Monday, October 25, 2010

Early College Friends

At an early football game.  You can tell the one girl was not a student, as she is wearing a divided garment.
One of THE biggest highlights of college was the friends I made.  Of course, most people probably feel that way.  I absolutely LOVED the girl talk in the dorm, the borrowing clothes, the fixing each other's hair for special events.  I met so many really great girls at Maranatha Baptist Bible College.  I could NEVER mention all of the friends that meant so much to me!  Here were a few from my Freshman and Sophomore year, accompanied by more selections from my scrapbook.

At a Christmas party in Illinois with Gould 202 girls
The girls in Gould 202 became close friends the semester after Stephanie left (she was student teaching).  They were right next door, and their room was like a bunch of sisters chilling together.  Donette Winterland and I found out we were friends when I told her I liked her "Jesus Freak" t-shirt (which was SO not allowed to be listened to).  We then began a discussion about versions of the Bible.  She read the NIV, so we clicked right away. HAHA!  She invited me and her roommates to come stay at her house for a weekend in downstate Illinois, which made me feel utterly grown up.  I recall the drive home when we were belting out Alanis Morissette songs at the top of our lungs.  I was really feeling like an independent college girl then!  I have such a vivid memory of sitting down and eating nearly an entire pound bag of peanut M&Ms in room 202 the afternoon after white glove, and gossiping about who-knows-what senseless information.  I do not claim to have always used my time wisely, especially not my freshman year!

My sister Anna, Mary and me by our Christmas tree
Mary Fetters was one of Donette's roomates, and was close to me all through school.  She came home with me for Thanksgiving my Freshman year, and it was so great to share my family and world outside of college with her -- she was such a sweet and funny friend, and I just could never get enough of hanging out with her.  Mary worked hard at a home for the mentally handicapped, so her weekends were often filled up with working double shifts to pay for school, but we managed to fit in trips down to the Pinecone gas station where I used the Shell gas card my dad gave me to use to fill up, and buy us pizza and pop for supper -- and maybe one of those HUGE rice krispie treats, or apple fritters.  It was our Sunday night before church ritual.

Another 202 girl was Heather Bailey.  She had super long hair and at first I thought she was shy or something.  But she was super smart and funny, and after she got to know me, we really had a good time.  Heather and I had weird, rambling conversations while studying in the library.  It was something like streams of consciousness -- which we were really into while studying Psych together.  We had a great idea for a book of some sort which took place during World War II and contained all sorts of random things that fascinated us.  She made "boy watching" quite the fun sport for us all, and was always ready to tell stories about whomever she had currently had a crush.

Andrea tatted me that lace, and I framed it with pictures of us
I met Andrea Nash my freshman year, but I spent a lot more time with her the following year.  Andrea was so like, and so unlike me.  We had both been homeschooled, and were from Illinois, and always had classes together.  But she, unlike me, was quiet, and sweet and not considered a loudmouth or know-it-all.  I loved Andrea for how we were different, and somehow I just knew I should be MORE like her.  We always sat together in every class we shared, and tried to share a class every semester.  We also had a tradition of getting our picture taken with our professors at the end of the semester -- they probably thought we were psycho, or maybe they were just flattered that we liked their classes.  I remember one TERRIBLE day for me in school -- I was so distraught about something that I could not refrain from crying when class was about to begin.  Andrea insisted that she walk me outside, and then listened to my sobs, and then suggested that I skip class and go take a nap (I was sort of out of my mind at the moment).  I will ALWAYS remember her kindness to me, and her truly helpful friendship.  The fun thing about Andrea is that 7 years after we graduated from college, we found ourselves back together again!  Our husbands attended the same Seminary, and we are members of the same church now!  Andrea is still a dear friend, and I suspect, always will be.

Isn't it amazing how the people you meet in college influence the kind of person you are becoming?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Susie's Early Childhood Days

 Marching off to her kindergarten class, Susie wore a button pinned to her sweater that said "I Like Ike".  She must have gotten the button from her mother, since her daddy voted Democrat, and probably did not like Ike.  Nonetheless, it is a pretty funny thing for a little girl to wear a campaign button to school!  She attended Hartwell school in Cincinnati, which was built in 1923, and was partially destroyed by a tornado in 1969.

When Susie was a little girl, her mother sang her this song in the bathtub.  This song is about your pruney fingers and toes, and how the water makes them all wrinkled:

"No matter how young a prune may be, he's always full of wrinkles!
A baby prune is like his dad, but he's not wrinkled quite so bad.
We have wrinkles on our face; a prune has wrinkles everyplace!
No matter how young a prune may be, he's always full of wrinkles!"

When she was very young, her mother used to bounce her on her knee and chant this little song:

"This is the way a lady rides, hobble-dee-hoy, hobble-dee-hoy." 
faster: "This is the way the gentlemen ride, hobble-dee-hoy, hobble-dee-hoy!"
very fast: "This is the way the Indians ride, hobble-dee-hoy, hobble-dee-hoy!!"

And you almost fell off the knee by the time you got to the Indians riding.
Susie probably learned the words to all of Mother's songs so well because they were sung over and over to several children.  When Susie was 5, she got a new baby sister, Donna!  Now there were three girlies in Susie's family.  And she was the biggest sister, which of course, is very important.
Susie, Katie, and Mother holding Donna

When Susie grew up and became Sue, she was just like the little girl in the "I Like Ike" button.  She never missed an opportunity to vote, and made election night a big party for her family.  The night she had her stroke, that eventually took her life, the doctors asked her several questions to see what she could remember.  They asked her who the president was, and she couldn't remember his name.  "I can't remember," she said, "But I know I didn't vote for him.  He's too liberal."  Even in that condition, she could remember exactly where she stood politically, which was pretty amusing to her family.

For several years, Sue worked at the polls for several elections -- long, sometimes dull days of handing out ballots, and then collecting and protecting the counted ballots to ensure the voting was done without mistakes.  I am sure that she did not think her task was boring, because it was important.  She was dedicated to her community and her country.  She really was "All American Sue".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall pictures

I've been looking forward to taking pics of Susie this fall.  It's been super hot until just recently (still pretty warm in the middle of the sunny day), so the pictures have just finally been able to start.  Here are a few favorites:

We actually stopped by this tree just for the photo op.  The trees are not quite as brilliant this year.

At the pumpkin patch. 
Right now, her 2 favorite phrases are "Oh, WOW" and "All right!".  She was running around "oh wow-ing" the pumpkins the whole time at the pumpkin farm.  What a funny kid.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Susie's Big Move

For the first three years of her life, Susie lived on the farm with her parents, near to family and close friends, and so Susie grew up surrounded by cousins.  As evidenced by the plethora of her baby pictures in an era where a family camera was not a common household item, she had plenty of attention from her family.

This picture says Baby Sue with Johnny (who was a cousin)
When Susie was three years old, her family moved north, to the bright lights and hustle and bustle of the big city:  Cincinnati, Ohio.  As was common in the post-WWII era where men returned from war with new skills and experiences, Susie's daddy had gotten a job working for General Electric in the city. He was quick at learning how things worked, and how to fix things.  Cities were booming at this point in America, offering G.I.s better opportunities for advancement and careers than a rural life did. So when Daddy went off to work in the city, Susie settled into a new life in a new house with Mother and her new baby sister Kay.  

Crosley Field in the early 1950's
Mother liked to listen to baseball games on the radio as she did housework, since this was before television sets invaded every household.  Several times a season, Crosley Field would have a "Ladies Day", where female fans could be admitted for a lower ticket price. Mother would dress in a nice dress, gloves and hat, and take the bus with a friend down to the ballpark to watch the game.  She always referred to the ballpark as "Crosley Fiel' ".  It is funny to note that while Mother loved sports, Daddy never took an interest.  In fact, even after they had a television in their home, Mother would still listen to the games on the radio in the kitchen because Daddy was not interested in watching them on T.V.  Susie inherited her mother's love for baseball (and football, and other sports), as well as her zesty cheering for the home team. 

Having a little sister no doubt changed Susie's world more than moving from the farm to the city.  Suddenly there was a new person to share Mother and Daddy with.  But also, there was a new sister to play with and have for a friend!  Sue cherished her relationship with her sister Katie her whole life long.  They shared a bedroom, sat up many nights talking late after dates, and one day they married guys who were good friends.
Katie and Susie with their grandparents whom they called "Papa and Mama"

Amazing that God gave Sue lots of daughters when she grew up.  Some people "get girls" and she was one of those people!  She was always someone to notice your stylish pair of shoes, or your cute new hairstyle. She taught her children how important being friends was, that no matter where you lived, or what new situation you walked into, you would have your siblings to be your friends.  
A fun late '60's picture of Sue and her sisters -- she is in the middle in the blue skirt and wild top

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Going off to College

From the 1st page of my college scrapbook -- the snowmen picture is our dorm room door which won the Christmas door decorating contest
When I was a 18 years old, I was not homesick in any way, shape or form. I'm sad to say that when I left home in the backseat of my parent's minivan, my heart did not twinge for those who would miss me, because I was TOO DARN excited about my adventure. Really, nothing daunted this excitement. I was not afraid of the rules (I chose to go to Maranatha Baptist Bible College, which seemed pretty strict to me compared to how I grew up), or the dress code or the classes or making new friends. I was just excited to do those things.

My P.C. (Prayer captain -- sort of a room leader) was one of the first people I met there and was a SUPER fun and bubbly senior named Kathy. She was a cheeleader and turned down scholarships for cheering to big schools to come to MBBC. She was tiny and spunky and could do 3 back flips in a row in our small dorm room (after we rearranged our furniture to our liking). She was known as "Flipper" because she could do a series of back flips the whole length of the basketball court.  I picked the bunk underneath Kathy, and waited to meet my other roomies -- there could be up to 6 girls in a room. Only 2 more ended up joining us, so we had much more room than many other rooms.

Kathy studying on her "magic carpet" bed.
Like I mentioned, I was fearless. I was so green, never having been to school before this. Kathy was the perfect girl for me to room with because she was godly and cheerful and not emotional or boy-crazy. I probably didn't realize at the time that she set a really good tone for me of what life could be like in that sort of school. Kathy studied and worked hard, but had a great attitude and treated everyone kindly. She helped me to like Math (I'd always hated it, but ended up getting a perfect grade on my final -- including all the bonus points!), and running (always thought I'd hate it, but Kathy showed me the joy of a runner's high right before you have to settle in to study).

I also had a friend, Stephanie, who lived on my hall from my home church who had been at MBBC a few years before me, and was kind enough to let me follow her around as I became acquainted with everything. Steph was also a good friend for me to have. She stood by me when things suddenly got rocky during my first semester and helped me understand when I had trouble with girls. I don't remember anything specifically, but apparently I had my feelings hurt over something, and I said to Stephanie "I don't understand why people don't like me! I'm nice to them! They think I'm being fake!" Steph sighed and said "Gretchen, you didn't go to school. Welcome to 'Girls 101'. This is your first exposure to it." HAHA! Looking back, I probably came on too strong and wanted to be liked by EVERYBODY. It took a while for me to just find my niche and study and work hard and not worry about being the most popular girl ever.

Steph and I doing our nails and some sort of yogurt hair treatment -- I did love getting to know the girls in the dorm!
One thing I appreciated about both of these older girls was their ability to be young with me. Steph lived in another room, but she'd hang out with me and Kathy from time to time, and we called Kathy's top bunk "The Magic Carpet", like from Aladdin. Kathy could jump up onto her bunk in one leap, from the floor, even though she was so short. Stephanie and I were so tickled, for some reason, to hang out and laugh together on Kathy's "Magic Carpet"!  Sadly, the picture of that has been ripped out of my scrapbook!  I think I took it out for something in Stephanie's wedding (just a guess).

I could write a million things about people I met my freshman year, but I'll save some of those for the next chapter.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

All American Sue is Born -- Chapter One

Helen and Curtis Wilkinson were fascinating people.  Curtis persuaded Helen to elope when she was just 15 years old, shortly before he had to report for active duty in Europe.  While he was learning to jump out of airplanes alongside the bravest men in the world, Helen was at home, singing and playing her guitar with her father and sister Mildred to earn gas ration cards.  He saw the Eiffel Tower and other sights in Europe, and she helped with the tobacco crop in rural Kentucky.

When Curtis returned home to Liberty Kentucky, it was not long before the two became three.   Helen was at home in their one room home on the farm when she went into labor.  In that rural area, it was common for a woman to give birth at home rather than in a hospital.  Helen was 19 years old when she had her first child -- a tiny baby girl.  It was June 20th, 1947.

They named their precious girl Bonita Sue.  Bonita is Spanish for pretty, but she was never called by that name.  To them, she was always "Susie", and a sweet Susie she was indeed.

One can just imagine Helen holding her precious child on a hot, still summer night.  Perhaps she thought her daughter looked like her handsome husband, Curtis.  Perhaps she counted her little fingers and toes, and hummed soft little lullabies.  Perhaps she planned all the adorable little outfits she would sew for her girl, and take her around to show to all her family and friends.  Perhaps she looked down the road at the years ahead and the myriad of conversations she and Susie would have.  She would be her forever friend . . . 

Changing her first baby in a perfect little nursery
I cannot say for sure what Helen felt or thought at the sight of her child, but knowing Sue as I did, and seeing her as a mother, I imagine that she must have been mothered by someone who loved her very dearly.  For you see, when Susie grew up, she wanted to be a mother so very much, and waited to become one for a very long time.  When the Lord finally answered her prayers for a child, and then again, and again and again, those children were loved as the most precious gifts she could have ever received.  Sue was a new mother at 29, and endured natural childbirth and inducement when she had her last baby at age 45.  Babies were a part of Sue's world her whole life long -- before she had her own, she and her husband would borrow other people's babies to hang out with, and after hers all became teenagers, she adopted the whole church nursery as her extra grandchildren.  Of course it is easy to love sweet and cute children, but for Sue, she loved them all, even those who were harder to love.

And she loved to hear the news of someone getting a baby.  Whether it was a young mom finding out she was pregnant for the first time, or a woman who had long been unable to have children adopting a little one, Sue would share in their joy just as if it were her own.  She once gave a silver spoon to a friend who had never had a child when she found out she was expecting.  "Your baby deserves to be born with a silver spoon in it's mouth" she told her.  That baby was taken to heaven before she ever saw this world, and I now have that precious silver spoon in my baby's room.  

Sue Wilkinson was certainly not born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she had the love of her young parents. . . and was rich indeed.  

Friday, October 01, 2010

Prescription for Contentment

A missionary who lived in Africa for 52 years made these commitments, to help herself strive to be content where she was:

"1. Never allow yourself to complain about anything -- not even the weather

2. Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else

3. Never compare your lot with another's

4. Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise

5. Never dwell on tomorrow -- remember that it is God's not ours."

~ taken from Linda Dillow's book Calm My Anxious Heart

Hmmmm. . .  how can we even try to keep those kind of commitments to ourselves?  Only by God's grace!  Let's rely on the power of the gospel to help us fight for contentment!