Susan Long, the director of the upcoming Greenfield Lions Club Christmas show, is 'photo-bombed' by Kilroy (aka Danny Long.) (Photo by Cindi Pearce)
Susan Long, the director of the upcoming Greenfield Lions Club Christmas show, is 'photo-bombed' by Kilroy (aka Danny Long.) (Photo by Cindi Pearce)
By Cindi Pearce
The Highland County Press


“Danny’s a little bit crazy and my stability, too. He’s NASCAR, and I’m Ohio Theater.”
– Susan Long

Susan Long gets quite offended if someone makes a snippy remark about her "alter ego."

Alter ego?

Oh, yes, she smiles. Lulu McClain.

Okey dokey.

For a number of years, Susan and her husband, Danny Long, have portrayed E.L. and Lulu McClain at various Greenfield Historical Society events. Susan, in particular, is a history buff, armed with a master’s degree in history.

That is just the tip of the iceberg.

A 1970 graduate of McClain High School and a 1974 graduate of Morehead State University, Long (nee Washburn) is a jack of many trades. She taught high school English for 33 years. After retirement, she worked as an adjunct teacher and adviser at SSCC.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” Long noted. “My mother grew up during the Depression. She was from a large family and left home after the eighth grade. She went to live with an elderly couple in Bainbridge and helped with their store because she needed to make a living. I remember her talking about her desire to be a nurse or a math teacher. She felt young people did not appreciate their education. She wished she could have had a high school diploma but she never did.”

HISTORY BUFF

“Mom and my dad (who were not yet married) were at his parents’ house when they heard the news about Pearl Harbor. Dad and Jack McCray enlisted immediately. He and Jack were good friends. East Monroe buddies,” Long noted. Long’s father, the late Harold Washburn, served in the U.S. Army.

The Washburns were married shortly thereafter and Audrey traveled with her husband while he was stationed stateside. Audrey worked as a cook at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. She told Susan she remembers seeing Eisenhower and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. There was a command center located at the resort.

Long’s mother, 98-year-old Audrey Dotson Washburn, was one of the original Rosie the Riveters during World War II. She worked at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, operating cranes. Many women entered the workforce during World War II, which was unprecedented.

When Harold was shipped overseas, a pregnant Audrey came back to Ohio. Harold didn’t see his son Jim for the first two years of the child’s life.

Long is fascinated with history and the world wars, perhaps because of her parents’ involvement. World War I and World War II music will be featured in the upcoming Greenfield Lions Club Christmas show. There will also be a nod to Rosie the Riveter in the production.

A LIFELONG LOVE AFFAIR WITH MUSIC

The pianist started taking piano lessons when she was in fourth grade. By the age of 13, she was playing at the East Monroe Methodist Church. When Charlotte Phillips retired as the organist at the Greenfield First United Methodist Church, Long was encouraged to succeed her.

“Everybody thought you could easily transfer from the piano to the pipe organ not realizing it requires two additional appendages and I can barely operate two. The church sent me to organ workshops at the Methodist Theological Seminary to learn pedaling. But I never felt really comfortable because the organ itself is a magnificent instrument and it can do so much and I didn’t know how to do that.

“Recently, David Pettit has shown me some techniques for playing, using the settings and that really helped me to pick better settings and do things more smoothly. I prefer the piano but (with an organ) you have a whole orchestra there. Think about it. It’s an all in one instrument You can create so many different sounds. It’s an ahh moment. You’re filled with awe.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC

Long never strays too far away from music. She loves teaching piano, which she’s done for more than 20 years. “Students are at piano lessons because they want to be. I don’t have any state standards or testing. We can go at their pace. It’s fun. Playing the piano requires concentration and learning to read music. It does require a certain set of thought skills and intellectual skills. Research says it does help with math skills because piano students have to count.”

Additionally, “It’s an emotional outlet for children. There is a saying ‘Where words fail, music speaks.’ Music has an emotional, spiritual element that many other disciplines don’t have.”

Long is one busy woman. She teaches 25 piano students, plays the organ at the First United Methodist Church in Greenfield, helps out with her six grandchildren and is in the midst of preparing for the Greenfield Lions Club Christmas show “A Night of Peace,” set for Dec. 8 and 9 in the MHS auditorium. This is her third tour of duty as the director of the Lions Club production. It is a huge undertaking, involving 100 people and requiring months of preparation.

All is well, albeit incredibly busy, for the 66-year-old but it wasn’t always that way.

WHEN LIFE GETS COMPLICATED

Long was widowed at the age of 42, when her first husband, Ed Luke, died unexpectedly, leaving Susan with four children to raise. Now that will test your mettle.

“I remember wondering if the kids were grasping this. The children ranged in age so there was a range of emotions from anger, uncertainty and fear. Nathan (her youngest child) was four at the time. I never really understood if he fully grasped it. I remember him running around at the family viewing and then, all of a sudden, he went up to the casket and said, ‘Okay, you can wake up, Dad.’”

She struggled, working full-time, raising four kids, but endured and survived. She was single for seven years.

There were two matchmakers at McClain High School (the school secretaries Judy Beatty and Kathy Arnott) who thought Susan and Danny Long, who was a widower and a colleague of Susan’s, would make a great couple.

With a little prodding from two well-meaning secretaries, Susan, the Methodist, hooked up with Danny, the Quaker. Although Danny claims not to be musical, he’s certainly riding shotgun with his wife on her many adventures.

THE CHRISTMAS SHOW

Susan and Danny are both members of the Greenfield Lions Club. “We want people to know the show is an opportunity to raise funds for the food pantry and other organizations,” Long explained. “With the proceeds (from previous shows) the club bought a machine that tests pre-school children for lazy eye. Harold Schmidt organizes this. The machine is taken around to the various pre-schools. The other thing we do is give a big donation to the OSU optometry division. They come down and screen all kindergarten students.”

When asked why she takes on this enormous, time-consuming project, Long answered, “There are two reasons I do it: It’s an opportunity to bring the community together and showcase the talents of the gifted individuals in our community and it’s a good way to raise funds.”

Mark your calendars for Dec. 8-9 at MHS. The Greenfield Lions Club Christmas show, “A Night of Peace,” under Long’s direction, is a must-see and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season.