Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Erin Marie Glasco

A woman giving me physical therapy at the hospital last July bubbled over about how much their family loved my granddaughter Erin and how much fun Erin was with all the other players on their long-ago summer team. Naturally I could not have agreed more.

This past weekend was spent celebrating our Erin. Johnston City High School was retiring her No 12 softball shirt at the Homecoming football game.   I stocked up on Zero cola in her honor, and I couldn’t resist buying Neapolitan ice cream in memory of her childhood.  (She liked to slice through the brick-shaped three flavors and called this an ice cream sandwich.  Being the leader that she always was, soon the younger grandkids followed her example.)

We started going to her summer softball games at the Marion park when she was probably five.  I think that was a coed team where no one was supposed to keep score.  We also sat through cold Saturday mornings watching her play soccer. I believe she was the only one of Gerry’s three daughters who lived at the right time and place to participate in soccer. 

I was reminded the other day while reading an old email I’d written that my daughter-in-law Vickie was prepared to fix hot dogs for 50 or 60 kids for Erin’s September birthday party.  She had just found out that little Erin who had asked for a wiener roast for her party had made and passed out flyers at school. Vickie had no idea to whom or to how many. 

And there was the time in Harrisburg when we were there for a family birthday celebration for her older sister Tara.  But we found out that Erin (probably in the third or fourth grade) was supposed to go that same night to a boy-girl party—not just an ordinary  party to which both boys and girls were invited—but a “boy-girl party”!  Not exactly what her parents were thrilled about—and perhaps not even what the hostess mother had realized was going on.  I love the memory because Erin was escorted there and picked up afterwards by both her grandfathers—Gpa Gerald and her late Gpa Ernest.  Those stalwart men figured they could send a message to the party boys that she had protectors.

Before we knew it, she was in junior high and still playing softball, of course, since starting with Tara this was their summer family recreation with Gerry and Vickie serving as volunteer coaches and pitching in at the concession stand.  Perhaps I should say it was a family obsession since with three girls in the sport, countless hours were spent practicing and playing.  There were piano lessons and gymnastics and dance and fishing and cousins and lots of other activities too, but softball was most important to all three daughters.  Little Geri Ann went from going to softball games to play in the sand pile with her friends to playing on a team just like her big sisters. 

I loved the quick summary her dad put on Facebook, and I am going to steal it without his permission since I don’t have time to ask him:

So proud of Erin as she was an outstanding catcher on so many good teams that I was able to coach and be a part of with her! A state champion junior high school team, a high school team that was 34-1 her senior year I think, a Canadian Cup Championship in 2003, an ASA Gold National Championship in 2004 are among the wins we shared together along with many other outstanding players in our dugout! So as a coach I was blessed to have her.
As a father it was a great thrill to watch her get to catch the great Megan Gibson in the Big 12 Championship and then in the NCAA regionals, super regionals and the College World Series in 2008 with the Texas A and M Softball team. So blessed.
My favorite fact about Erin is that when the Aggies Softball team made it to the title game of the College World Series in 2008 she caught 60 something games and never made a single error the whole season!
That is my proud dad rant and I apologize, but want to be sure Erin knows that I am proud and blessed to have had her as a daughter and player!” 
Gerry dosen’t mention her professional play with USSSA Pride until an injury stopped her.  And my favorite part of her career as a player was the summer in Europe when she was able to travel widely and blog about it.  Since then she has remained active in the sport as a coach in college,  junior,and senior high schools while also giving private lessons to many young girls. One of her childhood ambitions was to teach, and that came true last year.  She pleased me by talking  about how much she loved her junior high kids and teaching them math. You can also imagine how pleased this grandmother was to learn that at her new school she is teaching English to sixth graders, and she also loves this subject and this age group. Now she can use her writing talent.  (Her coaching this year—volleyball and softball-- is at the high school as an assistant.)
To arrive here from Texas for this weekend’s activities, Gerry and Vickie and Erin left College Station as soon as their work day ended Thursday and drove all night.  They arrived at Woodsong early Friday morning.  And soon they were off for appointments and being with Vickie’s mother, who has progressed to being allowed to walk with that broken right leg in a cast. Friday evening was the Homecoming parade, and I had to be satisfied with just seeing Erin in the photos since I needed to be at Katherine’s that evening.  I heard the man near me in the football stands the next day saying how good the parade was. I liked it that some of the floats were still there to see at the sports complex. I am not a football fan and I no longer know Johnston City kids and the blazing sun made everyone miserably hot. (I got my first summer sunburn even though it was autumn.)  Nevertheless, it was a great time, and Johnston City won their Homecoming game over Chester. I enjoyed seeing long-ago friends and watching my beautiful granddaughter being honored for all her hard work, dedication, insults and injuries that allowed her to achieve success in the softball world. 
The celebration for Erin ended Saturday night with Vickie hosting a family party at Mike Mills’ famous 17th Street Barbecue. It brought back memories of all the birthday parties we enjoyed  with the Johnsons when Gerry and Vickie still lived here. Candace Carter’s one-year-old twins were one of the evening’s hits especially when they enjoyed the cupcakes.  

It was an over-busy weekend with one of Katherine’s aides with her husband at a Saint Louis hospital and Sam busy with the Marion football game, a fifth-quarter party,  and then an all-day band competition at Collinsivllle on Saturday arriving home just in time for Erin’s party.   Mary Ellen was tied up with Parents Weekend for Brianna at Murray State and Brian was tied up with harvesting soybeans. (I did not know their schedule, but I am sure the Eilers were busy up in Freeport too.)  Nevertheless, Gerald, Gerry, and cousin Bryce were able to have Saturday breakfast with the Glasco brothers and cousins at Jonesboro. Erin was able to spend a couple of nights at her cousin Sarah’s house, and Vickie fished in the lake more than once!  It was sad to see them pull away from Woodsong on Sunday morning for the long trip back to Texas

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Heading Toward Harvest

A few weeks ago the gloriously green corn stalks along our lane pleased my eyes each time I went out.  Then the tall tops and the very bottoms near the roots turned brown, but the green was still preeminent. Slowly and gradually, the length of the green was lessening. Now only a little green remains.

Around the corner onto the main road and down a bit, another experimental corn plot was evidently planted earlier—or perhaps it was a variety with a shorter growing period. Those few rows have been completely brown from top to bottom for a week or two.  Yesterday when I drove to town, I saw that swath of corn was deleted with only the stalks remaining.  (Patches on that farm are small because our neighbor’s fields are all research plots, so there is great variety. We have a standing smile that Gerald cannot keep from feeling some horror that planting weeds is sometimes one of the experiments carried on next door.)

Mary Ellen brought over all the fixings for Reubens the other evening and fixed supper for us.  Brian came over a little later because he was getting his combine ready for harvest.  He arrived all showered and clean shaven with crisp sport shirt on, and we teased him that we expected him to arrive in dusty work clothes. The days ahead will be long and hard, and dirty clothes are the proper prideful uniform of a successful farmer.  Although slack seasons had their advantages, the excitement of those over-busy lengthy days of spring planting and fall harvest were always my favorite farm times. Now in retirement, we can only participate vicariously.

I had not realized it had been a month since I had blogged. Gerald told me the other night that he did not know what was going on here at the farm since I had not blogged in so long.  I often wrote a partial blog in my head as I drove back and forth from farm to town, but once I was home, neglected duties always awaited me and I might not get to the computer.  Or if I did, I was too tired to write and would end up surfing on Facebook. 

I do enjoy getting bits of news, gossip, and updates from local people I seldom see in person anymore, and it is amazing to see photographs and news from far away loved ones and distant friends that I used to only hear from at Christmas. I was able to enjoy the first birthday party of my great great nephew Jace down in Amarillo the other night because of all the posted photos. And last night I enjoyed my friend Lois’s trip to Ireland because the beautiful photos posted out in California made me almost smell the Irish air and I could definitely feel the love of her family group traveling on this adventure together.

I notice that private messaging on Facebook has almost replaced emails and often times phone calls.  There was a time in my life when I spent most Saturday mornings phoning far-away kids or other loved ones for hour-long conversations. Now with our cell phones going with us wherever we go and sometimes with reception poor or calls inconvenient if driving or going through a store check-out line, telephone habits have changed.  I still enjoy occasional hour-long talks with my brother and sister, but otherwise our house phone seems to be used mostly for recorded messages from the pharmacy, politicians, or sales  people.

I have been trying to write a family history essay on my great great great grandfather Cedar Billy Martin down in Tennessee.  I am getting close to finishing and admit I will be glad when I complete this project.  This is the third time I have tried to write about him.  In late 1998, I had just retired from the brief career I had in family literacy, and I was trying to learn to use the Internet on Gerald’s new computer. I accidentlaly became involved with distant unknown cousins here in Illinois who had just discovered this ancestor.  

As emails flew back and forth connecting with researchers from other states, my brother’s son offered to hook us all up by creating  an e-group. So for all these years we have shared information on Cedar Billy, his siblings and children, his neighbors, and several collateral lines. Eventually I had a dozen or so notebooks about various family members. During that time, some in the e-group have died, others learned they really were not related, others gotten sick and had to drop out, others lost interest as lives got busy elsewhere, and some of us have gotten old.  Emails to the group with new information has dried up, but all our exciting discoveries and all our mistaken speculations about whose siblings or children went where are still stored in the e-group’s archives. I have been reviewing those archives and my many notebooks attempting to have this essay ready for my children for Christmas.  I like to imagine that 200 years from now some descendant will find out about Cedar Billy and be as excited as I was when I learned of his existence.

In the meantime, I hope to blog a little more faithfully so that you and Gerald can know what it happening here at Woodsong.