My one word for 2015 is “Honesty.”

Let’s see how I did with Honesty in July and August. (I was recently reminded that I haven’t done much posting AT ALL this summer.)

My garden is still taking up a fair amount of my time. I’ve donated almost 40 pounds of cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes to the Fish Food Bank. That’s in addition to everything Al and I could eat. We’re eating a couple of tomatoes a day, and plenty of squash. I also supplied us with several weeks of green beans. The second round of beans that I planted around the middle of July are just about ready to be picked, so we’ll have those to enjoy. I got enough Serrano peppers to make pepper sauce, and a few small jalapenos to make pico de gallo.

It has turned cool this week (after temperatures consistently in the upper 70s to mid-80s). It’s also started to rain some (we had NONE – ZERO -ZIPPO since early June). The woods and fields were on fire all over Washington but the rains since the middle of August have helped. Folks here welcomed the early warm, sunny weather, but now they realize that we really need the rain that usually falls.

I’m still walking every Thursday morning with the group from the church, and I’m keeping up with my 12,000 steps a day as counted by my trusty Fitbit. I also continue to faithfully log my food on MyFitnessPal, although the scale isn’t moving. (sigh)

The racial unrest, typified by Ferguson, Baltimore, Sandra Bland, McKinney, and Charleston, finally got under my skin enough that I began to be more pro-active about seeking change. Another woman and I from the church curated and led a discussion on race for four Sundays in July and August. We talked about systemic racism, white privilege, white fragility, and racial appropriation. Then in August, I “attended” an online course entitled “Hard Conversations on Race.” I feel like I sharpened my antenna for veiled racial slurs, and I’m becoming more vocal about challenging them when I hear them. It probably isn’t endearing me to my associates, but I really don’t care if racists don’t “like” me. At least, I finally feel like I’m being HONEST!

In August, my team at Bethany hosted a neighborhood night out and the annual Church Picnic. At the picnic we packed school bags for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and Church World Service. (Sorry, I was busy enough that I didn’t get any pictures taken, but you can see photos from the last couple of years here, and here and here.)

Big Al and I are getting excited for our big 50th Anniversary trip. We leave Tacoma on Sunday, September 27th and return on Saturday, October 24th. We’ll take Amtrak from here to Vancouver, BC, where we’ll board VIA (Canada Rail) and ride to Toronto. We’ll spend the night in Toronto, and then take the train to Montreal where we will spend two nights before training to Quebec City and boarding the Queen Mary II for a cruise up the St. Lawrence, around Newfoundland and down to Boston, Newport, RI, and New York City, looking at the autumn leaves (hopefully). We’ll spend a couple of days in New York, sightseeing and visiting Harriet and Robert, before we board the Jersey Central RR for Philadelphia and a quick visit with Marianne. We’ll take the train from there to Washington DC where we’ll spend three nights sightseeing (we’ve both been to DC as teenagers, but we haven’t been back). Then we board Amtrak on the Capital Limited for Chicago where we’ll have a one-night layover before catching the California Zephyr, bound for Sacramento. We’ve traveled the Empire Builder so many times we know the route by heart, so we decided to see the central Rockies this time. In Sacrament we’ll catch the Coast Starlight and home to Tacoma.

I’ll be posting pictures from the trip on Facebook, and, possibly Stellar, but I’ll be sure to put a link here to those posts.

Don’t be surprised if I don’t do an HONESTY update the first part of October, but I’ll promise to do one in November. See you then.


Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad

Last Saturday, a group of us from Franke Tobey Jones joined folks from the Ruston Senior Center to have a wonderful day on the Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad. Our bus driver took us to Elbe, WA, the terminus for the tour.

We got there in time for breakfast at the local diner which is made from old railroad cars. There’s also a motel behind the restaurant made out of old cabooses.





The interior is has some wonderful old artifacts including this etched window (I hope you can see where it says “Silver Palace Car” and “Southern Pacific 1865”).


They also have a large emblem from Union Pacific Railroad.


The best part, though, are all the model trains – engines and cars – they have on display on a ledge around the top of the walls.

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Elbe is an historic little town with an interesting old church and some old buildings that were there around the turn of the twentieth century. It was a jumping off point for the logging industry who spread out from there to logging camps all over Mt Rainier.

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They have one of the old logging engines and coal cars on static display by the depot.


We looked around their gift shop, and about that time here came the train.



We climbed on board, and settled ourselves for a 45 minute ride to the old logging camp and museum they have set up near Mineral, a little town on the shores of Mineral Lake.


Along the way we passed wild flowers in the fields, and beautiful old trees and second growth forest.

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We crossed a bridge over the Nisqually River which flows out of the glacier on Mt Rainier. Unfortunately the clouds were thick and we couldn’t see the mountain.


After we crossed the river we followed the winding track which ran alongside Mineral Creek.

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We finally arrived at the Railroad Camp.


The Railroad Camp is where they have a museum, many old steam engines, and a whole logging camp set up. The buildings were built on skids and moved from camp to camp by flatcar when the trees in one area had all been logged.


They have one of the “dormitories” set up with furnishings for the women who cooked and cleaned for the lumberjacks. The others will be furnished as bunkhouses as funds become available.

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There were all sorts of equipment from logging donkeys to large steam engines to things I had no idea what they were. I know Ray would love to poke around there. (The one thing I noticed was that none of the engines had cowcatchers. I guess they didn’t need such a thing in the forest.)
















As we rode back to Elbe, we were reminded that Mt Rainier is so big, it creates its own weather. As we crossed the Nisqually, the rains came and we were glad to be snug in the railcar, and close to our bus for the ride back to Tacoma.



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 Ancestry.com 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 Netflix.com. 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.

A Review of the Past Year

As promised, here are some of the highlights of the last year (cont.).


The year began with really spectacular weather (particularly for the first part of January). On 1/1/2013 we were able to see the mountain!

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I continued feeding and watching the birds.


We had been notified in late November that we would be able to move into a duplex in January, so most of the month was spent packing boxes, picking out paint and rugs, and generally being confused. But we moved, happily about the 20th and consequently were without computers and Netflix for quite a while.

Our Duplex (2)


We got ourselves settled in, including getting the TV hooked up to the network, getting all the wiring done and ordering a couch and chair for the living room. Notice we have a working fireplace with gas logs that is absolutely Da Bomb! for cold winter evenings.


Things started blooming that had been planted by previous residents. It’s such fun to see what will come up and bloom when and where you aren’t expecting it.

Outside my door

I also got to know my four-footed neighbors.

From my deck

Franke Tobey Jones took a bus trip to the Trillium Winery on the Kitsap Peninsula, and we really enjoyed wine-tasting and learning about how “Mine Host” made the wines.

Mine Host at the Winery

APRIL 2013

The weather warmed up and the bushes and trees around our house burst into bloom. Azaleas all over campus, followed apple trees in bloom.




It was warm enough for us to return to lunches outdoors at the restaurants on the sound.




MAY 2013

You all remember the early part of this month. The flowers delivered by one of the staff on May Day,

May Day 2013


Back Porch

Sitting in the sun on the boardwalk at Titlow Beach.

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Kate Smith


A Review of the Past Year

As promised, here are some of the highlights of the last year.

JUNE 2012

We arrived in Tacoma in mid-June and moved into our apartment at Franke Tobey Jones (temporary until one of the duplexes on campus came available.) There wasn’t a lot of room, and even less once all the boxes were delivered.


We did enjoy the folks we lived with there, and still see them regularly at social events and around the campus.


We hadn’t been here long before we found the restaurants and views along the Sound, just at the bottom of our hill.


JULY 2012

One of the first things we did was take the ferry across to Vashon Island and drive around all over the island.


The first trip we went on with the community here on the Franke Tobey Jones bus was to Mt. Rainier. On a clear day it’s visible from all over Tacoma, and I’ve come to judge the weather by whether we can see the mountain or not.


In July we found our church, Bethany Presbyterian Church, which is about as different from Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church as could possibly be. Bethany has fewer than 100 members – Preston Hollow has over 2800. Bethany is much more liberal than Preston Hollow. There are many other differences, but gospel is preached and social justice ministries are important in both.

Bethany Presbyterian Church (2)

We discovered Point Defiance Park, on the other side of the fence in front of our apartment, and spent many happy hours driving around in old-growth forest, looking at wildlife, and seeing spectacular views of the sound.

Vashon Island Viewpoint


The next trip was a boat ride out of Seattle on Elliott Bay to “Meet the Fleet”, also sponsored by the community.


We came back from that to find a large Marquee on the front lawn, all set up for the Annual Picnic.

Tent for tomorrow

Also during August the community sponsors an open air concert every Thursday night. Lots of neighbors come, bring their lawn chairs, and enjoy the music in the cool of the evening.

Concert in the Park

Also, in August, Tobey Jones took us on a trip to Mt. Saint Helens. At one time Mt. Saint Helens looked very much like Mt. Rainier. And then 33 years ago yesterday, the whole top blew off the volcano. All of these majestic mountains around here are still active volcanos, and we occasionally have earthquakes and worry that Mt. Rainier will blow up, too.

Mount St. Helens crater

In August, Bethany had a potluck picnic at Spanaway Park and we explored more of the surrounding countryside. and we got to listen to our church’s Blue Grass Band Loose Cannon. (Yep, that’s Santa Claus playing lead guitar).

Loose Canon at the picnic

Toward the end of the month we had the first appearance of the Peace Cranes at Bethany.

From East and West


Franke Tobey Jones sponsored a dinner for all the residents in independent living in September. It was a Hoedown, with barbecue and live entertainment.

Roe Family Band

Toward the middle of the month Al and I took several days and drove around the Olympic Peninsula. First up to Port Angeles, where you can see Canada in the distance across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.

Pier and port at Port Angeles

Then by Crescent Lake,Crescent Lake, reflecting

Then down to the seashore at Pacific Beach where the Navy has a military recreation area. We looked at the waves and watched the seagulls and enjoyed the cloudy, cooler weather. (We didn’t have any rain from mid-July until mid-October.

Old fuzzy butt (2)


Franke Tobey Jones sponsored a trip to Vashon Island. We took the bus on the ferry and went out to visit the lighthouse across the Sound from Sea-Tac Airport.At the Lighthouse on Vashon


My mother’s cousin died the end of October, and since she was the last remaining person of her generation, I packed up and traveled to Texarkana for her funeral. I had to fly down (because of the short notice) and I vow I will never fly again. I went Space Available on #1 son’s employee ticket, and both planes were packed (I almost didn’t make it on board). Couple that with the fact that it was a red-eye flight from Sea-Tac to Chicago, and I wasn’t a pretty sight. I did get a chance to visit with my brother and his family who picked me up from DFW Airport and my sister and her family in Texarkana. Bill (#2 son) drove up from Covington, LA, and got me and I had a week-long visit with him. I got to see his new house (which they moved into in August). Then I rode the train (the City of New Orleans) back to Chicago and from Chicago took the train (the Empire Builder) back to Portland, with a ride from Portland to Tacoma on the Amtrak Cascade. It was very enjoyable – much more so than the flight down – but I had picked up a cold from my granddaughter, so I wasn’t fit company on the train.

Al and I had Thanksgiving Dinner at Franke Tobey Jones. and really enjoyed it. (At least I didn’t have to cook or clean-up.)



They go all out here at Tobey Jones for Christmas. I think they have 18 (or maybe it’s 21) decorated trees, as well as all the other decorations in the public areas.

Christmas Tree at TJ

They also have a lovely sit-down dinner, catered by food services that all the independent residents are invited to.


Bethany had a Christmas play where they performed “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.


I invited a family from church to be my family at the Children’s Christmas Party here on campus – kid food, snacks, a magician, Santa Claus, and more.


Big Al and I had a great Christmas. It was quiet, but very nice. We went to the Lobster Shop for dinner, and spent the afternoon groaning from eating too much.


It looks like this post is getting too long again, so I’ll finish off with the early part of 2013 tomorrow. Stay tuned for the big move to OUR DUPLEX in January.

Easing back into a routine after the holidays

Yesterday, I started easing back into my exercise routine that was first interrupted by my trip to Louisiana in early November, and later sabotaged by Thanksgiving, cold weather, and Christmas.

For the early part of the fall I tried to spend some time every day in the Wellness Center. There is an exercise room with all kinds of exercise equipment, including treadmills, weight machines, and ellipticals. I try to hit the machine room on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I particularly like the seated stepper that works both arms and legs. Before I left in November, I was able to do a mile and a half in about a half an hour. I find, now, that I’m back to doing a mile in that length of time, but I’ll gradually work back up. It’s a good aerobic workout, which is what I need in my current state of couch potato-ness.

On Tuesday and Thursday, I take Tai Chi. I took Tai Chi many, many, many, many, many years ago, but I’ve found that a lot of it comes back to me. I really like it because it helps with centering myself, and staying aware of my body and what needs to be worked on (everything!). I was in the beginner class through the fall, and I’m going to try to move up to the more advance class. I’ll probably still go to the beginners class for the exercise, and observe and gradually work into the more advanced class. It’s great for balance, joint suppleness, and keeping stretched out in this cold, damp weather.

On Tuesday afternoons, we play bridge here in the Garden Apartments. When we move over to the duplexes we’ll probably continue to come back here for our weekly game. There’s also a game on Mondays and Thursdays at the Senior Center in town. We haven’t started attending that yet, but we may later. They run a bus over there, so we could go even it the weather is bad and we don’t want to drive.

On Wednesday evenings, I go to Centering Prayer group at Bethany Presbyterian Church. I’ve been really lax about keeping up with my praying in color and other spiritual disciplines that I had begun to develop in Dallas. I hope to get back to coloring when I finally get a desk that I can work at. My desk right now is only a holder for my monitors with a pull-out keyboard drawer, so I really don’t have any room to draw, color, or write.

Of course, we go to church on Sunday mornings, and I led a course on Sunday evenings on the Beatitudes this fall. I’m going to try to get up early enough to start going to Sunday School before church because they’ve asked me to teach a series from this year’s PW Horizon’s on “Letters to God’s Household” (First and Second Peter, First, Second, and Third John, and Jude.) That will happen after Easter until the end of school.

There are always trips to various places around the area, and “talks” by people from the colleges and universities on topics of interest. Once a month the Tacoma Historical Society presents a program on some tidbit of information about the local area. In a couple of weeks they will take a bus to an afternoon matinee of the movie “Hyde Park on Hudson”. There’s also a “Lunch Bunch” that takes the bus to an interesting restaurant in the area once a month or so. Tomorrow, we’re going to Gateway Cottage – it’s supposed to be a really nice “Tea Room” that serves lunches.

We had the guy from the movers in this morning to give us an estimate on how much it will cost to move us across the campus. It’ll be pricey, but at least we won’t have to schlep it ourselves.

Life moves on!

Busy, busy, busy!

I know I’ve been very remiss in keeping this blog updated, but I’ve been really busy. I hope all of you, gentle readers, know already – WE SOLD THE HOUSE!!! I’ve not been posting too much about that news because – although it’s been under contract for a week – we had to wait through the inspection and the “Option Period” to be morally certain the it was really going to happen! The buyers are happy with how the inspection turned out, so now all we do is wait for the appraisal and for the title company to do their thing. The buyers are already pre-approved for their loan, and the house is on the tax roles for more than we’re selling it for so we “should” have no problem with the appraisal. We’re set to close on May 18th!

We’ve started packing boxes and dumping stuff that we don’t care anything about. Thank goodness we did the major cleaning out back in 2009 when we thought we would be selling and moving in the spring of 2010 (silly us). We’ve still amassed lots of paper and other various assorted junk that needs to be gone through and sorted out. I’m going to try to have a small garage sale to get rid of the few books we still have that we no longer want (fall back is to take them to Half-Priced Books and get a nickel a piece for them).

We still have a little bit of furniture that we never intended to take with us, but that we needed to keep until we actually moved, like Al’s desk and the credenza I’ve been using as a desk. We’re planning to get new stuff from Ikea when we get there that will fit in the “shared” office. We will be in a one bedroom apartment until a duplex or three bedroom apartment opens up, so we wouldn’t be able to have office areas yet anyway.

We also still have our old recliners, a sofa bed and various occasional chairs that didn’t sell in the estate sale. Anything I can’t peddle in a garage sale will be donated to Interfaith Housing. They give their residents all the furniture in their apartments when they graduate, so they always need stuff like living room chairs and furniture. I’ll also donate all the clothes we have either outgrown or don’t want any more (like I NEVER wear skirts or dresses unless somebody holds a gun to my head) unless I can sell them in the garage sale.

I’ve prevailed on #2 son to come over for the weekend of May 11th and take the electronics apart and label all the wires for us. That’s the weekend before the movers come. It looks like we’ll have them sometime during the early part of the week of May 14th, and have the truck from Interfaith Housing at the same time. Then we’ll have the cleaning ladies in to do a final clean on May 17th, and we’ll close on the 18th. We’ll move into the Marriott Residence Inn just down the street as soon as the movers come, so we’ll have the car packed and ready to go when we get finished with the Title Company.

We’re booked into the motel in Texarkana for that weekend (I want to have a chance to rock Miss Claire McCasland, my new grand-niece). Then we’ll leave the car there with Betty and Keith, and take the train to Chicago to see #1 son and his lady friend. I’ll also have a chance to run over to Peoria to see if I can find the naturalization records for Papa’s grandfather. He came from Germany in the 1840s and was naturalized sometime during the 1860s, but that was in the days before everything was done in the federal court system. In those day, any county or municipal court or judge could do the naturalization paperwork, so I’m going to see if I can find the records there.

When we get back to Texarkana from Chicago we’ll take a little time and go up to Washington, AR, to take a few pictures in the old cemetery for the Eakins piece of the genealogy. Then we’ll go over to Burns, TN, to see my cousin, Anne. Then down to Madisonville, LA, to see #2 son and his family (and possibly see if I can look up some of the relatives who lived down there). I know some of them, at least, lived and died in Tangipahoa Parish.

Then when we leave south Louisiana, we’ll just be taking our time and driving west and north. We’d really like to avoid the interstates, and see some of the countryside. Big Al said he has heard of Rt 66 all his life, so we’ll pick it up somewhere in Oklahoma and follow it at least to Amarillo. We’ve never seen Palo Duro Canyon, as long as we’ve lived in Texas, so we may do that. We may take the Highway to Hell (rt 666) through New Mexico for a while. We may try to visit Carlsbad Caverns. Al has a friend in Tuscon, and I have a friend in Phoenix that we may try to stop off and see. We may go through Las Vegas, just to see our old house (if we can find it and if it’s still there). Other than that we don’t have any plans except to take our time and visit whatever National Parks, or National Monuments we run across on the way. We’ve never been to Bryce Canyon or Zion National Park, even though we lived in Las Vegas for a while, so we may go by there. We’ve seen the Grand Canyon and the Painted Dessert, and the Crater in Arizona, but we may go back to one or another of them. We’re just going to play it by ear. I don’t THINK we’re going to go by the Grand Tetons or Yosemite, but who knows. We’ll plan to be in Tacoma some time between the 15th and 30th of June.

Now I’ve got to get back to my rat-killing, and get some more of this junk disposed of!

The Ages of Woman – 30’s

What do you remember about your 30’s? – In my 30’s, I mostly marked time, watching my kids grow up and being a nice mommy. We started out living on base at England AFB in Alexandria, LA.

After Al refused an assignment to Missile Command, we were transferred to Nellis AFB, in Las Vegas, NV. We bought a new VW bug, and a house on a golf course, and I was working, full-time, as a Professional Girl Scout.

Then, after only 14 months, we suddenly had orders to RAF Upper Heyford, in Oxfordshire, England. We took full advantage of our time there doing lots of sightseeing, at Chedworth Roman Villa

Whitby Abbey

Mt. Grace Priory

Fountains Abbey

across the channel to Paris

Goodrich Castle

Ragland Castle

exploring the lanes in the English countryside

We got a new doggy – Cindy – who was a black and white cocker spaniel, and who loved to play soccer with Bill.

We went to the (cold) seashore in Weston-super-Mar

We explored pre-historic standing stone sites

I quit smoking, and Al was caught in a reduction-in-force (RIF), and chose to stay in the Air Force for 3 years as an enlisted man, and I went from an officer’s wife to a working woman. We were transferred to RAF Fairford, where I worked as an administrative assistant to a couple of colonels. But we still did all the sightseeing we could. We visited Scotland and Hadrian’s Wall


Coventry Cathedral

York (Guy Faulk’s House)

Glastonbury Cathedral


and Cornwall

When I was 37, and Al was 40 and just months away from retirement, his back (which had bothered him for years), finally got to be too much for him. He spent 6 weeks, flat on his back in bed, followed by and operation and 6 more weeks of recovery. We had been planning a two-month trip sightseeing in Europe, and were afraid we wouldn’t get to take the trip. But the surgery was successful, and we sent the boys home to stay with Mama and Papa in July of that year.

We took our Eurail pass, and set out with occasional reservations at various youth hostels, and we saw Europe.

We saw Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and France and ended up taking the Queen Elizabeth II back to the states in September. We stopped in New York to visit my sister, Harriet,

and then returned to the boys in Texarkana.

We bought a house, and I went to work at the church as the Director of Christian Education. Al searched valiantly for a job, but was never able to find work doing anything other than substitute teaching. We got the first of two foreign exchange students when we had only been there for a couple of weeks. Jan was from Gothenburg, Sweden, and lived with us for a year.

After he went home, the next year, we got Michael, who was from Denmark. He loved to fish and spent lots of time with Papa in the boat.

While Al had a decent retirement from the Air Force, it certainly wasn’t enough for us to live on, so, about the time I turned 40, Al got a job with the Air Force as a civilian, in Abilene, TX.

And that’s the story of my 30’s in a nutshell. Stay tuned to hear about my 40’s, my 50’s, and as far as I’ve gotten in my 60’s.

Finishing up “Identity”

What kinds of things bring you the most pleasure now? – Reading, web-surfing, (unfortunately) eating, knitting, train travel, cruising, watching grandchildren play.

When you were a younger adult? – Reading, (still) eating, sightseeing, travel, watching the world go by.

When you were a child? – Reading, (again) eating, listening to adult conversations.

What things frighten you now? – Traffic, losing myself to Alzheimer’s, having something happen to Al, one of the children, or one of the grandchildren.

What frightened you when you were a younger adult? – The threat of nuclear war, loss of Al or one of the children.

When you were a child? – Loss of my parents, the “unnamed stranger”, things that go bump in the night.

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted but still don’t have? – A full-time maid and cook, and enough money to pay them.

Do you feel differently about yourself now from how you felt when you were younger? – A little. How? I’m much more confident now. I used to want approval from Mama and Papa for everything I did. Mama and Papa are both gone now, and I find I don’t need the cheering section any more. I’m capable of living my life alone, if I have to.

What do you think has stayed the same about you throughout life? – My intelligence is still here and my quick intuition (or maybe that’s the same thing). I’ve always relied on “knowing”, and maybe that’s why Alzheimer’s scares me so.

What do you think has changed? – I know this sounds like a broken record, but my self- confidence. I’m much surer of myself – but isn’t that a big part of being an adult?

The Kids

How many children do you have? When were they born? – I have two kids – both boys – both born in January – one in 1966 and one in 1972.

How did you decide what to name each? – Ray is really Allen Ray Watters, Jr., named after his father, and Bill is really William Thomas Watters, named after his great-grandfather, great-uncle, and uncle William Barr Oglesby, Sr., William Barr Oglesby, Jr., and William Robert Greisser and after his Grandfather Thomas Clyde Watters. (After we named him William we found out his grandmother Watters had two brothers who died in infancy who were both named William.)

Allen Ray Watters, Jr., aka Ray

William Thomas Watters aka Bill

What’s your favorite story about each of your children?


I’ve got several stories about Ray, but I think my favorite is from the time when he was 3 1/2 years old – the summer of 1969. Mama and Betty had come over to visit us in Germany, and we had gone on a trip through Switzerland and into Bavaria. We stayed in Berchtesgaden in the General Walker Hotel. One of the day trips we took was to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest way up on a mountain above town. You weren’t allowed to drive up there because the road was so narrow. They ran a tour bus up to the landing where the elevator took you up through the inside to the mountain to the very top where there was a coffee shop. We had ridden the bus up, and taken the elevator all the way to the top. We looked around up there, had a cup of coffee to warm up (it was cold even though it was July), and then we rode the elevator back down to catch the bus down. The road was so narrow the bus could only go up and then go down – they couldn’t risk having an upward-bound bus meet a downward-bound bus on the mountainous road. Anyway, we were at the landing waiting for the downward-bound bus when Ray decided he had to go to the bathroom. Of course, there were no toilets or even porta-potties there, and the last elevator to the coffee shop had already left. There was a hiking path off to the side of the parking area, so Al took Ray down the path a little way to relieve himself. When he finished, he came running back, yelling at the top of his lungs, “Grandmother, Grandmother, guess what!” She tried her best to shush him, but he hollered all the way across the parking lot, “I killed a snake! I killed him! I pee’d him to death.” I thought the other American tourists and the Germans who spoke any English were going to split their sides laughing.

Then to top it off, that evening Mama and Betty and I were having dinner in the really nice dining room at the General Walker. Al and Ray had opted to go to the Italian bistro and have spaghetti, but we were having fondue! We were enjoying ourselves when the door burst open, and here came Ray, scurrying across the dance floor, yelling, “Grandmother, Grandmother, guess what!” Again we tried in vain to shush him, but he continued, at the top of his lungs, “I don’t have any underpants on!” I thought the zither player was going to burst!


Billy was just 4 years old when we went to England, and he went to English school for the first five years. When we brought him home, he had an English accent, of course, and all the girls in his 6th grade class in Texarkana used to get him to “just talk”. It turned out that instead of him picking up an American accent, the kids in his class all picked up his accent.

Billy was six years younger than Ray, and so it was like I had two only children. Ray usually just kind of tolerated Billy, and really didn’t pay much attention to him. I remember one time when Billy was about a year old, Ray was lying on the couch watching TV. I looked up, and Billy was standing on the arm of the couch, and as I watched, he launched himself full force onto Ray’s stomach! They shared a room until we moved to Las Vegas, but I realized we had to separate them the morning I went in their room, and Billy was valiantly trying to stuff Ray’s clothes back into the drawer where Ray had left them hanging out. Bill was a neatnik from the time he was hatched, and Ray couldn’t care less about picking up, straightening up, or folding up anything.

What is something funny or embarrassing one of your children said at an early age that you’ll never forget?

I’ve already pretty well covered Ray’s “embarrassing” sayings, but the funniest thing that ever happened, in retrospect, was the time when he was about 2-years-old, and he had one of those little fuzzy, yellow fake chickens that used to come in Easter baskets. One night, he drowned his little chicken in his drink of water, and then to dry it off, I guess, he put it right on the globe of his little bedside table light. Of course, the bulb shattered, and blew a fuse, and when we got the lights back on, there was the little chicken, looking like one of those cartoon chickens when they get electrocuted with wings sticking out and neck dangling. All he could say was “I didn’t mean to do it! I didn’t mean to fry that little chicken!”

The best story about Billy was because he had grown up in English school. He and Ray came back to the states and stayed with Mama and Papa while Al and I travelled around Europe. Mama enrolled Bill in middle school in Texarkana, and one day in September, she got a call from the school. “Mrs. Greisser, you have to come get your grandson!” She went over there to get him and to try to find out what was wrong. He was sitting in the office, very chagrined. “What did you do?” she asked. He replied, “I made a mistake on my arithmetic, and so I went up to the teacher, and I said, ‘Please, miss, do you have a rubber?'” Unfortunately, the teacher didn’t understand that he was asking for an eraser, not a prophylactic.