Tag Archive for betty jo

Now That’s Italian!

Best Italian food you’ve eaten. Was it a restaurant or a home? Where and what was it?

 

Easy question. Having grown up eating at Hallie’s table, I’d never had anything as exotic as Italian food. When we were on that trip to Poughkeepsie, New York, the guys I was working with said, “Let’s go to town and get us some Pizza.” I’d never been to a sure-nuff Italian restaurant before. The thing that just grabbed you when you walked in the door was the smell! The aroma, stone ovens, and Italian dialects all contributed to make that my most memorable Italian food!

Right behind that was the first time your mom introduced us to her new recipe for LASAGNA.

I Know Where I’m Going

Have you ever visited a foreign country?

 

Other than the ports of call your Mom and I visited on the cruise you kids gave us, my only other foreign country that I’ve visited was a couple of little jumps over the Rio Grande into Mexico when the quartet sang down in Harlingen.

Rather than feeling like I was visiting a foreign country, I felt more like I was in South San Antonio, Texas.

 If I’d have had the money to travel, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it, but feeding, clothing, and educating four kids just kept my nose to the grindstone during my younger years.  I guess I’m weird, but I just don’t have any wanderlust in me anymore.  Some might think me strange, but my main desire and prayer is that my next stop will be to see the One I’ve been singing and preaching about for my whole life!

 Love, Pop

Lessons from Cavanaugh

What’s the best thing Granddaddy ever taught you?

 
Some of the sweetest memories I have of Grandaddy are of just very quiet conversations that he and I had. (One was at the hospital while WoWo was in a room, and we were out in the waiting area…another was when Mom was in labor with Dan…several took place at the filling station at Midway, when we came to appreciate each other’s work ethic and how he practiced what he preached, “If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, then just keep your mouth shut.”)

1. It was in the old Madisonville Hospital…don’t remember the exact date, but Mom was still going to UT in Austin, and Mr. Cavanaugh and I were sitting in the waiting area while the nurses were tending to WoWo. I felt the time was right to ask him for his daughter’s hand in marriage. I think it had about the same effect on him that Wes’ question did in me. Betty was his only daughter, as you were mine. He gulped a little and said, “Just make me a promise…that you won’t ever hit her or beat her…before you ever do anything like that, just promise me you’ll bring her back home!” I saw in those moments how much he loved your mom, yet how he was able to convey through his wonderful sense of humor his love for me and what he expected of me as his son-in-law.

2. You and Ben had both come into the world without extended periods of labor, but it was quite different with Dan. I saw during that wait how much he truly loved his daughter and grandchildren. He just made me want to be a better man.

3. One of my favorite Grandaddy stories happened there one day sitting in that waiting area. He was sitting there reading the Meteor when this nurse walked by. She had a nose that made Jimmy Durante’s nose look small, freckled-faced, and when she walked she kind of sauntered (a very unwomanly stride!) As she came toward us, I noticed his eyes following her over the top edge of the paper he was reading. She was clothed in her nurse’s whites…cap, stockings and shoes. When she passed us and turned down the next hallway, he did that little swipe under his nostrils he often did….never looked up or toward me, but spoke loud enough for me to hear him. He said, “Lawdy, I know she can’t help being ugly…but she could stay at the house!” He immediately continued reading with that little smirk on his lips…vintage Cavanaugh.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I learned from him to see the humor in the world, even when you’re going through hard times.

One of the greatest honors I ever had as a minister was to be able to ordain Brother Jesse Cavanaugh Farris to serve as a deacon in the Midway Church of Christ. He had always loved The Lord and the church, but felt because he was shy and not a public speaker that he couldn’t serve in leadership. He was a good businessman and made our church a great treasurer.

One last thing, I never walk in the Midway church building and look up at that suspended ceiling that I don’t remember him (at 69+) helping me hang all those channels and every piece of tile. He was a great, great man!

April Foolery

What’s your favorite April Fool’s Day memory?
This morning, I received a telephone call from one of my very best friends, Earl Roberts. When I saw the caller ID, I answered with, “April Fool’ just to aggravate him a little.  As he always does, he said, “You ol’ rascal! What are you up to this morning? I had forgotten this was April Fool’s day.” As our conversation continued, Earl immediately changed the subject and said, “Well, I was calling you to give you some good news. Kay and I have been talking, and we’ve decided to move back home to Madisonville.”   

Earl’s encouragement and exhortation was the reason I agreed to consider going back to Midway to preach three years ago. When he and Kay told me shortly thereafter that they had decided to move to Conroe, it broke my heart that they were leaving, because we had made much of our life’s journey together, and I envisioned us together back at Midway.

Well, after we talked a little this morning, he said, “I want to tell you why I called you this morning; Kay and I have decided to move back home, and I was wondering if you could help us find a house there.”

My emotion just welled up inside of me and I said, “Man, you know I’ll help you…when do you plan to pull this off?” to which he responded, “Just as soon as we can!” I was getting all worked up…then all of sudden he said, “APRIL FOOL!”

I told him, “Well, Betty tells me all the time….you just can’t fix stupid….and you just proved how right she is!” He really got me good!  And what’s so sad is that Ben pulled the same trick on me a couple of years ago! “You just can’t fix STUPID!”

I Came, I Sawed, I Conquered…

What was the first piece of furniture that you built?

 

The first piece of furniture I built all on my own was the colonial study desk that I now have here in my (your) room.  [This will always be “Karen’s room” even though I’ve been in it for quite a while:-)) ] I saw a picture of that desk way back in 1967, and I built it out there in the old double garage at our home in Midway.   I built it for your mama, because in those days she loved  “Early American” furniture.

Going all the way back to my childhood, I remember mowing, then trimming the long grass out of the cyclone fence using just hand scissors just to hear my mother brag on me (no one ever conceived of such a thing as a weed eater back then). So much of what I’ve built has been to show my loved ones how much I love them!

My Fair Share of Scares

What was the scariest moment you recall?

 

Hard question to answer, because a number of things come mind:

#1. When your mom and I watched that medical helicopter take off from the Huntsville airport with our daughter on board–not knowing whether she would live or lose her leg–was probably the most frightening and helpless feeling I’ve ever had.

#2. Very similar was the feeling I had just a few months after your Mom and I had married, and she developed a paralysis on one side of her body that Doctor Heath was afraid might be polio. As I stood there watching that Day Funeral Home ambulance drive off with Betty on board, I had that same scared, helpless feeling I described above.

#3. Ben gave me a couple of those scary times with his car wrecks.

#4.  Once, when flying with your Uncle Eldred in his Piper Tri-Pacer, when we had the Lubbock Airport in sight, all of a sudden the cockpit filled with smoke. The radio caught on fire (electrical fire), and we couldn’t communicate with the airport for landing instructions. Eldred started waggling the wings to let them know something was wrong. They were flashing a red light to say WAIT…we had to circle a while and wait for a green light…talk about scared–horrified was the word!  But that still didn’t came to the same level as if it were your wife…or your kids!

The Empty Nest

Today is Jon’s birthday. What is your favorite memory of Jon as a kid?

 
There are so many memories I have of all you kids that it’s hard to say ‘this is my favorite’. With Jon, it happened when he was about to go to Abilene to college, but he really didn’t want to leave home.     Every time one of you kids went off to school, your mom would grieve for several days, almost as if you were ‘gone’. Busy as I was working, we always had the next young’un still at home, and I just didn’t experience that maternal separation each time like she did. We always still had kids in the nest.

I used to stop at our house every day (Route 2 Box 129) to eat a little lunch.  (By this time, mom had finished and excelled in her education. She had bachelors and masters degrees from Sam Houston   and was in demand as an English teacher in both Normangee and Madisonville.) This day I walked in to eat lunch, and there was a note on the end of the bar which said, “Bye, y’all. I’ll miss ya….and if I get homesick, I’m comin’ home!” (I still have the note in my little brown shaving kit in my closet)

Anyway, I knew how badly Jon didn’t want to go to Abilene…and college. He had been a genius as a builder, even as a little boy!   When I read that note, I looked outside. His pickup was gone, his trailer was gone, and his horse was gone!   I cried all during my lunch and, when it was time for me to head back out on the mail route, I thought I’d better go into my lavatory to wash the tears from my face.

When I went to the lavatory, I was in for another surprise! (When Jon  graduated, he received a bottle of Kuros, very expensive and good-smelling cologne. I would sneak into his bathroom and borrow a little Kuros.  The aroma was so distinct, that it had become a game with us–Jon would holler, “Get outta my cologne!”) When I got to my lavatory to wash my face, to my surprise there sat that little bottle of cologne with this note underneath. “Dad, this isn’t much, but maybe it’ll let you know how much I love you!”  Well, I really started bawling then.  I couldn’t stop crying for a full 6 hours! I still have that note (and the cologne) on my lavatory!:))

My baby boy was gone! Also his horse, his truck and trailer. I just wasn’t ready for that ’empty’ feeling…and the ‘nest’ was empty!

BUT…leave it to Jon. He called me in October with these words, “Dad, you’ve gotta help me with Momma. I can’t stand it out here…I’ve gotta come home!”    I said to him, “Now Jon, you know Mom’s not gonna stand for you dropping out of school.” He replied with a typical ‘Jon’ism, “Well Dad, I can flunk out a whole lot cheaper at Sam Houston than doing another semester here at ACU.”   His heart just wasn’t in it, but Betty and I have just thrilled to watch him blossom and grow since!

Before Norwegian Cruise Lines, there was Art and Jan…

What was the first vacation you ever took with Mom, and where did you go?

 
The first one that made me realize what an awesome woman I had married was a mission trip when we went to Huron, South Dakota. We traveled up through Oklahoma, Kansas, and then in to South Dakota. This was when we lived in Quitman. We did a great deal of sightseeing both up and back home.  If memory serves me right, we came back down through Missouri and Arkansas.

 
The folks in Huron (a very small church) had been door knocking, and the folks we stayed with were a couple (I think they were Lutherans) named Art and Jan Andersen. Jan was studying the Bible correspondence course and had opened her home to us. This was my first experience with a purebred Norwegian family. They were definitely steeped in the traditions of their culture!  Quite an experience for a couple of kids from Texas!

I Gave My First Car the Blues

What was your first car, and was it new or used?

 

My first car that was my very own was a 1950 model 2 door Ford coupe that my dad bought for me when I went off to college at Nacogdoches. Up until then, I could always use the old ’52 dodge for dating, etc. while I was in high school.

Dad, as always, played a little surprise trick on me for me to get the Ford. As we were driving from Louisiana to SFA, Dad said, “I need to drive on down to Houston and see Bubba about some business.”    He left me there in Nacogdoches at Shaw’s Dry Good’s Store, where I was to work. He told me he’d be back after lunch, and we’d unpack my clothes, and I’d meet my landlord.  My understanding was that I would walk to work until I could afford to buy myself some type of ride.   To my surprise, that evening your Uncle Bubba came driving up in that little Ford.   Dad had bought it for $150 and was giving it to me for a graduation gift.  Wow!   It was totally unexpected….and the only stipulation was that I had to drive uncle Bubba back to Houston.  

Regular gasoline only cost about 10-12 cents per gallon….very little expense for me to have that fine little automobile.  I wanted to change the color from black to metallic blue, so–genius that I was–I sandpapered the black finish. Then I painted the whole car with aluminum paint, sanded that, and then ‘wiped on’ a light blue automobile paint.   It was definitely different (not exactly as I’d planned, but I was still mighty proud of, it because ‘I had done it all’).

Dad loved the way it drove, stick shift and all, but he never was wild about my ‘paint job’. About a year later, he gave me a 1951 Cadillac he and mom had purchased from Mr. JD Harkrider there in Nacogdoches. Brother Harkrider was an elder in the church there where I was leading singing. I was still driving that Cadillac when your mom and I got married in 1962. We had our first date in that car August 20, 1961….interestingly at a little drive-in on the property that your brother Jon just recently purchased.

After we married and moved to Quitman in 1962, we bought our first car together, a brand new 1961 Volkswagen.  We bought it from Brother Harkrider in Nacogdoches, and it cost us about $1900.   That was the car we had when you were born, and you had your first ride in it coming home from the hospital.   Wish I still had that car!  :-))

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