Claire and Matanzas
On stage with Matanzas in St. Augustine, Florida, 2001


My mother, who was also a pilot and a talented oil and acrylics artist, never did approve of raising a daughter this way, so she countered it by insisting I learn the social graces as well, which annoyed me since I was a real tomboy. I come from a family of artists who develop in the direction of visual arts, architecture, and landscaping. Mom decided the family needed a musician, so she bought me a piano when I was eight and piano lessons to go with it, and then sold it when I was in the ninth grade and bought me a baby grand since she intended me to be not just a musician but a brilliant musician, for which I would need a baby grand. It wasn't until I could play concert versions of her favorite songs in high school piano recitals that she ever eased up on me. I think she had some idea that if she bought me a piano and piano lessons for the next ten years, I would become a important pianist, perhaps giving concerts and being widely admired as a genius musician. And if that didn't work she was going to fall back on plan b, which involved marrying me off to someone really important or wealthy, a dentist at the least.

In the last piano recital I played in high school when I was a senior, I was fifth from the last to play, the last being the best. The four pianists to play after me were all guys. I played a long, beautiful, concert version of Blue Moon that my mother loved, and she was on the front row in the audience, so there was no way I was going to mess that up. I would rather have been playing Ragtime, music that seemed natural to me and was fun to play, but it wasn't deemed highbrow enough for the recital. I campaigned to play it anyway but according to Mom, a music snob, real musicians didn't play Ragtime, they played Blue Moon, with a lot of runs and cross overs and it went on and on. I played it perfectly from memory, I still don't know how I did it. At the end I received loud applause and some cheering. My mother was clapping and teary-eyed. All those piano lessons and that expensive piano had paid off and her daughter was proved to be a brilliant musician, except for the four guys who were better of course but that didn't signify.

Randall BramblettThe drop off in talent from the last two guys to play and three of us that preceded them was like the way the continental shelf drops out from under your feet when you're swimming in the ocean. In the number two position was Randall (left), my first love and boyfriend in kindergarten. He would escort me to the swing set, then kiss me on the cheek and push me on the swing. We were as in love as any two five-year-olds could be :)

Randall ended up playing keyboards with the Allman Brothers, Steve Winwood, Atlanta Rhythm Section and lots of others. Many years later I saw him in the Fox Theater in Atlanta take the stage alone and play a saxaphone solo. The whole theater was dark with just one spotlight on Randall, and when he finished he received a five minute standing ovation. Randall could play any instrument that appealed to him. That's how good he was, and still is, but he lived in the shadow of Lee, the last guy to take the stage in the recital.

Lee and I share exact birthdays and his mother owned the local theater, so I could never fib about my age and get in at a reduced price like other kids did. Probably saved me from some bad karma :) I used to try anyway and Mrs. Riggins would say, "Claire, I know how old you are." When Lee was in high school he was the only student I knew of who could call himself in absent for a week, and no one argued. If you asked, "Where's Lee?" the answer was, "He's composing."

He was the acknowledged genius and now he gives classical piano concerts professionally and is Dean of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University. When we were in the ninth grade, he decided to sell his baby grand piano so he could buy a synthesizer and electric keyboards. That's how I ended up with Lee's baby grand. My mother probably hoped the instrument would confer some of his talent onto me. Worth a try. Lee probably played his own composition in the recital instead of something pedestrian like Blue Moon.

The third guy was Eddie, who headed up the first tier of subgenius. He was also the drum major in the high school band and never lacked for girlfriends. The fourth guy was Jim, who became very wealthy. Jim was only a little bit better than me but oh, he loved to let me know it. He spent the entire year when we were seniors in high school musician-snubbing me. His father and my father were in a real estate war over some property in town, so our familes weren't speaking. In the recital Jim entered the stage as I left it and sat down at the piano, pulled a hankerchief out of his back pocket and started wiping down the keys!

After he had cleaned my nonexistant finger sweat off the keys, he poised his hands above them and waited. And waited. And waited, for about 20 seconds and then it became apparent to everyone that he had forgotten the piece he was going to play. So he got up and walked off stage. The whole auditorium was absolutely quiet, and I laughed silently when he walked past me.

My mother was triumphant; I had bested Jim and moved up into the number four position and she recounted it for us for days. Later that night, she was going on about the different schools she wanted to send me to so that I could continue my glorious musical career. But I knew my limitations, even if she didn't, so she could forget that idea. After graduate school, and through a couple of marriages, I schlepped an old upright piano around with me for years so I could play Ragtime like I always wanted to, but eventually I got tired of moving it and gave it up. And that pretty much finished me as a musician.


When I was 16, Mom made a big production of trotting me out as a debutant. To my Sweet 16 party I wore a red satin cocktail dress that I could have accessorized with my birthday presents, the shotgun and the rifle. The thought, "What kind of world am I living in?" crossed my mind but I dumbed myself down appropriately so I could participate in it and have fun. Mission accomplished :) She reserved the local Elk's Club for the main social event of the season and that was ok I guess. But I suspected the whole time she planned to marry me off to a wealthy doctor or a dentist and this debutant party was just a practice run to get me going down the right path. It didn't work but you have to give her credit for trying and I really enjoyed it. Everything was going great at my first debutant party, until after the party when things went wrong.

Sweet 16 party
Sweet 16 Party - Me, Lynn, Elda, and Connie

The party was for four of us: me, Lynn, Elda, and Connie. After the party Elda and I (Connie and Lynn were too proper to participate) borrowed one of Dad's pickup trucks to tool around town. We made some water balloons and while I drove, Elda sat in the back of the truck and tossed the balloons onto the windshields of cars behind us. We were having a blast when I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed that the car she was tossing the ballons at was my parents' car! I won't go deeply into what happened next but it had to do with taking Elda home and then listening to thirty minutes of scary ranting by parents, and that pretty much finished me as a debutant.


I'm thankful to Mom for the piano lessons because I really loved playing the piano, but I knew I wanted to be a writer, not a musician. So once she realized I was hell-bent on getting a literary education instead of a musical one, or married and pregnant, she made sure I had educational opportunities. After high school, I continued my education and earned a Master's Degree for Teachers in English Education with a focus on world mythology and saga, during which time I did a lot of dedicated partying and dating and playing bridge, and got married and divorced a couple of times.

Despite all the fun I was having, or maybe because of it, my love of world literature and myth and saga kept me motivated and in school. I became a high school English teacher who got taught by her students to be less idealistic and more pragmatic, so I moved to Atlanta to advance my career, whatever it was. I was just divorced so I was also moving to Hotlanta, two good reasons to go! I started out as a legal secretary in a huge law firm at Five Points, downtown Atlanta, working for a tax attorney who was in a turmoil over whether to make a zillion dollars as a tax attorney or go broke being a legal aid attorney. He chose to go broke. (I always wondered what happened to him...) I ended up as a writer, editor, graphic artist and database developer and manager. I became a student of bridge and an avid player in tournaments and money games.


When I moved to Atlanta I had been playing bridge for about ten years, having started as a senior in high school when my friend Mary's mother and her two friends sat in their living room needing a fourth. When I passed by the door they roped me in and started teaching me how to play. I was hooked right away and I kept playing all through college and graduate school. In fact, I got kicked out of undergraduate school one time for playing bridge in the student center instead of going to classes. The dean of the college had warned me about it twice and I just ignored him. One day he called me into his office and reprimanded me again for doing it and I said to him in a smart-assy tone, "So, what are you doing to do, kick me out?" And he said, "Yes! Go pack your bags, you're going home."


When I got home and had to explain to my parents why I was home early, my mother said, "Oh, don't worry about it. You can just go get a job and start paying rent to live here." I said, "WHAT???" Then, I got indignant. Did they think I couldn't get a job just because I had never had one? To prove my point, I applied for and got a job as restaurant hostess at the local Holiday Inn, and Dad drove me back and forth to work. Sometimes, he would come in and be seated and eat so he could watch me work.

"Hello. Welcome to the Holiday Inn. How many in your party?" Dad would sit over there grinning at me like I was funnier to watch than TV. He was there the day the party of eight came in with the screaming two-year-old. They had given the kid a jar of baby food and a spoon to try to keep it quiet and occupied. As I was strapping that screaming kid into the high chair he banged me in the eye with the spoon and with his little fat arm he swept the jar of baby food onto my skirt and its contents dumped out onto my brand new shoes. I thought Dad would never stop laughing. And that pretty much finished me as a hostess. I made it my business to get the dean of the college to let me back in, and when I did I had to take 13 F's off my transcript, a bunch of them in my major.



Page 1 - Ancient Puzzle Solved | Brilliant Ancient World
Page 2 - Interview with Jonas | Valuable Background in Bridge
     Common Approach | Can You Read the Phaistos Disk?
Part 3 - Dream Perspective | Great Pyramid, Exterior
     Two Pyramids?
Part 4 - Great Pyramid, Interior & Subterranean Chamber
     Phaistos Disk Maze of Daedalus
Part 5 - Great Star in the Sky
Part 6 - Constellation Argo
Page 7 - Pre-Euclidean Geometry | Minoan Fashion
Page 8 - Solve the Maze | Minoan Pottery
Page 9 - Minoan Calendars | Minoan Lunisolar Calendar
     Zodiac Stellar Calendar | Minoan Sothic Calendar
     Minoan 366-Day Year | How Was the Phaistos Disk Made?
Page 10 - Phaistos Disk Pictographs
Page 11 - Fishing Lessons | Big Game Hunter
     First Woman Airline Pilot | The Stearman | The AT-6
Page 12 - Brilliant Musician | Debutant Career | English Teacher
     Booted Out of School | Hostess Career
Page 13 - Crash Landing | Marauder Pilot | Bridge Boyfriend
     Dedicated to Billy | Money Bridge Pro
     Archaeoastronomer Career