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Mother of three, one girl and two boys.

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June 06, 2009

My First 56 Years

In June of 1992 my family had a reunion at Sugar Lake. Sugar Lake was a small community on the Missouri side of the river south of Atchison Ks. There were cabins and RV's on both sides of the paved road leading to the lake. The family was set up at the park. All kinds of food were displayed on the picnic tables; Kathryn and Audrey, Mary Ann and her new husband David, Clyde and Floy Mae, Donald, Bobby and all their children and their children. Some of the nieces and nephews and Chuck as well were swimming in the roped off section of the lake. Bill and I were there. I had a hard time convincing him to come but he seemed to have a good time swimming with the family and eating and getting to know everyone. I was wearing a one piece bathing suit that showed off my figure. My long blond hair was tied up in a clip leaving a small pony tail. Bill and I went in the cold water and I was freezing but I laughed harder and smiled more than I had in years.
Donald thought it was disgraceful that a newly divorced, 39 year old, could act and dress so outlandishly. The water being cold and my breasts were standing at attention, the only parts of my new-found body that hadn't lost weight. I was high on love and having the best time of my life since I was a teenager. Thelma and Robert were there too but as far as I know there was no comment from them.
Floy Mae and Ronnie suggested that Bill and I show them the area of Bluff Woods that we had told them about, the Pine Tree and the rope so Bill and I jumped in my little red Geo and showed them the way to Bluff Woods. We took the long path around. Floy Mae wanted to see the little water fall I had told them about. When we finally got to the bridge, Floy Mae climbed down the bank on the north side and made her way to the little pool of water and sat down. There were some silvery minnows as well as tadpoles and frogs she was commenting on while Bill and I and Ronnie watched from the bridge. We were laughing at her and smiling and kissing before we rescued her from the muddy bed and headed for the hilltop to the grand old tree. She was out of breath by the time we got there not realizing how high the climb was and how much farther we had to go. Once there we showed her the view down below of the traffic, cars looking like ants scurrying along the roadway gathering food for the winter. The old Pine tree standing there proudly as it must have for a hundred years waiting for our return. I showed her the initials Bill had carved in the dead tree along the path to the rope. One big push and it would have toppled over.
Sadly we headed back down and parted ways in the parking lot. When we got back into town we headed for Wathena so I could change my clothes. Off and on over that summer I had talked about "staying together forever" just as the carving on the tree said but Bill assured me in no uncertain terms was he ever getting married. He was so afraid I was going to get pregnant, even though I assured him I was on the "pill" and I had no intentions of getting pregnant again, not at my age! I was suddenly free of those ties and hardships and I never wanted to look back again. Every so often I would hint about us getting married. Tempers flared often about that and other issues that were so petty. We found ourselves arguing more and more. He didn't like to go shopping as most males don't but he liked to fish. Ever since I was a child, Mama and Daddy would take me fishing with them. I had to be sooo quiet and not run along the banks, “It will scare the fish!" I had to sit for hours on the sandy shore and watched ants as they tried to climb up my legs and I was constantly swiping at the flies. The smell of rotten fish that other fishermen had left on the banks, some gutted and others just left there to die, and the cleaning and gutting I had to help with, did not make me a huge fan of fishing.
He'd insist and so not to make him mad I'd go and try to sit quietly but after fifteen minutes I couldn't stand to watch him sit there not getting a bite when he could be holding me and paying attention to me. He’d usually relent and we'd go home. Chuck would come with us sometimes but he couldn't sit still either.
On Friday nights at the hospital when I was getting ready to go home from work he'd call me and tell me where to meet him, usually at the bar where we’d met, or at a friend’s house. I was very possessive and jealous and sometimes it would be at a friend's house that was female. She was married and had several kids but he had told me when he was growing up he'd had a big crush on her. He'd play with the kids, but when it came down to acknowledging that I had two children, although Jenny was nineteen and Chuck was twelve, he acted as if he didn't like children and always had an excuse why we couldn't go places together as a group. Bill liked his alcohol and his "smokes" and he knew I didn't approve of his drinking and smoking, especially around my children. We fought all the time about that. His father is an alcoholic but had been sober for many years and continued to go to AA meetings. As a nurse I knew the gene was inherited and told him so, but he emphatically denied he was an alcoholic. Isn’t that the first sign? I also had a little toy poodle I had "inherited" from the divorce and he hated "poodles" too. His name was "Pebbles".He was a little white poodle and I kept him groomed myself. When Charles and I moved to the small house in Troy after the big two story house on Pottawattamie road, when Jenny was 10 and Chuck was 6, 1983, I placed an ad in the Troy newspaper that I would clip poodles for 10.00. I had been clipping Nicole for years and Lucky too, we always needed the extra money so I figured I might as well get paid for it. I also taught piano lessons as fast as I was taught by Lois. I had a few students that came every week but when we moved to Highland people stopped coming. I had one student who was getting pretty good at it and I feared he was better than the teacher but his mother said she was having a hard time getting him to practice. His brother on the other hand would not practice at all and wouldn't try that hard. They just wanted to get the lesson over with and go home to play. I knew the feeling, I had a hard time getting Jenny to practice too and when her first recital was over piano playing was ended for her. Charles and I fought constantly about making her practice, he thought she shouldn't have to if she didn't want to, I on the other hand thought she would thank me later in life. I finally gave up and stopped teaching and going to lessons myself. When you are alone in a matter it's hard to fight against so many, and as I said everyone always agreed with Charles.

June 05, 2009

My First 56 Years

Bill was tall and gangly, at least 6 ft and weighed approximately 150 lbs. reminded me of Alan Jackson, a well known country singer. I had gotten into country music when I worked in the laundry room as a nurses aide at the nursing home in Highland Ks. Every time I'd go to the basement to do laundry a radio was there and it always had country music on. I tried changing the channel every time but after a while I started listening to the music and found out it wasn't my Mother's country music anymore. It had the same beat as the music I had listened to in the sixties. When I was a senior in high school I listened to a country music station, KUSN, which is where I had met my DJ friend who went by the name of Jimmy Links whose real name, was Harold. He lived in Wathena Ks on a farm with his Mom and Dad. I had gone out with him once to the Pizza Hut when Daddy was still alive but Mama and Daddy didn't trust him, as well they shouldn't have, because I had asked him to take me to the prom and he stated he couldn't go because he had to work. I found out that he had been talking to many other girls on the phone besides me and had gone out with those girls too.
When Charles and I had started dating and had been dating for about six months, I had gotten a phone call from,"Jimmy" aka Harold and he asked me out. I broke a date with Charles and went out with Harold instead. We went to the movies. He gave me a choice to stay with him or go back with Charles. I wanted to stay with him but family intervened and I decided to stay with Charles. I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if I'd gone the other way.
Harold told me(he never let me call him that) he had married a girl after Daddy died and while I was going with Charles, but that she had cancer and would be dead by Christmas. It sounded fishy to me even with my naivetĂ© and my sisters told me he was lying so I believed them. When Charles and I lived on north fifth St and Jenny was 2 yrs old, I was working at Sammy's Drug store on tenth. Harold came in to the store and saw me there. I asked a bit sarcastically "How's your wife?" He got a horrified look on his face and his eyes welled up with tears and said, “I told you she had cancer and died around Christmas time in 1971!" I could tell he was telling the truth. He didn't even know who I was at first. When I brought up his wife a kind of grey shadow slid across his face.
Bill and I went everywhere together. We went to Bluff woods. This was a conservation area full of forestry and high bluffs. There were paths and creeks to cross. There was a short way up the bluff that was straight up or you could go the long way around across wooden bridges and by crossing a rocky creek. While standing on the last bridge that covered the creek there was a small waterfall to the right cascading down the embankment making a small pool of water about 1-2 ft deep.
Green fronds of plants and algae were everywhere. There were rocks to cross to get to the pool and little tadpoles swam about looking for the many insects that landed in the cold clear water. We climbed up and up until we saw signs leading us to the Pine Tree. The pine tree was huge, reaching up and up several stories above the bluff. Young, thin, and agile Bill proceeded to climb to the top. He was explaining the magnificent view to me and I so wanted to see it but with my acrophobia I knew I'd never see what he was seeing. I couldn't even get up to the first limb! I picked up a pine cone from the many that were scattered about and read the sign on the tree dedicating that site to someone who had died. I always wondered if they had died climbing that same tree to the top as Bill was doing now and begged him to come down. He led me to a path that led to a huge rope that swung out over the bluff and through the many trees growing there. I wanted to swing and he helped me to get over myself as it were and after several minutes of getting up the nerve I jumped from the side of the hill and swung back to his waiting arms. He helped me up the embankment and held me to steady me for the climb back to the path. Once there he found an old dead tree, scraped the bits of bark off it and proceeded to carve our initials. He made a heart around:
B S
+
D D
4 ever
When Charles and I divorced I went back to being Darlene Dennis again. We went back to that tree many times that summer and took Chuck with us one time. Unfortunately he took after his mother and was afraid of heights too. Bill had to help him down the bluff and put the rope in his hands but I can't remember if he ever jumped or not! I’ll have to ask him! The rope swing finally was too rotten to use anymore and I think the parks department cut it down for safety's sake.
The summer was long and hot and the air conditioner in my trailer didn't work. Bill was used to air-conditioning and he couldn't stand it there. We stayed over at his nice cushy house in St Joseph when his Mom and Dad weren’t there. We watched movies and he'd show me his room. He’d turn on his television and he'd try to get me to watch the sci-fi channel. One favorite of his was "Dune".I couldn't make heads or tales out of it, mostly because I wasn't interested. All I could think about was him. He was eight years younger than I.I had lost a lot of weight and could wear short shorts and tight jeans with the best of the younger crowd. Everyone couldn't believe I was 39 and turning forty the following April. His mother knew. She didn't seem too keen on the idea of him seeing me. After Charles' mother I could take just about anything a mother could throw at me. She and Bill's father did seem to like the fact that I had more in common with them than Bill; I brought over a VCR tape of Red Skelton I had bought. They loved the old shows as much as I did.
One day we were at his house alone when he put in a tape of Beauty and the Beast. I thought it was the most beautiful Disney film I had seen and I cried at the right moments and laughed at the right moments. It wasn't long before he took me in his arms and kissed me there on the couch in the living room. He stopped the tape and we went upstairs to his room.

My First 56 Years

There was a trailer court in Wathena Ks called Gaslight Acres. It was on the south side of 36 highway just as you were leaving town. There were trailers on both sides of the street. I stopped in at the office and talked to a lady named Phyllis who owned the court with her ex husband and said that trailer number 9 was available. It was a long brown trailer with two bedrooms and a cute little kitchen facing the street. It had a window air conditioner that I found out later during the heat of the summer, didn't work. There was cold air coming in through the outlets and every crook and cranny which were many. It was more like living in a glorified cardboard box. I moved with the help of Phyllis' ex son-in-law who only had an SUV-type vehicle so he had to lay my new refrigerator on its side, breaking the icemaker motor in the process. We set it upright, the refrigerator still worked but the icemaker would only work if you bought the ice yourself and put it in the icemaker drawer.
Jenny moved in with me. She was still fighting Lance for custody of Brandy. She had met a boy at the Pizza Hut, you'll remember, named Neal. Neal had a fast little sports car and Jenny was thrilled. Charles had met a girl, yes I said girl, at the Casey's General store in Wathena and was well on his way to being in love again. She was 26 years old and had been married five times already and was in fact engaged to someone else when they met. She would agree to marry, then when someone else came along she thought she liked better she'd get a divorce and move on to her next victim. I had asked Charles what he was going to do if she did that to him. He said, “We’ve talked about that and we are both so in love and happy that that's not going to be a problem!” They were married in the spring of 1992 at the farm. I had to sell my pool to make room for the gazebo she wanted and they were married in the gazebo. His friends from work warned him and I tried to warn him but he wasn't listening to anything I had to say, our amicable divorce went out the window when he met her. Whatever Deanna said was straight from God's mouth. I wasn't allowed on the property I had paid for with my student loan money that wasn't supposed to be spent on anything but schooling, a student loan that I am still paying on by the way, and she absolutely hated Chuck! She had six children of her own. She’d tell Charles to beat him for this and that and he would without question. He beat him with a stick once and when it broke he picked up a piece of tin and whaled away with that. I had told the judge at our divorce hearing but he said that was another case for another time but if I wanted to file child abuse charges I could. Charles openly admitted it in court in front of the judge. Chuck didn't want to pursue it and I didn't to go to court again so I made him promise to never let it happen again or I would. He promised, as he had promised years ago in Denton when he knocked me down and proceeded to stomp me in front of Jenny when she was five years old. He never did that again. About three months into the marriage Deanna had met a tall good looking man in a bar and was instantly in love and had the idea that he would marry her if she left Charles, so she did but he didn't.
I had met a man in April of 1992.I liked playing pool and had a pool table at home off and on. In the basement of the house in Denton we had a pool table. My brother Bobby came over on my birthday, either the 24th or 25th birthday. I know I had bought Terre on my 24th birthday so I don't remember if it was that day or the next year, anyway, we played pool. Mary Ann and Floy Mae came to show him the way up there. I remember laughing and having a good time.
Charles had been somewhat of a pool shark and could beat the pants off anybody. We used to go to Mary Ann and Bobby's trailer. They had bought some land south of Agency Mo. Bobby, Mary Ann's husband, was a builder in his spare time, just something he liked to do, he had built a room onto the trailer so they could have a pool table. On the weekends we would go down there and play pool and cards and eat dinner. When They divorced they had to sell the property. So they sold to the conservation dept. They had peacocks and chickens and ducks and geese. There was a big pond out back on the south side of the property in the woods they kept stocked with fish. They liked horseback riding too after we bought our horses so they bought two horses, Star and Solomon. Star was a big quarter horse and Solomon was a small palomino that wasn't broke as well. Charles had been riding him one day to break him in for Mary Ann when he reared up and rolled over on him. He wouldn't go to the Doctor even if we had had the money to pay for one. He had a few cuts and bruises, it wasn't very long, maybe a couple of hours and he was right back up there, in the saddle ready to go again. Mary Ann treated Solomon as a pet. He was a friendly horse and he was pretty. Star on the other hand was a good riding Quarter horse. She was "fine broke" as they would say. I liked riding her because she would respond the same as Terre. One day when we still lived in Denton we put Terre in the trailer Charles had made with her picture drawn on the side and drove to Mary Ann’s. We all went riding all over the countryside. Clyde had rented the old farm on 116 where I had spent the years from five to fourteen. We were so glad that the farm was back in the family. The old well down at the barn where we had to haul water in 2/12 gallon buckets on each arm had gone dry. So Clyde had to move again. Charles and I stopped over there with the horse trailer and I got to ride my horse all over the property just like I had always wanted to do when I was a little girl. When Mary Ann and Bobby were married in 1962 there was a furniture store called "Old Man Jackson's" that advertised to give away a pony to anyone that would buy a whole living room full of furniture. Mr. Nickle, Bobby’s father, was going to cosign a loan for them to get the furniture they needed. They were going to give me the pony! But Mr. Nickle said there was no need for a whole room full of furniture, they were moving to a trailer in Dearborn and they only needed a few things. I waited with my face pressed against the glass window pane and waited and waited for the arrival of my new pony. I was nine years old. They finally came back, no horse trailer, no pony.
I had met Bill after work at a bar on the Belt highway. I thought he was cute and we danced to the music. I was very naive as I hadn't done anything my whole life except be married and trying to survive the upsets that life threw at us for twenty years. I trusted too much and sympathized too much. He had long blond hair and blue eyes and straight white teeth he flashed every time he looked my way. He was an Alan Jackson look a like.

June 04, 2009

My First 56 Years

I thought about everything we had been through the last twenty years.
The constant fighting, knock down drag out fights, meaning I was the one being knocked down and dragged out. When we lived on north 5th St when Jenny was 1 ½ years old I walked to the social services office and showed them the huge black and purple bruise on my thigh and begged them to give me a place to live for me and my daughter. The bruise on my face had almost healed. They said we had to be separated for at least a year before they would consider helping me. I had no place to go. Mama and Kathryn wouldn’t take me in as we had Kathryn, when Marvin had kicked her out I had said, “Sure, you’re my sister, you can come and stay with us.” No questions asked, but when I needed a place to stay, I was told “Go back to your husband.” Everyone sided with Charles, even though I had the bruises to prove it. I hated that he had taken me away from my home, even though I had made it clear on that day, September 17th 1971 that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get married. I was getting “cold feet”. We had fought on that day too. I felt like he dragged me up the sidewalk to Leslie’s car where he and Della were waiting to take us to the court house. I had said almost every day of our married life, “I want to go home!”
I came in from the pool and stood in the kitchen. I looked around at the dark, musty, earth home that couldn’t be made into anything it was not. With all the money on new walls and ceiling fans and even the fireplace we had built with the rock we had brought back with us from our vacation across country. Each rock had a story to tell. This is the place where we saw this or that. This is a part of the slate that I slipped on in South Dakota, leaving a five inch scar on my buttocks. It was a massive fireplace. Each rock was a different hue of gold, black slate and yellow limestone, and sparkly silver granite. The chimney was at least 5 feet across and climbed through the ceiling, through the attic and sprouting through the shingled roof to the outside, to show everyone who passed by that we had a big fine fireplace inside. I did love that fireplace. It wouldn’t work. We bought an Earth Stove insert and only then were we able to have a fire to heat the house in winter. We didn’t have a furnace. The fireplace still looked magnificent even with the gold and black stove hidden inside its massive jaws.
I told Floy Mae when she over before I told Charles. I think I was waiting for someone to talk me out of it. No one did. The more I thought of the years and now the massacre of the cats, even when he knew how I felt about hunting and killing helpless animals. To kill for food was one thing but to kill those cats when they didn’t do anything to anybody was more than I could take.
Charles came into the kitchen while I stood there with tears and anger on my face knowing I was going to tell him for the hundredth time that I wanted a divorce and actually mean it this time. He just said, “Not that again!” I had seen a commercial on television about sending off for the paperwork to a lawyer in KC. They’d send the paperwork for fifty dollars and you fill out the papers yourself. Then put them before a judge to sign. The divorce could not be contested. All parties had to agree. I signed the papers and Charles signed. Chuck would stay with his father and continue his routine of catching the bus and going to school. I wanted the transition to be as painless as possible. His father hollered for Chuck to come in and tried to humiliate me in front of our son. “You know what your mother is going to do? She’s divorcing us!” Chuck just said “Why?” He went on and on about how STUPID I was which he always did. That’s why I went to Nursing School to prove to everyone, especially him, that I knew I wasn’t stupid. I got the best grades, honor roll, working at the hospital, not as an aide this time but as the aide’s boss, the nurse at the desk. Helping Doctors with treatments, orders, admitting patients, discharging patients, pharmacy orders etc... Not counting the med passes and lives I had saved through Heimlich maneuvers, calling RN’s from other floors when Doctors wouldn’t listen to me when I knew a patient needed to go to the ER. That patient would have died that day. Other nurses asked me how I knew what to do, how I knew to call an RN to assess the patient and talk to the Doctor. They said they wouldn’t have thought of that. They said they would have gone with the Doctor’s order he gave in the first place. The orders over the phone were that the patient had a cold. He sent me to the pharmacy to get a bottle of robitussin. When I got back the patient was worse, her blood pressure was high and she had pink mucous coming out of her mouth. I had called the Doctor twice already and gave him the vitals, told him I thought it was a pneumothorax but he just said, “Why are you getting so worked up over a simple cold?” That’s when I picked up the phone and called for RN support to confirm what I already knew. The RN said to get the Doctor back on the phone; she didn’t care if I’d already called him twice or ten times. The patient was going into respiratory distress and she was going to die if we didn’t admit her to Heartland Hospital East. I called again and he was more than a little perturbed but I told him to talk to the RN in Charge. She handed the phone back to me and said, “Alright, I guess we’ll have to admit!” I filled out the forms and called for an ambulance. He called back about an hour later and said she was doing fine and they were bringing her back. Charting, charting, charting…
Our divorce was final on December 17th 1991. I had left the property to him and in return he would allow the swimming pool to remain where it was. We would have an amicable divorce. I could still come and see Chuck whenever I wanted and I would continue to keep the pool clean.
I told Clyde he had to move out of the trailer I was going to move in and fix it up. That way I would still be on the property but out of the way with my own driveway and my own light bill. Charles agreed to help me but instead he almost burned the place down installing an electric heating system that ran along the base of the wall. The plug shorted out. Ronnie and Floy Mae were there in the house. Ronnie shouted, “Hey! The trailer’s on fire!” Big billowing flames were shooting out of the west window facing the driveway. Somehow they got it out. I was stubborn and continued to stay there until it got too cold. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay there without any heat. I decided to look elsewhere for a place to live off the property.
Jennifer looked so nice in her cap and gown, blue, when she graduated at Wathena High School. I couldn't believe so many years had gone by since she rode Terre to the neighbor's house to get a phone number so she could start kindergarten. She had a new baby and was getting married in June!
I made the arrangements with city hall in St Joe so she be married at Krug Park in northend. The roses were starting to bloom in the rose garden where the gazebo stood overlooking the lagoon. On the weekends people would come to feed the big carp and goldfish, turtles and the ducks. When she was 2 years old we took her to the park to feed the ducks. A big muskovy grabbed her little belly and pinched her hard with his beak. She was trying to feed him bread and that was the thanks she got! It left a dark blue bruise on her fat little 2 year old self. I thought the ducks would be tamer than that.
Everyone started arriving, chairs were set around the path of the roses. We had bought Jennifer a beautiful white lacy gown for her 8th grade graduation in Highland. I thought she looked so perfect in that dress. We had bought it at the Paris at East Hills Mall. When the graduation was over I told her that dress would be perfect for a wedding dress! I didn't realize that day would come so soon. Her future mother-in-law was a seamtress and sewed costumes for the Sweet Adelines a singing group she sang for around town and Missouri theater etc.. She said she thought the dress was perfect too and added some beads and other material to make it look more "wedding-like". She added see through lacy sleeves that came to a point over the top of her hands. We bought her a veil and her mother-in-law to be, fixed her hair and added pearls to her hair which she wore up in a bun with long curls trailing the sides of her face. They did a little dance when she shook her head. She was the prettiest bride! I wore a pink dress and my long hair down. Charles dressed in a grey suit and tie. Chuck also had on a suit and tie, he was 11 years old. Everyone came down the sidewalk leading to the gazebo where they were married under the decorations and ribbons we had placed there beforehand.
Three months later we learned how mean and cruel Lance was in his words toward others and his actions. He had been seeing other girls while Jennifer was pregnant with Brandy and had another little girl the same age. They went to court for custody of Brandy. Lance's mother worked for the Power and Light company and Jenny worked for Pizza Hut. Long story short the grandmother got custody and Jennifer had to pay child support! Lance didn't get custody but he lived with his mother. Lance had a criminal record. Jenny had a new boyfriend Neal. We didn't have any money for a lawyer but Jenny had one. They had two.
They worked out a visitation agreement before the divorce was finalized. When he had her and it was time for Jennifer to pick her up, they would conveniently not be home so Jenny couldn't get her back . She'd always take her there on time, then at 6'oclock on Sunday evening she would go to to the house to pick her up, they wouldn't be home. No matter what time she came back they would not answer the door even though the car would be right there in the driveway. She told her lawyer about it and he would do something but they ignored everything. When she finally did get her back one weekend she refused to let them have her and kept her hidden for awhile until one Christmas eve she started feeling sentimental and took her to see her father who promptly took the child and slammed the door in her face and vowed she would never see her again.
Clyde moved onto the property that year and lived in the small trailor. It was barely livable but Clyde was used to living by the seat of his pants and made it comfortable enough. He was a good renter and Charles liked having a friend around he could talk "guy" stuff with. Clyde had several rifles, something I would never let Charles have because I loved all animals and hated to see them eaten by lions on the Discovery Channel or hunted down in cold blood by people that could get their meals elsewhere and hunted for sport.
I had several cats on the farm. They kept the mice out of the feed. We had a pig and some goats. Charles even bought me a lamb for my birthday. One day I was hanging clothes out on the line as I still didn't have a dryer that worked anymore, I noticed that old Sam wasn't there to grab at the clothes or play with the clothes pins at my feet. I started asking questions and Charles just guiltily avoided them. I started asking those same questions of Clyde since he and Charles were so buddy buddy all of a sudden. He just laughed and said he and Charles had used all the outside cats as target practice and all the cats were dead. I thought he was joking at first but the more questions I asked Charles about it the more guilty he looked and sounded. I was shocked and horrified that he could do something like that to my pets. They weren't hurting anybody. They ran looseon the farm and only came up to the house to be petted and of course to see if there were any scraps from yesterday's dinner. I wasn't allowed to feed them,you see, only the one that stayed in the house which we didn't have anymore. Old Sam, who really wasn't that old, was really the only one that stayed close to the house. I would throw him some scraps if I had any, and he would reward me by playing with the clothes pins and tormenting me while I tried to hang up clothes.
I was sitting at the pool's edge one day thinking and decided I would tell Charles I wanted a divorce.
In May 1991 Jennifer was getting ready for graduation and her wedding in June to Lance. Brandy was 6 months old. I had been watching her in the mornings while Jenny went to school. She got out of school at noon and drove the car home. She watched her from then on. I had to be at work at Heartland Hospital at 3:00 and left around 2 or 2:30.
Floy Mae had moved south of us in a small farm house. Her son, JR, was born in September of 1979 a month before Chuck. We had gone to the Doctor's office at the same time. JR was Chuck's best friend. They walked to each other's house and rode bicycles back and forth. Floy Mae had a dog that was part pit bull. I had my cats and we had King, the German Shepherd. Charles had always told me when we moved to the farm because there was enough land, 12 acres, that I could have as many cats as I wanted as long as they stayed outside. We brought home a part siamese cat and named her Sheba. She was so pretty with the markings of a Siamese and big blue eyes.Charles let me keep her in the house. One day I ws sitting on the deck of the pool just watching the water swirl around when Sheba came running to me and wanted me to follow her to an old junk pickup truck and in the front seat she had had 6 little kittens. I patted her and congratulated her her but she still kept "asking" me over and over to come look. She cried and meowed constantly. Charles would say, " What's wrong with that cat?"
Not long after the birth of the kittens I noticed JR coming down the road on his bicycle with the big pit bull running behind. I told Chuck to meet him and tell him to take that dog back home, and that that dog was not welcome on our property. He did but the dog would not go back alone. Charles was working on a car when Sheba came looking for me again. She looked at the pit bull and he looked at her. Suddenly the pit bull grabbed her and started to shake her by the neck. I screamed and JR grabbed him , we tried to get him to let go. He finally did. She ran off to the shed east of the back door of the house. I ran to her and checked on her. She'd seemed to be alright Charles was yelling about the kittens being in the front seat of the truck, the mess etc.., so we took the kittens out and put them in a box. We put the box in the shed with Sheba. She didn't seem interested in them anymore. They were screaming at the top of their lungs. I put each one next to her so they could eat. Sheba would lick them but she kept getting up and pushing them away.
The next day she was letting them eatand seemed to be better. Slowly the kittens started to dieone by one.One week after the incident with the pit bull, I noticed Sheba was hiding alot. There was a "cave" of sorts between the house and the poolwhere the water pipes went into the house. I found her hiding in there.I pulled her outand looked at her big blue eyes. I noticed they weren't blue anymore! They were green!I ran into the house and called the vet in South St Joseph and explained the whole ordeal. Their advise was to get her to the office immediately, I was scolded for not bringing her in as soon as the attack had occurred. I explained that she seemed to be doing better and was starting to feed and pay attention to her kittens after a few hours. Charles had a cardinal rule that no money was to be spent on pets for vet services so it was out of the question to immediately go there. On this day, looking at Sheba, and knowing there was something wrong set the fear of God in me. Jenny and I put her in a box and jumped into the car. She was screaming bloody murder and trying to climb out of the box.I was trying to drive and Jenny was trying to hold her still.We pulled up in front of the veterinary clinic about 20 minutes later. We got right inand placed her on the cold chrome table. She lay there motionless when the Dr came in to look at her. I could tell by the look on his facethat the news was not good. Suddenly he started giving CPR and i fell against the wall and slid down in tears. I just got scolded againfor not bringing her in sooner.He said when the dog shook her she still had another kitten inside. The shaking caused bleeding and she was slowly bleeding to death the whole week after the incident.
The vet looked up after he'd finished CPR and told me she was gone. The memories were so fresh. She had tried so hard to tell me about her kittens.How, I had followed her to the truck. She had climbed on the seat and purred and cleaned them. She was so proud of her accomplishment! She just couldn't get enough of telling me about it. She would follow me around the yard and meow, and lick the kittens , she'd put her paws around them as any mother would do to hold them close.
The devastation I felt was overwhelming. I could hardly see to drive home. I was crying so hard and Jenny too.
I told Floy Mae never to bring that dog over to our house again. They loved that dog. I ould never understand how anyone could love a dog so big, mean and ugly. He finally died a few years later of old age. They were devastated too, but he didn't die in the cruel way that Sheba had. No one grabbed him up and shook him until he bled to death, a slow painful death that took a week. I felt so sorry that I didn't take her to the vet sooner, but I knew Charles would never hear of it! They said they could have helped her if only I had brought her in sooner. She had the kittens to take care of, she was eating ans seemed to be back to normal until I saw those green eyes! All the kittens eventually died. She stopped caring for her beloved brood in the first 24 hours. Charles said ,"Let nature take its course."

My First 56 Years

We got used to the idea in the next few months. Charles had had a vasectomy after Chuck was born and we couldn't have anymore babies. The idea of a cute little bundle of joy was starting to grow on us. The Grandma and Grandpa insignia however did not.
We returned from South Dakota that weekend with a baby ring made with Black Hills gold.
Her due date was November 12th but in 1990 a due date just meant the baby could be born two weeks before or two weeks after the due date.
The evening of November 12th I was cleaning the cabinets that Charles had made in the kitchen and Charles was doing some wood working on some cabinets he was making to sell.
About 9:00 pm Jennifer sauntered out of the bedroom and announces she is in labor. I looked down from my chair, terrified of heights and trying not to fall.
She tells us in no uncertain terms that her future mother-in-law had informed her that it was now time for her to tell me .She had been on the phone with her for several hours that night and all the things that a daughter should be telling her mother she was telling Lance's mother.
I asked her how long she thought she had been in labor and she said,” About two hours “but her back had been hurting all day at school.” I asked her how far apart were her pains and she said, about ten minutes! “I then proceeded to fly around the house and throwing my arms up into the air screaming at Charles, “Get a box and start tearing up newspapers this girl is about to give birth!" We lived about twenty miles or less from Heartland Hospital. We had a long gravel road to traverse with deep ravines on each side. We rushed her into the car and Charles, me and the "little Mother" and Chuck crammed into the car along with her bag and Charles drove about 90 miles an hour down that gravel road to Blair toward 36 highways.
We turned east on 36 and headed for Wathena not caring about the highway patrol or any city cops that always traveled that highway. Fortunately we didn't see any. They would have appeared as a blur if we had and they probably couldn't have caught us if they had seen us.
We arrived at the hospital. Charles parked in front of the doors at Heartland Hospital West in the emergency room parking area. A burley security guard promptly approached us to tell us we couldn't park there. We jumped out of the car and seeing my very pregnant daughter opened the emergency doors and found a wheel chair for her to sit in. She was in a good deal of pain the whole way in the car, we were all afraid we wouldn't make it. As a new nurse I had very limited training in birthing a baby, none actually. I sure didn't want to test my knowledge out on Jennifer!
Charles moved the car and met us on the 3rd floor, the maternity ward. As soon as the emergency nurses saw us come in they ushered us up the elevator to the 3rd floor. They said she was close to delivery when we got there. About an hour and a half later we had a new granddaughter! She named her Brandy.
Lance didn't show up until later even though it was eleven thirty or so by then. We decided to go and let her sleep and come back to see her in the morning.

My First 56 Years

From July 1989 to October 1989 I studied for the State Boards. I had a book I bought from the nursing school that helped you study for the big test. By October I felt I was ready.
On October 22nd we traveled to Topeka, about one to two hours away from Wathena.
I arrived very nervous but feeling prepared. The room was huge with rows of tables and chairs.
They greeted us and warned us that looking in any direction other than our papers would get us kicked out of that room and we would have to wait three months before trying again.
When everyone was settled and the signal was given to start, I started with the first question and when I had finished with the entire test I couldn't believe how easy it was. I thought, “anyone off the street that hadn't spent ten months in nursing school could have passed that test!"
When we were finished with the test we were instructed to get up from the table and go outside and not to return until everyone had finished their test.
The others started filing out and some remarked how easy the test was and some said how hard the test was. Everyone got a different test. I was starting to worry that maybe the test was harder than I thought it was. It could have been full of trick questions; we were told there would be some.
I worried and second guessed myself all the way to January 1990.I received my results in the mail, then. I tore open the envelope and saw that I had passed!
After informing the members of my family and shouting and doing a little dance, I called the nursing home where I worked and told them the news, after all they had promised all the nursing students they had hired would get a .75 raise if we passed our Boards. The administrator had hired three of us from the school in Atchison and did not expect all of us to pass the first time. Our raise consisted of a thin dime. We started looking for new jobs.
"Tall" Lisa went first. She started at a nursing home on 18th St in St Joseph. That left two of us left from the school.
Having our licenses transferred from the state of Kansas to Missouri was no big deal. I called the Missouri Board of Nursing and they made a quick call to Topeka and verified I had passed the Boards, All I needed was to send them 50.00 and wah lah a few weeks later I had a board certified license to practice nursing in the state of Missouri. Up until that time I was a GPN, a Graduated Practical Nurse. Upon our graduation we received permits to practice.
On March fifth my nephew, Floy Mae's son Brian, and his wife had twin baby girls. After visiting and oohing and ahhing over the twins, I left to go and stopped at the HR, Human Resources, office at Heartland Health Medical Center, formerly known as the Missouri Methodist Hospital where Jenny and Chuck were born. I submitted my application for a nursing position there. The only reason I didn't choose to go with Heartland in the first place was because the starting pay was 6.47 an hour and we had been promised upon passing the state boards we would be paid 7.75 hour which they reneged.
Two or three weeks later I received a call from the nursing director on 2nd fl Centre about coming in for an interview.
The interview went well and I was scheduled to start April 16th.
I gave my notice to the nursing home and began my nursing career at the hospital.
Jennifer started working at MacDonald's in St. Joseph where she met a nice looking guy who worked with her named Lance. Yes, I said Lance. He was tall and good looking with broad shoulders. We went there one day when she was not working. He came in to order. I nodded my approval, what mother wouldn't like to have her daughter meet a Prince Charming named Lance. She was in love but only a junior in high school. She was seventeen after all and it was bound to happen sooner or later.
It wasn't long before she kept complaining of being sick so we took her to Belt and Mitchell to the Med Clinic.
When we lived in Highland and she was seeing the boy from Sparks, Jason, we had a "flare" up of sorts. I had worked all night at the Highland nursing home and was sleeping when Chuck came in and woke me. He said, “Jason’s here".He had this weird look on his face so I asked him, “Where’s Jenny?” He said that she was in the basement. Jenny was 14 years old at the time.
I didn't like the sound of that so I jumped out of bed and headed for the basement.
I found them putting on their clothes and thought in horror of the view that her little brother, who was eight years old, had just been given.
It was winter or early spring in 1987.the temperature outside was at or below freezing. I ordered Jason out of my house and never to return. In response to that he asked me if I would take him home because of the cold and Sparks was four or five miles away. I told him in no uncertain terms he could walk home and freeze to death as far as I was concerned.
We headed to the woods where Charles was cutting wood. He was none too pleased to hear the news about his little
girl!
On this day in 1990 here we were at the Med Clinic waiting for the antibiotics for the flu symptoms she was exhibiting.
I was sent into the cubicle with her and to my astonishment they were doing a pregnancy test! The look on her face told me everything I needed to know. We paid the bill and I escorted her out to the waiting room to her father.
In the car I broke the news to him, through tears and yelling a few chosen obscenities!
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My First 56 Years

We spent most of our time at the Payless Cashways hardware store in Elwood, Ks just three miles east of Wathena. We bought the paneling and the sheetrock. We bought insulation for the attic. We tore the walls down that had been put up for additional bedrooms that we didn't need. We opened it up and tried to make it as homey as possible. Unfortunately it was like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and no matter how much we tried to fix and clean it always looked like an old storage shed made out of cement.
We found a swimming pool that was 24ft round and four feet deep with all the accessories, in the paper and put it up outside the back door. Charles dug the dirt out with a shovel and made it as level as possible. We tried to help him with the walls and liner and the rails but as usual all parts were thrown and scattered helter skelter. Just like the tent he tried to put up in Branson. Charles' temper got the best of him. Chuck tried to help him but he just yelled at him and then I tried but I could never do anything right as far as he was concerned. Charles was a perfectionist, if he couldn't do it his way then it didn't get done. The pool was finally up and the water was as clear as it could be. It was my job, I made it that way, to keep the chlorine levels and the ph levels where they should be. We only had to buy "shock treatments" when the weather was bad and it rained a lot. We had a skimmer and a sand filter. It had a white fence around it and a small aluminum deck with a walkway around the top about a foot wide. I loved that pool! On July fourth we always had a barbecue and family would come and we'd play volley ball or badminton and swim in the pool.
In the wintertime the water pipes would freeze and Charles would have to dig up the line and thaw them out. The well was way down the hill passed the field next to the barns just outside of the "swamp" area where the beavers had built a dam. We went through more water pumps. It was hard on the pump to push the water up hill through those narrow pipelines.
Clyde wanted to move into the trailer that was on the property so we rented it to him for 110.00 a month which was what he had been paying in town for an apartment. He always like the country and was a good renter.
In the fall of 1990 Charles and I went to the Black Hills of South Dakota to see Mt Rushmore. It was beautiful but an early ice storm caught everyone unawares with no snow tires or chains. Going up and down the hills and around curves was a challenge but Charles was always one to take chances and never feared when it came to driving. We had a van then and took it up through Iowa and across South Dakota. The tall pines and forest there called to us so we pulled over on the way back from Mt Rushmore to get a better view. I went ahead and tried to stand on a slate flat rock but I started to slide and couldn't get stopped. I called, “Charles!" He came running but by the time he got to me I was wrapped around a tree. The drop was about ten feet if I had fallen. Somehow he'd gotten me down but my pants were torn and blood was running out of my left hip where the hide had been torn as if by a knife. We headed back to the motel and I examined my wound. I was more concerned that I had ripped my good pants.
We headed back home the next day but we had to drive slower due to the weather and it took more gas than we thought. We went south on 16 to rte 2 into Nebraska. This was a narrow strip of road but according to the map and Charles, it was the fastest way back to Northeast Kansas.
When we got home we went to an appliance store and bought a new stove and a refrigerator we put on credit from AVCO financial group. Charles made the new cabinets and we bought a new counter top from PayLess. I was still working as a GPN at a small nursing home in St Joseph and Charles worked at the Truss co. We both got paid every two weeks but we got paid opposite weeks so we had a paycheck every week just like we did when we worked at Friskies’ in Elwood in 1981.
That Christmas I had been paying on a new set of diamond rings for myself since every set I ever had I had to hock. I decided since it was Christmas I would continue paying on them in January so I could take the money to buy the kid's presents and actually get Charles a present too. We had a joint checking account so we were both using it to buy presents. I wanted a new coat that I had seen at Kmart and actually pointed it out to Charles so he would know which one I wanted and I also wanted one of the new Red Devil vacuum cleaners so I could keep the house cleaner. It just looked so dirty all the time. It was dark even after he put in a new picture window in the dining room.
Christmas came and I opened up my first present from Charles. A few family members were there but when I opened the present I was so disappointed to find an old pink coat that Jennifer, now 17, didn’t care for either. I was a lot heavier then and that big old bulky pink coat made me look like Baby Huey! I stuck my hand in my pocket and found something in the pocket. I knew without looking it was my rings that I had not planned to get out of the pawn shop until January so we'd have enough money to get through Christmas. I knew I owed over two hundred dollars on them and now we were broke! I tried not to show my disappointment when what I really wanted was that vacuum cleaner and I knew there were no more presents for me from him and now no money to buy one. I felt so miserable that we had to continue to live in that ramshackle house that refused to come clean when you didn't have the right equipment or the money to tear it down and do it over right, which is what it needed. Over the years I just wanted to go back home! I had told him that the same day we got married and he said "No!” I told him when we had been married just two weeks. For 19 years our lives had been one disappointment after another. I always told him if he went back to Nebraska St he would see the skid marks I left with the heels of my shoes when he dragged me up that sidewalk to Leslie's car to take me to the courthouse. I was mad at him that day for being late again and I told him I didn't" think I wanted to do this".Sadness and disappointment was all our marriage had added up to for 19 years. Moving and moving from one house to another trying to run away from our problems or each other.

My First 56 Years

I started nursing school the 21st of July, 1988. Some friends at the home started at the same time, Shirley and Patty, who were about ten years older than me and a young friend, Julie. We rode down taking turns driving the cars but they decided I drove recklessly or I didn't have a nice enough car. I had a blue Ford Fiesta that was falling apart and it was so small we had a hard time fitting everyone. The red, maroon, Mercury was headed for A-1 auto salvage because it wouldn't run again even after the new motor when the timing chain went out etc...
We would ask each other question for the test we had every day. We had to study every night for five hours. They told us we would gain about twenty or thirty pounds. I gained thirty five. I weighed 124 lbs when I started and got fitted for uniforms and weighed almost 160 lbs by graduation in May of 1989.The first ten weeks we had tests every day but after that we had our "fly up" ceremony when we got our caps. We were very proud. I was on the honor roll and those of us that made it were in the Troy newspaper for the whole county to see! I kept my grades up into the high nineties to make sure I made the high honor roll. There was an honor roll and a high honor roll. There was competition between the girls so that encouraged us to keep the grades high. We had one male in the class; I can't remember his name so I will call him Dave.
We learned to build a human being from one single cell to the hair and skin. Learning the intricacies of the heart and valves, arteries and veins was the hard part but I was so fascinated I ate it up! I thought this is what I was born to do. We learned to figure drop factors and at the end of the year we drew blood from the other student nurses. I didn't have a partner so I got to draw blood from the Director of Nursing. After several of the students also had drawn blood from her for practice I thought she would pass out! During our clinicals we went to the hospital in Atchison to observe and pass medicines alongside the nurse there. When we were studying Obstetrics we got to watch a cesarean section and newborns being circumcised. We practiced doing treatments on patients with wounds. Older folks do not have the fat under their skin so the skin tears like tissue paper. Diabetics especially have to be careful because they do not heal as well. We did our clinicals in Dr's offices and the nursing home there.
When I would come home at five o'clock after being up at that time in the AM I had told Jenny and Chuck to make sure Midnight, the poodle we bought to replace Lucky, was inside the house because she would wait for me to come home all day and would run out into the driveway as I came home. One day I drove home and pulled into the driveway, hit the remote for the garage door and drove inside. When I went into the house Midnight wasn't waiting for me to pick her up as she always had been so I said, "Where's Midnight?" Chuck said, "Jenny let her out!" I knew without looking she would be lying there in the driveway, and she was. I had run over her when I stopped to open the garage door. She thought I was stopped and getting out but I only stopped long enough to open the garage door. Charles buried her somewhere on the property; I don't think he even told me where he had buried Lucky.
The house in Highland was so well insulated that in the winter time the only way to tell if the wind was blowing was to watch the trees sway through the big "picture" window. The snow would fall and the trees would be covered. I think it was the only time I actually liked to watch the snow fall. It was easy to keep warm. There was a square wood stove in the kitchen that Charles cut wood for and Jenny and I and Chuck would help load it. We didn't need to cut all year round like the big house in Troy. At night the furnace would take over if the temperature would go below 60 degrees so we didn't even have to get up in the middle of the night to stoke the coals when the fire went out.
One day when it was raining especially hard the creek started to rise and I couldn't find King. I knew that he was getting older now and the vet in Highland had prescribed some pain reliever for him for his arthritis. I'd squeeze some out of a tube and he would run and play as he always did. This day I looked out of the picture window and saw King floundering around in the creek bed trying to hang on to the sides with his toenails. I hollered at Charles and he ran out into the blinding rain and picked him up and carried him to the foyer to dry off. He was still afraid of storms after all those years. We never did figure out why he was out there.
We still had our rabbits. Sometimes they would get out of the cages somehow and King would chase them all over the yard, killing as many as he could. We'd gather as many as we could and fix the cages. We still had problems getting them to breed. The males would go through the motions but the females would fight them off most of the time. When copulation would take place the females would rarely be pregnant or they would kill them right after birth. We finally sold all of them.
Another friend of Charles' had ferrets, a male and a female. I had had ferrets before and I really liked them. But these were so wild every time you would stick your hand in the cage, the female especially, would grab onto your fingers and hang on. Once they were out of the cage they were friendly and we would bring them into the house and let them play with cat toys or dog toys. They were very funny to watch and easy to hold once out of the cage. I had wanted to breed them and sell the babies but after getting my fingers bit to the bone so many times we gave them away. Chucky had a pet rat we kept in his room in a cage. He loved that rat but he wouldn't take care of it. The feeding and watering of the rat went to me of course. He too got so he wouldn't let you get the water bottle or the food bowl out to add more to it. He would jump up onto your hand and start biting like crazy. I’d checked the water bottle and it was always full of water. Chuck refused to hold him anymore because of the biting. One day he came outside with tears in his eyes holding his pet and said it was dead. I checked the water bottle and the ball had gotten stuck and no water was coming out. All the time I thought he had water, he couldn't get it out. That’s why he was biting. He was drinking the blood from our fingers!
Another pet I was especially fond of was our guinea pigs. We had two. There was a movie out at that time that had a funny looking creature that was real cute until you gave them water and then they would become really mean and vicious.

My First 56 Years

In March of 1987, Jay told us that his wife worked at the nursing home in Highland. He said they were hiring. I had been looking off and on for a job to help out with finances but I didn't have any experience working outside of the home except that short month I worked at Henry's hamburgers on Lake Avenue when I was 16.I also worked at a restaurant on King hill doing dishes in 1970.The owner made me clean out the refrigerator that had a short in it. Whenever you tried to clean out the bottom of it you got an electrical shock. She complained I wasn't cleaning it one day and I told her it shocks me every time I touched the bottom of it. She got mad and started cleaning it out herself not even flinching when I knew she was getting shocked. She was the one that told me, “Be careful it'll shock you".I pretty much told her what she could do with her refrigerator and her dishes I could never got clean enough for her and quit. Charles had told me he didn't want me to work, back then women stayed home and the men worked. He also told me if I would marry him he'd quit smoking which he did after ten years of marriage. One day cigarettes went up to 62 cents a pack and he didn't have 62 cents. He was a little shaky for a couple of days then he was done and never smoked again.
I went to the nursing home thinking the only thing I was qualified for was doing the laundry or working in the kitchen. Mrs. Fritch was the administrator and said she was going to put me on the floor working as a nurse's aide. I had never been in a nursing home before and was shocked to the core when I found out what goes on there. The other nurses and aides were shocked too when they found out I didn't know anything about getting patients up in the wee hours of the morning and passing trays and feeding people that couldn't feed themselves. They complained right in front of me about how they couldn't believe Mrs. Fritch would hire someone off the street without any experience. They weren't shy about hurting my feelings or the patient's feeling when cooperation was unheard of, whether they, the patients, could help or not. Most of them could have done more for themselves but as a payback for their hatred of being there, they wouldn’t. The place stunk, and so did I when I'd come home in the morning after working all night. My only hope of getting through it all was the promise of going to CNA classes in Atchison, then to CMA classes, then it was off to LPN training , as a nurse.
I was miserable. I’d go to work at eleven o'clock at night and get off at seven in the morning if I could get out on time. Somebody always needed help getting the heavier patients up but we were not allowed to work past the allotted time scheduled. “Sorry, Got to go" was always heard right when you were in a compromising position with a patient. They didn't care if you dropped someone or not it wasn't on them they were off the clock.
I'd come home and stink to high heaven just as Charles was leaving for work. The kids were already off to school. The yellow bus would come and pick them up at the driveway and take them to Highland school. They hated changing schools from Troy. I hated it too because Troy was such a good school. Chuck had made a lot of friends there. He even had a girlfriend on the old bus he used to ride! He was in kindergarten at the time! Jenny was popular in Highland but Chuck missed his old school and wasn't comfortable with the new kids. He did get the lead in the school play playing Joseph in the Christmas play. He had a singing part and would not show us his singing ability at home. He wanted to surprise me at the play. Imagine our surprise when he sang in a booming voice very unlike a first grader. He was so good and not a bit shy! Everyone clapped so loud! We had to buy him a robe for his costume and he had a staff. I don't remember who played Mary.
I thought in the beginning I could come home and sleep until noon and still be able to watch TV and do my housework just like I had before I started working. After a few days I started to wear down. I was a nervous wreck and short tempered. After about two weeks I couldn't take it any more and started to sleep until three pm. It would be no time and it would be ten o’clock. Everyone else would be getting ready for bed and I had to stay up and get ready for work.
One night I begged Charles to let me quit. I sat in the car and cried and cried, I didn't want to go back there and face all those poor people who had no choice but to be there. I started getting better and better at it and the other nurses and aides said I was the best nurse's aide that worked there. I started CNA classes that lasted about a month and a half, got my certificate and then later I started CMA classes, certified med tech, I learned of LPN classes starting in July, of 1988.Mrs. Fritch paid for the CNA classes and the Med Tech classes but the LPN classes I had to get financing from the government. A Pell grant would pay for it and I wouldn't have to pay it back. They allowed us to apply for a student loan as well in case we needed gasoline getting to Atchison etc. That, we had to pay back but we didn't have to pay it back until after we graduated and had a job working as a nurse. I notified the home that I would be quitting to go to nursing school. I wanted to be a nurse, because at the home the nurses sat behind the desk and wrote in the charts and they didn't have to be out on the floor lifting heavy patients and doing dirty laundry or cleaning the patients. They would go into a room and call for an aide to clean up in room so and so. They pushed a medicine cart around and took their time, while we were going crazy trying to get done before the allotted time when we were scheduled to go home.
I got paid one time a month about 400.00 clear. I paid the bills for the whole month with that check and we bought groceries and gasoline and whatever we wanted with Charles' check he got every week. For once we were actually living comfortable.
Stony got out again so I called the man, the horse trader in Highland we bought him from, and he came and got him. I was sad again but I couldn't keep chasing him and putting him back in so that an hour later he'd be out again. Silver would get out too but I wasn't going to sell him like I had Red without Charles' permission.
Jenny would go out and get him and put the bridle and bit in his mouth and jump upon Stony, bareback and ride whenever she felt like it. She would put Chuck on his back and lead him around but every time she would turn a corner he would fall off. Our little cowboy never got the hang of how to ride, and showed absolutely no remorse. He rode his bicycle after a couple weeks after his fall into the dirt and seemed content with that. I’d talked Charles into having a vasectomy after Chuck was born because we thought a boy and a girl was enough. Children were expensive and we didn't have insurance anymore.

My First 56 Years

I believe the name of that movie was "Gremlin's".I had all these rabbits in hutches out back behind the tool shed so instead of buying regular guinea pig food I fed them rabbit food since I had bought rabbit food in 50 lb sacks. The guinea pigs started acting funny and I noticed bleeding coming from the rectal area. I called the vet in Highland and asked him what the problem was and he said rabbit food doesn't contain vitamin C which rabbits make continuously just as humans do but guinea pigs don't and have to have it in their diet every day. I lost both guinea pigs due to my ignorance.
Clyde and Mary Ann and Kathryn would come up some weekends and we'd have them walk up to the bluffs to a cross that a man had planted there. It was high in the hills and overlooked the Missouri River. Clyde and Mary Ann smoked and were having a hard time climbing the hills! We were laughing at them while they were huffing and puffing and complaining they were too old for this! Clyde bought a three-wheeler and a cart that we pulled behind it and used that to haul food and supplies so that we could have a wiener roast. King was getting older but he happily followed behind until he got so worn out he could hardly follow us anymore. We picked him up and put him in the cart (or wagon) so he could ride.
When we still had Stony, Charles and I would ride the horses across the way to Mr. Spark’s old dilapidated two story house that he and his wife lived in during the spring months, and then they would go to New York in the summer months and spend winter in San Francisco. His wife hated that house. It didn't have plumbing and they had to use an old outhouse that didn't have a door. One day while we were riding and King was following behind us we went through their drive way to get permission to go on their property to see a place everyone in the county called The Little Grand Canyon. We knew that part of the Little Grand was on his property. He said he didn't care but his wife was in the outhouse at the time with no door and flew out grabbing her pants and panicking because she was afraid of dogs. King ran right up into their yard and about gave her a heart attack. We were told from then on we could come on the property with the horses but King had to stay home. We didn't know how to keep him home; we didn't have a fenced yard. We’d yell at him to stay but he loved to follow along behind the horses so we just didn't go up there any more. We learned later that she, Mrs. Sparks, had died. By later I mean several years later. Mr. Sparks died too, a few years after that.
After we sold Stony the citizens in the county would come on Sundays and bring their horse trailers and tie the horses to the wood fence next to the yard by the road. They’d saddle up their horses and go on trail rides through the hills and bluffs. We only had the one horse now. Sometimes we'd take turns riding and walking and one of the trail riders would give Charles a lift and they would double up. We rode across creeks and through water I didn't think Silver would go through. He’d see the other horses go and he'd want to follow them. He didn't balk too much. I wish I had known about all the trails when I still had Stony.
At Christmas time I invited about 18 people to come for Christmas dinner. On Christmas Eve the jets went out of the stove in the kitchen. I was panicked and called John Whetstine, Big John, and he told me to call the hardware store in Highland of it was closed but I got the name from Big John and the guy was willing to meet me at the hardware store. We bought the supplies we needed and I seem to recollect Big John said that we could charge it to their account along with a faucet for the kitchen sink. The guy from the hardware store came over and fixed it for us and showed Charles how to fix it; in case there was a next time.
We had the usual fan fare, a large turkey and stuffing, homemade, green beans, sweet potatoes etc. We watched the trees bend without any noise heard from the inside of the house. The Christmas tree was decked out in front of the big picture window. Presents were opened and everyone took pictures of everything that was opened. I loved that little house that seemed to loom out of the woods like Snow White and the Seven Dwarf’s cottage, surrounded by the bluffs of the Missouri River.
In the spring of 1989 I graduated from nursing school. I was having a hard time believing I was actually a nurse and was scared to death to actually put my talent to work. We had a job fair from all the hospitals and nursing homes on both sides of the river. I wanted to work for Heartland Hospital in St.Joseph but they only wanted to start out paying 6.47 an hour and the nursing homes were offering more. I wanted to go with the one that paid the most so I signed on for a nursing home in St Joseph. They started out paying 7.00 and hour but promised to give us raise of .75 when we received the long awaited license showing we’d passed the State boards.
In January of 1989 a man that Charles worked with in Wathena said they had an earth home plus twelve acres of land they would take 1000.00 down on and they would go to the bank in Wathena to see that the rest would be put on payments. We had always wanted our own place. We would have plenty of land for the horse and we thought an earth home, a home surrounded by earth on three sides, would be easy to heat. We went to see it and thought how much fun we would have fixing it up and making it our own. We decided to go for it and I used my student loan to pay the 1000.00 down and got all the paper work together so we'd know just how much we needed to pay each month.
We were moving again. I was still in nursing school and had to take myself to and from school in the yellow station wagon we'd bought from Decker’s. , since we lived in Wathena now I couldn’t car pool with the girls from Highland anymore. One day I got as far as Troy on seven highways when the car broke down and I had to walk. Fortunately some other girls I went to school with were on their way to school too and picked me up on the way down. At the end of the day when we were headed home I noticed the car was gone. They took me home and I called Charles who had been named foreman at the Truss Co then and he said he didn't know anything about it. I called Davies Oil Company and he had driven by and saw the car sitting there and took it upon himself to two it back to the station. He charged us an arm and a leg to get it out. We tried to get Decker's to take the car back since it was a piece of junk every since we bought it but they said they wouldn't do it. I think A-1 came and took it off our hands after that.
 
 
 
 
 

My First 56 Years

One day Jenny was taking a long time to come home from school. She was driving the newest car we ever owned and I was very fond of that little car. It was red and had a tape player. I had rediscovered country music. I had bought several tapes and was trying to convince Charles how country music had changed since we met in 1970.Who am I kidding, I loved that little car. While I was waiting for her to get home and pacing the floor, the phone rang. It was the Doniphan county Sheriff's dept. The officer said Jenny had rolled my car about three times on 36 hwy. She had gotten too close to the graveled shoulder and over corrected. He said she was fine and her "companion" was fine as well. She wasn't allowed to see that boy from Sparks and was forbidden to see him anymore. My perfect little car on the other hand was lying in a cold ditch.
When Charles got home we took her to the hospital in Atchison Ks to have her arm checked out. She said she and "the boy"(no names please) were arguing over the tape player. During the roll over she ended up in the back seat and never knew how she got there. Her arm was fine, to her dismay, she knew we were mad, to put it lightly, about the car and the fact she had disobeyed us by having him in the car with her in the first place.
The officer at the scene called Davies' Oil Co to tow the car to our house. Charles was able to fix some of the damage to the body but the engine was totaled. We managed to buy another engine from A-1 auto salvage in Elwood. It took several months before we got the bill paid to have them put in the engine. We had the "new" engine about two months when one day Charles took it out of the garage and drove about five feet. This horrendous crashing noise was heard like breaking glass. It only took a few calls to find out the timing chain in those types of cars is only good for 50,000 miles. The timing was off and long story short all the rods broke into a thousand pieces, so long little red Mercury.
The horses kept getting out, no matter how many times we fixed the fence. They would push against the hot wire, shiver and shake then push a little more until the wire broke. Across the bridge they would go. In the beginning before they knew they could go across the bridge we would come home and look off into the distance in the bluffs of the Missouri river and see a red dot and a white dot, knowing those was our horses. It was such a good feeling knowing they were getting fed. There was a creek running through the property. All we had to provide was a mineral block. We’d bring feed to them only when we wanted to catch them to ride. I remember the long dirt road that wound around to Eagle Springs, and up the steep hills to a point where you could see all four states at the same time. Everything looked so small from up there. The dirt was so fine and Mr. Whetstine, who was county commissioner at the time kept it graded to a fine powder. He, and some other farmers in the county had farmland and cattle to get to back there and had to keep it passable. The other citizens in the county that didn't have land or livestock in that area were less than pleased that their tax dollars was paying for the grading. He also pushed through the increase in taxes to build the cement bridge that replaced the old iron bridge that collapsed in the flood of 1984.There weren't any houses out that way except the house we lived in that he owned and the old two story house way up the hill across from us owned by Mr. Sparks. His family established the town, Sparks, that was named after them.
Eagle Springs was on one of the turns on the dirt road. The natural spring that fed that area sometime over flowed across the road, there was a natural spring fed pool on both sides of the road. On the south side of the road was a swimming pool that was filled with mud, a chimney that was all that was left of a huge hotel that used to stand in the 1950's.Male residents in the county would have their "lodge meetings" there. The story goes that some of the wives happened to stop by one evening and caught their husbands in an "unflattering" light, so to speak, and a fire was started. The hotel was burned to the ground and never rebuilt. It was said to be a grand hotel. The chimney bricks and the thin peeks of cement from the swimming pool was all that was left. The trees and weeds, cattails, frogs and snakes took over the spring and the area became a swamp.
One day Jenny and Chuck and I were riding bicycles along the road. We had gone passed Eagle Springs and up the hill and around the next bend. We turned around to head back home because the next hill was too steep for us to climb or push the bicycles. Jenny headed out first and then Chuck. Chuck always hated for anyone to get ahead of him so was hurrying to catch up and pass her. They headed around the bend toward Eagle Springs and I was at the rear. I suddenly heard a loud cry and knew Chuck had slid in the loose dirt just around the corner out of my site. I hurried to get to him and there he was, and there his bicycle was about ten feet north of him. “I slid on my face! I slid on my face!” He was crying and I looked him over. When I couldn't see anything wrong with him I started to laugh and Jenny came back and started to laugh too! Chuck though wasn't laughing and refused to ride his bike home. He pushed it all the rest of the way home.
Jay, the friend that Charles made at his new job in Wathena, had found a baby raccoon and was treating it like a pet. He had nursed it back to life when its mother had been killed. It was so cute and tame. They called her Bandit of course and gave her to us when it was old enough to eat on its own. Jenny loved that raccoon. We carried her on our shoulders and walked her on a leash like a dog. I’d carry her down to Wolfe river and sit under the bridge while she played in the water. She didn't seem to like the water much. Charles made a cage for her in a hollow of the biggest tree in the yard just south and west of the house. She was starting to get bigger and when she turned 7 months old she started to change. She came in heat and would growl and threaten us whenever we would get near the tree. That made us sad that we couldn't pet her or play with her anymore. One day we went out to feed her and give her water. Her cage had been broken and she was gone. We knew King would chase her off and there were always "coon" hunters with dogs yelping and barking all night while she was gone. We were so afraid the dogs would find her.
About six months later we noticed King's dog food had been tampered with and started to get suspicious but were not willing to hope. When we came home one night from one of the kid's programs there was Bandit on the front porch waiting at the door. Jenny ran over to her not heeding a single warning I gave and started petting her. Bandit jumped and played and made ratty noises, clicking and playing with toys. We laughed so hard! She was scratching Jenny's legs to shreds climbing up on her but Jenny said she didn't care it was so good to be able to see her and touch her one more time. We knew we had to let her out and that would be that. When we did she never came back again.

My First 56 Years

We had two dogs, Lucky and King. Lucky ran and played and stayed in the house just as his mother had before him. He would sit and beg and so cute, he too was one of the kids. Charles built a barn for the chickens and ducks we had acquired. We dug a hole and put black plastic tarp down so it would hold water. The hole was about three feet deep and three or four feet across. We had straw in boxes for the chickens to roost and a tall fence around the perimeter of the east side of the barn. When the small pool would get dirty we'd have to drain it and add more water. We had to do this often.
Two weeks after we moved Lucky was missing. We looked and looked and couldn't find him anywhere. I was worried about the cold weather, an ice storm had developed and the temperature had dropped to thirteen degrees. It was getting colder still.
We were selling rabbits and had made rabbit hutches on the south side of the tool shed just east of the garage at the end of the driveway. A family in Sparks, (a town so small if you blinked you'd miss it) the town of Sparks was at the junction of seven highway and thirty six highway), came by to buy some rabbits and we told them about our little poodle, Lucky. He said his neighbor had "acquired" a new little black poodle around the same time we lost ours. We got in the car and headed to Sparks.
We walked up to the little blue house the people told us about. I anxiously knocked on the door. They were sitting in the living room watching T.V.A little black poodle was sitting in the man's lap. I said, “Lucky?" He jumped out of his lap and ran into my arms! I told them I was worried about him being outside in the terrible cold weather and that I was glad he at least was inside where it was warm. He had never been outside for any long length of time before. They said that they saw him down by the new bridge and thought he was abandoned. They didn't ask us if he was our dog they just took him, knowing there was a little red house not more than an eighth of a mile away. We took Lucky home and he never got tired of licking my face the whole four miles it took to get home.
One night someone came by and dropped a mutt dog off with long hair, a Benji type dog. I didn't want to keep it but Chuck and Lucky like him. Lucky and the "rag dog" played constantly, running around the yard at top speeds, barking and jumping on one another, having a high old time.
The light meter was inside the yard and the light man had to drive into the driveway to get to the pole to read the meter. I was inside the house one day when I heard a horn honking outside. I went outside to se what was going on. The woman sitting on the passenger side of the car said, “I think we just ran over your dog!” I just laughed and said, “They play in the yard all the time." They seemed so sober so I looked in the driveway and there lay Lucky. I hollered at Lucky and he didn't move. I went over to pick him up. He was limp and I was still disbelieving my eyes, I kept saying "Lucky" What's wrong with you?” His neck just lolled and I finally came to the realization that my little dog would play no more. I was devastated. I rocked him and cried and laid him lovingly on the trailer in the back of the tool shed by the rabbit hutches. In when Charles came home I couldn't speak. I just cried and cried. Charles could hardly get out of the car without asking me over and over "What the Hell is the matter with you?" I drug him over to the trailer and he said, “What happened?” I tried to tell him but every breath I took was racked with sobs. I finally got my story out.
We filed papers with the court in Troy and explained to the judge that the dogs weren't in the road; they were in their own yard. The man representing the REA, Rural Electric Association's defense was, “We run over a lot of dogs".The judge sided with them.
We went back to the lady in St Joseph that bred Nicole in the first place, we told her we couldn't take the pain any longer and wondered if she had any toy poodles for sell. She said she had an older black poodle that was a tiny toy. She said she would sell her for twenty five dollars because she was ten years old. In our grief we bought her anyway.
Her name was Midnight. Her hair was more grey than black but she was house broken. She didn't do any tricks. I cared for her but she just wasn't Lucky. She wanted me to hold her all the time.
I decided I needed a job. I was so bored with staying home all the time doing housework. I had a regular routine and certain days I did certain things. The house was so clean you could eat off the carpet. Charles had had a fever of 104 degrees one day and couldn't go to work. The wind chill was forty below zero and I insisted he stay home. He was supposed to run a trencher that had no cab on it out in the open field. Frances Gordon the boss and Kansas senator was in Topeka and would not be back for a day or two. I called his wife, Virginia, and explained why Charles couldn't come to work. It was not for trying, Charles kept crawling out of bed and insisted he had to go or Mr. Gordon would fire him. Virginia just said if he couldn't go he couldn't go. When Charles felt like going back to work, about the same time Frances Gordon came home from Topeka, Mr. Gordon didn't understand why Charles didn't go to work under such conditions and Charles told him off and quit. He had been bullying him the whole time he had worked there and was fed up.
He found a job in Wathena Ks about twenty miles away. He was working at Truss Company there making trusses for houses and driving a big rig across a few states to deliver them. A man he was working with and became best friends with, Jay, told him that his wife worked at the nursing home in Highland. It was 1987, March. We had two vehicles then, a 1982 Mercury Lynx and a 1972 Chevelle that Mr. Gordon had given to us for a song to make sure Charles had transportation to get back and forth from work when we still lived south of Troy. Jenny was fourteen at that time and Chuck was eight years old. On Jenny's fourteenth birthday, February 12th, we cleaned out the garage and had a birthday party for her with punch and friends from their new school in Highland. She was starting to notice boys and liked a boy from Sparks. Charles taught her how to drive the Mercury; it was a stick and a small car. She got her permit but was only allowed to drive to and from school. She was allowed to stay after school for drill team practice and drive home when she was done.

My First 56 Years

When we went through San Bernardino we could smell the salt in the air and we knew we were getting close to the ocean. We had left I70 and were on I- 40 soon to be headed for I- 5 and on our way to San Diego. We wanted to go to the famous zoo there and to Sea World. As soon as we got to the KOA camp instead of going to sleep first as we should have, we went straight to the zoo. We were tired and cranky and didn't realize what an undertaking the zoo would be. We hadn't seen much of it considering the size and everyone was so tired. We took a million pictures, as we had all across the country, but when you're tired things just don't seem so great as you have imagined them. We wanted to go to the wild animal park but we knew we only had so much time and we were really starting to count the pennies. We had given the money we had pooled together to Bobby at the beginning of the trip and he controlled the major finances. We kept extra money we had left to eat and do the things we wanted to do. There was a boat that would take people out into the bay and we all agreed we wanted to do that. First we wanted to see Sea World. We slept that night and started for Sea World the next morning. It was wonderful! We saw everything we could and I had earrings made from oyster pearls we caught in a lagoon. We went inside an aquarium and saw lots of sharks from various sizes. We couldn't believe how big some of the sharks were. There were shows with Walruses, one was even named Clyde! We had tried to get our brother Clyde to come along on the journey but he wouldn’t. We thought how we would tease him about that walrus when we got home!
When it was time to go home I was sad and hated to leave California and the sea gulls that seemed to be everywhere. We had gone to the beach one day and spent all day there. We all got terrible sunburns and by the time we got to Flagstaff Arizona to see the Grand Canyon I started to peel. My face was coming apart, literally. I didn't want anyone to see me and did not want to go to the little store at the KOA campground in Arizona because of my face and the fact there were Indians camped nearby. I had never seen Indians except in westerns and was a little uneasy. They were dressed out in their "Indian finest" and looked like any Indian tribe you'd see on T.V. It was a gimmick I'm sure but still, with me looking like a lizard and everyone running off and leaving me at the store, getting lost and so forth it was no wonder I was ready to cry when I finally found my way back to the trailer. Bobby was bright red. He never tans. His skin is as white as snow, and always burns. I couldn't believe I was so sun burnt! I never got sun burnt this bad at home and I hardly ever peeled. The sun in California is brighter and hotter than at home. Without the humidity that we have at home we couldn't tell it was that hot. The ocean made it seem cool and it was only in the eighties. At home our July's are hot and humidity so thick one could slice it with a knife.
We took the southern route back home. After seeing the beauty of the Grand Canyon at sunset with the hues of pink and orange surrounded by steep crevasses we headed home through New Mexico, more Indians, then through Texas and back up through Colorado where we stopped in Colorado Springs to visit the Gorge with the bridge only big enough for very brave cars to traverse. We got out and decided to walk across; it seemed the safest thing to do, unless you have acrophobia like Mary Ann and me. I got as far as the middle and held on.that was not one of the finest pictures I'd ever taken I can assure you, with a little prodding and pulling Charles got me off the bridge and back to the trailer. We headed home in pained silence and headed back on I- 70, across Kansas and finally to Kansas City so Bobby could pick up his paycheck. He worked for the Burlington Railroad. I counted the money I had left. Mary and Bobby were starting to worry about the money we had spent but when everything was counted I had 20.00 left. They were broke! We had to loan them money for gasoline to make it the rest of the way home. When he got his check cashed he paid us back.
When we walked into their house trailer that night, Kathryn and Clyde were there to greet us. We laughed and told stories of the time we had. We couldn't wait to get all the pictures developed.
Moving to Highland was no easy feat. We had the truck loaded down and had no horse trailer to move the horses.
we weren't looking forward to loaded him anyway. We started moving in November while the weather was still good. I rode Stony while Jenny was to ride Silver. I got a ways ahead of her and couldn't understand what was taking her so long. I finally decided to go back and check and she was walking alongside Silver holding the reins and looking a little disgruntled. I asked her what the hold up was and why she was walking instead of riding and she said, “He started acting up and bucked me off!” He seemed to be limping slightly so we figured he had a stone in his foot. We lifted his foot and checked but couldn't see anything but that didn't mean he didn't have a stone bruise some where. We waited at a house where 36 hwy met the graveled road we had been traveling on. The man who lived there had a horse trailer and agreed to load the horses to our new house in Highland. We were looking forward to riding the distance but it was a long ways and I don't think we would have made it. It was about 15 miles away. Charles had come back to check on us and helped load the horses. While we were waiting for the bridge to be finished and we could move by way of the main highway we put up a hot wire around the north side of the driveway. There was a lot of grass there. With two horses though, it didn't take long before it was depleted and we had to search for more. The neighbors said we should let the horses run loose in the hills because that was what they did with the cattle. Unfortunately the cattle would not cross the bridge. The horses didn't either until they discovered they could. They started getting out on a daily basis and every evening when Charles got home we went up and down “7” highway looking for them. We’d catch them by the halter and I'd ride one and Charles would drive with one hand and pull the horse alongside with the other.
We told Whetstines about the problem and they said they had some property just south and to the east of our house that was supposed to be land that sits. Tall brome grass, ideal for horses, grew there. They said if a government man came snooping around we'd have to get them out of there. So we put up the hot wire and put in the horses.
When Nicole had had those puppies we had given one to Mary Ann, Pierre, and we kept one too. We called him Lucky to keep him safe. After Suzy killed Casey we gave her to someone from the paper after we had put in an ad.

My First 56 Years

their choice. The bedrooms were really small.Between the two outside bedrooms there was a large room. We were told this was a sewing room. The bathroom was off of that room. It was tiny but it had a bathtub and a shower.
The cockatiel I had traded the love birds for died when one day I had been practicing piano and Chuck was playing in the kitchen of the old house with Suzy, she was the Pekinese that we had gotten to replace Dusty when he again followed the ditch and was lost. After three weeks of searching and not seeing hide nor hair of him we gathered the worst. One day I heard this scratching on the door. When I checked it was Dusty! Dusty appeared to be fine and we were glad to see him.
Chuck and Suzy were playing in the kitchen. She always got excited when she was around the bird. Chuck asked her if she wanted to see the bird and took the bird out of the cage. Casey was the bird's name. Casey was very tame and would walk on your fingers, using them as a ladder. Casey was afraid of the dog and fluttered off Chuck's finger. Suzy jumped up and grabbed the bird. Every bone in Casey's body was broken. I came into the kitchen to see what all the fuss was about and found Casey on the floor by the washing machine. I was so mad and crying, I took the broken bird to the barn where Charles was working. I told him what Chuck did. I don't remember much about it I was so upset. Chuck tells me he got a whipping but I just blocked out everything.
We got another cockatiel and we place him in the sewing room. This bird just wasn't the same as Casey. He wasn't as tame and would fly all around the house. I couldn't catch him long enough to hold him still to clip his wings. He wasn’t Casey so I didn't put forth much effort to train him. One day a Jay bird was flying around outside and the new bird was screaming at the top of his lungs. He could see the jay outside flying by the window. I heard a crash, when I went to investigate; the jay had flown into the window, which was closed at the time, and the bathroom door which was open. Landing head first into the side of the toilet!
Dusty had developed some kind of disease and no matter what kind of loving care I gave him he died in the big barn. I never knew what was wrong I just thought I would encourage him to eat soft foods, force feeding him if I had to. He kept coughing and gagging. He acted like he had a sore throat. He spit up a lot of clear phlegm. Since it wasn't green I ruled out infection. I had been riding Stony and Silver always got upset when we'd take one of the horses out and leave the other behind. We think Silver stomped him and killed him but we don't know if he was already dead before that or not. He was out of the barn and in the lot with Silver when we found him.
We also got to go on vacation with Mary Ann and Bobby and their family. We planned a trip to San Diego in July of 1985 before the move to Highland in December. They had bought a fifth wheel trailer. It was very nice with all the amenities you would need. The kids, Chuck, Jenny, Connie and Kelly rode in the fifth wheel and Bobby, Mary Ann, Charles and I were scrunched up in the front seat of the pickup. The pickup was new but it only had a six cylinder motor. The fifth wheel was huge for the little truck to pull. We drove all the way across Kansas on I70 through the mountains of Denver Colorado. The scenery was so beautiful. We stopped at KOA campgrounds on the way. I picked up pretty rocks I found in every state.
In Utah we stopped because there was "hill" that had a path leading up from the road to the top. We talked Bobby into stopping so we could climb. Everyone got out and Charles and I started to climb, and climb, and climb. I have always been a little frightened of high places after I grew up. I didn't notice how high it was until I heard Mary Ann yell for me to look at her and smile! I turned around and there were these little ant people staring up at me with tiny cameras! I sat down and it was awhile before I could stand up again. Charles had already made it to the top and Jenny wasn't far behind. I forced myself to keep going because I knew I'd never get the chance again in my lifetime. When I got to the top it was just a thin line between the edge and about a thousand feet below to the ground. Charles was skimming the top carelessly without a care in the world! Now I had to figure out how to get back down. I slid some on my behind but the ground was rocky and sandy. I couldn't endure the pain of that exit, so I planted my feet and walked down.
It was a hundred and ten miles from Green River Utah's gas station to the next station the sign said so we had to fill up the truck there. The land was really pretty .The hills were made of rock and had a pinkish cast to them. All you could see for miles and miles was desert and rock formations.
I can't recall the name of the next town, 110 miles from Green River but we stopped there and got more gasoline. Going up and down the rocky mountains in Colorado was slow going and it took a lot of gasoline.I70 would take you up sometimes 10 miles before you could come back down again. Mary Ann made Bobby take it slow all the way sometimes not going more than 2 miles an hours. She thought of the worst, what if the trailer somehow became unhitched from the truck etc... It was a fifth wheel and it wasn't like it was connected to the truck with a ball and a hitch.
We traveled through Nevada and stopped at a KOA camp in Las Vegas. We unleashed the truck from the trailer and decided to go to the Hoover Dam just outside of Vegas. The road leading to the dam was narrow and steep. Mary Ann who is also afraid of heights couldn't take the experience much longer so we headed back to the camp. We drove through Las Vegas at night to see all the lights and Charles and I stopped at the little gift shops along the old strip. The new strip wasn't what it is today, I don't think they were finished building it yet. It was over 110 degrees Farenheight. There was air conditioning in the trailer, Thank God. The heat would drive you back as soon as you opened the door. We waited until evening to check out the campsite. There were swings and merry go rounds for the kids to play on. Connie and Kelly took turns to see who could make Chuck fly off the of the carousel type go around. Charles and I rented these go carts and drove them around the park. That was fun. There was a man with a guitar singing in the shade of a big tree by the concession stand. I thought surely he would be famous some day. Maybe he is; I don’t recall his name.

Family Reunion 1961

Family Reunion 1961
All 13 of Us Together

Terre

Terre
Denton Ks 1977

Chuck and Jenny 1983

Chuck and Jenny 1983

Jenny

Jenny
Graduation Day 1991

Our Wedding Picture 1993

Our Wedding Picture 1993
A New Beginning

Dakota 1995

Dakota 1995

Chief

Chief
1995

Chief and Beavis

Chief and Beavis
Playing when Chief was a Puppy

Bullet

Bullet
Darlene and Bullet