Tag Archives: Family Memories

Hermit Dam

8 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites


Our family, Ivan, Dora, DiVoran, andDavid moved to Westcliffe after Dad came home from WWII. We lived in the Wet Mountain Valley with the Sangre de Cristo Range to the west of us.




This is part of the 9.6-mile road to Hermit Dam. Nowadays it is considered one of the most dangerous roads in America and one of the ten highest in Colorado. The road becomes a trail before you get to the lake, so you must get out of your four-wheeled vehicle and walk. No horses are allowed on the road or on the trail. I have a bit of news about that. Tell you later.


Hermit Lake


Dad became involved withthe local men who hunted and fished in the mountains. He enjoyedhelpingstock the lake with Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat, and Brook trout from a small private airplane. He also took tourists on tours up into the mountains, on horseback.

By the time he was eight, David was a better horseman than I, so he would ride Dixie, a skittish paint, and I’d ride Derby a more gentle soul. One time going back down, we got ahead of the parents and came to a fork in the trail. In that spot we were on flat ground, so we decided to gallop. David and Dixie went first and as always, Derby and I followed their hard pace. Then the trail forked and Dixie took the left side. Fully expecting my horse to follow I leaned left. This was one time, however,that my horse sense failed me. Derby served to the right and I flew off, thus receiving my first flying lesson. Thank the Lord I was not hurt. The parents were still lollygagging behind and never knew a thing about our shenanigans.

Another time I went swimming in a freezing cold alpine lake made by a beaver dam. When I got out I couldn’t stop shivering, but everybody thought I was pretty brave, so it was worth it.

One fine spring day we were in the mountains and mother made a camping stew. We always kidded her that she put everything in the pot including cans of sardines and peaches. This particular day, she found dandelions growing and stripped them of their leaves to cook apart from the stew. She had been a campfire girl and knew a lot about camping and nature. She would never pull a wildflower out by the roots because then they wouldn’t be able to grow again. As we sat down to eat, giant snowflakes fell, but it was only one of those spring storms and uskids enjoyed catching the cold flakes on our tongues.

When I grew up, I married Bill and we had two children. Bill got laid off from work at the Cape and we took a six-week camping trip out west with our children.

We went to Westcliffe so the kids could see the schools I’d gone to, and where I had lived with my family. While we were there, I urged Bill to go on up to Hermit Lake so they could all see where good times with my family took place. We didn’t know it required a four-wheelvehicle. I will let Bill tell you rest:


“This was the roughest road (if you could call it a road) I had ever traveled in any kind of vehicle.  Here we were in a 1958 Ford station wagon (adjusted for sea level operations), pulling a pop-up camper up that one-lane road to an altitude of almost 12,000 feet.  Once we started up that road, we had to keep going.  At some points,we were moving no faster thana slow walk, having to steer around large boulders.

“I was getting worried that we would not be able to find a place to turn aroundwhen after two hours we came to the end of the nine miles of road. Luckily there was a flat space just large enough that we could turn around. Since it was getting dark we decided to set up the camper and spend the night there. Even though it was summertime, at that altitude the night was cold. The next morning we cooked breakfast, packed up the camper and got ready to head back to Westcliffe.  Well,guess what?  The car wouldn’t start!

It seems we had developed tiny cracks in the spark plugwires.  Now, with the air at this high altitude being so thin, the spark was jumping from the spark plugwires to the block, and not to the plugs. I removed the wire from each plug, cleaned and dried it, wrapped electrical tape around it, and reinstalled it. That coupled with the rising afternoon temperature, seemed to do the trick. With the car running, we now embarked on our two-hour adventure back down the mountain to Westcliffe.  WOW– What a trip!  I sure don’t want to ever have to make a trip like that again.

As I remember it, the reason we didn’t walk on up to the lake that morning was that the clouds were covering the mountain below us and we could barely see the road to get down, so we wouldn’t have been able to see the lake which was higher than where we camped.”


Thanks, Bill, not only for writing your take on itbut for getting us out of every jam we’ve been in for most of our lives. I thank God for you.

For years I’ve thought my life was regular and uneventful, but when I look back now and see the things I was privileged to participate in I know I had many adventures that perhaps others had not had. I also thank God for my mother, father, and brother and for all the things we did together.

Here’s a YouTube link that shows the road to Hermit Dam as it is now.





Author, Poet and Artist


DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

I Remember…Cousins, Mother’s Side-Part 3

10 Jun


Judy Wills




Uncle Frank didn’t like to have his picture taken. We only have a few pictures of him. After Mother and Jessie died, and Bill gave me all the family pictures, I began scanning them into the computer. Jessie had a bunch of slides, and they were scanned as well.  When I told Pat about that, he requested copies of any pictures I had with Frank in them.  And I have done so.  Here are a couple of them.


1959 – Uncle Frank and Aunt Lillie – San Antonio, Texas


1959 – Uncle Frank, Aunt Lillie, my Granny – San Antonio, Texas


1959 – Uncle Frank – San Antonio, Texas



At least he’s smiling in this one.


An amusing story about that family came up when we were staying with Aunt Lillie in 1974.  You see, back in the 1940’s, Jessie owned a small diner in downtown San Antonio, Texas.  (Please see my post of November 17, 2013 –My Aunt Jessie – Part 1)


San Antonio, Texas – Jessie’s little diner


Granny made some delicious pies for that diner that were a hit with anyone who ate a slice.  My favorite – to this day – was her chocolate cream pie (we just called it Granny’s Chocolate Pie). Yummmmmmmm!  Lillie loved it, as well, and made it often for her family.  She told me that one time she had made the pie, and it looked so good that she ate a slice.  Then she wanted another slice and ate it.  Then she realized that her boys would know that she had eaten so much of it, so she ate THE ENTIRE REST OF THE PIE!  And made a second pie for the family.  When I told Pat this story in 2001, he said “I didn’t know that.”  I said:  “she didn’t want you to know!”

One more thing about Aunt Lillie – she was a great cook!  As a matter of fact, she was a cook at an elementary school near her house.  When we were staying with her in 1971, she saw that we ate a Sara Lee Coffee Cake nearly every morning.  When she noticed that we were discarding the foil containers the coffee cake came in, she asked if we would save them for her.  Seems that road workers would come into the school and purchase a lunch from them, because the food was so good, but she had nothing to put the food in.  So our little foil containers were just what she needed.

For a time, Pat and his wife, Lee, lived in Albuquerque.  Actually in Rio Rancho, just outside the main city of Albuquerque, on the west mesa. On one of our visits there, Fred and I agreed to meet them at La Placita Mexican Restaurant in Old Town Albuquerque. Later, Pat said that, when they moved back to Texas, he could see Lee’s fingernail grooves in the road all the way! She really loved New Mexico and didn’t want to return to Texas.

Back in 2001 when Pat and Jimmie came to visit, they stayed with us for a few days.  We met up with Bill, DiVoran, and their family in Titusville for dinner one evening.  Bill agreed to escort them to Kennedy Space Center the next day, and the boys were excited by that prospect.  They went with Bill to KSC on September 10, 2001.  When 9-11 happened, I remember thinking, “WOW!  If they had been one day later, they wouldn’t have been able to get onto KSC, as everything was closed after the terrorist attack!”  I’m glad they were able to have a good day there.

Fred and I were able to meet up with Pat, Lee, and Gary last year on our road trip.  Here is a picture of them at the table at the BBQ place where we ate.


Cousin Gary, Lee – Pat’s wife, Cousin Pat


And on a recent trip, Bill was able to meet up with Pat and Lee for a meal.  He hadn’t seen them since that 2001 visit, when Jimmie was with Pat.

Family is always important, and these cousins have meant a great deal to my family.  I’m glad we have been able to stay connected all these years.


I thank my God every time I remember you

Philippians 1:3


1989 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Stepfather Sid, Cousin Pat, Aunt Jessie, Mother




~~~~~~~~~~The End~~~~~~~~~

I Remember… Cousins, Mother’s Side-Part 2

3 Jun


Judy Wills




 We always made the time to go see my cousin’s family when we went to San Antonio for a visit.  I always thought their little house was an interesting house.  Turns out that it was actually hand-made – quite literally – by Lillie’s husband, Frank.  I think they added onto it as each son was born.  Aunt Jessie and Granny lived in San Antonio until about 1952, when they moved to Albuquerque.  We didn’t make as many trips to Texas after they moved to Albuquerque, so didn’t see the cousins as often.  I just remember how much fun we had playing together.

Here are a couple of pictures from 1944.  That’s me with my cousin Gary in Granny’s backyard in San Antonio.





And here’s one of Bill and Jimmie Mac in San Antonio.




Here’s one of the three sisters.


Granny, Lillie, Loa


I think it’s in front of Lillie’s house in San Antonio in 1950.

When Fred was stationed in San Antonio 1971-1974, we stayed with Aunt Lillie until we found a house.  Janet called her “Aunt Willie.”  Here’s a picture of Lillie and our girls.



Pat and his wife were living in the area, and we were able to see them frequently. We didn’t see much of Jimmie or Gary.

However, I remember one Christmas while we were there.  Aunt Lillie had invited our family to join hers at her house for Christmas Day, and so we went there.  Our Karen was probably six years old, and Janet was just a little thing – probably around 2½ years old.  All three boys were there, as well.  We had the traditional Christmas of opening packages, and the Christmas dinner.  While we were cleaning up from the meal, Janet was quite interested in the ornaments on the tree, and began examining them. Unfortunately, that meant pulling at them, trying to get them off the tree and into her hand.  I realized, just too late, what she was doing, when….down came the tree – ornaments and all!!  Fortunately, it didn’t land on anyone!  The boys came in from the kitchen and said, “well, I guess it’s time to take down the tree!”  We all pitched in and took off the ornaments and Christmas decorations and they hauled the tree outside.  I felt rather bad about it, but they assured me it was okay.


And I really want to tell you about the boy’s father, our Uncle Frank.  There are a couple of things that we’ve chuckled about through the years:


  1. For some reason, Frank decided that he was going to die when he was 40 years old. When he didn’t die at age 40, it made him mad….and he was mad for 30 more years.   He died in 1968 at age 70!


  1. We had a saying around our house – “I had one of Uncle Frank’s days today.”  And everyone would laugh.  It took a while for Mother and Aunt Jessie to explain that expression to me.  You see, he would come home from work (I never knew just what his work was), and proclaim that “well, I had a h***uvaday today, just a h***uvaday!”  So, even now, when we have a difficult day, we look at each other and say, “I had one of Uncle Frank’s days today” and know just what we mean.  It’s been a source of laughter in our family for quite a while.  I’ve told many friends about it, and they enjoy it, as well…and usually say it back to us!


~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~


A 1960 California Family Christmas

25 Mar


Judy Wills



I know….I know….Christmas was either three months ago – or nine months to come. So I am either WAY late or WAY early with this post! However, in going through my pictures recently – something I really enjoy doing – I came upon the Christmas before Fred and I married, and it was in California with my parents and Bill and DiVoran.

We stayed with Bill and DiVoran in their tiny little house, so it was cramped spaces, but sometimes that can be the most fun, right?



In any case, we drove from Albuquerque, New Mexico early that morning, and drove straight through to Inglewood, California. It was a long drive, but there were four drivers, so it wasn’t too bad. We drove in Fred’s car – that lovely, classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air.


It was a dream to drive and to ride in. And with the four of us in the car together – Mom, Dad, Fred and me – we had a great time together. I remember starting out that there was frost on the windows. It didn’t take long before the sunshine on the car melted the frost, even though it was so cold outside.

Because Bill and DiVoran’s house was small, DiVoran made the best use of the space, knowing we would really crowd the place. There was no room for a Christmas tree, so she made one out of a tinsel garland, tacked on one wall.



She placed ornaments on the “tree” and a star at the top. They had a credenza underneath it where we placed our Christmas gifts. It was quite unique and imaginative. She’s so creative, and it shows in the paintings she does, as well.

I remember them setting up a cot for Fred to sleep on.


Bill and DiVoran sitting on Fred’s cot


There was a couch that I suspect folded down to make a bed, where my parents slept.



I have absolutely NO memory of where I slept, but perhaps there was another cot somewhere in that room that was my spot for sleeping. Perhaps they put me in the kitchen? It was a one-bedroom little house, and Bill and DiVoran slept in their bed. It was quite cozy!

We had some plans for things to do while there. I know we went to Disneyland one day.




We went to Marineland.



To Knott’s Berry Farm.


We kept busy, and made the most of our trip.

When Christmas Day arrived, we had a great meal together. And it was made even better because DiVoran’s parents came and joined us at the table. My mom and dad ate from TV trays, but that didn’t lessen the fun. It was just a great time together.

It just goes to show that you don’t have to have a lot of space, or expensive tastes, to have a wonderful family time together. And that’s the key – time together. That’s what makes family. We are blessed.


People Do the Funniest Things

18 Mar


Judy Wills



Have you ever just sat back and “people-watched?” You know – just watched people as they passed by you and noticed some of the things they were doing? I find it a fun and fascinating thing to do.

One of the first things I learned about my now-husband, Fred, is that he didn’t like mayonnaise – or mustard – or catsup – or anything with vinegar in it – or….well, you get the picture.



He didn’t like ANY of that stuff! Curious as to why, he told me that, when he and his siblings said something bad, instead of washing his mouth out with soap – she would put mustard on their tongues!!



Credit Google Search


Now, I like mustard, but that’s a bit too much! Consequently, none of the Wills siblings like those condiments! I have always wondered where she got that form of punishment. From her mother? Don’t know I’ve been told that, when I play the piano, I tuck my head down – until I have a double chin showing! Never knew that. I had to make a conscious effort NOT to do that!

My Dad had the “manly” habit of clearing his throat, then spitting the mucus out onto the ground. I’ve seen so many men and boys doing the same thing. But Daddy’s habit got himself into a fix one time. I’m going to copy what I wrote about him from a previous post (February 2, 2014 – Daddy):

Once, when Fred and I were visiting Albuquerque, Fred had gone out driving with Daddy. That evening, Fred related this story of the day, but could hardly get it out for all his giggling. They were driving along – Fred driving – and Daddy cleared his throat, turned his head, and spit. Unfortunately, he had forgotten that the window was still closed! Fred said Daddy cleaned off the window then turned his head back to Fred and sheepishly said, “that’s only the second time in my life I’ve done that.” Fred said he had to “bite his tongue” to keep from laughing out loud!

Fred and I always laugh when we remember that story. And we get laughs when we tell it to other people.



Fred’s Mother had one little quirk that I enjoyed. After she finished stirring a pan on the stove, or a pot of tea, she would hit the spoon on the edge of the bowl/pot/pitcher in the following pattern:

tap, tap, ta-tap, tap…..tap, tap.

For those of you old enough to remember, it is the sequence for “shave and a hair-cut…two bits.” I always thought that was cute. She was such a jewel. If you want to know her better, please see my post of October 2, 2012 – Kitty. I really loved her, and miss her still.



Our Grandson, Forrest, had the habit of whistling through his teeth – sort of “whispering” rather than a full whistle. Used to drive our daughter crazy! She said he’s pretty much outgrown it – until he gets around her!



So….what about you? What quirks do you have? Or someone near and dear to you? Or someone you work with? It might be fun to look at someone you know and find out what their quirks are. Or, your own. Enjoy!



Let Me Tell You About My Grandchildren~ Katie Part 2

28 Jan


Judy Wills 



I mentioned last time that we have two sets of grandchildren – one set (boy and girl) from our oldest daughter, and one set (boy and girl – twins) from our youngest daughter.

I also mentioned that our oldest granddaughter, Katie, has complained that I have written about all the grandchildren except her! So I wrote that post for Katie. And so is this one. I’ve remembered some things about her that I would like to share.

I mentioned that Katie has recently graduated with a degree in Theatre Design and Management. Her specialty is stage management. And she’s very good at it! When she was here back in September of 2017, Fred and I took her to see La Nouba at the Cirque du Soleil at Disney Springs. Fred and I have seen it several times, but Katie had never seen it. While I knew she would enjoy the show – it is very much like a three-ring circus at times!! – I also knew she would be keeping an eye on all the production end of the performance. That’s just her nature now. She did just that, all the while enjoying that magnificent performance. We are sorry to see it ending in 2017. We hope they will bring another type of performance like La Nouba to this venue.

Katie, Karen and Brian came down for a visit January 1st this year for a few days. The weather was not the best, and so we thought to do some things indoors. One of the things we did was to take them to Disney. Well, we parked the car at the Polynesian Resort at Magic Kingdom, hopped aboard the Monorail, and got off at all the resorts along the Monorail track. We saw all the Christmas decorations still up in the Grand Floridian Resort, and Polynesian Resort, and the Contemporary Resort. It’s a fun thing to do, and free. And Disney really does it up right!


Credit Google Search – Grand Floridian Resort

Here’s a picture of her in front of the Gingerbread house in the Grand Floridian Resort.



While at the Contemporary Resort, we came upon a “Gingerbread” stand – there was a small gingerbread house, with a booth where one could purchase a cookie and cider.


Credit Google Search – Contemporary Resort

As we were ogling the display, we noticed a remote-controlled BB-8 rolling around. It rolled toward Katie, and stopped and “looked up” at her. Katie was enthralled!! It is a memory to keep, for sure! (P.S. – in case you don’t know who BB-8 is – it is a robot from the Star Wars series)



Karen told me once that Katie had asked her why Grandpa (Fred) called everyone “Jack?” Well, you see, when Fred gets upset with other drivers, he says things like, “where did YOU learn to drive, Jack??” And other goodies. Just a name he pulled out of the hat to call other drivers.

I know there are other funny and adorable things about Katie that I will remember in future times, but at the moment, these are for my readers to enjoy. I have most certainly enjoyed remembering them and putting them to paper.

Katie – I love you! Granny



















Memories From My Childhood

14 Jan


Judy Wills




When I sit myself down and try to think of something that might be of interest to someone else, I find myself going through my pictures. I have scanned quite a few into the computer, and looking through them gives me pleasure and fond memories.

I just happened to hit upon those taken of myself – and family and friends – in 1952.

I was 11 years old that year (do the math – I’m now 76!). My brother, Bill Lites (another blogger) was 14 years old. He’s about 3½ years older than I am. We used to fight like cats and dogs – until he became aware of GIRLS!!

In any case, here are some pictures of that time of my life:


Bill and me


A few years before she died, mother asked if I had the “chalk pictures” of Bill and myself. I did not – nor did I ever find them. All I have are these pictures of them, and the memories. Here are the pictures mother took of Bill and his chalk picture,


and then of myself and my chalk picture.



They were done by a friend of mothers, and always hung on our living room wall. Mine was when I was probably a toddler, while Bill’s was when he was probably four years old. They were quite unique pictures, and I wish I still had them. This is the only picture I have of them in color – I’m sorry it isn’t any better quality.




We had a great deal of fun together as a family. We would sit/stand around the piano and sing together.



We made jokes with each other.


I always knew that my mother and father loved each other fiercely. Daddy traveled quite a bit around the state of New Mexico with the Baptist Convention, but we always enjoyed having him home with us.



Here are a couple of pictures of us clowning around – making daddy the “man of the house” for sure! Waiting on him “hand and foot” so to speak.



After my grandmother (Granny) and her daughter (Aunt Jessie) moved to Albuquerque, they played an important part of my life. We were quite often over at their house, or they were at ours. I’ve always been grateful they were so close. I’ve always missed our daughters and their families, but that’s what military (and retired military) people – they usually don’t live close to their children and grandchildren. But that doesn’t stop the love flowing back and forth among us all.


Granny, Bill and me

Aunt Jessie, Bill and Me

Aunt Jessie and me

God has been so good to us. He allowed me to have the kind of growing-up time with my family that is so precious to me. I just hope I’ve passed some of that love to our daughters – even though we moved around quite a bit in their growing-up time.

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