Saturday, August 26, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 29

This week's writing prompt:

What sports or other extracurricular activities were you involved in?

As a young girl I was always interested in dance lessons, but there never seemed to be any extra money for me to take them. I got to live vicariously through my friend across the street, Sherry Coon, as her mom invited me to Sherry's recitals. It was also through Mrs. Coon that I became a Brownie and Junior Girl Scout.

When I was in 7th grade I joined a girls' softball team with some classmates at Holy Trinity. We were the Carnations. All of the teams in the league were named for flowers, and I thought that was stupid and sexist even back then. Since I wasn't the coach's kid, or even a friend of the coach's kid, I got stuck out in right field.  I hated every minute of it. I'd been playing baseball with my brother and the neighborhood boys for years, so I understood the meaning of being placed in the outfield. It was hard for me to adjust to the larger, softer ball and wider bat. I did okay, I guess, but only stuck with the team for a couple of years.

Hooverettes junior year
When I got to high school (which at Hoover High was only 10th-12th grades) I tried out for the Hooverettes, a precision drill team run by an ex-military guy. Out of 72 candidates, only 17 of us made the team. Mr. J. conducted weekly weigh-ins, and if you were an ounce over your recommended weight, you didn't get to march that week. Fortunately weight was not an issue for me back then. One of his other requirements was that you could not participate in any other school activities. There were a lot of rehearsals before school, and we marched at every football and basketball game, as well as various parades throughout the year.

Normally the parades were in Des Moines or nearby towns such as Pella for the Tulip Festival. But when our band was selected to march in the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, DC, that was a huge thrill. Due to expenses, only two sophomore Hooverettes were allowed to go, and that was as alternates in case one of the junior or senior girls couldn't march. All the sophomore names were thrown in a hat, and mine was one of the two drawn. Diane Howdle was the second, so we ended up as roommates in the DC hotel. It was my first time flying on a plane, as well as my first time in the nation's capital. Neither of us got to be in the parade, instead following along the route with numerous cameras taking pictures for those who were marching. When we were returning to Des Moines, there was a blizzard and we were stranded in Chicago for a day. From April 8-10, Des Moines received 14" of snow. We ultimately made it back home. It was quite a trip.
Cherry Blossom Parade 1973

At the end of my junior year our school sponsor quit and we were told the Hooverettes were disbanding. Later on, another sponsor took over but by then I had it in my head to try other activities my senior year. I helped with student council, was a track clerk, and got involved in the theater department - both on stage and behind the scenes. My senior year I was also a Voter Registrar as I had turned 18 in October. I was enlisted to help register other students so they could vote in the 1974 presidential election. I also went throughout my neighborhood registering voters. In retrospect, I'm glad I branched out senior year and got involved in other things as it gave me a chance to meet many other students in the school.
The Miracle Worker                                  voter registrars

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 28

Today is our 39th wedding anniversary. In a happy coincidence, the couple who sang at our wedding is here in town visiting us. It is fitting to go with this writing prompt as the question of the week.

Tell the story of how you met your own true love, what first attracted you to him, and how long it took for you to know he was “the one”?

Alpha Sigma Phi
Jim and I met our freshman year at Iowa State University. Having neither the interest nor the cash to try to get into a sorority, I lived in Freeman Hall. Jim, on the other hand, pledged the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity located on the other side of campus. A friend from high school, Todd Buckton, also pledged at the same time as Jim. The Alpha Sigs had a Little Sister organization in the house. These organizations were formed in the late 1960s to early 1970s as an opportunity for the brothers to have social interaction with gals without the stress of dating, for the fraternity to receive help with service projects, etc. Each new gal received a Big Brother to help with the transition to college life, and the upper class gals were assigned a Little Brother to do the same for them.

The new pledges were expected to invite freshman girls to the Little Sister rush party in the fall, and Todd called and invited me to come over. I went, and was later asked to be in the organization. While I met all the brothers at the party and later the Little Sister initiation ceremony, Jim first stood out to me at a mixer between the fraternity and the Little Sisters. Held at a bar right before spring break, I clearly remember spending a lot of time talking to him and his two roommates, Jon and Steve. Jim mentioned that he was going skiing with some friends back home during our time off, and I remember being jealous because 1) I had never skied before, and 2) we never did anything during school breaks.

May 1975
When classes resumed I decided that I was going to invite Jim to a dance my dorm was planning for later spring in Des Moines. I didn't want to call the frat house and ask for him in case the person answering the phone that night recognized my voice. I had a friend from the dorm call instead, and when he got on the line I popped the question. He said he would like to go. Because he wanted to become more acquainted before the dance, he came over to the dorm one day and helped my roommate and me paint our room. Then he asked me out to see the movie Jeremiah Johnson. He borrowed Todd's Volkswagen Beetle to pick me up as he didn't have a car. We had a very nice evening, and it smoothed the way for the dance.

We dated exclusively all through college, and the more time I spent with him, the more I realized how much we had in common. Meeting his parents when they came to Ames to attend a play was the icing on the cake as they were great, and he got to meet my parents when we went to Des Moines for the dance. In fact, six of us spent the night at my mom and dad's house after the dance ended. 

Alpha Sigma Phi pin
The only time we had a brief breakup occurred during sophomore year, over something inconsequential. We were soon reunited, and never looked back. By junior year I was wearing his fraternity pin, and senior year we got engaged. We married less than three months following our graduation from Iowa State and the rest, as they say, is history.

Wedding Day August 19, 1978

Footnote: The Little Sister organizations were abolished in the mid 1990s for various concerns including liability, suggestions that the organizations discriminated by gender, and other obscure reasoning.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 27

This week I am going back to school with my story.

Who was your favorite school teacher? Why?

Mr. Wadden 1974
There are several teachers I remember throughout my school years, which is amazing since my memory has never been the greatest. Sister Mary Geneva from second grade was young and very kind. Sister Liguori, while older and more stern, was very supportive of my poetry writing in fifth grade. Mrs. Yelick in 8th grade reinforced my love of English, and Mr. Parker in 11th grade understood that American History would be more interesting to his students if he let them select projects that appealed to them while at the same time imparted knowledge about our country's history. I still remember my presentation that discussed how the music of the roaring '20s contrasted with that of the '30s as the country fell into the Great Depression. The music was a reflection of the tone of the country. But the teacher who most influenced my life was Mr. Wadden, who taught A.S.P. English.

I signed up for Advanced Special Placement English, which would be called AP English today, my senior year of high school. I had heard that it was a challenging class, which most kids tend to shy away from their final year of high school. But hey, it was English, so I wanted in. My friend Kim was in the same class as me, and we tentatively made our way into the room together on the first day. As Mr. Wadden explained the curriculum and work load for the class, you could see the looks of dismay on the faces of many of the students. He said that if any of us did not want to put in the full effort for the class, we were welcome to leave. And a handful of students did exactly that.

Kim and I stuck it out, and while the class did entail a lot of work, Mr. Wadden was mostly bark and no bite. I think he just wanted to separate the serious students from those who were looking for an easy ride their last year in school. There was a lot of reading required in the class, and he taught us to critically examine what we were reading. From there we had to write papers discussing the meanings of what we had read. His class not only changed the way I read books, but my writing skills improved dramatically.

Those skills carried through in college as well as every job I have held since then. Mr. Wadden is one of the biggest reasons that I am a published author today. I am so grateful that I was able to tell him exactly that when we met at my 40th high school reunion a few years ago. He attended the reunion because I invited him. It was humbling to learn that I was a student he remembered out of all the thousands he had taught throughout the years. He recalled my friendship with Kim and the unique name we called ourselves. Way before Brad and Angelina became known as Brangelina, we were the Kimlers (Kim Kubler and Kim Taylor). Mr. Wadden also asked if I had indeed gone on to Iowa State University. (I did.) At any rate, it was wonderful to see him and his wife at our reunion. It's not often that we get to show appreciation to our teachers, and let them know that they made a difference. Thanks, Mr. Wadden!

me with Mr. Wadden in 2014

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 26

In my post for Week 22, the prompt asked about how my parents met, and then also how my grandparents met. While I knew the story about my parents, I was unsure about my grandparents. I was in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago and took the opportunity to ask my two aunts the question of how their parents met.

How did your grandparents meet and fall in love?

Margie, me and Betty
There were eight children in my mom's family, with only two surviving today. Aunt Margie turned 95 recently, and her surprise birthday party was one of the reasons I was in Cincinnati. Aunt Betty's birthday was last month, and she turned 90. They are both an inspiration to the family as they are fairly healthy, active and living on their own.

While at the party, I took the opportunity to ask them if they knew how their parents had met. Aunt Margie did not remember ever hearing the story. Betty believes that Michael Crusham and Mary Barbara (Mayme) Metz met at a picnic in a park in Delhi (a township in Hamilton County).

I explained to them both that as I was looking through notes in preparation for some research I was going to do while in Cincinnati, I had found a reference to an interview I did with their older sister Marie back in 1994. Marie told me that Mayme had a friend named Rose Kenney, and she would sometimes spend the night at Rose's house. She thought that is where Mike and Mayme met. But she said that Mike also may have been a friend of Rose's future husband, John Buchanan. I shared this story with Margie and Betty, and neither one had heard this version.

So the bottom line is that I really don't know for sure how my grandparents met. What I do know is that they were married at St. Aloysius Church in Cincinnati on 21 June 1911. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June of 1961. By November, Michael was dead.

Mike and Mayme, seated, along with Mike's brother
Edward and Mayme's sister Helen