Saturday, December 12, 2009

Back to the Past - 1980

Thanks again for all of your good wishes.  I return to the doctor on the 17th but wanted to do just a short posting.

The '80s and '90s are going to jumbled because I lost my momentum with the eye problem.   I think it was the end of the '70s and beginning of the '80s when I left off.

For us, the most memorable event of 1980 was the celebration of our 25th Wedding Anniversary, a snowy day in March.

We awoke the day before the celebration at 6:30 a.m.  The weatherman forecast 1-2 inches of snow.  I began to panic as I looked out the window and saw the snow flurries softly covering the street.  My sister, Ruby, called from Chicago and said it looked bad there, also.

We arose and began our preparations and trips to the bakery, rental agency, florist, airport, train station, and bus depot.  The snow continued and blizzard conditions were obvious.  We had many tasks to complete and the snow had already reached three inches.

My nerves were frazzled as we heard the travel advisory.  When we returned from the bakery at noon, the prediction was seven inches and visibility was down to 30 feet.  My tears began as I realized the impossibility of it all.  What a disaster we faced.

There was no way our relatives could get through from Chicago and Louisiana and the people in town were snowbound.  I began to worry about having dead relatives and friends all over the highway because they were trying to make it to Ann Arbor. I was inconsolable at that thought.

Suddenly, I heard a grinding in the driveway.  I looked out and our son was stuck.  We finally dug him out while the phone rang continuously.  Prayers were being offered for the snow to stop.

My friend, Barbara, called to see if we were canceling the rehearsal.  I hesitated and suggested that we wait.  One son finally arrived from the airport with guests, another son left to pick up guests from the train station and someone else picked up relatives at the bus station.  Several relatives called at 3:30 p.m. alerting us that they were at Exit 52 on I-94 and should arrive in Ann Arbor in two hours.  I knew then that everything would be OK.  Let's get it on, Barbara.

Our prayers were answered as the snow stopped in the early evening with close to 10 inches of snow.  We skidded all the way to the church.  The organist, soloist, best man, and a couple of ushers and attendants were still trying to make it, but I no longer worried.

Someone found a snow removal service to help up get to the rehearsal dinner which was a beautiful affair.  Back home and then another trip to the airport to pick up our son, Corey, at 10:00 p.m.

The next day, Sunday, the sun glistened on the silent snow. When we arrived at the church for the Renewal of Vows, over 200 guests had made it through that dangerous storm.

The Anniversary Party

By the time we made it to the Open House at our home, the snow was melting at a furious rate.  The elegant buffet would not go to waste.

I never felt closer to friends and family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Getting Better?

Well, I thought I was better until this morning (at 4:30 a.m.) when the pain returned.  I started my eye drops again and should see my doctor in the coming week.  But I'm OK.  Thanks for caring and stopping by to visit.

I miss you, I miss reading your blogs, and I miss blogging.

Who knew how therapeutic blogging was or how close you feel to people you don't see physically?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanks Kass

Kass, thanks for checking.  No I am not OK. I cannot sit at the computer too long because I'm having trouble with my eyes, severe pain and red eye, which the doctor thinks might be related to something else. Her gave me some eye drops, which I'm taking every two hours, and I'm doing better.  I do hope to get back to blogging.  I try for a few moments to check some sites, but as I said, the time has to be short.

Also, I've been very low, lately...just trying to get through each day.  I really appreciate your concern.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank You, Ann Arbor

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, 
already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.”
— Anne Lamott

Our life in Ann Arbor was often idyllic.  The unspoiled charm of a small town is the polar opposite of our beloved, crowded, noisy Chicago. There are people in Ann Arbor who never want to leave town because they think there is nothing else for them to see. Often we took several of the boys' friends to Chicago with us and they were terrified.

We knew two men, one Black, one white, both in their 60s, who had never left the county and never wanted to leave. Both had the funds and ability to leave; they just could find no reason to visit anywhere else.  I could never wrap my mind around this no matter how hard I tried.  To them, Ann Arbor wasn't the center of the universe, it was the universe. I tried to understand how they had no interest in the outside world, but I couldn't.

We had mixed emotions about the city. It is a beautiful, tree filled city. The town and gown metaphor is appropriate.  Perhaps that is why our emotions were mixed.  We weren't used to being identified with only one group, and we refused to be restricted. There were speed bumps along the way but we survived.

Memories of Ann Arbor include the many conferences and seminars we developed, consulting trips, dinners, luncheons, more meetings, and learning to golf. We were active in clubs and fraternal organizations, served on charity boards and mentored many students.  I shouldn't forget Hash Bash.

In early April the campus is flooded with thousands of pot smokers who smoke in broad daylight. The atmosphere is festive for Ann Arbor is know for being tolerant of pot.

In spring, the blooming forsythia, crabapple, and redbud trees encircle the city and you are dazzled by the beauty.

In summer the town feels deserted.  The students are gone and you enjoy the empty spaces even though you know visitors will flood the city for the Art Fairs, a group of five award-winning art fairs that take place annually, the Summer Festival, and the Blues Festival.

Over 500,000 visitors attend the Art Fairs each year, which always take place during the third full week of July, running from Wednesday through Saturday.  Many locals leave the city because it is so crowded. In addition to art exhibits, the fairs also feature music performances and children's activities.

In a twinkling students return and the city comes to life again.  Soon, all too soon, the leaves begin to change.

Brilliant reds and audacious yellow leaves are everywhere. There are so many leaves that the city sends trucks to gather the fallen leaves.  By Halloween, you know that winter is coming and you pray for just one sunny day a week.

Cold winds and drifting snow are on the way.  Hurry, hurry, spring.

Did I like Ann Arbor?  Yes.  Am I glad to be gone? Yes. Do I miss it? Sometimes, I miss the intellectual stimulation and our friends.  It was the perfect place to raise a family and perhaps that's the problem.  It can dull your senses to the rest of the world.  Because of Ann Arbor we were able to travel all over the world.  We had dear friends and neighbors, an exciting lifestyle,  and incredible professional opportunities.  So, thank you Ann Arbor, for 31 endearing years.

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, 
and grow old wanting to get back to. 
 ~John Ed Pearce

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Diamonds in the Rough

One of the joys of Ann Arbor was the large number of students who came to our home.  While many have done well, I have to mention two who spent so many years in our home that we think of them as "ours."

Rosalyn was a foster child in Detroit and once you finish high school you are out of the welfare system and on your own.

When she graduated from high school in 1992, we had formed our own foundation and was looking for someone to give a scholarship. I didn't know her but she applied for our scholarship for future teachers.  When I read her essay, I stopped and declared her the winner.  There was no need to read anymore. Her writing, about her childhood and ambitions, was that powerful.

She came to Eastern Michigan University, where I was working, so that I could watch over her. When I retired she transferred to the University of Michigan and watching over her was transferred to my husband.  She worked several jobs the entire time she was a college student yet there were days she would come over, despondent and depressed, needing only a couple of dollars to make it through the semester.  We would give her what she needed and away she would go...another semester down.

One summer we sent her to Atlanta to live with our son and his family.  She babysat, worked in his office and became a "sister" to our grandchildren. This was a new experience, an intact family unit and it gave her more hope and determination.

Rosalyn with the granddaughters she baby sat one summer at our
50th Wedding Anniversary in 2005

Long story, short, she finished college, taught school in Detroit, bought her first home, and is completing her doctoral dissertation this year. Her new husband finished his doctorate this year.  We are so proud of her.

Us at Rosalyn's Wedding in 2007 in Detroit with daughter-in-law, Kimberly

The other student I must mention is Tony. He began staying with us when he was in 5th Grade.  My son told me about a boy who was staying alone in public housing.  I sent him to fetch Tony and asked him about his circumstances.  His mother was in the hospital so we called her and asked if he could stay with us until she was released.  She cried and said yes.  She was suffering with cancer so he spent many months with us.

She died when he was in middle school so he moved in again until his family could find someone to take him.  After he left to live with his older brother, he still spent a lot of time in our home because he was one of Corey's best friends.

He completed college in four years, (1983) always working 2 or 3 jobs.  We encouraged him to travel so he get out of the safe environment of Ann Arbor and see the rest of the world.  He was so close to our family that our sons and my husband were groomsmen in his wedding.  When we put our house up for sale in Michigan, he told us we couldn't sell his family home.

Again, to make a long story short, he received his Ph.D on his 30th birthday and is a Department Head at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.  Check him out, Janie, if this is close to you.  Click link to see his page.  Anthony Troy Adams

Tony in his office at Arkansas State

Both were without parents, both worked hard in school, both never gave up, both always had at least 2 or 3 jobs, both had outgoing personalities, both never felt sorry for themselves, and both achieved at a high level. They are my favorite Diamonds in the Rough.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Days with my Sister

My sister had a good trip.  She wanted the trip because a few months ago they removed part of her lung.  Lung cancer. She will know about chemo when she returns to Chicago.

Shirley, Sister Mary, and Lorraine (My right hand)

Because a Keno game has only twelve cards and I had two other guests, she played in my place and won the final coverall.   It was all of $11.00 but that is the largest pot we've ever had.  You would think that she had won a million dollars.

The Keno Club
We call ourselves The Forgettables because no one remembers anything. I'm on the far right. Without friends, old age must be unbearable.

We didn't grow up in an affectionate family.  Hugging and kissing were not something we saw or did.  Our feelings were kept under wrap, only discussed in our heads.  She is the sister who helped me through college.

Even though I had a scholarship I still needed pocket money to buy necessities, such as toothpaste. In 1953, at the age of 18, she earned $1.07 an hour and sent me $5.00 cash each week, enough to get me through.  I didn't realize it at the time but she worked almost a full day just for me.

Sometimes another sister would send a few dollars and I was grateful for every cent. What memories surface when we're together, many are in earlier sections of this blog.

We shared a bed when we were children. She was the beautiful, popular sister and I was the skinny nerd.  I was such a nerd that I started a Trigonometry Club and was President.  Two people so different could not have been closer. She always had scores of boyfriends but I was lucky if I had one at a time.

When we moved from Chicago in 1970, I made my husband promise me that he would not fuss about the telephone bill because it was imperative that I always have access to her.

We're old now. She's 75 and I'm 72. Where did the years go?  I still think of us as silly children sharing our thoughts and dreams.  She wanted the glamourous life of a movie star and I was interested in academics. She's the only person who knows my deep dark secrets and yes, Jonas, my regrets.

This is rambling because I'm still processing the past and how it affects the future. I'm processing.

I guess my point is just love each other.  Show affection.  The end comes before we know it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The '70s - One by One They Leave Home

This will be my only post this week, the boys graduating high school and leaving home, because we have several out-of-town guests and I'm hosting my Keno and Bridge Clubs.

Old folks are busy in Las Vegas. We do volunteer work and have many social activities.  We have one goal--enjoying the last years.  We understand that this is not a dress rehearsal. A few friends have died and many have serious ailments. Those who can, help those who need some support and some of us have driving problems.  I'm blessed to have some younger friends (50-65) who help me.

For example, tomorrow Lorraine will drive me to the strip to pick up my sister from Chicago, take her shopping, lunch in Henderson, NV with friends visiting from Ann Arbor, back home to finish dinner (Chicken Creole that cooks all day in the slow cooker), take sister back to strip, and start cleaning for Keno Club.  I'm tired just thinking about it.

One by one, the boys became men and began to leave home.

I was not one of those mothers who was upset about the empty nest.  However, I did make one mistake. It was August. David left for Howard University in Washington, DC on Saturday. Corey and Cameron left on Sunday for Morehouse College, and my husband and I planned to meet them in Atlanta on Monday. Yes, we had three children in college at the same time.

Since it was Sunday I cooked my normal BIG, BIG Sunday dinner (including a cake and 2 pies) and my husband never said a word.  I cooked and cooked and cooked.  When I set the table for five he finally spoke.  He reminded me that it was only us.  What did I plan to do with all that food?  I looked at the table, fell into my chair, and cried for all of 15 minutes.  I couldn't believe it.  We were alone.

We had a tradition.  In 1970, our kitchen table had five seats.  As each child left, a chair went to the basement, to return only when that son was home.  Now, our table had only two chairs.


David as a youngster

David graduated from high school in 1974, finished his degree from Morehouse College in 1978, and then went to Howard University where he received two degrees in architecture.

David and his prom date.  Can you believe that suit?

Cameron and Corey as youngsters

Corey graduated from high school in 1979, went to Morehouse College on a track scholarship, and received his accounting degree.  

Corey and his prom date

Cameron graduated in 1980 and went off to Morehouse.

Later he transferred to North Carolina in Greensboro, graduating with a degree in engineering. This move also helped him become active in the Civil Rights Movement and politics because two of his classmates and friends were Jonathan and Jesse Jackson, Jr. and he traveled with them and Jesse, Sr., on many missions. 

I couldn't find Cam's prom picture, but I found this one of him escorting a deb.

Hope to see you next week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is That All There Is?

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

We live in an age restricted, guard-gated community that is built around a golf course.  It's a lovely development of single story homes with great views of the mountains and the strip.  We have a beautiful community center, an exceptional fitness center, a friendly beauty shop, and a bistro for quick meals.  It's a perfect place to live the golden years.

The view from our back patio

Husband and his golfing buddies after winning medals
at the Senior Olympics

We read the obituaries in the newspaper and count how many of the recently departed are younger than us. We speculate about how many years we might have left.  We remind our children what things in the house are valuable  so they won't throw them away.  We are conscious of the fact that "once you're over the hill you pick up speed" so "we dance as fast as we can."

Last week a neighbor told me that a coroner's car was parked down the street.  We knew this meant someone had died.  We didn't know who lived in the home and our sadness reminded us of our limited stay here on earth.

Because of the ages of our residents, death is a frequent visitor.  There is generally a short discussion of who died, who are the survivors, and are any services planned in Las Vegas? And then, we move on. Life continues.

Earlier this week I was driving down the street and saw this big, red dumpster in the driveway where the coroner was seen.  There were two younger adults in the garage scratching their heads and moving items into the dumpster.

My first thought was "and this is what it all amounts to."  All the stuff we accumulate over the years may be just a bunch of junk to those we leave behind.  How sad that we spend tons and tons of money on stuff, and when we die, others might see trash.

What memories did they trash?  Who lived there?  Did they have a good life?  Are the people in the garage sad? How often did they visit the people who lived there?  What will happen to the house?  Did they put everything in the dumpster and were some things important enough to take with them? A song recorded by Peggy Lee floated through my morbid state of mind as I slowly drove away.

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Seventies - Part III - Raising Boys

You don't raise heroes, you raise sons.  
And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, 
even if it's just in your own eyes.  
~Walter M. Schirra, Sr.

Often people would ask what it was like in a house full of boys.  It was noisy, messy, relaxed, and entertaining.  If the boys are in sports, so are you. Some weekends we had four games to attend because we also had to attend Michigan's games, tailgates and post game parties. Fall revolved around football, winter was spent in the basketball stadium, spring meant hanging on the track field with a stop watch, and summers were spent on the baseball field.

Boys eat a lot and their friends like to eat, too.  Even though I worked, I cooked dinner every night and they consumed everything.  Sometimes I would rush home from work, start dinner, take boys to practice if it was my carpooling day, return home, finish dinner, and then go back to pick up boys. Around nine o'clock I would announce that the kitchen was closed.

Our boys didn't have a curfew because you felt so safe in Ann Arbor.  If they were out and not coming home, they had to call by midnight so we could go to bed.  Many times when they were with their friends they would just stay wherever they were.  We never knew how many people were staying in our house until breakfast time.

We never had a set bed time or many rules.  You could stay up all night, talk on the phone as long as you wanted, but you had to get up on time for school. We thought having too many rules gave them too many opportunities to break them and we wanted them to think for themselves. We stressed leadership instead of following; we stressed giving instead of taking.  They received average grades in school but we were satisfied if they were doing their best.

Our complaints?  Cluttered rooms, funky athletic shoes, dirty uniforms that even Tide couldn't clean, and their fussing over whose turn it was to cut the grass.  We stayed out of that argument.  They had to figure that one out themselves. However, we are really proud of them.

My husband liked to say that he raised 4 children, me being the fourth one. I was so young (17 when we married) that I missed a part of growing up and missed single adulthood all together. I was raised by a single mother with 5 sisters and 1 brother and I didn't know that much about male needs.  I just did my best and thankfully, they were, and still are, fun to be around.

There are times that I regret what I must have missed because my attention could never just focus on one thing. My mind at times was scattered and there are things I don't remember because it was all happening so fast.

To the younger readers, please enjoy your children now.  I still can't believe how quickly it all went.

The Family in 1977
Check out our afros.

We celebrated birthdays on a regular basis.

Moody's 40th Birthday with my girl friend Mary Hamilton in the back.

Sports were really important.

Corey and Cameron played from Junior Football through high school.

Don't forget basketball

Corey was co-captain of the basketball team but went to Morehouse on a track scholarship.

David played football in high school and for Morehouse College.

Son, you outgrew my lap, but never my heart.  ~Author Unknown

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Seventies - Part II

Stranger in a Strange Land
Robert Heinlein (A favorite author )

We moved to Ann Arbor in August 1970, and into our new home on our 16th Wedding Anniversary where we continued a moving tradition.  Moody goes to work on moving day and I stay with the movers.  He leaves from the old house and returns to the new place.  Instead of going out for dinner, a special home cooked meal is planned.

Moody with David and Corey

At the time, Ann Arbor's Black population was very small (It is still less than 9%.) and there had been racial incidents in the city and schools.  When our son, David, graduated from high school in 1974, he had less than 15 Black students in his graduating class.  By the time Corey and Cameron finished, there were more Black students.

Ann Arbor is kid friendly and very diverse because of the University.  We began to have friends from all over the world. We didn't realize it at the time, but the boys were being prepared for a multicultural world.

We were the only Black family in the neighborhood and the only problem we had was a neighbor next door.  He definitely wasn't ready for us.  He would lay down a string when he cut his grass to make sure he only cut on his property, watched the boys when they cut our grass or a serviceman came to work, told our friends not to park in front of his house, and came over often in an attempt to harass us. It was downright funny when he watered his lawn because he had a hard time keeping the sprinkler only on his property.  He was so distressed that he finally moved.

Cameron in the early 70s

The best neighbors in the world, part of the Ludema family

First day of school, 1971

Family - Mid '70s

Nineteen-seventy was the year six Black men were killed by local policemen in Augusta, Georgia and school desegregation was still being fought in courts.  Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California, signed into law a bill that prohibited the busing of students "for any purpose or any reason without the written permission of the parent or guardian." Protests against integration were held in the North and South. This made Moody's job very relevant. Additionally, students at the University of Michigan had just staged the Black Action Movement, securing demands for 10% African American student enrollment and increased African American faculty.

Moody's job meant traveling to districts and universities all over the country.  He was conducting research and workshops, testifying in Courts, writing grants and continuing his study of Black Superintendents.  The following article can explain PEO much better than I can. (Click article to read full size.)

He finished his doctorate and instead of a party we went with a group of friends to see Muddy Waters at a club in downtown Chicago.  We didn't know that they were recording the session, and as usual asked Muddy for a particular song.  We had been following him for years in small bars and clubs in Chicago and he was familiar with our requests. Years later, I brought home a new album by Muddy, and gave it to Moody.  All of a sudden he shouted, "It's our song."  The album was recorded on graduation night and you could hear Muddy dedicating "She's Nineteen Years Old" to his friends from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Wow.  We were overjoyed.

True riches can be measured by the friends one has and we have been blessed with many. The Moores went to Central State with us and they welcomed us to Ann Arbor as soon as we arrived.  They made sure we got to meet their friends and introduced us to their Church, Bethel A.M.E., which we promptly joined.

Our home was always filled with students and professors working on research projects, seminars, or just wanting to talk about a dissertation.

Moody and Freddie, one his doctoral students.  We loved to mess up Freddie's afro so he would have to pat it back in order.  Freddie was pretty and always had a beautiful woman on his arm.

By 1971, I had a full time job, working as a human relations specialist and assisting the social studies coordinator. A report was written our first year in Ann Arbor called the Humaness Report that sought more integration and inclusion in the district. Our focus was integrating multiculturalism into the curriculum.  This was extremely difficult at the time because some people were not ready to make changes to the curriculum and others didn't believe that people of color had done enough to be included.  Still, there were many who embraced the new ideas and helped Ann Arbor become one of the early districts to embrace multiculturalism. You'd be surprised at the ugly mail you get when you have a position like this, but it goes with the territory.

Party at our home to meet the new superintendent, Bruce McPherson, as he talks with the Moores.

After a couple of years a new superintendent came to town and he made me take a job as a building administrator.  When I said made, I mean it.  At first he asked and I said no.  So he looked at me and figured out how to do it.  He eliminated the job I had.  Therefore, I had to take the job.

It was a middle school with three houses (grades 6,7,8) and instead of principals, they called us House Leaders.  I kept that job for about three years.  Loved the kids but missed teaching and went back two years as a teacher at Burns Park.  That lasted about two years.  Bruce only stayed a couple of years and we became good friends. Then another new superintendent recruited me into central administration as Coordinator for Staff Development and Multicultural Education, a position I held until I was hired by Eastern Michigan University as an assistant to the Dean in the College of Education in the '80s.

Halloween was big at Burns Park.  Yes, that's me in my husband's uniform.

I was one of those teachers who liked to dress up when teaching a particular subject

As the boys grew, so did my responsibilities at work.  Since Moody traveled a lot, I was often responsible for cooking breakfast and getting the boys off to school, instead of him.  This was a tragedy in our house, because as I said earlier, I love my bed. They had to leave earlier than me and would wait for me to call them before they got up. They loved my running down the hallway, clapping my hands, and telling them to get up because we were late. They still imitate me when we have family gatherings. Their next words would be, "burnt toast" as they knew my rushing around would produce an ill-prepared meal.

We have always been big on entertaining.  I think it's because when I was little we always had a house full of people.  One memorable party was the one we gave for Jesse Jackson when he received an honorary degree from Michigan. This is when he was in his prime and over 200 people attended, not all invited.  People came from everywhere.  Fortunately, the weather was nice and we could use the back yard in addition to the house.  Friends helped prepare the food, people brought their children to meet him and have their picture taken, flowers were everywhere, the music was soft and smooth, and no one wanted to leave and go home.

Chris and Hank at the party

Lunch with two friends, Letitia and Joetta