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Sandy Allen honored at Shelbyville High School Alumni Hall of Fame

By the author of our Hawthorne book World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High, Rita Rose.

Sandy Allen, of Shelbyville, Indiana, was the World’s Tallest Woman from 1976 to 2008, when she passed away in a Shelbyville nursing home. My book about Sandy’s high school years, World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High, came out just two months after she died.

Sandy Allen

In the last 10 years the Shelbyville powers that be, as well as friends and relatives of Sandy’s, have talked about ways to honor the woman who put their town on the map. There has been talk about a life-size statue, although that hasn’t come about. But she did receive an honor recently and I was there to take part.

Sandy’s sister Darlene

On May 2, 2019, Sandy was inducted into the Shelbyville High School Alumni Hall of Fame from the class of 1973. She was honored along with Jean Ann Dellekamp Wheeler, class of ‘64, and Dr. William Inlow, class of 1909. I accepted the plaque on behalf of Sandy’s sister in Florida, Emma Darlene, who was very close to Sandy. The plaque was shipped to her. The same plaque appears on the Hall of Fame wall. Sandy’s brother, Marty Brown, said a few words at the event.

Here’s an excerpt from my speech: “If Sandy were here tonight to accept this award, she would probably say she didn’t deserve it. That’s part of who she was, humble and self-effacing. But she DOES deserve it. Sandy grew up with a lot of physical and emotional challenges. She managed to overcome a lot of adversity as a child, and as a student at this high school, to become the kind, generous, funny and inspirational person that she was. I am accepting this award on behalf of Sandy’s sister, Emma Darlene, with whom she was very close. Darlene can’t be here because she lives in Florida, but she sends her thanks for honoring her big sister. (Yes, that was a pun.) To Sandy’s friends and relatives who still live in Shelbyville, I hope you are proud of her accomplishments and what she gave back to the community, as a person and as the World’s Tallest Woman.”

Rita with Sandy’s brother
Marty Brown

The plaque hangs in the entryway of the school along with those who were honored before her.

For a copy of World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High, please contact Hawthorne Publishing or you can email me at for a signed copy.


Posted in Cultural History, Indiana History, World's Tallest Woman |


It just doesn’t seem real.  Yesterday morning I received a call from my dear friend Joy in Virginia who was crying over the phone.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.  Her tearful words were “Someone just posted that Doris died.”  I was stunned, shocked and in disbelief.   I immediately rushed to my computer to look it up and there on most news outlets were the devastating words “Doris Day Dead.”

We both wondered, what happened?  She seemed pretty well for her recent 97th  birthday celebration in Carmel, California.  Doris appeared on her balcony and spoke briefly to the crowd of well-wishers below on the golf green.  From the reports we have since learned she died early this morning, May 13th, of complications of pneumonia.

Needless to say, my e-mail and phone text messages have been flooded with notes from friends who know how much Doris has meant to me since I was 9 years old.  Doris was my idol and I treasure ALL the precious times I spent with her.

One friend commented, “I know you two were very close, but as you said she is in heaven now.  She did make heaven on earth for fans, like me, of her movies.”

Little did I think when I discovered the Doris Day Fan Club headquartered in London, England, when I was a young teen, that several years later, I would have the awesome opportunity to meet Doris on my third trip to Los Angles.  Better yet, I was destined to get to know her up close and personal.  Thanks to mutual friends and through a series of incredible events, Doris invited me to work for her when she was filming THE DORIS DAY SHOW at CBS, and eventually live with her, in her home.  Talk about a dream come true!

Today, as I myself am 75, Doris Day is still very much a part of my life.  She always inspired me to stay POSITIVE, to see the bright side of things and to do my best in whatever I chose to do.  I will forever be grateful to DORIS DAY.

I would like to close with some of what Bryan James, head of the Doris Day Forum in London just wrote about our dear Doris….”Yes, Goodbye dear Doris, your memory and legacy will live on. Thank you for all the joy you brought us.  Goodbye to a wonderful woman, the world seems a smaller place without her. But she had a long and mostly happy life, she was loved and admired by millions. She had the gift of being able to cope with loss and unhappiness without becoming bitter and was able – and ready and willing—to care for others—not forgetting the animals— even when things weren’t going well for her.

“Someone was just asked on TV, “Which of today’s stars would you say was most like her?” To which the reply came, “I’m sorry but I don’t think anyone today is like her. She could sing, dance, act, play comedy, drama and break your heart in some of her films and songs. There’s no one like that today.” How true.

Goodbye for now, dearest Doris….until we meet again….

Mary Anne is the author of Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond available by a click-back from our website.

Posted in Doris Day |

Do books have histories? Some from Hawthorne are quite interesting

This month Hawthorne released a new edition of the book From the Heart’s Closet, a Young Girl’s World War II Story. It was the first book Hawthorne Publishing released after its earlier incarnation, Guild Press, was sold to Emmis Communications, under its new division Emmis Publishing, and a new publishing company evolved for Guild’s former owners.

From the Heart’s Closet, 2005, was and is by Anneliese (Lee) Krauter, an Indiana resident since the 1950s. But Lee’s story, told in the book, is much more dramatic than that of most other Hoosiers.

Her parents were immigrants from Germany who had come to America to make a new life and were happily settled in New York. They had two American-born children, Lee and Freddy,  when World War II came. They were pursuing the American dream and were also involved in the German-American community in the city.  In spite of their good will and positive actions the family, particularly Lee’s father Otto Wiegand, drew attention from the FBI.

The father was unknowingly and unjustly accused of harboring a spy as a renter in his home and the family was interned in a family camp in Crystal City, Texas, along with other German-American families and Japanese-American families, who were in another part of the camp.

Lee Avail her brother, their mother and their father, were repatriated to Germany in February, 1944. Bombs were falling, but they survived those and the midnight flight out of what would be the Russian-occupied section of Germany into Allied territory.

Lee married an American soldier during the occupation in Germany and the entire family returned one by one to America to live out their lives.

This story was told as the first book from the new Hawthorne Publishing and over the years sold out, as Lee herself became a speaker on her experience as a child, lecturing on the harrowing years of World War II for German families in America. “Much is known about the Japanese internment during the war, but little about us Germans,” she says.

Lee Krauter has spoken on the German-American experience during the war at the Indiana Historical Society, Marian University, over 30 Indianapolis and Indiana and Florida venues and especially at a reunion of former internees at Crystal City. She traveled around the country with a speaking tour featuring this specialized history. In February of this year, Lee joined other “children,” (now in their 80s) who traveled on the ship that was sent back to Germany in February 1944. The Gripsholm, called the “Mercy Shiphad been a luxury liner, but what it was doing at this point in the war was repatriating German families to Europe and exchanging them for stranded Americans and returning them back home.

This gripping and well written memoir helped open a closed door on a history not well known, which occurred during challenging days in America during the conflict which sent the “Greatest Generation” abroad to fight and die.

Lee’s book is now available as both a new edition of the softbound book but also as an e-book.


This new edition of From the Heart’s Closet is just now available as an e-book from Amazon! Order print book soon on the Hawthorne site! Softbound $24.95.



Posted in Cultural History, ebooks |

‘Tis the Season….Happy Birthday Doris Day! A reflection on the actress’s spirituality

Mary Anne Barothy, author of Hawthorne’s Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond

Seems like for the past several years, as we get close to April 3rd, the rag magazines begin to run some sad and odd stories to “celebrate” Doris Day’s upcoming birthday.  I was just in a long check-out line at the grocery and spotted the screaming headline, “Doris Day Tragedy at 97!” on one.  Of course they try to make Doris the victim of some made-up scenarios.  No one’s life is perfect, and Doris, who actually shied away from the “Girl Next Door” moniker, is the first to admit life happens and you move on. Despite negative things happening in her life, she moved on and didn’t let life knock her down. Frequently she would comment if something negative happened, “I have a round bottom and I bounce back.”

When I lived with Doris in the 1970s everything was not always “hunky-dory”— but life happened and she moved on. We had great times together and I sometimes still pinch myself wondering how I was so blessed to spend time with her, serving as her secretary and living in her home for a period of years in the ‘70s.  Guess it was just meant to be, and as she sang, “Que sera, sera.”  I admire Doris for her strong will to keep going, no doubt part of why she is still with us after all these years.

But also, Doris has always had a strong faith and maintained a positive attitude despite what may have been happening in her life.  I was living with her when she received a call about her son Terry’s being in a horrendous motorcycle accident.  She broke down in tears, but was determined to get to Terry’s bedside at the hospital in Hemet, California.  I drove her to Hemet, about two hours from Beverly Hills, and while we were on the road, she was somber and praying for her son. I was so impressed with her very strong faith, knowing what she was going through and not really knowing what to expect. The motorcycle accident shattered both of his legs and required him to be hospitalized for six months. She made frequent trips to Hemet to be at his bedside until he was released and took up his life again.

Another time I saw first-hand her faith in action was when her dear friend, actor and co-star, Billy DeWolfe, was failing. We visited him in a Los Angeles hospital; she took up his hand at his bedside.  Despite her tears, her beautiful smile, hard as the situation was, calmed Billy down and they just held hands. You could see a calmness come over his face. It was later that night she received the call from the hospital that Billy was gone. Losing people is never easy, but she had an intense faith in God that helped her through difficult times.

Doris became a Christian Scientist during the time she was with her husband Marty Melcher. Christian Science emphasizes the faith that we can trust God completely and that the negative power of the material world has no real power because God has all the power there is. After Marty’s passing, though she left formal Christian Science, she continued her devoted faith in God. She and I visited a practitioner friend of hers for a Christmas dinner while I was with her.

I cherish the little red book Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy which Doris autographed and gave me in 1971.  In it she had a hand-written note saying “Oh thou hast heard my prayer —  and I am blessed.  This is thy High behest thou here and everywhere!!!”[from Mrs. Eddy’s poem “Come Thou.”]

Yes, Doris is turning 97 on April 3rd. I wish her all the best of health and happiness and just want to THANK HER for being an incredible role model for me and many others over the years with her positive attitude and beautiful smile. They come from deep within.  I am most grateful for the time I had the pleasure of working for and living with her…I saw first-hand the real down- to-earth yet spiritual Doris Day.

While the rag magazines continue to feature Doris periodically to peddle their stories, don’t take every word as gospel truth. Happy, Happy Birthday dear Doris— God bless you— you are much admired and loved by many all over the world.

To order Mary Anne Barothy’s book Day at a Time, click back to the Hawthorne website.

Posted in Doris Day |