Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Road We Traveled

Nelson's dad and mine grew up together and were good friends, so our families visited back and forth when we were tots. Terry and I were excited beyond words when they came calling.
I don't remember too much about those times, since we were all so young, but I do remember Mother and Hazel chattering as they cuddled our youngest siblings on their laps. And I remember several of us running around and around the dining room table, giggling and falling; getting up and giggling and falling again.

"Y'all settle down," Daddy said.

"Straighten up," said Bud.
Nelson and I once went on a date (junior year, as I recall), along with Pitty and his best friend, Benny. Crammed in the cab of his little pick-up truck, we hung on for dear life as he whizzed up and down those gravel roads in Carlisle County at breakneck speed.

"Whoopee!" he laughed, "Hang on to your hats!"

It was smoother riding when we reached the blacktopped road. And when we got to Bardwell we headed north on Highway 51, ending up in Cairo at the Whataburger stand, where we enjoyed the biggest burgers we had ever laid eyes on. (That was before Ray Kroc even thought of a Big Mac!)
After graduating from Carlisle County High School, we attended Draughon's Business College, along with Roy Wayne, Sarah Mae, Mike. And my husband, Carroll. Who became his life-long friend. After graduation in 1960, he, Mike, Carroll and I all went to work in Chicago, me at Illinois Agricultural Association; he, Mike and Carroll at IAA's affiliate, Country Companies.

Nelson met his future wife, Pat, at Country Companies. We spent time with them in those early years, occasionally traveling down to Carlisle County together, and one night we all gathered in Pat's little apartment and played cards. She decided to make popcorn but got distracted and dumped too much in the pan, so kernels were soon popping in mid-air and spiraling across the kitchen.

We ended up in a popcorn fight.

In 1963, shortly after Nelson was drafted into the Army, he and Pat were married. And when they came home on furlough, Roger and Sharon threw them a big party. Near the end of the evening, Roger turned the stereo to full blast and put on Chubby Checker's Limbo Rock. (For you young'uns who aren't familiar with the Limbo, it involves a dancer attempting to bend low enough to stay below a stick held by two people. Although the dance is easy, it requires practice and concentration to dance your way under that stick, particularly after it is lowered.)
Everyone did well, and much to my surprise, I was able to do it, even when the stick was very low. (I was much more limber back then!)
I lost touch with him and Pat after Carroll and I parted ways. The last time I saw them was at our high school reunion in 1993. And although I had heard he was often in pain from the arthritis he suffered for years, he was the same Nelson I had known all my life.

"Hey, Brenda," he said, a twinkle in his eye, "Remember our last reunion, when Zip got up on the table and took our picture and he didn't have the shutter open?"

We had a big laugh over that one.

I knew Nelson had been in declining health for years, but on January 10th I was shocked and saddened to learn of his death at Northwestern Medical Center in Chicago where he had gone for treatment after suffering a stroke. And since then, I've been thinking of Pat, daughter Netia, son Perry, their grandchildren, his mother and siblings. My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to them.

He was interred in Roselawn Cemetery, outside Bardwell, just off Highway 51. So now he lies near the road we traveled when we were all so young. And when I think of him now, I see him as he was then: a friendly, happy boy with a twinkle in his eye and a smile for everyone.
"Whoopee!" he laughs, "Hang on to your hats!"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Torch is Passed

President Barack Obama

I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.

*John Adams*

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Taking Care Of Business

She says it's 10 p.m. and I know what THAT means. Darn! I hate this cold weather; I'm gonna freeze my a$$ off! Guess I better hop down and go ahead on, though; she won't rest until I do...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Another zealot wrote a letter to the editor of The Paducah Sun condemning Dusty and Adam's living arrangements, and I applaud this blogger for defending the young couple again. Heaven knows they need it.

Our young men and women are dying in wars across the globe; our economy is in chaos; the homeless are sleeping in alleys; people are dying for lack of proper medical care; thousands are losing their jobs and homes each day; corrupt politicians are running our country. And they are up in arms about a young couple's living arrangements?

The latest rant was from a Mr. Horton of Benton: If you continue to publish such articles as this you will lose many subscriptions, mine included.

Sounds like blackmail to me.

I'm happy Dusty and Adam's column is back, and I hope The Paducah Sun will ignore the few who think they can dictate what is and what is not printed in the newspaper.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Happy Birthday to my favorite grandson!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Brando I Knew

Marlon Brando was my favorite actor when I was growing up. He was tough, street-wise, handsome, and didn't take no sh*t from nobody. When I saw him on the big screen for the first time (in The Wild One), he was everything a 14-year-old could ever dream of. He played the leader of a motorcycle gang, and when he roared into town on his big, quivering Harley, I felt I had died and gone to heaven.
By the time On The Waterfront made it to Milwain's, I was totally, deeply in love.
From my journal, Sunday, April 3:
Stayed all night with Maw Maw & Paw Paw George, saw "On the Waterfront." Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint. He's a darling! I LOVE him! I can't get him out of my mind! This may sound like a kid crush, but I do love him! I've got my skirt in Home Ec cut out. I HATE Home Ec!!!
I wrote a short story about my obsession in Clever Magazine, which will give you the whole story. (Don't know why I changed the name of the town, movie theatre and mine and Patsy's names and called it fiction, because it's all true.)
But now I have learned some disturbing things about the great actor.
Brando was bulimic. He suffered from the condition all his life and nearly died twice from his binging and purging. "We would eat dinner, and then Marlon would go to the bathroom, vomit, and come back and order another meal," his long-time personal assistant, Alice Marchak, says.
When she put locks on the refrigerator to control his gigantic appetite, Brando hired a private eye to teach him to pick them. (The Brando I knew would have jerked the door off its hinges with his bare hands, eaten all he wanted, and cut that long-time personal assistant down to size!)
Marchak, who worked for him for decades, rips the lid off one of the most closely guarded lives in Hollywood in her new book, Me and Marlon. "He was a self-admitted liar, con man and seducer, a subscription drug addict and a sex machine," she says. (I can believe he was a seducer and sex machine. But the Marlon I knew could never have been a liar, con man, or a druggie.)
Marlon almost turned down a role that cemented his superstar reputation. He was reluctant to play the godfather in The Godfather, saying he didn't want to glorify the Mafia. (Thank heavens he didn't; his performance of the powerful and intimidating mafia don MADE that movie.)
Brando had a stormy relationship with his children, particularly his son Christian. When Marchak discovered the teenager kneeling with a gun to his temple, she buzzed Marlon and asked him to hurry. "If he has a gun, I'm not coming out," Brando said. (The Marlon I knew would have rushed to his son, wrestled him to the floor and snatched the gun from his hand. He might have even smacked him around a few times and told him to "straighten up!")
But the 300-pound actor left Marchak to talk Christian out of suicide, and finally the troubled boy handed her his weapon.
Those are just a few things I've discovered about Brando. And I wish I hadn't.
I prefer the Brando of my 14-year-old dreams: that unobtainable rebel in his black leather jacket and boots, the boy with those dark smoldering eyes and insolent manner, the boy with an attitude, who rode his big, powerful Harley into town and scared the daylights out of everyone.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Well, honey, don't look!

Dusty and Adam moved to this area to work as reporters for The Paducah Sun. They began dating and soon fell in love. Shortly thereafter, they began a "he said/she said" series, chronicling their engagement, wedding arrangements, and all the things which go into planning one of the most exciting events of a couple's life. I loved the series and looked forward to it each week.

And then. It happened.

One Sunday, Dusty wrote that she and Adam were moving in together so they would be able to save money for their wedding. They would be cohabitating.

It wasn't long before a reader wrote a letter to the editor, chastising the couple and The Paducah Sun for mentioning the word "cohabitation." Although I didn't save that particular issue, his rant went something like this: "I know it goes on, but The Paducah Sun is a 'family' newspaper..."

I was appalled. Suzanne and I talked about it at length; I considered posting about it or writing a letter to the editor. But I decided against it, assuming it was a random letter from a religious zealot.

I was wrong.

Since that time, two more letters have been written to the editor, the latest of which was from Lana Pugh, of Princeton, who wrote, "I realize it's the 'thing to do' and accepted by many, but to others it is still morally offensive. Your paper dropped the ball on this one."

Dropped the ball?

The Paducah Sun has always been an informative, progressive newspaper; I have subscribed to it for 30 years. And although I don't agree with everything they publish (their political views, for instance), the paper could not be faulted for dropping the ball.

But they are dropping it now if they bow to a few.

On a business trip to Frankfort a few years ago, as I was dressing to attend a banquet, I suddenly realized I had gained weight. I was still upset when I joined a friend in the lobby.

"I looked into that big full-length mirror in my room," I said, "And I didn't like what I saw."

"Well, honey," Iwana said, "Don't look!"

So here's to the zealots: Well, don't read it!

And to Dusty and Adam: A lovely wedding, a bright future, and happiness always.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year, dear friends!


My glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too.
But once again before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year, a parting word that's true,
For we've been comrades, you and I;
I thank God for each day of you;
There! Bless you now! Old Year,

~Robert W. Service~

All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley