Tuesday, July 09, 2013

P is for Playing


All of us come into this world playing and continue to do so for the rest of our lives. Babies play with their toes and their daddies’ ears; toddlers play with toys and their grandmas’ whatnots; children play with their friends—hopscotch, dodge ball, red rover (I know these are old fashioned); teenagers play hooky and chicken and steal-the-boyfriend; adults play all sorts of “games” to capture their sweethearts and to advance themselves in the work world.  The two types of play that are surfacing in my mind this morning, though, are two that I haven’t mentioned and are coming to me from my childhood. Both games were important in developing me into the person I am today at the tender age of 73.

In my neighborhood in New Orleans, a WWII housing project, we children didn’t have many toys. I always had dolls, and during the war, I had plastic airplanes that we played with, bombing the Japs (I know that’s politically incorrect, but that’s what we called them), but I don’t remember many other toys. Oh, yes, I heard on the radio once about a cardboard farm set that I could order, probably for a dollar or so, and I did just that. But I forgot to include the dollar. I received it anyway. That was surely “back in the day,” wasn’t it? After school, we skated and rode bikes on the sidewalks in our neighborhood, and on Saturdays we played in new-mown grass and on a jungle gym in the big, shared backyard. We also played all of the previously mentioned games—hopscotch, dodge ball, red rover—but the ones that I remember best are house and school.

I loved it when Donny Lockwood played house with us girls because he could be the daddy. If he didn’t play, I had to be the daddy because I was the tallest. How I hated that! Just because I was tall didn’t mean I had to be a boy. Sometimes we played with dolls for the babies, but sometimes we just let the youngest or smallest child be the baby. She would coo and gurgle just like a real baby, and we loved that. We prepared meals the way our mothers did, using leaves and flowers and dirt for the ingredients. The “garbage” flowers and leaves were the best because they were the biggest. I have no idea as to what these flowers and leaves really were; they were just the ones planted around our garbage area, a fence-in square where the garbage cans were located. The plants did their best to hide what was really there. We mimicked our parents when we talked to each other, with the daddy pitching his or her voice very low and authoritatively. Whoever was the mother had a high voice and always told the daddy what had gone on around the house while he was off at work. In the same manner, the daddy would report on what he had done at the office. He probably had the same job that his daddy had. Occasionally, while we were playing house, we’d stop for a while to use our spoons or little shovels to try to dig to China because we were convinced that if we dug down deep enough, we’d see Chinamen down in the hole. Inevitably during our playtime, we’d use the expression “Let’s plike,” being interpreted “Let’s play like.” We little Southerners didn’t do too well with some words. We loved playing house and  could stay at it for hours. In the evenings in the summer, we’d play slinging statues and catch lightning bugs until our parents called us in for bath and bedtime.

We played house both inside and outside our homes, but the next game was played inside because we’d never heard of a school being outside. That’s right . . . we played school. And guess who was almost always the teacher! You got it . . . Sandy. This was probably the only game in which I was really pushy. I was the tallest, so I could be the teacher. This was one time that I didn’t resent being picked for something because of my height. Children back then didn’t have many books of their own. I really don’t know why. Maybe parents expected their kids to get books from the library. I did that, but I also had some books of my own. I wish I still had those books because inside each one of them I’d see a subject written: arithmetic (we never called it math or mathematics), reading, trigonometry (I read that word in a book one time and thought it sounded interesting . . . had a real ring to it), composition, history, and probably some others. I was a hard taskmaster of a teacher and made the students stay focused on what we were doing. My little wooden easel chalkboard with the alphabet at the top made my schoolroom look real . . . at least to me.  

These two games have stayed in my mind through all of these years because both helped me to think about the future at a very young age. I knew that certain things were done in a family and certain things weren’t from playing house. The daddy was the leader of the household; the mother prepared dinner and took care of the children. Sounds old fashioned, doesn’t it? It is, but for me, it still applies today. Early on I found myself at the front of the classroom, giving instructions to children, teaching them what I knew best. I must admit that even back then, we spent more time on spelling and reading and writing than we did on arithmetic. Just a little foreshadowing, I guess.

We had a great time in our project. Games were important in our lives, and we played them to the hilt!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

O is for My Occupations

Well, I haven’t had many of those, so I’ll have to mention my jobs, which weren’t actually occupations. I’ll get to the occupations shortly.

My first job was as a clerk in my dad’s Auto Lec store the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. I worked every day from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except on Wednesday, when we closed at 1:00. And of course, the store was closed on Sunday. I made $25.00 each week and was ecstatic to make that much because it meant that I could tithe $2.50 and save the rest to purchase a beautiful little baby-blue Smith-Corona manual portable typewriter. That little machine took me all the way through my senior year in high school and both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, plus several years of teaching. What a sweet little machine.

Even though that was my initial reason for working that summer, another reason soon became important. You see, a very cute boy worked in the meat market at Jitney Jungle, the grocery store where we shopped. Every day, during his lunch break, he walked past our store, and eventually, after we waved to each other each day (I was guarding the TVs at the front of the store), he walked in one day, and I fell in love. Not really in love, more like “in like.”  In any event, I was smitten. And he liked me, too. He was a student at Berry College in Georgia and was spending the summer with his sister and her family. After that initial meeting, he came in every day to chat, and one day he asked me for a date. Of course, I went, but I don’t remember liking him quite so much after that evening. He was a bit too forward for a shy high school girl. I don’t think I heard anything from him after he went back to college, but I surely did like him through the plate glass window of my dad’s store.

I learned a lot that summer—how to wait on customers, how to use the cash register, how to write up lay-aways, and most of all how to keep people from stealing merchandise, especially televisions. At least that’s what Daddy said. He didn’t lose even one TV that summer. How could he? My eyes were glued to them most of the day, except when I was waiting on customers.

My second job was grading papers for Mrs. Sue Price Lipsey, my favorite English teacher at Mississippi College. I don’t recall that she gave me many instructions before grading; however, I surely did get a lot of experience that would come in handy in the thirty-two years that I’d be grading papers after I went out into the real world of teaching English. Mrs. Lipsey and Miss Virginia Schimmel, my senior English teacher at Pensacola High School, were my inspirations for become an English teacher. They were my role models from day one in the classroom.

The third job that I had before getting a job in my profession was that of Veterans’ Clerk in the Registrar’s office at MC. I loved working for Mr. Troy Mohon, longtime registrar at the college. Even though he had probably the worst breath that I had ever smelled, I loved him. I also liked Virginia Busby (who taught me to make biscuits) and Betty Jo Ott ( a strange-shaped girl with a beautiful smile); however, I was scared to death of Miss Addie Mae Stephens, the person in charge of sending out transcripts from the Registrar’s Office. She slept through most of the days, and the other girls in the office and I would watch her as she almost hit her head on the desk as she dozed. She’d always wake up just before the landing, and we’d scurry back to our desks before she could see us. The other person in the office was Esta Spell, a witch of a lady, who made it her personal mission in life to frighten away any new girl who started working in her domain. She almost scared me off, but one Saturday when she wasn’t working, Virginia and Betty Jo told me of her witchy desire. From that day on, I stopped  crying every evening when I got home, much to Frank’s relief, and made it MY mission to stay in the office, maybe even to outlast her. After she realized that I wasn’t going anywhere, she became my friend. Very strange lady!

I’ve had only two real occupations, professions if you will—English teacher and sales rep/consultant. I’m probably one of the few people who can say that I had wonderful bosses, with the exception of Gary Dameron with McDougal Littell Publishing Company, but even he was good at the beginning. His problem was that he lost his mind somewhere along the way, and like Esta Spell, tried to run all of us sales reps off. I don’t think he succeeded with any of us. We were much too hard headed and in need of a job to be frightened of him to the extent that we’d leave our jobs. He was fired, thank goodness, after we Florida sales reps tattled on him. The day that Linda Lee left voice messages for us, telling us that she’d be our manager until she could find one, I’m sure everyone in Florida heard the collective “Hooray,” when we listened to our voice mail that day.

Teaching was my real calling, for I do believe that God has specific jobs in mind for specific people, and He wanted me to spend most of my working days in the classroom with seventeen and eighteen year olds, those teenagers whom hardly anyone truly wanted to teach, but whom I loved until after Spring Break.

All of my 32 years of teaching were done at Pascagoula High School, Live Oak School, Jackson County Junior College, Pensacola Junior College, and Woodham High School, where the vast majority of my years were spent—28 of them. I began my teaching career at Pascagoula High School in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The first year that I taught, I was assigned two tenth-grade basic classes and three tenth-grade average classes. I could lead you to my room right now, but I can’t remember the room number. When I reported to school a few weeks before planning days began, I went to the main office, and as I was standing there looking at who knows what, the principal, Aubrey Johnson, walked up to the counter where I was standing and slapped his paddle down right next to me, causing me to almost jump out of my skin, and said, “Miz Young, you just send ‘em to me if they give you any trouble.” I don’t remember ever sending a student to him because I surely didn’t want it on my conscience if the student got a beating. What if he didn’t really need to go to see Mr. Johnson? I handled my problems myself. I must have done all right that first year because the next year I was “promoted” to seniors. Maybe no one else wanted them. I loved them!
After two years at Pascagoula High School, I decided to apply for a job as reading teacher in the Jackson County School System, still in Pascagoula. I got the job after answering a few questions from Mr. Mallette, the superintendent. He explained to me that I’d be working with Kreole kids, those students whom the public school in Vancleave, Mississippi, didn’t want even less than they wanted Blacks. Kreoles, he explained to me were sort of “red and yellow, black and white,) as the old Sunday school song goes. I found that truly they were a mixture, but also that, as the song continues, “they are precious in His sight.” My year as a reading teacher was truly delightful. Granted, I had a long drive each morning and afternoon—at least 30 minutes each way, but I didn’t mind. The children in the thirteen-grade school (Kindergarten through 12th grade) were sweet, eager to learn, dirty, and very, very poor. Their social life revolved around their Pentecostal church right in their neighborhood. I’m not too sure that I taught them much that year although almost every child’s reading scores went up by the end of the year; however, I managed to get in some lessons in manners and a grand performance at Christmastime. I’d like to think that at least the manners stuck with them.

One year in the country was about all I was up to, so I applied to Jackson County Junior College in Gautier, Mississippi, for a teaching job in the English department. I’m sure I went for an interview, but I don’t remember any details about the meeting. Frank and I were eager to have another child, but we had been unsuccessful during the past year. Wouldn’t you know it, though? Almost as soon as I got the job at JCJC, I found that I was pregnant (or as young couples today say, WE were pregnant). My wonderful college teaching career lasted one semester, one summer, and then another semester, during which time, I gave birth to a sweet baby boy. While at the junior college, I taught mostly freshman English classes and loved every minute. In the fall of 1968, Frank announced that he thought we should move to Pensacola so that he could learn the business of Auto Lec, my folks’ business in Brownsville, because one day it would be ours. So, amidst many tears on my part (I had left Pensacola after high school, never really wanting to live there again), we began making plans to move, the most important part of this big change being my finding a job.

So . . . one weekend that fall, we went to Pensacola so that I could find a job the next week. After visiting with Bill McArthur for a few minutes and trying to sound very much sure of myself, the man in charge of hiring new teachers told me that it would probably be about three years before I could get a job in my hometown. Ha! I needed a job that very day, not three years hence. I thanked him for his time and headed to Pensacola High School, my alma mater. I walked hesitantly up the stairs up the stairs at the school and asked for the principal. Mr. Mabry, the man who had been the assistant principal when I graduated, welcomed me, and we began to chitchat about old times at PHS. Gradually, we wound our way around to why I had dropped in that afternoon. “I need a job,” I told Mr. Mabry. Then I explained what Bill had said about the scarcity of openings. The principal was sad to tell me that there was an opportunity at Woodham High School, a school that I’d never heard of since it was the “new kid on the block.” And why was he sad? Because he’d have loved to hire me but there were no positions at PHS. He made me promise, before he sent me on my way to Woodham, that I’d check with him before accepting the job because maybe someone would walk into his office that afternoon to announce that he or she would be leaving. He had my word, and I headed to 150 E. Burgess Road to see if I could snag a job that hadn’t even been advertised yet because the teacher wouldn’t be going on maternity leave until the end of January. “Oh, by the way,” Mr. Mabry said as I left his office, “Miss Virginia Schimmel teaches there. You may remember her.” Remember her? She was the reason that I was an English teacher! Her personality in the classroom and her method of teaching were what made me think that I could be a success if I just kept her foremost in my mind as I prepared to teach young people.

I could hardly wait to get to the school so that I could connect with her. After I told Mrs. Love, the school secretary, that I’d like to talk to Mr. Holston, the principal and former band teacher at PHS when I was a student there, about a teaching position, I asked to see Miss Schimmel. She called her to the office, and when Miss Schimmel walked in, I could tell that she couldn’t quite place me. She recognized me as a former student, but I had to tell her my name, being careful to say that I no longer went by “Sandra” but by “Sandy,” just in case I got the job. I surely didn’t want my fellow teachers calling me by my despised name. More chitchat here with my teacher, more catching up with what I had been doing in the six years since I had been in her class . . . then I was told that I’d see Mr. Holston in just a few minutes. Miss Schimmel went back to her work, and I entered the principal’s office. He grilled me on my teaching experience and my desire to teach at Woodham. Near the end of our meeting, he asked what kind of teacher I was. “Why, a good one!” I answered immediately. He was probably looking for an answer that involved creativity and liberalism and something very literary, but I wasn’t into those things. I was a good teacher, and I knew it. He said the job was mine if I wanted it. Of course, I wanted it, but I had promised Mr. Mabry not to sign on the dotted line until I checked with him. I told Mr. Holston as much, and he agreed to hold the job until Monday. Fairly early on Monday morning, I called to accept, having known in my heart that that’s exactly what I would do since it’d be very unusual for someone to pop into Mr. Mabry’s office on Friday afternoon to resign.

And so began the longest teaching stint of my career. If it hadn’t been for Miss Virginia Schimmel, I probably wouldn’t have had even one day at Woodham. I learned after I reported for duty at the first of February 1969, as she left the office where we were talking, she went immediately around the corner to Mr. Holston’s office and said, “Hire the young lady who is about to walk through that door!” No questions asked. When Miss Schimmel spoke, it was like E.F. Hutton. Everyone listened, and most people did just what she asked of them. Bill Holston did that Friday afternoon.

My work at Woodham got off to a rocky start. You see, when I was hired, I took the place of the favorite teacher for sophomores. Peggy Doherty was everything that a sixteen-year-old would want in a teacher. She was smart, funny, entertaining (she sometimes sang in night clubs, so she also sang in her classroom), and demanding. I was smart and demanding but certainly not funny and entertaining. The kids, for the most part, resented me. They thought somehow that I had made her pregnant and that I had forced her to quit . . . to leave them. Almost every day in every class, someone would say, “That’s not the way Mrs. Doherty did it!” Finally, one day, I threw back to some unsuspecting student, “I wonder if any of you have noticed that I am NOT Mrs. Doherty. I don’t ever want to hear that again!” And that was the beginning of the classes’ belonging to Mrs. Young and not to just some substitute for Mrs. Doherty. Before this change, I had spent the majority of every Sunday afternoon crying because I didn’t want to go to school on Monday. Every once in a while, I’d break down during my free period at school. I’d cry on Miss Schimmel’s shoulder about how things were going in my four advanced sophomore classes, a dream schedule if thee ever was one. And then one day everything changed. Miss Schimmel said to me, “Sandy, if these advanced classes are too much for you, I can change your schedule and give you average and basic classes. There are plenty of teachers who would love to have your schedule!” Oops! That’s not what I wanted at all. My tears miraculously dried up, and my attitude changed. That’s about the time that I reminded my students that I wasn’t Mrs. Doherty. From that time onward, I was a different person as far as my teaching was concerned.

I could write a book about my 28 years at Woodham, and someday I might. For right now, though, I’ll just say that during my time there, I taught the following: average and advanced sophomores, one class of average juniors (it just about did me in!), Grammar and Composition, Advanced Grammar and Composition, Fiction, the Bible as Literature, College Prep English, Advanced Placement English, Dual Enrollment English, and Basic, Average, and Advanced Senior English. I also served as sponsor of the Junior Honor Society, Senior Class Sponsor, Project Graduation Sponsor, and co-creator and sponsor of Senior Day, the latter two activities being ones that I could write pages and pages about. Maybe some day, I’ll write lots more about my years at Woodham. I loved my job, but when I went on to my next vocation, I was happy to change. After Jay died, I lost a little enthusiasm for teaching. I must say, though, that I never have completely left the classroom. Right now, I have about 150 former students as Facebook friends, and I’m still looking over their shoulders and giving them advice when they ask for it . . . and sometimes when they don’t!

Jay died on July 2, 1992, and about two years after that, I decided that I’d seek, not necessarily greener pastures, but other pastures. For years I had gone to the Florida Council of Teachers of English Fall Conferences, and had gotten to know lots of the sales reps for publishers of textbooks. Frank and I thought that being a sales rep would be perfect for me when I retired from teaching. So . . . I began to solicit jobs. After talking seriously to people from both Holt and McDougal Littell, I finally landed a job with the latter and began a fairly long career with that company. I was a field sales rep for McDougal Littell in Florida for seven years (there’s fodder for another book during that time), then retired to move to New Mexico, where I’d stay in retirement for exactly 79 days before going right back to work for the same company. I was a per diem consultant for just about a year before taking the sales rep job in New Mexico for a year. After that year, I went back to per diem work, and now at the age of 73 am still working for the same company although because of buy-outs and/or mergers, it’s now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Holt McDougal. At this point in my sales and consulting career, I have the perfect job. I do most of my work (back to working per diem) online though occasionally I get a face-to-face job and even get to go back to my glorious Southland to work. I love my job, and I doubt that I will ever again announce retirement. I’ll just quit taking jobs, and everyone will wonder what ever happened to old Sandy. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Friday, June 14, 2013

N is for Never Say Never

Inevitably, if I say I’ll never do something, I wind up doing it. Alice and I (and later in my college years, Frank and I) used to walk to the PO on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after chapel. I guess we went on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, too, but I don’t have definite recollections of that. On our way, we’d pass an old two-story house on the right. I always shuddered, wondering who in the world would live there. At one time in its life, it might have been considered antebellum, but now it just looked run down. The dirt yard didn’t do anything to make it look better, I can assure you. I’d NEVER live there!

However, when Frank and I set the date for our wedding, we began to look for housing in Clinton. There was nothing that we could afford. I don’t think I had snagged the job of Veterans’ Clerk in the Registrar’s Office at that time, so I had no promise of income, and Frank usually took home about $40 per week from his construction job with Frazier-Morton, plus the $110 from the G.I. Bill. We needed something very inexpensive, affordable, maybe free. Voila! Frank did some asking around and found that Kell’s Cottage, that deplorable old house was free, except for utilities, to ministerial students. I swallowed my pride because “free” was the important word.

Frank is a fantastic carpenter/builder today, and he had these same talents in 1961. Mr. Frazier generously let him have broken tiles that he used for repairing the hearths in that old house, and the Ministerial Association made it possible for him to get lumber to build kitchen cabinets and the closet in our bedroom and the wall that he built to enclose part of the hall. This enclosure became Wendy’s bedroom after she joined our family. We had the loveliest apartment in Clinton, Mississippi! My dread of Kell’s Cottage changed to a love of a beautiful apartment in an old house that wasn’t deplorable. It had character.

Another thing that I said I’d NEVER do was get married while I was still in college. When I met Frank and fell in love with him, getting married while I was still in college became irrelevant. All of a sudden, beginning a new life before I ended the one that I was enjoying so much became something that I wanted to do. In fact, in November, when I was in the hospital very ill with who knew what, all I could think of was whether or not we’d be able to get married in December. Getting married while I was still in college became the most important thing in the world to me.

And then there was the matter of a school. In the old days before I-10 was built, we used to travel out Hwy 90 to go to Mobile and on to Jackson, where we went to school. We’d pass an old school on our way. My snooty self would say, “I’d NEVER send my child to Beulah School. Surely there’s no real education going on there.” Again, I had to eat my words.

When we moved to Pensacola from Pascagoula, we bought an old house on what was then Detroit Blvd., right in Beulah district. So we bundled Wendy, and later Jay, off to Beulah, where they’d have such wonderful teachers as Janie Taranto, Beverly Gunn, Vera Gainey, and even Mrs. Vickery with the smoker’s breath. Both of them had Eugene Winters as their first principal, and what a wonderful principal he was. He knew every child in the school, where each lived, and who his or her parents were and what they did, meaning what their vocations were. The teachers and Mr. Winters held their feet to the fire and insisted on excellence in classwork and respect for adults. I can’t imagine our children going to any elementary school except Beulah. Those words tasted really good.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

M is for Music in His Bones

As I sat in the cushy seats in the Pensacola Junior College auditorium that spring morning, I could hear the children behind the curtains taking turns practicing. One played haltingly; one completely forgot the song; and one played flawlessly. The last one was Jay. They all played the same song, a piece with just enough “show off” in it to impress the judges.

The curtains parted, and the first two children each walked to the piano nervously, their eyes averted from those of us watching. Each one played hesitantly, making many mistakes. When the second one finished, it was Jay’s turn. My boy—very small for his age—walked confidently to the grand piano in the middle of the stage, nodded to the audience, gave them a crooked eight-year-old smile, adjusted the bench so that it was just right, and lifted himself up, his feet not quite flat on the floor. Not one mistake in his performance. The children weren’t in competition with each other; they were just performing in hopes of getting a Superlative rating. I don’t know what the other little boys earned, but Jay got the ranking that he wanted.

As we walked out of the auditorium, he turned to me and, with a serious look, said, “Mom, I couldn’t believe it. Those other boys were so nervous and afraid to play. I told ‘em I couldn’t wait to get on the stage!” He had completely psyched those other children out. He was just telling the truth . . . he loved to perform.

Jim Hussong, Jay’s piano teacher, entered him in every contest available because Jay always excelled. Whether it were a local competition or one for state, he won. He memorized easily. In fact, once Jim gave him the wrong music to prepare for a contest, discovering his mistake only a few days before Jay was to perform. When the teacher confessed his mistake, Jay said, “That’s OK, Mr. Hussong. Just give me the piece, and I’ll have it ready.” Amazing. When he was about twelve years old, he announced that he didn’t want to take piano lessons any more. He had several reasons: Some of his friends were making fun of him for having to go home to practice piano (it was sissy to play the piano); he wanted to play soccer because he was going to be the next Pele; he was just plain tired of playing the piano. We gave in and let him quit in hopes that he’d want to go back to the piano someday. After all, he was playing saxophone in the Bellevue Middle School band, and he had finally gotten to the point that he sounded sort of good (It was a struggle at first with all the squeaking and squawking that went on while he was learning to play. We wanted to relegate him to the barn when he practiced, and you can be sure that he wanted to practice.). Though we knew that he played the piano so well, we had to be satisfied with saxophone in the middle school band.

He was still in middle school when Wendy went away to college at Southern Miss. I think he really missed her, and every evening he’d go to his room, ostensibly to do his homework, which I guess he did at some point. As I’d be doing dishes, he’d come down, sit at the piano, and play a few bars of something that sounded a bit familiar; however, with my tone deaf ear, it didn’t sound like much. After several evenings of this routine, he came downstairs, sat down and played from start to finish Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer.” He had a tape of the song and was memorizing it by listening. I think that was the moment when we realized that he truly was gifted. I don’t think he read another piece of music after that. He just listened to a recording, memorized, and played it.

At the end of his eighth grade year, he announced that he wasn’t going to be in the marching band at Pine Forest High School. It was stupid to march with an instrument in your mouth . . . you could knock your teeth out. Wendy happened to be at home when he made his announcement, and she promptly took him out to the backyard to talk to him. We never got a real report of what she said to him, but when they came back inside, he had decided to learn how to play mallets . . . xylophone. And play that instrument, he did. He taught himself how to play, and he was all over those keys! And when he and Jimmy Mills auditioned for and were accepted into Suncoast Sound Drum and Bugle Corps, he hung out with the drummers and learned drums. During his senior year in high school, he was still playing xylophone, but he wrote the cadence for the drummers to march in to, and he led the way. Oh, but my boy was talented!

During his senior year, he lacked only English and maybe one or two other subjects for graduation. So . . . he took a brass class. I never heard him play trumpet, but he said that he learned to “blow” it, and I believed it. Then he announced to Wendy that he was going to learn French horn. Wrong!! His big sister put her foot down. French horn was HER instrument (and she was very good!), and he couldn’t touch it. She knew that he’d love playing horn and that he’d be good, to say the least. She absolutely refused to be in competition with her little brother musically.

Sometime during his junior year, Jay and a fellow musician, Joey Allred, decided to form a band. Boys began invading our home on Saturday mornings, eating us out of house and home, and playing what we vaguely recognized as rock music, not hard rock, you understand, but music that had a tune to it. I bought packages of hot dogs and buns on Friday afternoons in preparation for the onslaught. Cookies and chips were devoured by the package, too. I think there must have been about eleven of these budding musicians, but gradually the number dwindled, and when Velvet Melon finally emerged as a band, there were four or five musicians and Jimmy, the sound man. By the way, Velvet Melon doesn’t mean anything in particular. The guys were practicing one evening early on and as usual were throwing around prospective names for their band. The phone rang, I answered, it was for Jay. Gina Forsberg, Jay’s current girlfriend, was calling to chat and to tell him something funny that she had seen carved on a desk at Tate High School—VELVET MELON. “Thanks, Gina! You just named our band!” There was never a question about the name. Everyone loved it!

Velvet Melon became THE band in Pensacola, attracting young and old to their gigs, whether they were at Chucky Cheese or Longneckers or Coconut Bay or Chan’s Bayside or the Shell at Pensacola Beach. Melonheads thronged to their gigs, giving them all the support that a young band needed as they grew to be one of the most popular bands in the Southeast. While Velvet Melon was in existence, Jay played drums, keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, and saxophone. And he played each instrument like a pro. What? He WAS a pro. My boy truly had music in his bones.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for LANGUAGE Arts—Sometimes I Miss the Classroom

For thirty-two years, I got up every day and got dressed to go to either Pascagoula High School (1964–66) or Live Oak School (1966–67) or Woodham High School 1968–96) to teach English. I’m a real roots person: almost twenty-eight of those years were at Woodham, my true home away from home.

I loved teaching and considered it a real calling. In other words, I always thought I was doing just what God intended me to do: educate young people in the language arts, always having in mind making them lifelong readers and writers. Leading teenagers in this direction wasn’t always easy, I must admit; however, it was what I was meant to do.

For most of my thirty-two years, I taught twelfth-grade English, British Literature. You can believe that I had to do lots of “songs and dances” to get those kids to enjoy, no tolerate, the literature of Chaucer and Shakespeare and Milton. We managed to get through, many times quite well, and some of my students have even told me (via Facebook) about teaching their children the classics as a result of seeds planted when they were in high school. I hope so, anyway.                       

If we did a survey of language arts teachers and asked why they became teachers, I imagine most of them would say because they loved to read and wanted to teach literature. Not me! I loved literature, but really grammar was my first love in the discipline. I know it sounds crazy, but I took great delight in watching those cartoon light bulbs come on in a student’s head when he or she finally understood a grammatical concept in the language. I won’t try to convince you that I saw those light bulbs every day, but when I did see them, “my heart leapt up” . . . to quote William Wordsworth.

I taught from this book!

I have about 150 former students as friends on Facebook, and they still ask me questions about grammar. For some reason, they think that I can answer any query that they have. If the answer doesn’t come to me immediately, I do a little research before writing back. To prove how much I enjoyed teaching grammar, I have an anecdote from many, many years back. One evening at Open House, two parents finally worked their way up to me. After they introduced themselves, they said, “We just had to come tonight to meet the lady who gets so excited over gerunds!” The three of us had a good laugh.

Now it’s time for true confessions. I didn’t enjoy teaching composition until seven years before I retired. I’m not a creative person, so I never could think of fun, yet educational, ways to teach writing. All I knew to do was teach the paragraph (essays in miniature), the five-paragraph essay. Then one summer, three teachers from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, came to Pensacola to lead us in a writing workshop that was very similar to the Bay Area Writing Project in California, only on a much smaller scale. At the end of two weeks, I loved writing and could hardly wait for school to start so that I could share with my students what I had learned. It was at that time that I became convinced that teachers who instruct their students in composition must also be writers themselves. They needed to share their “art” (writing IS an art, you know) with their pupils. I had great fun letting my seniors critique my writing, and they loved doing that after they realized that I wasn’t going to be offended by their comments. Granted, a teacher must have thick skin to do this, but I found the exercise beneficial for both my students and for me. Toward the end of my teaching career, I found several really good writing projects that made collectibles for my students and very interesting reading for me. In fact, my only really original writing assignment came to me during this time. It was what I called The Alphabet Journal, exactly like the project that we’re doing in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. Did someone get wind of my project?

I loved teaching, period. I always thought that my discipline, language arts, was the best because I was privileged to know my students so well since they shared their innermost selves through their writing. Sometimes I probably got to know them too well. They were able to get to know me, too, and because they knew how much I cared for them . . . yes, even loved them . . . they still feel comfortable with me today and share their vocations and their families with me through Facebook.

Let me share one little tidbit with you before I close. It will prove that they know me well. Last night, I had what I call a Sleepless in Cerrillos (the village where I live) night. I awakened at 1:30 with a nagging feeling. I needed to write a letter for a committee that I’m on. So, up I got and wrote the letter. Still wasn’t sleepy, so I did what most of us do if we like to keep up with people—I checked Facebook for messages. I had three. The first one that I saw was from a former student. He was in my class in 1993. That’s a long time ago, isn’t it? He wrote to tell me that he had gone to hear a speech by a former United States poet laureate. Right in the middle of the speech, he told me, he thought, “Mrs. Young would have given me extra credit for doing this!” And he was right. I’d have given him a great big chunk of extra credit. He knew me well . . . and he remembered me after twenty years. Amazing and heart warming. Oh, my how I loved being responsible for those kids, and even now sometimes I miss both the classroom and my students . . . always I miss the students.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Double K

I lived in the South for all but the last ten years of my life, which began in Shreveport, LA. Then my parents and I lived in Baton Rouge, LA; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; and Pensacola, FL. My husband and I lived in Clinton, MS and Pascagoula, MS. Next we moved to Pensacola, a second time for me. So you can see that I’m a real Southern girl . . . not a Southern Belle, you understand . . . because I think of Belles as coming from wealthy families. My family didn’t have money. Oh, we weren’t poor, but we probably had a little redneck in us. By “redneck” I don’t mean that we used poor grammar or rode dirt bikes in the back woods or had tattoos or knew moonshiners. My folks and I were just plain Southern. And even though my family is now in New Mexico, I’m still Southern.

The reason I emphasize so much my Southern roots is that Double K is an important part of every true Southerner’s life. We know that no proper Southerner would drive past a certain green-roofed building with a red HOT sign flashing. No matter what time of day or night, we stop. I think it’s against the law not to.

By now, you might have guessed that Double K means Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and  Southern-to-the-core folks love ‘em!

I can hardly remember a time that Krispy Kremes weren’t a part of my “diet,” my favorites being crullers and hot glazed. The sweet things first came to life in 1937 with the recipe of a French chef from New Orleans, but they weren’t original in the Crescent City. The first KK doughnuts were made for sale in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Until just a few years ago, Krispy Kremes were known only in the Southeast, but now they’re all over the United States, though still probably most prevalent in the South. I remember when the first store opened in Washington State, where most of my in-laws live. My sister-in-law said that the line for getting into the place wrapped all the way around the outside of the building. Evidently, the crowds kept heading for the Southern sweets for several months before business became normal.

We’re going to Pensacola in just about a week, and I can assure you that we’ll be scoping out Krispy Kreme stores all along the way. We know for sure that something bad will happen to us if we don’t stop if that red HOT sign is flashing!

My hero with his favorite breakfast!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Action JACKSON

The evening was sometime in October 2004. The place was the Southside Plaza CafĂ© in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The people present were Sandy, Frank, Wendy (their daughter), and Todd (Wendy’s husband). I hope I didn’t jump up on the table and do the happy dance when Wendy calmly said, “We have something to tell you. We’re going to have a baby!” I think what I did was throw my arms up in the air and yell, “YESSSSS!”

You see, Wendy had been married before and had our sweet Corey, who at the time of the announcement was sixteen. Wendy and her first husband had divorced when Corey was about six years old, and Corey and her mother had moved to New Mexico when she was eight. Wendy and Todd had been married for several years, and we had all given up hope of a baby for them. So this announcement was music to our ears. Frank and I would be grandparents to two children. We never thought that would happen.

You can probably imagine that even though all of us adults were ecstatic, Corey was not very excited, and that’s an understatement. She was somewhat mortified to think of what her parents had been doing, and she was also a good bit jealous to think that she’d have to share grandparents. She was the only grandchild on both sides of her family.

Wendy and Todd took Corey with them to the appointment in which the doctor would announce the sex of the baby. When they all looked at the picture and saw what they were looking for, Corey, too, shouted “YESSSSS!” The sonogram showed that there was a baby boy growing and getting ready to join his big sister. You see, what Corey had been unhappy about was the chance that the baby would be a girl. Somehow in her sixteen-year-old mind, she saw a sister as someone to be jealous over but a brother as someone to be proud of. Now we were all happy! Since we are such a small family, happiness is always a good thing.

The naming of the baby wasn’t difficult for Wendy and Todd: He’d be named for Frank and Jay (Frank Jackson Young) and one of Todd’s best friends in his teenage years (Matthew). So Jackson Matthew Yocham had his name a long time before he entered the world. I would have been happy for us to call him “Jay,” but Wendy insisted that he have his own name and be called “Jackson” and certainly not “Jackie.” So Jackson he was!

He was supposed to arrive in June, but he decided that the day for his mom to go to the hospital would be May 17, my mother’s birthday; however, he wanted his very own day of birth and didn’t arrive until May 21, three days before his mother’s forty-second birthday. Since he would be a preemie, Wendy and Todd had to go to Albuquerque for his birth instead of where their doctor was, in Santa Fe. That was okay, though. Albuquerque was closer for the other grandparents to go on the morning of May 21, the scheduled day for him to arrive.

The four of us—Darlene, Ron (Todd’s parents) Frank, and I—met in the waiting room around 10:00 that Saturday morning. Corey, since she was to be present for the birth, came out every once in a while and gave a report on her mom’s progress. Wendy’s labor was induced, so we knew Jackson would make his appearance sometime that day, hopefully earlier rather than later. The last time Corey came to the waiting room, she looked exhausted. After all, she had been through a lot that morning. (Smile!) She plopped down in the chair next to me and announced for all to hear, “I’m NEVER having any children!” We all thought that was a good thing for a seventeen-year-old to think, but we hoped that she’d change her mind when she got older and married.

So . . . Jackson, who was immediately termed “Little Man” by his proud dad, became a part of our very small family (now there’d be six of us) around 1:00 p.m. on May 21, 2005. Immediately, some of us called him Action Jackson, and he has earned this epithet through the years. Corey is our Firstborn, and Jackson is our Secondborn. They’re all we’ll ever have and all we need because our hearts are full to overflowing with love for these two grandchildren. Well . . . I guess if a miracle happened and we had another grandchild, we’d still have room!

Look at those big baby blues!

                                           Jackson and Pop!
Jackson wants to be a "phrotographer" when he grows up, just like his mom!

Firstborn and Secondborn

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for INFLUENZA to the Rescue!

My first memories are in Mobile, Alabama, when I was about four years old. I have definite pictures in my mind of my play closet, a cornucopia-shaped room where my few toys were housed. I know I had dolls, but I also remember trucks and cars. My best friend was Leroy, and he liked to tear up toys, especially mine, and I let him because he’d stay longer to play if he could pull the head off my doll or do some other destructive thing. These memories are indelible in my memory, but what I remember best about living in our little apartment is having scarlet fever and being quarantined for what seemed like weeks. It was probably for only a few days, but I have recollections of being really sick.

Scarlet fever was the beginning of my puny childhood. I guess I was sick off and on a lot, even having chicken pox, measles, and mumps practically back to back. I was a tall, skinny weakling. But then my mother decided that if I took vitamins, I’d probably be much better off physically. They’d make me eat more and put some meat on my bones. Well, she was right. I developed a voracious appetite and started putting on the pounds. I got fatter and fatter in first and second grade, and by fourth grade, I was hearing such things as, “Fatty, fatty, two by four. Can’t get through the kitchen door!” I cried and cried and kept on eating. I’d go home in the afternoon, head for the refrigerator, and eat such things as wieners and my favorite sandwich—mayonnaise and sugar—but not at the same time. My mother would shame me, but I’d just eat and eat and whine because the boys called me “Fatso.”

When my mother and I went downtown in New Orleans to shop and to eat at Morrison’s Cafeteria, she’d poke me with her elbow when a fat lady got on the streetcar and say, “You see that lady. That’s just what you’re going to look like if you don’t stop eating so much.” Her comment would make me sad, but as soon as we got to the line at the cafeteria, I’d load up my tray with stuffed crab, fried potatoes, and apple pie with ice cream. Then when we left, I’d insist that we both weigh on the scale at the door (don’t ask me why a cafeteria would have scales). When it was apparent that I out-weighed her, I’d cry again.

Throughout my elementary school years, I was the tallest and fattest girl in my classes; however, I still insisted on eating. I wasn’t what you’d call obese, but I surely was overweight!

Then came junior high school. I remember being sorry that I was bigger than others, but I didn’t think about dieting. In fact, I don’t think in 1952 that any young people even thought about dieting. My weight was just about to change, though, in spite of not dieting.

Early in 1953, influenza struck our neighborhood. Many children, including me, came down with it. My flu lasted for about two weeks. During that time, I ran a high fever and could keep down only dry toast and hot tea. I was so weak that I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom by myself. But gradually, I got stronger and finally could get out of bed with no help.

When I went to bed, I was a roly poly child; when I finally could stand up by myself, I was a svelte young girl. I had lost so much weight that I actually had a waistline! My mother was so amazed at the transformation that she bought me new clothes, the best article being a wide, stretchy belt. I’d put it on and preen in the mirror, turning from side to side, so happy with the new me. Even though I’d been very, very sick, I didn’t care, and I knew for sure that influenza had rescued me from an adolescence of hearing “Fatty, fatty, two by four!” and lots of misery. I’ve never forgotten those pre-flu days, and I’ve never let myself get back to being called “Fatso.”

Check out the middle photo and the bathing beauty!


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

H is for HUNHH?

“What do you want for breakfast?”


“I said, ‘What do you want for breakfast?'" This time, a little louder.

“Oh . . . cereal’s fine.”

This is the kind of conversation that’s been going on in my life for as long as I can remember. My mother always said that I heard what I wanted to hear, and maybe she wasn’t wrong in every respect; however, my hearing has always been bad, and “Hunhh” has been my staple word every time I needed something repeated. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to say “Pardon?” or “I didn’t hear you” or “Excuse me?” But I’m not always successful. Here’s a little history of my hearing loss.

The first time I had to go to an ear doctor (otolaryngologist is the proper word, but that’s a bit pretentious, I think, for everyday conversation) was when I was about eight years old. My mother must have thought I had an ear infection, but she soon found out that I had what was diagnosed as a perforated eardrum. She checked me out of school two or three times a week to go downtown in New Orleans to a doctor in one of those hugely tall old business buildings just off Canal Street. These doctor’s visits lasted until we moved to Pensacola, when I was thirteen.

Almost the first thing we had to do after we settled in was to find a new ear doctor. I don’t know whether or not Dr. Earl Wolf was recommended to us by the doctor in New Orleans or whether Mother just did eeny-meeny-miney-mo and found Dr. Wolf. In any event, when he took one look at my poor right ear, he announced that I had an infection on the mastoid bone and that nothing would cure it except a radical mastoidectomy. So, in the summer of 1954, I had the first of seven surgeries, each one taking a little more of my eardrum, thus taking a little of my hearing.

I had two or three surgeries while I was in high school, a couple while I was in college, and two after I married. After Dr. Wolf retired, I started going to the doctor who bought his practice, Dr. Pallin. Oh, my . . . he was a good doctor, but he had absolutely no bedside manner. Very curt, to the point, no nonsense. I was used to a little TLC during my visits. Several years after I became Dr. Pallin’s patient, he announced that I needed another surgery, that he felt sure that I’d regain some hearing, but that the surgery was rather dangerous in that he’d be going right up against the facial nerve. He implied that I might have facial paralysis if he got too close. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no raving beauty, and I know it, but I surely didn’t want facial paralysis! Every time I’d go for a check up before the surgery, I’d ask a gazillion questions, trying to get him to reassure me that I’d get through the surgery fine with no side effects.

Finally, in desperation, one day he said, “Tell you what. I’m going to send you to Dr. Michael Glascock in Nashville. He’s the best in the Southeast, maybe even in the profession. I think you’ll be more satisfied with him.” Whew! I was so relieved to get away from Dr. Doom and Gloom. And I absolutely loved Dr. Glascock, who wound up doing two surgeries and making my ear wondrously free of problems . . . except that I still can’t hear worth a flip. But that’s okay. I’m used to it now.

But there’s more to the story. I continued to go to Dr. Pallin in Pensacola for yearly check-ups, but he eventually retired. So . . . what was Sandy to do? Well, I called for an appointment the next year, and the conversation went something like this:

“ENT, may I help you?”

“Yes, this is Sandy Young, and I need to make an appointment with an ear doctor . . . one who has some personality. I know Dr. Pallin has retired.” Chuckles from both the receptionist and me!

“I think you’ll like the doctor who bought his practice. His name is Dr. Derek Jones.”

“Hmmm . . . How do you spell his first name?”


“Do make an appointment for me with Dr. Derek Jones!” I smiled as I hung up.

I could hardly wait for my appointment. I sat there in the chair smiling as the doctor flung back the folding door and stood there with his hand on his hip.

“I knew it was you!” he said.

“And I knew it was you!” I replied. You see, Dr. Derek Jones was one of my favorite students from years before, and we had a mutual admiration society even back then. We were elated to find each other, and I have been going to him at least once a year for probably fifteen years. Even though Frank and I have moved to New Mexico, I still go to him . . . in Pensacola. Not even searching for an ear doctor in NM assures me of a trip to my glorious Southland once a year. He always takes way too much time with me when I have an appointment, but we have to catch up on his classmates, his other teachers, and of course, on his sweet wife, Julie, and their four children.

But there’s still more that I want . . . no, NEED . . . to say in this post. Through the years, I have lost virtually all of the hearing in my “bad” ear, as we always call it. Sadly, though, through the years, I have also lost much of the hearing in my “good” ear. I now wear a hearing aid in that one, so you see, I really do have a problem. I’m sad to say that folks who have good hearing aren’t always very conscious of what it’s like not to hear well. Many times I have to ask people to repeat what they’ve just said, but I try not to say, “Hunhh?” I see the eyes rolling when they have to say things over and over again. I’m not blind, just deaf. I’ve told Frank several times that I wish he could  go for just one day with my ears to know what it’s like to be very hard of hearing. I wouldn’t wish my ears on anyone for a long time, but I think if people could hear what I hear (or don't hear), they might understand better.

You may remember that Dr. Pallin said I might get hearing back in my right ear with that surgery, but I really didn’t want that. Just one of the reasons that Frank, my hero, and I have gotten along so well during our fifty-one plus years of married life is that I’m so hard of hearing. You see, he’s a real snorer! I just roll over on my good ear, and everything’s just fine. I think the Lord had this in mind when He put us together.

So . . . as much as I wish I could hear better just to avoid the embarrassment of having to ask folks to repeat what they’ve just said, I won’t be getting one of those new-fangled hearing aids that you can wear twenty-fours a day. I don’t see how those of you who have hearing in both ears sleep at night. I wouldn’t be able to, I’m sure.


Monday, April 08, 2013


I’ve been thinking about my cousins, especially my GIRL COUSINS, for several days . . . I guess because of our reunion in June. We seven girl cousins had only three boy cousins, and they were a lot older than we were. The first time I remember them was when they were in the military in World War II, far away from us little Southern cousins in Louisiana. All of our boy cousins have passed away, so now we girls are left to tell stories. I’m so sorry that I don’t know many about the boys.

I never lived close to my girl cousins when I was a child, but we always got together in the summer, when my mother and I visited her parents in Logansport, Louisiana, not far south of Shreveport. Let me introduce you to Marilyn, Linda, Gail, JoAnn, Leah,  and Sheila.

Marilyn was older than the rest of us, though not by many years, maybe three or four. Before I was born, she was like my parents' little girl. Mother and Daddy were married for nine years before I was born and thought they never would have children. They really spoiled Marilyn, so it’s a wonder that she wasn’t jealous of me. I don’t think she was, though, because we were good cousin-friends right up until the day she died. When we were all together in the summer, she bossed us around a good bit, and we complained, but I don’t think her bossiness hurt any of us. When her parents died within three months of each other, our home became her home. What I mean by that is that whenever she went “home” from college, she came to our house. There was a really good reason for that, but I’ll cover the reason a little later. When all of us got older and had our own families, we referred to Marilyn as the matriarch of our family.

The next girl cousin was Linda. We never saw much of her, but I loved being with her whenever we could get together. The main memory that I have of her is being at her house on the Fourth of July when I was about eight or nine. I was such a “fraidy cat” that I ran in the house when all the other kids were lighting sparklers. I missed out on a lot of fun when I was a child!

The one after Linda was Gail. Gail and I are the closest in age and had lots of fun when we were together, playing movie stars mainly. I remember that she always wanted to be Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t remember who I was, but I thought Liz was perfect for her because Gail had hair and beautiful eyes like the star. We also played paper dolls and walked downtown by ourselves to the movie when I visited her. At one time, her mother had some health problems that needed treatment in New Orleans, where my mother, daddy, and I lived. Gail and her mother lived with us for about six weeks. She attended my school during that time, and she was so smart. I had to study for my good grades, but everything came naturally to her. Sometimes we’d get in arguments, and our mothers would punish us by putting us in closets. I’d be relegated to my mother’s, and Gail would be put in mine, where the toys were. She’s scream and cry the whole time. Never could understand that because she had everything to play with. I had fun dressing up in Mother’s clothes.  Gail and I have so much fun reminiscing about those days.

I came after Gail, but I’m not my cousin, so I’ll pass on me.

JoAnn was next. She was Marilyn’s little sister, and they lived in Shreveport, the closest cousin to our grandparents. As a result, she went to Logansport much more than the rest of us did and knew our grandparents better. I don’t think I ever went to Logansport when Jo wasn’t there. As soon as I arrived, we started playing house or dolls. What fun we had! We woke our babies up in the morning, fed them during the day, bathed and dressed them, and put them to bed right on time in the evening. We also read movie star magazines and went to the movie downtown almost every evening because everybody’s favorite uncle, Bud, would give each of us a quarter, pile us in his truck, deposit us at the theater, and pick us up when the show was over. Sometimes we’d see the same movie two or three times during the week. Jo, Gail, and I also wrote letters to each other when we were at home. They always began, “Dear Jo (or Gail), How are you? I am fine.” That’s all I remember, though. When Jo and Marilyn’s parents died, the younger sister was in seventh grade. Jo spent the summer of 1954, after her parents were gone, with us in Pensacola and was supposed to live with our aunt and uncle in Texas, who had no children and were so happy about having her become their little girl. But she wasn’t happy, and nothing would do but she had to go back to live with Auntie, Uncle Arlie, and Sandra (that’s what everyone called me back then, but now the only person in the world who calls me that is JoAnn). So, in August 1954, I got a little sister . . . but she wasn’t a baby; she was thirteen, just a little shy of a year younger than I was. Both of us were happy! Today, she is still a sister to me!

After Jo came Leah and Sheila, two sisters, and the only ones who didn’t live in Louisiana. They lived way out in West Texas. They, too, were in Logansport lots of times when my mother and I were there. The thing that I remember most about them when we were children is putting on shows for our grandparents in the evenings. We’d practice all day and then perform for them. They loved our performances, encouraging us with smiles and laughter and applause. The only show that I really remember was the one in which Leah and Sheila would sing and dance to “Ballin’ the Jack.” In case you’ve never heard the song or in case you’ve forgotten, here are the words:

Now, first you put your two knees
Close up tight.
Then you swing ‘em to the left
Then you swing ‘em to the right.
Step around the floor kind of nice and light
Then you twist around and twist around
With all of your might.
Stretch your lovin' arms straight out in space
Then you do the eagle rock with style and grace.
Swing your foot way round and bring it back
Now that's what I call ballin' the jack!

They were so cute, swinging their skinny little arms and legs around. The three of us are still very close! (I just googled this song to get the lyrics and found that part of it is very risque, but I'm not telling which part. We surely didn't know that, and we didn't know it when we performed it as old folks at our first cousins' reunion four years ago!)

We have two more girl cousins, but they’re a lot younger than the rest of us. Kay is Gail’s little sister. I believe that Gail was about thirteen when Kay was born. I don’t have any childhood memories of her, but we’re great friends as adults. She’s such a sweet lady, whose heart is all wrapped up in three children and several grandchildren.

Becky is even younger than Kay. She is the only child of that favorite uncle of ours, Bud. When we had our first Kolb Cousins’ Reunion four years ago, she could hardly wait to get together with us old folks so that she could learn wonderful things about her dad, who died when Becky was only about five years old. We filled her ears! Lots of tears during our daughter’s slide show because we had collected lots of photos of Bud.

We have had two reunions now and are planning the third for this summer. When we Kolb cousins get together, I’ll assure you there’s no dead air. So many good cousin memories!


Kolb Cousins at Our First Reunion
(Leah, Sheila, Sandy, Becky, Gail)