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

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Seventies - Part I

He who rides a tiger cannot dismount when he pleases.  ~Author Unknown

The idealism of the '60s curved 180 degrees into the cynicism of the '70s as Watergate took center stage. The flower children began to wilt.

For me, music tells a decade's story. As Dick Clark said, "Music is the soundtrack of your life." Marvin Gaye asked, What's Going On, and we responded, Mercy, Mercy, Me.  Roberta Flack wanted to know Where is the Love? and Aretha told us to Respect ourselves.  Mandela was in jail but Donny Hathaway sang, Someday, We'll All Be Free.  Inexplicably, living in a housing project was Good Times.  Was it Just My Imagination or were we Up, Up, and Away?

I always liked to stay in bed, sleeping or not, just enjoying the warmth and security of my bed.  It's a sunny day in July 1970. The phone rings.  I answer.  Someone wants us in Ann Arbor for a job interview for my husband.  Big joke and I tell them that.  Hang up phone.  Go back to sleep.  Friend calls husband that night and tell him about the call, but they want to know if his wife is crazy.  He doesn't answer.  He's afraid to tell them the truth, might hurt job interview.

OK.  Let's take the free trip but promise me you won't take the job.  Town too small. I love Chicago and couldn't bear to leave my family.  We go to Ann Arbor.  He breaks promise and takes job at the University of Michigan. We say good-bye to family and friends in Chicago.  They don't want us to go. We pack. We move. And so begins a new adventure that will last 31 years.

We found an apartment with four bedrooms and three bathrooms to live in until we found a house.  Pure luxury after living in a 900 sq. ft. home in Chicago. It was strange, we could live anywhere.  No one cared that we were Black.  They only wanted to know if we had the down payment.

I missed Chicago so much that I drove back 27 times the first year.  Right after the children left for school I would get in my car, drive to Chicago, chit chat, drive back to Ann Arbor to fix dinner.  It was a 240 mile trip and my record, that is documented, is two hours and 40 minutes.

No one was hiring and I needed a job.  I discovered that the school system needed someone who knew the Taba Curriculum Development Model, a concept development model for social studies.  I researched the model until I knew it well enough to get through the interview process and finally found myself a job. It was only part-time but it kept me off of I-94.

This was a totally different lifestyle for us. It was casual, free-thinking, intellectual, liberal, and everybody knew everything about you.  In Ann Arbor, football is everything.  Go Blue!

We finally found a home in an area called Glacier Highlands, with an elementary school in walking distance.  Plus, they only had like 20-25 children per classroom. We were the only African Americans in the neighborhood and our children had white friends for the first time in their lives.  They adapted and found their new life exciting and rewarding. You didn't need to lock your doors and boys and girls popped in at any time of the day.

Our home in Ann Arbor.  I loved that redbud tree.

Our oldest son went to middle school the first year and the younger two were in elementary school.  Of course, they all loved sports, and Ann Arbor was the perfect place for young families with athletic children.  Before we knew it our schedule was bursting.  I think this might work out.

David, third from left on back row, baseball team

Corey pitching

Cameron, after falling off his bicycle

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.  

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Salute to my Grandchildren

Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old. 
 ~Mary H. Waldrip

On October 10, 2009, I took this picture of Kelsey, my youngest grandchild. She was preparing to go to her homecoming dance.  It was a nostalgic shock for me because I knew then that I had no more grand babies.

No more grandma scary ghost stories until Katelyne cried;
no more babysitting, giving them candy, gum, and cookies, and keeping them up beyond bedtime;
no more, "Grandma, make some macaroni and cheese;"
no more, "Grandma, you're crazy;"
no more fashion shows with new clothes for school;
no more, "Grandma, I having a heat stroke," when they were tired of museum trips;
no more, "Grandma, I didn't break it, the floor broke it.;"
no more holding their hands when we cross the street;
no more loud laughs at ridiculous jokes;
no more Judge Judy plays;
they are now grown.

So what's a grandma to do?  I want to thank my grandchildren for some wonderful, playful days.  I want to thank them for being such disciplined athletes and scholars, yet keeping the ability to have fun and enjoy life.  I want to thank them for keeping me young in heart. I wish them health and happiness.  I want them to keep their  joie de vivre.  I know, it's getting sappy, but trust me, I'm feeling very old right now, yet happy to see what wonderful human beings they are.

So, please allow Grandma Moody to showcase them for a few moments.

The first grandchild, Charles, III

In 2007, Charles received his bachelor's degree from Morehouse College, and is a master's candidate at the University of Georgia and then plans to continue towards his Ph.D.  He likes to tease the girls that he is my favorite grandson.  Of course, he is.

Karia as a youngster

Today, Karia is an aspiring actress and singer.  She was an intern on a production this summer and has also attended Yale's Summer Drama Program. She sang at our 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration.

Karia received her bachelor's, with honors,  from Spelman College in 2009.  She is pictured here with her proud parents, Karla and C. David Moody, Jr.  They live in the Atlanta area.

Karia at Kourtney's graduation

Grandma with Kelsey, Kourtney, and Katelyne


Kourtney, with her parents, Kimberly and Corey, was named one of the top ten student-athletes of Nevada in 2008.  She was the top female athlete in Las Vegas and graduated high school with a 4.5 gpa.  She is on the track team at Michigan.  Go Blue!

Prom 2008


Katelyne and Yul
Prom 2009
She graduated high school with honors and is a freshman at Purdue University.
Many say that she is just a younger version of me.

Katelyne is an outstanding soccer player

Kelsey, Kim, Katelyne, Kourtney, and Corey

Kelsey and Katelyne perform at our 50th Anniversary

Who's your Uncle?  Uncle Cameron has no children but loves his nieces and nephew.


Kelsey and Malcolm, ready for Homecoming 2009

Thank You,
Grandma Moody