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Wednesday, June 30, 2004


We had a good sampling of the area in and around D.C. on our trip. We took one day and visited our friends, the Monihan’s, who moved to Springfield, VA. after they left Shawnee. They had a very nice two story home in a quiet neighborhood and intended staying there for the remainder of Dave’s career with the Military. Beverly insisted we bring Becky back the next day to stay with them while we toured Williamsburg. She was horribly swelled from poison ivy and was miserable with the heat and her seeping skin. I hated for her not to see Williamsburg but decided it was probably best with her condition.

We had a full day at the Colony where people were making it all come true as they worked in the stable, blacksmith shop, pottery, copper, pewter or candle shops….all the things of the period that people would need in their daily life. We ate in one of the Inn’s where George Washington ate, of course, and enjoyed the atmosphere. The ladies all wore impressive dresses and looked every bit like a step back in time.

We took one day and went to Mt. Vernon. I had been there twice before; once with grandma Stricklett and aunt Mary and again on our Senior Class Trip. It was one thing I wanted the children to see because of all the history they had been exposed to in school. I still have a brass replica of a candle holder by the bedside of Martha. It is the only souvenir I bought. The house is set in such a beautiful place to view the river where guests and supplies traveled. It was fun to sit on the front porch and imagine life as it was at the time….days past that would never be the same again. I remember seeing George’s wooden teeth on his bed table. He tried many different ways to find a substitute for all of his teeth that he lost. Little known stories about the man that stuck with me.

We went back into D.C. before leaving for home. Just one last day to visit the things we hadn’t had time for earlier. By now we were getting used to the routes to take us where we wanted to go. By the time we finished we had seen the Capital, White House, Treasury Department, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, Smithsonian, and all the rest. We spent our last night visiting with aunt Inabelle and uncle Tom and left early the next morning. We planned to go to Milwaukee on our return to Kansas to visit Louis and Gail.

We took the Pennsylvania Turnpike as far as we could and then headed North to Milwaukee. We found their house with the instructions they gave us over the phone and we spent a couple of days with them. Louis wanted me to fix taco’s for their friends who had been in the wedding party with us. The Mexican food craze hadn’t hit yet so it was a curiosity kind of thing….especially in Milwaukee where German or Polish food is more popular. It was a mammoth job as there were quite a few people counting the children. They all agreed it was good food and found out how to make them. We had a good visit with everyone and the next day Louis took us on a tour of Allen-Bradley where both he and Gail worked.

While we were visiting them a sad thing happened. Their home was on a hill overlooking Lake Michigan with the jetty down below. We noticed a large crowd had gathered and ambulances were at the scene. We found out later that a teen-age boy saved his cousin from drowning but was so exhausted he then drowned himself. None of the relatives noticed him as they were all giving the other boy all their attention. Divers found the body and we saw him pulled from the water into the boat. It was a very sad thing and really impressed our three kids who weren’t too much younger.

We drove home to Shawnee….a pretty tired bunch of people. We had a wonderful time and now it was time to go back to work and to school. No matter how much fun a trip is it’s always good to get back home.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Somehow I got derailed in my writing after I took a day off to go to the dentist. When I picked up my storyline I totally skipped the rest of 1964. So !! Before I continue with 1967 I shall first clear up the problem. John has a plan to help make the switch……so here goes and I promise it is worth taking the time to read.

The summer of 1964 was our first long family trip. Aunt Inabelle and uncle Tom lived in Fairfax, Virginia which is just across the river a ways from D.C. We had been wanting to go for a long time but now had a dependable station wagon and a little extra cash. We wouldn’t be able to afford much other than the trip in itself but that was enough to get us on our way.

To help on expenses I had a cooler full of sandwich material and some soft drinks. When anyone got hungry I bailed out of the front seat and climbed to the rear of the station wagon to set up my lunch counter. I had a few little treats hid here and there to break up the monotony of sandwiches. Actually it all went rather smoothly.

The children were anxious for a change other than our Mid-West scenery. They had seen pictures in their geography books and thought upon entering each State they would see a definite difference. That happened about the time we were East of Zanesville, Ohio. Before we knew it we were in mountains with steep and crooked driving providing scenery unlike anything the children had ever seen. On one in particular it was so high up that the clouds had settled on the road. I told them if they would open their windows and put their hands out they could touch a cloud. It was fun for all of us to “feel” the cloud. This part of the trip was in West Virginia, a very rugged and pretty area.

We were all pretty tired by the time we got to Fairfax but the love of family and the excitement of being there erased most of our discomfort. Uncle Tom and aunt Inabelle couldn’t take time off while we were there as they had to save their vacation time for their trip back to Nebraska in August. My cousins, Tommy and Mary were teen-agers so we took them with us each day of sight-seeing. Oddly enough, they hadn’t seen many of the things we drove so far to see. Sometimes living close to an area people put off looking at the things around that make it so unique.

Each day uncle Tom would clue George Sr. in on getting to the Memorials, White House, Capital and all of the historical buildings we wanted to see. When we got to the White House the lines had already formed from the left of the front door all around the driveway and sidewalks to the right of the building. We were hours away from being able to take the tour. Even for George and me the time seemed to drag. We chatted with each other, chatted with other people in line and chatted ourselves out. We were finally just standing there quietly when I heard a funny buzzing sound. For some reason I instinctively knew this was not a normal thing. My eyes fell behind us a step or two….and by the edge of the sidewalk was a fire alarm. My eyes then fell on John who was trying to look inconspicuous. When the realization of what happened hit my brain I went ballistic. “GEORGE,” I said, “someone has turned on the FIRE ALARM !!” My eyes fell on John who was trying to become invisible….and as I looked our immediate crowd over, I saw Tommy and Mary walking a safe distance away so as to look like they weren’t with us.

When I asked John if he turned the alarm on he said, “I thought it was a mail box and I just pulled the lever like I was going to mail a letter.” He looked scared out of his wits and frankly we were all looking the same way. A dignified lady and her husband from New York were in front of us and she turned and said, “My dear…in New York City the Fire Department charges $400 for a false alarm.” By now we were hearing fire trucks bearing down on all sides of us and 17-hook and ladders and pumpers came to a screeching halt taking up 2-blocks.

A large burly fireman with a Chief’s badge on came walking up to the area where the fire alarm was and shut the alarm off. George Sr. walked up to him and said he thought a little boy in the crowd had turned it on. The fireman looked directly at George for one of those moments that seems like a lifetime…..didn’t say a word but put his arm up in the air rotating his hand in circles and walked off. He was quite impressive with his big boots, hat and coat………he had looked at John with his coke-bottle glasses and apparently decided the scare had been enough for one day. Whoever he was I am grateful that we weren’t given a ticket…or worse. Seeing the wave of the hand the firemen responded and the massive equipment moved out of the area. As for our little family……we’d just had the shock of our lives. Poor John was wiped out with the incident, fearing fierce retribution.

Eventually we made it around to the building and were shown the interior of the White House. While we were waiting in the driveway before entering there were several large signs telling everyone that no cameras were allowed. John previously bought a little cheapie from one of the sidewalk vendors and was eager to take pictures. While we were waiting and I was getting over the earlier event of the fire alarm thing John broke from line and walked up to a very tall, very serious policeman. He stopped a few feet in front of him and aimed his camera at the policeman’s upper body. I came racing out to grab him but to my surprise the policeman just smiled and said, “Have a nice day………..”

The next morning uncle Tom was reading the morning paper and said, “Well…. here is an article telling about some tourist waiting in line at the White House who turned on a fire alarm and emptied the two Fire Houses in the area to the scene.” The article was complete with a picture which uncle Tom gave us to keep.

Now you have to wonder…was the president inside looking out the window to see what was going on? If so, he probably never knew that a little family from Shawnee, Kansas was the center of the activity and just created a little excitment for the day.

More of our 1964 trip tomorrow…so until then,

Essentially Esther

Monday, June 28, 2004


We had our usual warm spell in January before the really bad weather hit in February. For some reason John wanted another clown cake so that’s what he got along with his special supper menu. George Jr. and Becky always dreaded his birthday suppers because John had a knack for the unusual. I lay it to the fact that he was a victim of TV advertising which always made a “true believer” of him. We went through the Popeye spinach craze because it would make him strong. Cereals would always convince him until he tried a bowl…then he felt betrayed by all the hoopla which didn’t match the taste. Another failure was spinach pasta. That went over with all of us like a lead zeppelin after everyone looked in the pot to see it cooking….I seem to recall… “it’s green and slimy”… John made a valiant attempt but couldn’t muster the ability to get it down so the hecklers were in place. This particular year John wanted spinach, spinach pasta and fried fish. He loved fish and was the only one in the family that did. Come to think of it he still enjoys all kinds of seafood.

He fell to the Keds advertisement….run faster, jump higher…and toys that never measured up. By now he was mimicking his favorite baseball player, my cousin Tommy Powell, who played in leagues around the D.C. area. As far as John was concerned he was the master of ‘cool.’ We usually saw the Powell’s in August sometime when they came West to the Stricklett Reunions. Tommy dressed like a poster boy….his cap bill was crimped to perfection…he carried himself like a god and knew the language. John never let him out of his sight when he was around and obviously was his biggest fan. He emulated his swagger, the stance when pitching, catching, hitting….whatever. He was a make-over of Tommy Powell. Tommy was flattered by the attention and usually graced him with some ‘tips’ on being cool. I have a picture of John in one of his ‘cool’ moments where he is …….totally COOL!!

Becky’s birthday was her usual. Eating out and going to a movie. She loved movies. It was OK with the boys until they found out her choice….usually some girl flick that they suffered through. She was busy with Campfire and piano lessons …..and the telephone became her best friend. We could see she was fast growing into a larger social life. She and Patty Warren who lived next door now (after the Monihans moved to Virginia) spent a lot of time together giggling and acting like goofy girls. Eating was big with Becky at the time…..she was unable to pass up mashed potatoes and gravy. I think it is still an unavoidable temptation as it is with me. Her birthday suppers at home were always the same…..mashed potatoes with roast beef and brown gravy and as for the rest of it she didn’t care. However, the cakes always had to be chocolate.

George spent his summers doing yard work and drawing mansions….along with listening to classical music. He was going through his stage of wanting to be an architect and he had drawings everywhere. He would go into detail about all the finishings which were quite impressive and elegant. Sort of your middle-class idea of what ‘rich’ is like…..he enjoyed designing the grounds with splendorous gardens and mazes. He was also great help in our yard and did most of the mowing and caring for the flower beds. I did some along as I kept trying to add to the flower part….this particular Spring we had a full row of bridle wreath all across the front of the house. In full bloom it looked like waterfalls of snow cascading to the ground. It helped give us privacy from the street and keep out some of the unwanted noise.

This would be my last year to drive for the KU Med Center. On one of the last days of school Floyd Hudson came to the car and said he would like to speak with me. After the children were unloaded he told me that he and Jerry Chafin (my neighbor who gave me the driving job) had appreciated my ability to get the kids there on time and being able to count on me. He said he and several men received a Title III Grant and were building an Educational Modulation Center at Olathe, KS. He asked if I could do office work, type and the like. I hadn’t typed a lot since high school and had taken shorthand but had not used it since school. He told me they were looking for office help and liked my manner and dependability. They were willing to give me a slot if I didn’t mind things like filing, for starters. It would be less driving for me since I lived at Shawnee; Olathe was only 11-miles down I-35 whereas I had been driving about 25-miles one way into the Med Center. The only consideration was that I would be working a 40-hour week and of course, being paid more. With our own children’s needs growing with every year and the fact that my hours would allow me to be with them in the morning to get them off to school and George Sr. would be there in the afternoon before they arrived home I agreed to give it a try. I would be starting in August when the building would be finished.

Grandma Stricklett and aunt Mary came in June for a stop-over on their way to see mom and dad. It was always good to have them and we would see them again on their way back to Blair. On the return trip we always heard the news from home and what they did while they were there. Usually they took some scenic trips around the Ozarks which is brim full of gorgeous scenery if you like hills, rocks, trees and water. The streams and brooks are the most clear in the land. Van Buren, Missouri boasts the world’s largest natural Spring with millions of gallons of water flowing each 24-hours. It boils up from a rock edifice and winds it’s way to join the Current River…….they say if you ever drink from one of Missouri’s springs you will always return. The Ozarks are unequaled in their pristine beauty.

This would be a special summer as we shall find out tomorrow.

Until then,

Essentially Esther

Sunday, June 27, 2004


Blessings to you one and all…….I’m taking the day off. Have a wonderful Sunday and I’ll be back tomorrow, good Lord willing.

Essentially Esther

Saturday, June 26, 2004

THE CLOSE OF 1966.... 

After school was underway, aunt Beulah came to visit on her way to Nebraska to see her sister, Mildred. We always enjoyed her visits because no matter what was going on she would hop right in the middle and have as much fun as the rest of us. This particular time Rosalie and I had decided to make a trip to their family farm in Emporia to pick corn for the freezer. Aunt Beulah went along and helped pick and we had a ball. We came right back as soon as we had the station wagon full and unloaded the corn at each of our houses.

It was too late to get into it that day but it was left in the yard where it would be cool until morning. The next day we were hard at it….the kids had to shuck while I heated water to blanch and ice water to cool. Then we cut it off the cobs to package and put away. It wasn’t long until the kids were tired of their job but they were pressed into finishing so we could hope to get done by supper time. I cannot describe my kitchen after we were through. Everything was sticky from the starch in the corn and we were all definitely tired of corn for the time being.

The next day aunt Beulah went on her way claiming she’d had a lot of fun and would see us later. I have a picture of the two of us in front of the open freezer door holding some of the packages…..and behind us were shelves of corn. She and Dale came back that Thanksgiving, along with mom and dad and we had a great time. We did our usual Christmas exchange while we were all together and this year mom and dad had a big surprise for us. They gave us $1,000 to buy a wheel camper with so we could go on some of their trips West. We were totally bowled over !! That is exactly what we did with it and plans were made to go next summer.

Mom brought us a box of nice pine cones she picked up in Montana that summer so George Sr. and I set about making a wreath for the front door. He made a circle out of plywood and holes all over to poke wire through. We used fruit and holly along with the pine cones and when it was finished we sprayed it with a sealer. It was a beautiful thing and we used it for many years. It was always fun to make our own decorations and the children did their own rooms after they were big enough to want to.

This particular December was George Jr.’s 16th birthday so I made a sheet cake and decorated the top with a Match-Box car, a high-way and road signs. It was to celebrate his license and the fact he was now able to drive. Of course he thought it was pretty cool.

I made new stockings for each of us this year and painted all of them. This was when the liquid paint craze was going on. Rosalie had a party and I got the bug while the lady demonstrated all of the possibilities. The children really enjoyed them and made all kinds of gifts that year with the paint. (Place mats, book markers etc;) I made Becky a red velvet dress for the holidays and then we all made Christmas cookies again.

We usually took turns in the neighborhood hosting New Year’s Eve parties. This year Rosalie had all of us over. Our “parties” were pretty tame. It was usually the time when we could all draw a long breath after the holidays and settle down to some punch and finger food…..and just enjoy the friendships together.

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Friday, June 25, 2004


George Jr.s Eagle Court of Honor was held February 20th 1966. Grandma and grandpa Andersen came for the occasion and stopped in Cabool for Grandma Strain. They spent the weekend with us and attended George’s ceremony on Sunday afternoon. A nice reception followed served by the Troop. It was a happy time after year’s of merit badges and trips, camps and meetings. George tells me he is still glad he completed the program and knows without our involvement and encouragement he would not have made it. Of course that is true of any honor we receive in life. We never get anywhere by ourselves….there is always someone who contributes to our cause and helps us to the finish line. Ceremonies are nice because it’s a slap on the back for effort and completion.

We had a heavy snow later that month and the children were busy making forts and having snowball fights. It was a nice diversion from school for a few days. When John’s birthday came around on March 2nd we had all the neighborhood children in to celebrate his cake and to play games. I drew a large leprechaun on a poster board holding a big golden ring. The idea was like “pin a tail on a donkey” only there were shamrocks to place in the ring. They had fun with that for a while and then we played other games until cake time. I made a large sheet cake with shamrocks, some lettering and candles. John was always excited about his cake. The fact he wanted a St. Patrick’s theme for his cake this year was easy to produce.

March 5th we had a Father-Daughter Bluebird Banquet in our garage. I was glad to see all of the dad’s turn out for the girls….no one had to come alone. After a proper meal we had a program for them and the dads could see a little bit about what the girls were learning. The girls had worked hard on favors and decorations beforehand and were quite proud when they saw it all come together. Group participation is so valuable in young people. Learning to work together and organize are traits that will serve them well later on in life.

Becky’s birthday was a quiet family affair this year because of the other two parties the first of the month and because we were going to Missouri for Easter. We drove down to see the grandparents and then on to Arkansas to see aunt Beulah. Cousin Dale came home so we were all together which didn’t happen too often but is always a treat. My kids were crazy about Dale and hung around him the whole time. Aunt Beulah who was always in for fun had a lot of the L’Eggs stocking holders and she put money and candy in them….then hid them around in the yard. The kids still remember finding eggs with “money” in them…….how fun is that?

April 25th our local Campfire Council had a ceremony for the girls earning the Firemaker rank. We made our banner to carry with our name, TAWANKA DAKONYA and our school name…NIEMAN. It was a good time for the girls to feel proud of their achievements and to mix with the other groups in our Council. At the end of the school year we put our “Moon Calendar” together for our group. Each girl painted the symbol for one month of an Indian year on a square beige piece of stiff material. I then sewed them together in chronological order…and it was put on a rod to hang in our meeting room. It was very impressive and authentic. Indian symbols are so intriguing and purposeful. Becky and several of the girls went back to camp this summer and George Jr. and Sr. went to Camp Naish. There was a family picnic in June for the Cubs so we went to that and had a nice time at the park and zoo.

July found us back at Lake Norfork with mom and dad and Dale and aunt Beulah. Anytime you mentioned “fishing” my mom and aunt Beulah were ready to go. I don’t know why but it never rubbed off on me. I was more content water skiing and riding in the boat while everyone else fished. The scenery and being in the water were the things I enjoyed about the lake….and sitting around the campsite knitting while everyone else was out fishing. It was a calm and relaxed time. We came back to Willow Springs and stayed a couple of days. Dad was having gravel and cement brought to make a driveway and sidewalk up to the mobile home. The boys and George Sr. got involved and helped with the project while mom and I watched and kept cool drinks handy.

September put George Jr. in his first year at Shawnee Mission West High School. He rode the bus and enjoyed the newer school even though he would have chosen Shawnee Mission North if he had his choice. He loved the old brick traditional building. Progress caused the school lines to change and so he was sent to SMWest. John was starting the 4th grade at KSSB and was still taking piano lessons. Becky was in her first year at Trail Ridge Junior High since once more the lines had been changed from Hocker Grove where George Jr. went his three years. They would seldom be in the same school at the same time again.

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Thursday, June 24, 2004

THE END OF 1965.... 

George Jr. received his God and Country award February 20th at our church with two other boys who had completed the program. George was seriously working on his Eagle rank and this was a voluntary part of it. A nice reception followed.

I finished out the 1964-1965 school year driving the special needs kids and signed on to continue the next year. We were all glad to see summer come when we could kick back and enjoy some leisure time. The children were getting old enough now that they began looking forward to it as much as mom and dad. There were swimming lessons, camp for George Jr. and Becky….lots of activity for John. He and Doug usually spent a lot of time together, getting sweaty and dirty like boys like to do. Rose and I had coffee together most of the time in the mornings and if possible we took a break in the afternoon.

It was common for any of the other ladies in the neighborhood to see us under the shade tree and join us. I enjoyed baking and whipped up a cake or cookies almost every morning for our breaks. It was a pleasant time to catch our breath, touch base and go back to our chores. Whatever the mood or problem we had a forum to fix it. I thought at the time all neighborhoods were like this but this long after I know it was special.

We took our summer trek to grandparent country and on to the lake to enjoy the water. There were always several couples who camped around where the folks did and we were well acquainted with them. It was like a family reunion every summer. Of course the antics and wild stories kept us entertained and after a full day there was always a good camp meal. Mom was in her element cooking and feeding everyone. No denying it! She was the best cook in the country.

Before we knew it we were back home and seriously in high-gear to get the supplies and clothing needs. There is always a rush to finish and be prepared. I went back to my old route with very little change in students….I had one older boy who was a problem that year. He came from a wealthy family in one of the nicest neighborhoods….but he was fraught with problems. I wondered why he was privileged to go to the Re-hab with children whose parent’s couldn’t afford private help but I kept my thoughts to myself. Obviously he needed the help.

I tried to be as understanding with him as I was with the other children but every time I would give him the benefit of the doubt he would kill any empathy I might have had. I was surprised when, close to Christmas, he came to the wagon with an envelope and presented it to me. He wanted me to open it which I did. It contained a lovely handkerchief with an impressive label on it. When I thanked him for it he retorted….”I stole it.” Naturally it cancelled any positive thought I may have had. I assume his mother bought it for him to give me and he didn’t want me to think too highly of his intentions…or who knows? He wouldn’t be above stealing…he considered himself superior to the other passengers….and actually to me as well.

John was in the second grade this year and continued to ride back and forth with Mr. Frakes and Mr. Johnson. The two men both taught at KSSB and took turns driving. John was their only passenger. Piano lessons were offered this year at school and John eagerly signed up…his piano teacher was blind but excellent in her ability. The school turned out some impressive pianists. John talked about “Joe” a lot who was his buddy at school. Joe lived way out in Western Kansas…I believe it was Liberal.

Becky was in the fifth grade and eleven years old. She was always outgoing and eagerly volunteered for any extra-curricular activity. School was easy for Becky in dealing with the teacher and students as well as intellectually. She was no shrinking violet and good grades came easy. She rarely had homework.

Brother George was content to let things run their course and didn’t vie for attention or to excel beyond his own expectations. He always worked on his homework and made sure it was finished before school-time. He had a hard time with math in junior high and the teacher was not much help. I was called to have a visit with him and normally I don’t knock a teacher but this guy was beyond me. He kept saying that this was “modern math” and he didn’t care if George got the problem right or wrong…..he wanted George to know HOW he arrived at his answer. Sorry….I didn’t get it either. If the answer doesn’t matter…why work the math? Anyway, it was a horrible year for George and his dad and I were no help. He was 14 until December then turned 15 on his birthday. George was the kid that was predictable. With Becky and John it was always a surprise.

The year closed out with the holidays and following our own family traditions. It was a good time for reflection on how far we had come in fifteen years. The children were well grounded and getting a ‘leg up’ on what was expected and how to make it all happen. It was a time of satisfaction for their dad and me. The year slowed down to a walk and we turned our attention to the New Year on the horizon.

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


John’s eighth birthday was pretty special to him. He got to go to his first Cub Scout meeting and sported a brand new shirt and neckerchief. I was still involved with the Campfire Girls but my friend, Betty Bryant, had a ‘den’ up the street so he opted to go there. She became involved when her oldest, Frank, went into Cub’s the year before. Our two families had been friends since our move to Shawnee and “Frankie and Johnny” were buddies from the cradle roll days at church.

Because the meeting was on his birthday his cake was celebrated with the group at Betty’s. For this occasion the cake was a Cub Scout cap and frosted in blue and gold which replicated the colors as well as the shape. It was pretty neat, actually. When he came home we had a family birthday party and gift opening. His brother, George, had wrapped his old Cub pocket knife in lots of paper and put it in a large box. Of course it was fun to watch the suspense mount as John kept unwrapping the layers of newspaper. Having his brother’s knife was something he coveted so once it was unwrapped he set upon pulling the blades up and down, putting it in his pocket, then the series would start all over.

Later that month we celebrated Becky’s eleventh birthday. Normally Becky enjoyed going to the movies for her birthday treat. I’m thinking this was the year we went out for a nice family dinner at the Plaza (which we did occasionally to teach them some social skills.) Later we took them to the Uptown theatre to see the “Snow Queen. The ‘dinner’ part was for our anniversary and the movie was for Becky’s birthday. At this age Becky thought the greatest treat in the whole world was a ‘Coke.’ Because she had birthday money when we passed by the concession stand she stopped to order one. She asked for the large size and that ended up being the size of a gallon bucket. The boys wanted some but she wouldn’t ‘share.’ She sipped on her Coke all through the movie until she just couldn’t hold any more….at which time her brothers got to finish off the bounty. It has been one of those family memories that surfaces ever so often when we’re all together.

In April we went ‘home’ to see the grandparents. Easter provided a few days so we could make the visit. Dad had retired and moved their mobile home to it’s permanent place in a corner of Bob Crudgington’s field. He had worked hard on a lawn and had a garage built. Mom and dad did a lot of traveling and fishing so we weren’t surprised to see a new boat and motor on this trip. Dad had been busy making bird houses, a picnic table with benches, a brick outdoor grille for the Crudgington family and a brick structure for himself to burn trash in.

The Crudgington’s had a calf in their pasture that was a real pet. The kids rode him around like a horse and so John and Becky had to try the fun. He was a pretty little calf and gentle as a lamb. There was always something going on when we made our visits back home and we all enjoyed getting away from our schedules to a slower pace.

It was sad going to see grandma Strain now because grampa died a couple of years ago. He fell when taking food to his beloved old dog, Tip, and broke his hip. He was taken to the hospital in Springfield and was recuperating. Grampa was over eighty years old and had been a very devoted Christian….he was anxious to get this life over with and go on to heaven. When gramma found him in the yard he said, “I don’t know why this couldn’t have happened sooner.” George Sr. took some time off and drove down to see him several times and although he was doing well with the therapy and almost able to walk again, he refused to eat. George Sr. tried feeding him and grampa knocked the spoon out of his hand. It was clear he didn’t intend eating. No mistaking grampa’s wishes.

Some days later on the Fourth of July, we were sitting in the yard with some neighbors visiting. The phone rang and George Sr. went to answer. As he disappeared through the front door we all heard an ambulance siren close by and it continued for some time. It gave me a funny feeling and I said, “I bet grampa is gone.”…..when George Sr. came back outside he told us grampa died a few minutes ago. It was confirmation of news we had been expecting.

Since grandma was alone now she came to visit oftener and stayed longer. I taught her to knit as she thought the knitted afghans I made were so pretty. She worked tirelessly on one and finished it, but didn’t want to start another one. Her eyes were bothering her a great deal and worsened with every passing year.

July Fourth was usually a neighborhood time to get together. We all had young children and putting our fireworks together made for more enjoyment for everybody. We would have a picnic meal in the back yard and watch the kids play and roam around until dark…then the dad’s would get busy setting up their fireworks. Our dog, Oakie, enjoyed the Fourth more than anybody. She would run up to the fountains and grab and bite, barking all the time….her antics made all of us laugh till our sides hurt. She never tired but rather continued her aggravated assault until her facial hair was burned off along with her whiskers. Oakie was just a special kind of dog and added so much pleasure to our family…….long gone now, we miss her still.

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Monday, June 21, 2004


We will be gone all day Tuesday for dentist and doctor appointments. We will spend the day in Springfield and hope to be back with you all on Wednesday. Have a great day wherever you are and may the good Lord take a liken’ to ya.

Until then,

Essentially Esther

JANUARY 1964.... 

January in the Kansas City suburbs always came in with a vengeance. It’s almost like Mother Nature knew you had turned the calendar. It was a tough month for mailmen who had to walk house to house over their 20-mile route. Usually their path in the snow from one house to the next was the only break in the snow other than car tracks in the street. It was always a month I enjoyed, however. Although I was driving the kids to the Med Center in the mornings I had time to enjoy my handwork before going back to pick them up in the afternoons. January was when I tried to finish needlework left-overs and start something new.

I had a passion for quilts. I had loved them all my life and knew no one in the family would ever make me one…….they never made them for themselves. My mother loved them too but didn’t like the sewing machine. Although she took a sewing class in high-school she didn’t like anything about sewing and aunt Mary (her younger sister) hated doing dishes….so they traded work. Mom cheerfully did dishes while aunt Mary happily sewed her assignments. (The girls were both in the same classes all the way through school as there was little age difference and mom was held back a year for aunt Mary to walk with.)

Crafting and handmade stitchery was just coming into vogue again in 1964. Re-capturing our heritage by returning to the art of needlework was in all the magazines and inspired everyone to “make” something. Rosalie and I often carried our projects back and forth across the street to do our stitching together. It was a rich time to share our days together and create something beautiful. Rosalie was the only friend I had who loved working with her hands as I did. Our kids usually played together and we were like two young hens with our chicks close by.

Since mom preferred handwork, I talked her into piecing a quilt by hand. I helped her choose material, she had a pattern she liked, I helped her cut and she started the quilt. She had most of her blocks pieced but on one of their visit’s that past year, she brought it all to me….bag and baggage….and said I could have it if I would just finish it. She didn’t enjoy it like she did her embroidery and she didn’t like such a big project. I had been piecing a quilt of my own for some time. It was made from the scraps of Becky’s dresses from the cradle up. Granny Bond had talked ME into making a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt out of the small pieces. Even with my perseverance I had put it back several times as the completion looked insurmountable. Now I had two quilts to piece.

And so January (1964) it was finally ready to go to a lady who did machine quilting. When she called me to pick it up the charges were $18.50.… I couldn’t believe it would be that much. I know it seems cheap now but in 1965 it was a bunch. George Sr. was aggravated with me because I hadn’t bothered to ask at the time how much it would be. It caught us short after the holidays and at the time I was in bed with strep throat. He had to cash a U.S. Savings Bond to get it and needless to say wasn’t too happy. Still, he picked it up on his way home from work.

I remember him bringing the quilt into the bedroom and I opened the bag to see how it looked. Words cannot describe the love and respect I had for that quilt. It had been a large undertaking for mom and me both and to see how it turned out was just the boost I needed to get serious with the other one. It took me a total of eight years to finish Becky’s school dress quilt but I did and it’s still fun to look at the pieces in the quilt and identify the dress and the year she wore them to school. Today Becky has the quilt and though it is quite old it is still a treasure to us both.

Working on quilts has been a passion ever since. The patchwork ones are my favorites….and working them into a proper pattern to display their true beauty is an art-form. Over the years I have made many quilts but I only totally did one from beginning to end by hand. It was after I quilted one for my mother and proved to myself I was capable of finishing the project. It is a “star” pattern and made for my name (Esther) which means….a star.

When dad died suddenly in 1974 my mother was lost. Their marriage was like Ronald and Nancy Reagan. They were never apart and much of the time my brother and I felt like there was a relationship between them that even we didn’t enter into. No matter what dad did or didn’t do mom was the buffer. Dad never crossed a certain line with mom no matter how angry because of the bond they had. They were each other’s first loves and married at twenty and twenty-one. The years after served to draw them ever closer.

Mom was still grieving years after dad was gone. I tried many diversions hoping she could find her zest for living again. Finally I hit upon her piecing a quilt once more. She admired the ones I was always working on and said the only pattern she would consider doing was the Grandmother’s Flower Garden. Encouraged, I suggested a larger hexagon as it would be easier for her to manage. She agreed and again I cut pieces for her. She had many happy hours working on it and eventually we finished it. That particular pattern is still one of my favorites.....

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Sunday, June 20, 2004


We are all indebted to our fathers because without them we wouldn’t be here. Period. No matter how good or bad, rich or poor there was some reason for them to father us. For that we should be thankful. For most of us, we came out of a shared love, maybe not the kind of dreams but nonetheless there was passion before us.

When I was formed in my mother’s womb I was known by God and everything I needed or would become was known by Him. I believe that because the 139th Psalm says so. At the time my parents were raising my brother and me fathers didn’t have much to do with raising the family. That was the woman’s job. He made the living and she ran the house and raised the kids. To put a little variety in the mix we had a first generation father of immigrant parents. He struggled between old and new traditions that for the most part were not understood. He was still Danish at home and trying to learn how to be American away. The process took him on a long journey.

I am thankful he was what he taught. He put sound teaching into both of us and at times he was a hard mentor but later on when we were older we could understand that he just wanted us to be good people.

I am thankful that my children’s father was a good man who loved his children and was very much a factor in their raising. He was patient with them and they enjoyed his participation in every detail of their lives.

Being a dad can’t be easy. The buck always stops with him. A dad has to be smart with money, able to fix and repair things, be a yard man, a mechanic, a counselor, a helpmate to his wife, hold down a job and be the world’s greatest lover. If he manages all that and finally sinks into a chair to watch TV there is usually a little guy who wants to sit on his lap and have a story read to him. On his way to bed he puts the dog out, takes a glass of water to number two child and finds his wife is sound asleep…..

So here’s to the dad’s who make our lives rich and funny and safe and happy. Here’s to the guys who are clueless about how his life got lost on the way to the church ……..may you find some consolation in the fact that we love you…..we really, really do………God bless and keep you.

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Saturday, June 19, 2004

CLOSING OUT 1964.... 

School started with a bang. George’s school supply expenses were going up with every grade. It was always a chore getting everyone outfitted with clothes and the things required for all the classes. There were trips to the dentist and to the doctor for shots….and always the visit to the doctor for John’s next pair of corrective shoes. During this preparation time Rosalie commented at one of our coffee times together that our neighbor, Jerry Chapin had asked her to transport kids to the Kansas Med. Center Re-Hab Unit. He was working at the Unit and they needed someone with a station wagon to bring in about 13-kids for therapy and classes.

Rosalie wasn’t interested as she had two young children at home and no station wagon. I was immediately interested. I didn’t want to go back to the school cafeteria and we did have a station wagon. Rosalie volunteered to see if Jerry had hired anyone yet and if not…….tell him I was available. Jerry came to see me as soon as Rosalie talked with him and hired me.

It was worked out ahead of time where the children were and how to pick them up…what time and all the details. The children were strung out all over the area between where we lived and where the KU Med. Cntr. was. Jerry went with me on the first run and introduced me to the parents as well as showing me how to get to the best pick-up spot. Sometimes it would be down an alley in the part of town you wouldn’t want to be in after dark……these were all poor kids whose parents had been poverty stricken for generations. Some of the parents were concerned and wanted their children to have every opportunity possible….others could care less.

The children were grade school age and had every kind of handicap you could imagine. Some were in wheel chairs with leg braces and had to be lifted into the wagon, others wore football helmets to prevent injury when falling, some had attached bags to their abdomens and a couple of them had serious mental problems. Driving with 13-children in a family station wagon with the problems they had called for creative driving and thinking. I can still recall over half of them and the heartache they were born into.

Little Vickie Havens really got to me the worst. I would pull up to her house and she would be sitting in her wheel chair at the curb. I was not supposed to lift any of the children but that was not my problem. The problem was trying to understand why anyone would put this little girl at the curb in winter weather until ice would freeze on her wheel chair and braces. She would not have her hair combed or her bags emptied. She had a terrible odor because of the bags being too full and running over on her clothing…….in spite of all this she was a little ray of sunshine. She never created a problem during the ride and never once complained about anything. Thankfully while she was at KU someone evidently took pity on her because when I picked the children up after school she was always combed, clean and fed. I don’t know where Vickie is today but wherever it is I pray her life got better.

You may wonder how 13-children could be packed into a station wagon but it wasn’t that bad. The smaller children rode in the back in a little cluster and the larger kids with their braces etc; rode in the seats. We were three in the front seat, four in the middle seat and the rest in the back. There were seldom any problems.

October came and we decided to have a Halloween Party. I had fixed the garage up for the Campfire girls anyway so decorations were already in place. I put the jack-o-lanterns on a table for the centerpiece and fixed some finger foods. The Fowler’s from across the street and the Cannon’s from next door were invited and we had a great evening after the kids had all been out in their costumes and were settled. It was fun to see how our friends came dressed. Jim Cannon had a flat Gaucho hat on and sported a thin mustache with a cowboy shirt, Dee came as a lady ready for bed wearing a night gown, hair in rollers and cleansing cream on her face, Gene came as a bum complete with a dirty face and Rosalie was a witch with her hair frizzed out and greenish make-up. George and I dressed as a clown couple with painted faces and goofy hats…I sported a big bow at the neck. It took days to wear off the red makeup used on our faces……..

Those good times we had on 65th Street still bring a smile when I think of them or look at the photo album. The country might have been going through one crisis after the other but not a lot touched our little corner of the world at that time. Rosalie and I would get together almost every morning for a coffee break and once in a while the other gals would join us who lived nearby. We talked of our children, our husbands and our on-going projects. In those days most all of us had hobbies to pick up when the children were in school or had gone to bed in the evening. Life was uncluttered and pleasant for the most part and pretty much under control. The years when the children are young and you are everything to them are the best.

The KSSB teacher approached me about John this fall and suggested we agree to let him begin learning Braille. She explained it takes two years to learn the “touch” for Braille and he should start right away. I personally felt since he was a “sighted child” it wouldn’t be necessary and felt he should be encouraged to use the sight he had. However, I told her I would discuss it with my husband and get back to her. George Sr. and I talked it over and both felt it was unnecessary in his case. The teacher thought if he should lose his sight at a later time it would put him back too much to learn Braille then.

I’m not belittling her concern. I’m sure she was correct in pointing out that many children do in fact lose much of their sight when they have John’s condition. I just couldn’t shake the gut feeling that our decision was the right thing to do in John’s case. He didn’t figure in the statistical outlook with us….this was a personal situation and we were stepping in with the call. Thankfully time bore out that it was a good one……….

Thanksgiving, George Jr.’s birthday and Christmas were enjoyed in our traditional way with just our own family of five. Relatives were all engaged in events that prevented them from coming and so 1964 came to a quiet close………..

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Friday, June 18, 2004

BUSY DAYS IN 1964.... 

We had a very busy 1964. Spring came early and John wanted a clown cake for his March birthday. He was finishing the first grade and was now seven years old. The clown cake was achieved by a 3-layer cake and a round Styrofoam ball the size of a baseball made the head. I used aluminum foil to make a ruffled collar, placed the head on the collar (which had been already made into a happy clown face) and put a party hat on top of it’s head. It looked like he just popped up out of the cake and John loved it. A birthday greeting was written around the sides of the cake. Doug and Janice Fowler came over to help him celebrate the occasion.

We had the kitchen linoleum replaced that Spring along with new counter tops. A friend of ours, Bob Simmons, did the work. We met Bob through one of my Avon acquaintances (who was Bob’s wife.) The improvement was just as I’d hoped it would be.

When Becky’s birthday rolled around mom wanted us to come to Willow Springs to celebrate with grandma Stricklett who rode down on the bus to visit. This time the cake was delivered as promised. It was a combination wedding anniversary for our fourteenth and Becky’s tenth birthday cake. Mom was a wonderful baker and the cake was a work of art. The top was decorated with large colored marshmallows cut into petals of flowers and stems/leaves. It was beautiful on her white milk glass cake stand. We drove up to Cabool and brought Grandma Strain down to celebrate with us. I think it is the only time that the three living grandmother’s were together at one time. I treasure the picture of them.

George was initiated into the Order of the Arrow along with Roger Bartlett in May. Only two boys were chosen every year from each troop so it was a coveted honorary membership. It was a pretty harrowing 3-days but both came home proud and happy. Every time the boys and their dad went off on camping trips I hated to clean up their camping stuff on return. It was immediately taken to the garage to await laundering….the smell of campfires was a little too pungent for the house. Oakie loved to sniff around the things in the garage….it took her hours to decipher the different odors and relish them. She was always at the door wagging her tail when the guys came home.

In June when George and George Jr. were heading back to Philmont and Becky was going to Camp Towanyak with the Campfire girls, I decided John and I needed a break since we were usually the two left at home. We needed a little trip to spice up our week without the others so we packed our bags and headed for gramma and grampa Andersen’s. Dad had newly retired and they had sold their home in town….they were now living at the edge of the city limits in their new mobile home.

It was a great time for John because there was a boy across the road from the folks that was just a few years older, Mike Crudgington. He played ball with Mike the whole time we were there and the folks didn’t have their stove connected yet so we went up town to eat our meals at Joe’s. John loved eating there because if there ever was a real live ’Wimpy’ he was it. Dad had fun telling John if he could do so many “chin ups” he would buy him a burger……..the equipment was the clothes line. Dad would hold him up to reach the cross-bar and then John would try to do the prescribed number of chin’s. He never reasoned that dad would buy them anyway and so before every meal John would perform until he dropped off the pole from exhaustion.

Along with that John and Mike would whiz around the gravel road on Mike’s bike. John held on to the back while Mike did the pedaling. On one of the curves John slipped off and dug a groove in the gravel with his chin. He came home with his chin hanging in shreds and dad hurried him off to the doctor. When they came back, dad was bragging on John and what a tough little nut he was. He said the doctor looked at John and said, “well I’d better patch him up because he looks like a pretty good fisherman and it would be a shame to miss fishing for a while.” Dad couldn’t believe how John was sown up without deadening and never winced or cried. You guessed it……a trip to Joe’s for a root beer float was the reward.

When our week was up we headed back to Shawnee where dad, George Jr. and Becky would be arriving from camp. It was a special time for all of us……I can envision my dad holding back his laughter as John struggled to get his chin over the bar. He would have killed himself to please grampa…and of course….for a hamburger………

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Thursday, June 17, 2004


George Jr. was smaller built than some of the other Scout’s when he joined. I was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to make it on the 20-mile-hikes and some of the more rugged aspects of Scouting. George Sr. told me not to worry…“George may be smaller than most of the boys but he’s wiry. He doesn’t come in first but he just keeps plugging and ends up at the finish line.” That was all I needed to know. He was the kind of kid that would also come home telling me what kind of wild flowers he’d seen, strange bird…..you get the idea. He knew where he had been. I called George Jr. to get the name of some of those hikes he went on and other such accomplishments. One was the Lincoln Trail that ended up in Springfield, IL., and two trails in Nebraska….a Prairie Schooner Trail and (he couldn’t remember the name of the other one.) They hiked one trail the first day then the other the next day. It was a great experience for them. He also went to Philmont, N.M. and on a canoe-portage at Eli, MN. He ended up with the rank of Eagle, God and Country and the Order of the Arrow. He tells me it is still a source of pride to have finished those ranks. It was fun seeing him rightfully achieve it.

Of course transportation was tedious in the beginning. After the men tired of cramming equipment and boys into station wagons they decided to buy an old school bus in good enough shape they could make their trips in it. After careful searching and acquiring it….the men worked the motor over. The final stage was the paint…..then Delores Ferris, one of the Scout mother’s painted our Santa Fe Trail logo on the bus along with our Troop credentials. It was a blazing orange for our colors were orange and navy.

The kids noticed at all the Jamboree’s and area camp-outs that each Troop had an individual neckerchief. While at those events with other Troops there was much pin and neckerchief trading. Delores and I and a couple of other ladies bought, ripped and sewed over 100 neckerchiefs in our kitchen. The other ladies brought their portable sewing machines and we worked hard….first on the design and then all the stitching. The finished product was something to be proud of and the boys loved them. It was worth the effort as far as we were concerned.

When John came into Scouts he was well known from growing up in the neighborhood, being George Jr.s little brother and the son of the Scout Master. He had no problem connecting because at a young age he was so outgoing and funny he was accepted as the clown that he was. John also had a talent for swimming. Through the mornings for a few weeks in the summer he and I sat watching the kids taking their Red Cross lessons. He yearned to be in the water with them.

When George Sr. and I took the kids to the pool (when daddy got off work) we took John to the more shallow end and instead of swimming on top of the water….he swam underneath. He could go quite a distance for his age, back and forth between us. When I went under water to see what he was doing…..he had his eyes wide open and swam like a fish. Growing older made him even more of a swimmer and he loved the water. I have heard the expression that some people swim because they know how….other’s swim because they don’t know they can’t. George was the first, John was the later.

You know the expression, “every old dog has his day”….well, along with some of the things that John couldn’t do…..swimming was one he could. One of our favorite family stories about Scouting is the day John made points for our Troop at Camp Nash. I called him to get the particulars and he emailed me back with the following:

“At camp, troops competed at different events. One such event was the mile swim. I don’t remember the details of anyone else swimming or not swimming. Most people looked at it like an impossible feat. I wanted to try since I was a pretty good swimmer. The pool had buoys out and I had to swim something like 66 laps around the pool. They did have guys in the water watching the shallow end to make sure guys didn’t take a break. As I was swimming, I came across a leaf in the water. I had been learning about identifying leaves at camp. I held it up and yelled at dad, “Look Dad, an American Elm.” They all laughed and thought it was funny I could think about that while doing such a physical thing. Also, on the way to the swim I tripped on the path and fell headlong. My ear hit a tree trunk and I scraped up a knee pretty bad. I was bleeding and they weren’t going to let me swim, but I insisted. They finally figured the water would help heal the cuts. By completing the swim, our Troop got a big boost in the point area. I have no idea how we did overall.”

His dad said at first everyone figured he’d never make it but the longer he kept going the more a crowd gathered. By the time he finished the whole Troop was yelling for him to make it…..it was one of those David and Goliath stories….the kid you least expect to do something big turns in a stellar performance. Needless to say we were all proud of his accomplishment. For a kid who just wanted to be a normal kid………he was an over achiever. Not bad for a day’s work…….

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


I have heard the question asked so many times, “Where were you and what were you doing when you heard President Kennedy was shot?” I dare say that most of us could answer that with great recollection and clarity. There are as many accounts as there are people….not only in our own country but around the world.

As for myself, it was a school day and we were getting ready to make our trip to Milwaukee for my brother’s wedding. I was working after the lunch break when the news came over the speaker…… “President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas while riding in the motorcade” ….the voice was our school principal who then tuned the radio into the speaker system. Everyone stopped in their tracks…I can even remember what part of the kitchen I was in and who’s face looked at me in disbelief as we stared at each other. At first there was hope that it was not fatal…but soon we learned the awful truth that our President was dead. I suppose that incident was as shocking and powerfully emotional as when we heard of the 9-11 disasters in 2001.

On a personal note I wondered if this would effect the wedding plans but after calling my brother they felt the arrangements had gone too far to cancel.
The complete and detailed account of the trip to Milwaukee for the wedding and the wedding itself can be found in my Archives dated March 03, 2004 (Getting to the Wedding) and March 04, 2004 (Milwaukee Wedding).

Once back from the wedding trip we were thrust into Christmas and George Jr.’s birthday. The Campfire girls made angels for their families that year out of Reader’s Digests. It was a big fad at the time for crafting and they were very pretty. Each page had to be folded down, then covers were pulled backwards and taped together which made the pages fan out like a gown. Sprayed with gold paint gave them body….then with a Styrofoam head and pretty bow at the neck….they were beautiful. The girls were very impressed with their handiwork and we had ours for years…..set out each year for the holidays.

George Jr. had a white 3-layer cake that year with pretty green holly and red berries decorated on top. Grandma Strain came that year again for his birthday and to enjoy Christmas at our house. She looked forward to her visits and our busy household gave her lots to think about once she returned to Cabool.

I would like to insert a few memories about Scouting. As George Jr. was more involved with it George Sr. stepped up to help. At first he was a volunteer, then assistant Scout Master and eventually Scout Master. George Jr. was working on merit badges right along and Mr. Laricks who lived right up the street from us was one of his mentor’s. Talking with George Jr. a few days ago he mentioned that Mr. Laricks helped him with his first rank.

The Larick’s family were admired and respected by the neighborhood and anyone else who came into contact with them. If you ever saw an “all-American” family…it was who they were. Highly motivated and extremely personable they were the role models of the Troop. Mr. Laricks always took charge of the meetings for awards and presentations and made it seem to each boy as a great achievement….boys were always a foot taller after receiving the award and getting his firm ‘Scout handshake.’ “This is an old and a proud Troop….and this is an auspicious occasion….” somehow he always made it seem bigger than life. The Scouts would kill themselves for his praise.

His wife and daughter were part of the Troop family and Margaret was a willing helper for chili suppers, pie suppers, gathering black walnuts which paid for most of the Troops expenses throughout the year….whatever. A core group of us worked for the good of the whole. Their son, Jimmie, was without question the boy most Scouts wanted to be. He, like his dad, never knew what “second best” was. He was as hard driving as his dad but not in a way to exclude anyone….rather to raise the bar for everyone to follow.

The front of our house could see their backyard like a fish-bowl. Jimmy was always in the back yard with pole-vaulting equipment and sand to land in…..he would run with the pole and vault over endlessly. If he mastered one height he would immediately set the bar higher…..he was smart with top grades, good looking and a perfect kid if that’s possible. What the Laricks family did for Scouting was immeasurable. Leading by example……

Of course George, our two boys and I worked each function and Becky came along. We felt it was worth whatever it cost in time and effort to mold young lives. We met a lot of fine folks in Scouting and cannot measure the benefits.

Tomorrow I have some favorite memories of people and the activities that are worth writing about……..until then,

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

THE FALL OF 1963.... 

With summer drawing to a close George and I began looking at the expenses the coming school year would present. George Jr. would be in the 7th grade this year which would put him in junior high. Nieman didn’t have a 6th grade when he came through so all of our neighborhood kids had been bussed to Shawnee Grade School over in the ‘old’ part of town last year. He would now be bussed to Hocker Grove Junior High and we would have three kids in three different schools. There was a huge building growth in the area with all the new homes going up which, in turn, caused serious overcrowding in our schools.

Becky would be in the 3rd grade at Nieman and was 9-years old at the start of the school year while John would be in the 1st grade at KSSB. It would no longer be necessary to pick John up at his school since he would be staying all day now and riding back home with Mr. Frakes. To ride with him wasn’t a large amount of money but added in with the other school expenses the amounts kept going up.

George Sr. had worked Sunday’s at Wonder Bakery for some time which meant he only had one day off each week. The children were becoming more and more involved with extra-curricular activities and he needed to be a part of all that. George Jr. was in Scout’s now and there were camp-outs and special events that dad needed to be involved in. Becky had taken dancing lessons in first grade and began piano lessons in second grade. It was extra driving getting back and forth for the lessons which I felt were worth the time and effort.

We had a small area newspaper that came out once a week and I began looking for work. It was no longer an option to stay home and since the children were in school all day now I looked for ‘hours’ that would blend with their schedules. I was motivated to call for a position as assistant baker at one of the nearby junior high schools. A Mrs. Youker answered my call and I made an appointment to be interviewed by her. She lived fairly close to our neighborhood. After talking with her for a short while she hired me and told me where and when to show up. After being home for so many years it felt good to be hired at my first inquiry.

The money meant George could quit the Sunday job and I would be able to finally buy our first washer and dryer. I was elated. When school started my day started early. I would get up at 5:30 AM to fix breakfast and lunches. I had first access to the bathroom for make-up and hair…..then George Sr., John, George and Becky. We took turns in order of who had to leave first. Every 15-minutes one of us would come shooting out of the house like a Roman Candle……John left with Mr. Frakes, George left for work, George Jr. was next to catch his bus and Becky last because she only had to walk a few blocks to school.

I was home long enough in the mornings to have everyone ready to go…..George was home by the time they all came from school and many days I was as well. I had to be at work by 7:30 AM and the day was over at 3:00 PM. We wore white uniforms and white shoes…hairnets. My job was to assist the head baker who was Ruth Carriger. She was an older lady who took her job seriously. I figured this out after one week with her as she meticulously went about our part of the kitchen. First thing in the morning we measured out the ingredients for the hot rolls or bread for the lunch-line at noon. We had a large industrial sized mixer that made a mountain of dough. Ruth had worked in school kitchen’s a long time and could pinch off a piece of dough that measured 2-lbs. each time without fail. We put 10-loaves to a tray and then placed them in the “proofing” rack. While the bread raised we cleaned the kitchen and would then begin dishing up the dessert of the day….(which had been made the day before.)

We got a short break in the morning and one in the afternoon. The rest of the time we were on our feet around hot ovens loading and unloading trays of dough. We worked ‘on the line’ at noon when the students and teachers came through for their lunches. The trays of dough weighed 20-lbs. each and raising them over head to place in the ovens or bending low for the bottom ovens took a little getting used to. After the first month I was pinching 2-lb. loaves along with Ruth and getting comfortable with the job.

The ladies who were responsible for the salads, meats, veggies etc; worked hard. Crates of fresh veggies and fruit would be delivered and they would have to clean every bit and chop, slice…whatever, for their salads. It was tedious work. The meat girls were no different….none of us had it easy. I soon learned an appreciation for women who have cooked in schools for years. They are unsung hero’s around the school community….at least when I was working.

My brother, Louis, and his fiancé Gail Perkins planned to be married November 30th that year. I had been working since school began in August. We planned to go but decided to ride the train rather than drive since I would have only a few days off. When I was asked to be the Matron of Honor I needed a dress. Gail gave me free range as her wedding was all white so any color would work. I began the search for a pattern and material on the next week-end.

I decided on a beautiful teal velvet with satin for a cummerbund. I mailed a small piece of the materials to Gail (in Milwaukee) for approval and she loved it. She asked if I could find more of the same so her brother’s wife could have a dress just like it since she was also in the wedding. I ended up making her dress as well…then found I had enough to make Becky a dress to match. I decided it would be nice for Becky to be coordinated. I mailed the finished dress back to Gail for her sister-in-law and we both then went for shoes dyed to match. I made flat satin bows to wear atop our heads to finish off the outfits. Now it was just a matter of time till we would catch a train north for the wedding…….

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Monday, June 14, 2004


January started out with a bang. John came down with mumps and really got a good dose of them…..he looked like he had a goiter. That extended his time at home after the Christmas holidays. In March we celebrated his sixth birthday with a black cat cake inspired by our Spooky cat. It was chocolate with chocolate icing and did ole’ Spooky proud.

Becky decided she wanted a ‘real’ party that year so I fussed around with crepe paper streamers hanging down from the overhead light and attached to the table. There were bows at the corners and a nice centerpiece…..all of the Bluebirds were invited and she had a banner good time. George and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary that evening by going out to eat.

Before school was out that Spring, Mrs. Salter asked if my husband and I would accompany her class to visit the Swope Park Zoo. Of course I gave her an affirmative answer. Mrs. Jones (who I believe was the cafeteria lady), and Mrs. Salter rode over in the school’s bus with the children while George and I drove over in our station wagon. I have written on the back of the picture the names of the Kindergarten classmates. Kirk, Cecil, John, Davey, Marsha, Mike and Dexter.

Now you may think it odd that blind children and those with serious eye defects would be taken to the city zoo. When you stop to think of it though, what would normal kids like to do? Go to the zoo? Yes. I am so thankful the kids were continually introduced to sights and sounds…..Mrs. Salter’s approach was genuine and unique. I never heard her say, “Oh, I wish I could see your new purse,” or whatever. She would say, “Oh, may I ‘see’ it?” Then she would take (whatever) in her hands, feeling over the textures, the snaps, the zipper, the lid, buttons…. The item was gracefully inspected with her fingers as a broad smile registered on her face and she would exclaim…. “Oh, this is beautiful.” I never felt pity or sympathy for her because she didn’t require it. I looked upon her as I would with any teacher looking after a class….utmost respect.

The day at the zoo was a wonderful experience for the children. First we went to the Petting Zoo and were allowed to pet the rabbits, lambs, baby goats, kittens, ducklings and all the rest. We felt the different types of fencing used to keep the animals separated (wood, chain link etc;) and we also got to feel what a snake feels like. The reaction by the children was so uplifting to watch….they were having the time of their life.

Mrs. Jones had made up some sandwiches to bring along and they were delicious. It was some kind of a pimento cheese spread along with some chips and cold drinks. After roaming around the park everyone was hungry, including the adults…..and then Mrs. Salter announced they would get to ride the pony’s next. George walked beside the ones who were blind so they didn’t become disoriented and fall off. It was such an experience for them all it just did your heart good. Before leaving the park they were introduced to Snow Cones which brought happy smiles. Visiting the zoo was then talked about later that week at school to get everyone’s impression and favorite memory of their trip.

When school was out Becky wanted to go to Camp Towanyak which was the Campfire/Bluebird camp. I always felt camp was a good thing for kids. It teaches them to work in groups and think about partnerships rather than doing things your own way all the time. George and George Jr. went with the Scout Troop to the Boy Scout Ranch near Cimerron, New Mexico. They took a train to Cimerron and then were transported to Waite Phillips Ranch that he donated to the Boy Scouts of America. It was a major trip for our troop and had been financed by chili suppers, bake sales and the like. George was becoming more involved in the Scouts all the time as we felt with two boys it would benefit them more than anything else. I am thankful that at that time we didn’t have the social problems that have plagued the Scouts in recent years.

When the troop arrived there had been heavy rains and major clean-up due to flooding and high water. The troop was dispatched to an area and they worked hard to bring the camp back into shape. Before leaving they got to hike up Waite Phillips Mountain where you can look back East and see several States. Waite Phillips was the Phillips 66 tycoon and was giving back to a worthy organization.

Before the summer was over we went to mom and dad’s to see the Powell family who were coming to visit before going on to Blair to visit family there. It was a yearly thing for them to come back to the Midwest (from Washington D.C. area) and we never failed to connect with them one place or the other. Sometimes they even visited us….which they did on their way to Blair.

We squeezed in another little jaunt with the Bryant family before it was time for school. We drove out to the Tuttle Creek Dam for the day and enjoyed the area and scenery. It was mighty windy the day we were there and I imagine it’s always that way. Not much to break the wind in Kansas.

Before we knew it, school bells would be ringing and this year I was going to school myself. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out about that……….

Until then,

Essentially Esther

Sunday, June 13, 2004

THE END OF 1962.... 

I got the bright idea to decorate the boy’s room and wanted something totally boyish. I had some left over paint that I picked up here and there and decided on a parade of clowns. I worked hard to make it ‘real’ looking with three large figures holding balloons. It served as a headboard for the two twin beds that set “head first” into the wall. They loved it and I loved doing it……..my juices were still perking so I decided to put one on the dining room wall.

We had gone to a lot of old mills in south Missouri where the mill, stream and trees were tantamount to the area we once lived in. The quaint pictorial scene was hard for me to bring to life on the wall. I labored several days and just couldn’t quite get it the way I wanted. Finally I quit fussing with it and put the paint away. I have pictures of it as well as the clowns and they still look pretty good. The dining room scene was a mill with the water-wheel and small rivulet disappearing behind a large fully- leafed oak tree. The hutch (that belonged to mom and dad as a wedding gift) took up the rest of the wall. I got a lot of ribbing about the water disappearing behind the tree and hutch. I always said when I was old and retired I would take painting lessons but I am old and retired and the only pictures I seem to paint are with words. I guess it’s OK…….one day I may wake up and start painting again. … as Robert Frost once wrote…… “I have miles to go before I sleep.”

Mural on the dining room wall
Dining Room Mural, John holding Spooky

October brought my uncle Roger, aunt Phyllis, my grandmother Stricklett and Phyllis’ mother, Mrs. Petersen; along with my three cousins, Roger Phillip, Julie and Joy. They were on their way through Kansas City and stopped to visit and have a meal with us. We were always happy to have family come and being half-way between Blair and Willow Springs we usually were the stopping off place on family trips.

After our Thanksgiving trip to our grandparents we came home and put up our tree. It always set the stage for our Christmas season. Becky and John had Christmas programs to go to and I had a Christmas party for the Bluebirds the day they were let out of school for vacation. We had finished with everything and I had all the girls sit around the tree in a circle….I had a small gift for each one and when I told them to stand up so I could hug them goodbye until they came back in January, they all stood up singing, “We wish you a merry Christmas….we wish you a merry Christmas….we wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” They had gone together and presented ME with an unexpected gift. When I opened it a small gold-tone angel carrying a Christmas tree (pin) was in the box….. I was totally overwhelmed. I have it to this day and consider it a token of the 15-little angels I had for six years.

George Jr. was 12 that December and had the supper of his choice along with a 3-layer birthday cake. He was getting a little “old” for a dog or cat cake. He always managed to get his candles out even though it was getting more difficult every year.

George and I got new bikes for George Jr. and Becky that year. They rode them even as cold as it was……John got his heart’s desire as well. We always celebrated Christmas with the Fowlers, Bryant’s and Granny and Barclay Bond, individually. They were our family away from home. The Bond’s have passed on some year’s ago, the Bryant’s have retired and moved to the Lake of the Ozarks, and the Fowler’s moved away also after retirement to their hometown of Emporia, Kansas.

Friends are people who never let distance make a difference. We have all lived apart for many years now but we still have regular contact with each other as well as deep affection. Acquaintances come and go but friends are friends forever.

All in all, 1962 was a good year and we had no complaints. George had been working part-time at Wonder Bakery along with his mail route. The kids were well and healthy and I was the monitor to get everyone where they needed to go. Life was picking up speed but so far we were keeping up and the future looked bright. A week later we would wake up to a New Year and the hope of things to come. We could not have imagined the events that would follow……..

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Saturday, June 12, 2004


Fall and winter were busy in 1962. George and Becky visited John’s room at the KSSB before their first day of school at Nieman. It was an experience for them to observe how a specialized school operates. They began school the next day.

Our neighborhood at that time had undergone some changes. On one side of us a military family lived, the Monihan’s. Dave, the dad, was doing a tour of duty in Kansas City, Missouri as the area’s ROTC head. He didn’t like the duty because he was a ‘real’ soldier and didn’t like the baby-sitting job with high-school ROTC. Dave was an Army brat whose father was a survivor of the Bataan death march. It had a way of entering into the mix of seriousness that Dave exemplified on military issues. Dave, himself, had graduated West Point and had an impressive record. Beverly, his wife, was a sister to his best friend and room-mate at the Point….they became acquainted when the family came to West Point to visit and as they say…..the rest is history. They married and had two children, David and Coleen. They were the third or fourth family to live in this house next to us.

Beverly hailed from Arizona and introduced us to tacos. She was an excellent cook and we occasionally had dinner together. At first we didn’t know if we were into tacos or not….but they had a way of growing on your taste buds. This was before the Mexican food craze hit and it was hard to find the flour tortillas…when you did, they had to be formed in a skillet of grease using two pancake turners to make the shell. I laugh when I think back on that. It took time to brown and mold each tortilla and then to chop all of the things that go into a taco. I always think of Beverly when we have Mexican food. She was a good friend and I learned a lot from her scheduled manner of “a place for everything and everything in it’s place.” Beverly also introduced us to TV slippers one Christmas which she had knit. I still use the pattern and that’s one thing that George Jr. still likes to have when his old pair wears out.

On the other side of us lived the Latham family. Bill was a bank administrator and Aileen was a stay-at-home mom. They had two children….Steve who was in the upper grades at Nieman and then a pretty little sister. They left and relocated in a small town in Kansas some time after we moved in. Bill had the opportunity to become president of the bank so it was a good move for them. When they left they asked if I would show the empty house to anyone who was interested in buying it and after only once or twice a young couple signed the papers on it.

Jim and Dee Cannon hadn’t been married too long and had no children. He worked for TWA as a mechanic and she was a nurse at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. They became a solid part of the neighborhood as well as the Fowler’s who had moved in across the street. Another family on down from the Latham house was the Everett family. Sherri, the mother, Lisa Gaye the older sister and Eric the little brother…. (I’ve forgotten the husband’s name). The Monihan’s, the Everett’s and the Fowler’s were all playmates of our children. It remained that way for some time before the neighborhood changed again.

For a change of pace mom and dad wanted us to come to Willow Springs for Thanksgiving that year. Uncle Ted and aunt Beulah had retired and had a new home built in Willow Springs so it would be fun to be together. We loaded up the gifts for our “Christmas at Thanksgiving” tradition and all three kids…….while they sang “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we gooooooo……” We drove down the night before so once the excitement died down the kids crawled under blankets in the back of the wagon and fell asleep.

After the meal on Thanksgiving dad decided to show the kids how to squirrel hunt. Aunt Beulah, uncle Ted, my mother and dad had hunted a lot in their younger days on grandpa Andersen’s farm. We loaded everyone up and headed for the open range of woods where dad often deer hunted. After walking for some time dad showed the kids “deer sign”….foot prints and “tree scrapes.” He explained the rutting season and held a fascinating audience. Grandparent’s are so important to a child’s life…they hold so much information and in my own parent’s case….it was highly valuable information. They were experts on wildlife and appreciation of nature.

The Great Squirrel Hunt of 1962
The Great Squirrel Hunt of 1962
From left to right: Aunt Beulah, Esther's mom, Esther, John, Becky, Esther's Dad and George, and Uncle Ted

We moved on until dad heard squirrel’s running and spied a nest in one of the tree’s. He told the kids to quietly walk around to the other side of the tree and be very quiet…..as they did, the squirrel moved his position around to the opposite side of the tree where dad waited with the rifle. When the crack of the shot sounded and the squirrel hit the ground the three kids were instantly freaked out. “Graaandpa,” John said, “that was a fine noise.” Their fun was over when the little squirrel was picked up for the ride home and dad had George hold the back legs while he skinned it. It ended his desire to hunt or wish for another squirrel tail….as for Becky and John….they disappeared in the house. My dad often spoke of John’s reaction and would laugh at what he said. In dad’s later years he could no longer hunt…..he couldn’t eat what he killed out of sympathy and finally gave it up all together.

Tomorrow we try to close out 1962.…still a lot to write….

Essentially Esther

Friday, June 11, 2004


Before school started in the Fall Dr. Eubanks had a talk with me. He felt we should have John start in the Kansas State School for the Blind for several reasons. He wanted him to be given the best opportunity for social adaptation and learning. In a public school he felt the classes were too large for him to get much ‘one-on-one’ and he would soon fall behind. Along with that he had a sight difficulty which made him ‘different’ and might hinder him socially with the other kids. Kids can be cruel.

He felt by going to the KSSB he would be at the top of the heap with ‘partial’ vision and that would place him in a better position to grow socially, educationally and morally. He would have many advantages that wouldn’t be available in public schools. However, down the line somewhere, if his eyes improved or he was found to be able to keep up there was always the possibility of moving him back into the public school system. Dr. Eubanks was not negative for at that time we didn’t know if John would be able to keep the sight he had been given. He could, at any time, lose it all.

George and I always took Dr. Eubanks advice seriously for he was an ophthalmologist who considered the whole person…not just the eyes of his patients. After talking it over pro and con we agreed and Dr. Eubanks made the necessary pre-enrollment for us. The school was in Kansas City, Kansas and would have easy access for us since we lived a few blocks away from I-35 which would take us to the Toll Bridge and just a short drive on to the school. I mentioned before about Mr. Frakes who lived in our neighborhood, taught school there and offered to let John ride with him and another teacher each day. It was a terrific help since we only had the one vehicle and George needed it to go to work every day. Since John would be going only half-days this first year he would ride with Mr. Frakes to school and we would pick him up at noon.

We arrived at the room where we met Mrs. Salter, his teacher for kindergarten. She was very outgoing, pleasant and ‘at home’ with children. She welcomed John and introduced him to some of the other children who had already arrived. The KSSB had dormitories for the enrollment because most of them came from all over the State and it wouldn’t be possible for them to commute. Since the ‘dorm’ kids came earlier to get settled in their rooms John was about the last to arrive to class. The room was attractive in bright colors, furniture geared for little folks, a piano and all kinds of toys.

The KSSB was a community complete within itself due to the dormitory living. Students only went home at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. It’s buildings were attractive and the grounds well kept. The faculty and staff were friendly and obviously loved the kids. As the days went by John adapted quickly. He was quick to help the blind kids and they all liked one another. There was a time when he became obsessed with who was ‘blind’ and who had partial vision like him. Mrs. Salter finally talked to me about it since it was such a topic with him and she had decided to tell John she was blind also. She couldn’t see my reaction to her statement….my mouth all but dropped open. I had been talking with her on many occasions by that time and had never guessed she was totally blind. She wore dark glasses and I knew she had ‘traveling’ eyes but thought she had partial vision as John did. How did she get her make-up on so perfectly? How did she dress with everything matching….jewelry, clothing, shoes, hair…..the whole picture. How on earth did she keep control of children who couldn’t see and had poor attention spans? I stood in the hall many times watching through the door and as she played the piano with her back to the children who were seated in a semi-circle, if a little one got up and roamed around the room she would say, “All right, Jimmy, Suzie, Joe (or whoever)…get back in your seat.” Surely she would have to be able to see to know WHO was up roaming around. Not. That woman was amazing !! From her personal appearance to her teaching ability to her positive attitude I respected her above all others.

John was really upset when he found she was blind. He quizzed me all the way home that day. “Will she be able to see when she gets to heaven, mama? Why does she have to be blind? Can a doctor fix her like Dr. Eubanks did me? I don’t want her to be blind.” It went on and on. Actually my answers were pretty nominal. We all have to wonder why good people have bad things happen to them. It is incomprehensible to a child………if they are good, then good things should happen to them. My explanation was pretty much doctrine…. “ Only God knows these things, John. He has a reason for everything and sometimes we never know…or other times we find out later. You have bad vision compared to some people but you are happy and don’t feel sorry for yourself….so that’s how she feels…..she’s making the best of a bad thing. She could have just sat down and quit but she didn’t. She wanted to be useful and she’s gone way beyond that. We don’t need to feel sorry for her because she doesn’t feel sorry for herself.”

John fell silent as we drove along. We were both left to our thoughts of Mrs. Salter. When you can’t ‘fix’ things it hurts sometimes. I couldn’t help Mrs. Salter or a school of blind kids but I could help the little boy God gave me. It took me a while to learn the art of helping when needed but letting him work a lot of things out for himself…..it’s the age-old battle mother’s have to learn. Hands off or hands on. Knowing the difference is the invisible force that makes a mom know she’s doing the right thing……

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Thursday, June 10, 2004

New Photos Posted 

Check out some family photos from the 60's. See Dale in his US Navy uniform and more. To visit the new page, click here or follow the link in the sidebar under the Photos heading.

John and Doug early 60's
John and Doug, early 60's, Shawnee, Kansas


Billie, the parakeet deserves a little space in the grand scheme of things. He was a great little bird with a big heart….made fat because Billie loved pea-nut butter. Just how they came upon this bird I have no idea. In fact, it seems strange they would have one because dad was really funny about animals in the house. We were never allowed one growing up. However…..when there are kids in the house we adults do a lot of things for reasons we never adhere to once the kids have moved on. Becky is constantly reminding me….. “you never did that when we were home” or “you never let us get by with that”…. and she’s right. I don’t do a lot of the things the same way any more……so …….shoot me !! I maintain the right to change. (If you aren’t over 60 you don’t understand this yet. Just read on.)

Billie had the widest vocabulary of any bird I ever witnessed. Mom spent hours with Billie on her finger, his head close to her lips in a lowered position as if getting the vibes from her as she spoke. She constantly wrote of Billie’s increasing vocabulary and I thought….. “yah, right. A bird speaking so clear you can make out the words…poor mom…she needs another hobby.” Much to my amazement on the next visit home we were observers to his expertise. We heard him plainly say,

“Loooo-ie, Essssss-ter, I like Folll-ggggers coffee, Hot dog I’m a democrat, Where’s Hoppy, Billie Boy, Merry Christ-mo’ (never got so he could say Christmas) and it went on and on. I’m sure the kids can remember more words than I can. He was a regular show-off and the folks adored that bird. He had the run of the house unless for his own safety mom put him in his cage….of course at night he always went in and was covered til morning. Usually through the day he rode around on mom’s shoulder unless she was eating and quite often he would hop down on the table and take bites off her plate. I’m sure this sounds gross to some but when you love your pet…..they get certain privileges that NO one else can have. There wasn’t a cleaner cook than my mother nor a more picky person about food than dad so believe me when I say we weren’t offended by Billie’s presence at the table. He would only go to mom’s plate.

When mom and dad went to the lake for a few days in their camper, Billie went along and dad would hang his cage in a tree……Billie loved being ‘out’ and jabbered constantly. Of course the folks loved showing him off…he was a real ham and neighboring campers got a kick out of him. Dad found a little baby rabbit in their yard one time when he was mowing. The mother or other siblings were nowhere to be seen…dad took the little guy to mom and they fed and nursed him along until he was past the danger point. By then he had become as tame as a cat…and as clean, with his own litter box. Dad didn’t think they could put him back out because he had become so tame. Billie and Hoppy became friends and raced around the house playing tag and hide and seek…..it was a riot to watch them. Hoppy was as fast as lightening and used all manner of deflection maneuvers to stay ahead of Billie in their sprints.

Of course when Billie was found dead in his cage the morning of my 30th birthday the loss was insurmountable to both mom and dad. Especially since Hoppy had come to a bad end as well. Dad told that he would get up in the night and Hoppy would be sitting by the screen door looking out in the moonlit yard. Dad felt like Hoppy was needing to be out to live a normal life and took his friend one day to the back yard. For several days he would appear when dad or mom would be walking in their yard and then…..they didn’t see him anymore. A few days later Dad saw some neighbor boys in their back yard throwing stones at something in the grass…he immediately got sick in his stomach because he had the feeling it was Hoppy. He figured Hoppy saw the boys and thought they were friendly like mom and dad……..it was his demise more than likely. Dad could never go look to see….he hung on to the hope that maybe Hoppy was alive and well somewhere and his fears were wrong. Once you love a little critter that much it hurts to see them go. They never had another pet.

The house across the street from us had a family living in it when we joined the neighborhood. Later they moved out and it was repossessed by the government since the owner was a veteran and originally purchased it on a G.I. Loan. The house stood empty for some time and one day in 1962 we noticed people looking at it. Time went by and later a truck came with furniture and a family appeared. It was St. Patrick’s day in 1962. There was an older couple along with a young couple and two children. They came and went a lot and finally the older couple were no longer coming there. We became acquainted and found the older ones had been the parent’s of Gene (the husband) and his father had been going for cancer treatments until his death. His mother returned to Emporia where the familie’s originated from.

We became good friends over the years and Rosalie was like a kid sister to me. She was 6-years younger than me and Gene was a little older than her. Their children, Douglas was almost 3-years and Janice was less than 5-months. Since we were both stay-at-home-moms we were reinforcement for each other in an era where women were being encouraged to “be all they could be career-wise.” At times it seemed we were in a category of women who weren’t capable for anything ‘other’ than staying home and raising kids…..like it was a last resort choice. There was a strong movement towards Women’s Lib and the like….where a woman could do it all without a man. I think time has shown that was a disastrous intent. I’m all for a woman being capable and even independent…but why do we have to do that in defiance to men? I like men….my husband was a man…my father was a man, my brother was a man…my cousins, uncles and grand-father’s were men….well, I think you get the point.

Rose and I shared many moments and emotions while neighbors on 65th Street and have been in timely contact ever since. “Make new friends, but keep the old; for one is silver…the other gold. You will be hearing a lot about Rosalie as we continue our journey…….and we need to meet John’s kindergarten teacher yet……

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther