Through all of the Harry and Mary drama, Joyce and Cary remained our close friends…. When I was keeping the 4 little girls, Joyce would help out in emergencies or any way she could…. One day shortly after Mary left, the kids were all outside playing when I heard a scream… Refusing to wear shoes, the little one had gotten a thorn in her foot….. Long and buried deep, it had to be taken out but she would let no one touch it… Out of all the girls, this had been the hardest on her, she was too little to have been left without a mama…. I tried everything I could to get her to lay still while I poked and prodded with a needle – nothing would work. I called Joyce for help. She came over, we laid the little girl on our kitchen table, the rest of the kids standing right there watching… Joyce’s 3, my 3, and her 3 sisters….all of them crying for her. Joyce held her down while I finally got the damn thorn dug clear and pulled out with tweezers…. Surgery over, filled to the brim with iodine and covered with a clean bandaid, Joyce and I had passed another crisis together….
About 1975, Cary got a chance to go to work for a large company in Lakeland, Florida. Always anxious to get back down south closer to his roots, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. With many tears & memories we helped them pack a u-haul truck and told them goodbye. There will be more stories about Joyce & Cary in the chapters to come.
As another part of my life, separate from everything and everyone else, I had gotten a real job in about 1970. Other than cleaning house for our next door neighbor when I was a kid, and the responsibility of running the trucks for Jim’s Dad’s trucking company, I had never worked but I seen no reason I couldn’t handle it.
I had to lie to get the job, but I was hired. It was for the local radio station, who needed a bookkeeper. I told them I had kept books for the trucking company, (which I had not). I knew nothing about keeping books, it was all I could do to keep our little checkbook which never had anything in it….. This job was before the age of computers so I had to deal with a big old desk sized, double entry ledger by hand. I had to enter all checks for ads and debits, which included doing payroll. Along with keeping the books, I had to “run traffic”… meaning that I scheduled commercials for the announcers, and I transcribed the incoming API news every morning that came in over the wire or received over the phone as a recording…. Once in a while I was asked to do a commercial…. The boss liked my voice.
Soon, (within about 3 months), it became apparent I was not a bookkeeper… I was called into the office and relieved of my duties, thank God, because I hated it. The boss liked me though, so he offered me my own radio show if I could sell it to the local businesses to pay for it. I didn’t see anything hard about selling, so nothing ahead scared me. I had to find a way to increase our income.
I sold the show with no problem to a couple of local advertisers, wrote my own Ad copy and named my show – “A Moment with Mary” - a 15 minute segment every morning at 9:45 before the 10:00 news. I discussed mostly home keeping issues, entertaining, children, some recipes, decorating, and read small bits of unusual stories off the wire that didn’t make the main news. It always went too fast! Along with my show I announced local parades, and did extra commercials, receiving extra pay when I had a chance to perform.
Because a new bookkeeper had been hired in the office to replace me, plus all the DJ booths being full, I was relegated to work from home most of the time…. I had to drive out to the station about every day to pick up new copy, or help with traffic if the office girl got behind, or to write copy of my own, but this arrangement allowed me stay at home with the kids most of the time and not have to pay a babysitter to be with them. I loved the freedom of being able to fit everything in on my own time schedule. The only timed commitment was the 15 minutes I was actually on the air. My show was actually delivered over the airwaves from my telephone at home. The kids were put outside in the summer with the instructions “not to kill each other”. In the winter I had already taken them to school before the show started. The arrangement worked well, I loved it, I had regular listeners and fans who wrote nice letters to me and it was so great to have an extra paycheck.
Looking back I can’t believe how active my life was, I was on the go all the time, loving and learning every minute of it.
After about 3 years our station was sold to another company, a lot of changes were made, most of our announcers were laid off, our station manager (my boss) was fired, and my little show was canceled. It was sad to do my last show…..
About the same time, which would have been around 1971, another surprise change in our lives happened. My Dad had been laid off from the company he had worked for his whole life…. He had pumped some old wells, sold and sharpened farm disc’s, worked security for an underground missile company, but as with so many others in that area, our home on the creek and small town failed to provide a living…..
Missing Jim and I and their grandchildren, when a chance to buy a rental business came up in the same town we had moved to, they decided to purchase the business and move out there. I loved having them close again! No longer at the radio station, it allowed me to help with their business… The lessons I learned there could fill a book about dealing with public in a “rental” store…. Dad was in all his glory, he loved maintaining the small equipment, and actually did pretty well dealing with the public when he had to. My Mom was the *star* at the front counter though…. The customers loved her…. She was so good with them calming their nerves when they had to use a sander for the first time, or reassuring them that they could use the garden tiller. I remember one time a customer was renting a little disc sander to refinish a table. He ask her how long the sandpaper would last, and without a beat Mom replied “until it wears out”. The customer left happy. Returning it a few days later very proud of himself for accomplishing something he didn’t think he could do!
What Mom did not do well was handle the bookkeeping! She had never done state sales tax forms before…. Or been a business owner with all it’s demands…. Even though I had very little experience myself, I had learned enough at the radio station to get us by. And then………
Not feeling well, and having a lump appear on her clavicle; in 1972 my Mother was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma….
Those who have been through it know what I mean when I say the lights went out in the world when we received the call that confirmed the diagnoses. Nothing else mattered at that moment, everything stopped.
Both her doctors in Kansas (who removed the original lump) and her general physician in Colorado told Mom that “Penrose” in Colorado Springs had the best treatment center in a 5 state area …. Referrals were made there and an appointment was soon set for her to meet the oncologists and other specialists that would be directing her treatments for the next five years.
As some other tumors were discovered, Radiation was the treatment of choice. Mom had to move to Colorado Springs, rent an apartment, and received the treatments for 6 to 8 weeks at a time. It was about a 3 hour drive from home. Dad took her down and got her settled and stayed with her as long as he could……I ran the rental store when he spent time with her.
We took turns during the next 5 years visiting her, being with her as much as possible, and trying to carry on at home as well….We each had small reel tape recorders that we could send messages back and forth. We all missed her so much and it was hard on her being there alone, but Dad missed her the most…..
Many stories came from those days, and a lot of heart ache, but somehow we made the best of it and everyone did what they needed to do. If I ever need a boost of bravery for my own sake, I can look back and gain inspiration from she went through then…. As the last chapter unfolds in the winter of 1976, it’s hard to this day to even write about. To be continued when I am able…..