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Family History

Best Man

He wasn’t my first choice, though he could have been. His curly black mullet and long eyelashes were more than enough to lure me in Eddy’s direction, but it was his best friend, Jim, who swooped in and made the first move.

Best friends since childhood, Eddy and Jim were students at Ninnekah – a tiny Oklahoma school located in Grady County. I didn’t come along until the 4th grade. Up until then, I attended West Elementary School in the nearby town of Chickasha. I was a year older than Eddy and Jim, so I didn’t know either of them until Junior High when the three of us took Mr. McGuire’s Algebra class. Even then, we did not interact; it wasn’t cool for a freshman like me to associate with 8th graders. For the entire year, Eddy and Jim sat on one side of the classroom, and I on another – each oblivious to the ties that would bind us three years later.

There were two groups of students at Ninnekah High School: those who were destined for college upon graduation, and those who weren’t. Eddy, Jim, and I fell into the second group; we didn’t have the financial backing to attend college until later in life. Thankfully, Oklahoma had a program that allowed high school Juniors and Seniors to learn a trade through occupational training. For four hours every morning, while our peers sat in stuffy high school classrooms, Eddy, Jim, and I attended Canadian Valley Vo-Tech and gained valuable on-the-job training and experience. Eddy was in the Auto Body program, Jim took Machine Shop, and I was in Secretarial Training. I saw Eddy and Jim every morning in the Vo-Tech parking lot. I parked my Chevy Chevette on the south side across from Jim’s 1968 Cougar, and Eddy’s 1971 GMC step-side pickup. It was in this parking lot where the first words among us were spoken.

“You left your lights on,” Jim told me as I hurriedly walked by him and Eddy on my way to class. I turned around and saw that I had, in fact, left them on. “Thanks,” I said, returning to my vehicle. It was still uncool to associate with younger students.

Vo-Tech was half a day; therefore, we took normal classes back at the high school after lunch. As I headed to Mrs. Stockton’s Marriage and Childcare class, Eddy and Jim sauntered over to Mrs. Pruitt’s Typing class. Unfortunately, neither showed any promise of ever learning to type. After two weeks, Mrs. Pruitt kindly recommended they withdraw from her class – and that his how the boys ended up sitting at my table in Marriage and Child Care.

Eddy and Jim were hilarious. Like Abbott and Costello, the comedic duo fed off each other’s humor, charisma, and charm. They started to grow on me; they made me laugh.

Towards the end of the semester, Mrs. Stockton assigned Jim and I to a research project that involved planning a wedding and honeymoon on a fixed budget. We got an “A” on the assignment. Before the semester was over, Jim and I were dating.

Meanwhile, Eddy met a girl named Sheri. She was from Chickasha. The four of us double dated every weekend. When we had money, we went to Pizza Inn and shared two large pepperoni pizzas. When we were broke, we played Wahoo and drank beer at Jim’s house.

The four of us were inseparable, so when an Air Force recruiter promised Eddy and Jim they could sign up and serve together, we were all in. Known as the Buddy Program, this recruitment tool enticed future Airmen with a promise to attend Basic Military Training with a friend. If they played their cards right, the recruiter said, they could even attend the same tech school and get stationed at the same base! The boys took the bait. Both signed the dotted-line, entered the Delayed Entry Program, and got hitched while they waited to go to boot camp.

Eddy and Sheri were married first. I was the Maid of Honor and Jim was the Best Man. Eddy returned the honor four months later and stood next to Jim at our wedding. Everything was going as planned, then the Air Force suddenly changed the play. Eddy was called up to attend Basic Training in December 1991; Jim wouldn’t get to go until June 1992. Uncle Sam failed to keep his promise; we were devastated.Best Man and Groom, October 1991

Phone calls, letters, and Christmas cards allowed us to stay in touch after we went our separate ways. Every few years, we took leave and met up in our hometown. Each visit felt like old times. Eight years passed when the visits came to an abrupt halt at the news of Eddy and Sheri’s divorce. Having known Eddy longer, I naturally gravitated towards him to offer support. Ironically, he did the same for me two years later when divorce invaded my own life.

Eddy and I bonded through our experiences.  We talked on the phone on a regular basis and emailed daily. When I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2002, Eddy sent me a large bouquet of yellow roses with a note that said he was proud of me. The phone calls started lasting for hours; on many occasions, our conversation outlasted my phone battery. It had been four years since our last visit; we decided it was time for a reunion.

I was living in New Mexico at the time and Eddy was stationed in Utah. We decided I would fly to Utah and then he would drive us to Las Vegas for a 4-day mini vacation. Seeing Eddy again felt like home. I had missed my friend.

You know that old saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”? Well, in our case, what happened in Vegas did not stay there. In fact, it followed me home. What happened in Vegas was I fell in love with the Best Man.

Soon after our Vegas trip, I moved to Utah. Eddy proposed shortly thereafter. Being the honorable man that he was, and is to this day, Eddy insisted upon receiving Jim’s blessing, to which Jim happily provided. Eddy and I were married in 2003 in a little wedding chapel in Edmond, Oklahoma. This time, the Best Man and Maid of Honor were Eddy’s children – my new bonus children – Wade and Shani.

He wasn’t my first choice, though he could have been. But one thing is true: Eddy was and always will be my Best Man.

Jim, Vivian, & Eddy, May 2017

           Jim, me, and Eddy – May 2017

~Viv

Junior the Basset Hound

Junior Story_1

This story is the first in a series of fun-loving memories involving the life and antics of our beloved Junior.

On June 18, 2002, Magnolia Rose and Buford Beaureguard Didley welcomed their second litter of basset hound puppies. At 10 weeks, four of the six had gone to live with new families. The last two would have as well if it were not for the owners leaving town unexpectedly. Their extended sabbatical, however, did not stop the puppies from growing. In fact, they doubled in size and at four months, they were considered too old for many prospective families. No longer in high demand, the owners placed a classified ad, describing the puppies as ‘discounted’ purebreds.

My husband, Eddy, grew up during the Smokey and the Bandit era, and like every other 70’s kid, he fell in love with one of the movie’s co-stars: Fred the Basset Hound. Fred was slobbery, fat, stubborn, and had long ears and short legs. What was not to love? As a young boy, Eddy had two basset hounds: Thermador and Buford. They were perfect for kids, he informed me as he scanned the classifieds in search of one for our daughter’s birthday.

There were a couple of purebred hounds listed, but their price tags were over $700 – well beyond the perimeters of our military paycheck. Just when he was about to give up the search, Eddy came across the ad for ‘discounted’ bassets. They were only $300, but were located in Brigham City, 45-minutes away from our home. There was no guarantee the puppies would be there when we arrived. Nevertheless, we took the chance.

Both puppies were insanely adorable. They had fat pot bellies, rows of excess skin, droopy faces, long velvety ears, and short, stubby legs. I had never seen anything so cute in all my life. Their comical appearance was complimented by their goofy personalities. We watched the pair chase each other for a few seconds then abruptly plop down in overexaggerated exhaustion. One of the puppies rested quietly while the other rolled onto his back and began wiggling and growling incessantly. He put on quite the show. He made us laugh.

The puppies already had names, though neither responded when addressed. The quiet, reserved one was named Sam and the obnoxious one was named Eddy. The fact he shared my husband’s name was ironic yet confirming. Eddy won us over with his silly shenanigans. He was perfect for us. Since we already had an ‘Eddy’ in the family, we decided to call him Junior.

Junior the Basset Hound became a member of our family in October 2002. For 13 years, he whined constantly, refused to learn tricks or return a thrown ball, and “punished” us when we left him alone too long. He and I got off on the wrong foot. He treated our daughter like dirt. He loved rough-housing with his daddy. He was a master manipulator when it came to snacks. Our lives and decision-making centered around him. He controlled our hearts. We loved him dearly.

I love sharing memories of Junior and I suspect you enjoy sharing funny stories of your pets too. Jump on over the MemoryBlogger Forum and tell us about your favorite furry friend.

~Viv

 

 

 

 

Pom-pom Mom

When I was a young girl, I used to do flips and cartwheels on a blanket in our front yard. The blanket was supposed to protect my hands from getting pricked by stickers, but it failed miserably, as was evidenced by my bloody palms.

I dreamt of becoming a cheerleader, but I had neither the talent nor the financial backing to bring the dream to fruition. So, I improvised. I bought two purple pom-poms with my allowance money, and I choreographed my own routines at home. I practiced religiously and once I had enough confidence, I put on a show for my mom. I could always count on her to dish out overexaggerated compliments. I was never as good as she made me out to be, but her praise was genuine and loving.

Little did I know, watching me tumble, dance, and cheer in our yard brought back memories of her own childhood. Unlike me, however, my mom fulfilled her dream. Long before my sister and I were a glint in her eye, our mother marched in parades to the Broadway hit Oklahoma! and performed halftime shows at local sporting events. Our mom was a pom-pom girl!

It all started in the late 1950s at a high school basketball game. She was there with her family, watching her brother, Dennis, play. My mom idolized her older brother and loved cheering for him at games, but that night, her attention was drawn to something other than the game. That night, she was drawn to the girls with the colorful pom-poms.

Their performance only lasted a few minutes, but that was just enough time to hook my mom. Although it took some convincing, she eventually talked my grandma into letting her try out for the team, and within a few weeks, she became the newest member of the squad.

My grandma went right to work making a pair of pom-poms out of maroon and white strips of crate paper, and sewing my mom’s uniform, which consisted of a white blouse, short skirt, and a pillbox hat with a strap that came around the chin.

The night of her debut, my mom was filled with nervous energy. She marched out with the other girls and stood in her designated spot. Then it happened. She failed to wait for the cue. She was a half-step ahead of everyone else. While the squad danced in perfect unison, my mom heedlessly performed against the grain. It wasn’t until she looked up to the bleachers and saw the horror on my grandma’s face that she realized she was out of step. But it was too late; she had completed the routine. There was nothing left to do but stand there and politely wait for the other girls to catch up.

I am proud of my mom for the resiliency she displayed at such a young age. She did not let embarrassment hinder her. Instead, she paid better attention, practiced harder, and performed with her squad the remainder of her 8th grade year.

I love that she and I share a similar childhood memory. What fun memories do you have in common with someone you love?  Tell us about them in the MemoryBlogger Forum!

~Viv

Marilyn’s Story

Marilyn the pickup truck

She wasn’t much to look at, but her body enticed my husband the moment he laid eyes on her. He saw something others were simply too blind to see. He saw through her shattered exterior. He saw potential.

This is a story of love, devotion, and legacy. This is Marilyn’s story.

For as long as he could remember, Eddy had his eye on a 1971 GMC step side pickup. It rested on blocks at Performance Auto and Marine in Chickasha, Oklahoma. It was just a shell of a truck – no wheels, tires, transmission, or motor. It didn’t even have seats or a steering wheel. The telephone pole imprint embedded in the grill was evidence it had suffered a collision, which would explain the missing hood. Despite its imperfections, Eddy saw potential and every time he and his dad drove by the shop, Eddy looked to see if it was still there.

At age 14, Eddy convinced his dad to drop by Performance Auto and ask the owner, Garry Snow, if the truck was for sale. Garry said he planned to run it across the scales at the Dog Leg Salvage Yard that week. He thought he’d get about $50 for the scrap metal; if they were willing to pay that, then the truck was theirs. With the money Eddy earned roofing houses for his uncle, he happily forked over the cash.

The truck was hauled and stored at his uncle’s mechanic shop, and for the next two years, Eddy and his dad scouted local salvage yards for parts. Piece by piece, the truck was reassembled and slowly brought back to life. However, the build was far from perfect. Although Eddy did his best to straighten the grill, the telephone pole imprint was still clearly visible. It was missing the tailgate, and the wooden liner was so eroded, you could literally see the ground through the rotted holes. The transmission and motor were the final two components needed to complete the project, however, finding ones that fit Eddy’s budget proved challenging. Luckily, both became available the day his dad wrecked the family’s 1964 Chevelle. The car was no longer drivable, but the transmission and motor lived on in Eddy’s ‘71 GMC.

The blue directional wheels and white-letter Daytona Radial tires Eddy bought from Ralf & Sons Tire Center complemented the cheap $400 blue paint job. It was not the prettiest or safest build, but by the grace of God, it passed inspection and was ready to drive just two days before Eddy’s 16th birthday.

Eddy drove and drag-raced his ‘71 GMC until he joined the Air Force at the age of 18. On December 26, 1991, Eddy parked his truck in his dad’s backyard and handed over the keys with the promise he would return soon to reclaim her. He had no way of knowing at the time that this agreement would eventually land his dad in the Grady County jail.

Twelve years of neglect and rodent invasion took its toll and in 2003, an Enforcement Code Officer told Eddy’s dad that the unsightly truck needed to go or else it would be impounded. His dad informed the officer that he had no intention of getting rid of the truck, as it belonged to his son who was currently fighting the war in Iraq. Furthermore, he said, if the officer ever stepped foot on his property again, he would shoot him. Now, threatening an Enforcement Code Officer was obviously not the proper way to handle the situation and his utter lack of judgement cost him an entire evening in a cold jail cell. The next morning when he went before the judge, he provided the same explanation (minus the threat) as to why he was not going to move the truck. Although the judge did not approve of his misconduct, she dropped the charges since the vehicle was indeed owned by a military member deployed to a war zone.

Eddy honorably served our country for 20 years and retired from the Air Force in 2011. He planned to return to Oklahoma and retrieve his GMC soon thereafter, but found it difficult to take time away from his new job. Therefore, in September 2014, his dad hauled the truck from Oklahoma to be reunited with its original owner. Eddy was shocked to see how much it had deteriorated over the years. All four tires were flat, and it had been overtaken with animal waste, nests, and tree remnants. Critters chewed through the wires and left massive holes in the seat cushions and carpet. Eddy immediately began nurturing her and for the next three months, he called his dad every Sunday to brief him on the progress and his vision of turning the ‘71 GMC step side into a ‘68 Chevy short wide bed. Sadly, on December 10, 2014, the phone calls came to an abrupt halt upon learning the devastating news that his dad passed away due to a massive heart attack.

For 7 years, this restoration project was a weekend escape for Eddy. From mechanical to electrical, to paint and body work, he accomplished every bit of the work himself. Though he executed this project solo in our garage, I am confident my husband was never alone. Just like all those years before, my father-in-law was right there with his beloved son – building, smiling, and encouraging. And when the day came to take Marilyn for her first joy ride, he was right there, riding shotgun.

Story also featured in LMC Truck Life.

In loving memory of Pop.

~Viv

 

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