Tag Archives: Memoir

Ouch! ~Part 2

9 Jul


Judy Wills




Continuing from last week:

From Fort Worth, we drove down to Austin, TX, by way of Waco. We stopped in at Baylor University, where my father had graduated in 1924. He was one of the three students in the very first graduating class in the School of Music from Baylor University.


Baylor University Music Program Class of 1924


In Austin, we met up with a cousin of mine I hadn’t seen since 2001, along with his wife and his brother. We had a great couple of days with them, as well.



From Austin we drove down to San Antonio, TX – one of our favorite cities! We had lived there for three years in the 1980’s, while Fred was an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Officer Training School.


Graduating class of new Air Force Officers


That first night, we had dinner with a German friend and her husband. We had met them in Germany in the late 1960’s. She was actually a friend of my Mother’s, before she became my friend. She had married an American military person, and they moved to the U.S. and San Antonio, in particular. We hadn’t seen them since we left Germany in 1970. Still dear friends.

After now having seen all the friends we had planned on seeing, we were free to “do” San Antonio at our leisure. We started off by going downtown. We had been members of the First Baptist Church while living in S.A., so stopped to see if anyone was there. Fred met someone, who said the church was, essentially, closed (it being Saturday). But we were welcome to park our car in their lot and do the famous “San Antonio River Walk” from there. So we did just that.


Credit Google search


At least, we started out on the River Walk. That had always been one of our favorite things to do in San Antonio. We walked along, enjoying the sights and sounds – and wonderful smells of Mexican food! It’s just a sidewalk on either side of the river. We were also enjoying watching a momma duck and 11 babies swimming furiously in the river.



And here’s a picture with a turtle near the ducks!



With some people coming toward us, Fred and I narrowed down to single-file. That’s when I stubbed my toe on an uneven piece of sidewalk concrete – and down I went! Hard! I remember hitting my right cheek with such force that I thought I had shattered my cheekbone!


When Fred – and the passing tourists – managed to get me on my feet, I realized that I had done something really bad to my right shoulder – something really painful! I thought perhaps I had dislocated my shoulder.

Unable to continue on with the River Walk, we headed back to the car. I knew that I had to go to the hospital, but was a little hungry. So as we headed to get something to eat, I texted our daughters, my brother, and my best friend, with the words “Altercation with sidewalk. Sidewalk won. Lunch first, then ER.”

That ER visit lasted four hours – and we were so glad we had taken the time to eat first! After some tests – including xrays, CT scan, and MRI – the conclusion was that I had a hairline fracture of my clavicle (collar bone), as well as a hairline fracture of my right eye socket. I saw four doctors, including an opthamologist, with instructions to follow-up with doctors here in Orlando.

Here is a photo of my eye as we were leaving the hospital. As you can see, my eye was already turning purple after just four hours.



And here is a picture of my eye as it was by the next morning. That lasted for about six weeks. Not a pretty sight, right?



So, my ouchies are better – healing well – and I am seeing the required doctors. But it is certainly not something I would like to repeat!

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

Nothin’ to Do~Part 2

1 Aug

My Take 

DiVoran Lites

Making Plays

Making Plays in Patricia’s cousins’ back yard.

One day wandering around town, Patricia and I made a pact to remain friends even when we were grandmothers and we have done so. We email each other regularly and Patricia helps with my writing when I need a second opinion or another brain with similar memories in it. Not long ago a winter seemed extra cold in Florida, and all I wanted to do was to hole –up in a small room with my computer and an extra heater. Joan had a much deeper cold in Colorado and holed up too. One day I wrote to ask her what she remembered about our eighth-grade classroom and we got started writing our memoirs about growing up in a small town at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the Wet Mountain Valley in Colorado.

Since then we’ve written about family, politics, nature, travel, whatever comes to mind and once in a while we throw in another remembrance.

Patricia is speaking of those memoir days when she refers to the good old days.

 “While looking at some of your old emails, I was remembering the good old days, when we didn’t have so much going on, and just took things as they came, enjoying the little things and just being together. 

When we were in Gunnison recently the internet shut down.  Somehow a main cable got cut and several towns on the Western Slope were without internet service.  We were unaware until we went to dinner at a restaurant and the waitress said, “We can’t take credit cards, so you will have to pay cash or wash dishes.” Banks and the ATMs were down too. No one’s cell phones were working either.  So anyway, we ordered our food and started watching other people to see what they were doing.  Couples were actually talking to each other, since they couldn’t use their phones.  When we got through with dinner, we walked out to the parking lot and people were gathered in bunches, having great conversations.  It was so unusual and old fashioned.

Many people I know have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love the convenience of being able to save my drafts, being able to keep in touch with friends by email, and shopping for things I can’t get in our small community. Most of all I love having my music station with me wherever I go and being able to choose every kind of music I can think of. Also love the camera on my phone and knowing if I get into trouble when I’m out I can call someone else who will most likely have their cell-phone with them. I wouldn’t be able to use any of it if it weren’t for our grown kids and their patience with teaching us and fixing our devices. I’m grateful for all that, but I’m enjoying doing other things such as painting and using a pen to write in my journal and things like cooking and cleaning and reading second-hand books you can buy in abundance these days. I guess it’s like the old saying: “Moderation in all things.” Attributed to Publius Tenentius Afer (c. 150 B. C.)


Family Treasures~Part 6

10 Jul


Judy Wills


There are some family treasures that are treasures to me, but I don’t have them with me. But I would like to tell you about them.

I’ve mentioned before that my Dad worked in church work (Southern Baptist) all his working career. Looking at some of those in the “religious” field these days, you might get the idea that all pastors (my Dad was not a pastor) and church workers are rolling in the bucks. Let me tell you – it is NOT so!!

Consequently, being the farm boy he was in the beginning of his life, he would go deer hunting every season to bring his family meat to eat. We really ate well. Occasionally, Mom would go with him and they would bag two deer – we REALLY ate well those years.


And then, when my brother, Bill, was old enough to hunt with Daddy, he would go along, and they usually bagged two deer, again. I’ve used these pictures in other musings, but they bear repeating for this posting.



One thing I’ve failed to mention is that Daddy eventually began butchering his kill. Albuquerque is cold in the winter, so Daddy would hang the deer in the garage, skin it, then butcher it. He didn’t always do that. At first, he would take the deer to a local butcher and have it done there. But somewhere along the way, Daddy discovered that he was not getting “his” meat back. Don’t know who was getting it, but it wasn’t us. So one year he set a test – he put a straw under the tongue of the deer. And guess what? The straw wasn’t there when he went to pick up his meat. That was the last time he let anyone else butcher his meat.


One little footnote here – if you have ever wanted to cook venison, the recipe usually calls for soaking it in milk or something else overnight before cooking. Well, let me tell you…New Mexico deer eat only the “good stuff” in the mountains – pine nuts, etc.   So there is no “gamey” taste to the venison. Mother would make roasts, steaks, and the best chili I’ve ever had, out of that venison!! After butchering, the meat was wrapped and stored in our freezer until she was ready to cook it. Yum..

I know that in previous musings I mentioned that one year Daddy bagged an elk. Those things are HUGE!! Lots of good meat for our freezer that year.

What I’ve not mentioned is that Daddy had a stuffed deer head on our dining room wall. I don’t know why – except it was always just “there” – part of the woodwork of growing up in that house. It may have been the first deer Daddy ever bagged – I’m not sure. What irritates me is that, after looking through ALL the pictures and slides from my growing up, I cannot find one single picture of that deer head!


What’s kind of funny is that there is a deer head in every Cracker Barrel we’ve ever been in. And the one in the restaurant near our house had one that could have been hanging on our wall! Here’s a picture of it………see the “ripple” on it’s neck? That is exactly like our deer head had! (I took this picture are our Cracker Barrel!) None of the deer heads in the other Cracker Barrel’s we’ve been to has the “ripple.” This one reminds me of the one I grew up with.

So, even though I don’t have the picture of our actual deer head, this one will do. This one is an 8-point buck, just like the one at our house.   Who knows – perhaps Cracker Barrel acquired theirs from my family. Stranger things have happened.











Dad: Worst Enemy, Best Friend~Part 3

20 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Over the years, Dad bought roller-skates, bicycles, a horse, a dog, and he even acquired a cat for us. There were always plenty of cats available, so he didn’t have to buy Tiger. He had us pay for the puppy, though, because Brownie came from a ranch and dad thought it only fair that the rancher got something for one of his animals. It was also a good lesson for us. We gave everything we had for that dog — thirty-five cents between us.

DiVoran and Yankee

DiVoran and Yankee (a part Shetland pony)

DiVoran and Brownie

DiVoran and Brownie (part collie) the love of my life for a long time.

He bought each of us a baby calf. David’s was a Hereford and he called him, Red. Mine was black and white, and I called him, Clover. Alas, I found him dead one morning in the woodshed where he lived. He had died of some common ailment to young calves.

Dad cleaned out the shed and that year bought a big white goose from a rancher. That goose was to be Thanksgiving dinner. Dad would cook it himself. David and I had the job of feeding the goose every day. When we learned his destiny, I decided he needed to be free so we left the shed door open and the goose escaped.



When Dad discovered  the goose was gone, he sent us out on the prairie behind our house to look for it. We went down to Grape Creek and thinking the goose might like water, we walked along making our way through the thick willow bushes. We never found the goose, but we did come upon a willow-hut that we presumed belonged to one of the two town drunks. The citizens called this man, Prairie Jack. When we peeked inside the hut, we saw that it was empty except for a pallet on the ground and a photograph of a lovely young woman. Her clothes and hair- style came from another time. I recognized that from Grandmother’s teaching the women in the family to stay in step with style. Then too, being the children of a bar owner, we knew why Prairie Jack had turned to drink. He had plainly lost the woman he loved and couldn’t stand to live sober without her.

We left everything in the hut alone, even though we had already meddled in Prairie Jack’s business. Once, when we found a full bottle of whisky hidden under a sage bush, we poured the whole quart-full on the ground and left the empty bottle laying there. I hated whiskey and do to this day, probably because it was my medicine for when I got car-sick on the winding roads to Grandmother’s house.

Dad taught us to work in the restaurant. My brother took out the empty coke bottles in their wooden cases. The two of us cleared tables and washed dishes. Our pay was twenty-five cents an hour. For killing flies in the summer, with a fly swatter, we got a penny a fly. For ironing a large basket of clothes at home for Mother, I got a whole dollar each week. My brother had his chores as well. We saved some of our money and spent the rest. I wish I could tell you what we spent it on, but I just don’t know.

Dad took flying lessons from the town jeweler, a fellow member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization. He then bought a Piper Cub and called it, “Dinty Moore.” We flew over the mountains to visit Grandmother and Granddad in Canon City.

One afternoon, when dad and his friend, Sweak Jeske, flew to Denver to look at cars, the phone on the restaurant wall rang. When Mother answered it an insurance salesman sold her some airplane insurance. The next call that evening was from Dad saying he had got caught in a downdraft and crashed the plane in the snow on the side of Pike’s Peak. We kids didn’t know anything about it until dad came home the next day with a broken ankle. He and Sweak had made their way down the mountain to a ranch house and were saved from freezing to death. Sweak had no injuries at all. I reckon someone bigger than you and I had His hand under that plane and set it down gentle as could be. Once they towed the wreckage back to the small airport in Silver Cliff, I saw that Dinty Moore was now a pile of junk. Mom and Dad both worked hard and he was able to get an Air Coup some years later. He wanted us to have flying lessons, so I got up very early one morning and he took me to the airport where I got into a Steerman with an instructor and had a lesson on flying and was told to study cloud formations. The next Saturday, I decided I didn’t want to to get up so early so I never did learn to fly and sorry folks, but I didn’t care and still don’t. My brother, on the other hand, became a mechanic on jets and later a commercial pilot. To each his own.




Family Treasures~Part 3

19 Jun


Judy Wills



I’m really having a good time, going back through the “things” that made up my childhood and growing-up years. They bring back such fun memories.

The previous musings have been about items in my family home. Today I would like to introduce some things that, while near and dear to me, were in my Aunt Jessie’s house. She and my Granny lived about 10 minutes away from us, and they were a huge part of my life – almost daily – for about 10 years. I loved their house as much as I loved ours.

Aunt Jessie never married, and so “things” became the focus of her life. Grandpa started her on the road to loving antiques, and she never quit. She would go to estate sales around Albuquerque and pick up what she wanted. She furnished her house with some REALLY good antique furniture. She was, at one time, the President of the Antique Club in Albuquerque.

As I’ve mentioned before, Aunt Jessie, Granny, and my Mother, all worked in the Rochester Handkerchief Factory in San Antonio, Texas, at one time or another. Mother told me that, eventually, Mrs. Rochester discovered that it was actually cheaper to go to Ireland for the fabric, take it to China for the cutwork, and then bring it to the United States to sell. They actually made a bigger profit by doing that. Unbelievable to me.

In any case, while in China, Mrs. Rochester would pick up items that she wanted – and that Aunt Jessie would like to have, and have them shipped back to the U.S. I’ve mentioned before about the hand-carved camphor chests.

One other thing that she brought to Jessie, that I have always loved, were Chinese scenes, formed/carved from cork. They have always fascinated me. And so, when Jessie died, I took two of those pictures, and they now hang on our guest bedroom walls. And they still fascinate me.

They might not have been in my parent’s house, but they are still family treasures to me.






Dad: My Worst Enemy, My Best Friend~Part 1

6 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites


Author, Poet and ArtistI’m writing this post on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016 the day when I finally knew how much I loved my Dad. In church the day before, our Pastor invited the congregation to call out the names of loved ones who had died for their country. There was a silence then one person spoke, another short silence and then someone else spoke. No one said the name loudly, but soon we heard a chorus of voices expressing grief. It was sad, but suddenly I had an epiphany. My dad was an infantryman in WW2. That means he did most of the war on foot. The difference was: my dad came home. That meant that I didn’t go through life without a father as so many children have done over the centuries. Sounds like I should have known how blessed I was, doesn’t it? But you see, Dad and I were at odds for most of my life and I developed some fairly hefty grievances because of it.

Ivan went to war when I was five years old and my brother almost three. He was in the Battle of the Bulge, and although he came back whole, I think there was an unseen part of him left behind. On top of that, Dad was a male and I happened to be born a female, something that dad took hard. Old story, eh, Dad wants a boy for his first born. This Dad knew little about girls because he just had one brother growing up, no sisters to teach him what girls were like. I guess you might say he did his best to make a real man of me. Now don’t get me wrong, I really like men. I’ve had one of every male relative a person can have and I liked them all pretty well, most of the time.

Ivan Bowers

Ivan Bowers, circa 1919

At the time we happened to be living in Crowley, Colorado where dad was a mechanic in a tomato factory. Mother’s job was to give the workers a big dinner at noon. We lived in a shotgun house, which meant that if you shot a gun through the front door, the bullet would go out the back door. The kitchen was at the back. We had a rooster, some chickens, and a Nanny goat for milk. When I got older, Mother told me that when we walked over go over to factory to visit Dad, we’d all go together in a line: Mom, Sister, Brother, our dog, and Chanticleer (the rooster), Nanny Goat and her kid, Billy. Billy would walk on tiny hooves trip-trap over the panes of glass that protected the tender, new plants from the elements. Mother said she held her breath hoping Billy Goat wouldn’t break any of them and he never did.

—–To Be Continued—–

The Cruise of a Lifetime~Coming Home

29 May


Judy Wills



 Because our flight from Budapest was at 6:30 a.m., we had to get up about 2:15 a.m. to get ready, pack, and get on the shuttle bus by 3:30 a.m. We had showered the night before, so all we had to do was shave (Fred), put on makeup (Judy), finish packing, and off we went. There were 14 of us from the ship that were going to make that flight.

It was a 30-minute drive from the ship to the airport. And when we got there, it was a “hurry up and wait” situation. We waited 30 minutes for the counter personnel to arrive and begin taking customers. We were first in line, thank goodness. Even though we had our bags with us, she convinced us to check the larger bags, as the plane from Budapest to Amsterdam was “small.” The flight took off pretty much on time, and it was a two hour flight to Amsterdam. They did feed us breakfast, but it was nothing like we had before – a sandwich with either deli-thin slices of chicken, or cheese, with mayonnaise on it. Well, Fred doesn’t eat mayo in ANY form! But we were able to get him some slices of cheese and chicken that wasn’t too “polluted” from the mayo.

We had a fairly long layover in Amsterdam, which was good. Schiphol Airport is really big, and we had to go quite a ways to find our gate. Fred said it looked like the lady in Budapest had checked our bags all the way to Orlando, but he wasn’t sure. So when we had the attendant in Amsterdam check, sure enough, they were checked through. However, she said we had to pick them up in Atlanta and go through Customs there.

The flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta was nearly nine hours long. The fortunate thing about it was that we were on an Airbus, and were in the two-seat side, rather than the four-seat middle. I always enjoy flying with just Fred, rather than three of us across. They fed us lunch – we both had tortellini, salad, cheese and crackers. A few hours later they had wrap sandwiches for us – Fred had a “meatball” and I had a veggie wrap. Surprisingly tasty. And of course, there was always the pretzels and peanuts.

We finally arrived in Atlanta – really nice to realize we were back on US soil! We picked up our bags and headed through Customs and Immigration. Not a bad thing, and we got through fairly easily. We were glad to have that done in Atlanta, rather than having to do it in Orlando, when we were super tired.

The flight to Orlando was just barely over one hour. As we like to say, they hardly got up when they had to start down again! They did have time to hand out pretzels and soft drinks, but they were hurrying through it.

Richard Lynch picked us up and headed toward home. When we discovered they had not had dinner yet – and our tummys were growling – we agreed to meet at Panera for a light supper. Pam and Piper were waiting for us. We were able to tell them a little bit about our trip, but were so very ready to get home.

We unloaded our suitcases quickly, as I HAD to do a load of undies, since all we had needed to be washed before the next day. So with all that done, we were able to get to bed by about 10:00 p.m. We figured that we had been in the air about 13 hours, and had been awake about 25 hours – with only cat-naps on the airplane! We were truly and fully exhausted!   We didn’t even set the clock to wake us up on Saturday – just decided to sleep our fill.

It was wonderful to be home and sleeping in our own bed.

But we are grateful and thankful that we had the wonderful experience of the Viking River Cruise Grand Tour. A cruise of a lifetime!


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



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