Friday, June 29, 2007
Road Trip to Pensacola and VELVET MELON Reunion
What a surprise we had on April 28 at Beth and Andy Waltrip's house! I'll give a bit of background before describing the day.
Wendy, Frank, and I were supposed to make a road trip to Pensacola around Christmastime; however, we never could find a good date. We postponed our trip until spring. When Frank found out that Wendy and I had planned about a two-week trip, he balked because he can't be gone from his land for that long at that time of year . . . all sorts of "crops" planted, and they need tending. So Wendy, Sandy, and Jackson would make the trip alone.
A few weeks before departure time, Wendy called to tell/ask her dad something. Her end of the conversation went something like this: "Hey, Dad . . . I have a question for you, but you must answer 'Yes.' Then you can't ask any questions. On April 26, can you drive to Pensacola with Todd? (His answer had already been supplied.) Remember, no questions!" The "no questions" part went for me as well.
Our road trip was so much fun with lots of talk although Wendy said that our three days of travel were the hardest she ever spent since she couldn't talk at all about her surprise while we were traveling. Since I knew there was something wonderful in the offing, I made sure to disappear at least once every time we were with relatives or friends on our trip. As an aside, I need to tell readers about the excitement that we had on our way to Pensacola.
Early on the morning of April 19, Wendy, Jackson, and I headed out for Pensacola. Excited hardly explains what we were feeling. This trip would prove to be my first to drive all 1300 miles by myself. Wendy would have driven, but I really think I was trying to prove to myself that I could drive the distance alone if I ever had to or wanted to. You see, Frank's not much for traveling these days, and I have "travel" in my blood . . . not travel to distant lands, just travel to see those I love. This Pensacola Road Trip was travel that I really wanted to do, and I did it! Jackson was such a good traveler. Very contented most of the time. On this first day, he talked to his daddy and pop on his "none" a good bit of the time!
We spent two nights on the road, the first one being in Plano, where our cousin Kathy Resmondo and her family live. Kathy got in touch with two other cousins, and we had a grand family reunion at a great restaurant that my cousin Steve Trammell chose. My cousin Becky Keck and her family were there, too. About thirteen descendants of Mary and Jimmy Kolb ate dinner together that evening. So much fun!
This is almost the whole gang. We're missing just the guys, Steve and Lamar (Kathy's husband). They were in charge of the picture.
I have lots of other pictures, but I can't include all of them. So . . . I decided on this one of Steve and me. We decided that we haven't seen each other in twenty-five years, at his and Lenita's wedding. My mother and I made a wonderful road trip from Pensacola to Dallas, stopping every afternoon going and coming at Dairy Queen, where we pigged out on hot fudge sundaes. One of my favorite memories of my mother. Steve's dad, Jack, was one of only three boy cousins in the Kolb family . . . and one of my favorite people of all time!
Another day of driving . . . lunch in Monroe, LA, with my cousins Gail Gambino and Kay Holloway. Great visit and no dead air at that table! Kay is on the left, and Gail on the right. Gail and I grew up playing movie stars. I have some funny stories about Gail and me when she and her mother lived with us for a couple of months. Kay came along much later. We went with Kay to her and Jeff's house, which we hadn't seen. On the road again . . .
Then an evening in Clinton, MS, having dinner and much talk with a college friend, Ann Smith, her husband, and daughter. Ann and I hadn't seen each other in forty-four years. We just took up where we left off! Delroy and Angela became family immediately. Jackson had the first of very few meltdowns. He was just so tired; however, when he and Wendy left the restaurant, where we had a delicious dinner, to walk across the parking lot to our motel, he told everyone at our table good night, then proceeded to the other tables to "head butt" them, his unique way of taking leave.
The third day was a piece of cake, with only about six hours of driving. We stopped in Pascagoula, MS, to have lunch with a couple who were best friends of ours back when we were all young marrieds. Ann and Gary Holland have been our friends for so long, whether or not we lived in the same town. This visit was wonderful. We just reminisced and shared pictures to our hearts' content. The Hollands suffered a lot of damage during Katrina, but they have managed, through lots of hard work and dollars, to get it back to the beauty that it once was . . . maybe even more beautiful!
We were elated to finally arrive at JoAnn and Fred Gaines's house. Jo is my cousin (our mothers were sisters), but she's more like a sister. I love her and her husband, Fred, so much. Whenever I drive up to their house, I breathe a little sigh and feel as though I'm home. On this visit, Wendy and Jackson stayed in the house, and I had my own house . . . their trailer. What luxury! Sometime I'll write about staying with Jo and Fred. We have our little routines, and I'd like to tell you about them, but for now, I'll do a bit of "leaping and lingering." Just fill in the blanks if you want to.
Every time I go to Pensacola, almost every minute of every day is filled with appointments and visits. This time was no exception. I had lunch with my "Three Musketeers" teacher friends (Joyce Wiggins, Dee Boone, and Betty Spiegelhalter); made it to two doctors' appointments (one with my favorite doctor, Derek Jones, who also was one of my favorite students back in the good old days); visited with Annice Webb in Gulf Breeze and ate her favorite lunch, talked about everything under the sun; went to Joyce and Don Wiggins' home to chat for a while, finding out during the visit that Don has had a novel published (I'm so excited for him. Just wish I'd really get serious about writing and get something published.); ate out with Jill and Chig Findley at the Oyster Barn (I long for good seafood out here in New Mexico), during which time we caught up on everything (mainly their family) since last July when we had a surprise party for Chig at our house (celebrating his 70th!); riding over to Mobile for a bit of shoe shopping; and finally (though I'm sure I've left some things out), lunch at Fran's house with Hazel Scales and Annice . . . and of course, Fran, Wendy, and Jackson. Whew! What a week!
Then came the big day, the day Frank and Todd had driven 1300 miles in two days for. The day that Wendy couldn't breathe a word about during our three days on the road together. The day that she had prepared for all those months. April 28th!
That was the same day that Fran and the other Lunch Ladies had planned to have their every-other-month lunch, this time at Sara Klusmann's house. After a delicious lunch prepared by Chef Sara and delightful visiting with Fran, Hazel, Barb Lautner, Linda Sue Thomas, and Sara, Frank came to pick me up so that we could open the mysterious envelope that Wendy had given us that morning. Here's what was inside . . .
For you, Mom and Dad,
There's a reunion to be had.
Some folks are waitin'
So stop hesitatin'!
Get in your car,
And tho' it be far,
It's worth twice the drive!
Just don't drive TOO slow!
And here's where you go:
14300 Eitzen Road
(that's Beth and Andy's if you don't know!)
When we arrived, our first clue that we were at a Velvet Melon Reunion was Andy's VM t-shirt. I remember when those shirts rolled off the press. We were all so excited! Do any of you remember that Jay had a special one for Jimmy Mills? He was the sound man and wasn't on the front of the shirt. By the way, Jim, I campaigned for you to be right there with everyone else. But, no . . . Jay had your picture put in the "armpit" of the shirt. It really was funny, but your old mom wanted you on the front. Then I looked through the gate and saw Todd Vannoy. I knew for sure that we were having a Velvet Melon Party! Just like the old days! Later, Wendy asked me if we saw the balloons along the way. I had. Did I notice that they were pink and green? I didn't. So sorry. That little hint was wasted on the elderly.
(This post in in progress. Check back later for complete and edited version!)