New Beginnings

This year, I, along with half the people in the known universe, decided I would really get serious about my weight. And to prove that I’m really going to do it this time, I signed up with FirstLine Therapy, the medically supervised weight-loss program that my doctor referred me to. I made appointments beginning yesterday through the end of February. THIS TIME I’m really going to do it.

My grandmother was overweight until she had a heart attack when she was 64 years old. After the heart attack she lost sixty (or more) pounds, and went on to live another 30 years.

Nannie & Aunt Maimie

Mama was very overweight as well, but when she was about 65 she got serious about her weight and lost about 80 pounds. She would probably still be alive today if she hadn’t died at age 78 of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mama & Papa (7)

So… I’m 69 and I figure now is the time for me to do the hard work and really lose a lot of weight (hopefully upwards of 120 pounds). I know it will take a while to get that weight off, but I really need to do it.

Abbie Watters

I’m also motivated by my baby brother who lost 50 lbs last year, and looks like a completely different person (although he’s still there underneath).

I’ve spent the last year really struggling to lose, and I’ve managed to shed 15 pounds since this picture was taken, but you can hardly tell it by looking at me.

So… All of this is a build-up for asking you, gentle readers, to help me stick with the program. I’m not going to bore you with meal by meal recaps, but I will be posting every week after I go to my appointment on Tuesdays, and reporting progress (if any), and anything I’ve learned about myself along the way. According to the doctor, I should be able to get rid of 2-3 pounds a week for the first couple of weeks and then about a pound a week. I’ll keep posting “selfies” to keep you up-to-date, but I’ll need you to “holler at me” if I start slacking off on my progress. I figure it’s going to take about a year to get all this off, so I know I’m in it for the long haul.

Pray for me, please.


Jen Bradbury – Enough

Abbie Watters – New Beginnings

Cara Strickland – Bursting

Carol Kuniholm – Acorns, King, Beloved Community

Done With Religion – A New Year, A New Beginning

Kelly Stanley – A Blank Canvas

Glenn Hager – Overcoming The Biggest Obstacle To Reaching Your Goals

Dave Criddle – Get Some New Thinking

David Derbyshire – Changed Priorities Ahead

J A Carter – The Year of Reading Scripture for the First Time

Damon – New Beginnings: Consider These 5 Questions Before Tying The Knot

Jeffrey Kranz – Where To Start Reading The Bible

Joanna990 – On survival – my one word for 2014

K W Leslie – Atonement

Happy – my One Word 365 surprise

Michelle Moseley – Ends and Beginnings

Matthew Bryant – A New Creation

Liz Dyer – It’s a new year and time to make some new mistakes

Edwin Pastor Fedex Aldrich – Foreclosed: The beginning of a new dream

Jennifer Clark Tinker – Starting a New Year Presently

Loveday Anyim – New Year New Resolutions

Loveday Anyim – New Year Resolution Dreamers

Loveday Anyim – New Year Resolution Specialists

Jeremy Myers – Publish Your Book with Redeeming Press

Amy Hetland – New Beginnings

My Life Right Now

I promised I’d give you a peek at what my life is like here at Franke Tobey Jones.


I take a shower, get dressed, fix my tea, load any leftover dishes or glasses into the dishwasher, eat a breakfast bar, feed the birds, water the flowers, check my email, read all the blogs I’ve received in my RSS reader, check the bank account, do a Curvy puzzle, work a jigsaw puzzle on-line, check to see if anybody has posted anything interesting about any of the ancestors, check Facebook to see what’s happening, read the New York Times headlines, the Huffington Post shorts, updates from Knitting Paradise (and read the whole article if it interests me). By that time, it’s probably 11:00 or 11:30 and time to think about lunch.

We eat our dinner at noon and each fix our own snack-type suppers – soup, sandwich, fruit and cheese, nachos, etc.


About 5:30 or 6:00, Big Al and I meet in the living room to watch the news and Rachel Maddow. If there’s anything on network or cable that we want to see, we watch that (not often); otherwise, we watch something on Right now we’re watching the British series, “M-I 5“, and “All Creatures Great and Small.” We usually get one or two episodes a night of each. Followed by the local news, and Jay Leno’s monologue, and finally – to bed.


Bethany Presbyterian Church worships at 10:30 and Sunday School is out for the summer. During most of the rest of the year, Sunday School is at 9:00.

Big Al and I go out to lunch after church, often on the waterfront.


Many Sundays we take a ride after lunch, sometimes through Point Defiance Park, sometime exploring.

Old Growth Forest

Because I probably didn’t get anything from my daily routine done except the shower and the tea and breakfast bar, I spend a couple of hours in the afternoon catching up on my on-line reading. By that time, it’s 4:00 or so, and I go over to the Wellness Center to spend 50 minutes on the recumbent cross trainer (my personal preference for exercise torture). I try to get in three sessions a week of exercise, so Sunday is my make-up day if I’ve been a slug otherwise. If I don’t have to exercise, I spend an hour or so enjoying the porch and reading in my rocking chair.


Every other week I get together with other residents and a genealogist who gives us tips about how to get past the roadblocks in our research and where to find more information. She also helps us with presentation of our research and encourages us to include stories rather than just facts.

Every week, Big Al and I go to the Gamers Club and play bridge or some other game over in the Tobey Jones building. We only stay for an hour, but we enjoy the folks who make up the foursome – a retired federal judge, and a retired school teacher.

Once a month, the chef has a program on nutrition, or some other interesting topic. He also brings goodies to sample. Recently he has talked about protein, the difference between shrimp and prawns, diabetic diets, etc.

I try to fit in my 50 minutes of torture at the Wellness Center on Monday afternoons as well, sometimes before Gamers Club, sometimes, after.

Once a month I have a meeting of the Pierce County Hunger Advocates – part of the Ministerial Alliance.


Big Al and I eat lunch in the Bistro (think Starbucks or local coffee shop) here on campus. They have sandwiches, soup, and salads, and we usually each have a chef salad.

Then, I scurry off to my Tai Chi lesson, while Al finishes his lunch and reads the newspaper.

After Tai Chi, we go over to the Garden Apartments where we play bridge with a foursome we have been playing with ever since we lived there.

Then, it’s back to the Wellness Center for an hour or so of Brain Games. We play word games (like Scattergories) as teams, have paper games to work on, and have some social time. It’s fun, and a way to stretch my mind, and hopefully fend off the on-set of Alzheimer’s a little longer.


Wednesdays are the least structured of my week.

Wednesdays are often the day for trips. So far (since the weather has turned decent this summer), we’ve been to a winery, and the Wildlife Park. There’s a lunch cruise scheduled for next week.

Big Al volunteers at the FISH Food Bank once every six weeks. He also has a luncheon meeting of the state Safety Association in Tukwilla once a month.

I try to get in my 50-minute work out on Wednesday afternoons.

Wednesday is also the day we go to the commissary, about once every 6 weeks.

If you have a birthday or anniversary during the month, you are invited (with your significant other) to a lunch either in the Tobey Jones dining room, or the Lillian Pratt dining room on the last Wednesday of the month.

Often there are interesting programs on Wednesday afternoons, from the Tacoma Historical Society, a gardening expert, or on some other topic. Once a month, we have a program on wines.

Once a quarter, all the independent residents are invited to a dinner, usually on a Wednesday evening. There’s one coming up in a week.


Once a month, the CEO hosts Coffee with the CEO on Thursday mornings. Anyone who wants to can come and ask questions and air grievances. Generally everyone is pretty happy with how everything is going.

On Thursdays at 12:30 I have my second Tai Chi lesson of the week.

There’s also often a program from Senior University on Thursday afternoons.

At 4:00 is the All-Campus Wine and Cheese, where we are invited to lift our glasses and socialize with other residents and the board.


Friday morning at 11:00 I scurry over to Lillian Pratt for the Knitter’s Club. There are 5 or 6 of us who get together and chat while we do some kind of handwork. There’s a retired college president who is learning how to knit to keep his hands and brain busy, as well, and we can ask the others for help if we run into a problem. They always provide us with coffee, tea, and a goodie to stave off starvation until lunch time.

Friday is one of our lunches out. Once a month, the community takes the bus to a local eatery with whoever wants to go. We’ve been to a Japanese place, a Mexican place, an Indian place, an Italian place and a seafood place. If the Lunch Bunch isn’t going, Big Al and I find our own place for a nice lunch out.

The community has Ice Cream on the front porch at Lillian Pratt every Friday afternoon in the summer.

The Garden Apartments have Happy Hour on Friday afternoons. Everybody brings a little snackie-poo, and they provide wine and hard liquor (and soft drinks). We like going because it gives us an opportunity to catch up with the folks from the Garden Apartments.

Once a month, they have “Chef’s Table” that you have to sign up for. Chef Tim plans a specially nice menu and prepares it table-side, while he talks about the ingredients and preparation. It’s limited to 12 people, so it’s a nice opportunity to visit with other residents over a wonderful meal (with unbelievable desserts).


For the most part, Saturday is a day of catch-up. This is my day to work out (so I won’t have to on Sunday afternoon). We also go to the grocery store, hit the garden shop, buy more bird feed, etc.

So that’s what I do all the time. I’m just as busy as if I weren’t retired, but I really love it.


For all of those hanging on my “Family History” posts, sorry that I’ve not posted anything since Sunday. I’ve been at a church conference and I just flat didn’t have either the time or the energy left at the end of the day to post anything. I promise I’ll get started again tomorrow, with Grandparents – Mama’s family.

The Siblings

How many brothers and sisters do you have? – I have two sisters and one brother.

When were they born? – Harriet was born June 2, 1948, Betty was born December 21, 1950, and Bill was born June 5, 1955.

What memories do you have of each of them from when you were growing up? – They have all figured prominently in this series of posts so far, but I’ll talk about each of them in more detail individually now.

Harriet Greisser

Here’s Harriet in the Christening Robe that Papa’s mother was baptized in, then Papa and his brothers, then all of us and all of his brothers’ children, and finally my children, and my grandchildren. I still have it, but it is VERY delicate and I’m afraid to wash it or even handle it.

In the long, hot summers in Texarkana before air conditioning, we cooled off in a wash tub and the hose. That’s me and Harriet, enjoying the water.

Here we (the cousins, Harriet, and me) are cooling off in the shallows at Little River Country Club. You’ll notice we have a tight grip on Harriet. Mama said that as soon as we would let go of her she would stick her face in the river and refuse to come up! She was about 13 months old in this picture.

Here we are showing off a string of fish Papa had caught. I was about 7 years old, and Harriet was 3. She was always tall for her age, and I was always short, so we looked like there were fewer than four years between us.

Here’s Harriet and me getting ready to go trick or treating for UNICEF with a friend of ours. I’m the ghost and Harriet is the devil in Red. Harriet was 12 years old and I was 16 here. See, she’s taller than I am and she hasn’t finished growing yet.

This is Harriet in her hippy years. I was married and in Germany by the time this was taken. She was getting ready to go the University of Michigan.

She married a fellow from Westfield while she was at the University of Michigan, and she was not around much when I was for almost 10 years. She divorced and fell in love with her current husband during that time – meanwhile, I was living in Louisiana, Nevada and England.

We basically reconnected at my grandmother’s funeral in January of 1982. By that time she was a career woman working for Channel 13/PBS in New York City, and loving the urban life.

When Big Al and I came home from England, she scooped us off the boat and we spent a day with her and her future husband in New York City. Here we are walking in Riverside Park.

Here she is in her wedding picture in 1985.

Elizabeth (Betty) Greisser

Here’s Betty in the Christening Robe. I think we were saving money on the picture. Mama said the only way she could tell Harriet’s picture from Betty’s picture was that Harriet’s ears stuck out.

This was later that same summer. Betty has joined us and she was about 7 months old here.

Here we are the Christmas that Betty was 2 years old, Harriet was 4, and I was 8.

Betty was enough younger than I that I didn’t pay much attention to her while I was growing up. She was still home, though when I came back to Westfield to live after Ray was born. She was still in High School, so I got to know her a little then.

Betty and Mama came to visit us when we lived in Germany. Here she is in our apartment.

That’s Ray and Betty and me dangling our feet in one of the lakes in Germany.

She went to Trenton State College in New Jersey. By the time she graduated, Mama and Papa had moved to Texarkana, but they and Bill went back to New Jersey for her graduation and to help her move to Texarkana, with them.

She got a job in the Trust Department of the Bank that Gankie had been a vice-president of. I saw her more often while we lived in Louisiana, but didn’t see much of her from the time we went to England until after she was married.

She was VERY pregnant at Nannie’s funeral. That’s Harriet and her visiting. It’s a shame that we didn’t get together much more than for funerals, because we really enjoyed each other when we were together.

After we came home from England, we lived in Texarkana and I got to know her as an adult.

William Robert (Bill) Greisser

There’s the Christening Robe again, and see, his ears aren’t sticking out, so we know it’s not Harriet.

This is all four of us with Mama in the summer of 1956.  I’m 12 years old, Harriet is 8, Betty is 6 and Bill is 1.

This was taken in the summer of 1963. I’m 19 years old, Harriet is 15, Betty is 12, and Bill is 8.

Here’s Betty and Bill in the spring of 1970.  This was shortly before Mama and Papa and Bill moved to Texarkana. I was the same amount older than Bill as Bill is older than Ray – 11 years each way, so he was as much my kid as he was my brother.

Here are the Four Williams – William Bar Oglesby, Jr (Uncle Billy), William Bar Oglesby, Sr. (Gankie), William Thomas Watters (my son Bill), and William Robert Greisser (my brother Bill).

I was around Bill fairly regularly from 1970 until he went to college at M.I.T. in 1973.

Then I didn’t see much of him until he came to visit us in England in June 1979. Here he is with Ray and Bill Watters.

Here he is with Mama and Papa in Texarkana. He got a job with Texas Instruments and moved to Louisville, TX. He married a girl from Louisville in 1983. Since we both live in the Dallas area, we see more of each other now than we did growing up.

Money, Money, Money

How did your family earn money? – Papa was an engineer with Shell Chemical Co. Mama was a stay-at-home housewife until after I left home. When Harriet and Betty were both in college at the same time, Mama got a part-time job with Visiting Homemakers as a supervisor. When Shell wanted Papa to move from Westfield (the Union, NJ Lab) to south Jersey, he retired with 30+ years, although he was only 56 years old.

He then went to work for a drug manufacturing company near Westfield, but he hated it. It was a completely new corporate culture and he never really fit in.

In 1970, Mama and Uncle Bill decided that Nannie and Gankie were not able to live by themselves in Texarkana. Nannie was getting forgetful and Gankie was having trouble driving, so Uncle Bill tried to get them to move to Richmond, VA, where he lived so he could take care of them. I was living in Westfield with Mama and Papa at the time, and I could see that Papa was really getting stressed out with the new job, so I suggested that they sell the house in New Jersey, and buy Nannie and Gankie’s house in Texarkana. Papa was already retired from Shell, and felt like they could live on his retirement until he got something else to do. The cost of living in Texarkana was significantly lower than in New Jersey. So in the summer of 1970, they sold 428 St. Marks Ave, and moved to 1924 Laurel in Texarkana.

Gankie was so thankful not to have to leave Texarkana that he sold them the house for what he had paid for it 5 years before. Nannie and Gankie moved into an apartment in Texarkana and Mama and Papa paid off the house with the money they got from the house in Westfield. Papa then took a couple of contract assignments as an insurance adjuster after hurricanes. Then he got a job with the Water Company in Texarkana. That saw them through until he turned 65 and Bill Greisser graduated from M.I.T.

How did your family compare to others in the neighborhood – richer, poorer, the same? – We always seemed to have about the same amount of money as anyone else in the neighborhood. We never had more than one car until after I was in college. When we moved to New Jersey, money was really tight because Mama and Papa had to buy a house and they had never owned one before, so they had to take out a personal loan for the down payment. I remember they got me to sign over some savings bonds that had been bought for my college as gifts when I was born. They used them for part of the down payment. The first five years we lived there were very tight while Papa paid off the personal loan. I learned a lot about doing without and not expecting “stuff” in those years. That was when I was in Junior High and High School, so I really felt it. I remember Mama had to wait until payday until to buy us school shoes every year, and I worked as a baby sitter and later at the public library for any pocket money I had. But I never had to contribute money to the family in order to buy groceries, or anything like that.

Between my junior and senior year in High School I went on a two-month trip to Europe with my Girl Scout troop. We had a rule that we had to earn at least half of the money ourselves – parents were not allowed to contribute the whole cost of the trip, so that helped me not feel like I had less than the other girls.

The total cost of the trip was a couple of thousand dollars – for everything – but in those days it was a lot of money. I worked and saved and asked for money as birthday and Christmas presents, and I saved it all myself. We spent one summer in Texarkana and I was my grandmother’s upstairs maid.

She had a cook year-round, but she usually hired another girl (usually a high school or college student) while we were there in the summers. That year it was me. She taught me about moving the furniture to dust/vaccuum under it, wiping out the window sills once a week, cleaning the bathrooms, making the beds, and dusting and polishing the furniture. I also earned money by doing the ironing for the Westfield Women’s Club. I could iron a mean tablecloth!

What kinds of things did your family spend money on? – We mostly spent money on the necessities of life. We always had decent clothes, but they were usually bought on sale. We had plenty to eat. We lived in decent houses. The furniture and appliances were seldom new – often “contemporary attic” or “relative’s basement”, but I wasn’t embarrassed to have friends over. I earned the money it took for special treats – for instance, I was almost 11 when my brother was born, and I earned to money to go to church camp that summer by doing his diapers. I washed them and hung them up to dry and folded them, three times a week.

We spent any extra money on travel, and vacations to see family.

Through the giant sequoias in California.

Half-way up Pike’s Peak.

At the Grand Canyon.

At Disneyland.

We rarely went to the movies, but we went to all the free concerts at church or in the town square. We would rather buy books than jewelry.

It wasn’t luxurious, but it was comfortable to live in my family growing up.

More About Parents

Who was more strict:  your mother or your father? – They were both pretty equal in discipline.

Do you have a vivid memory of something you did that you were disciplined for? – I’ve already told about things I did wrong before the age of 5. Basically I was totally a typical first child. I had the “good girl” business all wrapped up. I was probably really obnoxious about not getting into trouble.

Did your parents have a good marriage? – I think they had a very good marriage. At least I hope so, because they were married for 55 years and it only ended when Mama died of Alzheimer’s. They were married June 24, 1943.

This picture is from Mama and Papa’s Engagement party. That’s Margaret and David Newbold on the left, Nannie and Gankie in the middle, and Mama and Papa on the right.

These were the men in Mama’s life – Uncle Stuart Oglesby (my grandfather’s twin brother), Uncle Bill Oglesby (my mother’s brother), Gankie (my grandfather), and Papa. They were standing outside the church before the wedding rehearsal. Uncle Stuart and Uncle Bill were both ministers and presided at the event.

In June of 1993 we had a big party for their 50th wedding anniversary in the fellowship hall of the same church they were married in – 1st Presbyterian Church of Texarkana, Arkansas.

Here they are before the party started. You can see Mama was in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s then.

Here they are with the four of us – I’m on the left, then Harriet, then Mama, then Betty, then Papa, and then Bill.

Mama and Papa with my family.

Mama and Papa with Harriet and her husband.

Mama and Papa with Betty’s family.

Mama and Papa with Bill’s family.

Many of the people who were in the wedding were also at the 50th Anniversary party.

I was sitting in church with Papa several years after Mama’s death, and I looked over at his bulletin. He had underlined the date – June 24, 2003 – and had written “60 years ago” under it.

I wept.



Can you describe the neighborhood you grew up in?

I don’t remember much about the neighborhoods in Rodeo and Los Madanos or the two neighborhoods in Houston, except that the one on Myrtle Street was really near where they were building one of the first “Super Highways” in the state. I got in real trouble because I went down to the construction site with somebody from the neighborhood after supper one evening in summer. It was still light, but there were puddles all over the place, and Mama was convinced I was going to die of polio from playing in the polluted water.

We didn’t live in the first neighborhood in Pasadena for very long, but I do remember there was an old man and his wife who lived next door. His name was Mr. Butts, and he had a hutch of rabbits in the back yard. You could feed them grass, but you had to be careful that they didn’t nibble on your fingers at the same time.

The second neighborhood in Pasadena was close enough to Garden Elementary that I could walk to school. I had a option of cutting across a field or going the longer way around on the sidewalk. Both of the neighborhoods were ticky-tacky tract houses that all looked just alike. One of the neat things about our house was that the roof was low, but it had a decent pitch to it. We would form up teams – half in the front yard and half in the back yard. We didn’t have any fences, so you could run all the way around the house. One team would have a tennis ball and would throw it on the roof, hopefully as far as the top, and then it would trickle down the other side. When the team who caught the ball coming over the roof got it, they would run around the house and try to tag the other team with the ball. The fun was you never knew which way they were coming. This was one of our favorite after supper games.

The neighborhood we lived in in California was very similar, except we had fenced in back yards. If you’ve seen Erin Brockovich you’ve seen what the neighborhood looked like. Those houses were also built up on a foundation with a decent size crawl space. When we lived in California we got our first dog. She was a little black cocker spaniel that we named Ebony – Ebbie for short. She lived under the house most of the time, and would scare visitors half to death by barking out the grilles under the front porch. She could only get under the house from the back yard, but she could roam freely under there. There were lots of kids in the neighborhood there, and we all walked to school. I was a Brownie and later a Girl Scout in Concord. There was a little store – we would call it a convenience store nowadays – between the house and the school and I would stop there for a candy bar or a Twinkie on the way back from lunch. We ate lunch at home unless Mama was gone somewhere during the day – like Circle Meeting at the church. All the houses had a flat driveway leading into the garage that faced the street, and we’d play 4-square, and hop-scotch in the driveways.

When we moved to New Jersey we had a completely different kind of neighborhood, even though there were still plenty of kids around. The family across the street had seven kids, the ones on the corner had five kids, and there were several families with two or three kids each.

I walked to Junior High and High School in New Jersey – about 3/4 of a mile to Jr. High, and a little over a mile to High School. In New Jersey, we couldn’t get a driver’s license until we were 17 years old, and besides, we only had one car. Mama either had to take Papa to work, or he was in a car pool to the Lab which was about three towns away. The church was easily in walking distance for us kids, though, and it was only a couple of blocks to the elementary school for Harriet, Betty, and Billy. The houses in Westfield were all at least two and sometimes three storied, and they all had big porches, and full basements.

And in and amongst all the neighborhoods I lived in growing up, Texarkana stayed in the same place, and had all the same people living there.

It was Mama’s home and she had lots of cousins who lived there and they had kids, so I had lots of second cousins there, too. My first cousins didn’t live in Texarkana but they were often there, visiting, at the same time we were. That was gentile neighborhood with manicured lawns and well-tended houses. We walked around the neighborhood in the evenings. The grown-ups sat in the back yards in the mornings and in the front yard in the evening because the house faced east. We played house under the bushes in the mornings and in the afternoons we stayed inside and played cards because it was too hot to go out. We went swimming after 4:00 p.m. because it was too hot before that.

I actually lived in Texarkana with my grandparents while I went to Texarkana Junior College. That’s where I met Big Al when he was stationed at the AC&W site with the Air Force.

Here I am with the siblings and Al before we married. 2017 Laurel caught on fire one Sunday after Al and I were in college in Nacogdoches. Nannie and Gankie bought another house in the same neighborhood, just up the street, but I still grieve for this house to this day.


Tell me about your parents. Where were they born? – Papa was born in Spokane, Washington, and Mama was born in Texarkana, Arkansas.

When were they born? – Papa was born November 29, 1911, and Mama was born February 19, 1920.

What memories to you have of them? – I’ve already done a couple of long posts about each of them. Here’s the one about Papa (it also happened to be the eulogy I gave at his memorial service.) Mama figured prominently in this one and also on Mother’s Day in this one.

As you can probably tell from my posts in this series so far, both of my parents figured prominently in my life. I can’t write about me and my childhood without writing about them.

Here’s Mama, aged 14 months.

Mama – Age 12.

Mama at the University of Arkansas.

Papa – Age 14.

Papa in 1938.

Papa in 1949.

I imagine you’ll find out lots more stuff about both of them as this series goes. on.

Childhood House(s)/Neighborhood(s)

What was the apartment or house like that you grew up in? How many bedrooms did it have? Bathrooms? What was your bedroom like? Can you describe the neighborhood you grew up in?

You’ll understand when I say I’m at a bit of a loss how to answer these questions when I tell you that by the time I went to first grade, I had lived in 7 different houses.

Mama brought me home from the hospital to her parents’ house – 2017 Laurel St. in Texarkana, Ark. It was a big, two-story red brick house that Mama had grown up in from the time she was 9 years old. This is the house I considered my home. I used to tell people that I really lived in Texarkana with my grandparents, but Mama and Papa made me stay with them wherever they were.

Here I am with Mama in the front yard of 2017 Laurel, at about age 1 month.

With my maternal grandmother – Nannie – in the back yard at 2017.

With my maternal (and only) grandfather – Gankie – in the back yard at 2017. Mama and Nannie captioned this picture the two most unhappy people in the whole world. He was terrified he would drop me, and I was terrified he would too.

With my paternal grandmother – Gaga – inside at 2017 Laurel. She had travelled from her home in California to see the new granddaughter.

When Papa came home from the war, he went back to his job working for Shell Chemical Co., in California. We lived in two places out there, both in the east Bay Area of San Francisco – Rodeo and Los Madanas. Both of these places were, according to Mama, just awful! They were hastily put together Wherry housing or leftover barracks from the war. While we lived there, Mama’s cousin Margaret and her daughter Genie came to visit. Margaret’s husband had died during the war, so she was a grieving widow, travelling around to visit relatives and recover.

You can just make out the housing in the background.

I think we were about 18 months old in this picture (judging from the time of year). Genie is two months older than I am. We both had Snoopys, wooden dogs that you pulled around by a string. They made a wonderful skrownking noise. Both of my children also had Snoopys.

In late 1946 or early 1947, Papa was transferred to Houston, and we moved into a real slum on Dunlevy Street. We didn’t live there long, but I definitely remember that it was two-story because there was a little boy about my age who lived upstairs and he had a Chutes and Ladders game that we were allowed to play occasionally.

In early 1948 we moved to Myrtle Street in Houston. That was the house right across the street from the railroad tracks where Harriet was terrified by the train and I was terrified by electricity.

It snowed that winter – a real blue Norther – in Houston. That was a VERY rare occurance!

Harriet was born in June, 1948, (in Texarkana because one of Mama’s cousins was married to a doctor, and Uncle Perry delivered all of us).

All this time we were spending summers, Christmases, and any other time Mama could figure out a reason in Texarkana. We also spent several weeks every summer at Little River Country Club. Although Nannie and Gankie didn’t own a cabin there, one of Nannie’s best friends did, so we were able to go for weeks at a time.

My cousins, Anne and Mimi, were often there with us during the summers.

Here’s Harriet and me in the back yard at 2017 Laurel, arriving for Christmas in 1948, I think.

Before school started in 1949 we moved from Myrtle Street to our first house in Pasadena, Texas. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the street we lived on, but we didn’t live there very long. That’s the house we were living in when Harriet got the tips of two of her fingers cut off. She learned to walk when she was 8 months old and she thought she was my age. She was about 22-months-old and following me out the back door, and put her hand in the hinge. The wind caught the door and blew it shut and cut the tips off the middle two fingers of her left hand. Blood everywhere. Mama wrapped up her hand and the bloody tips in a clean diaper and called Papa. She was crying so hard all she could say was “The baby – the baby!” Papa broke all speed limits and records racing home, and got us to the hospital where the doctors sewed her fingertips back on. Today you would never know it to look at her hands unless you were looking for it. I realize now that Mama was newly pregnant with Betty, who was born in December of 1950, and Papa probably thought she was having another miscarriage when she called.

I’m searching my brain to remember the name of the second street we lived on in Pasadena. I remember it was on the corner, and sideways across the street was where Priscilla Puffer lived. She was about three years older than I and I thought she was wonderful. That’s where we lived when I went to first, second and third grade. I went to Garden Elementary School in Pasadena. I’ve often thought I’d try to find it again some time, but I’ve never been back to the area even though I have been in Houston several times since I’ve been grown.

While we lived there, Betty was born, although we returned to Texarkana to stay again. I went to school at Fairview Elementary for a couple of months while we waited for the baby to be born, and for Mama to be ready to go back to Houston.

In the spring of 1953, Papa was transferred to the Shell plant in Martinez, California. Mama, Harriet, Betty, and I spent the last two months of the school year in Texarkana while I finished up third grade. We lived in Concord, California from fourth grade through sixth grade, in a nice little tract house with three bedrooms.

Here I am in the back yard on North 6th Street. I tried to find the house once in 1994 when Al and I were out there for a seminar, but I never was able to. I went to Wren Ave. Elementary School. That’s where we were living when we had the earthquake in 1955 on the Concord Fault. The family on one side of us was the Vnucks, and on the other side were the Padrazzis. My best friend was Frances Fisher who lived on the other side of the Vnucks.

We lived in Concord for three years, but we only spent one summer there – the summer my brother Bill was born. The other two years we went back to Texarkana.  While we were there in 1956 (one of the hottest on record until that time), Papa was transferred to New Jersey.

When we moved up there Mama and Papa bought a house – it was the first one they had ever owned. It was a big old two-story Victorian with a full attic and a full basement. It was a four-bedroom house and I had my own room for the first time.

The family lived there until after I had left for college, and gotten married. You can see it had a wonderful wrap-around front porch, and was a great place for a family.

You can understand now, I think, why I don’t have any trouble moving. I was born to it.