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A Story with a Twist by Juliane McAdam

May 17, 2012

I don’t actually remember very much from my early childhood. Most of my memories start with kindergarten and school years. There are stories I was told about my early years. For example, my mother took me to a playground once when I was around two and let me play in the sandbox. Suddenly she looked up, and I was playing with a large kitchen fork; I had apparently uncovered it in the sand. It was a good quality fork. She took it home and kept it in her kitchen, and it is still in my kitchen today. She told me that once a boy I was playing with hauled off and hit me in the nose with a rock. She always said that was the reason the bridge of my nose is wide—he altered it. But I don’t really remember these events myself.

There is one other story from my very early years that I don’t remember either, but it’s a story that was repeated every so often at family gatherings, so I heard it several times. And it’s a story that came back to me many, many years later.

My mother was one of four children. Her older sister Lorraine was born in 1914; Bill followed in 1916. My mother Marjorie was born in 1920, and her baby brother Dick was born in 1926. Lorraine married at the age of 18 and had her first child, Marjorie, named for my mother, one year later in 1933. Soon after, Lorraine had a second child, Mike. Margie and Mike were the pre-war cousins.

Bill, as it turns out, was the same age as my father; in high school they were good friends. In fact, the story goes that Bill repeatedly warned his friend John against dating, then marrying, his sister. The advice went unheeded. My parents got married in September 1941; Bill and his wife Elinor married three months later, in December. My aunt Elinor was exactly six months older than my mother. When the United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my father enlisted in the Navy and Bill in the Army. Elinor, who was a nurse, wanted to join the Army also. At first, she was turned down; the Army did not want married women. But when casualties started mounting and they needed trained medical people to treat the returning wounded, she was accepted. She continued to serve until Bill returned to the States after V-J Day. My father, too, returned to California after the Japanese surrender. In June of 1946, Bill and Elinor had their first child, a daughter named Janice. Three months later, in August, I was born. Family legend has it that Janice was born three months before I was because her father returned from the war three months earlier than my father. There is probably some truth in that. Anyway, Janice and I were the first post-war cousins. Our cousin Margie was thirteen years older, already a young woman and almost a generation older.

The family story is that when I was about eighteen months old, starting potty-training but not there yet, my parents went with me to visit Lorraine and her family. One evening, there was lots of excitement. Margie was rushing around getting ready to go out with friends, and I was probably feeling a little neglected. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a toddler? Anyway, Margie went to put on her shoes and found that I had left something in them: I had pooped in her shoe. Margie was, understandably, horrified. She shrieked. My mother and Lorraine, both in possession of a really good but weird sense of humor, were sympathetic but probably trying hard not to laugh. I don’t really know. I was too young to grasp any nuances in adult behavior.

And then the story, mercifully, languished. Every so often someone would bring it up, as people do with bizarre family stories, but for the most part it was forgotten, or at least submerged.

But then we come to the part of the story that isn’t about my early childhood, the part where the story comes back.

My cousin Margie, like her mother, married young—she wasn’t yet eighteen—and began having children right away. Over the years, she and her husband, my cousin Jim, had four boys and then, finally, a girl. Margie was a giving, caring, cheerful, musically talented and wonderfully thoughtful person. She had many, many friends. In early 2007, we learned that she was very ill. The reports came fitfully: first she had some unknown problem, then it was a form of cancer, then it was cancer throughout her body. Over the course of about three weeks, her prognosis became grim.

My aunt Elinor, my cousin Janice, who many years ago had changed her name to Erica, and I decided we needed to visit Margie while she was still around. So on a lovely March day, we drove out to Riverside. As soon as I saw Margie, I knew that she didn’t have much longer to live. I had been with my father in his final hours, and the signs were the same. Two of her sons were there with their wives. A call had gone out to other family members to come to see her. I don’t know if they realized how near to death she was. Erica and I encouraged them to enlist the services of Hospice.

While family members talked and reminisced, Margie, on her hospital bed in the living room, was withdrawing into herself. She was beyond chatting or responding. Then the time came for Erica, Elinor, and I to leave. Elinor and Erica hugged Margie and told her they loved her and then walked outside to join the rest of the family. I walked up to Margie.

I leaned over and told Margie how much I loved her, how many people loved her. Suddenly, she looked directly at me and in a very clear voice said, “You pooped in my shoe!” For a second or two, I was speechless. Then I told her she was right but that I didn’t mean it; I didn’t know what I was doing. I gave her a kiss and left.

When I got outside, I related to the family what she had said. Her husband Jim roared with laughter, and everyone shared in the humor. Erica, Elinor, and I drove home. We had a phone call later that same evening telling us that Margie had died.

Later, when I thought about it, and even now, I am astounded. The human brain is a wondrous thing. Margie, in saying that, told me that even though she was dying, she knew exactly who I was; in a way, she was telling me I was special. She provided a bit of levity to a very sad gathering. And I am still mystified that her brain could pull up that story at that time.

Vignettes – Bev Hardy

April 25, 2010

Ace and I had been married less than a month when his mother’s health got worse. Grace had strongly disapproved of me 25 years before. She didn’t change her mind over the years. When she was in her 70’s she came to Calif. From Illinois to get a face lift. Her Doctor was in Beverly Hills, which she couldn’t change, but she refused to take an apartment in Beverly Hills, because that was my name. Needless to say we didn’t tell her when we married. She died 2 or 3 years later. Never having known. Ace was an only child. His father was dead. There was no question, Ace had to go back to Illinois to take care of his mother.

Johns heart cauterization had turned out well. For the first time in his life he was allowed to carry on all normal activities including gym class. Before our honeymoon I had never been farther north on Highway 101 than Rufugio State Beach. I thought this would be a great time to retrace our honeymoon trip with the kids. Ace thought I should have someone else who could drive in case of emergency. To keep Ace happy I asked Betsy Baker who was 19 and had a driver’s license to join us. She was one of 11 kids and her folks were happy to send her along. (This was a family wanted a Bakers dozen (13 – 2 adults, 11 kids) and could afford the 11 kids. Both were college graduates and he had made a small fortune inventing things used in the space industry.) So Betsy, John who was 16, Ann 12, and Barbara 10 and I headed North in our VW camper.

We didn’t spend any nights in Malibu – too expensive! I planned to have us stay at the Miramar in Santa Barbara. As we went through Ventura the kids wanted to show Betsy the “island”. We had had several fun filled Girl Scout camping trips there. It isn’t really an island but it seemed like it was. It is adjacent to the County Fair grounds, just North of it. At high tide the only way to get the cars, which are parked on the fairground side is over a railroad bridge. The North side has a fair size rive cutting off access. There are several trees, but no tables or rest rooms, so it is primitive camping. We waded over to the island, looking for a small sea horses that we usually found there and keeping our eyes out for interesting seashells. Then we saw the pelican. It just stood there, looking sad. It was skinny and bedraggled looking.

When we walked up to it, it made no effort to walk away. We soon discovered that someone had tied a cord around it’s neck, making it impossible for it to swallow. It was starving to death. We cut the cord and holding it in my arms I waded out into the ocean to let him get wet and see if he wouldn’t drink some water. (I learned later pelicans don’t drink water – they get the fluid they need from the fish they eat.) I dipped it’s beak in the water, lifted it’s head and stroked it’s neck. It seemed to swallow some, but maybe a little didn’t hurt it. Holding the pelican we waded back to the car. Betsy sat in the front passenger seat holding the pelican. We got some wild looks from pedestrians and other cars as we went in search of a fish store and a public phone, where I hoped to find some kid of listing for a bird rescue place. We found the fish store first, where we bought some medium size whole fish. I showed Betsy how to lift the birds beak up, put a fish in in mouth and message its neck to get it to swallow. So now we drove along with her feeding fish to the pelican while people gawked. We finally found a phone, but had a lot of trouble finding the bird rescuer, arranged to meet her in market parking lot, handed over the bird to someone who knew what to do and headed north to spend our first night at Mir-a-Mar in Santa Barbara.

The kids loved the Miramar. The sand cleaned up some from the oil spill, but even so I soon got adept at removing tar. There were tennis courts, swimming pools, a train to eat in, free popcorn, shuffle board and a small minature golf course. We found out we could rent a small cottage for only $35 to $45 a night and later had some wonderful birthday parties there.

On we went to Cambria. Heading North on Highway 1 we came to a place called Morro Bay, and just as Ace and I had done we drove in, looked at the rock, read the historical information and headed out. We didn’t think much of the town. There was nothing to do there. We all had fun in Cambria. We stayed in the last motel North of town. The desk clerk stall remembered me from the honeymoon. They also had a miniature golf course and it was just a short walk to moonstone beach where the kids all found small moonstones. The only thing of real interest on the main drag was the Tin Soldier Store. They enjoyed the big battle scenes in the back room. After a dinner in the smorgasbord restaurant across 1 at the north end of town, we were tired enough we went back to the motal to get ready to take off for Big Sur the next day.

We loved the Big Sur area and spent several days in a cheap motel whose cabins were just below Highway 1. We had to drive up the hill to get to the highway and as we pulled out we pulled right into the scene of a traffic accident. It was apparent that the woman who left shortly before us was hit by another car as she entered the highway. Everyone was just standing around looking and doing nothing. I parked the camper and got out. The motel was located on a straight short stretch of the road, with blind curves on each side. The worst wrecked car was blocking one lane with the drive still inside moaning. It was her side that had been hit. I sent Betsy to the down hill side and John to the uphill side to direct traffic. Then I headed for the woman to see how badly she was hurt. It was still amazing me that all the other people were just standing around looking and making no effort to help.

The over weight woman probably in her late 50’s was hyper ventilating and complaining of her hip and back. From the damage to the car, it was conceivable she might have broken her back. She was jammed against the steering wheel. She was sure she was dying. The car windows were open and I reached in and took her pulse, double checked it on her neck. I timed her pulse rate (with John’s heart condition, I was an old hand at this.) I assured her that she had a good strong pulse and she was doing great and wasn’t going to die. I lied a little. Her pulse was racing and irregular, but the minute I assured her she was going to live, it started slowing down, and quit hyper ventilating. One of the things I realized when I first got the car was her little dog, a chihuahua’s left rear paw was being pinched by a crease in the body of the car. It was hanging upside down right next to the back window. It’s eyes were open, but it wasn’t moving or making a sound. I just prayed it would stay that way. I didn’t want anything upsetting the woman whose hand I held, while she continued to calm down. By this time a few people began to come over and peer into the car. Then two guys came over talking about pulling the dent out, and before I realized what they planned, they had readed in and were trying to free the dog. The dog started screaming in pain and the woman’s pulse went crazy. They couldn’t get the dog loose. About this time two rangers arrived and took over. It was probably 15 minutes after the accident, maybe more.

I headed down hill to take over for Betsy who had indicated she needed a break. The two kids had been doing a good job. I found myself very pleased to find out how nice drivers are. They couldn’t see the accident, but when they saw me standing in the road with my arm up, they stopped. Meanwhile John was letting a string of cars through. I walked up to the bend so I could see John’s signal and then I’d have my cars move to the other side of the road and send them through. We had no uniforms, we were nobodies, but everyone followed our directions. Over a half hour had passed before more rangers showed up to take over for us. We soon left Big Sur, headed for Monterey and then home. .

Easter Sundays – Shirley Palmer

April 25, 2010

When we were first married Easter Sunday meant going down to my in-laws house for a family Easter dinner. My husband’s sister, her husband & their son and Bud and I would all go down to Bud’s parents home for the special dinner. Some years Bud’s other sister and; her husband would drive down from Fresno to join us – and sometimes Bud’s Aunt and her daughter would join us as well. It was a big family dinner party. My one memory of those days was that our nephew who was about 9 wouldn’t eat ham, so there always had to be another meat at the table for him. This totally amazed me, as I’d always been told to eat what was served – no questions asked. But I guess Grandma wanted to spoil him, so he always had something special.

As the years progressed and our children were born and reached the age of Easter egg hunts, we’d color eggs and hide them out in our huge back yard. They’d start out with empty baskets and run to spot the eggs before the other one did. We had a boy and a girl – 2 yrs & 4 months apart. One year after the kids were in bed, Bud took out a dozen eggs and hide them under plants, flower bushes etc – low down so they could easily spot them. He went outside with the kids and I’d hear him saying – “Did you look over here?” – “Did you look over there?” All of a sudden he came running in the house and grabbed all the colored eggs I had left in the baskets and went running outside with his pockets full of eggs. I’d see him send the kids to one side of the yard and he’d drop an egg under a tree and then say “Oh I spot one!” and they’d come running. What had happened was our Norwegian Elk Hound Dog had feasted all night long and eaten all the eggs we put out – so Bud was making a quick cover up – dropping eggs – kicking the dog to get away and calling the kids. It was quite a sight. The kids were too young to realize the eggs they found that the Easter Bunny left outside were the Easter eggs from their baskets – as they had chocolate bunnies etc. and I was quick to refill their baskets. Our trick worked – the dog (Inga) was in big trouble.

The next year we got smart and hid all the eggs up in the trees – where the branches came together. We’d fool Inga this year. Well in the middle of the night it started to pour rain – so when the kids got up to go outside we had trees with all sorts of colors running down their trunks – and white eggs waiting to be discovered – which wasn’t much of a challenge – just follow the colored tree and you’d find an egg. By this time we’d invited some neighbors kids down to join in the hunts – so it was more like 3 dozen eggs out there. Despite the bad weather one or two years – we had the egg hunt for years.

My kids left for school before I left for work, so I was usually in the bathroom putting my makeup on and they’d come in and kiss me good-bye. This one morning Gary (our son) said I left a letter for you on the kitchen table Mom. Well that was unusual – but I said O.K. – hoping it wasn’t something from a teacher where he was in trouble. They went off to school – I came out and on the kitchen table was a letter – “To Mom” – Teri (that was our daughter) and I know there is no Easter bunny – we’ve know a long time. Would you kindly leave some money so we can walk over to Sav-on’s after school and buy the kind of Easter candy that we like!” Love, Gary and Teri. Sav-on’s was about 3 blocks from our house – having to cross a major intersection, but there was a signal there. So I left some money with the instructions to be careful crossing the street and to stay together. And to call me at work when they got home. They did exactly as they were told – they were so happy to get the candy they liked – not what I had been buying. So that was the end of the Easter Bunny at our house. They still enjoyed Easter Egg hunting in the back yard, but by this time we had added a Black Labrador to our family, so the trick was keeping 2 dogs from eating our bounty!!

After church on Easter we tried to do something special. One year I remember we drove up to Solvang and walked the village and had a Danish dinner. All dressed in our fine duds – I wonder how I walked all day in those high heels.

Well now fast forward to Grandchildren. One year our daughter and her husband wanted to go away for a week for their April Anniversary, so they brought their 2 kids down into the LA area. The other Grandparents had them the first of the week – I was to get them Thursday through Sunday (which was Easter). When the other Grandpa delivered them to me – his comments were – “Well good luck – we’ve been sick all week!”. Encouraging introduction!! I was working in Glendale at the time and went down to the Cuban bakery to get some of their meat pies for Easter lunch and was going to make a spaghetti salad – had a nice menu planned. By Saturday my husband was sick – bad flu! The kids were much better. They were like 2 and 5. Bud was laying out on the chaise lounge on our deck as the weather was warm. He was doing better by Sunday, when it hit me hard. I tried to get John outside to hunt for Easter eggs – I had only hid a few on the deck – above the dog area. I felt just awful and kept running back into the house to the bathroom – to do “my thing”.

Finally I came outside and here is John with an empty basket and I started saying – “did you look here?” – didn’t work. Finally he handed me the basket and said – “This is dumb!!” I said O.K. with me – and went and laid back down on the couch. About noon our daughter and husband arrived. Bud’s outside on the lounge – I’m in the living room moaning on the couch and daughter Teri says – “What’s wrong?” I explained the kids came down sick and were kind enough to pass it on to Bud and I. She asked me where Candy was – I told her in the Den destroying our telephone! At that point I could have cared less about the phone. She went in and got her and said, “Mom – she in her warm jammies – it’s almost 100 degrees outside. My comment was that I hadn’t noticed and I was sorry – but this had not been a good day. So they packed up their kids – together with the meat pies I had purchased and headed out. Bud and I spent the rest of that Easter Sunday stretched out, sleeping – running to the bathroom – and wondering why Grandchildren are so quick about sharing their germs. The next thing – I woke up Monday unable to open my left eye – I bathed it with eye wash and went to work. My fellow workers told me how bad I looked, which brightened my day. Then my boss came into my cubicle and said, “Shirley – I want you out of here and to the Dr. pronto – I’m sure you have Pink Eye” I got it from my grandkids last year and you look exactly the same. So off to the Dr. I went and yes, I did have Pink Eye. John had been kind enough to share that with us along with the flu.
Well we’ve had many pleasant Easters since those years, but it’s fun looking back. Life seems much simpler when you get old – go to church, make something to contribute to the dinner you’ve been invited to, eat, enjoy the company and then go home and rest. Praise the Lord for Easter and all my Easter memories.

November 1, 2009

MY BIG DAY – JULY 16, 2009
Bev Hardy

As I walked to the plane, I was going back over the details of how I had managed to let myself get talked into this. At 83 years old, I should have known better. What was I doing here? I was afraid of flying and afraid of heights. I hated roller coasters. If my kids knew they’d probably say “don’t”. I was the first in the plane, and couldn’t even figure out where to sit. There were no seats, much less a bathroom or drinking fountain. The old retired United Parcel plane was just an empty shell inside, except for a couple of long things that might be called benches. As my instructor came in he told me to sit straddle legged on the bench.

Lloyd my 80 year old retired psychiatrist friend and his instructor were next. I tried to tell myself that if he wasn’t scared, then I shouldn’t be. But I was! Then came Shelly Anderson.
This was all her fault. Shelly had been a friend for years. She was also my massage therapist. When I saw her last February she was bubbling over with excitement and delight. She had just been sky diving for the first time! As she described the thrill of it, I made the mistake of say, “It sounds like fun”. A few weeks later she had called wanting me to set a date. I had the presence of mind to ask her about the altitude. When she told me 12,000 feet, I explained that with my troubles breathing at 4,000 feet altitude, my doctor would never approve. I had assumed that was the end of it.

Then on a Wednesday night in July she called to tell me that my friends Kathy and Stan Carr and Sharon and Lloyd were going tomorrow to jump and that she had arranged for oxygen for me in the plane. My excuse was gone. I figured I could gain courage from my friends, especially Stan and Kathy, although I did wonder about Stan’s hurt knee. It wasn’t until the next morning after I got in the van, that I found out it would only be Lloyd and I jumping. When we got to the hanger in Lompoc, we had to fill out a long legal form that needed to be initialed every 2 or 3 lines. I carefully read it hoping to find a loop hole to get me out of this. Ah, at last, I found on page 3, “I have told my doctor I am going to do this and my doctor approves”. “Hey, Shelly I called out I can’t initial this. I haven’t told my doctor and I won’t lie”. Shelly called out to Lloyd our psychiatrist friend – “Hey Lloyd is it okay if Bev jumps?” Lloyd said “Sure” and my last excuse was gone.

As the plane lifted off I was thinking that if this killed me, at least I had lived an interesting and full life. And, if I didn’t make it, it would be an interesting way to go. Although I hated flying I decided I might as well enjoy the view and look out at the beautiful Lompoc flower fields. The instructor hooked us both together and instructed me to tuck my legs back when he told me to and to keep my hands hooks in the straps. We had been the first in and we would be the last out. The wind poured in when they opened the doors. I watched the others go. Then it was our turn. I tucked my legs under as told. He leaned over. I have enough trouble with balance on land. When he leaned over I thought I was going to fall flat on y face inside the plane and instinctively put my feet down. I tucked them under as he straightened up, but could not stop the instinct when he leaned over again. He finally had to give me a big shove to get out the door, and then I could tuck my feet under.

My Certificate reads: “Be it known that Beverly Hardy has experienced that adrenaline rush of a lifetime, by willfully leaving a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet, and flying earthrward in excess of 120 mph –

The free fall was only supposed to last a minute. When I finally got up the nerve to open my eyes, I was face down with the earth rushing up to meet me. I closed them again and started counting to 60. I got to 30 seconds and figured it should be over, but it seemed to take forever for the parachute to gently open and slow us down. The instructor had asked me several times on the way down if I was okay. I just nodded my head yes and was amazed I could hear him. Then as we floated gently down I enjoyed the flower fields and the colorful parachutes below us.

Yes, I did it once and will never do it again. I felt good having done it, to know I had conquered my fear. There was another added benefit. My husband died 8 years ago. This was the first time in 8 years I had sat in a man’s lap. A friend asked if I had screamed on the way down and I told her, “No, I was afraid my dentures would fall out.” Yes I did it once and will PROBABLY never do it again!!

Al Frew – Vagabond to Beach Bum

May 14, 2008

 How do we know when we want to retire?  What do we want to do – a whole lot of things or little bits of nothing?  After all those years with the Red Cross and a 24/7 ‘life on the road’, it was bound to be a big change.  Yet – we are not always as ready for it as we think.  I considered my first attempt at retirement to be a ‘bust’.  Oh yes – like many people, I had all kinds of plans to set up my own consulting business.  But it turned out to be more complicated than expected.  So I ended up managing a ‘Super Cuts’ hair styling salon –what was I thinking?  Did I want to return to a 24/7 life again?  It took a while to realize it but one morning I woke up and decided it was time for a new chapter in my life.

Once that decision was made, so many things happened so quickly it was hard to keep up with everything.  The condo in San Mateo, California sold after only 4 days on the market and escrow closed 21 days later.  And it was a challenge to move after 20 years in one place but it is fun to ‘let things go’ and make a fresh start.

One of my dreams had been to travel to new places.  So the next 6 months was spent doing just that and loving every minute.  In addition to longer visits with family, there were explorations with long term friends in different parts of the country.  Even more important were overseas trips to Europe and the Far East.  It was wonderful to visit Abbey in Japan and not worry about time – you can see a lot more places when there is no time limit!  And it was possible – at last – to visit England and Scotland.  With my love of history, this was like a ‘dream come true’ – all those castles, museums, and historical places.  And the bonus was being able to look up my grandparent’s home in a village near Glasgow, Scotland!

Of course, no one can keep traveling forever – and it was time to find my new home in San Luis Obispo, California.  But there was no need to rush a decision; there was time to explore and decide the best place to live.  So the next 2 months were spent living in the village of Cayucos and exploring each of the 15 towns in the County.  Each of these communities has its own unique ‘personality’and it was fun learning what each had to offer.  That process also helped me refine what features were most important to me.

This second attempt at retirement is proving far more successful.  It is refreshing to live in a condominium complex with lots of students/faculty from local colleges.  This area has an outstanding climate and has plenty of warm weather; how great it is to be no more than 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean!  It is a great place to live with plenty of friendly people and lots of cultural activities.  And it is even easier to travel to new places – the Amtrak Station is only 10 miles away – and you can go wherever you want.  Last summer included a 7000 mile trip around the United States by Amtrak –one of many adventures for this new chapter in my life.

New Self Publishing Information

April 24, 2008

Check out the new self publishing page by Dick Griffin.  Dick is our new webmaster and is our point person for putting your story all together.  If you have questions or ideas, let us know.

Shirley Palmer – A Family Happening

February 11, 2008

shirley-palmer.jpg

When our son was in grade school his front teeth were showing signs of not being perfectly straight, so the Pediatric Dentist that I took the kids to suggested that we get him either a trumpet or a trombone and that pressure from the mouth piece pressing against those teeth would push them back, thus eliminating the need for braces! Our nephew had a trombone sitting in their closet, so the trombone it was.

We signed him up for music lessons and soon he was in the school orchestra. He enjoyed this musical diversion and took his part in the school orchestra quite seriously. At the end of the year they would put on a concert for all the parents to hear how they had or hadn’t progressed – the big event of the end of the school year.

By the time Gary was in the 6th grade (last year of grade school) he was feeling pretty confident and smart about his newly acquired talent. This particular year they decided to bring the 6 or 7 grade schools in our general area together to play a BIG concert! It was going to be played in the auditorium of San Fernando High School on a Friday night.

The morning of the concert my son reminded me at breakfast that he needed oil for his trombone slide – it was sticking and he needed the oil so it would be in perfect condition for the concert. I assured him I would run out at lunch – up to the music store in San Fernando and get the trombone oil. As fate would have it, I had one of my busiest days in escrow ever!! I had customers lined up outside my door all day long – I was lucky to get a “potty” break – no lunch – worked right through it. I was rushing so that I’d be home in time to leave for the BIG concert. I came rushing in the back door and first thing Gary asked me for his trombone oil – BAM – it hit me, I had forgotten the darn oil!!!

I apologized all over the place, trying to explain what a busy day I’d had etc etc., but kids just don’t want to hear excuses. He was mad – “How could you forget, Mom??”
My husband spoke up and said he had something that would work – so he goes in and brings out some silicone spray. He sprayed the slide – worked it up and down a few times and it was working great. Gary was happy again – his Dad was the “hero” and Mom was part way out of the dog house. We had to rush out for him to get the bus to ride with the rest of the kids up to San Fernando High School.

In our car was husband and me, my Mom (who was visiting from Seattle) and our daughter. We got up to the high school and entered the auditorium and it was huge – compared to what we had been used to for our own school concerts. They had like an orchestra pit on the floor for all the strings and then on the stage they had various risers for the students to sit on – so all could be seen. There was probably at least 60 or more kids that were going to play together – and this was big time excitement for them. The Band Master from San Fernando High School was conducting.

We took our seats – were given very nice programs with all the students names printed in them – each under their particular schools name. Listed under Canterbury Grade School was Gary Palmer, as 1st trombone. We were all so proud.

The time came for the kids to march in and it was spectacular – all they boys in white shirts, dark pants & ties and the girls in white blouses & dark skirts. They filed in according to the seating arrangements, so the trombones being on the very top tier of the stands came in first, the trumpets were next – the percussion section was set over to the side of the stage – on solid ground. The last to enter of course were the violins that were way down on the floor level circled around the conductor. Looking back there must have been at least 4 rows up on the stage and probably another 4 rows down below. The way they had it arranged you could see each and every player as the auditorium sloped up – giving us all a wonderful view.

Musicians in place – the Conductor came out to a round of applause – time for the show to begin. He picked up his baton and hit it against his music stand, which was a clue for the musicians to bring up their instruments to starting position for their first song which was to be Battle Hymn of the Republic!

Unfortunately the starting position for trombone for that song was with the slide all the way out. It happened so fast I don’t think anybody realized at first what had happened. BUT – in getting into first position Gary’s slide from his trombone went flying out into mid air – bounced down all the tiers of the stage and past the percussion and ended up in the violin section. The conductor put his baton down and motioned to Gary to come and retrieve his slide. I remember my Mother holding her program over her face and saying “That isn’t Gary is it???” There was snickering all around us as we tried not to be embarrassed. I wanted to cry – it was all my fault – that damn oil that I had forgotten –curses on Mom!!

Gary made his way down all the level on the stage – then jumped off stage into the violin section picked up his slide and then had to climb back up all the way to the top. Upon arrival at his seat – the conductor turned around to the audience and said, “We will now begin” and bowed again – took up the baton, taped the music stand and the wonderful music began. AND Gary had a death grip on his slide for the rest of the performance. Surprisingly enough he came out smiling after the concert!

It is a night forever etched in my memory – and the rest of our family. My husband learned his silicone spray was a little slicker than regular trombone oil, and my son learned how to make the best out of a very bad situation AND most of all Mom learned to pin important errands to be done at lunch time on the outside of her purse, so she didn’t slip up again!!.

By the way, when he entered Jr. High School he gave up the trombone for football. And, as a post script that mouthpiece of the trombone pressing on his teeth had pushed his teeth back, just like the dentist had said it would.

And that is one of my favorite family happenings! Now it is amusing to look back, at the time it could have been disaster (and almost was)!!