Sheila Dobbie

I have been writing since the fourth grade when a poem I wrote was published on the front page of our school newspaper. But, hey, a by-line is a by-line. I progressed and eventually earned a degree in English and journalism from Marshall University. I have had a varied career that includes teaching, construction reporting, editing a technical/environmental magazine, assisting in research and writing about Scots at the Alamo, paralegal, and lobbyist for the arts in the schools. I also have written three children’s books.

Statue vandalized at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery in west Columbus

The monument vandals struck close to home over night stealing the head of a Confederate soldier that has stood guard over his buried brethren for approximately 150 years. This occurred at the former Camp Chase location in the capital city of Ohio which was a Union post and prisoner-of-war camp for Confederate soldiers and southern sympathizers.

You can read more about Camp Chase in my upcoming book Letters to Sallie, the Civil War Letters of AC McClure. My opinions of this kind of destruction is found in the blog post below, Symbols Mean Everything.



By NBC4 StaffPublished: August 22, 2017, 9:30 am  Updated: August 22, 2017, 11:12 am

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Police are investigating after a Confederate statue in Camp Chase cemetery in west Columbus was vandalized.

According to the Columbus Division of Police, someone vandalized the statue Camp Chase cemetery in the 2900 block of Sullivant Avenue.

This photo shows the vandalized statue’s original location at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

A photo of the vandalized statue shows the soldier missing his head after being toppled from the top of a monument.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, Camp Chase shifted from a training camp for Union Army recruits to a prisoner-of-war camp early in the civil war.

Prior to the establishment of the cemetery at Camp Chase, the Confederate dead were interred in the city cemetery of Columbus. Their remains were re-interred in the prison cemetery after its opening. In addition, the remains of 31 Confederate soldiers who died at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, were removed to Camp Chase Cemetery shortly after the cessation of the Civil War.

Officially, there is an estimate of 2,168 remains in 2,122 gravesites in Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. However, this does not match the inscription on the Boulder monument.

There are two monuments in Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. The first depicts a bronze figure of a Confederate Civil War soldier standing atop a granite arch, his rifle held vertically in front of him, with both hands resting on the top of the barrel.

Symbols Mean Everything



When we salute the American flag, either with a military salute or by placing our hands over our hearts, we aren’t paying honor and respect to a piece of red, white and blue cloth but rather for what that cloth stands for. Churches, synagogues and mosques contain various religious symbols and rituals and when we pray to those symbols or participate in the rituals we are honoring what these stand for—not the actual act or physical object.


In light of recent racial tensions, common objects we have had for over a century have taken on new meanings. My generation has known the Confederate flag as a relic from the Civil War and something that represents the South, and nothing more. During my college days, while on a trip to the South with a group from church, someone bought the Confederate battle flag and we posed below it. It was not an act of defiance on our part but merely a souvenir of our trip. Today that flag has become a symbol for the alt-right racist hate groups.


The same is true of the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee whose proposed removal sparked the riot in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. Because of the volatile race relations, Confederate monuments across the country have become lightning rods for mass gatherings and hot tempers. Thus, a movement is beginning to remove all such monuments.


It’s unfortunate these symbols are taking on new meanings and being defiled in the process. These are a part of our history and as the saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Politics aside, I ask, “Is this what we want?”  To preserve our history why not move these monuments and other war memorials to a war memorial park where veterans from all wars will be remembered.


We need to remember how bloody the Civil War was. When the war began most thought it would last only three or four months but, instead, it dragged into four very long and miserable years. People on both sides suffered unimageable losses including limbs, family members, and their homes and fortunes. It was a war of brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, father against son. Again, I ask, “Is this what we want?”


It is unfortunate that Gen. Lee’s statue became the focal point of the weekend riots. The irony of using Lee’s statue as the gathering point is that as soon as the papers were signed at Appomattox between Lee and Gen. Grant, signaling the close of the war, Lee was the first to call for a peaceful transition. When Gen. Lee’s men wanted to fight on, he urged them to go home.


By definition, all those who fought for the Confederacy were traitors. The Confederate states seceded from the United States and formed their own nation with their own governing laws. At the close of the war many wanted Gen. Lee, his officers, and all officials of the Confederacy tried and hanged as traitors but Gen. Grant interceded and stopped the movement. In turn, Gen. Lee encouraged his officers and men to return to their homes, become responsible citizens and to submit to authority.


In a letter to Capt. Josiah Tatnall of the Confederate States Navy Lee said:


…I believe it to be the duty of every one to unite in the restoration of the country and the reestablishment of peace and harmony….


Perhaps the best advice of all from Lee is found in a letter to Gov. Letcher of Virginia :


…The duty of its citizens, then, appears to me too plain to admit of doubt. All should unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of the war and to restore the blessing of peace. They should remain, if possible, in the country; promote harmony and good feeling, qualify themselves to vote and elect to the State and general legislatures wise and patriotic men, who will devote their abilities to the interests of the country and the healing of all dissensions….


Lee knew firsthand the horrors of war. The cries of agony, the smells of gunpowder and burnt flesh, the sights of blown off limbs and lost body parts were all too fresh in his mind and he wanted to avoid any more suffering. Let us take a cue from Gen. Lee and work for peace.


I understand how in today’s world some see slavery, bonds and chains when they view these Confederate statues but rather than using these as an excuse for violence let us use them as visual cues to remember how horrible war is and how our country suffered during this time. No one went unaffected during the Civil War and the same will be true today if we allow events to deteriorate to the boiling point.


To paraphrase some of Lee’s words—all should unite in honest efforts to live together in peace and promote harmony and good feelings, become active in state and federal governments and do what we can to be good, patriotic citizens devoting our abilities to the good of our country.


Love overcomes hate every time.





Sheila Dobbie is the author of Peach Cobbler for Breakfast: Surviving a Life-Altering Event.  She is currently writing Letters to Sallie:  The Civil War Letters of A. C. McClure.  A native of West Virginia, Sheila is a graduate of Marshall University in her hometown.  She enjoys driving the West Virginia hills to Hawk’s Nest.



Who will win the Oscars?



Replicas_of_Academy_Award_statuetteIt is time for the Oscars again and I can’t let the time go by without giving my opinions.

Sorry I didn’t continue my regular movie reviews this year but I was not able to keep up with the movies with the round of hospitalizations we had throughout the year. However, we were able to see most of the nominated movies at the end of the year so I feel somewhat qualified to make my annual picks.

Those nominated for best movie of the year are:

  •  American Sniper directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper. This is one of the most talked about movies because of its timely subject matter and its startling portrayal of today’s modern warrior. We see the physical and mental toll war has on a soldier and his family. The film is a true story of legendary sniper Chris Kyle’s four tours of Iraq as a Navy SEAL. The film is excellent in all departments and could be Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s best. I give it an A.
  •  Birdman; in a case of art imitating life this film is about an actor (Michael Keaton) who was famous for playing the superhero Birdman (Batman) trying to establish a new career on Broadway. He is haunted by self-doubt and the film constantly jumps from the real to the surreal. This technique is a bit confusing in the beginning but it gives us insight into his psyche. In addition to analyzing a character’s character the film is also an excellent peek at a behind the scenes stage production. The film is a bit off-beat but also engaging. I give it a B
  • Boyhood is another out of the ordinary film. It was shot over a 12 year period using an unknown child actor and real actors Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the dysfunctional parents. It follows a family from the time the boy is 6 years to 18 and graduation from high school. The film is like watching home movies of a family, warts and all. Many critics are raving about it but it left me wondering, “What’s the point?” other than proving that a film can be made over 12 years. I give it a C-.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel is another film using unconventional methods. This is a Wes Anderson film and his films can be described as creative, unique, bizarre, or strange. The story is about a once luxurious hotel, a randy concierge who is particularly fond of older, wealthy women, and his assistant, the lobby boy. It is a farcical comedy with many famous actors popping up in cameos. Visually, it is outstanding with almost every scene perfectly staged so each could almost be framed and seen in a gallery. If you like off-beat comedies, mysteries, and wild-goose chases all with a twist then this movie is for you. As for me, I like my movies a little less bizarre. I give it a B.
  • The Imitation Game is about Alan Turing who invented the first computer to crack the German Enigma encryption code machine. What makes this story even more engrossing is Turing is not only racing against time to try to solve the German codes to end the war; but he is laboring under the handicap of keeping his homosexuality a secret. This is an excellent movie about a little know chapter of WWII. I give it an A.
  •  Selma is about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the freedom march on Selma. Since I did not see it I will not review it or give it a grade. Stay tuned, I hope to see it when it comes out on DVD.
  • The Theory of Everything tells the story of Stephen Hawking and his diagnosis and battle with progressive motor neuron disease also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig disease. When Hawking was diagnosed with the disease in 1963 he was told he had only two years to live. Through sheer determination he refuses to allow the pessimistic prognosis to rule his life. Although his discussions of black holes and quantum gravitation are far beyond my ability to comprehend and his downward physical progression can be depressing, the movie is actually uplifting and even funny in places. Eddie Redmayne carries the movie by actually morphing into Stephen Hawking and vividly portraying his gradual physical decline. Don’t let the subject matter deter you from seeing this brilliant movie of one of the most brilliant minds of our time. I give it an A.
  • Whiplash is the last of the nominated movies. This is another one I did not see but hope to see in the future.

My favorites of the nominated movies are American Sniper, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything. All three are biographical but very different in subject matter. I think the sentimental favorite will be American Sniper because of the patriotic theme and the Academy’s  love for Clint Eastwood. However, I see  buzz over Birdman, Boyhood, and The Grand Budapest Hotel as well. My personal favorite and the one I am picking to win is American Sniper.

Grab a big bowl of popcorn and snuggle in for what looks like another cold and snowy night. What better way to spend a gloomy night than watching the glitz and glamour of Golden Hollywood. The Academy Awards always entertain.





Peach Cobbler for Breakfast is now available

My long awaited book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast, surviving a life-altering event, is now available as an e-book at The paperback version will be ready for purchase around Thanksgiving, just in time for holiday gift-giving.

The early response has been very gratifying and exciting. It is my hope that the book will help anyone who is lost and struggling to find his or her way after a great loss either through death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, relocation, etc. After losing seven members of my family in a two year period, including my father and husband only six months apart, I realized I had to make a choice that would determine my future happiness and quality of life. I could either give in to the pain, sorrow, and negativity surrounding my life and live as a Negative Nancy the rest of my life. Or, I could chose to be positive and live a happy and fruitful life. The journey wasn’t easy but if I can make it anyone can. I evaluated my life, made a plan, and worked it.

You can read an excerpt from the book below and comments made by those who have previewed it. Also, please join me at the web site for the book and the Facebook page set up specifically for Peach Cobbler for Breakfast. I welcome your comments.

Blog for the Book


PeachCobbler Cover“Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive…” This quote is immediately familiar to Superman fans of all ages; but, these were the only words I could think of as I heard the diagnosis of cancer time and again in a two year period.

This disease had invaded our family faster than a bullet and had decimated it with the force of a powerful locomotive and now I needed the strength of a superman to survive.

When I was in my 40s I went through the worst time of my life. In a two year span I lost six family members, including my father and husband within six months of each other – my father to a brain tumor and my husband to bladder cancer. It is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been through a similar experience what it feels like to lose the center of your universe.

I will spare the reader and myself the pain of reliving every detail of that time. At a time when my friends were planning high school graduations, colleges, and weddings for their children, I was planning or attending funerals. I was angry at the world, afraid of the future, and confused.

Much of the time I was in a state of shock, numb to both joy and pain. I seemed to live day to day in a haze trying to cope with each crisis as it came along. Once you have been hit by a speeding train and endured the pain of impact you become numb to repetitive shocks. I do not mean to minimize the magnitude of the events but rather to put everything into perspective. Things, literally, could not get much worse. Everyone I loved had been touched in some way by the catastrophic events surrounding us.

Perhaps our bodies learn to insulate us against pain, death and sorrow so we can carry on. We learn we can make it through one day and then the next and we continue living our lives one day at a time until we eventually make it out of the dark valley. It may be like living as a zombie but it works.

An old Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I repeated this to myself many times when the journey looked too difficult or I didn’t have the energy to continue. I reminded myself that I didn’t have to do the whole journey in one day and, if all I could do that day was take one step, then that was all that was needed.

I kept the pain to myself and put on my happy face when going out into the world. I did my crying in the shower so my husband didn’t know how worried I was. I tried to keep positive for him and others. A morbid curiosity surrounds people with a debilitating or fatal disease. It’s almost as if people are searching the faces of the patient or his loved ones for any sign things are getting worse. I wanted to be sure people saw only signs of hope in my face so I applied my smile each morning along with my makeup and faced the world with a façade of confidence.


David and I met at church when I was 15 and he was 17. We dated throughout high school and college and then married after dating for seven years. We fell in love toMoon River by Andy Williams and Today by the New Christy Minstrels, held hands during My Fair Lady and Sound of Music, cheered our losing football team at Marshall University and stole a kiss whenever possible. When we finally did get married there was a large clap of thunder just when the minister pronounced us man and wife and everyone said it was the man upstairs saying, “It’s about time!”

It was during the turbulent 60s and it seemed that our lives were in as much turmoil as the rest of the world, but we finally realized our goals of graduating from college. There were the pressures of college, work, integration, bussing, demonstrations, drugs, flower power, communism, the bomb, and the ever-present and growing disruption of the Vietnam War (or as some preferred–conflict). It certainly “conflicted” our lives because if the guys didn’t keep up a certain GPA, dropped out of college, or didn’t finish within the expected four years, then there was the draft to look forward to. One professor said almost daily, “You guys better study or you will be slogging around in the rice paddies.” We swore he was a recruiter for the draft board.

After graduation and a brief stint with Uncle Sam, we were finally free to strike out on our own. We headed for the big city of Columbus, Ohio, which seemed perfect for us. It was three hours from home, which meant it was close enough so we could get home quickly in case of an emergency, and far enough away so relatives couldn’t drop in unexpectedly. I think those were my Dad’s words.

My first visit to Columbus was something right out of The Jetsons’ cartoon when my family, David, and I attended the Ohio State Fair in 1962. At the time it was perhaps the largest state fair in the country. We drove into the city on one of the first interstate highways I had ever seen and whirling above the city were helicopters whizzing by. This was all very new and exciting for a kid from the hills of West Virginia. As we left late that night, fireworks were bursting over the city and I felt as if I had been to the City of Oz. I immediately fell in love with Columbus and when David and I married a few years later we decided that was the place for us.

Armed with our degrees and naïve enthusiasm we headed for the big city – he to become an architect and I a teacher. We found jobs and changed jobs, we made money and lost money, we started and closed businesses, we loved and we fought. We had the usual ups and downs and disappointments most people go through but, through it all, we said that the only thing that mattered was that we had each other. We felt we could survive and conquer almost anything as long as we were side by side.

All too quickly 23 years of married life passed and it became apparent that David would not survive the bladder cancer that had stricken him at age 45. As I watched him during those last days in the hospital I thought of the good times we had but also of the hectic life we had led. Where did it get us? I would gladly give up everything to know he would continue by my side forever. Why hadn’t we taken more vacations or weekend trips? Why hadn’t we found more time for just us? Life is too short.

For the first time I had to face the world alone. I may not be Superman but I will survive this hell.

1      The Premonition – dark storm clouds

Become a good noticer. Pay attention to the feelings, hunches, and intuitions that flood your life each day. If you do, you will see that premonitions are not rare, but a natural part of our lives.

Larry Dossey

The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives

It was a wonderful vacation with our good friends, Kevin and Margie, filled with sun, fun, surf and turf, and margaritas. But I can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong. Maybe it’s just the eerie darkness preceding the storm coming in from the mainland.

As we cross the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge leaving our favorite beach island to return home, it looks as if we are spiraling directly into the storm clouds. I can’t suppress the shudder that suddenly shakes my body. “This is silly,” I tell myself. “You are being overly dramatic with the dark clouds ahead.” Little did I know that my reactions were, perhaps, a premonition of what was to come. There would be a time I would long to return to this moment.

Life is good. David, my high school sweetheart, and I have been married for 20 plus years. We live in our dream house that he designed, he has a promising position with a leading engineering/architectural firm, and plans are in the works to make him a vice president. We have many good friends, a church that feels like our home away from home, and a loving family.

Life has not always been so fulfilling. There were disappointments with several failed businesses, job changes, money problems, and the inability to have children. But, we all have our problems and we viewed ours as no different from anyone else’s. We can weather anything together.

Shortly after returning from vacation, David complains of a recurring bladder infection he has had since spring. When he calls in a refill for the antibiotic, he decides to revisit the doctor for a more thorough exam. The doctor orders a brief surgical procedure called a “cystoscopy” and we schedule it for the upcoming Monday. The procedure will be done as an out-patient but will require some sedation as they insert a scope through the penis and into the bladder.

Long ago we had planned a last hurrah, warm weather get-away for the upcoming weekend with Kevin and Margie to take in the fall colors around Lake Erie. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful weekend. The weather was warm with a slight tinge of autumn in the air – one of those rare perfect days. The trees were brilliant colors of gold, orange, yellow, and florescent green splashed against a sapphire sky while Lake Erie glistened in the background like an array of Swarovski crystals. We laughed so much our sides hurt as we bounced around Kelly Island in a golf cart. On our return trip we stopped at local farmers’ markets to stock up on pumpkins, apples, Amish cheeses, and apple butter.

Kevin and Margie are good friends we met at church. We sing in the choir together, enjoy going to restaurants, and vacationing together. David and Kevin hold down the bass section and usually find some kind of mischief to get into and Margie is secretary to the minister, Rev. James. In addition, Kevin is treasurer for the church and I am president of the Board of Trustees. The one rule we have when we travel together is no church business allowed.

Early Monday morning I drive David to the hospital and we hope to be home by lunch time. I wait in the overcrowded and overly hot waiting room. I wait and wait. It occurs to me that I have never met this doctor and perhaps he called for me but I missed him while trying to avoid the noisy and rowdy kids playing on the floor. The hospital is remodeling and it seems that most of the hospital’s population has crowded into this dusty, dirty, dingy 12’ x 12’ room.

Finally my name is called and a short, foreign doctor rushes up to me and begins talking. I don’t understand his accent; but, since he does not take me into the conference room, I expect to hear that everything is fine. But, different words are coming out of his mouth.

What did he say? Did he say the word “tumor”? Surely that is a mistake. Did he say they are keeping him overnight for observation? When and where did he say I could see my husband?

The doctor is gone just as suddenly as he appeared and I’m left in a daze. I feel faint and confused. I have to get out of this room and away from the chaos. I’m shaking and suddenly feel hysterical. I have to calm myself. I begin walking and taking deep breaths.

Although I want and need some comfort, I decide not to call my parents and upset everyone until I know more (both of David’s parents are deceased). I call Margie and she and Rev. James rush to the hospital. While waiting for them to arrive, I am directed to another floor where David will be admitted. I wait. I notice it is raining and the drops running down the dirty windows match the ones running down my cheeks.

Rev. James and Margie soon arrive and it is good to see their friendly faces. Rev. James is a former college football lineman and a big man with broad shoulders (literally and figuratively) and curly white hair. They are a welcome sight and exactly what I need right now.

By the time they bring David to his room the initial shock has worn off and we are there with smiling faces to greet him. Rev. James always has words of comfort and a joke or two so by the time they leave I am fine, David is OK, and the world is back on its axis.

Tomorrow David’s company is having a big reception to announce some re-organizational changes and among those changes is his promotion to vice-president.

I arrive at the hospital early to bring David home. We wait and wait. We begin to get uneasy because David needs time to get ready for the reception. I’m beginning to think I don’t like this doctor. Finally the doctor comes and, with the door wide open, he flings the covers back exposing David to all the world to remove the drainage tube from his penis. Now I know I don’t like this doctor!

Because he can’t drive for a short time I drive him to the reception. I watch him walk in and am very proud of him. It looks like our hard times are almost behind us.

About a week later we return to the doctor for the test results. He calls us back and we stand in a hallway as he casually leans against a file cabinet and tells us there was a mushroom shaped tumor; but they removed it. He tells us they will watch David every three months and if it recurs they will use a laser to remove the mushrooms.

I’m confused and am not sure if this is a good thing or not. Is it cancer? I ask about chemo and he says chemo is not needed. The atmosphere is easy and relaxed and the doctor seems upbeat and positive. We are not worried and we go to a Japanese restaurant to celebrate our good luck. I wish I had kept the fortune from the fortune cookie that night.




At the Movies

THE OSCARS—and other stuff


If you have not seen a movie recently, then you have missed some excellent entertainment. This past year was one of the best for films in many years or perhaps decades.

I did not make my usual Oscar predictions this year because it was impossible to choose from the many excellent films and performances. A lot of the movies are still playing at your local theater complex and others are either on DVD or will be released soon.

If you are looking for a good movie to see you can’t go wrong with any of the ones nominated for best picture. They are:



Best Picture

  • American Hustle—Not since The Sting with Paul Newman and Robert Redford has such a con game played out on the screen. Set in the ‘70s, this movie is worth it just to see the outrageous fashions of the day. I can’t believe that we proudly wore those wide bell bottoms and polyester leisure suits. The plot will keep you guessing till the end.
  • Captain Phillips—Although we know how this one ends, you can’t help but get caught up in the tension. High sea drama in a tiny little boat. Be sure to take your Dramamine.
  •  Dallas Buyers Club—You will see why Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor in his role as an AIDS patient. He gives a powerful performance as someone who refuses to give up. Jared Leto, who won Best Supporting Actor, is convincing as a transgender struggling for acceptance. Although, on the surface this movies looks as if it could be depressing, it isn’t. This is a very uplifting story.
  • Gravity—Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are stranded in space—but this is not a love story. Another story focusing on the power of the will to survive. I was exhausted at the end of the movie having gone through all the physical and emotional trauma right along with the main character. See this in 3D if you can.
  •  Her—A love story of a man and his computer operating system. Is this what the world is coming to?
  •  Nebraska—An old man falls for one of the many scams today and thinks he has won a million dollars. Since he no longer drives, he sets of walking to Nebraska to collect his prize. This movie is both funny and sad at the same time. This movie produced two award nominees—Bruce Dern for Best Actor and June Squibb for Best Supporting Actress. Don’t let the fact that it is shot in black and white discourage you from seeing this masterpiece. The stark surroundings help intensify the emotions.
  •  Philomena—This small movie has not received the publicity it should. Judi Dench turns in an award nominated performance as a staunchly religious person who never loses her faith even though the church is responsible for her great loss. Another movie that runs the gamut of funny to sad. A cynical reporter helps a mother search for her son and you will never guess the outcome.
  •  12 Years a Slave—This is one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. There are scenes that are so vivid that they refuse to be erased from my memory. If you think you know what life was like as a slave, think again. This movie portrays the emotional toll it took on the slaves and even the owners and overseers. What makes the story even more impactful is that it is taken from the book written by the man who lived it. This won Best Movie of the Year and is one that everyone should see.
  •  The Wolf of Wall Street—Here we see the obscene excessiveness of the very, very rich. They have so much money they throw $100 bills around as it is paper money. But eventually we must all pay for our abundance, especially if is gained unethically. This is another true story and gives us a peek into the world of the ultra rich where money, prostitutes, drugs, and fancy cars are the norm.