Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Once upon a time

I know where I was 53 years ago today—in my family backyard, renamed ‘the garden’ for the occasion. At precisely 9:30 in the morning, my friend Carol Brown started working her way through Handel’s Largo, I took my father’s arm and all of eighteen (for a whole month) I floated down the stairs into married life.
            Bob stood at the alter shifting from one foot to the other; such a mature man. He was nineteen. The garden alter was lovely draped in ivy and white chrysanthemums. Forty-eight hours earlier, it had still been the big swing set made of three-inch pipe and set in concrete. Mother didn’t want any tipping over. Swings down, flowers up. Instant alter. Years later, I watched my children hang by their knees on the spot where we made our vows. That’s the side of the ‘alter’ to my right in the picture.
            I didn’t feel nervous. I didn’t think I was nervous, but the minute we got to where Bob, our fine and understanding minister, Burnette Dowler, stood waiting and Daddy released my arm, I started shaking. It was the first time. It was the last time. I felt and probably looked like a fern in the water. The something deep in me was yelling, “Watch out.”
            We proceeded. When the time came to take Bob’s hand, I was fine. The fern found her roots. Rings changed, cake eaten, clothes changed, hop in my folks car (they later drove ‘our’ well-decorated Plymouth down Polk Street, Amarillo’s main drag) and off for our romantic honeymoon.
August 30, 1958
            Been a long, long road with ups, downs, curves and even a few detours, but we’re still on it looking for new adventures, old books, and fun. 
Bob and Trilla, 2011

Fun: When Bob saw the  wedding picture for the first time in a few years, he asked why I was holding hands with Buddy Holly. What do you think?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good reading weather

August in Houston--the best thing to do is stay home with a
good book and a mammoth glass of iced tea. 
Wow it’s hot in Houston. Yesterday, Whitey the 10, maybe 11, year old Jeep complained about it. It’s an old man in Jeep years, and never, not once, no, never had his thermometer rolled around to 110 degrees. “Hey,” he yelped in Jeepanese, “I didn’t know I could go that high. Now cut it out or get me air conditioning.”
            We haven’t managed the air conditioning, but we do have a nice shady carport. Whitey’s been spending lots of time there, because it’s also too hot for me. I’m not out running around; I’m in the nice, cool house reading. It’s been a reading summer.
            Since I’ve gone off on my history of the New Deal—more about that in an entry soon, it’s a major project—I’ve been reading lots of history and fiction from that period. But the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading for fun, and fun it is.
            I got an e-mail teaser from Amazon about The Call, about a small town New England veterinarian and his family. I don’t remember now why it appealed to me, except maybe that New England is cool; I ordered it. I’m in love. In love with the story and with the writing of Yannick Murphy. I was totally unfamiliar with her. Now I have one of her children’s stories for darling Dasha, my granddaughter and her novel about Mata Hari on order. Good, good reading.
            David Appleton is the vet. He puts me in mind of  Steinbeck’s description of “Doc” Ricketts in Cannery Row, "Doc has the hands of a brain surgeon, and a cool warm mind. Doc tips his hat to dogs as he drives by and the dogs look up and smile at him. He can kill anything for need but he could not even hurt a feeling for pleasure.”  
            In the unusual format of a call log (hence, The Call) David brought me into his family, in to sympathy with his long suffering writer wife Jen (Murphy is married to a New England vet—hmmmm, I wonder?), into the family.
            It’s a book I recommend. Man, do I recommend it.
Check it out. And, say, if you like it, mark the box. (Thanks.)
            This should be up on the Story Circle Book Reviews in a few days as well.
            Now I’m off to read my next fun book—Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgiveness by Alexandra Fuller. I read her Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. It’s a trip to Africa. If you need me, I’ll be in Rhodesia this evening.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In print--again

Wow, I’m happy. I’ve hit print again in Houston History. This time I’m telling a little bit about Houston's fascinating but often overlooked Fifth Ward.
            The historic ward system of Houston went away over a century ago, but residents of the former fifth ward cling both to their neighborhoods and to their nickname—The Nickel. The Nickel was rough and tough, a place you thought twice, or maybe three or four times, about going into at night—even the late afternoon. But the Nickel was also the home of active churches and stable families. A girlchild of the Fifth grew up to be a national heroine—Barbara Jordan; while an almost bad boy grew into an Olympic champion, George Foreman.
            Want to know more about the Fifth? You can read the article at

And while you’re there, check out my piece on the Fourth Ward and it’s two heavily contrasting neighborhoods.