Monday, August 30, 2010

Career Girl


It was because of my desire to go to Bible school that Mom & Dad started talking about moving to Overland Park in the summer of 1966. When a job came open in the Kansas City office, Dad transferred from central Missouri & we moved to Kansas, moving away from our little home town of Hallsville to start our lives in the big city.


Dad was never one to let us sit idle around the house. He had a strong work ethic & thought we should have one too. We hadn't even moved into our house, still staying in a hotel until the closing was finalized, and Dad had me out job hunting. I was seventeen, getting ready to enter my Senior year in high school,
& he thought I needed a part time job, at the least!


J C Penney had a Regional Credit Office in Mission, Kansas and they loved to hire the girls from the Bible School as they usually turned out to be good workers. I put my application in & was soon hired.



I had no idea what it was but was hired on to work in the "Collections Department".


I soon found out.


Mom & Dad never had a credit card, until much later in life when Dad needed one for travels & they always paid it off monthly. So, I was quite surprised to find out that you could just throw that little card down & take home a sack of Penney's goodies, only to have to pay it back in dribs & drabs. I later learned those dribs & drabs could cost you dearly!


For a while, I was in charge of "bad checks, frauds, forgeries, stolen credit cards & bankruptcy's".

What a fun way to spend your day!


It was back in the days before the "truth in lending" law & we were allowed to call someone numerous times, which later was considered harassment & our rules had to be changed. I learned to "skip trace", call neighbors to leave messages, & I think we even could call places of employment to try to talk to the customer. Phones were often slammed in our ears throughout the day. I had several people tell me..."you can't get blood out of a turnip"...which really made my day!



I worked for Penneys from the summer of 1966 until some time in 1969.


Several of the dorm girls worked their also & would ask for a ride to work.


At one time I had a Pontiac "tank" & hauled 4 to 5 girls a day for 75cents a trip, which became my "mad money", to spend as I wanted.



For some reason that I no longer remember, I quit Penneys to find work somewhere else. Somehow I ended up at Montgomery Wards, also in their Collections Department & was an actual "bill collector".



We sat in rows, desk after desk, making phone calls all day long, or searched through stacks of city directories, or reference books, trying to locate people.



When I started for Penneys in 1966, my beginning wage was $1.27 1/2 per hour. In December, 1972, when I left Montgomery Wards, I was making $4.00 per hour, which was very good money for that time.



Both of those credit offices are gone now.



I'm sure in this computer age the collections are done a whole different way, without so many employees making call after call all day long. I remember the mammoth computer of that time took up a larger room. It spit out ream after ream of print outs of billings. Today those are probably all stored somewhere on a hard drive. For several years, my mother-in-law worked for Penneys as a keypunch operator...one of a room full of ladies who typed in all of the data from each store receipt, which would then be punched onto a card, and those cards were sorted & read by the computer. That computer had a full time repair man on duty & it was notorious for breaking down & stalling all billing operations. Talk about frustrating!



Both Penneys & Wards were good employers. It wasn't what I had planned on doing as a career, but as a young girl & then a new bride, I had to work.



When you got a phone call back then, it was from someone right here in the good old USA, & unless our accents were heavily Southern, you could understand us plainly. Plain enough that our ears sometimes echoed from receivers being slammed down! And when you returned a call, you got to talk to us....not a recording!



I have no regrets that my "collection" career ended when we moved to Indiana.


At least I no longer had to hear about bloody turnips!

Note: After thinking about this, I also remember that Mom worked in the retail store for Penney's in Columbia, Missouri, before she was married. She was very proud to tell about the time that Mr. J.C. Penney himself came to their store and she got to shake his hand!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

43 years ago...

Our first date was on a very cold, icy night, in January, 1967.
We went to a local high school play, "Oklahoma!".
I had new high heeled shoes & Bob had to almost carry
me across the parking lot because it was so slick!
Needless to say, that didn't do anything for my first date jitters!
Afterwards we drove down to the Plaza in his '62 Chevy (which we still have!)
& had a sandwich. I was so nervous that I still remember the knot in my stomach. I was hoping & praying that my food would stay down! I remember trying so hard to overcome my shyness & carry on a conversation, wanting this to be the beginning of something special. As the night wore on, conversation came easy & I knew that I wanted him to ask me out again.

I was a senior in high school & Bob was a freshman in college, both of us attending KCCBS in Overland Park. I was working for J.C. Penney's in their Regional Credit Office & Bob was working for Rock Island Railroad.


I guess it was love at first date as from that point on we were a steady couple. That summer found us together about every afternoon before either of us went to work. Saturday nights were ours to "cruise" the Plaza & we usually worked it out to be together on Sundays also.

School would be starting up in late August. A new rule had been made for our school that no marriages were allowed during the school year. It was during the Viet Nam War time. Some of the guys were getting their draft notices, & to avoid going to Viet Nam, several couples eloped. So, we...mostly me...decided we didn't want to take the chance of Uncle Sam sending for Bob, and we got married in August, a couple of weeks before he returned to college, instead of waiting until the next Spring. He went on to gradutate from KCCBS college in 1970 & my plans to go to nurses training never materialized.


My family had moved to Kansas from Central Missouri the previous summer. Mom & Dad never had a mortgage on any of their houses that I know of. A family friend always loaned the money to Dad & he would pay it back as quickly as he could in large lump sums. Much to my dismay, they had just paid off their loan & were pretty well broke! I couldn't have picked a worse time for them to plan a wedding.



But plans were made. My dress was borrowed, my veil was bought out of "The Shopper", Mom & Aunt Paulene made the bridesmaids dresses, along with their hats, candelabras were rented, & I made arrangements to pay for the flowers. When looking back at how we put it all together, Mom would remind me that she didn't even have money to buy herself a new girdle!

The guys wore dark suits...back in the days when tuxedos weren't necessary. The reception was held in the dining hall at the college, with the basic cake & punch. And one of Mom's rose bushes had a perfect bloom, just right for the cake table.

I didn't care that it wasn't elaborate. I thought it was beautiful. And it was the happiest day of my life. I married the guy that I had learned to love in 7 short months, the guy that I knew I couldn't live without.

We honeymooned in Branson, long before it was the vacation spot that it is today. I had been there just a few months earlier on my Senior trip, so thought I was quite the tour guide! We went to Rock Away Beach & rode across the lake in a paddle boat. We went to Silver Dollar City & toured Marvel Cave. We went to one of the country music shows that I had seen on my previous trip...maybe The Baldknobbers.

As a wedding gift to us, Bob's dad had told him that he would pay for our honeymoon. We stayed in a Best Western Motel, & ate out every meal. We were only gone for two nights, & our total expenses for food, motel & entertainment was $50.00!

And it has been 43 years. In my mind, sometimes we are still that young couple that only had eyes for each other. Then I look in the mirror & know that time is swiftly passing by. We have had wonderful times together. Like any other couple, we have had some very rough times together. We have had a family together, raised a daughter & son, & been blessed with six grandchildren. We have laughed. We have cried. We have lost my parents, Bob's mom & his oldest sister. We have gained material blessings. And we have learned that through the sickness that our parents went through, those material things really aren't very important anymore. We rebelled at how we were brought up. But by God's Grace, we returned to our Heritage & were saved in our twenties. We have served God for quite a few years now.


And today we will celebrate. I suggested going somewhere, perhaps antiquing. Bob suggested that he drop me off & he go to a car museum. I protested. We'll probably spend the day doing our own thing around the house & when late afternoon comes, we'll go someplace special for dinner.



And who knows...in our own way, we just might dance the night away!
(Bear card courtesy of Steve & Suzanne....wishing us a happy anniversary.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Firsts, Roots & Wings

As I have read posts about school starting again this year,
young Mommies not wanting to see their little ones
going off to the classroom,
and others being thankful to get back into the routine
of the school year,
my mind went back
to those first days of school
for my children.


It was back in the days when our Christian Day school
was full of kids, so much so that we even had a school bus.
For all of their school years, we either met the school bus or van
at 8th & near Washington Street.
That very first day her daddy took her to the bus stop & I took my turn
in the afternoon to pick her up.
I was surprised when the bus went flying by without even slowing down
at our stop...& no signs of my little Karen!
I waited & waited...(it being long before the days of the cell phone!)
& finally drove to the school, to find her happily playing in the hallway.
She just assumed I would pick her up at the school!
I learned that day to be more specific in my instructions.
And so for the next 14 years
it was my routine to hop in the car every afternoon to wait for that bus.
So much so that for several years afterwards,
I would find myself thinking about 2:15...
that there was somewhere I needed to go.
I missed her those first days of Kindergarten.
But I had a little shadow that followed me around the house
like a lost little puppy.
Jeff was my quiet one.
And he wanted to be close by me.
So as I sewed (probably school jumpers!)
or did some cooking or baking,
Jeff would have his cars and trucks,
playing just a few feet away.

Two years later it was Jeff's turn to have his first day of school.
He was four.
If I had it to do over, I would have kept him home with me one more year.
His birthday isn't until the end of November
but our church school said he could come to Kindergarten early.
With their accelerated program, he completed all of his work a year early,
making him only 16 when he graduated, and that was way too young.
Now my grandchildren are having their first days of school.
I see them growing up so quickly, changing each year.
Those first days are bittersweet for mommies & grandmas.
We can't hold them back...life goes on.
But sometimes it is refreshing to have a little breathing space of your own-
a few hours to yourself where you can do your house work-
or maybe work in a quick lunch with a girfriend.
I have a little framed, stitched quote at my kitchen sink.
I read it often as I clean up the dinner dishes.
It says...
"There are two things you can give your children-
Roots
& Wings!"
I think I have given my children & grandchildren both.
I want them to have the family roots that causes them to
know that we are always here for them.
And I want them to go their own way..
to give them their wings!
But some days I find myself wanting to draw them all back home
& gather them under my wings.
They come for a while & then they go to their own nests...
making roots for their own little families.
And it makes me happy that for a few minutes
they let this old mother hen ruffle her feathers!

Friday, August 13, 2010

St. Louis Sizzle!

Well, we did it again...
picked the hottest days of the summer
for a get away!
My nephew, Jacob, had flown to Indiana for a weeks visit,
& I was meeting up with his Mom for his return trip home,
& for an overnight visit together.
And no.....I didn't drive downtown St. Louis.
We did the suburbs!
After meeting up at the hotel,
my sister, nephew & I headed to old St. Charles for lunch.
Jacob & I were still on Indiana time & we were starved!
This was my second trip to St. Charles--
the other being about a year ago
also in August.
So my first impressions & memories of the old historic town
on the banks of the Missouri River
is, it's Hot-Hot-Hot!
Jake was hungry enough to eat a bear
& didn't even complain when we dragged him into
the Mother-in-Law House.
He didn't even flinch when we sat him down in the antique chairs,
surrounded in Victorian style decor.
There was a small crowd.
If you look in the right hand corner of the above photograph,
you will see a group of "Red Hatters".
They were the sweetest looking little ladies...
true 'Red Hat Society" ladies,
well deserving of their red hats & purple dresses!
My baby sis....Carol Jean
or as we affectionately call her sometimes...
"Jeanie-Weanie"!
(I may be sorry for this---)
Lunch for the two of us was a prime rib sandwich
& salad with their house celery seed dressing.
After getting home & looking at the website
I realized I could have bought a bottle of the delicious dressing
to bring home!
Dessert was their specialty...
coconut cream pie for me
& peach pie for Jake & Carol.
. . .
I should have taken food pictures!
Jake had a sirloin sizzling sandwich,
salad & fries
& I think we might have gotten
one leg filled up!
That growing teenager has quite the appetite!
While Jake sat in the shade, reading his summer book requirement,
Carol & I visited a few shops
until the heat got to me
& we decided the coolness of a Mall sounded better.
So we left St. Charles historic area
for the hustle & bustle of St. Louis Mills Mall
where we walked & walked & walked.
At least it was cool for the most part.


We rested & visited in the hotel for a couple of hours,
then decided Jake might be hungry again
& had dinner at Chili's near Mid Rivers Mall.
There I had fried shrimp
while Jake & Carol shared a huge platter of fajitas
& Jake ate until he actually said he was full!


Carol & I stayed up until almost midnight
chatting away
getting caught up on all of the news,
even though we talk often via telephone.
If we were younger, especially me,
we might have made a night of visiting,
but I tired out & off to bed we went.


It was good to be with family again.
Since our parents are gone & we both have grown up families
it isn't quite as easy to get together
The 15 1/2 years difference in our ages
doesn't matter anymore.
We are truly sisters.


And no doubt, we are going to do this again!
Next time we may bring our girls along
& make it a "no boys" weekend!
Jake will be happy about that.


We saw temperatures in the 100 degree range for most of the day.
When we turned into Mid Rivers Mall,
their sign was posting 106 degrees.
As we left a little before 9 p.m.,
it was still 101!
St. Louis does sizzle!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Meltdown

Do you ever just feel like sitting on your front porch & watching the world go by?
I've felt that way recently...
very un-motivated
lazy
letting the days pass & realizing that I haven't accomplished much.
I'm blaming it on the heat!
At least no one should argue with that
since this sizzling summer has brought us record breaking high humidity & temperatures.
Yet I'm not quite ready to give it up for the season.
But I can feel the change in the air.
I can hear it in the sounds of the locust as they make their late summer noises
the sound of hundreds of tree frogs singing in the early evening.
Hey-it can get pretty noisy out here in the boonies!
After almost 43 years of having a working husband,
I'm having to adjust to having him home more often,
trying to get used to the idea of our life style changes.
For most of those years he has walked out the door before 8 a.m.
& worked hard all day.
Now some days neither of us leave the property except to walk to the mailbox.
What was once routine is almost gone...
& you might even catch us sleeping in a little late in the mornings!
The grandchildren are growing up and I don't have them around quite as much as we used to.
And that is probably a good thing for both them & Grandma...yet I miss them.
I am loving watching each one develop their own personality & looking on when they are all gathered here, having so much fun playing together.
(Even if the little stinkers did kill a snake way out back in my yard yesterday afternoon!)
I'm treasuring those days of them running in & out the kitchen door, tracking in dirt, smelling of outdoors, laughing & loving each other...in spite of the work I have to do after they leave & the house becomes just a bit too quiet once again.

And I'm worried...worried about a job situation for someone in our family

hoping & praying that it is resolved soon.

I'm concerned about health issues of another loved one-
wanting things to be resolved & back to normal.


And am praying for another family member going through a very troublesome time.

A dear one recently told me that she had a "meltdown"...
and I wanted to tell her that it will all be okay.


But a child said it.
Paige said "Daddy, don't worry...
don't worry about the thunder"

You see, we sing a little chorus at our church & we didn't realize that she was listening to the words & taking it to heart. We sing---

God said you're going to make it...
Don't worry about the thunder
You're not going under
God said your're going to make it
You're going to make it for the Master's on board.

And in her own way she was saying that it will all be okay...God's going to take care of it!



So there you have it--
my summer meltdown!
Thankfully, I think I can feel the cool breezes coming our way.
P.S. Did you notice that I sneaked in pics of my "new" front door?
It is 31 years old, original with our house
& I finally talked Bob into painting it black!
I love it.
And I love my front porch
& am looking forward to sitting out there once God decides to turn the thermostat down a few more notches! And gets rid of those pesky mosquitoes!