Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Recently, I played organ for a funeral for Virgil Shipman, a man who passed away at the age of 101. One Hundred and One years old.......a century! Think of all the changes he witnessed over those years. I once saw an e-mail that talked about everything that had been invented since 1944, the year I was born. It was totally awesome and I can only imagine how much more changed in the 45 years Mr. Shipman was alive BEFORE 1944. It just blows my mind. Mr. Shipman lost sight in one eye when he was in 7th grade and lost sight in his other eye due to an infection when he was 30 years old. Despite his blindness, he and his wife raised 5 children - including two sets of twins - how cool is that?! He had several vocations during his lifetime, including working on the P51 Mustang airplane, in a mop and broom factory, and in door-to-door sales. At his funeral, his oldest son gave the eulogy and spoke for 20 minutes about the memories of his father. In his eulogy, he mentioned that he hoped all families would write down their memories of their parents to pass on to the younger generations of the family. It got me to thinking about my dad. I don't know if my siblings know that much about him, but I can share what I know, at least as much as I can remember hearing from him and my mom.
Dad was born in Oklahoma, but moved to Ohio at a young age and graduated high school there. He moved to Kansas at the suggestion of a friend of his who was from there and searched for work there. He did some farm work and met my mother there. He entered the Army shortly after that...I don't know if he was drafted, or enlisted. They were married and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where he was stationed. He was a mechanic in the Army Air Force (they were apparently one and the same at that time). He was sent to different posts while in the service and Mom stayed in Salt Lake while he was gone. I was born there and when I was about 6 weeks old, he was discharged and they came back to Alton, KS, my mother's hometown. I'm not sure what he did for a living at that time, but I assume he was a mechanic there. I remember he played on the town baseball team and loved to listen to baseball games on the radio. He loved to play guitar and sing and had a really good voice. He sang a lot of old country songs and I always cried when he sang "The Letter Edged in Black" and "Prisoner At The Bar". They were sad story-type songs. I recently looked up the words to "Prisoner..." and it is a very long song. Sure wouldn't make the playlists on radio today. He played in a country band with his brother for awhile and when I was somewhere around 9 or 10, I played piano in the band. Trouble was, most places they played didn't have a piano, so the guys would load up our piano in the back of a truck and take it with us. I'm not talking a small piano here; I'm talking a big, heavy upright piano. For a time, he ran a pool hall in Alton. I don't recall being inside there except for maybe one time. Mom said it wasn't a place for girls to be hanging around. My younger brothers got to go because there was a bowling alley (maybe 1 lane, maybe 2) and they had to set the pins by hand. He apparently went back to being a mechanic at some point because I remember he worked in Woodston, about 7 miles away, as a mechanic. When I was in high school, he got a job working construction on the Kirwin Dam in Kansas. When that job was finished, he was transferred to Nebraska to work on the Sherman County Dam. That's when the whole family moved to Loup City, Nebraska. When the dam was finished, he went back to work as a mechanic for the rest of his working life.......except when he retired from doing that and worked for an armored car company as a guard. He had to ride around in the back of that armored car all the time and that got old pretty fast. So cramped and hot - no windows. I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did at that job.
Dad loved to cook...he cooked a lot of different things, but I think he liked baking the most. He made my birthday cake for my 6th birthday and it was 6 layers and each layer was a different color. When we were young, he made homemade fudge every Christmas (always with nuts). This was the beat with a spoon kind of fudge that was entirely from scratch. When my brothers were in Vietnam, he made german chocolate cakes in a hog feeder (a really large round pan) and sent them to Vietnam to the boys. I have no idea what kind of shape those cakes were in by the time they got there, but I do know one brother said by the time his got to him, most of it had been eaten by his buddies! One of his specialties was making creme puffs and my mouth is watering just thinking about them. Chocolate pudding and vanilla pudding for the centers. He did make a bad batch of them once....I never quite knew just what was wrong with them. I understand the squirrels liked them, tho, which some of his kids never let him forget. His most famous baked item was a Chocolate Pecan Praline cake that won first prize in a baking contest. I think the biggest family favorite, tho, is his Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie.
Mom and Dad had 10 kids, of which I am the oldest. There were 13 years between the first one and the last one. As is the case, even in smaller families, spilling accidents were frequent at the dinner table. There was a spell there when it seemed someone spilled their Kool-Aid during the meal every night. Dad finally decided to lower the boom and informed us that the next person who spilled their drink had to immediately get up and leave the table and forget about eating the rest of their meal. Well.......guess who was the next to spill? Dad! He immediately got up and left the table and all the begging and pleading (and, yes, crying) fell on deaf ears. He made the rule...and he had to follow the rule. Not even 10 crying kids could get him back to the table. I don't remember what Mom did or said, but as I write this, I can imagine her probably vacillating between crying and laughing.
Dad never attended church that I remember, but one Sunday after I was grown and gone, he apparently decided he was going to church. No one believed him, so no one got ready to go. We lived just a few blocks from the church and one of my sisters watched as he actually drove to the church, got out and went in. She hurriedly got ready to go and joined him. And....the roof of the church didn't fall in as we always were told it would. LOL
I'm sure he never thought in a million years he would have 10 children, but he worked hard and there was always food on the table. What more could you ask for in the era of the 40's and 50's? We weren't rich by any means, and were probably considered poor, but we had each other and we never felt we were poor.
Happy Father's Day, Dad! We miss you!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Trip To Bountiful

This afternoon, I watched "Trip To Bountiful", a 1985 movie starring Geraldine Page as an elderly woman named Carrie Watts stuck in a 2-room apartment in Houston who wants nothing more than to go "home" to the small town she grew up in before she dies. This wasn't the first time I've watched this movie. I saw it a couple of times after it first came out on t.v. and I must admit I mainly watched it because some of it was filmed in this area. For instance, the scene in the clip below where the car pulls into a town and stops was shot in Venus, TX where son, Tony, went to school for 12 years. This afternoon's viewing was far different than any of the others, tho. I'm 20 years older than I was when I first watched it and the full meaning of the movie never registered until today. Funny how age affects your view of just about everything. I've written about my "hometown" in Kansas on this blog and I feel the same about it as Carrie Watts did about Bountiful. It's always going to be home.
A year before my Mom passed away, she decided she would like to go back home and just drive around to all the places she lived and went to school, etc. She actually wanted as many of her 10 children as possibly could to go, too. Her idea was to show us her roots and tell us what it was like while she was growing up. So, on Memorial Day weekend that year, 4 of us kids took her "home". We started out in the first area she lived in and, of course, since the old house was no longer there we didn't get to see that. We visited the cemetery where some of our relatives were buried and she gave us some history on some of them.
We then drove through town to about a mile or two east of town near the river where she lived through her school years. They really lived near the river; probably the equivalent of 2 blocks or maybe less. We turned into a lane that took us to an old ramshackle house that she said was their old house. However, the more she thought about it later, she wasn't exactly sure that was the exact house, but the windmill was still standing and she recognized that. They had an awesome view of the Kansas countryside looking out towards that windmill. I wonder if they appreciated it back then. I hope they did. She told us some of her memories of growing up there, playing on the sandbars and in the river.
The town is not the busy little town it once was. Only one or two businesses remain; the rest are all torn down or boarded up. They do, however, have a restaurant that had opened up just a few months before that and it was open that day so we stopped and had lunch. She got to see so many people that she knew and it couldn't have worked out any better. A lot of people come home over Memorial Day weekend because the annual Alumni Banquet is held the Saturday evening before Memorial Day and most of them stay over and go to the cemetery for memorial services on Monday. She had attended the banquet just a couple of years before that for her 60th Class Reunion.
She enjoyed the day so much and I am so glad I was there to experience it with her. She passed away on Memorial Day of the next year. Like Carrie Watts, she took her trip to her "Bountiful".

Home To Bountiful

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Addendum to Retirement blog...

Facebook is also well-traveled by my daughter-in-law, granddaughter and grandson in Iowa. I am usually dizzy by the time I read theirs, just trying to keep up with all they do and where they are going every day. They also have Lives!!!

I'm Retired......Now What!

Well, it's here. Retirement. R-E-T-I-R-E-M-E-N-T. Funny how that word always seemed to describe something that was far off in the future. Way far off!! Well, now it's not far off....It's here! And I'm not sure what to do with it. It arrived at 5:00 pm on May 1st. 46 years, give or take a year or two, of working full-time for several companies along the way, some small, some large. The last one was the longest tenure.....nearly 24 years. And when I walked out of there that last day, it seemed like yesterday when I walked in for the first time. There were approximately 16 people working there on my first day; on the last day, there were
Hubby has been retired for a couple of years, but doing some part time work for a friend of ours anywhere from 2 to 6 days a week. First adjustment: he's not working at all right now. He's here, with me, all day, every day for the most part. Enough said! I'm sure you get the picture.
I know I have to get into a set routine as much as I can as far as housework, laundry, etc. are concerned. It was always a little haphazard while I was working; okay, sometimes pretty much nonexistent. But..I digress. It's now July 19th; still no regular routine. I tried setting a "laundry day" and then ended up having to do something else (more fun, of course). It's getting better, but probably won't last. At least I know if it doesn't get done today, I'll be here tomorrow to do it.....or the next day, etc.
And, to make matters worse - I have discovered FB! Facebook! Internet site where you can catch up with all your friends from birth til' now. Your whole life right out there just waiting to be remembered, talked about, laughed about...and oh my!!.....it's addicting! I've begun eating my meals in front of the computer just so I don't miss a post by someone. I don't want to miss anything on there..Ever!! My high school girlfriends are all out there, the girlfriends I spoke about in a prior post on this blog. Now I get to see what they are doing every day...or hour sometimes. Cool!!! My son-in-law is on there, but he doesn't blog much. My daughter is too busy with the grandboys and she has a lot more willpower than I do so she's not sitting here wasting time on the computer. She actually has a Life!!
And to make things even more fun....there's Skype. If you have a webcam, you can go out on Skype and actually video-call someone else who has one. My friend, Suzi, and I Skype several times a week. We actually see each other as we're talking.....she looks a little scary, but I love her so I will accept her as she is. I must tell you she looks scary because she is sitting in front of the window and there is no light on her face. All I see are her glasses with the lenses reflecting the computer screen back at me and this ghostly body. A tad distracting, but I try not to look for long periods of time. Well, I suppose my Skypeing days are now over with her. Suzi, I love ya....you know I do.
Well, I must go get dinner on the table....be back in a few to check out FB while dripping my food on the keyboard. Cheers!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Christmas!

It's Christmas time and with all the economy problems, job losses, etc., it's hard to get my mind into it. But, I'm getting there. Christmas always makes me think of my dad. He absolutely loved Christmas. It's a good thing, too, because there were 10 children in our family and he pretty much had to. But, he did love it, especially the bubble lights. From a little girl, I remember we always had bubble lights on our tree. We always had a huge tree, too, with lots of colored lights (they didn't have clear lights back then...at least not that I ever knew about). The tree was always a live tree and I can just close my eyes and remember the scent of the evergreen. And tinsel....we always had lots of silver tinsel on the tree.
He liked to cook and he always made homemade fudge at Christmas. The old-fashioned, beat-with-a-spoon kind. Still the best I've ever had.
With that many kids, there were a lot of packages under the tree, even if we only got 2 presents apiece, it added up. I remember Mom saying one year she only had $7 apiece to spend on us and managed to get us each 2 gifts. We would come down the stairs Christmas morning and just be awed by the sight. This was after we had been awakened by the sound of a spoon banging on a pan coming from the bottom of the stairs. Yep! Dad! Couldn't wait to get us up and he would stand down there and bang that spoon and holler "Santa Claus was here". One Christmas, Santa brought bikes for the 2 younger boys in the family. "Santa" finished putting them together at about 3:30 am, then decided he would get all of us kids up - right then! I know my mother would gladly have strangled him at that moment, but too many witnesses by then, you know!! As I think back about that, I wonder just how much Christmas cheer he had had by 3:30 in the morning!!
When I got married and left home, we went home for Christmas for several years before we finally established our own Christmas tradition in our own home. The first year we went home for Christmas, we were opening presents on Christmas morning and my mom opened a "made in school" gift from my sister, Peggy, who was probably around 7 years old that year. I, of course, being the type of person who's mouth starts before her brain is in gear, blurted out, "What IS that?" My mom immediately said to Peggy "Lynn doesn't know what that is. Why don't you tell her what it is." Turns out it was a napkin holder. Also turns out that Mom didn't know what it was, either, and I gave her the opportunity to find out without hurting little feelings.
We always went to Sunday School, so were always in the Christmas program at the church. (I wish the church we go to now had a family with a lot of kids like ours did; our family pretty much provided most of the cast). Anyway, one of my brothers, Steve, is rather shy about some things to this day, but I remember him getting up and reciting a poem at one of the programs. Something about a present and he had to stand up there and open up a box that had about 6 or 7 graduated smaller boxes and he would have to open each one only to find another box to open in that one. I can't imagine him doing anything like that today. Wish we had had video cameras back then.
So, as I put up my little 4' tree this year, I thought back to Christmases growing up and said a quiet thank you to my dad and mom for giving me the love of Christmas that will forever be in my heart. Now....if I could just get these bubble lights to work!
Merry Christmas, everyone. God Bless each and every one of you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


We went home this past weekend. Home, for me, is Alton, KS located on Highway 24 in north central Kansas. When we lived there, the population was 330 people. Small-town America at its finest. My Uncle Bill passed away at the age of 84 and we went home for his funeral. It was a little unsettling to me that I don't have a lot of memories of Uncle Bill. They certainly don't come to me easily, anyway. I just remember him as a farmer, always quiet, and not one to socialize a lot. But, then, a lot of farmers didn't have time to socialize, so I guess that's not real unique. Listening to his family relive their memories of him, I was struck by his wit, his love for family and God, and his orneriness. Like I said, I don't remember any of that part of him, but my memory is not good about a lot of things way back then.
We lived in town and went to church in town and he lived in the country and went to church in the country and we just didn't get together a lot. I found out he sang in quartets, taught his daughter-in-law, Jan, to drive a 10-speed truck by getting it to the last gear, then jumping out and telling her to drive it on into town to deliver a load of wheat and I learned he went AWOL from the Navy for one night to see his girlfriend, my future Aunt Marjorie. They were married for 65 years. Uncle Bill has "Gone Home" now and I know he and my mother, his sister, are catching up in Heaven.
This just happened to be the weekend of the Alton Jubilee, a yearly event sponsored by the Alton Pride organization. The town has pretty much closed up except for a gas station and a hardware store. There are a few old buildings left that are nothing but memories now and that is hard to see when we go home. The Jubilee brings in a lot of the people who still live in town and outside of town. Kinda like the Saturday nights when I was growing up when everyone came to town to do their shopping and visiting and checking out books from the library, etc. They have a parade in the morning, then lunch, pie-baking contest, games and entertainment in the park, supper, and then the Bull City Opry Company puts on a show in the park that night. The show has a cast of local actors and singers and musicians and is very well attended. There were probably around 400 people there Saturday night. I've only seen one other one, but this one was just a hoot!!!! The people you least expect to be funny usually end up stealing the show and that was the case this year. Very enjoyable and my hat's off to the directors!
We saw many people there that I remember growing up around. It strikes you when you see these people how some have really aged and others hardly any at all. One lady had turned 88 years old that day and I never saw her sit down...she was too busy standing there talking to friends. And, of course, a couple of the girlfriends were there and we always enjoy our time with them. It certainly made a sad trip a little easier.