961. The state park, consisting of 1,688 acres, was established in 1937.”

I have never been to the falls in the winter. Summer is a beautiful time to visit the whole area, but we wanted to see what it looked like after a few days of frigid temperatures. I was not too smart and wore tennis shoes and my gloves might as well have been made of thin cotton. But, I had my camera and it was great having my son along with me.

We arrived at the falls parking lot and were surprised to see so many cars. I thought we would be all alone, seeing that it was so cold. I noticed license plates from Virginia, New York, Delaware, and Ohio among the many from West Virginia.


Did I mention there were 214 steps to get down to the falls? I hadn’t been there in years and hoped the slipping and sliding would be worth it.



It was a beautiful walk and I was so happy the wind was calm. I am not a fan of cold, but I trudged on, hoping the falls would not disappoint.

They didn’t There were parts that were frozen, but a majority of the falls were plunging, business as usual. I was taken back by the surrounding beauty. This was a winter wonderland, no doubt about it.




Trees in the canyon below showed the beauty of winter.



My son is a great photographer. His photos look a lot better than mine.




Blackwater Falls, one of the most photographed areas in the state.







So, if you go down, you must go back up. In all honesty, the stairs that snaked their way down to the falls had many platforms along the wall. There were benches and different viewing areas for those who did not want to take the whole journey. It was not bad, and I am a complainer.



My son was able to make this snowman while he waited for me at the top of the stairs..just kidding. I did fine. But, we felt we deserved a break, so we stopped at the Mountain State Brewing Co. for a beer.


IMG_3945All in all, I was glad we ventured into the mountains to visit Blackwater Falls. The best part, though, was spending the day with my son.


Snow Bound?

For those who are snow bound like myself and are looking for a good book to read, my fellow author friend, Kelly, has a new book for Amazon Kindle:

Four Eyes Were Never Better Than Two 

Kelly Coleman Potter


“Kelly Coleman Potter, once known in inner circles as Smelly Kelly, doesn’t see things like most of us do. This could be due to the nearsightedness that presented itself in third grade when she became known as four-eyed Smelly Kelly, but it’s not. According to her high school Journalism teacher, Potter has a unique perspective and outlook on life. She still doesn’t know if that was a compliment or an insult – or perhaps, just a nice way to say she’s weird.

In this collection of essays, Four Eyes Were Never Better Than Two…and other observations, Potter offers a candid look at the human condition with tales recounting the past and present. From her younger days of dreaming about being a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader so she could own pom-poms to sex education taught by a Joyce Dewitt look-alike, Potter confesses all – including the ironic account of throwing up on a dog named Ralph.

No stranger to embarrassment, she writes of cold sores that require an exorcism and the torture that was seventh grade gym class, capturing the angst, humiliation, and absurdity in those moments that often define us as individuals. Observations include: desperation can make a person do some pretty stupid things like answering a personal ad, hot wax is best left in the hands of a professional if you value your lips, and nothing is so surprising as the man who claims to hate dancing busting a move in a hospital recovery room.

Even if you’ve never had to admit in a public setting that you’re having your period, passed out at the eye doctor’s office, or had an illogical fear of a lawn mower, Potter’s self-deprecating wit and sometimes bizarre sense of humor will make you glad these things only happen on sit-coms… or to her.”


Best Wishes on a successful book, Kelly!

Ginger-Ale House

I made my first gingerbread house this past Christmas. I am fifty-seven years old and had never made one, so I decided that would change. I informed my children, who are now 28 and 26,  it is never to late to begin a tradition, and that when they came home from eastern Europe and New York City to stay with me over the holidays, we would be making gingerbread houses….beer included in the mix.

I have been researching gingerbread houses and even have a board on pinterest on the subject. If I was going to create a gingerbread house, I really needed to know what the hell I was doing.

I started by looking at recipes for creating the gingerbread walls and roof for the house and I thought to myself, “Oh, hell no.”  No, this gingerbread house newbie was going to have to buy kits this first year. The thought of mixing and rolling and baking on top of my Christmas cookies and planned dinner was too much for me.

So, I found kits at Walmart. I also started accumulating candy and stuff to put on the gingerbread house. I bought other bases because I wanted to have room to make a yard. I was ready.


The best part of this was the fact that my kids, now grown, seemed to be excited to put together a gingerbread house. When they were small, I was so busy getting ready for a Christmas Eve sit- down dinner at our house for 25 people, baking cookies and cleaning, that I just never thought about gingerbread house building.  It took us a while to get everything cooked and ready. I even used china and didn’t think about using plastic bowls or plates for salads or desserts until I was just tired of  it all.  So, our gingerbread house building I guess had to wait.

Better late than never.


My son has been living in the Republic of Georgia and already had plans to alter his gingerbread house. He was thinking of Georgian architecture and went to the kitchen and came back with a knife. He sat, studied, and then began manipulating his walls and roof. He was smiling, so I knew he came up with an idea.

Alex, on the other hand, jumped right in and began icing her walls to the base. She remarked several times she was going to win. Before we started, we decided we would post our houses on my facebook wall and ask my friends to vote on the best gingerbread house. No one would know who built what house. Alex was on a mission to win.

I, on the other hand, was dealt a blow when my gingerbread house was missing the icing bag. Really? Strike one on momma’s house. I tried to improvise by getting a zip lock bag and cutting a hole in one of the corners. Total fail. I made quite the mess.


We had a lot of fun though.  After Alex spent a lot of the time bragging about how her house was going to win, disaster struck….sort of. She put so many round little balls on her roof, that her roof slid right off the house. It was too heavy. She used a few choice curse words and then just sat and looked at her award winning gingerbread house.


So, her roof became a side yard. She exclaimed that she was done, but then grabbed a few gingerbread people and started icing them on as the roof. It left a hole in middle. As she finished her bottle of Blue Moon beer, she placed it into the middle of her house and proclaimed her creation, “a ginger-ALE- house.”  Way to recover, young grasshopper.


Adam, meanwhile, changed the whole thing and created a drive-in. Yes, a drive-in movie theater. I was ready to start calling him Gingerbread Fred as he had pieces of gingerbread lying on the table with no direction in mind. And then it came to him. The result was creative and so very cute.


I loved his result! It’s a Wonderful Life was even playing at the gingerbread drive-in and the scene where George tells Mary he would lasso the moon for her was on the screen. He had little cars with the speakers by the car and I just loved it.


So, we were done. I was pretty proud of my first gingerbread house.


It was a basic house, but I liked how I made the icicles. I also put tootsie rolls as logs.


Now it was time for the judging. We cleaned off the messy table and lined up the contest entries.


I then put it on Facebook, where my friends obliged and immediately began voting. People were also guessing who they thought each gingerbread house belonged to. Most of the people thought I made the drive-in, Alex made the cottage, and Adam made the beer hall. It was fun. I won, of course, but  as I got votes for “best workmanship,” the kids both received kudos for being creative.

In the end, our first gingerbread house building was a success, minus my icing fiasco.

I smiled when Adam said he wanted to do it again next year.

Gingerbread Fred will be thinking ahead.

Alex, on the other hand, will probably take a more modest approach and wait until her house is done before bragging.

And I am just happy I had both of my children on the same continent, spending an evening with their mom making memories.



Sock Monster

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve heard about the sock monster. Of course I knew it was make believe, (after a while) just like the boogey man my mom threatened me with around the same time. Well, except that the sock monster wouldn’t wait under your bed and then grab your little body while you slept, only to shove you in a smelly sack and take you to Boogey-man Land.  No, the sock monster was only interested in one thing and that was your socks. I didn’t get it.

But, then again, there was a fairy who wanted people’s teeth. So, why not a sock monster? And obviously, my mom wasn’t the only one who was losing socks on a regular basis. Mothers  and other people around the world lose socks somewhere between the laundry basket….and the laundry basket.  It’s a worldwide problem.  I know this because I googled phrases such as “Are there sock monsters in Spain?”  and “Do Chinese mothers lose socks to the sock monster?”

Ok, I’m teasing, but I did google “sock monsters” and apparently this is a phenomenon as there are many books on Amazon dealing with sock monsters. They are books for children, but I’m beginning to wonder if someone should do research on this problem and publish some statistics on how many socks people lose per capita.

I found this on Urban Dictionary-

“Found in (or around) washing machines and tumble driers.
Thought to be genetically modified , highley evolved organism. Although never actually sighted, evidence points to its habits and breeding cycle. A voracious predator, the sock monster preys on single socks and always leaving behind one of the pair it has captured. Mystery surrounds this behaviour although zoologists surmise this may be an instinctual mechanism for long term survival. Able to cross great distances at speed and unseen. There is almost no known method of defense.”

So, they are telling me there really is a sock monster?  I knew it.

But, wait a minute, wait just a minute. You know, maybe sock manufacturers are behind this, just as dentists and…bankers are behind the tooth fairy.

All through the sixties we had a sock monster at our house. My mom blamed us for losing our socks. I honestly didn’t understand why a sock monster would want my sister’s socks as they always had holes in the big toe.  As I got older and realized my mom was lying and the only sock creature that was really out there was a sock monkey and my best friend Ramaine had one on her bed, I wasn’t as apprehensive to go down into the basement.

When I headed off to college, the damn sock monster followed me there.  He hung out at the laundry mat, I guess, because I would get home and find I was missing a sock. I found a sock monster report from another college student on Fictspedia-

“The Sock Monster,” a monster that lives in our washer and dryer machines, has consumed countless socks since the beginning of its existence; around the time of the first washers and dryers. Throughout the years, “The Sock Monster’s” has been increasingly unprejudiced in seeking its targets. What started as a hunger for tube socks, “The Sock Monster’s” appetite has expanded to include panty hose, ankle socks, and in some cases even a taste for dress socks. No socks are safe. With the ability to teleport from one washing machine to another, it is impossible to escape the monster’s reach. In 2012, reports show that the monsters victims ranged in the hundreds of thousands throughout the world, with hundreds of cases reported daily. Efforts to capture “The Sock Monster,” have been unsuccessful. Although there has been no actual photographic evidence of the monster, the few of those who have stated to have seen the monster claim that the monster is about two feet tall and to be made up of socks it has yet to consume. What makes “The Sock Monster” especially evil is its cruelty; it always targets just one sock, never the pair, leaving its victims with one useless sock. “The Sock Monster’s” latest victim, Alvin Lau, was forced to leave class early out of embarrassment after showing up to class with non-matching socks. “It only took one sock, just one! What kind of monster would do such a thing?” said the San Jose State Student.” (Alvin Lau)

See? I am not alone. There is a sock monster!

When I married and had my own children, he was there. He didn’t care if the socks were grass stained, holey, or old, he would steal them when I wasn’t looking. He even took my husband’s coal mine socks, which I can’t even begin to describe.

Now that I am divorced and my two children have flown the coop, I must still be living with the sock monster because as I was pairing up the foot coverings the other morning, I counted 16 socks that have lost their mates. 16. And I live alone and my washer/dryer are in a hall closet right by my bedroom. How the hell can I lose socks? There can only be one answer-





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