My earliest memories include random items such as bright neon lights shining against the black night sky, tumbleweeds rolling down our street, pavement so hot that the bottom of my feet developed callouses while I learned to walk, banana popsicles, drinking from a water hose, running away from home and roller skating. Not necessarily in that order.
I don’t recall my life with any degree of accuracy or detail, rather my memories are like a widescreen Cinerama movie playing in my head. I see the big picture and occasionally something specific comes into focus, but most of the details are lost. However, when this memory movie is paired with an active imagination that can fill in the details, what you get is a mostly true account of my first eight point four years of life. A life that began in Las Vegas with parents from wildly different backgrounds. It is a story of how amazing the world is and a chance meeting can change the entire trajectory of one’s life.
Lives do not have to be profound to be important. Simple lives lived to the best of our ability can, and often do, lead to wonderful outcomes. I believe that God is at work in all this. Some might call it fate or the universe, but whatever you choose to call it there is certainly an invisible force at work in the world and in our lives. In looking back there are so many places where one altered decision would have resulted in a different story told by another person.
This is my story. It isn’t glamorous but it is mine. Warts and all. I hope that as I explore this story telling adventure I can make you laugh, think, hope, and dream just a little.
How It Started
It all began in a hotel in Evansville, Indiana in the summer of 1952.
The story of my parents meeting and ultimately marrying in Las Vegas sounds like the plot for a Hallmark Christmas movie. Their marriage, like most, wasn’t fairy tale perfect but it endured the ups and downs of life, lasting fifty three years and produced two fairly normal children who knew their parents loved them and each other.
Anna Rose was a young high school student from a small town in Kentucky, who during the summer before her senior year in high school traveled the fifty some odd miles to Evansville to work.
The youngest of six children (five living) Ann, as she prefers to be called, grew up essentially an only child as her siblings were all quite a bit older and out on their own with families and lives away from the farm. She was born on the family farm in rural Clay, Kentucky in February of 1935. Her mother was forty three at the time. Today she would have been labeled as a geriatric pregnancy, and in 1935 the chances of a normal pregnancy and survival of the baby were slim. But survive and thrive she did.
Growing up on a farm provided Ann with a safe, stable and idyllic childhood. Farm life isolated them from the economic trials of the times. There was always food to eat, clothes to wear and the memories are all sweet. Time has a way of doing that.
By the time she was in high school, her sisters had both moved to Evansville thus she spent many summers with them as she grew up. Her job in the summer of 1952 was working at the McCurdy Hotel as an elevator operator. A child-sized four foot ten inch, eighty pounds soaking wet young woman was working and living in the city and nothing would be the same on the farm ever again.