Monday, June 19, 2006

Continuing to Celebrate Our 50th Anniversary

The day after our stay at the log cabin bed and breakfast called Olde Squat Inn, we were hanging around home for Gerald to complete a doctor’s appointment that he could only get on June 16. We were alerted to trouble when we walked into the doctor’s Carbondale office and saw a room full of disgruntled folk. Two men were commiserating with each other as they claimed they’d already waited for their wives for over two hours. Come to find out, the doctor was leaving on vacation the next day, and he needed to cram all these appointments into one afternoon.

The very nice receptionist kept assuring everyone the doctor was in, but running very behind schedule. Finally she came out and announced, he was now an hour behind and anyone who wanted could reschedule. Having invested time and gas already for this appointment, we debated what to do. We were the last in the room of people to come in, and the more we thought about being at the tail end of the doctor’s schedule, the less likely we felt he would be at his sharpest self. After conferring with the receptionist, Gerald took her offer to reschedule. Having postponed our continued 50th wedding anniversary because of this appointment, we felt a little silly walking out, but Gerald and I both felt our blood pressure would profit by leaving the office to those who needed to see the doctor more than he did. Ah well.

Since we were now free, we debated leaving early on our next day’s trip to Elizabethtown and The Rose Hotel. But home sounded better to us than hurry, so we had a lovely leisurely dinner for two at Honeybakers and then ran by to see Katherine. We were amazed that she was getting ready to go to Samuel’s Vacation Bible School commencement with her husband David. Did she feel like it? Not at all. But Samuel wanted her there, and she wanted to reassure him that as sick as she had been the previous week, she was getting better and that she was still able to attend his special functions. Thus, she was using her last drop of energy to make the effort to attend. I helped her dress, and I hoped our visit did not make them late.

The next morning we could not resist going up to Gerry and Vickie’s house, where Bryan, Tara, and baby Aidan had arrived from the Chicago area at 11 p.m. the night before. We got to hold and hug Aidan and see how much he had matured in the week-and-a-half since we had seen him. This time Gerald was able to get pictures of him with his eyes wide open staring attentively at his mother, snuggling his daddy, and one photo where I swear he was smiling at Tara. (I remember that the baby books used to tell us that our babies’ early smiles weren’t real smiles, but I believe Aidan’s was. The phrase used to be that a baby was “smiling at the angels” and not really at his parents those first few weeks. I think that was another piece of misinformation we were given.}

With final hugs, we left and drove through the countryside on a road I had not traversed before to Harrisburg. We stopped along the way to see Gerry and Vickie’s former home up the old Harco road, and we were pleased to see how well the present owners were taking care of it. This was where little Erin was invited to her first boy-girl dance party at a classmate's home at the rather remarkably tender age of 9 or l0. So her two grandfathers left Tara’s birthday party that night and escorted Erin to that premature party laughingly saying those boys better be aware that they were watching out for her!

While the family lived there, Gerald almost got in trouble attending Grandparents’ Day at Erin’s school. He made some kids laugh during school before he realized that it was not a time for laughter. And, of course, we remember Tara‘s many softball games in Harrisburg and taking baby Geri Ann to see the puppies near the softball field. And Jeannie bringing little Leslie and Elijah over to watch the games and the kids playing in the pile of sand--or was it dirt piled up there? So it was appropriate that we stop at the Kentucky Fried Chicken there, where we used to eat while visiting during that era, and to reminisce a bit more. The KFC owners, whose daughter played on the same team, were so kind to Tara and family when they were newcomers in town. And the KFC buffet is one of the best buffets in Southern Illinois.

There we talked about the fact that neither of us had ever visited Fort Massac State Park at Metropolis. We decided to go and ended up misreading the map and were on the way to Brookport before we caught on what we had done. I do not remember ever going over the old bridge at Brookport to Paducah before, so Gerald offered to drive over even though it was being repaired and the traffic was one-way at a time. In Paducah, we filled up with the cheaper gas there and then took the new bridge back to Illinois and Fort Massac. All the way we were enjoying the Ohio River and the abundance of orange tiger lilies brightening the leafy green landscape,

At the site of the George Rogers Clark statue on the banks of the Ohio, we were able to review a bit of the history of Clark and the amazing feat he and his men accomplished when they camped where the former French barracks had been. They then went on to Kaskaskia on the other side of the state and surprised and defeated the British by marching through swamps and terrain without roads in a truly unbelievable escapade of human grit and determination.

After wondering through the replica of the fort and block houses built in 1794 during George Washington's presidency, we ended up at the visitors’ center museum watching and talking with two women at their spinning wheels--one was spinning flax and the other wool. We started to leave and were surprised to see our young friend Sheila Richey, who grew up in our village of Crab Orchard. I knew she was a site interpreter there, but had forgotten it. It was good to visit with her and know she is using her degree in history at this oldest state park in Illinois.

We hurried to our car because of the approaching rain, and we drove onto to Elizabethtown through a downpour. We hoped we were getting that rain at the farm. We weren’t, but we got a wonderful rain the next day at home.

With all our celebrating, I have been lax at writing on my plog, so I am going to wind down here and continue telling about our stay at The Rose Hotel tomorrow.

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