In 1976, in the fourth grade, I took second place in the Mitchell County, Kansas, spelling bee. I never placed again, and apparently, I never got over it.

Over 15 years ago, when I worked at our local hospital, I had a dream that I won the “All Hospital Spelling Bee.” My winning words were “insufferable,” followed by a patient’s long and difficult last name, as if HIPAA would allow.

Last night, February 4th, 2023, Gail, Suzanne and I, along with my neighbor Jordan–two-time Ottawa County Kansas Spelling Bee winner–claimed first prize in the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Spelling Bee in my beloved Abilene. Our fifth team member, my delightful daughter-in-law, Meghan, was not able to join us. We had to soldier on without her. Last year, we placed second. Obviously, it was time.

Last year’s picture, same shirts this year.

This year, The Spell-It Sisters were the champions.


The words delivered to us by the emcee started out easily enough. Preferred. Gherkins. Easy peasy. Round four was a series of homonyms: three different words with three different spellings, but all sounding alike. Ours were road-rode-rowed. Thank God we weren’t given carrot-caret-karat. We may have struggled with that one.

The next round was a Shakespearean word, in keeping with the theme of the evening. Ophelia was a good one for us, but Calpurnia might have done us in.

We were grateful for our German upbringing and familiarity with its language patterns, because glockenspiel and blitzkrieg were handed to us as well. The French word discotheque might have taken out another team, but we were prepared, and aced it. We nailed debutante, too. Our high school Latin served us well with maraschino.

As the rounds continued, most of the other 14 teams struggled more than we did, until there were just two. We could have handled Czechoslovakia in the geography round, but the other team couldn’t. Perhaps they could have handled Peloponnese, but we couldn’t. So, after each of us struck out in that round, we were on equal ground again.

Wildebeest nailed us, but so did cetacean for the other team. Equal footing again.

We were down, but not out. The Sisters don’t ever stay down for long, and last night was no exception. Plus, we had Jordan, the grade school spelling champ on our side.

We sailed on through syllogism, aborigine, diphtheria, and sealed the deal with pernicious.

We were the champions.

In our post-victory haze, we forgot to get a group shot. The action pictures will have to suffice. Jordan took the Sister pic at the beginning of the night, and then we got too wrapped up in our spelling to remember much else. The evening flew-fluflue by; it was indeed a privilege to be part of such an awesome group of people raising funds for this local, excellent charity.

Above all, we tried to keep a sense of camaraderie with the other teams, lest we seemed sanctimonious after our win. We certainly didn’t want to become unctuous toward them.

Once again, the Sisters of The Sister Lode created another evening of memories. It was an wonderful night-nite-knight.

2 thoughts on “VICTORY AT LAST

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