Archive for June, 2011

A Welcomed New Arrival……#246 (the 90’s)

June 29, 2011
Scott, Lana and Baby Sarah

Scott, Lana and Baby Sarah

Gary wasn’t unmindful when receiving a call from his eldest son in Oklahoma  City that there was an addition to the Willson heritage.  Scotts significant other, Lana Nowicki giving birth to Sarah Miranda Willson on August 29.   It had been some time since his last visit to Oklahoma City having been caught up in the throes of his personal life,  informing Scott he would be heading his way,  somewhat curious how his 34 year old son would address the responsibility of being a father.   This was Gary’s initial  visit to the couple’s N.W. 19th St residence and meeting Tad and Shylee, Lana’s two children from a previous marriage for the first time,  a realization that life can change so unexpectedly.

Tad and Shylee Nowicki

Tad and Shylee Nowicki

Scott and Sarah

Scott and Sarah

Before departing Oklahoma  City Gary visiting  his daughter Marlo, grandkids Garrett, Allison and a cordial meeting with his ex-wife Kaye before traversing to a Skilled Nursing facility in the Southwest part of the city to pay his respects to Kayes mother Helen, whose health had diminished.   The visitor having maintained a congenial relationship thru the years with his ex-mother-in-law,  visiting  her and Kaye’s grandmother Sarah before she passed at the age of 98 in 1987.  Gary not at all surprised that Sarah Miranda was named after her Great-Great Grandmother,  still cherishing the memory of the amazing lady who literally raised Kaye.   Gary enjoyed listening to the elder Sarah relate her turn of the century experiences, how her family moved from Missouri to Nowata Oklahoma by wagon in the 1890’s and how her father had to return to Missouri for the remaining family possessions.  Visiting with a nursing home bed ridden Helen discovering she was cantankerous as always, complaining about the care which Gary could understand as Helen was an active person when at home. She maintained and  cultivated a well-kept garden of herbs,  vegetables and also cultivated a well kept supply of cold Stag Beer, her favorite.   When  she attained forty years of  government service employment,  Gary and Kaye attended her retirement ceremony, the honor being held in the normally off-limits to the public,  Tinker Air Force Base  War Room where she worked,  the Tinker Field Bass Commander giving the presentation, Gary very much aware it was a precedent  that few would ever experience.   One last stop at Jerry Willis’s on S.W. 25th to say hello to his best friend before directing the Buick northwest back to Kansas.  The lack of avidity during the family visit was troubling,  Gary attributed this to his new-found station in life, living solitary, departed was a sense of communion and confronted with  having to look forward to a future with anticipation, but at the same time in many respects painfully  longing for the past.

Helen (Street) Vanlueven baby Sarah's Great Grandmother

Helen (Street, Grider) Van Lueven, baby Sarah’s Great Grandmother

Sarah Miranda's namesake her fathers Great Grandmother Sarah

Sarah Miranda’s namesake – Scott’s Great Grandmother Sarah

The news was startling, Kiowa’s  Dr. Christensen was traveling straight south on unobstructed US  281 from Medicine Lodge, when his car suddenly it careened off the highway,  the automobile and occupant coming to an abrupt stop,  the occupant no sure as to what had just transpired.  Word spreading rapidly as only in a small community,   “Dr. Chris“  Kiowa’s  eminent elderly physician was evolved in a car accident and the rumored prognosis was a question mark,  having suffered no physical injuries but when question about the event couldn’t begin to conclude the circumstances.   Still somewhat confused and dismayed the doctor deciding to taking a leave of absence from his practice.  The new rumor among the Kiowa Hospital and Clinic employees,  Dr. Chris may have suffered a minor stroke and because of  his absence for-over thirty days was giving rise to the speculation.  Gary being told that with his return to practice he would consult a medical journal about the patient’s symptoms and illness’ before seeing them, apparently showing concern that things weren’t quite normal.

Highway 281 south of Medicine Lodge

Highway 281 south of Medicine Lodge

Dr. Chris....

Dr. Chris

Gary was given notice that it was time for his annual employee physical arranging an appointment with Dr. Chris.  Gary finding nothing questionable about Chris, the physical appointment coming to a conclusion,  everything normal,  Gary verbally thanking the physician as he was leaving,  Chris responding  “you take care and I hope you start feeling better”.   Gary at first thinking it was just a slip by a preoccupied doctor mistaking a physical for an illness, pondering if he should relate the experience but decided to keep it to himself..   The 72-year-old Dr. Chris finally coming forward admitting he had a problem,  deciding it was  time  to retire from practice.  With his announcement Chris returning to remove his personal  effects from his office,  Gary offering to help him box the many artifacts and  medical books he had accumulated thru the decades of practice.  Gary noticing the number of boxes exceeded what would fit in Chris car,  loading the remainder in his Buick then following him to his residence.  Arriving the two began unloading the cars, Gary noticing the elder doctor starting to  pick up a heavy laden box of books,  stopping him with an offer  “let me carry that heavy box to the basement”.   Doctor Christiansen still hold the box, looked directly at Gary,   “It’s not my back that’s bad, it’s my head”.  Gary had to chuckle,  only Dr. Chris would candidly assert his reason for retirement.

Glenda Holdaway

Glenda Holdaway

Brad Holdaway

Brad Holdaway

Finding the solidarity of  bachelor life in Kiowa Kansas not always entertaining,  Gary accepting an invitation from Brad and Glenda Holdaway to join them to watch the weekly television boxing broadcast.  Brad having worked most of his life for the railroad including the physical demanding road gangs was an avid fight fan and  known to venture some distance to partake of a deserving bout.  Gary having grownup sharing an interest in boxing,  he and his dad sharing the televised legendary Gillette Friday Night fights of the 50’s.  Brad although younger,  displaying knowledge of the names and records of many of the prominent boxers of that era,  the two able to visit and share comments about the broadcast.  Glenda an admirable friend, whom like Gary was employed at the Hospital always providing something  special whether  homemade cookies or an enterprising desert,  the weekly visits brightening Gary’s life, giving a one evening ‘sense of family atmosphere.

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An Imperative Prospective………#245 (the 90’s)

June 5, 2011
A welcomed Windows 95

A welcomed Windows 95

The contingents of recent events having eclipsed, Gary deciding to venture into the innominate, the arrival of personal computers having an imperative perspective for his future.  Introduced to the world of computers in 1982 compliments of the John Deere Co. and at home with a TR 80 and later utilized a TI/99 at work, but yet to experience the expanded realm of the internet.  The local entrepreneur of the new age faction in Kiowa was the editor of the Kiowa News Rex Zimmerman,  whom was  propagating the application and installation of home computers.   Gary curious to the financial aspect,  discovering that to indulge into this new medium would cost an expediency in the neighborhood of $500,  not quite fitting into his budget, deciding to visit with Walter Fry,  the loan officer and vice president of the Kiowa’s First State Bank, confident of a resolution.   Gary having visited with Walter on several occasions during his employment at the Grade School,  supervising  Walters son during a high school summer work program, and during one of these visits discovering Walter was a graduate of Southwestern Oklahoma State College in Weatherford Oklahoma, Gary sharing his  band experiences, playing at the college.  The day to finalize the loan arriving, the applicant discovering Walter Fry was not present but Jon Ott,  a reprehensible nemesis from Gary’s past.  Gary politely refusing to contract with Jon, mentioning he would wait on Walters return.  Gary placing his order with Rex and not well versed on the new computer technology and the Microsoft Windows 95 operating platform, leaving the specifics including the internet connection up to Rex.  The purchase having be made, Gary leaving his upstairs apartment unlocked  for Rex Zimmerman to set up his recent expenditure,  Gary arriving home after work to find a new experience waiting.

First State Bank Vice President Walter Fry

First State Bank Vice President Walter Fry

Charity Smith

Charity Smith

Eva - Athens Greece

Eva – Athens Greece

 It was a new experience, not that wasn’t expected, Windows 95 was a quantum leap forward from a DOS OS,  Rex having installed Opera as a browser being of the opinion that it was the better than Internet Explorer.  Gary found it was soon apparent that any past computer knowledge should be left in the closet, the cut, copy and past of Windows 95 was a system unto itself,  but not rocket science.  Sometimes he would find himself somewhat captive in his one bedroom upstairs apartment, residing in town 90 miles from the world of activity, discovering the recent trappings of the past still very much present and still lingered within.  He had come to a decision to approached the internet not as something to experience but as a vehicle to provide  and possibly give his life a sense of direction.  Sharing the advent of his new purchase, it was Glenda Holdaway at work who first mention ICQ, the first world-wide network with real-time instant messaging, users could register and were assigned an eight digit number so others could contact them, developed in Israel in 1996 , the initials ICQ a homophone meaning  “I seek you”  derived from the Morse Code CQ.  It wasn’t long before  Gary was introducing himself to a host of new acquaintances, his evenings in his apartment no longer a perforate of solitariness.   A new advent of communication discovering others like himself eager to indulge in conversation,  finding that on the global spectrum he wasn’t alone.  A ICQ chatroom friendship developed with many throughout Europe,  Australia,  even in Asia,  one evening discovering  a South Barber high school graduate living in Japan, her name Charity Smith.  Gary remembering her from her school track meet endeavors,  the only girl on the high school track team to wear black tennis shoes, the  young lady now working with a  church organization.  Gary’s ICQ internet interest having expanded to over 30, mostly of the opposite gender.  A most interesting was Eva,  a German resident residing in Greece,  who worked for the German Consulate but also affiliated with the United Nations as a translator, besides english she was spoke fluent greek.   The two finding they had something very much in common,  the world renown new age composer and musician Yanni.   Eva having attended the world acclaimed presentation of his formidable score  “ Yanni Live At The Acropolis “  with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra  in the Herodos Athcus Theatre in Athens years earlier,  Gary adjudicating her musical knowledge..

Gary and his 97 Buick Skylark

Gary and his 97 Buick Skylark

The 1997 Christmas Holiday about to come to fruition, the  92 Buick Skylark having reached an age of interchange,  127,000 miles registering on the odometer,  Gary approaching Bill Bogner Buick, Chevrolet Dealership for automotive negotiations.   Bill having nothing on the lot that was of interest but Gary was aware of his  weekly Thursday flight,  piloting  his Cessna aircraft to Dallas to attend a wholesale auction of used General Motors cars.   Bill questioning the prospective buyer about his automotive aspiration, Gary having owned two Skylarks,  coveted the Buick,  preferably white, either a six or four-cylinder model would suffice as long as it was still under warranty.  Gary filling out a credit application for his long-standing automotive financer Southwest National Bank in Wichita.  Bill returning from Dallas calling Gary at home, relating the news that he purchased a white 97 Buick skylark, but for some reason the Southwest National  loan application he submitted for Gary was denied.  Gary failing to understand why the loan was refused, but accepted the commiseration, not sure of his next move when the phone rang again, it was Bill  calling back, saying he had submitted the loan contract to GMAC and it was accepted,  Gary’s car was being loaded on the transport would arrive from Dallas late tomorrow afternoon.  The Skylarks having arrived Gary signing the GMAC  agreement, but after arriving home he noticed a discrepancy on the contract that may have been the reason that Southwest National had turned down his loan application.  The original loan application read he submitted a $500 cash down payment, but on this application it read that he had submitted a $1500 down payment.   Bill apparently changing the amount on the contract to read $1500, not mentioning the change to Gary,  keeping his actions to himself and in all probability ensured  the loans acceptance.  Gary noting that Bill was indeed a friend or a shrewd businessman, it didn’t matter,  it was people and friends like him that made doing business in small towns meaningful.

Charles Terry - Better known as Unc.

Charles Terry – Better known as Unc.

Esther Terry - Family called her Atto

Esther Terry – Family called her Atto

The five hour journey to Sabetha Kansas in the 97 Skylark was a solemn occasion for Gary and his son Robert who was on leave from the navy,  the December winter day’s sombre overcast was representative of the occasion, the passing of Charles Terry.  Gary having 22 years of endowed feelings for Jan’s Aunt Esther and Uncle Charles and wishful to express his  feeling to Atto about her loss and say goodbye to Charles,  a loving friend and brother in the Apostolic Christian Church.  His passing wasn’t one of a long-term illness but one of an unsuspecting  short-term suddenness.  Unc as he was known by family was an exemplar of christian character,  he and Esther having celebrated 58 years together, deciding in 1987 to move to the Apostolic Christian Retirement Village in Sabetha.   Charles attributions in life included his two daughters, Eleanor and husband Chris whom Gary had meant when the Willsons accompanied a Murrow family outing to Peoria Illinois and a younger daughter Rita Ann and husband Delwin who resided in Sabetha.  Charles having been a long-standing employee of a CITGO oil company,  through the years a singularity employee in maintaining the Corwin Kansas pumping plant and without reservation also farming the acquired acreage from the Roth Family legacy.

Church Elder John Lehman

Church Elder John Lehman

 Gary and Rob arriving at the home of John Lehman  the Ministering Elder for both the Sabetha and Kiowa  Churches and also the CEO of the Sabetha Nursing Home & Retirement Village,  the two accepting an invitation  to prevail the night at the Lehman residency. The evening viewing at the mortuary found  the remaining Kiowa family entourage having arrived, Bud and Helen and the Johnson family joining many friends gathering to celebrate the reminisce of his life,  to bequeath their respects and say goodbye.  The morning breakfast with the Lehman family was a new experience for Gary who was aware of the tradition practiced at home by more ardent Apostolic.  Before every meal it was customary for a blessing, but in addition Gary was handed a bible asked to random open to a chapter and read a verse and in layman terms give an applicable meaning of the message.   Gary having taught sunday school for the past nine years was no stranger to be called upon for biblical verse explanations and offering prayer among the congregation, but never participated in a breakfast bible reading.   Upon his reading, looking about at the table with the Elder of two churches seated listening to his interpolation of the meaning of God’s word brought an awakening.  A sudden acknowledgement and understanding of the endowed vestige instilled to those called upon and anointed to proclaim the word of salvation.  Arriving at the cemetery,  Gary and Rob having been called upon to be a pallbearer on the Kansas overcast cold winter morning,  the weather still befitting for Charles Terry having lived his life in Kansas.  The morning commemorative graveside service found many in attendance,  it was noticeable to family before the service had begun that Jan was not in attendance, but her absence was soon dispelled, arriving just in time for the burial ceremony.   Gary was relieved and thankful she was there, that the circumstances of the Church sanctioning her affiliation because she initiated the divorce proceedings might for some reason inhibit her attendance.  The ceremony coming to a conclusion, upon leaving Gary paused, turning about, a final look at the burial site,  no this is not an enduring remembrance, having thoughts of Charles Terry the man,  a figurative person whose presence he took for granted,  a fixture during holiday meals or family gatherings,  never outspoken or complaintive just relating the pleasantries of his personality mixed with everyday events, this was Charles,  an identity but in reality,  a man for all seasons in the service of the Lord.

Father and Son having declined an invitation to attend a Church afternoon memorial dinner,  the 97 Buick back on the road journeying southwest, returning to Kiowa, Gary still having thoughts about the funeral, coming to the conclusion that  monuments are not what you engrave in stone but what is woven in the lives of others.