Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 15-17, Emily and I drove to St. Louis, MO and went to the Joyce Meyer Love Life Women's Conference, along with 21,998 of our closest friends. We had worship times led by Israel Houghton and Cece Wynans; heard Joyce speak during most of the sessions and heard John and Stasi Eldredge. Can't begin to describe how refreshing it was. Hope to be able to go again sometime.
And since it was only a few blocks away from our hotel, we also went up in the Arch.
So here are some pics:

The Edward Jones Dome, where we attended the conference.

A view of the Dome from the Arch:

And - oh yeah - also where the Rams play football.

From the Arch: Home field of the St. Louis Cardinals:

From the Arch; The Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott Decision was handed down:

Here is the Arch and some downtown buildings. The green dome on the right is the Old Courthouse.

One of the highlights of the trip for Em was spending Fri afternoon at Macy's with a 20% off coupon, compliments of Joyce.

Some sort of a weird double exposure thing that happened in the camera. I kinda like it, tho. Gotta love those 35 mm's.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Part 3
Visitors to 725 Custer Avenue

Just a little addendum to Part 2.
One thing I remember about living at 725 Custer Avenue is the people who “Just happened to be in town, so thought we’d stop by and say hello.” Mom & Dad always welcomed them with coffee and what ever else they could cobble together in a hurry.
Uncle Franty and Aunt Bernice: Uncle Franty was Francis Gatewood. I was as tall as him when I reached the age of 12 – one of my cousins once referred to him as a “tough old Banty Rooster.” In the 1920s, he was a boxer and hosted a “stable” at his home in rural Decatur, a place that trained young boxers and then sent them into Omaha to compete. He was a veteran of the Flying Tigers of WW II. Too short to be a pilot, he became a mechanic and kept those guys in the air. He once told me that he picked up a rock at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, put it in his pocket and it went around the world with him. Sure wish I knew where that rock was now. He literally (I assume) sailed the seven seas. He said being on a ship in the ocean was like being at the bottom of a bowl of water – you had to look up to see the horizon all the way around. He also worked for his dad as a thoroughbred race horse trainer.

Uncle Franty (and this makes me a card carrying Redneck) married his Aunt some time in the late 40s or early 50s. The story is that Bernice (we always pronounced her name so it rhymed with furnace) married my grandpa’s brother, Harry. This was her second marriage. They had two daughters and divorced, for reasons unknown to me. Bernice’s oldest daughter, Mary, wanted to learn how to ride horses, so she was sent out to the Gatewood farmstead to take riding lessons on certain weekends with her dad, my Great Uncle Harry. He would take her back to Omaha on Sunday afternoons. On one Sunday, Uncle Harry was not able to get her back to the city, so Uncle Franty was asked to fill in as Mary’s chauffer. Following this, Franty and Bernice began dating and later married. They never had any children of their own, But Uncle Franty raised Mary and her sister Wanda as his own. Uncle Harry, tragically, died of cancer when the girls were pretty young.

Ray & Tamsey: For most of my first 13 or so years, I thought Ray and Tamsey were my Aunt and Uncle. It turns out that Ray was my dad’s cousin, and not my uncle, although Dad once told me it was okay to call them Uncle Ray and Aunt Tamsey. When I knew them, they lived in Iowa, in a small town south of Sioux City. I have no idea where they might have been going when they dropped in to see us, but they usually stayed long enough for coffee, sandwiches and cookies in the mid-afternoon. Being “just a kid”, I usually said hello and then headed out to play with my friends. I must have overheard something during one of their visits, because I remember that for a long time, during my night time prayers (after “Godblessmommyanddaddymyrnasuzie, etc …andeveryoneondowntothegoldfish…) I added “Please bless my cousin Nancy and her husband and their children in Morrocco and please help them get back to America safely.” As hard as a try, I can’t recall what was going on in the lives of Nancy and M’Barak during that time. But, my prayers were answered because they eventually got back to Nebraska and raised their family here. It’s interesting to me that I can’t remember what was worrying me, but I do remember the prayer. I wonder how many of my prayers were answered that I don’t even remember praying?

A weekly visitor to 725 Custer Ave for a time via television was my dad’s cousin (Ray’s brother) Joe. He appeared regularly on ‘Bowling For Dollars’ on a Sioux City station. Bowling For Dollars was aired on Sunday morning, so Mom and I only caught the last 15 minutes of the broadcast when we got home from Sunday School and church at the Lyons Methodist Church. But Dad, (a lapsed Catholic) could always fill us in on how Joe was doing. One day we came home in time to see Joe being awarded a brand new Ford Mustang convertible for winning the bowling tournament.

Back in 1995, Ray and Joe visited me at my home at RR 2, Herman. I was collaborating with my friend Beverly Lydick on our book A Time To Speak: Personal Memories of WWII. Joe was visiting from Florida and took the time to grant me an interview regarding his experiences as a pilot. He had been shot down and spent time as a POW at Stalag 7, Musberg. Joe talked into my tape recorder, pretty much nonstop for about an hour and a half while I scribbled notes. When we were done, I turned to Ray and said, “How many times have you heard this story?”
“Never.” He replied, “This is the first time.”

(Special note: Musberg (and Cousin Joe) were liberated by the unit my Father-in-law, Jack Carson, was in. Lots more stories about his experiences some other time…)

Another visitor my mom always welcomed with her usual “Come in! Come in! Come in!” chant was our Aunt Babe. Aunt Babe was the widow of Mom’s late brother, Milton, who died of cancer before I was born. Once, when Mom and I were browsing through some old photo albums, I commented on some 1920s pictures of Aunt Babe, “Wow, She really looks like a Flapper.”
And Mom said, “Yes. That’s exactly what she was.”
Babe remarried at some point, and she and her new husband, Bob, dropped in occasionally. She and Mom’s relationship was maintained mostly through Christmas letters, birthday cards and any other Hallmark occasion, always signed, “Babe and Bob.”
Mom once confided in me that there was no love lost between Babe and my Grandma Anderson (Babe’s mother-in-law.) And that, even as Milton was on his death bed in the hospital, Babe refused to speak to Grandma. She would brush past Grandma, giving her the cold shoulder and share a cigarette with Uncle Milton. (Can you imagine? Smoking in a hospital room?!?!)

Tom & Marybelle: Tom & Marybelle were high school sweethearts who got married and raised a family of seven sons. They classmates of Mom’s (Class of ’36) and Tom happened to be a cousin of my dad’s. Dad and Tom used to go riding on a motorcycle together to try and beat the Nebraska heat. Tom & Marybelle were responsible for getting my parents together back in 1940 or so and the two couples were lifetime friends. Mom, Marybelle, and two other friends, Norita and Evelyn, were famous in our family for the strange photos they posed for. I wish I could find them and post them for you, but if I stop now and go looking for them, it will derail my train of thought… There is a series of old black & whites of the four of them perched on something. Anyway, the one I remember best is Mom in her bathing suit – sitting on a snow drift – I think Evelyn took it. The last one I remember was taken in the early 1970s in Marybelle’s back yard when the four of them were in their late fifties – so they climbed on it and took up various perches on a swing set and laughed and giggled while the picture was taken. Tom & Marybelle didn’t stop “dropping by” after Dad passed away. They picked up Mom and took her for an evening out to dinner and maybe dancing at the old Peony Park ballroom in Omaha. I hope they knew how much it eased her loneliness during the years of her widowhood.

Delaine: I always looked forward to summer visits from our cousins (Mom’s niece and her family of three) from Colorado. Delaine and her husband, Kem, had three kids: Sue, Gary and Ann. Sue and Shirl were close in age and Gary and I were the same age, and Ann was 3-4 years younger then me, but I adored her. She took gymnastics back in Denver and I was constantly asking her to do her tricks, like walkovers, handstands, flips, and backbends. She was so supple. I once tried to do a walkover and, of course, I couldn’t get my back properly arched so I landed flat on it and got the breath knocked out of me.
One evening, Kem & Delaine and Mom& Dad went out for the evening and left Shirley and Susan in charge of us “little” kids. I don’t remember what Gary and Ann and I were doing that got us into trouble. I would guess we were supposed to be lying down and going to sleep (the three of us slept together on the living room floor) and we were finding things to giggle and laugh about instead. After numerous attempts by both Shirl and Susan to get us to settle down, Susan finally said, “That’s it, I’m calling the police.” I watched in horror as she picked up the phone and dialed a number. Then I heard her say, “Yeah, this is Susan B______, I’m staying in town for a few days with my relatives and we’ve got some kids here who won’t behave.” She paused and listened for several minutes, tossing in a few “Uh-huh”s and “Yes, sir”s and then, “Yes, I will. I’ll tell them.” When she hung up the phone, I looked over at Ann and she was flopped down flat on her back with her arms crossed, rolling her eyes and she said, “Oh, ha ha ha, very funny. I know you didn’t really call the cops.” I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved in my life! I think we did settle down a little after that.

Every once in a while a strange car would pull up to the curb outside and an unknown man in a suit and tie would check himself in his rear view mirror, run a comb through his hair, get out, straighten his jacket and stroll up to the front door. This was one time Mom didn’t run to the door with her welcoming “Come in! Come in! Come in!” Sometimes she waited until his second knock. She‘d walk to the screen door, not open it and the stranger would flash a charming smile and say, “Good afternoon! I’m so-and-so with the Fuller Brush Company and would like to demonstrate some of our new products for you?” Mom’s answer was always the same, “No, I don’t need anything today.” And sometimes she’d close the inside door before walking away. I don’t remember any time anyone was allowed in to demo his product.

I know there are countless visitors to 725 Custer Ave that I’ve left out – like Shirley’s friends and my friends. Those are memories for some other time.

So… back to 1973 or so next time.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Part three of The Houses That Built Me will appear in a few days. This post is for Katie - and anyone else who wants to drop a bad habit.

Katie’s Manifesto

I, Katie P., devoted wife of Ross and loving mother of Riley and Reece, do hereby declare, ordain and establish that I will become a non-smoker.

I will begin by…. Procrastinating… I will achieve this goal in 40 days.

Day 1: I will light my first cigarette of the day ten minutes later than I did yesterday.
Instead of smoking at 0:00 AM, I will drink one 8 oz. glass of water and wait ten minutes.

Day 2: I will light my first cigarette ten minutes later than I did yesterday, drinking one 8 oz. glass of water instead of smoking.

Day 3: Same as days 1 and 2. I will keep in mind that the water is helping to flush the nicotine out of my system, thereby reducing my craving for it.

Day 4 through 20: same as days 1 and 2. Additionally, I will consume one less caffeinated drink per day, because caffeine aggravates craving for nicotine. I will replace it with cool, clear, cleansing water.

I will diligently seek to eliminate the following idea from my mind: “Just this one won’t hurt. I can get back on track tomorrow.”

I understand that irritability is a withdrawal symptom. Nicotine is a parasite and emotional irritation is its way of fighting to hold on to its place in my body. I will ignore these feelings and remain steadfast to my personal choice to become a non-smoker. I understand that, during these times of irritation, lighting a cigarette will not make a bad situation better.

Day 21: I will skip my last cigarette of the evening. I will avoid alcohol during the next 20 days, understanding that it also has a tendency to aggravate cravings for cigarettes and weaken my resolve to become a non-smoker.

During the next 19 days, I will keep in mind that dropping a bad habit is a lot like breaking up with a bad boyfriend: I am going to miss it for awhile.

I will remind myself that I have successfully quit smoking before; I know I can do it. I will begin taking a daily walk of at least 20 minutes, 4 times a week. I will notice how much easier it is to take deeper breaths and how I no longer become out of breath when I run up the stairs to the time clock.

Day 22: I will skip the cigarettes I usually smoke right after meals, waiting at least 20 minutes from the time I usually light up after eating.

Day 23: I will skip the cigarettes I usually smoke right after a meal, waiting at least 30 minutes.

Day 24: Same as 22-23, adding a 40 minute wait. More water will continue to cleanse my body of the influence of the parasite.

Day 25 - 30: I will continue to add 10 minutes to the time I usually light up after meals.

Day 30: I will not light up during my work breaks. I will look back over the past 30 days and build on my success in kicking cigarettes out of my life.

I will notice that I sleep more peacefully and cough a lot less when I first lie down at might. My walks will become longer and will eventually give way to running.

Days 30-39: I will continue to eliminate one cigarette per day until I am down to 1. I will memorize the following Bible verses so that when I feel irritated and/or am about to give up I will set my mind to CHEER UP (John 16:33) and CALM DOWN (John 14:27).

Day 40: I am now a non-smoker!!


I further strengthen my resolve to remain a nonsmoker by never, ever thinking “Just one won’t hurt…”

I am Katie.

I am strong.

I. Will. Do. it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

PLaces I've lived: The Houses that Built Me
Part two

I think we lived in that little house behind the feed store a year or so until we bought a house at 725 Custer Avenue. It was an aqua blue, two bedroom, house with a bar in the basement (which Mom used to store her canned goods), and a finished room suitable to be a bedroom and a laundry area. The spacious back yard had a nice, built in brick barbecue and a cement kiddie pool that was about two feet deep, five feet long and three feet wide. Mom had room for a vegetable garden here and planted some fruit trees. I remember going to school one morning from the little house by the feed store and my sister, Sue picking me up at the end of the school day to take me to the new house. This house was right across the street from a railroad track and when the trains rolled by, thundering and whistling, the windows rattled! Bob graduated from High School and was drafted into the army while we were living here and both he and Sue got married while we were living there. Grandpa and Grandma Gatewood lived with us occasionally in that house. I remember Shirley having slumber parties here and I had a Halloween party there one year, with a haunted house in the basement. Shirley and I both babysat the four neighbor kids pretty often and had other babysitting jobs around town. She had a paper route for awhile that I helped with once in a while.
I had the chicken pox while we were living here.

Sue was pretty much on her own by then, but came to visit on weekends. I remember her boyfriend, Jerry, coming to pick her up one Sunday afternoon to take her back to where ever it was she lived then. He carried her suitcase for her and opened the car door and called our parents Mrs. Gatewood and Mr. Gatewood. I think they liked him a lot and were glad to see them get married. I also remember once riding in the car with Sue & Jerry, back when the headlight dimmer switch was on the floor, but I didn’t know that, yet. So I asked Jerry (who looked a lot like James Dean) “How does the car know to dim it’s lights when we meet another car?” He and Sue cracked up laughing and then he said, “It’s magic.” And then he proceeded to hit the dimmer switch about a dozen times so the lights were blinking and he and Sue kept laughing….

While we lived at 725 Custer Ave, our family grew with nieces and nephews. Actually, nieces and nephews started coming in 1958 and 1961, but they lived way a long ways away, so I didn’t get to know them very well until later on. We drove to Mississippi for a visit one Christmas and I think Denise and I managed to get into plenty of trouble together while we were there. One thing I recall about that visit was that their neighbors had a rooster and it seemed like it crowed all through the night.

Chantelle (1963) was the first local one to make an appearance and I remember her being a cute little blonde thing, full of energy and whenever they came for a visit, “Aunt Janell, can we go out and play?” I remember once we were all going somewhere with Mick and he let her ‘drive’ – she’d sit in his lap in the driver’s seat and he’d let her steer, which she did with wild abandon. We were going down the street past the fairgrounds in Oakland swerving crazily from one side of the road to the other, until Mom yelled, “MICK!!” and he took over and assisted with the steering, making the ride considerably less exciting. Chantelle’s sister, Tina came in 1967 and their family was living in Lincoln at that time. I remember going to see her for the first time. She was s-o-o-o-o TINY I thought TINA was the perfect name for her. We didn’t stay very long, as I recall, because her mom was exhausted. When Chantelle & Tina’s parents divorced, I (sadly) lost touch with them until recently, although Mom and I went to Lincoln to Tina’s wedding and both girls visited Mom as often as they could. She adored those girls, as she did all of her grandchildren. She said Tina and her husband were doing very well because they were a couple of DINKS – Double Income No Kids for a long time.

Cindy joined us in 1965 and her sister, Tammie in 1967. Both were born while their family was living in Oakland and their mom, Sue would come to Lyons to bowl once a week, so we got to watch the girls. I remember watching Dad tickling Cindy and saying, “Gitchy gitchy goo!” and she’d giggle like crazy. After Cindy started walking, she had to wear a brace on her feet for awhile to correct her from being pigeon toed. It was a flat bar attached to her shoes that held her feet pointed straight out. So she had to go back to crawling and she’d pull herself around on our living room floor, dragging that brace behind her from side to side. It must have worked, because I don’t think she’s pigeon toed now. I wonder if they still treat it that way? Cindy and Tammie both called me Aunt Nell, because Janell was too much of a mouthful.

Deb, Bob’s firstborn, came in 1966. She was born while he was in the Army, stationed in Germany, so he didn’t get to see her until she was a toddler, and he finally got to come home with his discharge papers. Deb was a rough and tumble little girl and a biter. I remember once they were visiting us and Deb tackled me by the ankles, knocking me belly down to the floor and crawled up and was biting me on the back. Bob and his wife thought it was hilarious. I didn’t really see the humor in it, myself.

The next one whose birth I remember clearly is Paulette (1968). I happened to answer the phone when her dad called to give us the news and as soon as I heard his voice, (recognizable by his thick southern accent) I shouted into the phone, “Did Myrna have her baby?” He answered, “She shore di-ud.” And then I think Mom demanded I had the phone over to her so she could get the details first hand. I don’t remember seeing Paulette until 1969, when Dad died and she and Myrna came up from MS for several days. I remember her being a beautiful, delicate little thing.

We all lost a little baby girl named Carol Ann who lived only 6 days in January of 1969. Going to her funeral was one of the saddest things I’ve ever had to do and the only time I ever saw my dad cry. She was Deb’s little sister.

Meanwhile, Mick was starting a second family with Shannon being born in 1971. So my parents had eight granddaughters and only one grandson. We went to Shannon’s Christening in Lincoln and she had the longest, dark hair I’d ever seen on a baby. She was really a precious, beautiful thing.

We finally got some more boys in the family when Deb’s brother, Brad was born in 1972. We got another boy when Sean was born in 1973. I think their family was living in another state when Sean was born.

Cindy and Tammie welcomed a brother, Joe, in 1972 who was born on what would have been Dad’s 60th birthday.

Dad died in 1969 while Shirley and I were both still at home. At some point after Shirl graduated in 1970, Mom sold the blue house and she and I moved into a trailor home.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Places I’ve lived
Miranda Lambert's song The House That Built Me inspired me to record my memories of the places I've lived.

Here is Part One

When I was born in 1955, my family lived on a farm on Highway 51 a few miles east of Decatur, Nebraska. The house is right next door to the A T & T tower. I’m not sure when the tower was built, but I don’t think it was there when our family lived there. My siblings went to school at a nearby country school house called Edgington. If my sisters check in on this post, maybe they can tell more about that place. Did Shirley go to Kindergarten at Edgington? My dad’s sister and her family lived on a farm nearby and my sisters tell stories of our cousins, Paul D. and Jim coming over to play, hiding buried treasure in the woods. My brother told me about horseback riding with them and how Dad never used a stirrup to mount his horse – he’d grab the saddle horn and swing himself up and over to get on.

When I was two years old, we moved to a farm 2-3 miles north of Lyons, Nebraska. I don’t remember this, but Mom once told me that I cried and begged to “go home” the first night we stayed at our new home. I’m trying to imagine what a monstrous job it must have been to move this family in 1957 or so. There were six of us kids by then, ranging in age from two (me) to the eldest at 16. And now I’m wondering about all the farm machinery and livestock that must have been involved in addition to the household goods and possessions? OK, Sue? Myrna? Shirley? Got any details to add?

I have a few memories of living at this place in the Jefferson neighborhood – it is now occupied by Dwight Long. We bought it from Mom’s parents. I remember once I was with Mom in the chicken house and a small airplane buzzed over us. The roar of it scared me silly and I remember running into the chicken house and grabbing hold of Mom. It may have been our cousin Joe Gatewood, who did some flying for an insurance company and happened to be in the neighborhood, so he buzzed us. He became a pilot in the military and before he shipped out to Germany in 1944 or so, he flew up and buzzed Decatur. I also remember that we had a mean rooster for a time and I wasn’t allowed to go outside of our fenced in yard by myself. I was very ill the winter that I turned 4 with whooping cough. We went to see Dr. Tibbles so often that year and I had a navy blue sweater that I called my “doctor sweater” because I wore it every time we went to see him.

We didn’t have any horses when we lived on this place. I remember a dog named Lassie, who must have gotten exposed to rabies because we had to keep her tied up for a certain amount of time, after which she must have come down with the disease and had to be shot. I remember Bob bringing her into the yard so I could pet her a few times during her confinement. We also had a black and white sheepdog type of mutt we called Sport. I wonder where we got our dogs? Probably from a neighbor? Dad milked cows and farmed on this place. I think we also had some pigs. Mom had chickens, both laying hens and meat birds. Mom also took a job at Campbell Soup in Fremont while we were living here. I was sent to a babysitter in town, Mrs. Davis. I would ride in with my sibs and they dropped me off on their way to school. They must have picked me up to take me home, as well, though I remember Mom picking me up some times. One morning, I told my brother I was supposed to go to Grandma Anderson’s instead of the babysitter’s. I must have been a pretty good liar, because he believed me and left me there. Mom wasn’t too happy about that. Grandma was too old and frail to be a fill in babysitter for a (naughty) 4 year old. We were still living on the place north of Lyons when I started school a mile or so away at Jefferson. I learned to read using the Dick & Jane readers. The first word I learned was “Look.” And the page featured a picture of Sally putting on Dick’s galoshes, which were w-a-a-ay too big for her. Why do you suppose I remember that?

In the middle of my second grade year, (1962) we moved to a little house in the town of Lyons, right behind a feed and seed store. I think Dad went to work at the local creamery then. By that time, I think there may have only been three or four of us kids still at home. My brother, Bob and my sister, Shirl and me. Brother Mick got married and started his family around this time, which included a puppy named Chiefery. Sue had graduated high school and was off to the Lincoln School of Commerce. Myrna was an air force wife living in Colorado and then Mississippi and Hawaii, but those are her stories.

Being in town meant I could walk everywhere: to school every morning; to the swimming pool in the summers and to children’s choir practice at the Methodist church once a week. I don’t remember the address of this house, but we always got our mail at PO Box 338. Until they built the new post office when our new PO Box # was 165. When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, Mom taught my Sunday School class. I also joined a 4-H club when I turned 8 and learned how to cook, bake and sew from a lady named Nell Hightree. I don’t think I stayed in it very long, because I didn’t like getting things ready for the county fair every year and I really hated the fashion show, where we had to model something that we sewed. I always thought the things I sewed or baked or cooked weren’t as good as everyone else’s and I didn’t really want to put them on display.

I had the measles while we were living in this house. It might have been in the summer time, as I remember being very hot for a very long time.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Critters in B & W
I discovered a roll of film that hadn't been developed yet. These were taken in the fall & winter of '09.

Taken through my bedroom window-
This fellow was wandering around in our back yard. Jack says it's a woodchuck:

Taken through an unpstairs window-
Squirrelly snack time:

Through my kitchen window-
This hungry fellow was eating pine needles off the snow in our back yard last winter:

Didn't have to shoot this one through a window. This is Little Girl: