Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Marine Corporal Eddie Alvarado and his family at the Bailey County Cemetery Memorial Day Service.


This is what Memorial Day is all about; not some sale or cook-out or day off work. Memorial Day is a day to remember; remember and honor and give thanks.




We started our Memorial Day week-end on Saturday attending the Cannon Air Force Base Air Show in Clovis, New Mexico. Airplanes, helicopters, drones, and equipment were on display, and all were impressive. But the stars of the day were the Air Force Flying Thunderbirds who performed their precision flying maneuvers that were spectacular and gave new meaning to the word “breathtaking.” We were able to shake the pilots’ hands and other soldiers on duty and thank them for their service to our country.



Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day back when it started since originally it was a day set aside to honor those who lost their lives in the American Civil War. Families and friends would visit cemeteries to pay homage and respect to the loved ones who died in the war. As time went on, Decoration Day was also used as an appropriate time to remember other loved ones and decorate their graves with flowers or flags as well. So on Sunday afternoon we traveled to the Groom, Texas, cemetery to pay our respects to Bill’s mother and several other family members who are buried there.



Today, Monday, the official Memorial Day, we attended the Memorial Day service held annually at the old Bailey County Cemetery. A small but appreciative group participated as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts raised the flag and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Elisabeth Beckerink sang “Letters from War, Pastor Mindy McLanahan from First United Methodist Church in Muleshoe gave us an interesting and informative lesson on the history of this holiday, and Elisabeth ended the service by leading us all in “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but I will admit most of us just listened to her and appreciated her willingness to perform it for us, not an easy song to sing solo.


On most Memorial Day weekends we just attend the cemetery service. This year was exceptional in that we had the privilege of paying our respects to those deserving our gratitude all weekend. So next year when you are tempted to overlook the meaning of Memorial Day, thank a soldier or living veteran for your freedom, decorate the grave of a veteran, a family member, or anyone who was important to your life.


And do not take it for granted that you are blessed to live in America.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Old People on the Loose Again


Fifty years and a thousand summers ago, my class of ‘64 graduated from Lamar Consolidated in Rosenberg, Texas. On May 17th we did the reunion routine again, but just our class this time (“I Saw Old People!” August 14, 2012). No Triumphs, no BJ, no extra people; just us. And that’s okay.

I suspect at all class reunions people fall into three categories: those who always try to attend, those who never attend, and those who finally show up. This reunion was no different and all three groups were represented. Those of us who tend to always come were in force, those who never show were once again invisible, and the seldom seen were greeted with open arms and smiles.

Shirley French, one of the former no-shows, reconnected with old friend Howardene Sweeney.


Kenneth Bettin is one of those who, I think, made one of the early reunions but hasn’t been in forever. And don’t get excited-that is not his date or wife. That is my friend Jenice Williamson from Muleshoe who moved to Houston and with whom I stayed over the weekend and agreed to get me to and from the Swingin’ Door since my husband Bill was unable to go this year. And just for the record, she is not a ‘64 graduate from her school in Ganado. I’ll bet you can tell she a few years to catch up with us!


Betsy Brown McInvale, center, pictured with Howardeen Sweeny Murphey and Charlene Stehle Kulhanek is one from the finally came group that I was glad to see and visit with.

Annette Wittneben Warmke, Jeanette Macik Drew, and Linda Schiller have made most reunions, but Cherrell Wooley, center, and Bonita Rogers were new to the reunion scene.

Ronnie Harper in the purple shirt has made several reunions, but I am not sure about Joe Caudillo, Gregory Rios, Jesse Rodriguez, and Andrew Mata, and rather than leave someone out, here they are! And I suspect I missed a few folks, like Gloria Perez, who is in the group shot. But you know, I am getting old and slower on the uptake, so if I missed you, I am sorry.

One group I failed to mention were those who had died since the last reunion, and I was sorry to hear of their passing. Out of 180 graduates, we have lost 24 classmates. And just to set the record straight, word had come down that Barton Wood had died; apparently, just like Mark Twain once said, reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated, or something like that. And there may be others who aren’t on the list who should be and others perhaps on the list who are still with us. Keeping up with that list must be one of the harder aspects of reunion planning, so I hope no one gets their feelings hurt over a possible mistake.


We have Linda Owens Carroll and her husband Ed, who is not one of our classmates but faithfully attends and helps Linda with the details, and Danny Gerkin, pictured below, for making these reunions happen all these years and keeping up with all those lists and addresses. I am sure they are weary of contacting everyone and making executive decisions about where and when to have the reunions. These parties don’t magically appear without lots of work, and they deserve our thanks and recognition for their willingness to tackle the job. Thanks, guys.


Looking back over my pictures from the evening, I realized I failed to subject everyone to blinding camera flashes or interrupting their conversations for yet another picture. I apologize; I certainly didn’t want to leave anyone out, but I do think everyone gathered for the group shot. All but Sharon Vallet Wallingford who had to come late and missed the group shot. I will add those that I did take to the scrapbook and will bring it again to share with those who care to look.

Getting everyone outside and lined up was a mess. I am trying to remember if we took instructions any better when we were students! Some people in the very back just barely show up. I can tell who they are and they know who they are, but the casual observer won’t have a clue. Oh, well. It is what it is. We’ll do better next time. But it was nice to take the picture outside. The weather was nice and the lack of indoor noise made it easier for those of us losing our hearing (me!) to carry on a conversation.

How many more class reunions should we expect? I don’t know how that works. The older we get, the fewer of us there will be; the older we get, the fewer of us will be inclined or able to travel to a reunion; the older we get, will we even care? I can’t answer those questions, not having been in that position before. I do know that friendships are a valuable part of our lives, even those we keep alive only at reunions. I always enjoy seeing everyone, even if that is the only time I ever see them. So whether it is next year for another all 60s, which is in the planning stages, or in 2018 or 2022 for just our class, I will be there, scrapbook in one hand, camera in the other, and happy to see those who manage to show up.

See you then.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rename Kyle Field? When Hell Freezes Over.


I just read on Fox News that Texas A&M regent Jim Schwertner wants to add ‘The House That Johnny Built” to the name of Kyle Field as a way of thanking Mr. Manziel for the financial impact he had on A&M. Now I enjoy watching Johnny play, and I am glad he chose to play at A&M rather than somewhere else. And I appreciate the fact that he brought in scads of money to Aggieland. But I am not in favor of altering the name of Kyle Field-for him or anyone else, for that matter. And here’s why.

Aggies have been playing football on Mr. Kyle’s field long before Johnny Football was born (“Where Does Your Team Play?” September 10, 2009), and as you may be aware, tradition is the foundation of all things Aggie. Kyle Field is one of those traditions that I see no need to tamper with. I read that Mr. Schwertner, the regent who came up with this idea, is a Texas Tech graduate, and unless he earned a master’s degree there or has some other tie to A&M, he may not fully grasp the importance of this tradition. Or maybe he does and sees this as a way of weakening this link to Aggie history.

While we can certainly express our appreciation and support of him, I don’t know that A&M owes Johnny Manziel anything. He was awarded a scholarship that provided him with the opportunity to earn a college degree, had he chosen to stay and graduate. Truly, I do realize the pressure and seduction and rationale for going pro before he graduated, but he chose an early pro career over staying even one more year to play for A&M. Yes, A&M would have benefited financially and in name recognition, but Johnny could have benefitted from even one more year of experience, a chance to develop his skills even more, and who knows-maybe even added a few pounds and a bit more height that would suit the pros even more later. And don’t laugh at that last thought-some young men do mature and grow even in their late teens and early 20s.


Mr. Kyle’s field in the early days.

Time will reveal Johnny Manziel’s place in football history, but time  has already revealed that Kyle Field is a part of A&M’s history, and it always will be.


Expand the stadium if you must, but The Home of the Twelfth Man will always be Kyle Field. The name should remain the same.

Gig ‘em.

Monday, May 5, 2014

And Now Gina is the One Who Gets Tricked


On Tuesday, April 29, Beta Sigma Phi sorority in Muleshoe held its annual Founder’s Day celebration. The highlight of the evening is naming a Woman of the Year, someone from Muleshoe who has given of her time and talents for the benefit of the community and its residents. This year our winner was Gina Wilkerson, who has served as Chamber of Commerce President for the past two years and puts her heart and soul into thinking up ways to get the name of Muleshoe out there and get everyone involved in various activities. This is the same woman, remember, who lied, well, let’s call it tricked, Lonnie Adrian into coming to the Chamber of Commerce banquet so he could be named their Man of the Year by telling him that his wife Hellen would be winning an award and that he needed to get her there.

It fell to sorority member Kristine Isaacson to do the same thing, to get Gina to our meeting to be honored. So Kristine and Dawn Williams came up with a plan. Kristine asked Dawn to give a program on the chamber’s activities since Dawn is active on the chamber board and sees Gina all the time at Williams General Store where Gina works when she is not working for the chamber. Then Dawn told Gina she should be the one to give the speech since Gina is chamber president and offered to go with her for moral support and suggested that Becky Hoksbergen, the chamber office secretary, tag along as well.

So Gina went to work on her speech, was none the wiser, and came to the event all prepared to inform her audience on what was going on with the chamber.

-Until it was time for the Woman of the Year to be named and she realized that the person Kristine was describing sounded suspiciously like herself! So she had a taste of her own medicine, the tricking people, I mean, and was genuinely surprised that she had been chosen. She was in tears as she thanked us for the honor and talked about how important Muleshoe and its people are to her and how she loves what she does. All of which confirmed for us that we had made a good choice.

The rest of what we did that night included enjoying salads and desserts brought by members, recognizing outgoing and incoming chapter and sorority city council officers, honoring members of the year for each chapter, in this case Tisha Boehning for Xi Onicron Xi and yours truly for Zeta Rho (Thank you very much; I was surprised, too!), acknowledging the donation of pennies for our Pennies From Heaven project, installing city council officers, and in general laughing and having a good time.

Special guests included  past Woman of the Year Joy Stancell, Dawn Williams, Pat Angeley, Gina’s aunt, honoree Gina, Chamber secretary Becky Hoksbergen, and past Woman of the Year Magann Rennels.

The evening was a success. I think we will do it again next year. And who knows? You might be the one who is mysteriously invited to come to a sorority function to give a speech…