Bookcase Browsings #1: Main Street Baptist Church of Auburndale

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We are unloading our bookcases as a first step in our preparing to move. It is a slow process for me as I’m TRYING to get rid of a few books but that’s a super hard thing for me. Then I come across yearbooks, church directories, school anthologies and other such items that make me pause and travel down memory  lane.

Pictured above is the cover of an old church directory, circa 2001. The first page shows the “staff”. Of these ten people, four have passed on. The senior pastor, Dr. Jay Wimberly, is the reason we know and love these people. He and his wife, Shirley, were a big part of our lives for many years. They are both gone, but their daughter, Dawn, who directed the music, still lives in the Winter Haven area. Forrest Gilliam is gone – he was a very special man. His loving wife still lives in Winter Haven. He was a paraplegic for many, many years and she took care of him in a way that always drew my great admiration for her. The other one gone, Gene Manning, was a man that I always saw with a smile on his face. He just made me feel good.

Others gone but not forgotten: Mrs. Brown, Roberta, Helen, Mrs. Hendricks, Cheryl, Grace.

The kids who now have kids: Mindy, Katie, Stephen, Tiffany, Laura, Jarrod, Angela, Kyle, Ben.

I’m sure I’ve  missed a few – we haven’t lived in the areas since 2005. But I still count some of these fellow Christians  among my close friends: Tom, Peggy and Mary. I keep up with others via facebook.

Moving is never easy, but I look forward to being just a little closer to some of these old friends in Florida.

 

 

 

Cypress Gardens Memories

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Legoland – June, 2017

I read the following article, posted by a former student, and it brought back my memories of the last decade of Cypress Gardens.

Before Disney There Was Dick Pope and His Cypress Gardens  

We moved to Lake Wales in 1992, then to Winter Haven in 1994. With a gift from a church friend of a yearly pass, I was able to visit often, especially with my two younger children. It wasn’t all bells and whistles like Disney, but beautiful, entertaining and convenient. A few years later I found myself teaching just down the road from the gardens at Garden Grove Elementary and then Denison Middle School. At Denison one year we had a student who, along with her parents, performed at Cypress Gardens. Really, she was the star and had been performing since she was very young. I think her days were numbered in the entertainment field, however, as she got older. She was an amazing gymnast and one day she climbed up on the desktops and gave us a demonstration. I can’t remember her name, or which Slavic country she was from, but she was a inspiration to me in the fact that she put much effort into her schooling, could speak two languages and helped support her family.

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Legoland June, 2017

After we moved away the transformation was made to Legoland. A few years ago we were able to take our grandchildren to enjoy the park. It wasn’t the same, but we had a great time. One place we took them  that hadn’t changed in Winter Haven was Andy’s Igloo. The burgers, shakes, and malts were just like I remembered them.

Thanks for the Memories

Word Art 74

So, the Avett Brothers concert last night was great!  I’ll write more about it later. They played a song that I wasn’t real familiar with: Distraction #74.  There was a verse  that took me back to my freshman year of college.

So give me a try at describing just how difficult it is.
When you kinda love two girls to figure out which one you miss.
Stumble away from your stairway with your perfume on my clothes.
Well I kinda loved two girls but now I’ve kinda lost ’em both.

This could have been sung by Jack, though he didn’t really love me. He came to school on the heels of his high school girlfriend, Kathy. But, she was having none of it. Kathy and I lived in the same dorm, same floor, and were familiar with each other.

So, Jack and I met and started dating. His fraternity “Big Brother” and my sorority “Big Sister” were engaged, and that threw us together even more. By and by he and Kathy began dating again, also. Around Valentine’s Day he had the bright idea to send us both flowers. On the same day. To the same dorm. The girls at the front desk figured out what was going on and called us both down to get our flowers. Instead of the expected cat fight, we talked it out, decided he was an idiot, and we became friends. Jack did not like that one bit!

The following year (1978) I got married and Kathy was there to help serve the cake and punch. The last time I saw her was in 1985. I would love to find her now. I haven’t seen Jack since I left school in 1978. All that hilarious drama came flooding back last night when I heard that song.

Thanks, TAB.  🙂

 

Avetts in October #15: Strange to Myself

 

In anticipation of The Avett Brothers concert on October 25th, I am writing a series of blog posts connecting some of their lyrics to words of some of my favorite authors.

 

“After she died, things seemed to go out of focus for awhile, and I felt strange to myself.”-from Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

 

Every night after and every day since

I found myself crying when the memory hits

Sometimes it knocks me down, sometimes I can just put it away 

-Through My Prayers

 

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I could have penned all these words exactly after Mom died in 2018, and still today. I would have never thought to say “I felt strange to myself” but that is a perfect way of putting it. Sometimes still, the memories knock me down and I imagine they always will.

I Hear the Train a Comin’ #2

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Railroad Park – Birmingham, AL – 2015

 

It’s been proven that the sense of smell is closely linked to memory. I’ve found, personally, that sound can trigger the floodgates, also.

The train that runs behind my house is a comforting sound to me, though it’s so loud that if I’m outside I can’t carry on a conversation until it passes.  The clack and squeal of the wheels and the whistle echoing off the rock embankment and through the woods takes me back to the summers of my youth. I am once more eleven years old, riding the Dahlonega Mine Train at Six Flags Over Georgia. That’s was after standing in a line that snaked back and forth for what seemed like forever with my brothers, only to get almost to the front of the line and have my little brother start crying in fear, refusing to ride. So, we got out of line, delivered him to Mom and Dad, and started all over again. But it was worth it. I never tire of the thrill of a roller coaster, though I have to refrain from those that turn upside down because of my motion sickness tendency..

I have other train memories, real trains and not just pretend ones. But this is one of the happiest.

Thoughts inspired by MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY

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This is the third book I’ve read by Fredrik Backman. Not sure if this or A Man Called Ove is my favorite.  This one is story with lots of characters, which gives me hope for the book I’ve written that all is not lost. It’s main character is a child, but every character is a rich part of the story.

“…. because the people who reach the end of their days must leave others who have to live out their days without them.” — Frederick Backman

There is death in this story, but it it necessary for the story, just like in our lives. I am living out my days without a number of people who I wish were till here. I wish Cathy was here because her sense of adventure and love of music matched mine. I wish Debbie was here to leave me long, drawn out messages on voicemail. I wish Betty was here to enjoy watching me eat Key Lime pie and to tell us that “Larry says Hi!” And that Larry was here to say Hi and listen because he was always interested in everybody. I wish Charlie was here to teach E how to fish.

I wish Mamaw was here so I could ask her about what happened in 1938. I wish Great-Aunt Marie was here because where she was love was. And I’d even like to hear her burp again. I wish Dad was here to teach his great-grandkids all his nonsensical sayings. I wish Mom was here for so many reasons, I can’t even begin. So I’ll just say she was the one who always asked how Loretta was doing. And she would have liked Ruby just as much.

So I live out my days without them. I take Ruby now on my adventures and listen to lots of music with my husband. I think of Betty every time I have Key Lime anything. I’ve reached out to other relatives, some of whom I only recently met, to ask about 1938 and many other things. My brothers and I carry on with Dad’s sayings, and Mom’s jokes. But my voicemail still stays pretty empty.

 

Bell Camp: Pre-Day One

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At Memorial Park – Athens, Georgia

After our family reunion we were privileged to have our grandchildren for a whole week! We had a wonderful time with them. We stayed in Athens at the Hyatt for a few days which was a great location seeing a bit of Athens. We walked to the Mellow Mushroom for supper, then walked around some more afterwards, fulfilling my desire to reconnect with a bygone Athens and give the kids a little family history along the way.

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Mellow Mushroom – Athens, Georgia

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Absorbing wisdom from Athena

When I was a kid my Great Aunt Marie worked at the A & A Bakery in Athens. When we visited in the summers we would often pick her up from work in the afternoon when we arrived,. My Grandma lived in a small apartment on Vine Circle with just one bedroom. So, my older brother and I would often spend the night with Aunt Marie. We’d have great breakfasts, look through old photos albums and watch her grainy black and white TV. That’s where we saw the Great Wallenda cross the Tallulah Gorge.  I also remember  the nights of sleeping in the creaky twin bed in the same room with Aunt Marie.

Aunt Marie was known for her belching, which we mimicked in love, but even more for being the kindest person I’ve ever known. She loved life and never had an disparaging word for anyone. I’m so glad I have Marie for my middle name and strife to live up to her example.

I wanted to find the location of the bakery and was so excited when I did. It’s now a bar, which is sad, but I went inside and tried to imagine how it used to look.

 

We also saw the Georgia Theatre where Mom worked when she and Dad were dating. It was devastated by a fire in 2009 and rebuilt. The story of my Great Uncle Eugued coming by to see her there is a classic. He’d say, “Give me some sugar,” and embarrass her to death. Whenever I think of Uncle Eugued (we pronounced it like U-kerd) I think of Willie Nelson. I have no pictures of him except for my faint memories. He played the banjo and chewed tobacco and  Mom always told me how intelligent he was. He’d read The New York Times and other newspapers, but try to hide them from people, as if he didn’t want them to know that side of him. Quite the opposite from most people I think.

 

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Georgia Theatre – Athens, Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Music #8

I haven’t written  a Monday Music since October, so I thought it was about time.

Over the years my kids have made me a little collection of Mix-CDs. The song I’m posting today is on one made by my youngest. It’s a fun tune, especially for those of us who grew up or dated in cars with bucket seats.

When we got married, my husband had just gotten his first car – a used Dodge Polara, early 70s model. In the picture below you can see it in all it’s glory, headed for our honeymoon. The two guys on the left are my brothers, the other two are brothers from down the street where we all grew up.  Hubby had a standing joke about his COD turn: Come Over Darlin’.

 

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And, a few years later, just like in the song, we had a Chevy Malibu that looked much like the one below.

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Enjoy!

Thoughts Inspired by This is Us #2: Moments

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S2/E11    –   “The Fifth Wheel”

While Kevin and his mom are talking he backpedals a bit, saying  “I didn’t have an unhappy childhood.”

“It wasn’t as good as I thought,” Rebecca says sadly. “But I know we had moments,” (and we see them sleeping together on the floor during a thunderstorm) “you and me, Kevin. I know we did. I feel it in my bones.”

Thinking about moments with each of my children. The scene of Rebecca and Kevin sleeping on the floor reminded me of the months of my last pregnancy. The two older kids were in school, so me and #3 had a lot of time to spend together. He was my sidekick, my shadow, my nap buddy. After lunch and before his siblings got home, we would snuggle up together on the couch, often to the drowsiness inducing sound of the dishwasher running in the kitchen. These were sweet moments.

There was the terrifying moment I had with #4, holding hands with this eleven year old girl as we rode in the ambulance together after our car wrecked, this child who was thrown out of the back window. Those seconds when I could not see her were the longest I’ve ever had. God’s grace was on us that night, cushioning the landing of my youngest in the tall grasses on the side of the road.

Then there was the moment when I landed in Shannon, Ireland. My older daughter, who took a different flight, had arrived an hour earlier. She had made a CD of the Duhks for me to listen to on my flight over the Atlantic. I was so excited and relieved at the same time when I saw her there waiting for me, and the next week was an adventure I’ll always cherish.

A moment I remember with my eldest was in 2003 when I went to visit him in DC. We were riding around, seeing a few sights, and he was concerned because I was so quiet. I didn’t realize then how sad I felt – I couldn’t put a name on it, I couldn’t call it depression. But, he reached over and held my hand. Now, 15 years later he is a nurse, often working with patients who are suffering depression. He stills shows that empathy. He knows.

 

Pulses

 

ew (1)“Childhood’s learning is made of moments. It isn’t steady. It’s a pulse.”

~ Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

 

 

 

I can remember random moments from childhood and now wonder, were they learning moments?

I remember when I was five being frightened of the man next door, the father of an older girl I played with, who pushed his wife down as she was ironing. She already had a cast on her leg. He knelt down to try to comfort me, to tell me it was okay. I knew not to trust him.

When my older brother and I got in trouble and were banished to our separate bedrooms, we got our little brother to be a messenger, passing notes between us. These notes consisted of stick figures doing silly things. I learned my brothers would be my friends for life, though not without a few rough patches.

Fast forward to fourth grade and the learning didn’t feel like a pulse. Long division felt like a long, slow drip-drip-drip in a bucket. A bucket with a hole in it; for just when I thought I was finished with a problem, I’d discover my numbers weren’t lined up properly and I would have to start all over again. Recently I think some of my students have feeling this as they have become friends with the seam-ripper in their efforts to make pillowcases and aprons.

Many of my learning moments came through books. The horrors of the Holocaust came through the eyes and words of Anne Frank and Corrie Ten Boom; the horrors of child abuse from A Child Called It and Sybil. But before these books, there was Little Women, where I first got the idea that I’d like to write. I wanted to be Jo. That desire has waxed and waned over the years, as motherhood and making ends meet took precedence. I know many have been able to work, mother, and write concurrently, and I did to some extent, in pulses like my childhood learning.

But now the writing flame has been fanned and I need it more than ever. I don’t want it to go out.