Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why I Love All Four Seasons

As many people retire they are looking for more moderate climates to live in. I am happy to live in an area that has four definite seasons, and there are things I love (and dislike) about each of them. Let me be perfectly frank; this is my home and I am close to my children, most of my relatives and many of my friends. I stay here because of relationships, not climate.

I know that we live at a certain latitude, and the earth is at a certain angle on its axis and the earth rotates around the sun, and let’s not forget the effect of our moon—I’m Mrs. Science Teacher, remember—but I do love the Midwest and I get bored easily with only one or two seasons.

One of the things I like about the changes is the cycle of the growing season. I realize that the Midwest is not unique in this; every climate and area grows what grows there! Here, it’s corn, soybeans, winter wheat and hay. I love to see the annual growth and finally the harvest.

If I had to pick a favorite, I think I would pick the one we are in now. I love the daily changes during autumn. I love the colors of autumn. I love to watch them unfold, green to yellow, yellow to orange and then finally the dying brown. Actually they are the colors I have usually decorated with almost all my life. My wedding colors were fall colors.

I love to drive through the country and watch the corn being harvested. Next will be the beans, and after that winter wheat will be planted in the bean fields. Sometimes we are annoyed by the machinery on the roads, but it’s part of the agricultural life. What I look forward to is the picture of all the fields being “put to bed” for winter. Here, that is about Thanksgiving time. I love to watch the changing of the colors. For us the peak is the mid-October, and then the leaves begin to fall—it depends on whether we get a big rain to just bring all the leaves down at once, or it happens in stages.

By the time the end of November rolls around, I am ready to change seasons. Christmas decorations are up and I am basically a Currier and Ives sort of girl. I like snow for Christmas. My husband and I still drive around to see the lights. Snow is quiet and I love the peace and quiet. We quiet down and observe the Christmas holidays with our family.

In January, I love to “hunker down” at home. I love the beauty of snow. I don’t love the dangerous roads. I pray for my children that are out driving and doing their activities, but I am happy to read a book. We watch a lot of basketball on TV. I make lots of soup. When the roads are cleared, I love to drive and see the beauty of snow on the fields and the trees. But now that I’m retired, I don’t have to!

Alas, by the time March rolls around, I am tired of snow too! It’s melting, dirty and ugly. March is supposed to come “in like a lion and out like a lamb.” Not usually. I have sat through high school baseball games in late March and nearly froze.

Spring brings promise of new life and new growth. I enjoy watching the new growth come out in stages—first the crocuses, followed by other flowers. The fields are planted and the tree growth begins from the ground up, first with the lower bushes, reaching up to the deciduous trees, and gradually filling out as summer approaches. I love “purple week,” where the all the purple flowers and redbud bushes bloom.  I love the celebration of the Resurrection.

May is a time of endings, school and other programs that operate during the school year, but the crops and other trees and flowers are growing. We spend time in our yard, planting the new flowers. I fix the pots for the cemetery for Memorial Day.

In our area, Memorial Day does signal the beginning of summer, even if the summer solstice is later in June. The trees and flowers are in full bloom and the crops are growing. The corn is usually far beyond “knee high by the Fourth of July,” and the wheat is nearing harvest. As summer progresses, the beans and corn grow and it’s all lush and green. Even if hot, I love seeing the greenness of it all!

But all growing seasons are supposed to come to an end. It is the way of the world, and the income of the farmer. Gradually the green turns to golden and the time comes to harvest. The nights are getting colder and the leaves turn, and it starts all over again.

It’s never boring and I love it. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

For The Love of the Game

My Dad, with the octagon OB
in the background.
I remember being a little girl and going to softball games to watch my Daddy play. I’m sure I played with the other little kids, and Mommy bounced baby Benny on her lap. I don’t remember one single thing about the game itself.

The year I turned seven (1960) my Daddy took us to our first Reds game at Crosley Field. I had watched a few games on TV and was aware of the “star power” of Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson. I was in awe of seeing “real” baseball players. A seven-year-old doesn't last long listening to the radio, but I walked to the candy store, and bought lots of bubble gum with baseball cards in them. This probably gave me my first visual interest into the players and teams.

I remember the Reds playing in the 1961 World Series. That really piqued my interest at a time when I soaked it up like a sponge. During those elementary school years, I learned more about the game itself; the teams, rivalries and leagues. I continued to chew that bubble gum and buy those cards. I never traded.

Both my parents loved the game—I didn't stand a chance. Dad played at Olive Branch High School, and Mom was friends with baseball players in Springfield. I’m sure it’s an interest they shared together in the early years.

One of my absolute all time favorites, of Mike laying
down a suicide squeeze, with another Mike coming home!
Benny’s myopia kept him from playing baseball, and we certainly didn't understand that during those years. I know Dad was disappointed, but it’s what it was. After moving, I played softball, but I really wasn't very talented at it. I just tried my best and made some lifelong friends.

As a family, we continued to go to games at Crosley Field each year. It always was a great family activity and we loved it. We sat in the “moon deck” sometimes, to save a little money. It never mattered to me.

What is this thing I have with
left-handed batters?
When I got to high school, I "went steady" with a guy who was on the varsity baseball team. I was a junior and he was a senior. I guess you could say I was a “groupie.” I went to every game, and can remember sitting in the car in some miserable place with his mother. Spring high school baseball can be brutal in Ohio—I've been to games called for snow. I thoroughly enjoyed that year, and when he and I began talking seriously about a life together, while other girls were planning their college careers or something else, I was planning on following a guy around in the minor leagues, if we got lucky.

There REALLY are not very many 17-year-olds that think like that!

Well, of course, that didn't work out (although we have a wonderful relationship today and he approves this message) and life moved on. I continued to follow our high school team my senior year, at least to the HOME games.

Riverfront Stadium was built between my junior and senior years in high school, 1970.

The college years brought new friends, many of whom were Reds fans and the Big Red Machine was gearing up. We weren't any richer than any other college kids, and we would pile into someone’s semi-operational vehicle and go to college nights, and any other special cheap night. We parked ten blocks away at a cheap place and ate 25 cent hot dogs. I didn't drink beer. I think we went a couple of times on someone’s sibling’s straight-A tickets. We would do anything to get to the game.

During 1975 and 1976, the years the Reds won the World Series (plural), I was 22 and 23 years old.  I graduated in 1974 and lived in another town through most of the summer of 1975, but moved home September 30, 1975.  I had no job, so by golly, I could watch every game of that 1975 World Series, the series that all others are compared to in Cincinnati. The big joke is that I met my future husband on a travel night of the series, because otherwise, I would have been home, planted in front of the TV with my Dad, who was recuperating from a heart attack. I guess it was meant to be, because I just wouldn't have been out while the ball game was on! Period.

My husband-to-be was not the dyed-in-the-wool fan that I was. His Dad played ball, and I guess was a pretty good pitcher, but he was a farmer and there wasn't much time for watching TV baseball games. However, the man had a transistor radio with him at all times, so he was listening to games. Living between Detroit and Cleveland, he was an American League fan, which he and I teased each other about for many years. (My father-in-law was buried with his transistor radio)

By the time we were married, there was much more baseball on TV. I watched it. Wanna spend time with me? Watch baseball. Period. He was converted.

During the early years, we went to many games with friends, and we didn't sit in any moon deck or nosebleed seats. I worked in a bank and could sign up for free tickets to several games. We usually went to Farmers’ Night with my in-laws. I talked my father-in-law into attending a National League game. Land sakes!

I remember the sickening feeling I had when Tony Perez was traded and the Big Red Machine was bit-by-bit dismantled. When I heard that Tony had been traded to the Phillies and would be playing in Cincinnati in April 1983, I ordered tickets. This I wanted to see. We were part of an ovation that lasted about ten minutes. It was awesome! I don’t remember who won the game, I just remember the welcome of Big Doggie back to Cincinnati. (I also remember being at work in 2000, when my co-worker—also a baseball fan—got the word of Tony’s Hall of Fame election. I told my co-worker I could now die in peace!)

I was eight months pregnant on Johnny Bench Night in 1983. All we could get were nose-bleed seats and I think Jerry and I were in one place and Mom and Loren were in another. It was September 24th or something and I was so darned hot I had a beer. Not that I needed to, but I didn't dare go down those steep steps to the bathroom.


A little girl being raised right.
Opening Day 1985.
During the years the kids were little we didn't get to Cincy much. I remember my daughter liked “Buddy Bell.” (I think she liked the alliteration, she was four. But come to think of it, later she liked Bret Boone, so maybe she had something for players named B). We took Joel at a young age and he DID understand the game, because he had so much more exposure to the game and commentary on TV. It’s so amazing how kids soak up these things.

Then, there was a shift from going to games in Cincinnati, Ohio to games in Enon, Ohio. Jess played girls softball several years and Joel played little league.

I like to tell the story about Joel at 6, when his t-ball team was practicing on the grass because the field was wet and we were making do. Joel was playing second base and caught a line drive and ran to second and then to first and got an unassisted triple play. We adults looked at each other and thought, “Did we really just see what we thought we saw?” It was not a physical feat, it was a mental feat. The other kids were picking dandelions.

Another favorite of my son, playing
against the school (system) in which
he would later teach and coach.
That began thirteen years of walking tacos and hotdogs. Little league, traveling junior high league and high school JV his freshman year, and then took over first base for varsity for three years. I always did like first basemen. There was spring high school ball and summer ball. When he was 15, he started his 10-year stint as an umpire. I missed very few games that he played in, but I did draw the line at umpiring. Oh, I saw a few, but I mostly heard about his umpiring from other parents. They were pleased, and that was nice to hear.

It was a small town and I can remember him coming home from umping a game of 5th and 6th graders. He said, "You know you live in a small town, when you are umping a game and the pitcher is the younger brother of your former girlfriend, the catcher is the younger brother of your current girlfriend (now wife) and the batter is the younger brother of the second base umpire." Yeah, life was like that.

Last year, when they reunited the position players of the Big Red Machine, one of my college friends got tickets and she and I were there. It was completely awesome and one of the best baseball memories of my life. It MIGHT happen again because they are building a statue for Tony Perez. You never know. I’ll be there, regardless.

Next year Great American Ball Park hosts the All-Star Game. That’s a pipe dream, but I’d love to see the Home Run Derby.

Yes, I have been to Cooperstown, and did not have enough time to spend there. We were on a group tour of New York State and City and I would like to return on my terms.

Big moments in baseball that I remember exactly where I was:
  • Sobbing on New Year’s Eve 1972 when I learned of the death of Roberto Clemente.
  • At my Social Work Practicum watching TV when Hank Aaron hit his home run in April 1974. In September of 1973, I ordered tickets for a Braves game in left-center field.
  • Watching the game that John McSherry died in (Opening Day 1996) with my children. I knew he was dead immediately. Try telling that to your kids.
  • Letting the kids stay up when Cal Ripken, Jr. broke the longevity record.
  • My choir director wondering why no one showed up for choir the night Pete Rose got his big hit. (The man was from Alabama. What would he know?)

Well, the professional season is almost over and I will watch the post-season, depending on who’s playing, and I rarely root against the National League, but you never know. I do wish Derek Jeter well.

I love this picture too. #1 played for
a team in my son's league and we
watched him grow up. Here he gives
a high five to one of the kids on the
World Series Championship team
from Chicago.
Why do I continue to love and watch the game? Why do I choose to watch the Little League World Series instead of a movie or other program? Because somewhere in my soul, I love the walk-off hit-preferably a home run-and watch grown men act like little boys when they play a little boys' (and now girls'!) game. I love the strategy and I love the skill of the game. To some people, it plays too slow; but there's something about the mental battle of a pitchers' duel that I love. Certainly, I still have my favorite players, (not always Reds) and always will. I can tip my hat to a fine defensive play, even if it results negatively for our team.

There are changes coming next year. I don't know what will happen; but I know I will still love the game.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Whatever Do You DO All Day?

Many people ask, “What do you do with yourself now that you are retired?” so I thought I would give a little rundown on how my days unfold. Knowing fully well that I am not “normal” (and no one really is), this is just me. It goes without saying, none of this is engraved in stone any particular week either.

Hubby volunteers at the hospital three mornings a week. Those days are “mine,” and they are different. I usually begin a day with watching the taped Tonight Show, while having breakfast. I believe beginning any day with a laugh is a good thing, and starts me on the right foot.

Because I cannot exercise within two hours of eating (or I will be sick), I then usually do my Bible study. I am wrapping up a study on First Corinthians, and don’t start another one (Exodus) until September. During that time, I will spend that time reading some other devotion readings. I have a quiet time to pray. Then I may go to exercise, or I may do something else.

On Mondays, because there is no Tonight Show, I clean the house. I’ll admit, I take lots of breaks. There is no one here to notice how many breaks I take and I like it that way. Each week is different. Hubby and I clean up after ourselves and this is basic maintenance. I may not get to the study time.

Wednesdays are my day with Mom. After my morning routine, I drive to her house and we just visit, or I may take her to an appointment or shopping. Sometimes I visit my niece who lives nearby, or meet another friend.


Right now, my exercise classes are Monday evening and Saturday morning. As we move into the fall season, we all are hoping for some more classes and I will adjust. I do exercise on another day during the week, but it varies.

At this time, the days my husband does not volunteer are more or less reserved for things we might do together. This is not always the case; as he enjoys time for himself too, and he takes care of the yard. I might schedule a doctor or hair appointment, meet with a friend, or just go to the gym.

Soon Thursday nights will be choir practice, and as mentioned previously, Bible study resumes on Friday mornings.

I love to read and much of my time is spent reading. I have a plan to take an online class next month on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder of “Little House on the Prairie” fame. I loved her books as a child, and the television program as a young adult. I also do webinars, meetings and online education for CEUs for my license. This will be my last renewal (October 2014), but I am open to an ad hoc opportunity if it presents itself.

I think my husband imagined that I would be out running around with friends all the time and I just don’t! This does not mean I am not in touch. I make at least one call a day to someone, and I am in touch through Facebook and email. In a perfect week, I’d have lunch or dinner with a friend one day. Sometimes it doesn’t happen.

I look forward to being a Grandma again soon and that will consume our time. Outside of that, I am very happy to be a homebody. I don’t have a “shopping” day anymore. Weather, busyness, and need regulate that. There are two stores near the fitness club, so it’s not an issue.

This week begins Friday Night Lights again so we’ll be into that for a while. The new granddaughter has been instructed not to be born on a Friday night. She’ll probably spite me.


As you can see, there is no boredom. I have my house to keep, laundry to do, books to read, music to listen to, a phone with unlimited minutes and access to the Internet. I am connected, and I am not connected. It’s OK, either way.

A Sears Kit Home in the area.
**For the future, I have some things I am looking forward to:
·        Singing in the local symphony chorus.
·        Expanding my interest in architecture and history, with a special emphasis on Sears Kit Homes of the early 20th century.
·        Being a Grandma chaperone for preschool field trips.
·        Before we know it, headlong into our 45th high school class reunion.



Friday, August 22, 2014

What Would My Dad Think Today?

Prom 1970.
Everyone has thought of a deceased loved one and wondered what they would think of life today if they suddenly “returned from the dead.” This is beyond the emotions of missing them or wishing we could have a conversation—although I know my Dad would have a few things to say—it’s just thinking about how MUCH has changed since he died. Along with that thought, I am sobered to remember that it will be the same for my descendants.

My Dad died thirty-seven years ago, August 24, 1977. So many things make me think of him, not the least is his grandson, who is very much like him, although they never met. But there are other things that pop into my head as I go through my day, and I wonder “What would he think?” By the way, twenty-five years ago the very same week, my Aunt Petie died. My mother’s older sister died of lung cancer when she was 63. It just doesn't seem possible that it’s been twenty-five years.

SPORTS:

The first thing that comes to my mind is sports. The major change in basketball has been the three-point shot and how that has changed the game! We admit that the college teams are a farm system for the NBA. A University of Dayton fan since my earliest memory; what would he think of the NCAA today? Would he go Mad in March like his son-in-law, grandson, and grandson-in-law? He died before my Alma Mater became Division I. Maybe we would go to more ball games together.

What would he think of LeBron James? I’m sure he would have the same feelings that many have had, and probably the same level of “forgiveness.” He never lived to see Michael Jordan play college ball for the University of North Carolina (think on that for a minute!).

He died the same year the Big Red Machine died. He never saw Barry Larkin play. What would he say about Peter Edward? I can only imagine. What would he say about the steroid scandals? Subjects he never even thought about! I can only imagine what he would think today of Billy Hamilton or Aroldis Chapman.

He had definite opinions about designated hitting and the strategy of working around a hitting pitcher. He was a National League Baseball Fan. Perhaps today, after seeing inter-league play, he would acknowledge the fact that the DH role lengthens some players’ years of competition.

The ump at work.
How he would have loved watching his grandson play for 13 years. Oh yes, he would have been right there for every possible game. Maybe later he would have enjoyed watching his grandson umpire Little League, since he himself had been thrown out of a few (of my cousin’s) games; and his grandson did NOT put up with any crap!

The strategies in the game of football have changed quite a bit since he died. Not the die-hard fan, he would have become one when his grandson played. Like me, he would have learned to watch the defensive game as my son was a middle linebacker. Everyone watches the offense. We had much to learn. He would have been as much of a nut case as the rest of us as we watched my son’s high school team win two league championships in a row! Then later, as my son became a coach, enduring many “character-building years” until he served as defensive coordinator for a regional runner-up high school varsity team. He would have watched many games with us.

TECHNOLOGY:

It’s kind of hard to write about something that is so foreign to the experience of someone who has been gone thirty-seven years. He DID use a remote control and a microwave. The only place he saw a cell phone was on “Get Smart” and I laugh as I write this, remembering those. VCRs were on the horizon, but personal computers were not.

With computers, I tend to think he would be among the last to jump on board, as in some ways, I am. This would somewhat be defined by how much he HAD to learn for work. I think he would have a simple computer and have learned to look up things. He would do email. I don’t think he would do Facebook, unless I set him up so he could see all the pictures of the kids he loved so much. He would NOT be watching ESPN on his tablet, as his grandson—and even I—do.  He would have a “dumb phone” and I do not think he would have quit the landline phone.

But I can’t help wonder, what he would think of the “level” app on his grandson’s iPhone? My dad was a builder and brick mason by trade. What would he think of it? I might tease him with my “lighter” app and he would laugh, and some of the others would interest him; but I still don’t see him with a smart phone.

TELEVISION:

In 1977, the top shows were “Laverne and Shirley” (no) and “Happy Days” (maybe). He watched “All in the Family” and “M*A*S*H.” He did not watch “The Love Boat” or “Barney Miller.” As a family, we watched “The Walton’s” and “Little House on the Prairie.” He never saw “The Cosby Show”, “Family Ties,” “Cheers” or “Growing Pains.” He missed “Rosanne,” “The Wonder Years” and “Doogie Howser.” Just for a little perspective.

What would he think of how FAST our shows and commercials go? Of course, this has come little-by-little, and we don’t notice it as much; but if we came back from the dead from years ago, we certainly would. Catchy tunes are replaced by sound bites. And…..the best invention ever, we can tape and fast forward through the commercials. I do believe he would like that.

With regard to cable, being the sports fan that he was; what would he pay to watch? He could be a cheapskate on one day and generous on another. Generally speaking, he was conservative. But when I look at our U-Verse bill and our cell phone bills, I think he’d be shaking his head big time. On the other hand, he was never a hermit by nature and he genuinely loved watching sports. This is one subject I’m at a loss to comment on. After all, it’s come upon us gradually.

FOOD:

Mom and I got to talking about changes and she said not to leave out food. Now, I must preface this by saying that my father's weight varied from 157 pounds in the summer to 163 pounds in the winter ALL OF HIS LIFE! He was not obese—but he smoked cigarettes.

Dinner to my father was meat (usually beef), potatoes (usually mashed), a side dish (corn and peas were his favorites) and sliced bread and butter and jelly. We didn't have dessert every night, but I bet we did three times a week! Macaroni was NOT a main dish. Remember, he was raised by a mother who served big breakfasts, made home-made noodles and pies with lard, and all kinds of wonderful things—BUT Dad had a heart attack at the age of 45.

Dad and his oldest son. We didn't
eat out often
While I am FAR from perfect, what would he think of the amount of chicken, turkey and seafood I eat on a regular basis? Some of my meals, now that there is just the two of us, are one entrée. I might make omelets and top with salsa. Or, would he have adjusted too, as we learned more about different foods?

What would he think of the amount of eating-out we do? When I was little, we used to go to a hamburger place on the way to Grandma and Grandpa Netts'. It sold seven hamburgers for a dollar. That took care of the four of us! He and my mother did dine out with friends! I watched my in-laws and my own mother age, and we've all adjusted to dining out more, as I’m sure he would have.

THE KIDS:

What would he think of his grandson, the teacher and coach, married to his lovely wife, the RN? His granddaughter, presently carrying the second of his two great-granddaughters, who is a generalist in HR for a big company, married to an actuary. (Since he spent years selling insurance, I wonder if he thought much about what actuaries do? It was never mentioned in our home.) My cousins have had fifteen more children, and the NEXT generation totals fifteen and more-than-a-half (our granddaughter)! Thirty-one souls he never met. (I am not even counting in-laws!)

He loved children. We have pictures galore of him patiently reading to them. Would he be playing games on the iPad with his great-granddaughter? Probably.

LOSS:

Since he died; we've lost both of his brothers and sisters-in-law, and his nephew. We've lost my mother’s sister. We've lost my maternal grandmother. We've lost a pre-term baby that would have been his grand-niece. And, we've lost his son, my brother, at the age of 51. I can’t imagine how he would have handled that. We've lost his best friends, and other peers from church and work.


This is the last picture taken of our extended family--August 6, 1977.
I imagine it would be a big shocker for him to come back to 2014. He would have been upset by my cancer diagnosis, but I think he would be proud of who I am as a person. I think he would approve of the life I have lived. (Well, I know my Mom does!) He would be enormously proud of his two grandchildren and great-granddaughter; and all his nieces and nephews and their families.

That’s what I think.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Grandpa's War Letters--Part Two

Upon finding the letters that my grandfather, Charles Arthur Kline (1891-1970) wrote home to his parents during World War I, it was hard to read the original letters, so it took me some time. He wrote a few letters to my grandmother also—she would have been 18 and he was 27—but he never mentioned her in his letters to his mother and father. That leads me to believe that there was not a romantic relationship between them until after he came home in 1919. They were married in September 1920.

The first letters come from Chillicothe, where he must have been training, although he found life redundant there. (Keep in mind, it’s just another kind of redundant at home.) He missed the comforts of home, could not always get passes to come home, but I did not get the feeling he was lonely.

He found time to write to family and several friends. He mentions aunts, uncles, “grandma” and cousins that I have never heard of. It would seem that he was part of a close family network, and this was a surprise to me. He only had one sibling, Hazel, and she died of something we could cure today at 19. If he was 27 and a few years older than she was, it was a fresh loss. He speaks of sending his mother money to put flowers on Hazel’s grave for Christmas Day. My grandmother told me that I looked somewhat like Hazel as a young woman; keep in mind that Grandma died when I was 18. She never knew me in my full maturity.

By the time I came along, I never knew of this large family connection. His parents, step-mother and Hazel were long gone, and I never heard much about cousins.

He also mentions going to the YMCA every evening for movies and other entertainment. He uses the YMCA stationary to write home. He talks frequently of his pals in the army, and asks of other Medway fellows and how they are doing. So, a surprise to me, he was very much a social being.

They waited in Chillicothe for orders to go to France. There was illness and quarantine and eventually they move to New York City. He regrets not being able to see more of NY because some were able to get passes. They waited in NY also. It seemed that nothing went fast in the army, as he repeated more than once.

The letters begin in October 1917 in Chillicothe and two letters, in early June 1918 are written from New York City, but by July 1st he is “somewhere in France.” His letters pass through censorship and are initialed on the bottom of each one. His November 14th letter speaks of the peace, but that nothing happens fast in the army and although they all want to be home for Christmas, he isn't holding his breath.

In late 1918 and early 1919 he writes of seeing some of the areas of war-torn Germany. He experiences hospitality of the German people in their homes. These letters truly describe Germany in post-war condition. Beautiful and terrible.

The last letter is written April 4, 1919 and then he must have headed home.

First of all, I was impressed with Grandpa’s penmanship. (My great-grandmother, not so much). He did not write short letters, and they were not flowery, but he described in detail the surroundings (until he was in France) and everyday life of the soldiers. It was much more intense in France, and he couldn't tell about it, but I could gather from the words he did use that it was dirty, nasty and he was close to shooting. He described living in “dugouts” they dug with their own hands.

I was amazed at his family dynamics. He mentions all the relatives and sends his wishes. He tries to write everyone who writes to him, but sometimes that is not always possible, so asks his mother to share the news. He mentions a person named Alma that he writes to often; but other than that said, I have no idea if she is a romantic interest. He did write to my grandmother, but she lived in Fort Recovery at the time. She was hardly “the girl next door.” I know nothing of their courtship and these letters give me nothing about that.

He sent money home regularly to his parents. I was particularly touched about his request for the flowers for his sister’s grave. He asks them what they are doing with it, but I don’t have their responses.

He certainly wasn't a “lifer.” In one of his last letters, he says he looks forward to being home and never wants to hear the word “army” again.

One has to wonder if he ever experienced what we call PTSD today. I have no idea. By the time I remember him, he was retired and sometimes he was crotchety, but he would play cards with me and talked to me while he painted pictures “by number.” He loved doing that! We didn't talk about deep things, but I felt loved by both my grandparents.

I am so grateful to have had this window into a time I knew existed, but never talked about. This discovery has been a tremendous blessing.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lost Letters From My Grandpa!

Every once in a while a “Connection Intersection” entry begs to be written. Something happens in life that is remarkable and is an illustration of our shrinking world, opportunities to share information and truly create connection.

To my Great-Grandmother, who
came first at that time!
I realize not every person likes history the way I do. Even so, perhaps you can understand my thrill. This blog is for all Facebook nay-sayers. It is what can happen that is just short of miraculous.

I know much about my mother’s family. There has been much physical and oral sharing of history, stories and information. I am very familiar with my mother’s home town—mainly because I worked in business and non-profit there, and I understand my own history, as well as the interconnections with other families’ history.

That said, I have very little history from my father’s family. Upon the death of my grandmother in 1972, my father and uncle, who were basically good guys, didn't have some of their finer moments. They threw out boxes of family history, including the family Bible. My mother was beside herself; but it was one of those minutes she kept her mouth shut. I’m not sure she was right in doing that, and although I have been at that place myself with my husband’s family, I have to think I would have been, uh, vocal!

I do have pictures, but I know very little about these people. I can see a resemblance of my brother to my grandmother’s brothers, who I never knew. I just know their names.

So, you can imagine my glee (I can’t think of a better word), when I was on Facebook and someone posted a letter FROM my grandfather to the “friend” (who would become his wife) from WWI in 1917. It wasn't long, but it was a window into their world. I thanked the poster publicly on Facebook, and he wrote a private message to me (for those of you not on Facebook, you can private message those who are not your friend, but that you might have information for) telling me he won these on eBay along with some other things and he was planning to donate them to Wright State, but that he would create a CD for me with all 51 of the letters.

I went to his house to get the CD, and I beheld a home with as much history of the area as I have ever seen in once place. This man is 77 years old and very computer-savvy. I asked him if everything was backed up, and yes it is, in two places. I didn't stay long because I had groceries in the car on a summer day; but the amount of images and stories he had was fabulous! I could have spent the entire day with him.

I brought my CD home and put the files on my computer and began reading them that evening. I was transported to another world, of a man that I did not know. I figured out that my grandfather was just about my age when I was born, and I am expecting my second grandchild. There’s a whole lot of life that has been lived before the age of 61.

Next time I will get into the specifics of what I learned about my grandfather, his family and a war that was fought 100 years ago. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Another Road Trip and a Wedding!

This trip was needed and wanted on several levels and did not disappoint.

My friend Brenda from Wisconsin was getting married to her fiancé Scott, in a wedding to be held at an annual festival in their town; on a date when the follow-up would be a concert by their favorite band, “Here Come The Mummies.” They are studio artists who started their own band and they are very good! More on that later.

I have known Brenda since high school choir. We did not go to the same middle school (we called it junior high back then). My traveling companion, Debbie, has known her since third grade. Debbie and I have been friends since summer of 1969, when I needed a ride to the pool and she was already driving and we took our three younger siblings with us and kept them out of our mothers’ hair. We get a lot of mileage of how we met.

Last year when Brenda and Scott decided to marry, I really wanted to go, but I wondered if I could make this happen. My other good friend, Beth, was going to be matron of honor, just as Brenda had been maid of honor in HER wedding 41 years ago. Beth wanted to fly, however, and I didn't want to be limited by flights. When Deb said she wanted to go, I was on board. We have been very good friends since we were 16 and we know each other so well that we know what each other is thinking.

We are pretty much on the same page with our religion and politics and other important matters; but we are polar opposites in lifestyle. I am an early riser and she was ALWAYS a night owl; even in high school when she was forced by society to get up early and get an education. I didn't know how this was going to work.

We left at 8:30 AM EDT, and made excellent time. We made two wrong turns, but my google map app let me know right away we were headed the wrong way and we corrected our mistake. It might have added—with both situations added together—a half hour to our day. We make pit stops and we did have lunch at 3:00 PM at a Subway. It was good to get out of the car.

We had a lovely day, two country girls who loved the drive through the lushest part of the growing season in the Midwest. Illinois was beautiful. Deb had never seen windmill farms before and she was fascinated by them. We totally enjoyed the uneventful ride, the scenery and the banter in conversation. We became friends at 16 and we are now 61. I guess you could say this was our 45th anniversary trip. In 45 years, we have a few stories to tell.

Arriving at the Holiday Inn Express about 5:30 EDT or 4:30 CDT, we were delighted that our motel was less than a mile from Brenda’s house. After settling in, we went over to the house and visited for a while. I got the guest book, which was “my job” at the wedding. We later had a light meal at Applebees.

On Saturday, we slept in—both of us—and then went to the breakfast in the motel lounge. We went swimming in the pool and sat in the hot tub, which was wonderful. While swimming, I got a text from Brenda to come to the Perkins restaurant in front of the motel, so we got dressed and walked over there. We weren't really hungry, but I can always find room for pie, and we were able to meet some of the others coming to the wedding. These were mostly relatives. I've heard about them, but never met them.

The wedding was not until 6:00, so Deb and I had time to shower and rest and pick up a sign at Brenda’s house. By now it was Wedding Central and we didn't stay long. We were to drive to the middle school, pick up a shuttle provided for all by sponsors, and it took us directly to the festival. Debbie stayed at the bus stop with the sign, while I traipsed off to find out exactly where this wedding was going to be held. I had two “professionals” (we all know they are volunteers) tell me two different stories, but I finally found the spot and so I stationed myself at a place to direct people more precisely to the area.

I missed this!
Because of my location, I missed the wedding party’s arrival on a vintage fire truck. Durn. I did get to see the pictures, but would have liked to been there. The wedding started a little late because someone had pinned the photographer’s car in at the house. A taxi was sent for her, and that took some time. In the meantime, I passed the guest book around.

It was a beautiful service and represented the two individuals very well. It was sincere and heartfelt, and sweet. This couple has been through much together already, which I am not at liberty to discuss, but I felt like, “Well, of course they are going to be together through ‘thick and thin.’ They have a track record!”

After the short service, we went to an area where the groom’s cake had been set up and we all had some cake and got to know each other better. I didn't count, but I think there were about fifty of us and we really could genuinely converse at a deeper level. Later in the evening, some of us went to the other side of the park to the “Here Come The Mummies” concert. It reminded me of one of our concerts in the park in our hometown, with lawn chairs everywhere. There were many people standing also. Not me.

Here is a link to information about  Here Come The Mummies but the short story is that they were studio musicians that formed a band and dress up like mummies. They played and sang and danced for almost two hours without a break. They must be young and very energetic!

The FHS Group!
Debbie and I took two of the bridesmaids back to the house and headed on to the motel. I suppose we settled down about 12:30 CDT. We slept well until 10:00 CDT! Checked out by 11:00, and then headed to the reception/cookout at Brenda’s. We had perfect weather, great food and again, wonderful people to hang around with. Deb looked at her watch at 4:30 OUR time and we wanted to get on our way, but it felt like the party was just getting started! I hated to leave, but we had decided to drive home in one stretch. Again, Debbie the night owl could bring us on home. So we said our goodbyes and gave our hugs.

It was a good trip until we hit our home state and some pop-up showers that were quite heavy. By that time I was glad she was behind the wheel. In Illinois, we were coming up behind an oversized ½ “house” (never did see the other half) that had an entire tire fall off. The tire did not come into our path and what I would assume to be the bolt holding it on became a projectile and hit the windshield, shaking me up a little! It happened quickly, only the windshield sustained damage, and the truck got right off the road and did not affect us or any other driver. I don’t know where the tire ended up.

So we did a little slow breathing and settled down, and that was enough excitement for the day. Only later did we admit that we BOTH thought of a mutual friend who was killed in 2004 in a very similar kind of accident. The difference is that the windshield held back the projectile in our case.

We pulled into my driveway at 12:30 AM EDT. I did not take my keys. (Well, I wasn't going to need them!) My husband was SOOOO happy to see me!

Whether you want to consider this road trip a trip to witness a good friend’s wedding, a 45th anniversary trip for two good friends, or just a road trip with a good friend for a change of pace—it was really a wonderful time and we are ready for another!