Sue Martin Glasco

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Sue Glasco was born in the southern part of Illinois in 1933 during the Great Depression in a region called “The Land Between the Rivers.” (Ohio River on the east and Mississippi on the west.) Her sister Rosemary was eight and her brother Jim was five. The family lived in a big two-story rental house at the top of a short street sloping gently down to the elementary school where her father was both principal and eighth grade teacher. Later they rented a house even closer to the school where her first memories surface. By the time Sue started first grade, her parents had bought a house across the street from the school. School lasted for only eight months, and there were no summer salaries for teachers. So Sue’s family leased their home for the summer and moved to her father’s home place in a nearby county. Her parents made that annual move an adventure in country living, and Sue grew up appreciating farm life. An exception was the summer after first grade, when the family moved to Colorado so her father could study at the University of Colorado. He brought her books from the university library. At the farm, books were ordered from the state library system and were delivered by the mail carrier. When she was eight, World War II began. A teacher at a one-room rural school was drafted. Sue’s mother was asked to take his place. In some communities at that time, it was considered unseemly for a married woman to teach. Now it was a patriotic duty to teach. (There were married women and married women with children at her dad’s school, however.) Sue’s mother picked up students with their 1937 Ford car, supervised the student who built the fire in the stove, kept the building clean, and taught all eight grades. Sue loved visiting her mother’s school when her school was closed, but she hated being alone in the house until her mother and siblings returned each afternoon. News of the war and its heart ache filled their lives. The school yard was heaped with enormous hills of collected junk metal and old rubber tires as community scrap drives took place. Students competed in paper drives and brought in tightly-wound balls of tin foil from gum and other wrappers. Kids thought they were helping win the war when they helped with the drives and when they bought savings stamps and participated in savings bond drives. After the war, the rural school consolidated with the town school, and Sue’s mother also taught across the street. Few teachers had their degrees, and her parents were always taking night classes—sometimes locally and sometimes driving with a car load of teachers to what is now Southern Illinois University Carbondale. After she started high school, Sue’s parents stopped moving to the farm, but she still enjoyed going with her dad on Saturday when she could. Her sister went off to Carbondale to school after working locally for a year after high school. Her brother joined the army after high school and returned to SIU on the GI Bill. Most local students went to college at Carbondale, where one could work oneself through school. This was where Sue’s grandfather, parents, aunts and uncles had gone, and she took it for granted that she would follow the same path and did. She worked, majored in journalism and had almost a second major in speech. Right before Christmas when Sue was a senior, Gerald Glasco had finished his stint in the Air Force and came back to campus to finish his degree in agriculture. They had met once, and Gerald had spent time with a mutual friend in Hawaii, so he phoned Sue to share greetings from her. They began dating over the holiday break, and by April, they announced their engagement. Sue kept her plans to participate in an interdenominational project at Judson Student House in Greenwich Village, which required participants to find a job, work during the day, and then join in evening Bible study and listening to lecturers from around the city. Weekend activities explored the church in urban life. Sue secured summer employment as a secretary in an office at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and saw upper NY daily. She did not get to any ball parks, but she enjoyed the cheap seats in theaters on and off Broadway. After the summer, Sue went to coach debate and to teach an integrated English-speech class to sophomores at a new high school in a Chicago suburb. She returned home for a June wedding. Gerald and she rented a house (no plumbing) in the country for $10 a month They were eager to start a family, and Katherine was born the following April while Gerald finished his senior year at SIU and they lived on his GI Bill. Wanting to farm someday, Gerald accepted a fellowship at the University of Illinois to complete his masters in ag economics. A farm in the Mississippi bottoms opened up for them to rent but with a three-month gap between finishing his degree and its availability. They felt a miracle provided Gerald a teaching job for that fall term at Western Illinois University. Their only son Gerry was born in Macomb before they began their lives as farmers. They went in debt for a tractor, and Gerald raised pigs without a farrowing house. Their tenant house was cold in winter, and they had to work hard, but they enjoyed farm life. Shortly before their three-year lease expired, their daughter Jean Claire (Jeannie) was born. Soon they moved up to Columbiana Ranch in the middle of the state, where Gerald became livestock manager.Then he and his brother Keith had an opportunity to buy a hog farm back in Southern Illinois the next year; they took the plunge into farm ownership. Keith’s family lived at the hog farm, and they moved into a wonderful old house (cold, no plumbing till they remodeled and put it in) on a rented farm, which would provide crop land. Mary Ellen was born the following June. Keith was able to buy a farm back in their home county and moved his family there, and Gerald and Sue moved over to the hog farm, where they lived for the next 36 years until they built their retirement home on a small lake Gerald had built. Despite a serious childhood illness, Katherine became a singer, a teacher and a children’s librarian in Nashville, TN. Eventually she came back home to teach and to be near her nieces and nephews. She married David Cedar shortly after her unexplained bouts of illness had finally led to the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. (Probably the MS had started when she was 14.) She continued to teach music and reading until the stairs became too difficult and she had to retire. Much to their delight right before her 40th birthday, their son Sam was born. Now Sam has one more year of high school before he goes to college. MS has progressed and robbed her of the ability to walk or use her hands. She and Sam live in nearby Marion. Gerry married his high school sweetheart, which was the smartest thing he ever did. Vickie worked full time and held the family together while he developed a successful hunting/outfitting business in Mexico in the winter months and coached travel softball for their three daughters in the summer. Tara grew up to play for SIUC and became a teacher, married Bryan Archibald, and soon had three adorable sons. Erin played for Notre Dame, Texas A&M, USSSA Pride, and then one summer in Europe . She now teaches middle school math and coaches in Texas. Six years ago Gerry closed the business and became assistant softball coach at the University of Georgia. Three years ago he became associate head coach, and Lu Harris-Champer brought Tara in as assistant coach. Tara was able to do this because their family and Gerry and Vickie rented a large house together, and Vickie became a caregiver for the three little boys while Tara coached. Bryan had an office in the house, where he disappeared each morning to the computer, to continue his job at an architecture firm in the Chicago area. Geri Ann finished high school at Oconee, won the 2012 Gatorade High School National Player of the Year in softball, and has just completed two years playing for UGA while studying special education. This summer Gerry is coaching USSSA Pride and has just become associate head coach at Texas A&M. Jeannie grew up with a kitten or sketch pad or both in her hands a large part of the time. She married Rick Eiler, who heads the math department at Freeport High School, and Jeannie now teaches art in a grade school. They raised three talented children. Leslie married Mike Thompson, works for a music publishing company, and continues singing and acting in Nashville, TN. Mike is a personal trainer and has little Leslie doing amazing strength feats, so obviously he is good at what he does. He also plays a fine guitar. Elijah has just finished an internship in a Chicago neighborhood and will be in Indianapolis fall semester and student teaching in Chicago his last semester at Illinois State University. Cecelie, the youngest grandchild, will be a high school sophomore and continues her older siblings’ footsteps in music, speech, and theater. Mary Ellen majored in agriculture communication, and ended up as editor of Tennessee Magazine in Nashville. When she married Brian Taylor, they soon moved to Grinnell, Iowa, where Brian worked for DeKalb Seed. While there, Trent was born and then their daughter Brianna. Several moves after that gave them lots of experience in adjusting to new communities, and last spring they moved to a farm they bought near us. Brian continues to work full time with seeds for Monsanto. He goes up to Saint Louis when needed and works out of a home office otherwise. (Both he and grandson-in-law Bryan say they get more accomplished in a private home office than when co-workers are nearby.) Somehow Brian also farms Gerald and Sue's farm and other rented land. In addition to homemaking and helping Brian, Mary Ellen has just resumed her career as a realtor that she started when they lived in a Saint Louis suburb and which she continued in Springfield, Illinois. Obviously they work too hard. Trent, brilliant family computer and gaming geek, transferred down to John A. Logan College when they moved here. Always at the top of everything she does, beautiful blond Brianna is home working at the local Dairy Queen this summer and will soon be going back for her sophomore year in the honors program at Murray State in Kentucky. Sue’s life has been primarily that of a mother and farm wife. She had what she calls a haphazard education career as a substitute in K-12, part-time teaching at Marion and Johnston City High Schools and in area community colleges. Finally she spent over six years working in family literacy in Franklin County for Rend Lake College, the last two of which were full time. She always wrote some when time allowed. Although she made little money free lancing or part-time teaching, she enjoyed the interaction with students and the stimulation of writing. Sue and Gerald’s original family of two has now grown twenty-four, and that is not counting everyone’s dogs. That is a lot of people to keep track of and an ongoing excuse for Sue not getting all her writing projects done. It also gives her plenty to blog about, and blogging provides her a venue without having to waste stamps and return envelops on manuscripts as she did in her younger days. Back then she wanted to make money, but now she just writes for the pleasure of it.

Finally Fall Coloration

Although I had admired a lovely large tree across our lake with yellow leaves for a couple of weeks, I kept wanting to see some reds and bright orange colors. Other trees in our yard and those across the fields were mostly still green. I remember when we used to be able to count on bright-hued leaves by the middle of October, and I noticed the last couple of years that was no longer true. I thought maybe it was just our region, and then I read that autumn coloration is arriving later elsewhere also. But finally a week ago, I looked out the kitchen patio door towards the lake to see the maple Gerald planted in the yard when we moved here, and it was at last a brilliant red. On beyond the maple was a Bradford pear tree Gerald planted that was now lovely with deep wine leaves. Rains and winds came, and the maple looks all snaggly now with half its red leaves on the ground, but it had brought me a proper measure of pleasure before that happened. I drove through that blinding rain to Katherine's one night; and driving home later after the rain stopped, the blacktop road glistened with red and orange fallen leaves shining in my headlights. Even better, a breeze would ever so often blow more leaves down to shower me with additional loveliness in my car lights.

Although the maple is worst for the wind's wear, the pear tree with its crown of wine leaves is still there to please my eyes. The trees in the woods across hills and meadows surrounding us have gradually turned from green to mostly brown. If we were able to walk under them, I expect there might be some brown leaves to shuffle through; but like our pear, these trees seem to be clinging onto their leaves for a bit longer. As much as I enjoy the coloration, I am also fond of the beauty of bare stark branches, which I've always associated with November. Maybe now with global warming, those bare branches will wait to decorate the sky until the latter part of November.

Our son-in-law finished his harvest over a week ago before that heavy rain came, and we are grateful for his good crops and a completed harvest. With memories of the fortunately rare years when weather made harvest impossible until after Thanksgiving or even Christmas, there is always a certain anxiety until the crops are in. Perhaps our worst year was the one when Gerald was still combining in late February after he had made a trip to northern Michigan to buy tracks for the combine. Horror stories of farmers' combines stuck in mad that year stick in our memories making an early harvest that much sweeter.

My summer was full of tests that mostly turned out good. (A false positive on a sonogram necessitated an angiogram, so I was grateful for that good report.) Now I am finally able to have time to start physical therapy tomorrow to improve my balance. One morning last summer I woke up to find that the arthritis and other problems in my right knee were joined by arthritis and tendinitis in my left foot, and that day I had to start using a cane to walk safely. Those pains have mostly subsided on their own, but I still need that cane when I am away from the house. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to walking better yet after physical therapy.

I also tire easily, and it has been necessary for me to realize that I cannot go to town and complete four or five errands in a half day as I have done all my life. Such adjustments do not come easy for me. Gerald helps me more than he ever needed to in the past when he was working 12 hour days or longer. I think his gardening is over for this year; we ate the last tomato from the fridge two days ago. I failed to wrap up any green ones in newspaper to use on Thanksgiving Day as I often have in the past. Yet now he is busy doing such things as replacing 16-year-old faucets or putting back up the large wire shelf in the garage, which I've used for a clothes line when clothes come out of the drier. (We learned there is a limit to how much weight that long wire shelf could take when he washed and dried a summer-full of shirts worn for only an hour or two, and I suggested hanging them there temporarily before they went back in the closet. When Gerald walked out the next morning, the shelf was down and the shirts were on the garage floor. So I have now taken off that wire shelf the antique shoe last that belonged to my father. Daddy used to have it secured on a stand in our basement in Jonesboro, and he sometimes put half soles on our shoes when they wore out. I like to think he inherited the last from his father, but I don't know that. It is small to fit inside the shoe, but very heavy since it is made of iron.  I like seeing it and holding it and thinking of my father, but I think it is probably time to give it to a local museum.)

Gerald received a phone call from his Union County friend Irma Dell Eudy Elkins telling him of yet another death of a high school classmate. I had a small grade school class, and five of my closest friends have been dead for a few years now. They did not live close enough to see them often, but I miss knowing they are out there with their minds holding many of the same memories I have. And I miss not hearing from them at Christmas--or at all. I do not consider death the end, but losing people from your life here on earth is a natural part of growing older. Frequent deaths are to be expected at our age just as leaves fall off trees as winter approaches. What happened in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, is not a normal or expected occurrence, and we Americans must determine to put an end to it. Such massacres are not occurring in Japan or European countries, and we have a responsibility to stop them here. I liked seeing a post from one of Katherine's friends down in Nashville. Her photo showed a handful of postal card messages to congress. That is a small action any of us could do.

 

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Social Life Slowed by our Age

Aging brings frequent doctor checkups—teeth, eyes, hearing aids, heart, INRs for blood thickness, etc. etc. Then add the fact that doing the minimum of what needs doing takes forever, and we get slower every year we age.  At least some of us do. The result is that our social life has slowed down considerably. We do not get out much in the community any more, and we hesitate to invite people over for a specific date since we might be called into town to help take care of Katherine on that date if an aide fails to show up. My dad used to say if people invite you over and do not set a definite time, they may not mean it. I think he was only partly correct. We love it when people drop in and find us home. We have enjoyed some social life this month and are grateful. It does us good to be around others and hear their stories and experiences. It makes our limited life less limited!

An unexpected family reunion was our first event this month! My mother-in-law's maiden name was Godwin, but her father died soon after she was married. Gerald is not even sure if he actually remembers Nathaniel Godwin or maybe his one memory is just of a photograph of him as a little boy sitting on his grandfather's lap. Mom Glasco talked about her family and cousins, and I remember meeting one cousin decades ago.

We also were briefly in contact with some Godwin relatives that Gerald's sister Ernestine found online in Saint Louis. That is how we found his great grandparents' graves in the Creal Springs cemetery several years ago. We were surprised since the Godwins we knew about had lived at Pomona. Since we live so close to Route 166, I invited these Saint Louis folk to come by the next time they visited the cemetery, but they never did. However, Gerald's cousin Irma Fay (Wenger) Brown met a Godwin relative at a funeral visitation recently. He turned out to be a custodian at the school across from my childhood home in Jonesboro. That meeting resulted in an invitation to their annual Godwin reunion. So on a recent Saturday, we took off for the Devil's Backbone park in Grand Tower on the banks of the Mississippi River. Although very windy, it was a beautiful day, and the drive through the hills and farm lands was beautiful. We stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Murphysboro to obtain our contribution to the pot luck, so it was a work-free outing for me, which was good since I was having some leg pain. We were able to see all of Gerald's Wenger cousins, and we met lots of nice folks there and learned a little more Godwin history. I wish I could hear better in crowds, and I might have learned more!

Last weekend we were delighted to hear that Jeannie was planning on coming down since she had not been able to come in August. She brought lots of school work with her despite working late Friday night. But I always enjoy visiting with her as she sits handling her kids' art work helping them get ready for their next step—the current project is making sketch books. Since she has over 500 students (K-5) at two different schools and is expected in some cases to teach from a cart, it sounds to me that it is an impossible job that reflects the lack of respect too many have for the value of the arts. Nevertheless, when I hear her talk and see the kids' work, I am positive her students are learning more than she can guess. In talking with the kids about books, she found they knew the word “spine,” but since the kids are computer literate, she was surprised they did not know about fonts. She took back a arm full of old magazines from our house to help her students discover different fonts.

Before Jeannie arrived on Saturday, Gerald invited me to go with him and our birthday granddaughter Brianna and her mother to Carterville. Gerald had been planning for some weeks that he wanted to buy her a new Bible for her birthday. He had recently met a knowledgeable clerk at the book store there that helped him buy two new Bibles, so he wanted Brianna to meet this clerk and have his advice. Brianna is by nature a thoughtful person, so she listening thoughtfully and considered carefully before we left with her new Bible. Mary Ellen made some Christmas gift purchases, and I knew I was getting old because I resisted buying a single book. (Every time I was tempted, I remembered the pile of half read books awaiting me in our living room and told myself not to add until I finished some of them.) After lunch at a nearby family restaurant, we returned Bri and her mom to their house as Brianna had plans to dress for Halloween parading with her brother Trent in Carbondale. (They went as Dexter and Dee Dee in memory of their childhood when Trent was always involved with some scientific project and Bri was the annoying little sister.) We went home to anticipate Jeannie's arrival.

On Sunday, Mary Ellen and Brian invited us to celebrate Bri's birthday by having lunch at Kay's Sugar Creek restaurant in Creal Springs. Many years ago when Gerald and I used to go down for Sunday lunch or Friday supper at a little cafe on the opposite side of the street, Kay's was closed and seemed at that time mostly open for noon-day meals for seniors. I had not even realized they were open again on Sundays. (And for all I know, they may have been for years.) It had been several decades since we ate at Kay's—I only remember one Sunday dinner there with a favorite pastor and his wife way back then. So last Sunday, we walked in to the typical country-style cafe with a cozy friendly atmosphere and only a few tables occupied. A blackboard told us that Sunday dinners gave you a choice of fried chicken or chicken and dumplings with two sides. I debated and ordered the dumplings, which surprised me by being served in a bowl, more like a soup than the usual dumplings. But the down home ambiance was charming; we had not been there long when a fellow Crab Orchard school alum walked in, and Jeannie and Mary Ellen enjoyed a brief visit with someone they'd not seen for years. The best part, however, was lingering after we'd eaten. Jeannie asked her daddy some good questions that brought out some family facts and stories I'd never heard. Our sweet waitress was more than patient; and with plenty of other tables for those arriving after us, we felt no need to hurry and depart. I've always been fascinated with the history of Creal Springs, where Gerald's grandfather Ben Glasco attended the Academy to earn his teacher's license and where my grandmother Sidney Martin attended a church assembly that was held there in the 1920s, I think. (Gpa Ben chose not to use his teacher's license since farm hands earned a larger salary! So not valuing education has been with us a long time. Nevertheless, I understand that Gpa Ben would have neighbors gathering in since he took a daily paper and was able to read it and keep up with the news the others wanted to know in those days without even radios. He also was considered an excellent mathematician and ready to help figure interest and other farm sums. I always admired this trait in Gerald's dad also.)

Jeannie left us Monday morning, but we had an evening to look forward to. Gerald's high school class of 16 no longer has planned reunions, but when their Wolf Lake class valedictorian and his wife come down from Peoria, we are grateful that Irma Dell Eudy Elkins gives Gerald a phone call and an invitation to meet other classmates or relatives who get the word and have dinner with Harold and Jean Stark at Anna's Mexican restaurant. The service team there is so kind and attentive and they have a great reserved room for us. Even in our separate room, I have a great deal of trouble hearing. Since others there had the same problem, I did not feel out-of-place as I sometimes do when I have to keep asking for repetitions. I always enjoy catching up with Shirley Miller to ask her about their small church in the village of Reynoldsville. Houses on the west side of highway have been torn down long ago and their property absorbed into one large farm. With that area in a flood plain, no new houses can be built on the east side either. So the once thriving small village church of decades ago has seen young people move away and older people die off. But a local dozen or so residents still faithfully attend, and I love to hear all about their worship and mission activities. For example, they bought 22 pairs of tennis shoes for local school children who needed them. They are prompt with needed food or errands if they see a need. If you are going to have car trouble on Route 3, try to have it near Reynoldsville. Their congregation stands able and willing to help those with misfortune on the highway. This tiny congregation is not made up of highly moneyed people, but Shirley says they have no problem paying light and heating bills and for a young man gaining experience preaching for them. I have heard of small churches having difficulty securing a pianist, but Shirley prevented that problem years ago when she and her husband gave their daughter piano lessons as a child. She has no idea when the congregation will no longer be there, but she is enjoying the present time, and I enjoy it vicariously.

Gerald's special social outlet has always been “breakfast with the boys.” And so this morning, he made time to drive down to Union County to eat breakfast with his one remaining brother and his nephews and who ever shows up for breakfast at wherever the current gathering place is. Getting to see little Jentra in her spurs preparing for the horse show at their arena this afternoon was a special treat for him today. As usual, I slept late, and he brought the family news home to me.

Despite aging problems, we have enjoyed the social life we have been blessed with this month. We are grateful to have the energy to visit with others and hear their news—if we keep our hearing aid batteries changed and if we sit close with enough concentration!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Harvest in the Autumn of Life

Gerald and I deserted other work and went to the 25th annual BSU Reunion wondering as probably many of us were if this would be the last one we would be able to attend. After visiting in the large lobby at Giant City State Park Lodge, we entered the reserved dining room and were greeted by attractive tables with theme related decorations and lovely program booklets with Ecclesiastes 3:1 on the cover: To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

For younger readers and non-Baptist readers, I should explain that BSU stood for Baptist Student Union, and the BSU at Southern Illinois University Carbondale was very important to many students for decades. When Helen Green Gallaway was still alive and leading our reunion, she liked to tell of their BSU bus taking students to Ridgecrest, NC, and stopping for a motel. The owner there sniffed at the sign on their bus and declared those college kids did not even know how to spell “bus.”

I had already been blessed in the lobby by conversation with Pat Abney of Anchorage, Alaska, who was present with her brother Sam of Galatia. I remembered Pat's name from my last year at Johnson Hall, but I had not seen her since. As she answered questions about her life's work, she told us about 28 years teaching biology, her political activities, her 10 years operating a Bed and Breakfast, and on and on. Hearing her story, I was immediately inspired and very grateful I had come. What Pat did not tell me and I found by googling her was she had been named Outstanding Biology Teacher of Alaska, Alaska Woman of the Year, and other such honors.

When I opened my booklet to discover the evening's program, I found Galatians 6:9: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. As Gerld and I became acquainted with our table of eight, it seemed those people could have been an illustration for that verse. I have known Jane Walker Sims and her sister-in-law Beverly Walker for a long time, and knew they had served others well.

On the far side of the large table were Dr. Robert and Marilyn Parks of Mt, Vernon, who would have to exit early because the doctor would be leaving home at 6:30 the next morning on his rounds of 14 nursing homes. From the snatches of conversation I could hear in that noisy room filled with excited once-a-year visiting, I heard enough to know the Parks are using the very special buildings on their farm to serve special needs kids, senior citizens, and many others who come for events they host. If that was not enough activity, Marilyn rose to tell us of the college classes she and her brother, Dr. Curt Scarborough, want to have there on the farm. Most of us probably remembered Curt from our SIUC days, but few of us may have known that after 21 years as a pastor, he joined a non-profit called FreeWay Foundation in 1975 and became president in 1985 after establishing a college as part of their organization. Retiring after 41 years there, he still has the energy to want to establish CrossFire Christian College with his sister Marilyn on Crescent Lake Farm. You can google to find out more about opportunities there where it declares you can audit classes free if you are not studying for a diploma.

I was very fortunate to be seated next to Don Donley and wife Esther from Kankakee. Just like Pat Abney, they've had a full life and are still going strong. Don explained after SIU graduation, he first became a hospital administrator. Then because of talking with lawyers for the hospital, he studied law so he could speak their language. Later he used that law degree in a bank in downtown Chicago.

Because he wanted to do volunteer overseas mission work in retirement, he spent a year in seminary studies as required by the Southern Baptists at that time. Esther was not only a trained elementary teacher but also had studied and became a school librarian, so they had many talents between them to share. They actually ended up going to both Ghana and Kenya in association with the Wycliffe translation group but Don did not regret the seminary classes. First Esther worked in a school library, and then she was needed in another nation as a first grade teacher. Don worked in administration and at one school keeping 25 computers going and so forth. I loved best when they told of individual students they helped continue in school. In one country, local schools were sometimes staffed by teachers with high school diplomas and not much beyond that. (As sometimes used to be true here in our country a century ago.) So although the young woman was near the top of her class, she was ineligible for university work until she took remedial classes, which she did with the Donleys' encouragement. And another young woman was able to have a bedroom in their stateside home after Don helped her get a job in the bank to work her way through college. (And a car to get to that job.) I noted their three children are all involved in careers helping others. The daughter, Kathy Donley, and her husband, Jim Wilkerson,  graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Kathy is now pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in the inner city—just one block from the Capitol in Albany,New York. Not only are the Donleys not growing weary doing good, but the next generation is doing good.

It would not be a BSU meeting without lots of group singing and musical presentations. Thanks to Doris McCoy, Ray Purnell, Charlene Purnell, Bob Barrow, Carol Smith, Charlie Baker, and Jim Cox, our master of ceremonies, we had both Friday night. Nor would it be reminiscent of our fun in BSU days to not have laughter, and that was provided by Bob and Oleta Barrow's enlisting Tom Gwalney, Sharon Reynolds, Barbara Highsmith, and Bill Sielschott to play the Liars Game.

Cal Reynolds ended the evening with the first of his very practical and encouraging messages on our theme of “Harvest in the Autumn of Life.” He started with “God's Care in the Springtime of Life...A Time of Preparation.”

After final chatter and visiting, some from far away stayed in the cabins at the park; others of us went home or elsewhere until the 9 am to reassemble on Friday morning. Jim Cox woke us up with some fun with his guitar followed by “Moment by Moment” sung by Bob Barrow and Charlie Baker accompanied by Carol Smith Then we were treated to another challenging sermon by Cal: “God's Care in Life's Summertime...A Time of Propagation.”

In past years, we have had a large choir under talented leaders in remembrance of Chapel Singers that so many BSU students sang in. As our numbers have gone down, this year we had a double quartet practice and sing for us. Thank you to Bob Barrow, Dee Gwaltney, Harlan Highsmaith, Becky Searle, Jim Cox, Nada Fuqua, Cal Reynolds, and Ginger Wells accompanied by Carol Smith for beautiful music. The traditional memorial service for those who died last year was provided by Carol Smith and Dee Gwaltney.

I was inspired next by Jim Cox's “Remembrance of a Friend” as he told the story of his pastor's part in persuading him to go to college. As the oldest of five kids in a family where no one had gone to college, he had not prepared to do so. His pastor urged that he try one semester and then took him to Carbondale, secured him a basement bedroom and a job, and Jim found out how well equipped he was for advanced education even though he had not taken college prep courses. He has blessed many with his radio career and his musical leadership. In his early career at Channel 3 in Harrisburg, I looked forward to his original program “The Hour” live each weekday. Jim and his interesting guests provided me, an isolated farm wife, with mental and social stimulation, and I also enjoyed when he once came to direct the choir in our village church during special services.

One of Jim's most valuable contributions in life may have been his friendship with Al Fasol and leading him to the Lord. Al returned this year to share with us from his book Humor with a Halo and was introduced by Jim. Al had a career as a seminary professor teaching effective sermon preparation. As we were discovering from Cal Reynolds' sermons, Al did a good job. I think our group gave both Al and his student Cal very high marks. Gerald got the publisher's name from Al to order this humor book of actual happenings. I decided to check it out on Amazon, and thus found Al's other more serious books. Partly because I have so many writers as friends, I have a difficult time not spending more than I probably should on books. But as a history buff, there was a book I knew I had to have: a book telling of significant Baptist preachers in the South from 1670 to 1975. A new volume was way too expensive for me, but I have a second-hand copy coming for less than $15--postage and all. I am very eager to start reading it! 

The morning ended with a reminder that October 31 will be the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. After Carol Smith accompanied by Lora Blackwell-Kern led us in singing “A Mighty Fortress,” Carol shared a presentation with help from Dr. Fasol reading scriptures in German and Jerry Upchurch following in English. Carol will also give the presentation on this important historical event at her church.

Before the blessing on our lunch time out in the main dining room, Ken Cannon invited anyone who wants to help with next year's reunion to let the committee know. Reinforcing what Cal had told us, we read in our programs by unknown authors: (1) Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant. (2) If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.

After lunch, we had more singing together, and Cal spoke on “God's Care in Autumn's Harvest: a time of Production and Consummation.” And we celebrated by singing “The King is Coming.” Before Marc McCoy led our benediction, we sang once more “Spirit of BSU' written by two men familiar to many of us—Bob Entrekin and Archie Moseley.

Cal's messages gave our age group some very good advice. He urged us to listen to our bodies but not to waste away too much time in our recliners listening to TV. We need to be willing to interact with others than our church family—the drug users, the prostitutes, the followers of Isis, and any others needing concern and love. Throughout his messages, he emphasized the importance of planting seeds with the young ones who will soon be replacing us. That is why his wife Sharon has to frequently answer their doorbell when a little kid asks: “Can Mr. Cal come out and play?” In a neighborhood where many parents are in military service, Mr. Cal can provide a listening ear, someone to pitch a ball to, and sometimes a parent substitute.

As good as Cal's encouragement to us was and as much as I enjoyed interacting with so many senior adults who had lived interesting and valuable lives, oddly it was sharing of problems that may have helped me most. I heard people speak of heart attacks, “he almost drove me nuts,” a friend whose daughter had to have heart surgery, a son in prison, a child whose life was destroyed by LSD, the death of a wife leaving three young sons, someone who was not there because of myesthenia gravis, and cancer, cancer, cancer. (As I read the letters from those who could not attend, I was saddened that Roger Deppe's wife who I so enjoyed meeting and visiting with last year could not come because of her cancer treatments.) The hardships reminded me of what I already knew: it is silly to ask why me when troubles come. Life on earth does not guarantee carefree retirements, and we should not expect that no matter how well we plan. Difficulties and challenges are to be expected during all phases of life, but the help of caring friends, the teachings of Jesus, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and the promises of God can make life's challengs easier. Or as the unknown writer quoted at the end of our program booklet said: You're going into a season when you are about to experience breakthrough after breakthrough because what you went through didn't break you.

Thank you Ken and JoNell Cannon, Cal and Sharon Reynolds, Lora Blackwell-Kern, Bob and Oleta Barrow, and Marc and Doris McCoy for all the work you did preparing this gathering for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comings and Goings at Woodsong

Our three great grandsons were at the farm for the first time in a long time last weekend. About l0 Saturday morning, they had left their tearful grandmother and their little cousin Caroline who had come over to say that final goodbye in College Station. Bryan had stopped to feed the boys as needed and they had fallen asleep before they arrived at Woodsong about l0:30 that night, where they quickly tumbled into bed.

The next morning, however, they were up earlier than Gerald, which is no small feat. Since Tara, their mother, had a game to coach that afternoon, the plan was to visit here and let tbe boys run off energy before the trek upstate. After caring for their dog Duke and letting him out of his cage in the shop, they were fishing, driving the Kubota, playing football in the front yard, and for the first time getting to try out the kayaks that Gerald had prepared for them. I am not sure who had the most fun—Gerald or the boys. I was to go to Katherine's that morning, but I did get hugs and visits as they came and went to the breakfast table where Gerald bought toaster strudel pastries to add to my collection of cereals. I think Bryan was as delighted as his sons because these had been one of his favorite breakfasts as a boy. I don't think any of them wanted one of my 30-second eggs in the microwave but perhaps did eat a slice of bacon before hurrying back outside.

Early in the afternoon I met them at Cracker Barrel, where Bryan insisted on buying our dinner. I went to the farm for a break before I went back to Katherine's. The men folk all went by to visit her briefly and let her see the boys before they came back to load their stuff and Duke. They would get to see Tara that evening and stay at the hotel until the moving van arrived with their furniture the next morning. Tara had already enrolled the boys in school, and Aidan would start that same day. Maddux and Payton would meet their teachers that afternoon and start on Tuesday. I am sure their Sunday ended happily with that family reunion. Mine not so much.

Do you know what happens when you drop your phone in a full coffee cup and find it there later? I know. Cause I did just that. When I left Katherine's Sunday night, I consciously put my new cell phone (that replaced a very old one I dropped and broke a while back) in my pocket. Usually I keep it on the car seat or the middle cup holder where I can grab it easily if I hit a deer and have to call and wake up Gerald to come and help me. But for some reason, that night I decided I was not going to hit a deer. Putting the phone in my pocket would insure I did not forget to carry it into the house. But I had barely backed out of Katherine's driveway, which requires some concentration because of park traffic, when I noticed an amber warning light was on. What did that tiny wrench mean?

We had recently had a screw in a tire, and I knew from that experience that an amber warning light could be serious. So I decided I better call Gerald before he went to bed and ask advice. He did not know what the amber wrench symbol meant either, but the car seemed to be running well, so he said to come on home. Relieved, I dropped my new phone into the cup holder beside me. I had no trouble getting home and took the phone out only to discover I had forgotten I'd left a cup of coffee in that holder when I drove in to town.

I dried it off the best I could, but it would no longer charge or come to life. I got down the container with rice that I had used for a grand kid's phone that fell in the lake once. But two days stored in the rice did not help. So Tuesday afternoon I took it where we bought it, and the competent young man ruefully showed me tiny drops of coffee when he took the phone apart. I replaced it with the cheapest one I could get there. He asked if I wanted to insure it, but I assured him I did not plan to drop it in coffee again. The good news was he was able to save all my phone numbers, and I like it.

The next morning we had to go to Carbondale for an appointment to get our hearing aids checked out, so we ate lunch at Denny's, a sentimental spot from our college days and since then. After lunch, we went by Gerald's favorite hardware store where he found a couple of small pulleys for his newest project, which he promptly went to work on back at the farm although he did first phone our son-in-law Brian and helped him out by picking him up to take him someplace else in the field.

We have just now returned from our annual reunion of friends from BSU at Southern Illinois University, and it was a good two days. But I will have to write about that later, because Gerald is in the shop finishing up his project to load and store the kayaks neatly and efficiently between grandchildren visits, and I want to go see how that is coming along.

 

 

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Thanks, Di.
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