Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Ghosts of Christmas Past...part #3/Winter Arrives?

Still lots of excess water in the fields, streets, and yards of western Ohio...not to mention the brown muddy water flowing over the banks of the various rivers and streams, full of fresh rains and runoff from the rich soiled fields, some still with corn in them...a late harvesting season for many of the locals.  No White Christmas this year....in fact, after today, it is supposed to be near 40 and sunshine, with lows near 30, through the end of December.

With no games yesterday, I had a couple of errands to attend to.....so early in the afternoon, I headed for Wapakoneta, hometown of moon walker Neil Armstrong, some 20 miles to the east of Celina.  I dropped my 25 year old leather coat off for some repairs.  The worn brown leather is in prime condition, but it needs new cuffs and front zipper.  I've had the coat for many years, but only the past 2 winters have I been able to fit back into it....with years of weight lifting and weight gains putting me at 220 pounds, I gave it to oldest son Sam, when he outgrew it, he gave it back to his shrinking old man.  When I reached the 185 pound mark two years ago, I could fit back into it....but it needed repairs, so my gift to myself this Christmas it to get it back in shape, since I did that to myself.....the coat might as well join me for the duration of life on this earth.

Back at basketball tonight...boys Freshman at Crestview, then tomorrow I head north 55 miles to Ottawa, where the host Titans will play three games....a Freshman Boys contest with Bowling Green, followed by a JV then Varsity games.  I will work the first two games, but with a 3 man crew, the wear and tear should be minimal....unlike 2009 when I did those games with just one other official.  With O-G and their type offense and defense, it was a war on my legs and body....3 man, it should be much easier.  That will end the games until Tuesday of next week when I get back at it....

Christmas Gifts part #3_____

After we left my childhood home in Venice, Florida, in the fall of 1962, for western Ohio, the Christmas memories of those high school days and beyond have become less vivid, with a few notable exceptions.

For instance, from 1963 through 1968, I spent Christmas at the folks home in Montezuma....and frankly the only one I can really recollect is the last one...and that only because I was home on a 5 day leave from Dover AFB, in Delaware.  With little sleep, after working the graveyard shift at Dover, a Air Force buddy of mine, Robin Lippencott, from New Philadelphia, Ohio, and I began our five day Odyssey, driving through the cold, and snowy mountains of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, staying awake on No-Doze, and coffee....I dropped him off some 6 hours later, and drove the last 3 hours on US 30 towards home.  Later Lippencott and I would get our orders from Vietnam at the same time, and spend the two week combat training school at Lackland AFB together in Texas, during the summer of 1969, along with Steve Walsh, before heading our separate ways....although I have talked with Walsh since then, I never did know what happened to Robin....I do however, remember that Christmas leave like it was, well, like it was 43 years ago.  However, the next Christmas, 1969....gotta tell you, as much as my mind remembers from that year in Vietnam...I don't recall Christmas at all.  I tell myself I was in Nha Trang, having received my orders to transfer to Tan Son Nhut {Saigon} Air Base...and my orders say I left on 27 December 69.  I do remember New Year's Eve working the perimeter bunker in Echo Sector of TSN....but amazing as it might sound, I do not recall Christmas 1969 in Vietnam, at all.

Fast forward to 1972....this one is etched in my mind forever.  I was in upstate New York, when I received a call from older brother Mike, informing me that our dad, Stan Houseworth, had died that Christmas Eve night....dad had turned 55 just two weeks before, but somehow he seemed much older.  A massive heart attack had taken him, while he sat with my youngest sister Kelly, then 10, and mom at home.  It occurred shortly after his favorite team, the Miami Dolphins had defeated the Cleveland Browns, on the way to Miami's perfect season.  Christmas was spent that year, flying home from Syracuse, the rest pretty much a blur.  Christmas would not be the same for many years after that.  Times change however, and now days we have the family get-together at sister Marty's house on Christmas Eve, this year, 17 of us, including the new boys in the family, Kasyn and Luke, who will be having their first Christmases...of course they won't remember it, being one month and 2 weeks old respectively...but we will enjoy it for them.

The next Christmas I remember after the tragedy of 72 was the melancholy one that followed in 1973, where, back in Ohio, I spent it at mom's place alone...I think!  Mom and Kelly if I recall were in Florida on Vacation, and I was on my own back in Ohio.  I had met Patricia by that time, but we were not a couple, and would not be for awhile after that.  It did give me time to reflect on the previous years....and decide which way I wanted my life to go as I went forward....it was indeed a good time, those next few years would be some of the best in my life, but some of the wildest as well, and I cannot imagine trying to live those years from 1973 through 1976 again, and still escaping with my life on a do over.

As the 1976 Christmas season moved into view, I was in my final year at Hocking Technical College, and commuting back and forth from Nelsonville to Celina, on most weekends.  Patricia and I had decided to get married that winter in her hometown of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  December 18th was the date, a week before Christmas in Wisconsin?  That always is a "iffy" time in the northlands...but it worked out, along with best friend and best man Rick Pearson, we headed up through Chicago and past Milwaukee to her dad and step mom Bev's place.  The weather, someone was looking over us, was balmy for mid to late December, and was in the 60s....we spent a one day "Honeymoon" at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, then headed back to Ohio, with Rick in tow.....through a snow storm no less....but we made it safe and sound.  From there we spent our first Christmas as a married couple together at our house on North Brandon....and despite all the moves and states lived in over the years, we live just a block from that house today.

The Christmas seasons have come and gone, since we were married 35 years ago this past week...and most, although some memories have faded, were filled with Airedales and kids....and after all, while it is the birth of Christ we should celebrate, Kids and gifts are what we are about on Christmas, and least that has been ingrained in our world, for better or worse.   More on the kids and those Christmases past tomorrow.


back later>>>>

Photos-top/Me, sometime around the Christmas of 1980, with a glass of something in my one hand, and perhaps a old Orphan Annie doll of one of the nieces or Anissa, in the other...probably pretty well a couple sheets to the wind by this time in the evening.  Stan Houseworth, home on leave during World War 2 in Scott, Ohio....born in December 1917, dad passed away Christmas Eve of 1972....sudden, unexpected, and swift....something no one could ever forget.  Patricia in front of her parents Christmas Tree on December 18, 1976....after we exchanged vows at her home church in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  And the kids....perhaps 1985, since Hal, the youngest was born in April 1984.  This ornament, along with others from their childhoods, hangs on our tree today.

No comments: