Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Piggy Tales: Freedom Train, Far away friends, and skinny dipping

Hello!  I'm so glad you stopped by for the 8th of  15 stories of my Piggy Tales already and today focuses on 6th grade, a year of changes.

Family:  We didn't have a lot of extra things, but we really didn't know what we were missing.  The summer leading up to 6th grade, Mom took us to Tulsa to see the Freedom Train - a "traveling exhibition of unique and representative artifacts from the 200 year history of the nation."  There was great anticipation at waiting to see all the "cool" stuff on it, but frankly I can't remember anything except the time spent with the cousins, eating  at  Casa Bonita (the sopapillas, caves and waterfalls inside were the bomb!) and the special Bicentennial Quarters that came out that year. 
Casa Bonita Arcade

Lorraine reminded me that this was the summer that we spent a week at a family member's lake house at Grand Lake, OK, near Governor's Island.  What a wonderfully week that was with adults and cousins hanging out. Bryan and I found an injured raccoon down by the lake one afternoon and  fed it for several days before the adults found out and my uncle put it down.  A few nights we snuck down to the lake with Aunt Jerre (Lorraine's Mom) and went skinny dipping or moon swimming if you want... Don't remember being brave enough to do it during the day, but it was tons of fun!  That was the year I learned to water ski, landing really hurt if you did it wrong, and sleeping under the stars on the lawn chairs was the cool thing to do if you could stand the skeeters! 

School:  Most of us were excited to be the "oldest" kids in school now, but I'm sure most of the teachers were just glad to see they would not have us again. Everyone feared they would get this rather large, mean strict  teacher, Mr. Bowersock,who taught us Kansas History, so I was relieved to get Mrs. Martin, a thin, 40ish woman who frowned a lot. She kind of reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West from Oz, just without make-up. By now we were switching classes for science and social studies,so we all were "blessed' to spend time with each teacher.  One of the memorable science experiments included mushrooms and maggots and, as gross as it was, we loved it. The whole 6th grade would cram into Mrs. Covey room every so often to watch Alfred Hitchcock short movies.  John Bear putting his finger in the pencil sharper just to get out of class, a painful way to get out of class. I remember my teacher scolding me in front of the class for not turning something in and I can still see her angry face when I told her I didn't care. 

Far away friends: I was so excited the day our teacher said that we could participate in a Pen-Pal program and write to someone in another country.  I loved writing, and had been penning daily letters in a journal to an fictional  friend, Katie, since 3rd grade, and this sounded like such wonderful adventure!  I asked my mom the the $2 needed, filed out a short survey, and waited 6 long weeks until I received a name in the mail... She, Ann-Sofia, was from Sweden, we continued to write for almost 15 years before losing contact.  Later that year, I received a letter from Kirsi Kauppinen, who lived in Finland and our long distance friendship continued for 26 more years.  Sometimes it would take up to 2 weeks for our letters to reach each other, but it was worth the wait.  At Christmas and on birthdays, we would exchange gifts filled with candy, pictures, and sometimes little trinkets. Later that year, I received my third and final pen-pal, this time from England, which lasted about 5 years. I still miss writing to Kirsi to this day and the friendship we shared.  It is my prayer that we will someday reconnect.

I had come in from outside - could hear them arguing.  The house was small and I couldn't help but see my father had trapped mom behind the bathroom door and was shoving the door back and forth against her.  I must have yelled at him, because he stopped and Mom told me to go back outside.   

Soon after that,  Mom told us they were getting a divorce (the first ones in our family to do so) and I remember feeling like I was the only one at school, but looking back I know I was not the only one experiencing  trials or changes.  We tried to set them up for a date in hopes they would change their minds, but not sure why we did that. Mom got a job at Emerson Electric on the assembly line making ceiling fan motors and we became latch-key children.    Things were much calmer at our home after he moved out to a little house on the same block as ours, but quickly found a small single tiny travel camper in a nearby town. .We still didn't see him any more than we did before, except on scheduled visits. I hated that trailer and visiting him because it smelled horribly of cigarettes and the only thing he could fix was Hamburger Helper.  To this day, I can't look at one of those boxes without being reminded of those difficult six years that followed.  The judge in our case requested to talk to Bryan and I before granting custody.  I told him I wanted to live with my mom, but Bryan said he wanted to live with our father. I was crushed to be separated from Bryan, but we learned to cling to the times we had together.   

God would continue to work in my life during these changes, and many of the events of my childhood, He showed His grace, love, protection, and way, as I fought to make sense of events to come. 

'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.   Jeremiah 29:11
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Do you have any memories you can share with your children?  If you would like to read more Piggy Tales from other ladies, hope on over to Mommy's Piggy Tales.   If you would like to join in and start recording your own Piggy Tales, contact Jana at Mommy's Piggy Tales to find out how  (jannajoy25 (at) 

If for some reason you missed any of my previous posts, you can find them here.


KellyW said...

YUmmy...sopapillas!! Those are incredible! I enjoyed reading your story again. Sorry about your parents. Mine went through a time similar to that when I was about 8. I witnessed a lot too. I am sorry you had to go through that tough time.

Crystal said...

Thats tough about the divorce. I don't even remember my parents together, though I had a stepfather and he wasn't very great either. Its wonderful though that you are able to see the Lord working though, even back then!

Judy Whatilivefor said...

I had a pen pal in 2nd grade that I lost contact with, but found through facebook when I was in college. She was from New Zealand and I treasured those letters!

I'm sorry about your parents...what a hard thing to face at any time of life. Thank you for sharing and helping others understand the struggles and pain of divorce. said...

Oh I had a pen pal too from Denmark...still have a letter from much to remember
So, so sorry about your just makes me cry.
God's ways are high above ours and he promises to use what Satan meant for evil for our hard to understand, yet He is faithful

Jenny said...

Man, I'm sorry you had to see that and go through that. My parents went through some rough times later on, and I know it had to have been tough for you.

I have never been skinny-dipping. Or water skiing. Guess I've got some things to accomplish in life!

Raine said...

Very well written, my sweet cousin. I know it's painful to blog and share with the whole world the painful events but you also shared/witnessed how God has taken care of you and that you trusted God had a plan that was good for you, even though you as a young child soon to be teenager, was unable to see what God's plans were. Satan was thrilled with your Fathers behavior but our Almighty God over-ruled and justice was given in His timing.
On to much happier memories: Freedom train - we got out of school that day! I remember seeing the Liberty Bell and some clothes and artifacts that belonged to Betsy Ross, Martha Washington & many other things that seemed boring to me at the time. Kind of like, "should have paid more attention in school" type of thinking here. (My highlight of the day was getting out of school, eating at Casa Bonita and spending the day with my favorite cousins!) Love you lots! Stay inspired!