She was glad, though, I think, when he decided to put roots down in a small little east Texas town. Over time, our family became a pillar of the little community because Daddy was a successful business owner and Momma was involved in the community by getting us plugged in to the local churches and leading in projects like providing Christmas for the needy. She knew that better education would help herself and many others to step up in society and became an Adult Education Teacher after she got her own GED. She saw the value of the American government system and became an election judge. We didn't become rich, but we were no longer poor people.
So, where did you come from?
Well, that's just a start and I'll add to this as I ask myself other questions.........
Where did I go? I went to church. It's where I met most of my friends and my very best friend, Jesus. I went to gospel concerts at the awesome Houston Music Hall and saw the greats - The Happy Goodmans, Florida Boys, Oakridge Boys, The Galileans and The Rambos. Inspired, I and four of my friends formed our own quartet group and went around and sung at a lot of "singins" in our matching blue dresses in the surrounding small towns! The local radio station found out about us and offered us a weekly spot, free of charge! Those were such fun times!
I went to work on a public job in the summer when I was 14 because I wanted to have some spending money. I had to talk Momma into helping me out on it because I still couldn't drive leagally. The place I went to work was in another town 10 miles away and I needed her to take me and pick me up at the end of my shift. It was a dairy queen type place. Inside, there were four booth tables and a soda bar. Outside there were car hops waiting on cars that parked all around. I still remember the first day there. The first thing the boss had me do was clean out a huge freezer. He had started defrosting it and I remember there was lots of frozen food in it that I had to take out before I cleaned it with hot soapy water, which took several hours to do. I bused the tables after customers left them and swept the floor several times. Then, after we closed on that first night, I had to mop the dining area and the kitchen area where the floor was real dirty. I think he wanted to see how tough I could be and made that first day really hard for me. I showed him I was determined, but I was one tired puppy when Momma came to pick me up at about 10:30. In the next few days, the boss taught me how to take orders, fix drinks and shakes, make a perfect icecream cone with the perfect little swirl on top and work with the car hops. There was a little window where the car hops brought the orders to and put the order sheet under a bell and rang it. The boss let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I'd better be "johnny on the spot" to receive those orders and get them in to the cook and then have all the drinks, malts, etc on a tray ready to add the food to it as soon as it was done and get it to the window for the car hop while still waiting on customers inside too! The boss was known to be a rich man so I think he had other enterprises too, but this dairy queen was his "baby" at the time, so he taught me personally how he wanted things done. He had a daughter who was about 16, spoiled and beautiful. She seldom helped out but would come up with her friends, usually boys, and they would sit in the booths and laugh and eat as much as they wanted and have a great time. She loved to entertain herself and her friends by pulling tricks on me that made me look really stupid. My take away from that summer job was wealth and beauty were of no value if it made you haughty and mean spirited. I got my driver's license when I was 16 and then I went to work at Shauny's BarBQue after school most days, weekends and sometimes lunch hour during my school day. One Saturday, my brothers showed up at that job and told me to get in the car and that our daddy had been in a fire and gotten badly burned. I will never forget that 16 mile trip, going literally 100 miles an hour down the freeway with my brothers headed to that hospital. I rushed into the ER and saw my daddy sitting there in a wheelchair with his burned skin falling off his arms as he raised them to me and said, "Beck, don't cry....I'll be OK" But I couldn't hug him and I didn't believe him. The burned skin on his arms looked much like old tatterted rags hanging on an old clothsline swaying with the breeze. He didn't seem to know how badly he was burned or how horrible he looked, with 55% of his body burned and most of it third degree. He was transported right away to the Galveston Hospital Burn Unit.
I went to Galveston to live with my Aunt, along with my handicapped brother and my mother, so we could be near Daddy. Momma would spend most days with Daddy at the hospital and I would spend those days taking care of my brother. After a few weeks, my mother decided to check into the Sunshine Center she'd heard about that was a days school serving young adults (my brother was 24) with developmental disabilities. At first they said no because he had epilepsy with seizures, but Momma asked if they would accept him if I came along with him to take care of him if he had a seizure there and they agreed to it! In those days, handicapped children were not educated in public schools so this was going to be an adventure for both of us. It was a bright and beautiful place which is still there. The slogan there is "Because disability does not mean inability" (http://www.sunshinecenterinc.org/) , and that is how the instructors approached their job, giving those young adults sight of a brighter future. It was somewhat like what is called life skills programs in public schools for handicapped students now. I remember a room with beautiful sewing machines where the girls learned to sew and a shop where the boys learned to build things with wood and where Stephen built a little stool with a marble type top. In the dining room the students learned nice table manners. All the instructors were kind and encouraging, but I was especially inspired by that shop teacher; his patience and kindness to the students and the way he pushed them to achieve more than they had ever known they could. After months in the hospital there, Daddy was dismissed and we went back home. Daddy was very disabled and had a very "long road to hoe" before he was back on his feet. I'd grown up so much in those months and I knew that someday I wanted to make the kind of difference in handicapped children's lives that the teachers at the Sunshine school in Galveston were making.
Well, that's just a start on answering "Where did I go?" but I'm not trying to tell every path my life took but the pivotal ones that helped me know the next step to take. ll have to add more about this at a later time.........
I hope all of you readers will begin thinking about this question about yourself. Would love to read your comments below.