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Tuesday, August 31, 2004


After our trip to Seattle we got caught up on the gardens and necessary house work. Mom and dad got ready for aunt Mary and Sadie to come visit (a cousin of mom and aunt Mary‘s). We visited back and forth and watched as the foursome played cards with gambler’s hearts each night. Not a one of them liked to lose so it was fun to watch their hands play out.

While they were here the folks took them to all the mills and springs around the area and even drove out to Tyrone to see the old farm. I went along for that as I hadn’t been to Tyrone in years. There was a new house….and the fences were good, the land was in pasture yet and some of the timber had been cut out. The old general mercantile stores that stood across the road from each other were gone. Time takes it’s toll on small communities. The young people have to leave to make a living and soon it’s just the old folks that are left. It takes the life right out of a place. Aunt Mary and Sadie were here over a week and we packed a lot into the short time.

I had a birthday dinner here for dad. Although we had celebrated his and Louis’ in Seattle I couldn’t let the day go by without a dinner. I had all of dad’s favorites…roast and gravy, mashed potatoes, cauliflower with cheese sauce, salad, hot rolls and cake. I decorated it pretty and when he came in and saw it he put his arms around it and said, “all for me….mine!!” with a big grin. It had his favorite boiled icing….after dinner when he was so full he was miserable, he glanced over at the cake and said, “Well, I guess you can all have some….”

The second week of November dad wasn’t feeling so well. I talked him in to seeing the doctor and took him so I could hear what the doctor had to say. The whole time dad was talking to him he was writing prescriptions and didn’t even look at dad. He finally said, “Well it sounds to me like you’re falling apart, Andy….” and dad said, “that’s exactly how I feel…like I’m falling apart.” Doc handed him the prescriptions and we stopped by the drug store to have them filled.

The next day we went to Springfield together, while Warren worked, and the three of us had a nice lunch and did some shopping. Dad asked me to drive coming back. If you knew my dad that was as unusual as the sun coming up in the West. He dozed on and off….and said, “If I had it to do over, I’d get power steering on this car.” (He had a new Ford Maverick) “That steering just wears me out on this little car.” I stuck it in the back of my mind, knowing my folks were getting older and changing.

Friday that week I was doing some sewing and trying to get it finished before the week-end when mom called and said dad wanted me to come up for coffee with them. I started to put them off but something made me say I would….that I would come about two o’clock. I watched the clock and reluctantly laid the sewing aside.

When I came through the door, dad was smiling. They had been to West Plains in the morning and bought a set of Corelle dishes. Dad brought me a cup of coffee in one of the cups and saucers and said, “This ought to taste good. It’s in a cup no one’s drank out of before and it’s a new pound of coffee. It can’t be better than this.” He sat down and told me they’d had a good steak dinner that mom fixed after they got home. The three of us sat visiting until about 3:45pm when I said I’d better go to start some supper and get my laundry in. Dad stood up and said, “Well, I’d better go finish what I started, too. I’ve got a stump out back I was cutting off at the ground so I can get over it with the mower.”

We headed for the door and dad was ahead of me……..he pulled his watch out and looked at it… “it’s a quarter till 4:00 he said…just time enough to finish what I started before 5:00 o’clock….on a Friday…quittin’ time. That’s a good way to wind up the week.” As he was going down the steps I playfully tapped him on the backside with my foot and said, “Dad, you’d better take it easy…one of these days mom is going to look out in the yard and you’ll be layin’ there.” He laughed and said in a comical way…. “yah, I know….I’m a baaadddd boy.” We got to the corner of their mobile home and before he went out of sight he held his arm up high, in a wave, and said, “So long, Esther”…………

I came home and got my clothes off the line and started to fold them when I heard a fumbling kind of scratching and hoarse yelling at the door…..it was mom…clutching her chest….she had run all the way to our place, crying and hysterical….. “I think dad’s dead, Esther, come and see“……… She had tried to call the ambulance but was so panicked she couldn’t get the number right….I took time to call Warren to tell him to get the ambulance and come quick.

When I reached the back yard with mom….there was dad. He was laying on his side with his left arm outstretched under his head. He looked like a little boy who became tired of playing and decided to rest. His hand was relaxed and when I looked at his face, I knew he was gone. I had never seen a dead person before but I will never forget the look in his eyes. They were focused straight ahead as if he were looking far away….there was no fear….only a look of peace and rest….as one who has traveled a long journey and sees the lights of home.

As I was bending over him, a little trickle of coffee bubbled out of the corner of his mouth……drank from a new cup. “I love you daddy, I love you,” I said and then stood up to give comfort to my mother………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, August 30, 2004



Yesterday I wrote about my husband, Warren, losing his leg in 1980 and some of his recuperation during the Olympic trials that year. Since most of you read John’s Journal I thought you would like to know that he ran a marathon that year and sent his medal to Warren. He told him he ran the race for him and he was sending him the medal “because he was a winner.” After Warren’s death in 1997 I returned the letter and medal to John. They both showed they could come through when the going got tough. I’m rightfully proud of them both.


Going to Seattle…….we left Blair at 8:00am; dad, mom, aunt Mary, aunt Beulah and yours truly. We ate lunch east of Ogallala, NE. and ended up at Casper, Wyoming with 640-miles under our belts. We slept hard and fast to be up early and on the road again. We saw lots of pronghorn’s and the weather was perfect. Great scenery with Fall colors everywhere. We stopped at Missoula, Montana for the night…..a long way from our starting place this morning. By the next day we made it to Louis’ door-step by 5:00pm to a warm welcome from Louis and Gail. A festive mood was spilling over with the anticipation of showing aunt Mary and aunt Beulah all the sights in and around Seattle.

There is so much to do and see there but I’ll have to confess….even then, when I was much younger, I was content to sit and look at the lake with the boats coming and going. At night, the lights on Mercier Island, just across from us, twinkled like fire-flies dancing over the water. A good friend of Louis’ brought his large RV and left it for some of us to sleep in. It took a lot of luggage out of the house as aunt Mary, aunt Beulah and I stayed in the RV. (We dubbed it the “RV Hilton”).

We spent the first day visiting and resting up. Day two, Louis told us a ferry boat, the Princess Margarita, was making her last trip up to Vancouver the next day and we gals should all go….. so early morning we were up and drove down to Pier 64 where we bought our tickets and boarded. It was very crowded due to the fact it was her last run. The scenery up the coast was indescribable and the crowded ferry was no problem because everyone was in a holiday mood and accommodating. Coming into Vancouver was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. A huge hotel faced the pier we came in on and there were flowers blooming everywhere. It was like a fairyland from another world.

We had a certain amount of time to get off and look around. As we walked past the hotel and peeked inside it was truly elegant…..we walked on, stopping to look in shop windows and finally one full of lovely china dishes lured us in. We each bought something to remember the trip and wished we had more time and money. People began to stream back to the ferry so we did as well. The next day the article was in the paper with a picture of the Margarita. I have the clipping somewhere in my mementos.

The next day, the Goddard’s (neighbors of Louis and Gail) took us on a ride around Lake Washington in their yacht and we saw the beautiful homes that line Mercier Island as well as across, where Louis lived. That evening, Bill (Goddard) treated us to music on their organ. With the lapping of the water on the seawall, the organ music, and twinkling lights from the Island, it wove a perfect ending to our day.

The next morning we drove up to the property Louis owned on one of the rivers and had fun rock hunting and looking around. The rushing water from run-off higher up, huge pines, damp smells and rocks washed up along the river’s edge made entertainment for some time. We all love rocks and hunting pretty ones. On our way back we found a cute little place called the Dutch Cup and we stopped for fresh blackberry cobbler. Yum!!!

Of course you can’t see Seattle without going up the Space Needle so we did that and ate at the Food Court again; we did all the things that we enjoyed and wanted aunt Mary and aunt Beulah to see. It’s fun watching someone’s reaction to something that has previously impressed you. We ended the day by going to Ivar’s for a seafood dinner.

We girls decided we needed to go back to Vancouver and do more shopping so we drove up this time with Gail’s help and spent the day. More dishes. I absolutely love English tableware. On the way back we stopped at a German restaurant and then back home. Louis and dad bummed around all day by themselves….I’m sure they were glad to be rid of us for a day. Shopping isn’t a guy thing. We had another two days in which to celebrate dad and Louis’ birthdays…..the last night there, Louis showed us his films taken on his trip to the South Pole and it was very impressive. We were so proud of him.

Morning light came and we left early before Louis and Gail had to go to work. Leaving is always sad for it’s a long way between Seattle and Missouri. We enjoyed the scenery of the Columbia River a good part of the day and stayed at Ontario, Oregon our first night out. We stopped in Mertaugh, Id. to see dad’s cousin Chris and his wife, Margretta….we were sad to find them both in ill-health. It would be the last time we would ever see them. We drove on to Ogden, Utah and stayed the night there and the next night in Ogallala, NE. The next day we traded driving on and off to Blair where we unloaded all the luggage; and aunt Beulah left for Omaha to spend more time with her sister before driving back to Arkansas.

Mom, dad and I left early the next morning for home. We were anxious to get back. Warren stayed home to work and take care of things while we were gone and was happy to see us when we drove in. He had called every day while we were gone so he had a good idea of the fun we had. I was so happy I went with them for dad and mom had a wonderful trip to remember…….and mom made it just fine.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, August 29, 2004


Tonight the Olympics will close with great pomp and circumstance as happy athlete’s celebrate their victory’s. As much as I enjoy their success it always brings back memories of Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. It is a very large and old structure that fell into hard times, sold by the government, and now has been converted into commercial use.

In April 1980 my husband and I were there for his recuperation and treatment in the loss of his left leg. (I shall write, in length, of this later on.) In the large physical therapy wing, active and retired military of all ages and manner of disabilities were struggling to regain the use of their bodies again. As they worked to overcome their loss of arms or legs and adapt to their prostheses, the television was airing the trials for the Summer Olympics. The goal was so starkly different for both, I was moved to write these lines.


Outside is a world who loves a winner.
How we applaud, honor, bedeck, praise.
And rewards are great.
Promotions, endorsements, bonuses, a raise.
How differently we achieve here.
To sit up once more, one unsure step, to button,
To drink, to swing a stump that was a leg.
And to feel the heady joy of accomplishment
So innocent and pure
The angels bend low to watch.

Dedicated to all the men who fought the biggest battle of their lives, at Fitzsimmons. Written April 16, 1980.

Tomorrow I return to,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, August 28, 2004


August 8th ….President Nixon resigned office because of Watergate scandal.

Aunt Mardelle was released from the hospital in July and after she was a little stronger uncle Emil brought her to visit mom and dad. She was very thin and had so many pills to take it was unreal. Aunt Beulah was invited to come and join in the fun. Whenever the family got together there were always spirited card games, lots of laughter and good food. Aunt Beulah and I usually had something to stitch on but when cards were on the table, aunt Beulah was first to sit down. She loved table games.

I usually begged off to crochet, knit or quilt; whatever I happened to be working on at the time. I knit an adorable sweater and cap for Jennifer in pale yellow during the winter months and she looked like a little pixie in it. It had little pom poms on top and on the strings that tied under her chin. I have a picture of her I wish I could share…..maybe some day I will learn how to operate a camera and scanner for our PC.

When the games got to a certain point it was always time for dessert and coffee. With aunt Beulah and my mom we always had wonderful food….I had learned well from them, growing up, and had become a fair cook in my own rights. They taught me from the empty bowl to the oven or stove top. The cooking experience they had was a wealth of information….it was fascinating to watch my mom. She handled the dough with such ease….she always said you had to have “the touch.” She certainly did.

Warren quit at the shoe factory when the work became slow and went to work for the Ford dealership as a salesman. He was sent to St. Louis to a sales meeting, using one of the cars from the lot. On the last day of meetings he loaded the car so when the meeting was over he could come straight home. When he popped out the door to do so, to his amazement…..the car was gone. He went back inside and called the police who arrived some time later. Of course the red tape and questions took most of the afternoon. He had to catch a bus to come home and arrived late evening. Our insurance company reimbursed us for the luggage and contents…..the car was found later, stripped.

John surprised us by being here one Sunday when we came from church. He planned on taking in a revival going on the next week and to go on a float trip with Becky and Hank. He came and went on the bus if he didn’t have a ride any other way…..he managed to get back for Jennifer’s birthday but had to leave the next day for work. We always hated to see him go……..

Mom had a funny spell in September and dad was quite worried about her. She was telling him something and all of a sudden she started talking crazy….nothing to do with what she was previously talking about. Her mouth sagged down on one side and then she couldn’t talk at all. Dad took her to the doctor and he told them it was little mini-strokes. A few days later they left for Blair to visit aunt Mary. She was suffering the effects of taking care of grandma for so many years and suddenly being alone. Losing someone whom you have been a caretaker for is a terrible void after they are gone.

Mom had another “spell” after they were there a few days and this time they went to a local doctor that was well-known by the family. He put her through a series of tests and found an aneurysm at the base of her brain as well as indications of small blockages. He gave her medications and after a few days she seemed better. Dad continued to worry about her but kept it to himself.

Mom and dad were planning a trip to Seattle as aunt Mary and aunt Beulah hadn’t been there before…….the folks thought it would be good for aunt Mary to have a change of scenery. Dad wanted me to go along to look after mom. He was afraid she would have one of her spells on the trip and he wouldn’t be able to take care of her if that happened. I hated to leave home for that long but gave in because dad wanted to celebrate his and Louis’ birthdays together. Dad never asked for anything and I knew this was important to him. I finally agreed.

I rode to Omaha with aunt Beulah and we stayed with her sister, Mildred, the first night. Dad and uncle Tom came after me the next morning and aunt Beulah joined us after supper so we would all be ready to leave in the morning. September 22nd we left for Seattle…..the Powell’s left for home in Virginia. With every mile we would be further and further apart. Tomorrow we take another long ride to Seattle……….

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Friday, August 27, 2004


January 13th….the Vikings won the Super Bowl.
January 28th…..Mohammed Ali won the heavy weight championship fight.
March 20th….Chet Huntley….network news anchor died.

The weather was very cold in our area for this end of winter. After the first of the year we took down the Christmas tree and re-organized the house. When you live in a mobile home that is a constant job. Warren and I were more involved in church every year. I made a promise to God that I would step up and be counted when and where I was needed. He had been very good to me and I knew it was time to try and give something back…..He took me at my word.

Warren did the same and with him working at the shoe factory and me taking care of Jennifer, doing mom and Ruth’s hair each week along with their sewing and my own……it was amazing how we had time to make it around the clock…but we did. The difference was….when you give it all to God, He makes time for you to get “it” done. As I read back in my journal we were having mom and dad, Ruth and Floyd, Becky and Hank and many friends from church over to eat with us several times a week. I have never been a “box” cook so when I read about all the cakes, pies, hot rolls and the mountain of cookies and meals I served, it was in a mobile home with no air conditioning and a very small kitchen. I am not patting myself on the back but testifying what God can do when He is in charge.

We went to church and Sunday school mornings; training union and church on Sunday evenings. Bible Study (held in homes) one evening a week, prayer meeting and choir practice on Wednesday’s. In between we were studying the Bible on our own and being fueled and inspired more each day. It was a time of enormous spiritual growth for both of us.

Through the last of winter and the early Spring, mom and dad went back and forth to see about uncle Alfred who had pneumonia (he lived in Mountain Home, AR.) and to the hospital in Springfield where aunt Mardelle was having serious heart problems. In May they went to Blair as grandma Stricklett was dealing with serious vascular problems in her legs. She had always eaten like a bird and never indulged in rich food, fat or sugar. Nowadays they would think with her particular problems that she had too much cholesterol. She never smoked nor was around smoking but here this little skinny grandma was having the battle of her life. Eighty-five pounds and yet the veins in her legs were clogged and gangrene had set in.

Warren and I had planted a big garden and invested in a garden tractor this year. The rewards were keeping us busy canning and freezing. Somehow, in between all of the other we were able to can much of what we raised. We now had the need for a freezer to put up our strawberry jam and all the other garden things. We bought an upright freezer and for a time it served our purpose.

In May grandma Stricklett was taken back to the hospital. The pain in her legs was unbearable and the doctor said the only thing to do was to amputate both legs. The option, if you will, was to not operate in which case she would have a very painful death. The family could not bear to have that done to their mother who was 90-years of age. There was simply nothing they could do to ease or reverse the situation. I wonder if in this day and age there MIGHT be something now?

Mom and dad and the other children that could went to be with her. We were surprised to see dad come home in a few days………he told us he just couldn’t stand to see that nice old lady suffer like that. He had always held grandma in high esteem and he couldn’t understand why she had “to go like that.” Dad was tough on the outside but inside was just a big marshmallow. Mom and her sister’s kept us informed and remained vigil by grandma’s bedside throughout her ordeal. On the 11th of June, grandma died, and it was one of those times where the family was happy to see her suffering over. She was a little short of her 91st birthday which would have been in August.

Dad and we prepared to go for the funeral. I called George and John who wanted to go. George was trying to get leave so he could go and it was granted to him. My brother, Louis, was flying in from Seattle. We stopped in Shawnee and picked John up…..George had gone ahead the day before and arrived ahead of us. Warren and I got rooms at a nearby motel and the boys stayed there with us. When all of the Stricklett family came together it was quite large. There were 6-living children and their spouses, with 17 grand-children and families…..I’m not sure how many of the great-children there were at the time.

We congregated at the funeral home on Family Night and watched as Blair residents passed by to pay their last respects. As one of the earliest residents she was well known, loved and respected. On the day of the funeral aunt Mary insisted the hearse bring grandma home before going to the cemetery. One of the last promises she made to grandma was that she would “take her home, again.” As the family stood in the yard, the grandsons carried her coffin to a resting place by the lilacs…a few words were spoken and then we made the trip to the cemetery. Each one of us had been marked by her life of supreme discipline and humility…….we would go on from this moment……following in her footsteps……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, August 26, 2004


July was a busy month. John went to Blair with mom and dad early in the month and when they came back, dad worked on John’s Honda some. I have the cutest pictures of John sitting with Jennifer in front of him on the Honda….it was all dad’s idea to see Jennifer’s eyes open big when she got a ride on it. He was concerned about safety though so he took a belt and fastened the two of them together. Dad got his money’s worth!! Jennifer was quite taken with it so John rode her up and down the road several times.

Later in the month dad and Warren began a screened in porch at the back of our mobile home. I had been wanting one so we could sit outside and not have to put up with the bugs and mosquitoes. They took the pick-up and went to Springfield to buy the lumber and materials. Dad helped him pour the concrete and level it for the floor. They worked on it everyday until it was finished. I was really proud of it.

Becky started working as a waitress at Hillbilly Junction. The factory work was always slow this time of year so she worked there on week-ends and some evenings to make ends meet. We had Jennifer’s first birthday at our house (August 3rd) and mom made her cake. It was heart shaped with boiled pink icing. She had all kinds of packages to open and I think we had more fun than she did…..she naturally was confused by the whole affair. Kids normally like the wrapping paper and ribbons more than the things in the boxes.

The night before her birthday was a record cold snap for our area. It got down to 52* …….that’s pretty cool for August in Missouri. We had out of State family drop in now and then in between our gardening and canning. We are in a good vacation spot and we enjoyed having them stop in on their way through. Summers were always good for that. George Jr. surprised us and drove in on Monday the 13th. He was home on leave and it was good to see him. The next day we decided to drive down to Big Springs Park at Van Buren and invited mom and dad to go along. Big Springs is the largest single spring in the world…….and is in a beautiful setting. It is always a nice place to take visitors to our area. We had a nice lunch and came back by Alley Springs which is totally different but equally beautiful.

That evening after we came home dad had been talking to George about buying the lot next door to them and to us. He would be in between……..it was for sale at a very good price and it would be an investment for him…or to retire on some day if he wanted to. Mom and dad were good friends of the couple who were selling it so we drove over to see about it and the deal was struck.

Mom and dad left for Blair as grandma Stricklett was not doing too well. Also, the Powell’s were there from Virginia so it was time to go for the Stricklett reunion that took place every mid-August. They went ahead so George Jr., Warren and I drove up later and stopped in Shawnee to see some of our friends, briefly. We had Jennifer with us as Becky wouldn’t have anyone to take care of her, otherwise. She was a sweetie and everyone wanted to hold and carry her so she was no trouble. We stayed a few days to visit with everyone and until grandma could come home. We headed back to Missouri as George still had to go to the Court House to sign papers with the Goggins who were selling to him. He had to do that and get back to Shawnee as his leave time was running out. George barely got gone when mom and dad pulled in from their extensive trip. After being in Blair for the reunion they drove on to Seattle to visit my brother and wife several days. They had a good trip and were glad to be home again.

Warren’s Army buddy and his wife arrived the next day and I enjoyed meeting them. They pulled a nice travel trailer behind their car so they stayed in George’s lot and slept in their trailer that night. They wanted to go fishing and camping at Norfork Lake so we drove our pickup and camper and went along. The guys fished while us gals did the kitchen duty and enjoyed the fall weather. I liked them a lot.

Becky met a nice young man at the factory several months ago and had been dating him all along. They planned to be married in November so when we got back from the camping trip I went after material to make her dress. Since she had been married once, she didn’t want white but rather an icy blue satin. I began on the dress towards the end of September….the wedding was to be in November so I had plenty of time. I also made a dress for me and one for mom.

The first of November Warren put in an application for work at the shoe factory. They hired him for the following Monday as a cutter. He didn’t have the foggiest notion what that was but was glad to be working again. In no time he was acquainted with everyone and in the swing of things. He ended up in the shipping room where he worked with a couple of older women who were delighted to have him working with them. He came home with a funny story about his day much of the time.

Hank and Becky were married in our church on the 27th of November. She asked dad to give her away and normally dad would run from anything like that but he was honored and pleased to perform the service. He liked Hank, who was a good ole farm boy, and he was so happy to see Becky and Jennifer safe in his care. It was a simple service but a happy one for all of us.

Christmas this year Becky and Hank hosted dinner for mom and dad, Warren and me……..and John who came down to be with us for the holidays. The dinner was delicious and their little home was warm and comfortable. Jennifer loved Hank and he treated her as his own. It was a wonderful way to close out 1973.…..hearts were full and brimming over………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


I have finally worked up to the year where I began a journal….1973...in reading through it there are things along the way that might be nice to include in my blogs now and then. Such as: “January 22... President Johnson died suddenly today of a heart attack and Joe Frazier lost the championship fight to George Foreman.
January 23: President Nixon announced signing of peace with Viet Nam.”

Becky and I were surprised on February 12th to find orchid corsages in our mailbox today. (A gift from George Jr.) He was somewhere between Hawaii and the Philippines. In the evening she and I went to the Mother-Daughter banquet at church and Becky won the prize for being the youngest mother present. Jennifer was 6-months old the 3rd of February and Becky was eighteen at the time. It was a nice evening of speakers and a good meal.

On Valentine’s Day I fixed dinner for grandma Strain while Warren drove to Cabool to bring her. In the afternoon we had our friends, Ruth and Floyd Carriger and mom and dad over for Valentine’s cake and coffee. My journal is full of the dinners we had back and forth, the times we were together for cake and coffee or going on a little outing to shop and have a lunch or dessert while we were out. At times dad baby sat Jennifer while we girls went and he was truly up to the task. He just beamed when he would pick her up and she would hug his neck and kiss him. It is something he missed out on with my brother and I…..in those days it would have been a “sissy” thing to do. In dad’s late years he gave in to his feelings and enjoyed the benefits.

Ruth and Floyd lived on one side of us and mom and dad lived on the other side with a small empty lot between us. My journal records the weekly shampoo, set and comb-outs I did for Ruth and mom. I also did a lot of dress-making for them. It was a fair trade. Ruth paid me for the hair fixings and the sewing and mom bought material for me in payment for the sewing I did for her. In those days we helped each other with our talent and ability. Dad and Floyd helped Warren with mechanical, plumbing or heavy jobs while Warren helped them with paper-work and red tape. They were warm and good times.

In March we went to Kansas City to be with John for his birthday. We dropped Jennifer and Becky off at her dad’s to visit and we took John to Dairy Queen where we had a good visit until he had to go to work. It was his 16th birthday. Most kids would be getting their driver’s license at that age but John would never have that luxury. He was OK with that….John made life good no matter what he was deprived of. After we dropped him off at work we went to visit Rose and Gene to catch up with them and to spend the night. We stayed another day and left for home……..we found Jennifer’s first tooth today…on the bottom.

Becky was fully recovered and feeling the need to find a job. Warren took her to interview at the shoe factory and they hired her on the spot. She would begin work the next day sewing baby shoes. It was hard getting used to factory work but in no time she was hammering away with the best of them. To have her own money after such a long time was a real blessing. Her sense of worth took giant leaps.

Dad’s brother, uncle Alfred and their other brother, uncle Emil (and aunt Mardell) and aunt Beulah got together quite often to play cards, visit and have wonderful meals together. It was always a joy to have them come to the folks where we would join in. If they were at Gassville where aunt Beulah lived or at Kimberling City where uncle Emil lived we didn’t go with them. It was easier to take care of Jennifer at home….although she was a good baby and not much trouble, still we had everything needed here at home.

On the 16th of March mom and dad celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary. I had five couples in for a meal, besides the three of us. Everyone brought a dish so it was a great pot-luck…..every one of the women were wonderful cooks. These are such great times to look back on because almost all of them are no longer with us. There was always so much joy and laughter among them…..they truly knew how to enjoy life in spite of the hard times they had overcome in their younger years.

We met John at the bus depot on April 15th. He came to spend a few days with us and had saved his money to buy a Honda. I was not excited about the idea but conceded that it was better for him to ride it here than back in Shawnee with all the traffic. We all took him down for the big purchase and went for lunch afterwards. Of course he spent the rest of his visit on his “new best friend“…thrilled to be on wheels. John’s Easter vacation came to an end and we took him to the bus on the 23rd so he could go back to Shawnee.

On the 21st of May Becky rented a mobile home and we helped her move her things out. After all this time it was quiet and lonely without her and Jennifer here. Mom and dad left for a trip to Seattle the same day so it was a big change for us. John called us on the 26th to tell us George was on his way down, he had rented a Torino and stopped in Cabool to bring grandma Strain. They arrived here around 1:00pm. Aunt Beulah got here in time for supper and we all went to see Becky’s new “home.” She was very proud to be on her own. On the 30th we moved all of Jennifer’s things to Becky’s but we would continue to keep Jennifer while Becky worked.

John arrived on the bus June 1st to spend the summer with us…..life was very good!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


The early days that Becky and Jennifer lived with us seem so long ago. We were in a different mobile home then without air-conditioning. The heat and humidity in Missouri is miserable when it gets stuck in that pattern. We had put in a fairly ambitious garden and Warren was working on the yard to get a stand of grass. Fall came quickly with everything going on….I helped mom can some of her things because dad’s garden was flourishing where ours had withered. The difference was a few years of tilling and mulching…..we were no match for the poor ground and the little we had to work with.

We made a trip back to Shawnee in November and enjoyed seeing old friends. It’s always good to catch up on the news from each family and spend a few hours. By the time we came home it was Thanksgiving time and we planned for mom and dad, and Floyd and Ruth from next door. After we had eaten our meal we heard shots fired at close range and saw a man walking with a rifle in full orange gear across the road from us. He had fired at a deer and missed, narrowly missing our mobile home. He apologized but it was a little unnerving. In those days there were deer, wild turkey, and all the obvious critters……..lots of quail…sadly they have all dwindled with the increased building and infringing on their natural surroundings.

Right after Thanksgiving we began work on Christmas. Money wasn’t very plentiful so we made most of what we gave. I’ve always thought gifts that were personally made were giving the most precious commodity we have…..our time. Mom, Becky and I were busy with our individual projects and would work together some of the time while we had coffee and a “goodie.” We drove down to see aunt Beulah for an early Christmas in 1972 because Dale was going to be home and we always liked to see him. Aunt Beulah never failed to have a good meal and she had a knack of having just the right seasonal things sitting around. Most of which she had picked up on her walks or made out of material she had on hand. We always looked forward to the things she made. She was never idle.

John came down for Christmas with us. He was growing like a weed and losing his young boy look. It wouldn’t be long until he was taller than all of us. We all made Christmas candies and cookies to mail out to family and for our own holiday munching. Dad and John always made it seem worthwhile for they were constant samplers. John stayed until he had to go back for school and the house always seemed emptier after he left. We closed out 1972 all present and accounted for and we were grateful….for the time being, life was good………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther


The first order of business was to get Jennifer’s bed put together so we could make a place for her. The mobile home Warren and I bought for retirement was only a 12X60 and the second bedroom was just large enough for a full sized bed….we had intended living next to mom and dad to help them through dad’s last years and didn’t think we’d need a lot of space. Then we planned on going back to Johnson County somewhere. We were still young enough to get a good job…….so our thinking was on the “temporary” track.

Now with a baby bed and Becky we had to make some quick adjustments and decisions. We put Jennifer’s bed in our room and told Becky from now on it was “their” room. We moved into the mini-room. We made the necessary changes to make the place convenient for baby needs and Jennifer rewarded us with smiles and gurgles. Becky’s strength returned more with each day and mom and dad were frequent visitors to see Jennifer. She brought a big portion of joy with her when she came into our lives.

Aunt Beulah came to visit a few days and brought a rag doll she made for Jennifer. When Becky showed it to Jennifer, she brightened up with big eyes and said, “Aaahhhh, goo.” Becky immediately named the doll, Miss Aaahh Goo. No wonder Jennifer was taken with her….aunt Beulah had thoughtfully made her in bright colors which babies love….“just serve up the primary colors for me, please and I’ll be happy!!” Jennifer has Miss Aaaahh Goo to this day.

Life became good for Becky and Jennifer. Mom and dad were close by and Warren and I were here to help with any problem that came up. We were all privy to Jennifer’s first smile, first efforts to talk, to walk, to eat, teeth….the whole nine yards. George Jr. had Leave from the Navy during September so he and John drove down to see their new niece. I have enjoyed looking at the old pictures of the boys holding her….especially John. He was quite taken with Jennifer and is holding her in many of the pictures.

George was going back to the USS Oriskany, which was a carrier, this time. He had been encouraged by the Disbursing Clerk on the Monticello to take some classes and apply for the Clerk’s job on another ship. George was now going to be in charge of payroll for over 5,000 Sailors and Marines. Not bad for a kid who had trouble with the “new math” stuff they threw at him in Junior High.

Life was settling into a nice pattern and it was good to be close to mom and dad so they could enjoy Jennifer’s baby days.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther


We arrived in Sacramento and found the apartment by early afternoon. Becky’s husband was home and showed us how to get to the hospital. Becky looked as white as the sheets she was laying on and was understandably weak. She was happy she had a little girl and the nurse said she would bring her in shortly. Her husband had to go on to work so he left us with Becky and we stayed with her quite a while. Jennifer Rebecca was so tiny and cute. She had a shock of dark hair and a little pinkish complexion.

The nurse told us Becky had been given blood twice and if her vitals were normal we could take her home in the morning. Her best friend, was flying out to see her and the baby so we would need to pick her up from the airport after we picked Becky and Jennifer up the next day. Things were happening pretty fast and I could see Becky wasn’t going to be strong enough to take care of Jennifer for quite a while.

The next day we arrived at the specified time and the nurse had Becky ready and a little bag of things for Jennifer to start out with. Becky was tired already and I was anxious to get her home and in bed. We found her friend at the terminal and headed back to the apartment. It took a little while to unload the luggage and all but Warren took care of all that while we made Becky comfortable in her bed. Jennifer was sleeping at the time.

Things had not been good with Becky and her husband and when it came time for us to leave she decided to come back with us. With the time spent in the hospital and at the apartment, Jennifer was 10-days old when we loaded all of Becky’s things in our camper and her Mustang. Warren said he would drive the Mustang and I could drive Jennifer, and the girls in the pick-up. I had never driven the pick-up and camper before and we were intending to leave Sacramento in the morning on a Friday. We stopped long enough at the Capital building to find out our legal rights in taking Jennifer out of the State of California. We were given the go-ahead so our next stop was to get to LA as quick as we could to get Becky’s things out of storage at a furniture company. We would have to drive fast to get there before closing.

Everything went pretty well until we hit the heavy rush-hour traffic close to LA. Warren was weaving in and out of the lanes and I didn’t have the capability to follow with the camper on the pick-up it was hard going for me. Becky sat with Jennifer laying lengthwise on her legs. I couldn’t believe how many lanes of traffic there were and with all of the exits some of the lanes disappearing at each one. The girls kept an eye out for me to be able to change lanes and it was nip and tuck until we finally reached the storage place.

They told us the men had left for the afternoon and we couldn’t get out stuff out until Monday. Thankfully Warren asked if we would be allowed to go up and get it out ourselves and the lady gave him a key and told him to go ahead. We got all of that loaded in quick time and were anxious to get out of town and on the open highway. Becky was exhausted and the rest of us were pretty drained.

We stopped to eat before dark and drove on until we were in Arizona, right across the State line from Blythe. We had the camper and car so full that Warren had to empty enough out of the camper into the car so we could sleep. Fortunately we had the capacity to sleep two full beds so the girls and Jennifer were on one and we were on the other. Each morning Warren had to put the stuff back in the camper before he could drive the car. He only had enough room to sit and drive….the rest of the Mustang was full to the brim.

That was our daily routine as we kept driving east, back towards Missouri. We came through Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Amarillo. Becky’s girl-friend had to get back to work so we dropped her at the Amarillo airport for a return flight to KC….she would have a short wait until departure. We hated to leave her there but she insisted that we go on because Becky was getting weaker with each passing day. We said our goodbyes and left. We drove on to Oklahoma City and then headed northeast to Tulsa....once we were in Missouri, it seemed a short way home then. We came through Joplin, Springfield and to Willow Springs, pretty well spent after so many miles.

We didn’t know how this was all going to work out but we knew Becky and Jennifer could stay with us as long as they wanted. Mom and dad were so happy to see Becky and the baby………dad instantly fell hard for Jennifer and as long as he lived he enjoyed her like no other. For a “step-dad” Warren took charge at a time when it was needed…..and so now we have our next generation coming on the scene and our lives would all be different from this moment on…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, August 21, 2004


Becky and we will be leaving for Springfield shortly. Since I won’t have time for another chapter of Essentially Esther……..I’m leaving you a poem I wrote in August 1975. With the summer Olympics in full swing it may apply to them as well, although it is spiritual in content….and so I dedicate it to them.


Oh Lord, I do not pray for wealth
Nor do I pray for ease.
I can’t be happy if I’m idle
Or doing what I please.

How can I sing the victor’s song
Until I’ve survived the fight?
How can the light of day shine forth
Without the dark of night?

Don’t give me a sea that’s placid
With never an angry wave,
How would I ever really know
If the ship I sail is brave?

There’s many a stormy wind to blow
And many a tree will fall,
But only when we’ve held our ground
Can we know if we’re big or small.

Don’t let me whimper or run away
Let me stand with the brave and the best,
With never a thought for what I may lose
I give myself, daily, to test.

Oh God, I may fail, but please let me try
For to achieve without effort is shame,
I honor you more if I’ve endured the worst
And still can praise your sweet name.

Have a wonderful day and I’ll be back tomorrow, Lord willing.
Until then,

Essentially Esther

Friday, August 20, 2004

JULY 1972.... 

I need to mention that when we saw George he had his arm in a sling. He was painting in the hold of his ship on a scaffold when he slipped and fell. He messed up his back and fractured his right arm. He was wearing a sling on his right arm when we saw him but it turned out to be a career change for him. Instead of a deck-ape he was assigned to the Disbursing Clerk until his arm was OK. Later on, the Clerk wanted to keep him because he was such dependable help…..plus he encouraged George to take some tests for rank. Sometimes things happen to impact the rest of our lives and this was one of those events.

We stood on the pier for quite a while watching as if his ship would come back…. finally, we headed for the pickup. We now were on our way up to Sacramento to see Becky. She and Marty, her husband, moved there to stay with his step-sister. Becky was pregnant and unable to work. She had been a waitress until then but now was unemployed and Marty was managing a Poor Boy’s Cafeteria. Becky was having trouble with her pregnancy and we wanted to see her before heading back to Missouri.

We found her address and visited that afternoon, stayed in our camper one night and saw her the next day. She was upbeat and optimistic about everything and insisted we should go home and not worry about her. We left later in the evening and stopped at a Herfy’s hamburger place for something to eat and were tired and hungry. We just started eating our burgers and fries when we noticed two cars come speeding into the parking lot….police cars. John quipped they must be coming to arrest someone.

They met the manager at the door and he handed them something. It was held up to the light and after a conference….came walking towards us. Of course we were completely in the dark as to why they were heading our way….when the policeman asked if we gave the manager a $20 bill. Warren said that he had and the policeman said the manager thought it was counterfeit because the color was “too green….it didn’t look right.” They asked where we got it and Warren told them he had been given the bill as change for a larger bill earlier in the day.

The policeman asked a few other questions and finally said he thought the bill was probably better than a new one since it was printed in the ‘30’s and better paper. The manager looked disappointed when the policeman was rather calm about the whole thing….and the policeman asked if he would except another bill in place of the one he was concerned about. Reluctantly, the manager agreed and handed the “bogus” bill back to Warren…..then wanted to charge us again for the meal.

By now Warren was getting a little upset and he told him he had already taken the money out of the first bill……whereas now he was just trading one bill for another. The policeman agreed with Warren and the manager had to fork over the $20. Of course it was quite a show for the other customers and after our meal getting cold we weren’t too happy with the whole experience. However…as all things go…they are always funnier after the dust settles and you replay the whole thing in your mind a few times. I must say it was exciting for a while. Incidentally, we used the bill the next day for a meal and no one said anything……………

We came home to Missouri and life went on as usual until the last day of the month. Warren’s brother called to tell us that Mom Gilbert died and the funeral would be August 3rd. We made quick arrangements to go back to Nampa and John went back to Shawnee….school would be starting soon for him. So once more we headed West. The family gathered together for her burial and we comforted one another in our loss. Afterwards when the service was over and we were back at their home I got a call from Marty’s step-sister telling me that Becky had the baby and had hemorrhaged twice…..she was having a hard time and thought I should come. We slept in our camper until 2:00am and headed South to Sacramento.

As we drove through the night and early dawn I wrote a few lines to express my feelings in losing mom Gilbert….and thinking about a new little girl in Sacramento that was my first grand-child. Twenty-two years ago I had the first grandchild in the Strain family born on the day they buried grandma Fielden. The similarities made interesting thoughts as we rolled on towards morning………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, August 19, 2004


We had a beautiful snow in January that wrapped our world in a white blanket. We kept the birds fed during that time because it’s so hard for them to find food when the ground is covered. At times I counted 22-cardinals plus other bird varieties feeding. It is a colorful sight on the white snow. I especially enjoy seeing the cardinals sitting in our pine branches when we have a pretty snow. It looks like so many Christmas cards I’ve had in the past…..nothing surpasses their beauty in my way of thinking.

I enjoyed staying in and working on a baby quilt for my friend in Shawnee who was expecting a baby. I made a pattern off of the baby quilt my aunt Mary made for me when I was a baby. It had three bunnies hopping over a group of flowers…one pink, one yellow, one blue. I always loved my quilt and wanted to make one for Betty. They had two boys and wanted a girl so they adopted a daughter. Then, as so often happens they had a little girl of their own. Next came another boy. It seems like whenever a couple adopts……here comes a surprise or two. They were devoted parents and good friends of ours.

I had a surprise, as well, in January. Becky called to tell me she was quitting school, going to get married and move to California. I don’t remember much of the conversation because I went into shock more or less after her first sentence. I wasn’t in any position to tell her not to since she knew I married her dad when I was seventeen…..I asked if she was sure about her decision and, of course she was, so I wished her well and prayed it would work out.

Of course I had wanted her to finish high-school….she was a bright girl and I hated the thought of her not graduating. Long story short, they married January 20th and headed for California…..George went to San Diego for his basic training with the Navy in February and with Becky married, that left John. During the school year he lived with his dad and step-mother, Irene, in our home on 65th Street. He went back and forth from Shawnee to Willow Springs with them or with us…..sometimes on the bus. We enjoyed the summers he spent here…..he was always a good natured kid and got along great with Warren.

I had an anniversary party for mom and dad in March. I invited their friends, the Goggins and Floyd and Ruth. We had a nice evening together and we pressed dad to tell the story or their wedding day one more time. I always loved hearing it and dad always put a “spin” on it that was hilarious. How I wish I had recorded him telling it. This year marked their 47th anniversary.

Later on we got a call from Warren’s brother that Mom Gilbert was in the hospital after suffering a stroke. The family was very concerned for her and we drove back out to Nampa fearing the worst. She was in the hospital until Social Security would no longer pay for her care since her recovery was no longer progressing. Dad Gilbert was in his 80’s and not able to care for her. It broke his heart to give permission to take her to a nursing home. We visited her there and it was a shock for all of us.

Although it was very expensive, nursing homes in 1972 left a lot to be desired. The smell of urine when we entered the building was appalling. Dad Gilbert had her brought back home and hired three registered nurses a day to take care of her. He literally did everything he could to make her last days good. It came time for us to leave for Missouri and Warren held his mother’s hand…. “am I your little rascal, mom?”…..she opened her eyes briefly and a slight look of recognition flashed, then disappeared. We came home from Nampa feeling it wouldn’t be long until we would be going back for Mom Gilbert’s funeral. Warren kept asking, “Why?” She was so good and giving all of her life….. the “why” bothered him continually.

Dad’s brother and his wife (uncle Emil and aunt Mardelle who lived over at Kimberling City) came to visit the folks after we got back from Idaho. The guys loaded up the boat and camper for a fishing trip on Norfolk Lake, in Arkansas for some serious fishing. John arrived for the summer and the three of us drove out to California to see George before he shipped out. He was stationed at Alameda, CA. We pulled into the ship yards after dark and a Marine told us at the guard house that we could park the pickup and sleep in our camper until morning. George had a day off so we picked him up the next morning and went sight-seeing. We went into San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge and the other points of interest.

The next day we walked on the pier where his ship was moored and spotted him waving above us. The Big E was tied up behind us and was an enormous ship. I had seen her a lot on television but never in person. She was huge. Over 5,000 crew members made up the floating city. We had our back to her as we watched the crew make preparations to leave on George’s ship….the US Monticello. I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye and turned around to see the Enterprise moving away from the dock into the bay area. Soon George’s ship was doing the same but not silent like the Big E….the sailors were all lined up on the side rails and they made a pretty sight as the ship flowed away from us to disappear under the Golden Gate.

John, Warren and I watched until they were specks in the horizon…..it gave all of us the feeling we’d been left behind. The Monticello would scale the distance between here and many other ports before they would make their return trip home. It would be some months before we would see George again………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

GOODBYE TO 1971.... 

After our Seattle trip we came home and started the building of our garage and driveway. Louis flew back for business in St. Louis and afterwards drove down in his rental car for a few days. Warren, Louis and dad were on-lookers as Mr. Brownfield laid out the foundation for the garage and began working on the project. It was exciting times to get our little place established and functional. The septic tank was in and the city water running. We were moved in so things were looking up.

Warren’s mother and step-father wrote and wanted us to come for Thanksgiving and to celebrate Warren’s 47th birthday, which followed. (November 30th) We decided to go and arrived in Nampa, Idaho on their doorstep some days later …..when the door opened, I met my in-laws face to face. A woman smiling so big it was obvious she was glad to see her son……..“my precious boy,“ she said over and over as she opened her arms for a big hug. Her husband was greeting us all the while and then we were ushered into their home.

Mom and Dad Gilbert were in their golden years and not in the best of health. Dad Gilbert had farmed most of his life in Kansas and had sections of land that he raised cattle on. When he became too old to farm he moved to Nampa as quite a few of his friends had moved there. He belonged to the Nazarene Church and was a gentle man of faith. He had a family of several children by his first wife who died of cancer some years before he married Warren’s mother.

Mom Gilbert had worked hard all her life as well. She was the only girl in a family of six brothers. She was loved and protected and married her sweetheart, Howard Rosenbaum. Both their parents had migrated inland from one of the Virginia’s and took up farming in Nebraska. Warren was their first child, born in 1924; then came a sister, six years later and finally another boy, Donald in 1934.

They came upon hard times in the 30’s along with everyone else in the farming community. Warren was 10-years old when his father died as a result of a harvest accident. He was on top of a straw stack spreading it out with a pitch-fork which he used to slide down off the pile with. He came down faster than he intended, the pitch fork stuck in the ground and he was impaled with the handle which went up his rectum through his overalls.

They rushed him to the doctor and he lived several days…. until peritonitis took him…..it was a long and painful death (before penicillin). Warren’s mother was devastated. She was left with the three children and their insurance ran out a few days before his death because they didn’t have the money to renew the policy. In short time she was ordered to get off the farm and the bank sold their stock and what little farm equipment they had…..she moved into an apartment with the three children and found work in a store. She suffered depression the rest of her life and would not marry again because she was afraid a step-father would be mean to the children.

When Warren was in the service she moved to Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska to be near church friends. She continued working and later moved on to Nampa where the Nazarene College was. Warren’s sister, Delores, and his brother, Don, attended the college for some time. I don’t know if it was for the full four years or not. After the kids were married and gone, she stayed in Nampa. Years later, she married Dad Gilbert who was very good to her……and she was certainly deserving of his kindness.

Shortly after we arrived, Delores and Don, along with their families, arrived…..we became acquainted and enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving and birthday together. I was officially in my husband’s family now and would be able to put a face to all their names.

We headed back to Missouri for George Jr. was coming home on leave from the Navy. He would be able to spend Christmas with us this year….and we had quite a house-full. Grandma Strain still lived in Cabool so we went after her, aunt Beulah and Dale, John, George, mom and dad were able to be with us. Warren and the boys drove out in the open range and found a tree to put up and we all had our hand in decorating it. George Jr. wanted a favorite coffee-cake for his December 22nd birthday rather than the usual cake. So, of course, that’s what he got.

The years are so good to look back on…..getting ready for the season with all the baking and candy making, wrapping gifts and anticipating the reactions when opened….the family arriving and everyone talking at once……..the holiday music playing on the record player…..the Christmas cards and friends dropping in. At the time you never realize how much you will look back with fondness to those days or wish for the nearness of your loved ones once again……and so it is farewell to 1971.……………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


One of the fun things about Seattle is that everywhere you go there is water. For someone who has lived in the mid-west all of my life, I have always enjoyed going where the water was. My brother always seemed to migrate to the same thing, living in Chicago, Milwaukee and Seattle. Those places seem more like foreign countries to me because of the influx of water-related things. The seafood for instance.

Whenever we went to visit Louis and Gail we always went down to the Pier and enjoyed the ambience of the docks. It was mesmerizing just to find a comfortable place to sit and watch the seagulls. Their effortless comings and goings were choreographed into a symphony of flight that I never tired of watching.

Mom and dad loved the clam chowder from Ivar’s at Pier 54.…..their motto was “Acres of Clams.” Being tourists it was always enjoyed much more than the local folks who congregated there….they could come back so their demeanor was just a routine lunch in familiar settings. To us, it was a hallowed place to enjoy only for an hour or so and we never knew if we would be back or not. It made dining more special. Of course we bought glasses with their logo and after mom and dad passed away, their glasses joined my one glass. Now I have one each for George, Becky and John. Just a nice souvenir of some bygone days.

Before leaving for Missouri we made a big trek around the Olympic Peninsula. Mom and dad opted to rest at Louis’ but we took John, Becky and DiDi with us. We saw lots of scenery but not many places to eat or places to get down to the water. Being the rock hound that I am I wanted to get to the shore and pick up rocks. It was put upon Warren to find a place and eventually he found a less than perfect spot but we did manage to get to the water. This was where we could have used a SUV but our little 2-door Plymouth Sedan made it just fine…..admittedly, she struggled.

The kids splashed and played in the water while I inspected rocks to bring back. They were wonderfully smooth and when wet were beautiful colors. I would love to go back and look through more of them…….it is a rock lover’s paradise. I have them piled by a corner of the garage and when I pass by I always give admiring glances their way. I’m sure they have missed the water but have grown used to being a shrine for me. Occasionally I pick them up just to feel their smoothness and marvel at God’s designs.

Sooner or later it comes time for the return trip home. It is always hard to leave because we know we won’t see each other for some time again….still, it is a fact of families who live apart. We kissed and hugged and headed up the hill to the gas station for a fill before getting onto the highway. We had planned our route before leaving so we were set. At the station we filled first and drove away from the pumps and parked to the side of the station. All of a sudden Warren saw dad’s pickup speed away and head up the freeway but we lost sight of him. We got onto the street to take us to a better place to spot where he went and Warren thought he saw him going the wrong way. We took off down the road after them but once in the artery of traffic it became impossible to find anyone. We drove further on, getting out of the rush-hour traffic going in to Seattle and found open high-way. Warren figured dad was ahead of us so we went as fast as we dared to catch them. Then doubt would plague us and we’d slow down thinking they were behind us. This went on all day long……hurry up…stop and wait. Finally we gave up and decided they just weren’t on the road we were.

We made it all through Washington State through a lot of construction areas on the highways and were hungry and emotionally drained. We decided to give up the chase and stop at Huntington, Oregon for a good meal. John was with us but the girls were with mom and dad, riding in their camper behind the pick-up. We had the girls luggage in our trunk so of course we knew this was going to be a problem for them.

We had given our orders and were waiting wearily for our food when I looked up to see mom, dad and the girls strolling by the big picture window on the front of the restaurant. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They came through the door, we waved to them and they almost fainted as well. Mystery solved. Dad had fueled his pickup, didn’t see us at the other pump and thought we had gone on. He hurried to catch us going the way we had agreed upon. They had a day similar to ours. Hurrying to catch us and then deciding we were behind them. Though we took two completely different routes and had stopped and raced down the State to Oregon……..we ended up at the same place within 5-minutes of each other.

I wrote of this before in a prior chapter but couldn’t end today’s story without including it one more time. It was one of those things that happens and you are never able to understand or explain it…..but we were a bunch of folks mighty glad to see each other. The rest of the trip home was uneventful which suited all of us just fine…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, August 16, 2004


Some of the highlights of our visit to Seattle were, of course, going up in the Space Needle which was a real thrill. It was the first time any of us had gone on an elevator made of glass which raised on the outside of the structure. I no longer remember how high it was but high enough to give us shaky legs. The view was spectacular and gave us a terrific look at Mt. Rainier and the Olympia Range. We strolled through the buildings where the World’s Fair had been held and decided to eat at the Food Court (which was the first one of those we’d seen). Food from different countries was offered and we had a hard time deciding what to eat. Of course we had to buy a Space Needle charm for our bracelets from one of the shops.

We visited the Navy Base at Bremerton and it was either there or near there where we saw the locks that bring boats in from sea water to Lake Washington. Phyllis or Mary Lou will be able to get me straight on this. At any rate it was very interesting. Gail took us to the Seattle Yacht Club where we saw all the boats tied up and some of them were mighty big and fancy.

Louis had arranged with his good neighbors, Bill and Anita, to take us on a ride around Lake Washington in their yacht the following week-end. We all enjoyed it and took turns steering it with Bill’s watchful eye. We were privy to “yacht talk” so we would know the terms used on it and the protocol used when meeting, passing, docking, etc; There was a lot more to it than a novice would have knowledge of. The ones of us who weren’t in the Captain’s chair were down stairs in the galley having some yummy chips and dips and every kind of drink you could imagine. It was a fun day and we ended up at one of the many steak houses along the shore of Lake Washington where Warren and I treated everyone to dinner.

The next day Louis decided we needed to find out what a “Potlatch” was. We took a ride down into the Seattle Market Place on Pike Street to a fish market where they had “things” I’d never seen before. Everything from octopus, squid, shark etc; (yuk!) I’m strictly a beef, pork or chicken person. Louis picked out a large salmon and told them how he wanted it dressed. The Japanese butchers slit it in half and had the backbone out leaving the two filets in the matter of seconds. Dad and I had gone with Louis and we dropped our jaws at how expertly he had the fish ready to wrap.

Bill had boards soaking in Lake Washington when we got back. They would soak all night so they wouldn’t burn when the salmon was placed on them to cook near the fire. He had a large area where he made a fire on the ground….the fish on the boards were placed at an angle to the fire to cook slowly. The whole time they were cooking they were basted with butter and beer. The process was slow and entertaining. The idea was to socialize, drink beer and snack on goodies prepared by Anita and Gail. They spent a lot of time that morning making all the dishes to complement the baked salmon and we had a feast by the time the salmon was done.

We had never tasted fish so good. It just flaked off the fork and was undeniably delicious. That turned my interest to seafood. The event was amplified by some Hawaiian friends of Louis’ who came by with their instruments to play for us and to enjoy the food as well. As the sun went down and the lights from Mercier Island began to flicker, the sound of water lapping lazily up on the seawall, the smell of good food and the ambience of candles and laughter it was a magical evening. I only have to close my eyes to bring it all back once more.

There is a sadness though. So many of the ones present that day have gone now. Mom and dad….Louis, Warren, Bill and Anita. They left us many wonderful memories and a joy that will always remain…..they forever live in our hearts and left us laughing…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Now that I have given the outline for 1971 I will go back and fill in some of the blanks. Some favorite family stories need to be told. Before we moved to Willow Springs in August we decided to drive out to Seattle with mom and dad. John went with us and Becky planned to fly out once we were there. She and DiDi were working at Lake View yet so they wanted to come together. I thought it was a good idea that Becky have someone along with her……so the plans were made. The way it all began, mom and dad drove with their camper and we drove our Plymouth sedan out. John rode with us. We would meet the girls at Sea-Tac once we arrived in Seattle.

I loved going West again. I love the wide open spaces and can readily see why the cowboys couldn’t give up their way of life until they were no longer able to keep up. There is something about the bigness and grandeur that won’t let you go. I was also anxious to get to Seattle because I’d never been to Louis and Gail’s home after they moved from Milwaukee. Mom and dad told me so much about it the only thing left to do was go see for myself. Warren enjoyed travel and didn’t blink an eye about going.

They had a nice bungalow home on Lake Washington. They bought it from the next door neighbor whose parents had built the home during the war years. It used to be their cabin on Lake Washington and when the heat got too bad in Seattle they would spend time there, across from Mercier Island. It was stucco exterior and just a pretty house with a lot of character. Their many windows looked out on the lake and a dock was their front yard. I couldn’t get enough of the view. When it was clear we could see Mt. Rainier from their side yard……absolutely beautiful in her white coat of snow. She glistened like a diamond.

To the West we could see the Olympic Range, to the East were the Cascades. Mt. Rainier was south and east of Renton, where their home was. Warren and I went to pick Becky and DiDi up at the airport and we were finally all together. Some friends of Louis and Gail’s were on vacation and lived nearby so the girls stayed in their home at night. We were all present and accounted for.

Of course the first order of business was to see Mt. Rainier so we set out to do that. The drive to her was as noteworthy as she is. We passed old logging trails, some that weren’t so old with logging trucks zooming past us and witnessed abundant wild-life. There were small waterfalls where the ice was melting above and finding it’s way down to the lower elevations. The lush green of all types of conifers and the abundance of water flowing coaxed ferns and moss to grow everywhere.

We finally made it to the highest point and spent time just enjoying the scene laid out before us. We drove through a cleared wall of snow to arrive at the Visitor Center…..it was odd to see that much snow in July but at that elevation…..not unusual. We took lots of pictures and in seeing them I can almost smell and feel the scene in each one. Louis and Gail had to work part of our visit so they weren’t along this particular day. On the way down we spotted a nice chalet type restaurant so we stopped for pie and coffee. It had been cold on top of Rainier but now it was warming up as we came down her slope.

The next day we were just going to stay around the house so John wanted to go fish on the lake. Dad didn’t think he could handle the dingy Louis had and he didn’t want to get on the lake with such a little boat so Warren and I told him we’d go out with him. Louis gave us explicit directions before leaving for work…..what TO do and what NOT to do. We were not giving the instructions enough of our respect or attention. I had just finished spending an hour washing, drying and fixing my hair (I wore a French Roll in those days) and stepped gingerly into the boat wearing my prettiest pale blue pants suit. I looked more like I was going to an English Tea rather than a fishing expedition but…..hey….what did I know??

Mom, dad and Gail were standing in the yard near the edge of the seawall. John was seated in back where the motor was and Warren was in the bow. When I got in the middle, we were ready to go. John, according to directions, began pulling the rope on the motor without much luck. He was adjusting the carburetor and dad was giving him instructions when Warren reached out to push us away from the seawall. Quicker than you could wink your eye we did a flip and were in the water. Well, I imagine it was a lot funnier watching than it was to be dunked. I came up out of the water with a look on my face that could kill…..my hair was ruined. My suit was all wet!! With most of the weight being in the bow when he reached out and gave a hearty shove the results were predictable.

The three of us splashed enough water to sink a battleship. After all the stories Louis told about hapless fishermen who didn’t know what they were doing and went to the bottom with their boat I was a believer. He and Dad had talked about the depth of the lake and it was too deep to want to disappear in. Finally, we wore ourselves down to the point our feet touched the bottom. One by one we all stood up in the water with our feet on lake bottom and looked around kind of silly. My poor dad was laughing so hard he couldn’t stand up and mom and Gail decided it was safe to laugh along so there they stood with tears running down their faces while we stood in water up to our necks.

Dad got his composure enough to yell at John to get the boat up out of the water….the boat nor the motor had ever been in the water before. They were brand new and he began to think about Louis coming home and seeing his equipment ruined. Between John and Warren, with dad giving advice from above, they managed to upright the dingy and get it over to the dock. Dad and Warren did what they could to redeem the motor and John and I dried off. It was one of those “I Love Lucy” moments that was a little too real…..but what the heck……it made for a lot of mileage to tell and re-tell over the years. Anytime the subject came up dad would have to go into it all again…….and laugh just as hard………

More about ‘71 tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, August 14, 2004

ANOTHER MOVE.....1971 

We visited mom and dad fairly often. Early in 1971 dad had been complaining of a backache. The local doctor didn’t think it was too serious and mainly gave him pain pills for it and told him to come back. When dad went back the doctor convinced him it was pleurisy and gave him pills for that. When we arrived from Kansas City to see how he was getting along he was chair bound. If he tried getting up it killed him and sitting down was as bad. Warren and I were worried about him and talked him into an appointment with a heart specialist in Springfield.

After a thorough examination the doctor took us aside and told us his heart was all right except for a valve problem. If he didn’t get too physical it would never be a serious problem, however the flap didn’t close real good when the blood was pumped out of the heart causing some of it to run back in. If dad took it easy the flap would be able to keep up well enough for what he needed to do. He was more concerned about dad’s prostate and told us we needed to see a Urologist. He called one that he was familiar with and got dad right in when he found out he lived 80-miles away. Mom, Warren and I sat nervously in the waiting room while the doctor examined dad and when he came out he told us dad needed some tests and should enter the hospital right away. Of course we complied and drove him to the hospital.

Dad didn’t want to go. He had not had good results with doctors in the past and didn’t believe half of what they told him. He was a medical absentee most of his life. This time he could tell by the tone of the doctor’s voice that it was something he’d better follow through on. We stayed close by while tests were run on him and the doctor came out a few hours later and gave us the bad news. Dad had prostate cancer. It had gone up his back bone and into three ribs. We were in shock and denial. The doctor went on to say that he should have surgery immediately to remove the testicles (which was what they did in 1971 for prostate cancer.) Dad’s life expectancy according to the doctor was about 4-years and even then he didn’t think the cancer would kill dad. He said it grows slow in older people so wouldn’t spread quickly…..in younger people with a faster growth rate cancer always grew fast and took it’s victims in shorter time. He said most men dad’s age ended up dying of heart problems rather than the cancer. I don’t know that that helped us much but it was an ounce of hope.

We made arrangements to stay for the surgery and called family members to tell them about dad’s situation. Uncle Buster and aunt Phyllis came from Nebraska to see him and encourage us. It was great to see them. Buster’s cheery demeanor and some jokes he told dad lightened the load for him. When we brought him home from the hospital I decided to stay with them until the next weekend when Warren could come back for me. Mom didn’t drive and if dad needed anything I would be there to help out. Mom was greatly relieved because she was too worried to be much of a nurse and I could deal with it better.

We had some shaky times because dad’s brain was working over-time. He even got to the point of telling us the doctor was wrong, he didn’t have cancer after all. This whole thing was unnecessary and shouldn’t have been done. If you’ve ever tried to convince a stubborn old Dane that he DID have problems you can understand. Total denial. He didn’t recuperate like the doctor told him and he kept mom on a dead run the whole time. I think we had an old man that was pretty scared on our hands.

When dad was able to get up and around again he had convinced himself he didn’t have cancer and we never talked of it again. I went back and forth on the bus a few times between Kansas City and Willow Springs until mom felt capable enough to handle anything that came up. We had gone back and forth so much that Warren began to talk about moving to Willow Springs so we would be handy when they needed help. It was a great handicap because mom couldn’t drive and they lived on the edge of town. I fought the idea for several months because I had lived in Cabool for seven years and I knew the job force had nothing that Warren could find employment with.

The other factor was that I didn’t want to move out of the metro area of KC because of the kids. I didn’t want to be that far away from them. That seemed a simple matter to Warren….after all, KC was only 5-hours away from Willow Springs. As my mom and dad needed us more and more I finally gave in and we bought a mobile home to put on property near mom and dad; an acre of land just 100-feet away from their property line. It was pretty rough…..mostly rocks and scrub brush from being partially cleared out years before. We set the date for August 28th to move down in a U-Haul trailer….Warren quit his job the day before and the folks drove up with their pickup to help load what wouldn’t fit in the U-Haul. We headed for Willow Springs after loading on the 28th. I had been down earlier to be on hand when the mobile home was delivered a week ahead of time so we had a “place” to go to.

Our good friends, Ruth and Floyd Carriger came along with their pickup and they were so ‘taken’ with the area that they bought the lot next to us and bought a mobile home after they sold their property in Johnson County, Kansas. Ruth was the woman who was head baker when I worked at Meadowbrook Junior High as her assistant. We had stayed in touch ever since and they were my parent’s ages so they were ready to retire as well.

And so, as the sun went down on the 28th of August we were ready to make a home in Willow Springs, Missouri. Becky began her senior year at Shawnee Mission North West and John was in his last year at Trailridge Junior High. I didn’t like the arrangement of leaving the kids behind but my brother lived in Seattle and couldn’t help mom and dad. I felt it was up to me to step up………but at what price….in being away from Becky and John. George Jr. left for the Navy and took his basic training in San Diego in February and now was assigned to the LSD Monticello. They basically traveled from Alaska to Japan and West Africa, the Philippines and Australia picking up and re-locating Marines and their equipment. Our little family was being spread apart more with each passing year now…..but I felt it was only a temporary thing. Mere miles can never end the love for your children or their love for you…..it may make it more difficult to be together but it cannot make it impossible…..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, August 13, 2004


Needless to say the whole year of 1970 was full of life changing events for all of us. George and I both remarried later that year and the kids now had two sets of parents plus a couple of step-sisters. I married a man who was retired from the Army and working as a Special Agent for the investigative end of the Agriculture Department. George married a lady who had been widowed with two married daughters. She worked with a company she had been with for a long time and she was very generous and good with our kids. My husband, Warren, never had children and was divorced. I know he struggled with adjusting from military life into private life with my three children. So this is how the roads divided and our kids were free to go back and forth at their pleasure….. it took a little getting used to but we all worked hard at it.

I have to give the kids credit for accepting the situation and dealing with the divorce. Their world was torn apart through no fault of their own and they took it on the chin. George enlisted in the Navy that October but wouldn’t be leaving until February of ‘71. He was going to take his basic training in San Diego. The draft was getting close to him so he decided to pick his own place to hang his hat. He continued working at Lake View as night janitor until his swearing in.

Becky got her driving permit and her dad rode with her until she was ready to take her test for her license. She and DiDi were inseparable and since DiDi’s parents had divorced some time back the girls found a common bond in each other. Becky was invited to attend the prom with Mark at his school and she needed a formal so I went shopping for the color she wanted and made her dress. It fit perfect and she was very pretty in it; they made a nice looking pair.

John was just John. He was always a happy kid and kept himself busy. I’m not sure when he quit the paper route but he continued playing his drums and Scouting. He went back and forth for whichever activities he wanted between his dad and me. He had a lot of friends and their exploits are legendary.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were certainly different this year (1970) but being together is what makes Christmas happen. All three kids came, plus Mark and we had a very nice dinner and gift opening. I didn’t know it at the time but it would be the last Christmas we would have in the Kansas City area. It had been a year of many changes but more were coming…………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, August 12, 2004


The old year was gone and the new year underway. I found the perfect time to talk with George about our marriage. The past five years had been hectic. We were touted to be the perfect family and on the outside it would seem so. As the years went by we failed to work on the communication factor of our marriage. We weren’t privy to all of the spin on relationships in 1970. If you weren’t a perfect match there were two choices. Stick with less or divorce and hope for the best. As a family package we were solid as a rock but as a couple we were on a collision course.

Growing up I saw many women my parents age who stuck it out. They were unhappy people who tolerated each other and the life they were trapped in. There is such a radiance when people are alive and happy, full of hope and loving. I pictured myself down the road a few years, with the kids gone, becoming more bitter as each empty year went by. Divorce was a subject that crossed my mind many times but never pursued because I just couldn’t get that far. My own convictions kept me from it.

It got to the place I felt I was living a lie. I hated myself for “pretending” to be the loving wife when I felt so empty inside. I needed and missed something that I didn’t have. I tried to talk to George about it but he would always pass it off as related to something else going on at the time. There didn’t seem to be any way to make him realize we had a serious problem….or that I did. Feelings were something that was hard for him to talk about and probably down deep he didn’t want to get into for fear it would develop into a decision he didn’t want to make. Who can understand someone who doesn’t express their feelings or want to listen to yours?

Later that year we divorced and the details were worked out amicably. When I knew I was going to write my life’s story this would be the most difficult thing to get through. How could I do what I had always condemned? How could I find words to make it sound right to my own children? How could I live with myself when I deserted the very core of who I was? I had never been a quitter in my life and now I was dropping the ball. From the first day I began writing about ‘me’…knowing we would eventually be at this point, I knew I couldn’t give an answer that sounded equal to the deed. I only know there is a point in a marriage where all hope is gone, whatever you had to begin with has died and to continue the charade is lethal to both parties. I was right and I was wrong.

I do not say George Sr. was the problem. I do not say he was anything other than a good, honest, decent man. I know there are women who would gladly be happy with that, and that is why it was difficult to justify. Still, I knew it was time to go. I knew he never would……..there are some scars that never heal and I’ve caused some as well as bear some. Down the road so far as I have now come, I see it was both beneficial and destructive. Divorce is never the end of anything, but rather the beginning of many things. It is a wise teacher and a stern reminder that nothing comes “free”……there is a price for each action and some are bitter pills to swallow. It is never the “end-all cure-all” but a cross to be borne………

I do not wish to air my personal life on a blog site but divorce is part of who I am and the lessons learned. The purpose of writing this at all is to let others know who may be thinking of divorce…. that it is a road to heartache…..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


The first week I went to work, Becky had surgery. I had always been able to “be there” for the kids….whatever!! This was one time I didn’t see how I could ask for time off. She had been ailing for days but she had a history of weird things going on and it always proved … nothing. She complained about something breaking in her head and it was filling up….she would wake me in the middle of the night and tell me she was afraid her head was going to “blow up.” This went on for some time. Of course we tried to figure what on earth was going on but when we went for a doctor’s appointment he could find nothing.

I sat straight up in bed one night after one of her spells. I thought, “Oh no!!! She’s on drugs!!! I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. Of course it made sense. Why else would she continue to have things going on with never any medical results? It was in the years of ‘drug-o-phobia’ and I was a willing victim of my own thoughts. I quizzed her the next morning and she was indignant and accusing. “Why would you think THAT? I can’t help it if they can’t find out what my problem is…” I felt like a heel…but then, wasn’t that a good defense, putting the blame on me for being suspicious? I waffled back and forth with the idea and watched her like a hawk. I was going to save my daughter from drugs if it killed both of us.

When she came up with a pain in her side we were not too concerned. She complained for a couple of days and I was caught up with the new job so I sidelined it. Sunday night she went to Youth Fellowship at church and later was riding around with the kids who always paled around together. Her side kept hurting worse and worse and finally she had them bring her home. She remembers I said, “I think your jeans are too tight….” How’s that for a caring mother? I had her take some aspirin and she went to bed. In no time she was back in the living room and I knew then this was no imaginary thing……….George Sr. loaded her up and took her to the emergency room at Shawnee Mission Hospital, nearby, while I stayed at home with the boys.

After an exploratory exam they couldn’t find anything. Her white blood cells weren’t elevated enough to think it was appendicitis but she definitely had pain. They gave her pain killers and kept her overnight. The next day I had to appear for my first day of work and I felt terrible. Not the way I had hoped to begin a new job but George had taken the day off to check on things and hang around the hospital. A surgeon looked at her and told George he needed to go in and see what was up….exploratory surgery, but said he’d take her appendix while he was in there so it wouldn’t be wasted effort.

Once he had her opened up it was obvious her pain had been caused by a cist on an ovary which had ruptured. She was too young to remove the ovary so he repaired all he could and thought it would be sufficient. She was in the hospital until the following Saturday when she was released. She had been in a room with an elderly woman who had a Code Blue and died next to her. It was a shock for Becky to say the least. The kids from church came to see her regularly and brought flowers and cheer each time. Becky had a crush on one of the kids…who called for a date to take her to a play at his high school. She begged and begged and against our better judgment we let her go. It was hard for her to sit that long and the play was full of comedy so every time she laughed, it hurt. However, her dream of a date with Mark was paramount to anything else going on so she endured whatever it took to be in his company.

The first week of my new job was over, Becky’s surgery was over and I quit thinking about drugs. It was many years later we found out all the funny stuff going on in her head was a thing called “panic attacks.” Her heart coming up in her throat, her head feeling funny, her hands being wet and a feeling of impending doom. We also found she was allergic to some of her medication. It had been an eventful first week for all of us but ended on a high note.

Things settled down and George Jr.’s graduation from high school was in May. Mom and dad came and brought grandma Strain along with them to attend the event. It was a nice time to enjoy the moment and soon it would be time for George to decide whether to go on to college or enlist in the Navy. He didn’t want to be called in the draft and they were getting close to his number.

The summer went by without much fanfare. George Jr. began working full time at Lake View Village as a custodian. Becky and DiDi applied for and got jobs at the same place in the infirmary. Becky came home with stories that were both humorous and sad from people who had led very gifted lives and now were unable to care for themselves or have a clear thought in their heads. They had their favorites as some of the residents were old and very mean. Not their fault, it was just the process of their mind going places they couldn’t come back from. John had his paper route so our family was pretty mobile at the time.

Fall took George Jr. to a Junior College close by and Becky started her Sophomore year at Shawnee Mission North West. John was in his first year of Junior High at Trailridge and getting along just fine. Fall is a time of completion in Nature and adorns the world in gold and rich color. I could feel my life changng with the children growing older and more independent of their father and me. It was a time to think about the future…….something I had pushed back for a long time. I knew the time was coming when I had to make some choices and I wanted to make them right. Only time would tell…………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


The new year came in with a soft blanket of snow. It covered everything like boiled icing on a cake…….just like mom used to make. The branches, twigs, fence lines and roof-tops were all piled high with white camouflage. The muffled sound of cars going by the house was the only sound to be heard and occasionally you could see dog tracks in the otherwise flawless landscape.

This was to be a pivotal year in many ways for all of us. John was doing well in school and his big thing was being a “duck.” He and his buddy talked like ducks, had duck codes, everything was duck. Mr. Meyers, his teacher, told us one time at the parent’s conference that he had 26 students and two ducks in his class. John was blossoming into a sharp kid with the opportunities of public school and had a great relationship with Mr. Meyers. John’s outgoing nature and his quick wit soon attracted positive reactions with the other kids so that his thick glasses and magnifying glass were no longer an issue. They found out he was no different from them…just didn’t see as well. He was always the first to laugh and make a wisecrack when he screwed up so there was little left to do……..but like him. Life was definitely good for John now.

Becky was blossoming into a very pretty young girl. She lost her “baby fat” so her brothers could no longer call her some of their pet names…..and had become quite slender and smart about dressing. She had a lot of friends but her soul mate was DiDi, a friend from church who went to a different junior high school. Becky’s energy as a little girl was being channeled into productive activities…she still took piano lessons, was in Camp Fire yet and with the hours the Drill Team practiced she had little time to waste. She still attended the Boy Scout functions we all went to so it kept her busy…….but that was true to her personality. She could do six things at once with no problem. She made me think of some of the jugglers I’d seen where they could keep plates spinning on thin rods balanced on their head, knees, hands and the like…….not a problem if you’re made that way.

George was in his Senior year of high-school and working part time at Lake View. He was paying on his ‘57 Chevy and taking charge of that obligation. George spent a lot of time on homework because he was the kind of kid that wanted to know what the lesson was about. He was a plodder in many ways compared to Becky and John but he was on a firm foundation. School wasn’t easy for George but he worked at it. He had more patience and the journey was as much OK with him as the finished product. To this day George is well thought out with his investigative nature and does much research before a decision is made. At this particular time the war in Viet Nam and the draft were closing in on his age and he was trying to decide whether to go on to college or join up. Serious stuff for eighteen-year-olds.

George Sr. was busy as well. He had his mail route 5-days a week, Scoutmaster of our troop and chauffeuring John and Becky where they needed to go when George Jr. couldn’t do it. There was always the monthly planning session for the Scouts and week-end jaunts to earn patches, camp out and the like. John was playing drums for the drill team to practice with and that required some nights out for him. All in all, our family was on the mark and set to go at a moments notice to meet the requirements and obligations of the kids; and the meetings required of us as parents.

In March of this year, a good friend of mine told me of a job opening where she worked. She was a legal secretary for the Director of Legal Council at the Office of the Inspector General…..USDA. There was a job over in the typing pool that paid a good wage and had a lot of benefits; sick leave, vacation time, tenure, good insurance. Driving time would be cut in half as the office was over on State Line Road, dividing Kansas from Missouri.

I told my friend, Colleen, at work and she thought I should try for it. A typing test would be required as well as a written test. I had been assigned to Colleen for several months as an Assistant Director of the Materials Lab because she needed help in her department and had “borrowed” me from the Assistant Director of the Modulation Center. The titles were impressive but couldn’t compare to the salary offered at a federal position. Her encouragement would come at a sacrifice for her because I was well trained and she could dispense a lot of her work to me. If it worked out for me, she would be alone or have to train someone else which takes valuable time. Still, she persisted.

She insisted I take the IBM Selectric typewriter home with me and work on speed so that I could pass the Civil Service test with flying colors. I worked hard each evening at home and went for my test on the appointed day. Then I waited for my grades to come……which finally they did…….and I passed with a good grade. After that I applied for the job at Helen’s building and to my surprise I was accepted. I was both happy and sad at the same time. My loyalties were strong for the Ed. Modulation Cntr. and I didn’t want to leave Colleen with the bulk of work she would have without me. I had liked my job there and was dubious about beginning a whole new arena of unknowns.

In the end, Helen, Colleen and George talked me into it and I began a totally different kind of employment. Had it not been for Floyd Hudson and for Gary Adamson, John may never have had the chance at public schooling. The two men encouraged my office skills and made me into a competent employee. Their friendship, patience and active participation in bringing me to a new level of office skills and to help John will never be forgotten….and dear Colleen who encouraged me to go beyond my own expectations……I thank you all.

On March 17th, this year (1969) I began working for the USDA, Office of the Inspector General. We meet many challenges in life and mine seemed to be constant change. At the age of thirty-six I was starting all over again with a totally new concept of employment. I was now a far cry from Tyrone and the fifteen year old kid who rode a milk truck into town with her clothes in a brown paper sack……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther