Richard Lingwall part 3
Posted By: Nathan Lingwall (email)
Date: 8/2/2013 at 11:09:27
After awhile, in spite of our impossibly busy schedule, we thought that our lives were not yet complete, and if we were going to have children we had better get busy. Marilyn had been driving the twenty miles to NESCO every day, but now resigned this position to prepare herself for motherhood. Nathan Allan Lingwall was born on August 14, 1969. We had heard stories of the many hours of labor, finally ending in the wee hours of the night. Nathan was much more cooperative. We went to the hospital the middle of the morning and Nathan made his appearance at 1:58 in the afternoon. I hadn’t planned to be in the room for his delivery, but there was a rush at the very end and I was pushing the IV as Marilyn was wheeled into the delivery room. I was trapped, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. When I telephoned the grandparents to tell them the good news, I had to repeat the name as “Nathan” was not a common name for them, but they were all very excited as this was the first grandchild on both sides. Our lives were changed forever for the better, but there were times when we questioned that. Little boy wouldn’t go to sleep sometimes, and we were both dead tired. Fortunately, Marilyn was not working, so was able to be a full-time mom. One evening we had gone to Des Moines for dinner at the revolving restaurant atop the Holiday Inn to celebrate our anniversary. Later that night we both became deathly ill. We blamed it on food poisoning. The next day I would go to the kitchen to get a jar of baby food for Nathan, and immediately go back to bed. Marilyn would go out to warm it, and go back to bed. I would put Nathan in the high chair, Marilyn would give him a few spoons full. We took turns like this all day long. Somehow Nathan, and we, survived.
My parents had gone to California to visit the relatives, and were flying back to Denver when Dad had a heart attack. They got to Boulder to uncle and aunt Lloyd and Hilda Swanson. Dad was in the hospital several days, and we went to see him. I cut a sheet of plywood to fit in the back seat, covered it with a quilt and blanket, and Nathan had a play pen for the entire trip. Eating seemed to be the biggest problem as we would ask the restaurant to heat Nathan’s food. Some did it beautifully, others had no idea.
We must have taken well to the idea of parenting, because two years later along came Stephen James Lingwall, born July 16, 1971 at 1:17 p.m. Again nature cooperated as we went to the hospital at 10:00 a.m. and Stephen came three hours later. Big brother Nathan liked the idea of a little brother and was very interested in him. The grandparents were also excited, and came very soon to see the new addition. Both boys were fortunate to have Mom home full-time, and she did a lot of sewing, cooking, and spending time with the boys, an exhausting job.
Marilyn’s dad had decided to retire and move into town, Garnavillo, that year, and they built a new house in the spring. Marilyn was pregnant with Stephen then and the doctor said no long car trips, so we were not able to attend the sale at the farm, or help them move into town. There were many things they sold that Marilyn would have kept.
My dad had been in ill health with a variety of ailments, but now his emphysema had developed into lung cancer. He was in the Lake City Hospital for almost a month, and at 4:52 p.m. on October 19, 1972 he passed away, age 68. We were there, but he was not
conscious at all that day. What a difficult time for Mother! The hospital was some thirty miles away, and she had been going back and forth every day. Many of his siblings and relatives attended the funeral as well as many friends. He had been mayor of Harcourt for several years, was on the area telephone board, was very active in the church and was well known and liked in the area. There is a favorite Swedish hymn, “Children of the Heavenly Father”, that is sung at all Lingwall occasions, and this was a congregational hymn at the funeral. I can still hear him in the church choir singing this in Swedish. Life for Mother was very different now, and she had to be self-sufficient. Fortunately we were only an hour away, niece Arline and Clarence Johnson were close by, and she had many good friends. Life goes on.
With two children we were beginning to feel crowded in our home, and began to explore the idea of finding a larger home. We looked at several, then saw this large home on the main street into town: four bedrooms, 30x15 ft. living room, and 15 ft. square dining room, both with beamed ceilings , built out windows, and built in cabinetry. It also had a full basement and full walk-up attic. We made up our mind very quickly and moved in that summer. We always seem to move in the summer, and pick the hottest day. We were fortunate to sell our first house for twice as much as we paid, enough to buy this bigger house. Nathan started school the next year, and we lived close enough that he could walk. He had a marvelous Kindergarten teacher, and thus got a good start to his schooling.
Our family trips had been only to the grandparents so far, but in 1975 we ventured out and drove to St. Louis, Missouri for a few days. We saw the sights of St. Louis, especially the “arch” and zoo, and had dinner on a river boat. Even the boys enjoyed it. Stephen celebrated his fourth birthday in St. Louis. He got a red Tonka fire truck which we still have and is used by the grandchildren. This trip went pretty well, so the next summer we were brave and planned a long trip to the great southwest. We stayed with Clinton McDonald and his family the first night, and from then on it was motels. We saw Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder (Stephen celebrated his fifth birthday, had a pony ride, and had an ice cream cake at cousin Bob Swanson’s), The Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Great Salt Lake (the boys went swimming in the lake), and then headed back home. I kept records, and our car, a new Oldsmobile, averaged only 13.5 miles per gallon of gasoline. However, the gas cost only 60 cents a gallon.
We were really brave, seasoned travelers now and in December of 1977 we flew to California to have Christmas with aunt and uncle Leona and Dave Marymee. Friends of theirs were going to be gone over the holidays and offered to let us stay in their home. Very convenient. We spent a day in San Francisco and did all the tourist things. We then flew to Los Angeles and stayed with aunt and uncle Ellen and Hubert Gessford. They had a large guest room in their garage, so again we had our own place. We went to Disneyland, Tijuana, and saw the Rose Parade. Such a beautiful parade, and at that time most of the flowers were roses, so you could smell each float as it went by. We flew from sunny, warm California to cold, snowy Iowa. There was so much snow in our driveway and rear parking that I had to shovel lots of snow before I could even park the car.
Marilyn had started teaching part-time vocal and instrumental music in the local Seventh Day Adventist Elementary School the fall of 1976. Stephen had just started half-day kindergarten, so occasionally she took him along and brought toys for him to play with. This was an excellent school and she enjoyed teaching the many talented students. She was
there four years. Church folk seem to make good friends, and they were very kind and supportive. Many good friendships were formed. Their Sabbath is Saturday, and they are vegetarians, so when we were invited to a home for a meal it was soy beans or other vegetable products cooked to appear and taste like some of our meat dishes. They were excellent cooks.
One Wednesday afternoon in December, the 20th, we had gone to Ames right after school a little Christmas shopping, dinner, and some grocery shopping at the Warehouse Market, the cheapest place around. We got home around 9:00 p.m. and shortly afterwards the telephone rang. It was the Webster County Sheriff telling me to call Arline Johnson about a death in the family. Of course I immediately knew it was Mother. She had passed away that afternoon in her sleep, December 20, 1978, four days after her 78th birthday. Fortunately in a small town everyone looks after everyone else, and is almost nosy about this responsibility. The retired couple who lived across the street from Mother spent much of their time sitting in front of their large living room window (picture window we called it) watching the world go by. They had seen the United Parcel delivery man stop at Mother’s and ring the doorbell to deliver a package, but she didn’t answer. They knew she was home because it was their job to keep track of things like that. They became concerned and called Arline and Clarence, who immediately came into town. They could see Mother lying on the couch taking a nap, but could not rouse her with the doorbell. They broke into the back door and found that she had passed away sometime during her nap. What an easy way to go. No illness, no suffering, unlike my Dad. Uncle Oscar Swanson had passed away just a week and a half earlier, so we had been in Harcourt on the 15th for his funeral, then on the 16th for Mother’s birthday. The funeral was the 23rd, the day before Christmas Eve, and many relatives and friends attended. The casket flowers were a blanket of poinsettias as were many of the other flowers. It was well below zero that day, so the interment service at Lost Grove Cemetery was very short. Christmas was very different and somber for us that year.
In January Marilyn’s parents came to Harcourt, and we began sorting and cleaning, getting ready for an auction sale. Mother had been the unofficial keeper of Swanson pictures, papers, and memorabilia, and there was a good collection. Also furniture, dishes, and just stuff. As in December, January was very cold, well below zero. The kitchen drain had plugged up, so we ended up throwing all of the cleaning water out the front door. It practically froze in mid air. After several week-ends of preparation we were ready. The auctioneer had looked at the goods and had written newspaper ads and the school gym basement had been secured. There was much too much snow and it was too cold to have an outdoor sale. Now was the job of transporting everything to the school: big piano, refrigerator, big chests and everything else. We had good help from relatives and friends. Then the job of putting everything out on tables and arranging it. It filled the entire basement and was an all day job. The sale was a success and the main thing was getting rid of everything to people who could use it. The car had been sold previously and the house was sold shortly thereafter.
That spring we received an advertisement from the Drake Alumni Association concerning an upcoming three country trip to Europe. Were we interested? You bet! We would be gone for two weeks, so arranged to have Marilyn’s parents keep the boys for one week and godparents Shirley and Roland Gustafson would keep them on the farm the second week. We flew from Des Moines to St. Louis to Indianapolis to Bangor, then the long flight
to Pisa. Landing in Pisa was like going to a third world country. There were old fighter planes lined up on both sides of the runway and grass and weeds growing up through cracks in the cement. Our feeling of apprehension soon changed as we climbed up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. What a thrill! We were bussed to Florence, and stayed in a marvelous old hotel, the Hotel Excelsior, once the home of Caroline Bonapart, Napoleon’s sister. Then we went on a tour of Florence. The next day we went to Venice, and saw St. Mark’s Cathedral,
centuries old, and the huge square. We had a delicious Italian lunch, (Marilyn remembers exactly what we had and how it tasted), then a tour of a glass factory where we bought a vase. The next day we walked and toured Florence, seeing the Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge not destroyed during the war, the Medici Chapel, and of course Michelangelo’s “David” in the Academy. So many fantastic works of art! This was Italy, in July, July 9th to be exact, and very, very hot. This was our wedding anniversary, so in the evening we had a lavish dinner at our hotel’s rooftop restaurant with several bottles of wine. The orchestra even played the “Anniversary Waltz” for us and people sang. Dinner lasted a good two hours, and we could hardly walk away from the table. A wonderful celebration! Again, Marilyn can tell you exactly what we ate and how it tasted.
The next day we flew to Zurich, Switzerland, then by bus to Interlaken to the Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel, and it was grand, located between two lakes with marvelous mountain scenery. The next day we were on a tour through the Alps: bus, train, bus, train to Zermatt, a picturesque old town where we had lunch, then on the train again to an altitude over10,000 ft. and awe inspiring views of the Matterhorn. The next day another beautiful trip to Lucerne and surrounding territory. Unbelievable scenery! That evening we had reservations with another couple at a restaurant up in the mountains. Transportation was horse and carriage. On some of the steepest parts we thought we would have to get out and push. Another delicious meal and a memorable evening.
Now, off to Paris and the Paris Hilton. From our balcony we could see the Eiffel Tower. Thrilling! We took an elevator up to the second observation deck of the tower, and got a panoramic view of the city. We had a bus tour of the city, seeing many of the famous places we had heard about all our lives. The next day we took a tour south of Paris through the chateau country. All of these huge country castles. We toured several of them and had lunch with champaign and caviare in one of the carriage houses. The next day we were on a tour of Versailles, the most elegant place I had ever seen.
The next day another couple and we walked, and walked, and walked, walking by the Arch de Triumph, along the Champs Elysees, and saw Notre Dame Cathedral, the Opera House, and spent quite a bit of time in the Louvre, seeing the real Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Blue Boy, and many other famous works of art. We came around a corner, and there was a student group from Nevada. We knew they would be in Europe the same time as us, but what a coincidence to run into them in the Louvre. That noon we actually ate lunch at McDonalds on the Champs Elysees, and I ordered in French. That night we splurged and went to the Lido for dinner and the show. It was everything one would expect from an elegant French burlesque show. We even took the subway. The next day was our departure for home, but we were delayed at the airport because the shuttle from the American spaceship was coming down somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, and they were keeping the entire area clear. We were finally on our way, and landed in St. Louis too late to catch our connecting flight to Des Moines. We were so tired that at the hotel I could hardly carry our
luggage. We had been collecting marble statues and an alabaster chess set in Italy and slate rocks in Switzerland. Our suitcases weighed a ton each. This was before the days of weight limits. How good it was to get home, see the boys again, and hear of their adventures on the farm.
We had a good circle of friends from school, church, and the music community. There was another couple in church choir , George and Ardyth Forsyth, who had two boys the same age as ours. The choir loft was in the balcony along with the organ, but
occasionally the choir would go down in front to sing or take communion. Once we foolishly thought the four boys could behave themselves in the balcony while the choir was down in front. Wrong! They were running around and having a great time and there wasn’t a thing the parents could do about it. George and Ardyth taught us how to play bridge, and we would have wine and cheese parties and would practice playing. We never got very good. Ilene Jennings was in choir, but her husband Merv, sat with the congregation. After learning our lesson with the boys, when we went down front, we handed the boys off to Merv to baby sit for a short while. These people are still good friends, and we see them whenever we are in Nevada.
At school the band program was growing, and what had started as a relatively small band had now become quite large. Marching Band numbered 180 members, and it was getting difficult for me to do the job as thoroughly as I wanted. Every student had a lesson, either solo or small group, during the school day, and almost everyone went to contest. I was feeling the stress. Finally in the spring of 1980 I began looking for another job, and was hired at Coon Rapids, Iowa, a smaller school with a much smaller band program, but I had everything from beginner through high school. This was a difficult time for the boys to move, Nathan going into sixth grade and Stephen going into fourth. In Nevada elementary students learned to write cursive in the fourth grade, but in Coon Rapids they learned that in the third grade. Stephen missed it both places. Tutor time.
Another small town, 1,000 population, and a company town with the Garst Seed Corn Company. The high school building was new, the band room nice, and I had a small, but good band. We had been fortunate to sell our Nevada home for more than twice what we paid, and now bought another very nice older, remodeled house. We had been driving around Coon Rapids with a realtor looking at houses and not finding anything we liked. We drove past this one house and said, “There, that’s the kind of house we want.” It wasn’t for sale, but had been a little earlier. The realtor contacted the owners, and we had a house, probably paying much too much for it, but we were happy.
The boys made good friends and had great fun. The Racoon River flowed through town and created all sorts of opportunities for playing. It’s a good thing we didn’t know everything they were doing or we would have been worried sick.. Marj and Bill Bell, parents of Nathan’s best friend Brad, became our best friends, and remained that until their recent deaths. We attended the Lutheran Church on our first Sunday in town and were unimpressed with the music. Later the minister’s wife told us that she had been worrying about the music in the church and the night before our first visit had prayed that a miracle might happen. We were singing the first hymn and Linda looked up and said “Thank you, Lord”. Her prayers had been answered. We soon became organist and choir director. Keith and Linda Piller became good friends and have remained so to this day. They had boys around the age of ours, so could play together.
School started, and along with High School marching band I had to think about starting the fifth grade beginner program. It had been a long time since I had started beginners, and Marilyn was a godsend. I taught the brass and she taught many of the woodwinds. Everyone got a good start that way as there were just too many students for one person to teach well. Again, everyone got a private or group lesson during school time. The students rented their instrument from a music store for three months, then had the opportunity to buy or continue renting, or quit, horrid thought. Just before the rental period was up I had a program where all of the beginners played a solo, some little song from their
lesson book. Of course the parents were thrilled, and most of the students continued with band. Again we had a full band program with all of the activities, concerts, and contests. Even though I was in a smaller school, I still had “big school” expectations, and we had many students who did very well at contest, some getting “Best Performance of the Day” awards. Marilyn taught some of the better high school woodwind players and they thrived under her teaching. Nathan and Stephen were both in band, and I wondered how they would react to being in “Dad’s band”. They seemed to enjoy it, and I certainly enjoyed having them.
In June of 1982 we took an extended vacation to the east coast. We had a new 1981 two-door hatchback Chevrolet Citation. Into the trunk we packed a family size tent, our camping gear and our luggage. Everything had its place and it had to be right there. This was our first tenting experience, but not the last. We went to Williamsburg, Virginia for a few days, absorbing all of its history, and also took a day trip to Virginia Beech to swim in the ocean. From there we went to Silver Spring, Maryland to stay with cousin Dwight Swanson. We took the rapid transit train to Washington, D.C. every day and toured the buildings and monuments on the Mall. The Smithsonian Institute Science and Technology building was a favorite of the boys. Each one bought a large model kit for a space ship. Remember our car? Any purchases had to go inside the car. On July Fourth we took a picnic supper to the Mall and sat there with thousands of others waiting for the fireworks. Restrooms were very limited, and that is not a good thing with two young boys. There was a grove of little trees around one of the restrooms, and many of the men just went off into the trees. Dwight’s daughter, Barbara, worked in Washington, D.C. for the National Parks Service, the department that organized the fireworks display. She was involved with it and said that there would be $200,000 worth of fireworks shot off that evening. For folks from small town Iowa this was an unbelievable amount, and the display was the most impressive we had ever seen.
The next day we left for Boston. At that time it was difficult to drive in Boston, and I understand that it hasn’t gotten much better. We parked by the “village green” and walked the “Freedom Trail”, seeing Old North Church, Old Ironsides, and all of the historic sights. What a history lesson for the boys. In fact, the entire trip was American History 101. We camped outside Boston, close to Plymouth Rock, another historical place. We went home through Pennsylvania and stopped in Lancaster County for a good Amish dinner and a look at Amish life. Very similar to the Amana Colonies in Iowa. By the time we started for home the back seat was piled high with purchases, leaving just enough room for one boy, and the other sat on the counsel in the front seat.
We and the boys were very active in church, and Nathan had been going to Confirmation Classes for two years. The time for Confirmation came, Palm Sunday 1983,
and with it a tremendous blizzard. Marilyn’s folks had slid into town on Saturday, but on Sunday nothing was moving. Church was called off. Since grandma and grandpa were here and wouldn’t be able to come back soon, we wanted Nathan’s Confirmation now. We called the pastor, a good friend, and he agreed to do the service. The congregation consisted of our family and the pastor’s family. It was a very nice service, and following it everyone came to our house for a celebratory dinner. The town didn’t begin to shovel out until the next day. After four years with an expanding band program in Coon Rapids, I experienced a mild case of burn-out. I investigated some other jobs, and finally became an insurance agent for Horace Mann Insurance Company, an insurance company mainly for teachers. We had
had their insurance for several years and I was acquainted with some of the agents. This meant moving to Des Moines however. I started out with an apartment in Dallas Center, just a few miles from the office in West Des Moines. I worked in the office during the week and went home to Coon Rapids on weekends. This was not a good situation for any of us with Stephen in eighth grade and Nathan a sophomore. Fortunately the office had an 800 telephone line, and I called home daily.
Marilyn’s mother had suffered an aneurism on the brain when they were visiting us, and spent many days in Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, before recuperating enough from brain surgery to return to Garnavillo. She was making good progress and they enjoyed taking day trips, as they always had, to various places in the area. On one of these trips, on May 11, 1985, she suffered a ruptured aneurysm in the brain and passed away instantly. What a shock!
During this time of illness with Mother Schlake I realized that I was not meant to be an insurance salesman. I was not happy, my family was not happy, and I wasn’t making enough money to support us. I decided that teaching was what I knew and enjoyed, and wasn’t so bad after all. Sometimes one needs to explore the other side of the fence to realize how good you really have it. Once more the search of the teacher ads in the Des Moines Register. Iowa was in a recession and schools did not want a band director with a Masters Degree and twenty four years experience. However one school popped out with the name of Supt. Clark Stevens. He had been my principal in Nevada for a few years and I liked him and he liked my work. But where was this school: Casa Grande, Arizona? I phoned him and set up an interview. Marilyn and I flew to Phoenix in the middle of July, rented a car and started down Interstate 10 for Casa Grande. It was soooo hot, 116 that day, the desert was very dry and forsaken looking, and we almost turned around to fly back home. We kept going to Casa Grande, entered the back way through the industrial area, then kept going through the “old town” business district and to the wrong side of the tracks. Again we were ready to go back home. We finally found the school, not bad looking, and talked to the principal, very pleasant, and saw the band room. What a band room! He said that it was the largest high school band room in the state, and I believed him. There were also seven storage rooms and an office off of the main room. The fine arts building had the auditorium, just across the hall from the band room, which seated fifteen hundred. In Nevada we had to drag everything across the parking lot (through rain, snow, or whatever) to Gates Hall, a school/community multi-purpose building with so many restrictions and rules that it was very difficult to use. In Coon Rapids there was a real auditorium, but small and quite a ways from the band room. Here it was just across the hall. How convenient!
After talking to the principal we were just going to stop in and say “hello” to Dr. Stevens, but he cleared his afternoon schedule and talked to us for quite a while, then showed us around town. All the right places this time. Then he called a realtor and she showed us what was for sale, and the two homes that were for rent. Not much choice here. I told her that I didn’t even have the job yet and it was much too soon to be looking for a house, but she replied that after talking to Dr. Stevens it sounded like I did have the job, and with the limited availability of homes to rent we should make some plans. We went back to the school office and asked the secretary to recommend a good motel for the night. She couldn’t recommend any in town as they were all old and run down, but down the interstate about twenty miles towards Tucson there was a good motel. Off we went through the hot, dry desert and found the place. Going to our room we had our first encounter with a lizard.
We didn’t know if they were dangerous or not, so kept our distance. Now it was decision time. Can we leave everything we have known all our lives as well as our family and move to this god forsaken desert? Would the boys want to move as they would be a freshman and junior in high school? Did we really want to move? Decisions! Decisions!
It was on the plane going home that we definitely decided . Casa Grande, here we come! Now it was panic time. Rent a house in Casa Grande, sell our house in Coon Rapids (remember, recession time), get the boys excited about moving, tell Marilyn’s dad ( his wife had just died two months earlier and his son was getting a divorce), and get Stephen confirmed. He had been going to Confirmation Class for two years and was not scheduled to complete the course for several months. The pastor agreed to see him every day and the cram session began. He was confirmed on Sunday, August 18, we went to a restaurant for his Conformation dinner, then went home and loaded the truck. Marilyn’s dad and a former student of mine drove the truck, a Rider rental truck pulling a U-Haul trailer. We still couldn’t get everything in and had to leave a few pieces of furniture behind. Marilyn and Stephen with the dog, Muffin, drove the red Chevy Celebrity, well loaded. Nathan and I with two cats drove the Citation with a luggage carrier on top. And off we went, our little procession, on a 1500 mile adventure to a strange new world.
Of course the cats got sick and threw up during the first thirty minutes, and since we had no communication between the vehicles we endured the smell for quite some time. The second day we were driving on I-40 in New Mexico and ran into a tremendous rain storm. Unfortunately Stephen, age 14 with a month old learners permit, was driving. The difficulty of driving in the storm and the ever increasing urgency to go to the bathroom made those miles very memorable. We had some Coon Rapids friends who wintered in Mesa, Arizona, and they charted out a recommended route for us. This was fine for their Cadillac, but the hills/mountains were too much for our truck. The brakes were smoking, and to keep the truck from going too fast they drove in super low. There was no place to pull off the road, and we soon had a line of forty cars and forty very irate drivers behind us. Such is life! It was dark when we arrived in Mesa, so decided to stop for the night. What fun to smuggle a dog and two cats into the second floor room, then to keep the dog quiet with all of the strange sounds around.
We finally made it to Casa Grande, got the key to our rental house, and started to unload furniture. Fortunately a couple of teachers heard that we were in town and came over to help. Also, the football coach was having practice and sent over some of the team to help. All of our furniture in this little four bedroom ranch. The pool table stayed out in the carport with the mopeds and bicycles. No room for cars. Band Camp should have started two weeks before school began. We weren’t even in town yet, so no camp this first year. The Junior High band director invited me over to meet my predecessor and see a video tape of the marching band. They were good! Panic time! I worked really hard that year to be sure that the band was better than the preceding year, and we were. Marching Band was a much bigger thing here than in Iowa, and we went to contests and to several away games each year. In Iowa we had been talking about moving to West Des Moines or Norwalk, and the boys were definitely against the idea because they didn’t want to go to such a large school. We didn’t tell them that Casa Grande High School had 2400 students, larger than any school in Iowa, and they got along very well. One of the many advantages of being in band is that
it is like a big family and you immediately have a big circle of friends. It doesn’t matter how large the school, you have your band family and a good group of friends.
Somehow when we would move to a new city word would get out that I was a church organist and Marilyn a choir director. We were hardly settled before the Presbyterian minister came calling. They had just fired their choir director and also needed an organist. The only Lutheran church in town was Missouri Synod. We had visited there a couple of times and had decided that that definitely was not for us. We became Presbyterians, and worked there for the next eleven years. This church had the only pipe organ in Pinal county, and although small, was fun to play. Marilyn had a good volunteer choir and presented many fine performances including “Amahl and the Night Visitors”.
In Iowa every band student had a lesson during the school day. This was not the case in Casa Grande. No one got out of class for anything, especially a band lesson. My band rehearsals changed a little to include more instruction time, and students came in before and after school for help or small ensemble rehearsals. Around contest time, January, I had retired winter visitor band directors come in to help prepare the solos and small ensembles for contest. I was used to playing the piano accompaniment for most of the soloists and groups, but now I had to have others help because of the limited time the students were available. Somehow it all worked.
We were living in this rented home and looking for a home to buy. There were not many to choose from, so we just kept looking. Finally, after a year and two months we found one, not perfect, but acceptable. We moved on Thanksgiving Day with the help of friends from church. We got everything moved by early afternoon, then went to Jean and Steve Pasell’s for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s great to have good friends. We only did one remodeling project on this house, adding a fireplace in the family room, increasing the closet size in the master bedroom and totally remodeling the two bathrooms.
I continued with my tradition of a band trip every two years, and our first trip was to a concert festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This was in March and more memorable than the contest was our trip up Pike’s Peak on the cog railroad. They had had a blizzard and about half way up we had to stop as the tacks were blocked with snow. We all got out and played in the snow. For some of these desert kids it was the first time they had seen snow, much less played in it. This was probably the highlight of the trip. In Iowa I always planned church attendance if we were on a trip over Sunday. I did the same here, and we attended services at the Air Force Academy Chapel, a magnificent building. This may have been one of the few times some of my students had ever been to church.
I should back up a little and say that Stephen had a good friend in band, Derrick Moore, the son of the Elementary Band Director. On the afternoon of departure on the Colorado trip Stephen was over at Derrick’s, playing with a B-B gun. Derick shot at a rock, the B-B ricocheted and went into Stephen’s foot. Stephen called Mom to come and get him, but the boys said nothing to Derrick’s mom. A quick trip to the hospital emergency room for removal of the B-B, and then onto the bus for the trip. It’s a good thing this was not a marching trip because Stephen was not walking very well.
I had a marching band (at times one of the largest in the state), two concert bands, and a jazz band. I had always had Jazz/swing/dance bands, but here they were serious about it. It was a regular class. I was not a jazz musician, so I was learning as much as the students. We went to jazz festivals at NAU in Flagstaff, and local festivals at Central Arizona College,
just a few miles north-east of town. I also taught a piano lab. This was fun as most of the students really wanted to learn to play piano and many went on to take private lessons.
Nathan graduated from high school in May of 1987 and had always said he wanted to go to Iowa State University, so he did. We were not too happy about sending him so far away from home, but it was a good school and he got a good education. Even though we still owned the house in Coon Rapids (recession is not a good time to sell a house in small town Iowa) we had to pay out-of-state tuition. This meant that Nathan had to finish in four years, which he did, with a degree in finance. 1989 came along and Stephen graduated from high school. He chose to go to the University of Arizona in Tucson and stayed there two years. His roommates, who he liked, seemed to stay just one semester, then move to another school. He dropped out of school and worked for the Liz Claiborne outlet store as a manager. Shortly thereafter he broke his wrist in a biking accident, but still continued to work. He had promised that he would go back to school, and the next year he enrolled in Arizona State University in Tempe, commuting from Casa Grande. He enjoyed this and graduated May of 1994. We didn’t know until the graduation ceremony that he was graduating with honors, magna cum laude.
In 1991 we celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary by flying to Hawaii. We spent three days in Honolulu exploring the island: the Polynesian Cultural Center, U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, the Dole pineapple plant, and Waikiki Beach. Then we flew to the big island of Hawaii where we had rented a condo. Again we toured the island and had a great time. In 1996 we celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary with a cruise to Alaska. We flew to Anchorage and took a train to Fairbanks, through Donali Park where we stayed all night. We took a “wildlife tour” expecting to see moose, elk, and bear. All we say was a fox catch a ground squirrel. From Fairbanks we flew back to Anchorage and boarded the ship for a cruise down the coast to Vancouver. We stopped at several towns, including Juneau, got up close to a glacier, and saw and did many interesting things.
There had been talk of a new high school for several years, and finally a bond issue was passed. The teachers gave input as to their classroom needs, and I drew a detailed plan for the band room and side rooms. Every time the plans came back from the architect the band room got smaller. The original plans would have been adequate for a growing program, but not the final design. I understand that since I left they have added to the band room, probably costing much more than if they had included it in the original building. The room was nice, across the hall from the stage door to the auditorium, and I had a good office and library. In the old room I could get the entire marching band up on the risers with plenty of room for the flag line on the floor. Not so in the new room, but you make do with what you have and we got along fine.
I always gotten along well with the administration and school board. They generally knew very little about music and band and left me alone to do my own thing. Most of them had children in band and as long as the kids and the parents were happy, the administration was happy. The band was in the public eye more than most programs of the school and we were a good public relations tool. We made the front page of the paper more than any other school programs. Many teachers complained constantly about the administration, to the point that I finally gave up on the teachers’ association, and did not join any more. They seemed to be constantly working against education and the school rather that for it. How could they be good, positive teachers with attitudes like that? I have always believed in positive thinking, and have had a happier and more productive life because of it.
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