Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sniff Drops, Nervous Nellies, and Vietnam

From my journal: February 25, 1967
LeRoy, Illinois

It's a sunny afternoon and warm for February. Suzanne played outside for a while with Randy, Lisa, Steven and Brian, and now she's watching cartoons. I'm reading "The Confessions of Nat Turner" (very upsetting!) and listening to "Light my Fire," by the Doors.

This morning I washed and waxed the kitchen, utility, bath and entry floors, cut out and sewed on Suzanne's dress, washed three loads of clothes and made a meat loaf for supper. I can't seem to accomplish much of anything anymore!

Yesterday, Suzanne and I went to Bloomington to buy me some shoes. I found just what I wanted downtown at Roland's...a plain brown leather with a chunky heel. Also bought Suzanne a cap, two pairs of corduroys, two cute little blouses, and a pair of Red Ball Jets.

Suzanne is such a little character. She's getting over a cold but still has a runny nose and a cough, so I've been giving her cough drops. While we were having chocolate milkshakes at Woolworth's, she said, "Mommie, I wish you could get me some sniff drops." I said, "What for?" "To keep me from sniffing!"

I've got to go to a Stanley party at Cheryl's Tuesday night. Don't need anything, but I guess I'll have to buy a brush or something!

I'm worried about the Vietnam War. Heard yesterday that President Johnson is going to start bombing in North Vietnam. And he's calling his critics nervous Nellies. I don't think we should even be there, but I'm afraid we'll be there for a long, long time, like the French. Carroll's cousin, Eddie, is over there, and we're all worried about him. He's a helicopter pilot.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Music the Words Make

Truman Capote

* * *

Being a writer of sorts, I’ve always been interested in what well-known writers have to say about their craft. Following are a few of my favorites, and I agree with each and every one. I must say, though, Capote's is my very favorite.

The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
-William Faulkner

A written word is the choicest of relics.

-Henry David Thoreau

Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.

-Virginia Woolf

Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered potholder.

-Raymond Chandler

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

-E.L. Doctorow

It is the purpose of literature to turn blood into ink.

-T.S. Eliot

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.

-Robert Frost

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make.

-Truman Capote

Sunday, February 15, 2009

They fit together like a glove.

Frayne and Pitty Pat, sunburned after a golf outing in the 1980's

* * *

I was 17 years old the first time I saw him. I was sitting in a car with a bunch of friends in front of The Hut when a shiny new two-toned Chevrolet eased up alongside us. A slim, blond-haired boy with a crew cut got out.
"Who's that?" I said.
"Frayne Burgess," someone said, "He just got out of the Army."
The years passed, and in 1967 Patsy lost her husband in an automobile accident. She was left a widow at 25 with two small children to raise. The following year Frayne lost his wife, and he was raising four children under the age of eleven. He was 30. And he was a farmer.
God soon brought them together; they began dating and fell in love. I was matron of honor at their wedding on March 7, 1969.
They blended two families, two households, two histories, into one. And did it as smoothly, as naturally, as though it were meant to be. And, as it turned out, it was.
Suzanne, her father and I spent many happy times with them through the years. Suzanne loved playing with her cousins on the farm. When we came home on vacation each year, she disappeared into the group and never wanted to leave.
"It's too much for you," I said, "You already have six!"
"Suzanne's a good girl; you hardly know she's here," Patsy said, "Besides, one more won't make any difference."
Later, their home was a sanctuary for me when I went through difficult divorces.
They were great parents...loving, yet firm. There was no going to Mom and then to Dad to get what they wanted. Patsy and Frayne stuck together; neither played favorites with their birth children, and they all grew up to become loving, caring parents and grandparents.
Their grandchildren called them Gran and Papa.
Frayne and Patsy loved company; there was never a time I visited that I was not welcomed with open arms: "Brenda! Come on in!" says Pitty, giving me a hug, "Have some coffee and some of this pie I just made!"
We sat at the kitchen table, sipping coffee and talking a mile a minute, Frayne joining us sooner or later. We usually had a question or two for him: "Who did so-and-so marry;" "What happened to so-and-so?" Frayne knew everyone. He had hundreds of friends in Carlisle County.
They loved entertaining. I've enjoyed many catfish dinners with them; Frayne frying more catfish, hushpuppies and french fries than anyone could ever eat. And the country ham breakfasts, complete with red-eye gravy; Patsy's scrambled cheese-eggs, her breakfast casseroles, Frayne's good ole sausage gravy. The list is endless.
As are my memories.
Patsy and Frayne loved to dance, and they could jitterbug like no couple I've ever seen. I loved watching them. "Frayne really gets those 'little' feet going!" I often told Patsy.
And slow-dancing? They fit together like a glove.
"When the kids were little and we got them all tucked in for the night," Patsy said, "We often put on records, turned the sound down low, and slow-danced in the dark living room." Their favorite was Unchained Melody.
They played it at Frayne's funeral yesterday.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm back, and I got POWER!

After living through the biggest ice storm ever to hit the state of Kentucky, I'm back. And I'm just so glad to be here!
Our power came back on at noon today, after 13 days in the dark and two and a half days without heat. We could find no generators, kerosene heaters, or kerosene within 100 miles of Paducah and no motel rooms anywhere. On the third day, our wonderful neighbors, Fred and Yvonne, loaned us a kerosene heater, and Suzanne drove up I-24 until she found kerosene. About a hundred miles away. At Mt. Vernon, IL. (I didn't know she had gone; she didn't call me until she was well on her way.) And she was able to find a generator about five or six days ago, which she shared with us. (She lives next door.) So we had one light and TV for the last five days of this ordeal, and it saved our sanity. (My little girl is a real trooper!)
I took a few pictures...

Looks romantic, doesn't it? But romance was not on our minds. When this picture was taken, Bill and I were wearing our coats, gloves, and I had on my knitted hat. (It wasn't a pretty picture!)

Mornings found us hovering around the heater, waiting for our coffee water to heat up.

We soon grew tired of running to restaurants for breakfast, so we decided to dine in.

I had to brown the biscuits on both sides. And I found I like'em better that way.

As you can see, Tallulah, Dudley and FurGirl were all just about as depressed as we were.

Especially FurGirl. I heard her muttering to herself: Those two little toots are driving me stark, raving mad!

Anyway, I'll be posting regularly from here on in. Unless another ice storm hits us. If it does? Well, I'll probably pull my hair out. It has already turned gray.

All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley