My Nine Lives Plus One

I am writing these thoughts about my childhood and how I was raised for my children and grandchildren. Kids, you never knew your great grandparents, nor your paternal grandfather, Elmo John Riddle, and I believe from these stories I write for you from the time I was born to Elmo & Nadine Martin Riddle, you may understand why Mom and Nana is the way she is! I love you, Tiffany, Mark, Tristen and Bryce--you are my everything!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Life After 70 Has Its Distractions

So, I started writing again after almost a year and found that I had not published my last piece about Uncle Homer.  I started to delete it but after reading it again, I realized how important this wonderful man was in my life and I wish never to forget those wonderful memories.  
Now my posts are out of sync but so am I lately and that just goes to show how distractions happen after 70.
Some day after I'm gone from this world, Maybe someone will write about me, perhaps one of my grandchildren or someone I have known briefly or for a lifetime..  But if not, I know I have been a good person and have loved and been loved.
Therefore, if distractions become too much of problem with my writing, I shall continue to make the best of it and "blog" on doing my utmost in putting together those almost faded memories that are so important to us as we age.
Oops! It's time to finish this coffee, get dressed and head to the gym...... (more about that later on)!

Home From the War and a New Car

Homer came home to Oklahoma a few days after he return from Korea on June 6, 1951.  I remember the first thing he did was to buy a new car.  I was so excited for the opportunity for my first ride in Uncle Homer's new car.  I remember it was blue and maybe a Plymouth and I thought it was the prettiest car I had ever seen!   My grandparents owned a little black Plymouth Coupe which didn't have much of a back seat, and since I was  beginning to grow taller by then, that Coupe was a little too cramped for three people, especially me, but Grandpa Riddle kept that car for a very long time--I think I was around 13 or 14 before he traded for a Cheverlet sedan.  You can imagine my excitement when I rode in my favorite uncle's beautiful blue car with a real back seat!

Needless to say, I was pretty jealous when the second thing he did was to begin dating someone.   He had known Opal Juanita Plank all his life, and I think they were corresponding not long before he came home. Opal, like Homer, had a failed marriage when she was very young and she was living with her parents in Muldrow.  Opal had a little baby girl who was just a few months old at that time.  I remember meeting Opal one day with her baby, Joy, when she stopped by to visit my Grandma Riddle.  She brought Joy with her to meet us and I thought she was just the cutest baby I had ever seen.  She and Grandma visited for a long time that day while I played with the baby.  I'm not sure why Opal stopped by, but I think she had been on a few dates with Homer and just wanted to visit with my Grandma--maybe get to know the family better.  

Opal was very pretty and genuinely easy to like.  I didn't think much about it at the time because I really didn't know or even suspect what was really going on.  I don't know how many dates they had been on by that time, but I guess it was serious and they were already discussing marriage.  My Grandma Riddle liked Opal because she had known about her all of her life and her family as well.  Opal had also been through  a failed marriage, but she came from a good, loving family and was welcomed into our family by my grandparents, but not me, at first anyway.  I was a little skeptical, cute baby or not, that this woman might be the one taking my Uncle Homer away from me.  These first feelings I had changed over time and I began to fall in love her too, and loved her very much thoughout the rest of her life.

Homer Y, Riddle and Opal Juanita Plank were married on July 5, 1951.  I recently learned from their daughter, Cheri, that they wanted to be married on July 4, but it was a holiday and the Justice of Peace wasn't working that day!  

There was a nice reception for them at the her parents' home that day.  Aunt Opal looked lovely and Uncle Homer was obviously very happy.  I really wasn't happy especially after I saw them kissing in the dining room, so I went into the kitchen and tried to hide in a corner hoping no one would see me crying.  However, my precious Uncle Homer found me and he put his arms around me and told me not to worry because he still loved me and would always be there for me.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Life After 70

It's not always easy to realize that I am approaching life after 70.  I haven't done my blog in several months because life isn't always easy and just as it was when I worked and had a career.
We moved to Texas in August 2012.  My sister, Kathy, had passed away in May 2012, I went on a 10 day cruise with my children and grandchildren in June 2012.  It was a wonderful trip and I shall never forget it.  I'm really afraid of water and do not swim but will float in my daughter's pool once in a while.  But it was a very large boat and I never felt scared or seasick at all.
Then in August of 2012 we sold our beautiful home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, only 7 miles from our son, and moved to Texas.  Chuck, my husband, said that the Oklahoma winters were just too cold for him anymore, especially after that big snow in winter 2011.  Couldn't get out of the driveway for a week.  The cold did not seem to bother me too much then....
Bought a cute house in a little suburb of Dallas called Rowlett.  House was 4 bedrooms, fixed up nice inside but we did major work outside, yard, fence, trees, removed ugly shed, added a patio cover, just a few nice exterior things.  First year 2012 it snowed, but not a lot.  Kind of surprising, but it was ok because it didn't last long, pretty enough though and reminded me of home.  You see, I lived in Oklahoma all of my life and this move to Texas caused me pain.  Had it not been for having our daughter, Tiffany, nearby in Dallas, approximately 20 miles away, I could not have stayed this long.  I missed my other family, my son Mark, his wife Carrie, and grandchildren, Bryce and Tristen.  Tristen had graduated in 2011 and was in her first year of college by then.  Bryce was still young but going into middle school and growing like weed.  But I missed him terribly because from first grade to fifth, Bryce and I had a lot of fun together.  I enjoyed those elementary school years just watching him do so many things in school--plays, baseball, karate, movies, ice cream, spending the night at Nana's--all that fun stuff grandmothers enjoy.  My life hasn't been the same without those things.  And I am sad most of the time, but there's more to come and much more to write about. 
I have to bring all of my (two maybe three by now) readers up to speed as to what has happened since our move. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Return Home and a New Love

Oh happy day!  My Uncle Homer finally made it home from Korea. It had been a long five years since we had seen him.  I was ten when he returned to Oklahoma, but little did I know he wasn't here to stay, at least not at home with us anymore.  My grandparents had given up farming by this time and moved to the small town of Muldrow, where I grew up and attended schools until I graduated.

Sometime during the latter part of his overseas stay, he began corresponding with a girl who also lived in Muldrow and was a close neighbor and friend of the Riddle clan.  Her name was Opal Juanita Plank.  I imagine that a romance was blossoming by this time through those letters and once home, Homer didn't waste any time looking her up and asking her out on a date.  My grandparents, his mother and father, had known the Planks for many years, lived in the same small town, and were practically next-door neighbors.  There's much more to the beautiful story of Homer and Opal and I was glad to be a part of it.  More blogs to follow on Homer and Opal....

Opal Juanita Plank, A Beauty in High School

Opal's parents, William Jasper (Jap) Plank and Ula Golden Plank, lived in the downtown area of Muldrow and owned a small hamburger shop next to their house on Main Street.  My Grandma Riddle would walk with me downtown usually on a Saturday to buy groceries at the market and we'd stop for one of Jap's hamburgers and an ice cream cone.  I've never had a better tasting burger in my life since!  They ran that shop for many years, and on through my early school years it was still around.  I think many of my Muldrow friends will remember the "malt shop" with its red vinyl booths and great hamburgers when hamburgers were 15 cents, Cokes were a dime, and ice cream cones were a nickel.  Well, that was the 50s, a wonderful era to be a part of and I'm thankful for that wonderful time in my life.  I'm thankful for the love I had through my family, my father, grandparents, and for this amazing man we called Uncle Homer!  

Jap and Golden Plank were like a second set of grandparents to me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Country Boy Goes to War

Homer Y. Riddle was the only sibling of nine Riddle children who served his Country proudly in the Korean War.  His three older brothers were married by that time with families to raise. Times were hard with the war going strong.  I believe he tried to help his parents out with the farm, but by that time I had came along to live with my grandparents while he was still a very young man at home.  Homer was more like a big brother to me, cared for me as a baby while my grandparents worked the fields, and was there for me during my clumsy toddler years.  I remember a couple of times when he rocked with me and sang "Take Me Back to Tulsa for I'm too Young to Marry".  

I think he knew that eventually he needed to get an better education in order to have a future other than farming so he enlisted in the Army in 1947.  My grandparents had very little education, they could read and write, but never knew anything other than farming and growing peanuts.

 Uncle Homer took his basic training in North Carolina at Ft. Bragg.  He spent a lot of his early army days at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, but did tours of duty in just about every city with an Army post.  He retired as a CWO-4 and returned to Lawton, Oklahoma with his family to live out his retiring years.  

When Homer left his country home and his mama, daddy and me, he took two pictures with him.  He carried these pictures until he returned home from Korea and gave them back to me.  One is of me with his mom and dad--the other was one of my baby 
  Both pictures were very tattered and almost fell apart when I held them in my hand, but I saved them in an album and still have them today.  

I think I was around six in the picture with my grandparents. I was 10 when he returned home.  He wrote to us many times and sent pictures of him with some of his buddies. He never mentioned the bad times or the war much. Once he sent me some red silk kimono pajamas and a miniature camera from Japan.  I kept those things close for many years until those pajamas were actually in shreds and Grandma threw them out I think.  The camera had real film but I never developed any pictures from it because I kept opening it to check out that tiny film.  I don't know what happened to the camera but I found one on eBay, of course.

Homer was sent to Japan and from there into Korea to help lay radio wire communications. He was there until he received a leg injury from shrapnel and was sent back to the States after that.  He returned home in 1951.  My Aunt, one of his twin sisters, sent Grandma a newspaper clipping out of a Tulsa newspaper and his name was listed as one of the troops coming into Seattle on June 6.  I believe that year was 1951.  She ripped out the clipping rather hurriedly so the year wasn't showing, and wrote, "Isn't it wonderful--look mom, he's coming home."  At the very top of the clipping, she writes, "welcome home darling."  My Aunt and Uncle, along with their four children, met him at the airport in Tulsa and drove him to Muldrow.  Oh, happy day--my Uncle Homer came home from the war!  

It was around this time that Opal Juanita Plank entered his life.  

Homer and Pauline, Final Chapter Years Later

I believe that it wasn't not very long after the picture of Homer and Pauline was taken in 1945 that Uncle Homer enlisted in the Army.  He was sent to Japan around 1947 and then went to Korea to help lay radio wire communication. 

Did he ever write to Pauline?  Did he send her pictures too? And if he did, maybe those pictures and letters were confiscated by her parents and thrown away.  We will never know what happened after that or was he being a good Christian, respectful of his elders, and did what was asked of him by Pauline's parents to stay away from her?   We do know, however, that many years later after the death of his second wife, Opal in 1987, that he contacted Pauline and sent her flowers on her birthday.  Pauline had been married for some time by then and her niece told me this made her husband furious.  It was around that time Pauline probably felt the need to tell her children who this man was and why he was sending her flowers.  He never got the chance to see her again, as far as I know.
Uncle Homer passed away on June 2, 1996, at the age of 71, and is buried next to His wife, Opal, in a small cemetary on base at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.   Pauline passed away on August 19, 2000, at the age of 76.  

I'll have  some more beautiful stories about Homer's post-war romance with a beautiful lady whom I loved very much, Opal Juanita  Plank.   They were married in 1951, and loved each as much as anyone could love one another, I felt that love just being with them from time to time.  I didn't feel that way at first, but that's another story for this blog.   I believe Homer and Opal were truly made for each other.  Our sweet Aunt Opal passed away on August 15, 1987, at a very young age of 57. They had two beautiful daughters, Joy and Cheri.  Cheri has been helping me put together events I couldn't recall.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Homer and Pauline, Part Two

I wrote yesterday that Homer and Pauline ran away and got married on December 18, 1943.  Homer was 22 and Pauline was 19, or at least this is what the marriage license states.  I now believe his age is stated incorrectly, since his birthdate was December 18, 1924, which would have made him 19 on that very day!  Pauline's birthdate was May 3, 1924, which would make her 19 also, so according to this information she may have been a few months older. 

 Pearlene, her niece, wrote me that Pauline's family found out about the elopement and were so angry about it that they sent Pauline's brother to bring her home.  He told my sweet Uncle Homer to leave and never see her again!  The brother who brought her home and said those horrible words to Uncle Homer was my friend Pearlene's father.  

A date shown on back of this beautiful picture I had saved all these years is '47.  This tells me that perhaps they continued to see each other afterwards, maybe for many years, and that makes me happy to know they didn't forget about each other.