Friends Remembered from Long Ago

March 15, 2011

For the first nine years of my life I lived in Springfield, Missouri.  It just seemed normal at the time but I now realize it was a very idyllic life.  And the friends I made at Boyd School (which was still an elementary school looking very much the same as I remembered it when we saw it a few years ago) were ones I still remember well.  Why is it that I remember those faces and those names almost better than many that I have met during my adult life?

My friend Dana and I were Blue Birds.  She lived just down the block from the school, and her mother was our kindergarten teacher.  This was taken in about second grade, so I guess she and her mama didn’t hold a little misunderstanding on the first day we all met against me.

On our first day of kindergarten, when Mrs. D took us out to the playground for recess, I didn’t understand why we were putting on our jackets and going outside, i.e., the concept of a recess being a play break in the middle of school.  So, I thought it must be time to go home, meaning once we got to the playground, I just kept on walking and went home. (It was only a few blocks so I knew the way and it only took a few minutes.)

Mama was at home probably patting herself on the back that she had finally sent her last child to school.  She had proudly walked me there just a couple hours earlier so she was, of course, shocked to see me knocking at the door mid-morning (Hey, I was a little kid — I couldn’t open that big door by myself!).  And I, in turn, was shocked to see her shock and learn that I hadn’t, as I thought, already completed my first full half-day of kindergarten.  So Mama marched me back to school where recess was still going on and Mrs. D hadn’t had time to miss me.  I don’t remember hearing any conversation between her and Mrs. D, but Mama may have warned her that I was a slippery little devil and Mrs. D should keep a close eye on me, lest she “lose” me again.  That was one of my first school lessons learned — don’t go home until Mrs. D specifically says it’s time to go home.  This wasn’t a big deal back in those simpler times, but I’m sure Mrs. D was embarrassed that I had gotten away.

Some of the Blue Birds on a trip to the zoo.  I know it was on a Saturday because we would never have worn pants to school.  Blue Birds were to Camp Fire Girls what Brownies are to Girl Scouts.  There were two sets of twins in our group — Jan and Joan in the second row on the left, and Claudia and Clarissa who are the two in the middle in the front row.  I was always fascinated by twins.  I think partially because I didn’t have any siblings in my own age group, so having one exactly the same age seemed like it would be an instant, constant playmate!

We went to school together, had birthday parties together (This is some of the girls celebrating my 9th birthday) and many of us were Blue Birds together.

There is only one girl in this picture whose name I don’t remember — she’s second from the right.  It’s funny that I don’t remember anything about her, so I wonder if she was new to the class.  The others I remember first and last names — Betty H. (she wore hats most of the time and at the beginning of our first day of kindergarten she climbed under her desk and wouldn’t come out.  Obviously, that made a big impression on me since I still remember it happening all these years later), Paula S., me, I’m-sure-nice-girl-but-I-don’t-remember-her and Dana D.

Maybe I remember classmates so well because they were my first friends.  Friends are a blessing from God.  And the first of anything good is well worth remembering.

Our days as “old ladies with box cutters”

December 18, 2010

My dear friend Linda at To Behold the Beauty just wrote a post about something that happened while we were working at the Jail. That post got me to thinking about that interesting job and the subject of box cutters quite naturally came to mind.  Box cutters were an integral part of that job.

Terry and Mike were the two guys who delivered the majority of the products we sold to the prisoners.  When they would make a delivery (several times a week), they would bring in cart after cart of products, with the carts piled so high that they couldn’t see over them; they had to look around the boxes to see where they were going.

Terry and Mike would open some of the boxes for us while they were there, but there were lots more that we needed to open as-needed.  So, we all had a box cutter.  Those of us who audited (the usual three were Marie, Linda and me) would keep ours in our desk drawer and just get it out whenever we needed to help re-stock.

But the fillers (there were usually four of them, mostly women about our age too) were constantly needing to restock in between filling, so they would each have their box cutter either laying on the table at their “station” where they stood to put together their orders or in a pocket.  And, as you can imagine, everyone was very vigilant in regard to keeping track of their box cutter — not only because they were constantly needing to use it, but also because it would be a serious mistake if one happened to inadvertently get put in a sack with a prisoner’s order, and then sent to him!

But there were just a couple of times when someone’s box cutter did disappear.  And as soon as it was noticed that it was missing, EVERYTHING STOPPED.  That became the most important mission — FIND THE BOX CUTTER.  Was it in the person’s pocket?  Had it been laid on a shelf when two hands were needed to arrange some boxes?  But, most importantly, could it have been put into a sack along with a prisoner’s order?  THAT was our upmost worry.  So as soon as the search had started, some of us would start dismantling the bags, one by one, beginning with the last bin of orders that had been filled and working back.

After each bag was filled with an order, the top of the bag was folded over and the order slip was stapled to the top of the bag.  So to check an order you had to take out the staples and then dump out the order on the table to make sure the box cutter wasn’t in the bag.   Then you had to reassemble it.  Very labor intensive, but necessary.  Luckily, both times this happened, the box cutter was located shortly and somewhere other than in a prisoner’s order, but it reminded all of us how easily it could happen if we weren’t always vigilant.  A valuable reminder.

I guess it’s no surprise that there were occasional accidents with the box cutters too.  In order to open boxes cleanly and quickly, the blades in the box cutters were replaced regularly, so they were always very sharp.  And the fillers were always working very quickly.  So, another occurrence that would make everyone freeze in their tracks was if someone said, “Ouch!”.  Sometimes “ouch” meant a paper cut from an order form or even from the edge of a cardboard box, but a couple time in the four years I worked there, it meant that someone had sliced their hand with their box cutter.  In those cases, the “injuree” was send to the nearest Redi-Med for treatment.  As I remember, there were no stitches required in either case — just a good cleansing and a butterfly bandage.  But there was another “ouch” involved for me when this happened — all the paperwork I had to fill out because it had to be reported as a “work place injury”.  So, I had an additional reason to encourage everyone to be very careful with their box cutters.

When I was a young woman just starting out my working career, if you had told me that my last and most interesting job would involve having steel doors clanging shut around me regularly, having interesting dealings with inmates in orange jumpsuits and using a box cutter regularly in my job,  I would have thought you were crazy!

Soon I’ll tell you the story of why taking Linda with me to work at the jail was the most valuable contribution I made as Matron.

Thank you, Neighbors!

October 13, 2010

After we left town last week, I realized I had forgotten to leave a note for our mail person to hold our mail.

So, I did what anyone who has great neighbors would do — I called and left a message for our very own wonderful neighbors, Belinda and Mike.  I asked them to put a note in their mail box telling the carrier what days we would be out of town.

Of course they did just as I requested — so when we got back, a bundle of mail, with their note on top, was waiting in our box.

You should all be so lucky to have such great neighbors.  Our house may have an assessed value, but neighbors like these are priceless.

Thank you Belinda and Mike, for not only this but all the newspapers you have put up by the door when the carriers haven’t gotten the message, and the many other ways you add to our lives.

The Final Ride-Along

September 16, 2010

When Hubby was a young cop, all new officers began in the jail.  The next step in their career would be to become a road patrolman.  So, the new officers worked in the jail as confinement officers until a spot opened up on “the road”.  But until that happened, they could get some on-the-job training by riding along with a road patrolman.  Not only did it look good to their superiors that they were doing this on their own time, but it was also a chance for them to get a taste of being a “real” cop — at least what many of them pictured a “real” cop doing.  Hubby did some of that when he was new, and he has always said that he really learned alot from just actually watching an experienced cop do his job.

Hubby was a road patrolman for many years and he was the lieutenant in charge of the third shift road patrol for 15 years.  He enjoyed the work and had quickly developed a reputation for being very good at it so he was popular with ride-alongs.

But among all the ride-alongs Hubby had over the years, his most memorable and fun one was one of his first … Joe.

Joe was an eager young cop with puppy dog eyes and a self-deprecating sense of humor.  When he started riding with Hubby, Hubby had only been on the road himself a year or two, so it was fun for him to have a “rookie” ride along and watch him do his job.  Although at first Hubby wasn’t exactly sure how to take this young, eager, funny rookie who made no bones about the fact that he idolized Hubby!  But once Hubby got to know Joe, and his humor, they got along great.  In fact, we started getting together socially with Joe and his wife, Sue.  (Sometime I’ll have to tell you a funny story about Sue and I eating cheesecake.)

After about a year working in the jail, Joe came out on the road too, and did a good job.  But one of the things young cops find out, especially on a large county department, is how many other jobs there are in police work besides the road patrol.  I don’t remember all the divisions Joe worked in, but I think I remember him working in Warrants for a while and he ended up as a detective.

Over the years, Joe and Hubby didn’t see each other regularly, but they always enjoyed any time they did get to spend together and they always had that bond from when they were young cops and Joe looked up to the “veteran” cop, Hubby.

The last time I remember seeing Joe was at their daughter’s wedding reception.  It had been quite a while since we had seen Joe and Sue so it was great to have a chance to do some catching up.  Joe had, of course, gotten older but that great sense of humor was still there and I could still see that young, enthusiastic cop in his eyes.

Not too long after that we heard that Joe had cancer, and we were shocked when we heard not too long after that that he had died.

Funerals are never easy, but are especially hard when you’ve known the person a long time.  And apparently being at Joe’s funeral made Hubby vividly recall all those nights that Joe was his ride-along many years ago when they were both just “kids”.  Because after the funeral when the cars were lining up to go to the cemetery, I saw Hubby talking to the funeral director.  And then he came over to me and asked me if I could drive myself to the cemetery and told me why.

The funeral director had agreed to let Hubby drive the hearse to the cemetery — Joe’s last ride-along.

This was years ago, but even so it brought tears to my eye when I typed that previous sentence.  I was so surprised when Hubby did this because he’s not one to make a “grand gesture”.  But he told me later it just felt right to do that one last thing for Joe and he thought Joe would like the idea too of him taking him for one last ride.  I agree.

The How-we-met Story That Got Away

September 11, 2010

Please don’t forget to go back a few posts and leave a comment about how you met.  A winner will be announced October 1.

By the way, my dear friend, Linda has started writing a blog.  That is wonderful news, because Linda is a faith-filled, funny lady who was just born to blog.  So be sure to visit her new blog, To Behold The Beauty, and welcome her to this new adventure.

And Linda and Doug happen to have a great story of their own about how they met.  You can read it here.

Welcome to blogging, Linda.  You’re perfect for it.  I look forward to re-reading all the funny things you have said to me over the years, but that I have since forgotten.  That’s the nice thing about having “old folks” for readers — everything looks new to us!

A tasty win!

July 28, 2010

Recently I won a prize at C. Beth Blog because she was celebrating her second “blog-iversary”.  After I won, Beth and I discussed what my edible prize should be.  She makes some fantastic seasoned nuts, so that is the prize I chose.

And last week my prize arrived — her wonderful Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts!

This is only a small portion of the nuts Beth actually sent because the package was here when I arrived home hot and hungry from a hot, humid round of golf,  so I immediately sat down and enjoyed some (alot!) of these with a glass of ice tea.  Delicious.  Thank you, Beth!

Here is Beth’s recipe for these nuts (which she adapted from someone else’s recipe so that they can be made in the crock pot).   Beth also makes three other variations of seasoned nuts which you can view here.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts (in the crock pot)


4 cups raw nuts
1/4 cup honey
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
cooking spray

Spray CrockPot with cooking spray. Put nuts, honey, and cayenne pepper in CrockPot, and stir to coat nuts well. Turn CrockPot on high, and cover. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring every 10 minutes. (Set a timer!) Nuts are done when they are
almost crunchy enough–but they will cook further after removing them from the CrockPot, so don’t overcook. Before removing from CrockPot, add sugar and kosher salt, and toss so that all the spices stick to the nuts. Immediately put nuts on wax paper to cool.

It’s so sweet to win!  And sometimes just slightly fattening.

A walk in the park

June 7, 2010

The Literary Lappers (members of our book club)

Saturday was the Fundraising Walk for the Cancer Services of NE Indiana that I told you about here.  Thank you so much to those of you who supported me with your contributions.  I accomplished my goal of $100 with your help.

Ever the optimist, I started out with my sun visor on.  But it was an overcast day (really, perfect for walking!) so I carried it most of the time.

When I was getting dressed that morning, at the last minute I remembered there was a place on the back of the t-shirt where I was supposed to write the name of a loved one who is fighting cancer.  So I quickly wrote our little great nephew’s name, Cooper.  Too late I remembered that they call him “Super Cooper” because he is such a brave, happy little almost three year old, even with all he has been through.  So I added the “super” part.  That is my explanation for why this is so wayyyyy off center.  I wrote the “super” second, and actually from right to left.  Oh well, I “got’er done” and it felt good to get to visibly support “Super Cooper”.

It was a great day.  They raised alot of money and there were inspiring success stories in abundance.

I can’t imagine a more rewarding way to spend a Saturday morning.