Friday, October 28, 2005

Cousin Douglas Martin on his way to William Jewell

Because he was invited to William Jewell College this weekend to participate in the induction of his father, Homer Martin, into the college's Athletic Hall of Fame, my cousin Doug used the trip from his home in California to come here first for a visit with his family before going onto the Kansas City area.

Uncle Homer had gone to William Jewell in the 1920s to finish his college and attend the nearby seminary to prepare for a preaching career. (It was at Leeds Baptist Church, that Uncle Homer went to work at the automobile factory and, thus, became involved in the union cause.) While at the college, he continued his hop, skip, and jump career also, and his school record of 47'4" still stands. Doug explained that though his father rarely, if ever, talked about his jumping career, he saw Uncle Homer jump the entire width of their back yard once. Doug also explained that the current triple jump replaced the old hop, skip, and jump in which the jumper stopped between each of those steps. I have always loved Daddy's story about their boyhood when the Martin boys would practice their hop, skip, and jump during the time they allowed the horses and mules to rest while they were plowing on their family farm.

After camping on the way here and stopping at Amarillo to see my sister and brother-in-law Rosemary and Phil, Doug camped at Ferne Clyffe last Friday night before coming to Woodsong on Saturday morning. He returned to his campsite that evening, but the rain and colder weather made him agreeable to occupy our waiting guest room on Sunday. So we did a lot of talking about family history, his three sons and wife Vera, books, his writing career, and religion. On Monday he returned to Ferne Clyffe to dismantle his tent since it was too wet the night before. On Wednesday our cousin Dick Stanley took him over the usual Johnson County sites that our family holds dear plus some new ones, and on Thursday Doug visited our cousins Dave and Norma Martin, and David took him down to the Cache River bottoms. On the boardwalk there looking over the swamp, he had the excitement of seeing a water moccasin within near range of his shoe. And he was proud to take a photo to be able show the California folk. Enjoying the outdoors and being pleased with a snake story to tell is definitely part of our family heritage.

Tomorrow I must get up early and drive down to spend the day at the Western Kentucky Book Expo in Sturgis, KY. I was invited to go with Lois Barrett, author of When the Earthquakes Spoke, and I am saddened to have to go by myself while Lois recovers from serious surgery. But by Christmas, we expect her to be going full force once more, and I am hoping this time off will give her an impetus to finish that sequel she is working on.

I've just enjoyed a slide show of Gerald's beautiful photos taken at South Dakota, where Gerry is to lease a pheasant hunting preserve in 2006 and then also Gerald's last weekend photos of son-in-law Brian's landscaping at their new home. When they had barely moved-in, a landscape man came to their door telling Mary Ellen how bad their lawn looked and he wanted the job of fixing it. She assured him that if he would come back in a few months, Brian would have a great looking lawn. The photos prove her confidence was well founded.

Gerald gets to go back to Lake Saint Louis this weekend to see the only pre-season fall games of Gerry's 18-and-under softball team for 2006. Last weekend he saw the second tourney of the new 14-and-under team that Geri Ann plays on. We had taken Lois and Tom down to Joelton, TN, the Saturday before that to see the team play together for the first time. By now, many of the girls are also caught up in volleyball and basketball school teams. So this is the end until the real softball season starts in the spring.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

October Glories and Memories

Pumpkins from Gerald’s garden sit on our patio interspersed with orange mums. We can enjoy them looking out the family room window. I have gotten out the “autumn box” stored away in our tornado shelter since last fall. Now our little raggedy fall doll is hanging on the front porch again saying, “Welcome.”

I wanted the farm to reflect the season because we have friends here from California for a high school reunion. Fall is my favorite season. (I say the same thing about spring. And in both seasons, I believe at the time I am telling the truth.) The changing of the seasons is one of the reasons I chose to live my adult life here in Southern Illinois in this beautiful land between the rivers. We thought that the trees would be at their most glorious when Lois and Tom came. They had planned a tour of the East by train to see the leaves of New England before arriving here.

Unfortunately, the leaves turning in the East were delayed this year. And now our coloration is just beginning instead of being at its peak.

Fortunately despite the late fall season, what we do have that the East did not are childhood memories. Growing up in Union County on a farm until her father’s much too early death brought her family into town, Lois cherishes every location, person, and event stored in her memory of her homeland. She has lived in California since 1951 and had a successful and pleasant life there. But she still reads the Anna Gazette-Democrat looking for news about those of us she left behind.

I am one of the lucky recipients of her Gazette reading. Every once in awhile I get a fat envelope full of goodies--news about Glasco or Martin family members that Lois knows I can use in family scrapbooks and family history research. I suspect I am one of the few housewives of our area who has her own personal clipping service.

Lois and I are in constant email contact--sometimes passing back and forth two or three emails a day. With her planning all the details of their elaborate autumn tour, her writing slowed down this summer. And with our daughter’s family temporarily living with us while they remodel their home, I have also slowed down on my computer time. But we still share our lives and our children’s lives with each other frequently. I thrill to her daughter’s and granddaughter’s theatrical successes, and pass them on to my theatrical grandchildren. Lois hears about their performances in Freeport and also our softball games. I knew when her daughter received her teaching certification, and she heard about my granddaughter’s start of a teaching career.

It was over 50 years ago that Lois, Lynn, and I stood in Jonesboro at the head of Cook Street and said goodbye knowing Lois was leaving the next day.. The leaves were aglow then too with beautiful colors, and I can see it all clearly in my head. Despite the lumps in our throats back then, we were young and eager for what life was going to bring us, so we did not know how sad it was. The three of us were not together again until 50 years later when we all had dinner in California one night. The leaves are starting to gleam with gold again, and when Lois and Tom leave this time, I will know how exactly how sad such farewells are.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Meeting Writers at Union County Writers Fair

The Union County Writers Group hosted a Writers Fair at Stinson Memorial Library in Anna today in cooperation with the county's Colorfest. Joanne Blakely, our president of UCWG, did a great job organizing the day, and as always it was fun to socialize with fellow writers.

It was also fun to read from my book Down on the Farm in my childhood home territory, and I was able to read the Ben H. Smith poem I'd left out of the book for fear of copyright infringement. I truly believed the poem from the Gazette-Democrat was in public domain, but a slightly different version had appeared in a 1937 Houghton-Mifflin anthology and I was a little uneasy about using the poem without permission. I thought the version in the Gazette was slightly better than the anthology version, and I enjoyed sharing it.

I partly enjoyed sharing the poem orally because I resent the way the copyright law is sometimes used by book publishers. The law interpreted in a very subjective way, and no one really knows what "fair use" is. Trying to get permission to use a few words and especially a poem is putting yourself in position to jump through numerous time-consuming hoops. If you have a deadline, the hoops become impossible. And instead of helping the author as the copyright law was intended to do, often authors are denied recognition that would benefit their works. GRRRR.

After Ben H. Smith's death in 1951, the same year I was graduated from A-J, his column "Where the Hills Slope Upward" continued for many years with reprints of his poetry plus poems and letters of local authors and former residents. I wish the Gazette would reinstate the column. It was a fine thing for Union County.

Joe Neil Steward, Anna-Joneshoro graduate and a Hollywood actor for 20 years, came up from Knoxville and served as keynote speaker. In addition to reading from his novels (he has four), he began his presentation by reading a powerful Civil War poem that spoke volumes about humanity's dilemna in wartime.

G. Brooks Kohler came up from Nashville and read us one of his stories. Although he is one of our younger members and living in a major cosmopolitan area on Music
Row as a full-time screen writer, it was interesting that he along with others who shared the mike were predominatnly writing with a rural voice.

Joanne and Linda Kall had organized a writing contest for young people, and it was indeed a pleasure to hear them read their winning selections. Linda emphasized that of the 30 entries, all were excellent. Several other young people were present also throughout the day, and some partook of the open mike.

Workshops to spur creativity were participated in by all, and I think we writers all went home glad we could attend the Fair and interact with and inspire one another. Since I don't get down to our meetings as often as I'd like, it was good to see Violet Toler, Mary Sadler, Betty Hickam,Joanne Kowaleski again as well as to meet some of the many new members UCWG has attracted--Lisa Kirby,Ron Schmenk, and a long-ago friend Barbara Steffans.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Johnston City Girls Are #1

Johnston City junior high softball team played yesterday against Carmi and won 3-0. It was a good game well played by both teams. JC got ahead in the first inning, however, and stayed there throughout the game. They were one happy group of girls when the game was over.

We had gone up to Pinckneyville at 1 p.m. to see Tara's Pinckneyville team play Carlyle. That too was a good game, but Pinckneyville lost 2-0. With such a young team winning fourth in this state tourney, I suspect Southern Illinois softball teams better watch out for Pinckneyville next year.

Tuesday we burned up at the games; yesterday we were cold. Such is the life of softball fans. I try to wear hats and use sunscreen when it is really hot, because in the back of my mind I am hearing Dr. Poulous scolding me if I don't. And the next time if I get a third skin cancer, I won't have her teriffic skill as a surgeon to patch up my face. Unfortunately for her patients, she has retired..

When we got back to Woodsong after the games, I was realizing it was a little late for my plans to make mini-meatloafs in a hurry from the ground beef I had thawed. I had cooked a large pot of green beans that Gerald had picked and broken for us. These green beans had come up volunteer after he had plowed under the last of the July beans. I was still trying to figure an alternate menu when we walked in the kitchen. There were wonderful smells there, and David was at the stove finishing up supper. He had the table all set, and fish and macroni and cheese was ready to eat with these wonderful fresh green beans. Today we had the meatloaf.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Big Sis vs Little Sis

Well, Johnston City junior high girls beat the Pinckneyville Panthers in the state semis yesterday at Pinckneyville 2-0. We were proud and happy for Geri Ann, who definitely contributed to that win. We were proud and sad for Coach Tara, who had taken a young team with no experience so far in their first year.

We stayed for the other game after ours to see who would play our teams on Thursday afternoon. Carlyle will play Tara's team for third, and Carmi will play J.City for first place. Both of those teams looked good.

After the games at the city park, we enjoyed getting to take Tara by her third grade classroom in a lovely new building with air conditioning no less. Then we got to take her to supper back at DuQuoin and see her house. Athena was glad to see her too. We were proud of her all over again.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Can you spell Bus?

Laughter ruled at the annual reunion of Baptist Student Union members from the 1940s and 1950s at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Meadow Heights Baptist Church in Collinsville hosted us last Thursday and Friday and shared their lovely facilities and a great deal of their talent with us. One highlight for me was hearing the folk song from the 30s when one singer shared "Arkey, will you tell Okie that Texas said there is a job in Californie." How haunting that song was to capture the bravery and the hope and shared helpfulness during one of the most desperate eras of our national life.

Sentimentality and some sadness were present, but with Helen Galloway, our CEO extraodinaire, leading us, continual laughter quashed other emotions. Her extemp comebacks were fast and furious, wacky and wonderful, and she kept us enjoying ourselves.

One of the stories Helen told us was one she heard when she first joined BSU. A group of BSU students had gone to Ridgecrest on a chartered bus with BSU prominently displayed. They pulled out of a filling station and the mountaineer there exclaimed that those dumb college students did not even know how to spell "bus."

We missed those who were unable to come back from last year--some because of death. Before we listened to the song Prof Quinn sang for us a year ago, it was good to get an update on Phronzie Quinn and know she has a good caretaker. We prayed for George and Leona Davis who had never missed before, but were hindered from attending because of George's illness.

This reunion was started by the 1940s group, but they started inviting us "young ones." And we are glad they did. (The Lu Steele era group had met two or three times but had ceased meeting long ago.) I even enjoyed becoming Rosie (Martin) Parks' little sister again as her and Phil's friends asked about them down in Amarillo. I started college known as Rosemary's sister, but I got some revenge when she and Phil came back on campus after his four years in the Air Force. For a brief time, she got introduced as Sue's sister.

Using "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" as her theme, Helen had assembled fascinating decorations including a wonderful vintage car outside to greet us as we entered the building. And she couldn't resist a few in-print laughs tacked on the many chenille bedspreads and housecoats paraded on the walls of the fellowship hall where we enjoyed excellent soup and sandwiches Thursday evening and a lavish feast on Friday noon before we moved into the auditorium for a final song fest and the reminiscences of Jack Shelby.

One of the reunion highlights for Gerald and me was visiting back at the motel Thursday night with Betty Bettis Cox and Carol Smith. Betty had masterminded our meeting again when Gerald came back to SIUC from service, and Carol had sung at our 1956 wedding. But the richness of their present lives was what thrilled and inspired me. I felt energized hearing what they were doing with international students and impressed by their knowledge of what is taking place in the world. It is very good to get off the farm sometimes and see and hear what other folk are doing.

Wendell Garrison, Gerald's former roommate and a groomsmen at our wedding, was there for the first time, and we enjoyed meeting his wife Mary as we also enjoyed visiting with another of Wendell's roommates Ernie Standefer and his wife Doris. And it was great having Don and Helen Ruth Dillow back in Illinois after their move to Texas. Betty and they live relatively close in that big state, and she rode up with them. Helen Ruth wanted to come not only to see us but also a 101-year-old friend up in Springfield, whom she had to leave behind when they moved. All the music at the reunion was great. I teased Helen Ruth that she didn't play the piano for worship back at Pennsylvania Avenue (where Don was our pastor) like she did when she boogied down on the Route 66 song.

When Gerald and I were quite young back in Clear Creek Association, I can remember hearing an even younger Rayford Raby play the piano. Although I never saw him after that and was not acquainted with him at that time, I had followed his career in the Illinois Baptist where I recently read of his retirement. After studying at Julliard, he had become music director at an Alton church and was there for 44 years. It was a joy to hear him play again.

Another special friend I met again at last year's reunion (the first one we attended) was Becky (Ferris) Searle from our Johnson Hall days. And Betty and Darrell Molen, and on and on--too many special people to mention. One of the recurring themes in people's remarks was that the people in that room were the people who had shaped their lives. That was true for all of us, and it was good to be together with such dear and important people from our past.

We took off after the last session to continue our trip towards Notre Dame for the weekend. I was regretting having to miss the final sermon and also the Joy Singers who were going to make an appearance at our services at Center in the village of Crab Orchard that night. Cliff and Jane Sims were headed home to stop for that service. Come to find out, they drive over from Harrisburg to participate with the Joy Singers at Marion First. As we said our farewells, this was a final example of the way members' lives have intertwined and blessed one another down through the years.

Monday, October 03, 2005

More softball, softball, softball

Both Geri Ann's Johnson City team and Tara's Pinckneyville team won their Saturday games at the state tournament for middle schoolers or junior high age. Although a sixth grader, Geri Ann got put in to pitch with bases loaded and JC went on to win. Tara is head coach at the junior high and Pinckneyville upset Murphysboro, which had been considered the top team in the tourney.

So here with go again. Tomorrow the Glasco sisters and their teams will face each other to decide who wins the state tourney in this end of the state. (I don't know who is playing for state champions in the northern end of the Illinois.) No matter who wins, the winning sister will once again shed tears for the loser just as happened last spring when Pinckneyville High School, where Tara is assistant coach, knocked Johnston City High School out of going to the state tournament. This kind of competition is difficult for grandparents.

We did not get to see Geri Ann and Tara's teams play Saturday because we were in Notre Dame seeing Erin play against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Parkway (University of Wisconsin). Three visiting teams were on campus that day for the second set of practice games, where each school played two games. Vickie had stayed in Pinckneyville to watch the other daughters' games, and Gerry came up to Notre Dame, but we kept up with the play at Pinckneyville through cell phone conversations.

Gerry, Vickie, Tara, and Geri Ann had all gone up the previous Saturday for the first set of four games. Notre Dame won all four practice games, and that will be all they play until the real season begins in the spring.

We were upset to see Erin limping from a knee injury and were grateful the coaches did not have her play the entire two games. She did catch a few innings, played first base in the second game, and was DH. She did well in all positions, but grandmother had a lump in her throat as she watched Erin walk with an iced knee after each game.

Saturday evening Gerry and Erin came to our hotel room, and we all watched the Notre Dame football game on the television set there. We enjoyed taking Erin out to eat during the weekend, and on Sunday we got to walk all over campus and see her dorm room and meet a couple of her roommates. As we had been told, the campus was very lovely. Since the football game was at Purdue, the campus was not congested.

We drove home through central Indiana, and Gerald drove the entire way. He suggested we stop at Kokomo for a root beer float as he wanted to see if he could find the house where Mary Ellen and Brian lived one year. We did find it, and Gerald got to see the wall he built at the end of their driveway so they could park their camper there.

We were back home at Woodsong by l0 p.m. tired and happy. We had left home after lunch Thursday to attend the Baptist Student Reunion at Meadow Heights Baptist Church in Collinsivlle, so it had been a long weekend. I'll have to share our reunion experiences tomorrow.