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Archive for the ‘memories’ Category

Remembering Sidekicks | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 12, 2023:

For anyone who is not a football fan, you may not know that the College Football Playoff game was Monday, January 9. I don’t know who won, because I’m writing this on Sunday, but there is a lot of excitement about this Superbowl of college football. As if that weren’t enough, the professional football playoffs, the ones that lead to the actual Superbowl, begin Saturday, January 14.

While I was watching the Cowboy game on Sunday, I was searching for inspiration for my column. The game itself was anything but inspirational, so I was scanning through older writings looking for memories. I wrote a chapter about my parents’ devotion to the Cowboys in my first memoir, but before I located that, I came across a column I wrote in 2015 about Sidekicks.

David’s and my first experience with the restaurant was in 2009 when we were looking for property where we could move the mobile home where David lived before we married in 2000. After the wedding, he moved into my house in Carrollton and allowed his roommate to stay in the mobile home in Grand Prairie. In 2005 David’s job took us to Florida where we continued to received rent check from his friend from time to time. One day in late 2008, David got a call from a friend who lived in the subdivision in Grand Prairie telling him that his tenant had abandoned the mobile home and was in arrears on the utilities and lot rentals. With the house being in danger of being pulled of the lot, we did some quick phone calling and overnighting of checks to buy a little time.

We had planned a motor home trip toward the end of the year to meet our granddaughter who made her debut on January 2, 2009. We extended our trip, waved goodbye to one-week-old Zoe, and traveled to Texas to find a suitable homestead. We checked several areas and ended up staying for several weeks at the Thousand Trails Park on CR 1470 while we checked out East Texas. We cooked and ate in the motor home most of the time, but one place we did visit a few times was Chubby’s, a 50s-style diner. It was particularly memorable because it was decorated with photos of musicians, vinyl records, and other memorabilia from the 50s and 60s, the golden age of music for many of us early baby boomers.

Once we found THE lot, we rented out the mobile home until we left Florida permanently in 2011 and moved to Emory. By then Chubby’s had morphed into Sidekicks. We still cook and eat at home a majority of the time – except for lunch at the Senior Center – but Sidekicks was always a good place to take out-of-town visitors or have lunch with friends after church. Their breakfast burritos were a favorite of mine, and David favored the chicken fried steak and fried fish. Following is that column from 2015, a simple experience that I saved in words.

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Christmas is more than a feeling – revisited | by Linda Brendle

Christmas is more than a feeling – revisited | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 15, 2022:

One of the most common questions I’m asked by readers of my column is where do you get your ideas. It’s a hard question to answer. Mainly it’s having a writer’s perspective on life and seeing each person and each situation as a potential subject. Beyond that, it’s hard to explain why one person sparks my interest and another doesn’t, but it has to do with whether there’s an angle or a hook that pushes the right buttons. If you haven’t already figured it out, what I’m getting at is that this was one of those weeks when no buttons were pushed, no sparks flew, and no ideas came. Fortunately, I have over eight years of “golden oldies” to choose from. Here’s one from 2017 that, even though some of the circumstances are different now, might still push a button or two. Merry Christmas!

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Many wedding ceremonies include words to the effect that “love is not a feeling, it’s a commitment.” The idea, of course, is that love is not simply the dizzying excitement of a new relationship or the warm, fuzzy feeling of a long established marriage. It’s a commitment to act in a loving manner even when you don’t feel like it. People who rely simply on loving feelings are often disillusioned when the honeymoon is over. The more Christmases I experience, the more I realize that Christmas is a lot like love –those who rely simply on the magical feelings of the season are destined for disappointment.

My husband David is a nostalgia kind of guy, and he often reminisces about the good old days, especially at this time of year. He recently lamented the fact that he can’t seem to recapture the excitement and anticipation he experienced during the Christmas season when he was younger. Unfortunately, some of the magic of those mysterious packages disappears when you know the bills will be waiting for you at the end of the month. And let’s face it, there’s not as much magic in a new sweater or even the latest book by your favorite author as there was in a shiny red bicycle or a Daisy Red Rider BB Gun. There’s still lots of magic to be found, though, if you know where to look.

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The Evolution of Laundry | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 6, 2022:

My first memory of laundry was in Snyder, Texas where we moved when I was three or four years old. We lived in a rented three-room house, and Daddy built a laundry room across the back. I don’t remember the room itself – I just remember watching him smooth out the wet cement and being warned to stay off. We didn’t have a dryer – I’m not even sure if they existed then. Our first puppy “disappeared” after several naughty acts including pulling sheets off the clothes line. We probably had a wringer washer because that’s what we had at our next house.

With this house we moved up to home ownership – five rooms and asbestos siding. I didn’t know what that meant, but Daddy seemed impressed by it so I told everybody. We didn’t have a laundry room, but we had a carport, and that’s where the clothes got a bath. I was more familiar with this setup because I helped from time to time. The wringer washer was accompanied by three metal tubs on saw horses – one with bleach water, one with bluing water, and one with clear water. I’m not sure what the difference was in the bleach and the bluing, and I didn’t get involved in that process much anyway. I just liked to crank the wringer. When not in use, the laundry foursome rested in a corner beside the small storage closet. We didn’t have a dog in this house, so the clothes stayed on the line.

Between my first and second grade years we moved to Mesquite because the West Texas dust was bad for my brother Jim’s bronchitis and because we had family there. The house we bought was about the same as the one in Snyder – five rooms and a carport, but no asbestos siding. I guess they had discovered the dangers of it by then. I don’t remember doing laundry on-site except for hanging clothes on the line. I was tall enough to hang a few things on the saggy part in the middle, and once I was strong enough to handle wet sheets, I did a lot of hanging. I remember going to the laundromat there. At first it had wringer washers and wash tubs just like we had in Snyder except they were on permanent frames instead of saw horses. Later they switched to modern washing machines, and we felt like we were really uptown. They probably added dryers somewhere along in there, but we still used the clothes line at home.

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Sunday – past and present | By Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 28, 2022:

Sundays have changed a lot since I was a kid, in fact, weekends in general were a lot different. Saturdays were sleep late days, but not very late. During the week Mom woke me up while it was still dark so she could fix my hair and make sure I was presentable before she left to catch the bus to work at 6:30. On Saturdays she let me sleep a little later, but I usually woke up on my own when the smells of coffee and bacon made their way into my room.

After breakfast, it was housecleaning time. My job was cleaning bathrooms and dusting while Dad did the floors and Mom did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen – and her kitchen was always spotless except when I cooked. After lunch, Dad would move to his outdoor chores and Mom and I would go shopping. There were a few interesting stores in downtown Mesquite, but after the Big Town Mall opened in 1959, that was our usual destination. After a quick tour of the bargain racks, and maybe a stop at the candy counter in Woolworth’s for a small bag of cashews or chocolate candy, we’d move on to Minyard’s, the only grocery store in town besides Anderson’s Market. We always finished our rounds well before dinner time because everything but the convenience stores closed at 6:00 pm on Saturday and didn’t reopen until Monday morning.

Saturday evening was dedicated to getting ready for Sunday. I had long, thick hair – and this was before home hair dryers – so the first task was to wash my hair and roll it up in pin curls or brush rollers. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very comfortably on Saturday nights, and I had to get up early on Sunday so I could stand in front of the heater if my hair wasn’t dry. Sunday clothes were also checked to be sure everything was clean and neatly pressed, and shoes were shined. Mom probably did some preparation for Sunday dinner, but I don’t remember that part. By then I was probably reading – first my Sunday School lesson so I could check that box on my offering envelope and then whatever library book I was reading at the time.

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It’s HOT!!! by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 14, 2022:

One of the main topics of conversation in northeast Texas for the last couple of weeks is the heat. “Weather” is probably one of the most commonly accessed apps as people follow the temperature, humidity, and “feels like” stats. Of course, all you need to do is step out the door into the oven-like heat to know that it’s HOT!

Some of the younger generations blame the current heat wave on global warming or climate change, but those of us who have lived for several decades spanning two centuries know that the climate has been changing cyclically since the events in the first chapter of Genesis. Two such incidents are particularly vivid in my memory, so I looked them up in Wikipedia.

The first one began two years after I was born and continued until I was ten years old. Wikipedia describes it like this:

The 1950s Texas drought was a period between 1949 and 1957 in which the state received 30 to 50% less rain than normal, while temperatures rose above average. During this time, Texans experienced the second-, third-, and eighth-driest single years ever in the state – 1956, 1954, and 1951, respectively.

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Remembrance and Hope | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 26, 2022:

We will celebrate Memorial Day on Monday. It’s a day that began in 1868 as a time to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers. It has evolved into a celebration of all who have served our country in any way. Although some still decorate graves with flags and attend services of remembrance, it has also become a celebration of the summer season that is only a few weeks away. One of my early columns was about the more serious side of Memorial Day, and I’d like to share it with you this week.

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Memorial Day is a day of hope and remembrance, of remembering those who gave their lives in the service of their country. Why is remembrance important – and what is our hope?

Some of the stories we remember are of epic proportions, involving thousands of troops and tons of metal that was fashioned into war machines of all kinds. The stories that move us most, though, are the individual stories of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and the loved ones who love and miss them.

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I miss my Mom | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 5, 2022:

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a slightly updated chapter from my second memoir titled “Mom’s Long Goodbye:”

I miss Mom. I’ve missed her for a long time. For most of my life, I talked to her almost every day, but after Alzheimer’s invaded her mind, those talks gradually lost their meaning.

Mom was smart, but she was never an intellectual. She didn’t care much about politics or philosophy or current events. She cared about her family and the things that affected our lives directly.

She went to work outside our home when I was in third grade, and Jim and I became latchkey kids. It was a gentler time when children played outside unsupervised and walked or rode their bikes to school without fear. But Mom was cautious. We were required to stay inside when she and Dad were at work, and I was expected to call her when I arrived home from school.

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Being thankful for 2021 | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 24, 2021:

In preparing to write this week, I read last year’s Thanksgiving column called “How Thanksgiving Grows.” The gist of the story was that, because of residual fears about COVID, none of our usual family gatherings occurred, so I planned to fix a small but special meal for David and me. However, by the time the big day came, we had three guests, and I spent the best part of two days fixing the customary multi-course feast. This year we will be sharing a traditional celebration with David’s sisters – and we had to turn down two other invitations.

Although I enjoyed the memories, the article didn’t help much with this week’s column. After that I went to Facebook and scrolled through my photos. I didn’t take many pictures last Thanksgiving, but I did find one of the kitchen island loaded down with food. There was also a photo of the leftovers the next day when we invited the neighbors back for a rerun. I remember feeling grateful that we could enjoy another go-round without all the work and also that all that food wouldn’t go to waste.

From there, I scrolled through the rest of the year. Again, there weren’t a lot of pictures, but there were enough highlights to inspire a gratitude list for this week:

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Welcome Home | by Robert Worley as told to Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 11, 2021:

In February of 1965, nineteen-year-old Robert Worley was accepted into the U.S. Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class as a lance corporal E-3. He admits that, at the time, he had never heard of Vietnam – he was busy trying to adapt to college after Paducah High School. Three weeks later, everyone knew about Vietnam.

On March 8, 1965, President Johnson launched what became a three-year campaign of sustained bombing of targets in North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Operation Rolling Thunder. The same month, U.S. Marines landed on beaches near DaNang, South Vietnam as the first American combat troops to enter Vietnam. Still, Worley thought the war, which was being called a police action, would be over by the time he graduated from college in 1968.

However, before he received his degree he was being trained by Vietnam veterans, and the TET offensive turned 1968 into the bloodiest year of the war. In October of 1969, 2nd Lt. Robert Worley was sent to DaNang Air Base as part of the First Marine Aircraft Wing. He was assigned as the Supply Officer for Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadron 1. In December, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

By then, Worley had learned some of the history of Vietnam. The French preceded the United States in South Vietnam until May 7, 1954 when North Vietnam defeated them at Dien Bien Phu. The U.S. provided the French and South Vietnam with money and became secretly involved in the war in 1955 as soon as the French left. The first official U.S. death in Vietnam occurred in 1960, and President Kennedy officially entered Vietnam in 1961 with troop buildup. By 1962, nine thousand American troops were in South Vietnam in an advisory capacity but some were being killed. In February of 1965, President Johnson ordered the bombing of targets in North Vietnam in Operation Flaming Dart in retaliation for a Viet Cong raid at the U.S. base in the city of Pleiku and at a nearby helicopter base at Camp Holloway.

The Vietnam War is a controversial part of our nation’s history with many attributing shameful and brutal behavior to the American military and touting the humane conduct of the North Vietnamese. Among the many spreading pro-Communist and anti-U.S. rhetoric were John Kerry, Dan Rather, and Walter Cronkite, to name a few. Most notable among these is Jane Fonda who toured Vietnam in July of 1972 where she visited several sites including the Hanoi Hilton, the infamous Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi. After her visit, Fonda concluded that the U.S. was unjustly bombing farmland and other sites far removed from military targets. She also claimed the Vietnamese provided their prisoners of war with the most humane treatment in the history of war.

John Kerry also spent three months in Vietnam. After returning home to run for congress, he told about how inhumane the U.S. military was. Kerry was once asked by David Frost if the South Vietnamese people liked U.S. soldiers. Kerry’s answer was that the Americans were hated. But Worley has a completely different story to tell.

Shortly after being stationed in DaNang, Worley discovered that his unit regularly sent medical civic action patrols far into the jungle to take medical teams – doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons, and other volunteers – to offer treatment to South Vietnamese who had been brutalized by the North Vietnamese. They worked in crude conditions, doing amputations in mud huts and performing dental procedures on patients sitting in a regular chair while sitting on a four-legged stool. All personnel kept helmets and pistols at the ready in case of attack. The medical teams were always accompanied by a Marine reinforced rifle company for protection. Worley went once as an observer, and he said once was enough. He went on to say, “It was a sobering day, seeing the torture and cruelty the North Vietnamese did to Vietnamese natives who they thought were friendly to the Americans.” The First Marine Aircraft Wing received the Civic Action Medal from the South Vietnamese government for these trips and more that benefitted the South Vietnamese.

Although the medical missions were not for him, Worley still wanted to be part of what was included in that “more.” When he discovered that a group of Marines, enlisted and officers, and Vietnamese Air Force officers were teaching English as a Second Language at a Catholic orphanage, he wanted in. Every Tuesday night the volunteer teachers dressed in flak jackets and traveled through enemy territory to Ahn Sang School where they taught grades 1-12 and others. They were shot at on the way to the school, and classes were taught to the background of the sounds of war.

The students in Worley’s class included a high school principal, a nurse, and a teenage boy. The teenager was a Montagnard Indian, a generic term for Vietnamese natives who lived in the mountains and were fiercely anti-communists. One of Worley’s most treasured war relics is a hand-carved wooden water buffalo bell given to him by this student. His favorite ESL memory is the evening he spent explaining America’s favorite pastime to a class who didn’t know what baseball was.

In direct rebuttal to John Kerry’s claim that the South Vietnamese hated Americans, Worley said, “We were all that was between them and genocide.” When Nixon announced a phased withdrawal, his ESL class was in tears, asking why the Americans were leaving them. “They were terrified, and they all wanted us there,” he added. On his last night, Worley gave a graduation speech. “I told them to be strong. I said that even though the good guys were pulling out, their army could prevail. I lied.”

Of course, not all the natives were as cordial. The South Vietnamese bought garbage from the Americans, and some of those people were used to set up attacks on the base. One day Worley noticed a mama-san walking very slowly and carefully across the base. Later, it was realized that she was making markers for a planned rocket attack. In early 1970 during one of these raids, a Vietnamese rocket exploded close to his hooch, landing squarely on an enlisted hooch. One enlisted Marine was killed, seven were injured, and Worley eventually developed tinnitus and went deaf.

Another of Worley’s treasures is a signed copy of When Hell Was in Session, a book written by Admiral/Senator Jeremiah Denton. The inscription reads Robert, To one of the best who always got there 1st. In response to Jane Fonda’s comments about the Hanoi Hilton, Worley refers to that book. Denton was a prisoner at the time of Fonda’s visit. He says that, before she arrived, prisoners were cleaned up and given new clothes, and anyone who showed signs of being beaten or punished was secluded.The prisoners were lined up, and Fonda shook hands with each one. Denton says the man next to him palmed a note to her giving names of some of the other prisoners, and that she passed it on to the prison guards. After she left, that prisoner was beaten to death.

When asked what he most wanted people to take away from his story, Worley said,“We were not murderers.” He conceded that atrocities occurred in Vietnam. “There were a few who were vicious,” he said,“but there are vicious people in regular civilian life. The vicious ones of the 2.1 million who served in Vietnam were in the minority.

“One of the hardest times for those who served ‘boots on the ground’ in Vietnam was the return. We were aware of the nation’s attitude toward us during and after Vietnam. I only encountered the negativism a few times, and it wasn’t that bad for me. But I had friends who were cursed at, spit on and called ‘baby killers.’ That was really sad. I only got accused of being a baby killer once. Some of the most ardent promoters of that attitude – John Kerry among them – are still with us and still spewing out stupidity.  To this day it is appropriate to say to a Vietnam veteran – ‘Welcome Home!’”

Worley left Vietnam in May of 1970 as a 1st Lt. He was transferred immediately to Okinawa, then to Camp Pendleton, California in July of 1971. He was honorably discharged in July of 1972 as a Captain.

Robert Worley is now the Director of Economic Development of the City of Emory Development Corporation. For more insights into the politics and strategies of the long Vietnam War, he suggests “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young” written by Army Lt. Col. Hal Moore and also the movie, “We Were Soldiers.”

NOTE: The photos are from Google and are intended to be representative of Worley’s experiences.

MHS Class of 1965 | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 11, 2021:

David and I, along with my cousin Penny, attended the 55th reunion of Mesquite High School class of 1965 last weekend. The reunion was planned for 2020, but COVID had other ideas. Some referred to our gathering as the 55th + 1, and some just went with the 56th.

The crowd wasn’t huge, especially considering the class was 300+. The very impromptu class picture showed about 26 classmates, and 10-15 guests accompanied them. The party took place in an event room behind Ozona’s Restaurant on Greenville Avenue. It was a nice sized room for the size of the group, though, leaving plenty of room to move around and visit without tripping over each other and adding more canes and walkers. Seriously, as a whole we were amazingly well-preserved considering we’re all around three-quarters of a century old.

Thanks to Facebook and other social media, many of us have stayed connected at least a little bit. Even so, it often took a glance at the senior picture on a nametag to connect the even more senior face with the name. But years were melted away by hugs and handshakes, and conversation was easy and lively as we shared memories and discussed children, grandchildren, retirement, and health problems. One common question was Where are you living now. I was surprised that everyone who asked me knew where Emory is. I guess our little town is better known than I thought.

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