Category Archives: Old Stuff

Fearless

Here are a few stories about Elaine, each from different high school friends from the Peabody High School Class of 1958.

My memory of Elaine is from 3rd grade at Peabody Elementary. We were on the playground for recess and she beat me up!  Of course, I was probably the smallest boy in the class.

It was in the spring and we must have been in 5th grade and the girls were all lined up to practice high jump. Most of us could not jump over 3 feet, if that high. Not Elaine, she did a roll over that pole at least 5 feet or higher! She was doing the Fosbury Flop long before Dick Fosbury did!

Elaine, do you remember the time your parents let you drive their Pontiac to Hutchinson to the State Fair 4H Encampment Building for an MYF “retreat”? Of course we had not preregistered and when we got there, they asked where our sponsors were! Of course we were there without adults, unheard of in 1956. That was the year the boys had gone to church camp and Bernard Brooks drowned.

Your Mom was a great friend and never knew a stranger. I always admired her ability to talk to anyone like she had known them forever! And she was never afraid to attempt any feat!

Cheering the Moon

Here’s another memory of mom from a friend of my brother.  This guy may have been my favorite of my brother’s friends, and not just because of the collection of dirty magazines in the loft of his garage.  He was a hoot and a great guy.

 

As a freshman in high school, I was warming up for a race at a track meet in Abilene.  During the warm-up process, I was taking off my sweats to get lined up at the starting line.  Well, as I was removing my sweats – with my butt facing the crowd – my shorts got caught and went down with my sweats and I clearly mooned the crowd.  I thought that I was quick enough to pull my shorts back up in time for no one to notice.  I was clearly wrong.  As I turned around to ensure no one saw my full moon glory, I see Elaine jumping up out of her seat yelling “Alright (name withheld)!” along with an Arsenio Hall fist pump.

 

Here is another….

Elaine:  “Hey ——-, would you like a Coke”

——-: “NO way, that stuff tastes like lake water”

 

Of course I remember all of the times she was there cheering us on at cross country meets.  Always a big  supporter and can still hear her cheering.

The Tallest Guy

Another memory of my mother. This time from one of her college friends and sorority sisters, and it seems one of the people responsible for my existence.

I remember one incident in college trying to climb up the fire escape back into the sorority house when we were bored and entertaining ourselves.  I was standing on top of Elaine’s shoulders trying to reach the ladder to pull it down, while she was perched on top of several bricks.  Needless to say, the tower came tumbling down!

Also, I remember singing, “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor” on the way to Elaine and Bill’s wedding (I was her maid of honor).  The exact words are “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?  When your mother says don’t chew it, do you swallow it in spite?  Can you catch it on your tonsils?  Can you heave it left and right?  Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?”  The next verse started with “Here comes the blushing bride, the groom is at her side.”  Hence, the reason we were singing the song.  Terribly mature song, wouldn’t you say?

And lastly, I fixed Elaine up on a blind date once, and her criteria consisted of one thing and one thing only; she wanted the tallest guy.  The man I fixed her up with?  Bill Sears.  Happy 70th Elaine!  Love ya!

You Two Should Go Out

The memories of my mom’s 70th birthday continues.  This one from another friend of my brother.

Mike,

Frightening, our mothers turning 70, isn’t it?  And they have no more sense than they did back in college. 🙂

Of course, my funny stories regarding your mom were her endless attempts to set you and I up.  I’m not sure who was more embarrassed, you or me, but I remember several awkward moments where the three of us would be having a nice, normal small talk chat, in a fairly public place, say, the middle school gym after a game, and she would all of a sudden say, “Hey, why don’t you two go out on a date?”  At which point you and I would promptly turn a horrible blotchy red, shift from one foot to the other staring either into space or intently at the carpet on the floor, and start muttering things like, “Mom, don’t do this!” or “Oh, Mrs. Sears, Mike is just a really good friend!”  Goodness knows she was never embarrassed!

But what I remember even more, Mike, was how caring your mom was, and still is.  She always wanted to know how I was doing, really doing, not just a superficial question.  And I always knew if I needed her, she would be there.  I know a lot of people feel like that about her.  She is just truly good about reaching out to people and letting them know she cares.

Circumcision Explained

Here’s another memory of my mom from one of my brother’s friends.  He’s now a doctor.  I like to think mom got him started in the medical field that day in Bible study. 

I have always remembered how positive and friendly your Mom has been.  She always welcomed us into your home with open arms.  I always enjoyed her as a substitute teacher in grade school as we usually got to do something fun like get out the parachute!  Elaine has been a positive influence on my life because of how positive her outlook is on life in general.  You are lucky to be able to call her Mom.  I will also remember how she very carefully and professionally (with a straight face) explained to me in bible study what circumcision meant when I was naïve enough to ask one evening.  I think I understand the term all too well now.  There are a few other stories to share but I don’t want to violate HIPPA;)

What My Friends Think of My Mom

For New Year’s Eve I’m continuing with memories of mom, this time from one of my high school friends.  Three more of my friends’ memories will come in the following weeks. Years or decades go by between my seeing of these guys who I used to spend time with nearly every day.  So my New Year’s encouragement this year would be to reconnect with old friends, and appreciate the loved ones you get to spend time with now.  Happy New Year!

For mom’s birthday:

I don’t have one particular story that I can share, I just remember Elaine as “mom”, possibly a second mom. I always felt at home in the Sears house, whether it was playing Dungeons and Dragons, computer games, or watching movies with youth group, she was just “mom” to me, and I think everyone else. Speaking of movies though, I’ve wondered in later years what she was thinking by letting the church youth group watch Children of the Corn down in the basement, but we managed to turn out OK in spite of that.

I also remember her at most, if not all, of our cross country meets, standing with my mom, cheering us on. They spent a lot of time in cold and wind just to watch us run for a few minutes. Actually just to catch a few glimpses of us during those few minutes.

My memory of mom is that she was *always* positive, always upbeat, and always welcomed everyone with open arms. Most recently this last December, I was visiting my parents in Abilene and ran into mom. She smiled, as she always does, and gave me a big hug. We lost our youngest daughter to cancer last summer, and mom didn’t try to find elaborate words to express her sorrow, she just hugged me, and said “we’ve been thinking so much about you.”

Love ya mom! A very happy birthday to you from Arizona.

-Brett

 

Brother’s Memories of Mom

In continuing the sharing of the memories of my mother, who at this writing is still with us (no need to wait for someone to pass before saying nice things about them), here is what my brother wrote four years ago.

 

Of course I have lots of memories of stories of you, and it seems foolhardy to try and just pick out a few because I am sure that I will leave out some important ones.

While I don’t really remember you coming to school dressed as a bunny, I do remember that it seemed like you were always the room mother and we always had good parties.  I seem to remember one time – I don’t remember if it was a holiday party or just for my birthday – that you had a big box of note pads (with birds on them) and magic erase boards that you got at Alco on clearance or at the sidewalk sale.  You handed those out and everyone thought it was the greatest.  (Seems like we had a box of those bird note pads for years.)  It was fun to have a mom that everyone thought was cool.

Of course I remember all the support and attendance at the basketball games and cross country and track meets.  The whole team could count on you being there, being loud, being opinionated (the officials at Sacred Heart “SHOULD BE ASHAMED” of themselves), and being supportive.  Everyone on the team thought it was great and really appreciated it – me especially.

It was nice to live at the place where kids wanted to go.  I remember jamming the basement full of kids on a snow day to watch movies, you teaching us how to “cruise Buckeye”, having guys over to play grey wolf and kick the can, and having sleepovers to celebrate the Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon.  You were always friendly and welcoming and looking back on that I can only hope that I am as loving to my kids’ friends as you were (and still are) to mine.

Even things that I didn’t think were so great at the time are good memories now.  I specifically remember the tone in your voice when you called down the basement to me after you had discovered that I had received an F for nine weeks of accounting.  I was just ready to start watching a movie, and you yelled down the basement for me to come up.  I didn’t know at that moment what I had done, but I knew that I was in trouble, and that I could forget watching the movie!  I also remember when you and dad came to Kansas City to visit and I rear ended someone on Metcalf – you guys left your car while mine was in the shop and took the bus home.  Not the most fun, but something I hope I remember when my kids need help that will be a hassle to me.

As I grew the stories did not stop.  I remember the first time you and dad met Liz – when you had brought up the buffet and we were drilling holes in it (while you drank beer and watched) to provide ventilation for my stereo.  I also remember the introduction of Liz to the Slocombe side of the family – complete with a Grandma giveaway of a handful of spoons.  I appreciate the way you have treated my wife.  Of course as the grand kids arrived new stories were created – including the report that Grandma served M&Ms for breakfast and “liked being naked.” (I think that is the phrase that was used.)

I think I will end now because I am trying to keep this to one page.  Certainly there are many more stories to tell, and I could go on for pages.  Thank you for being a wonder mother in so many ways – by loving me, by showing a good example of how to love others, by teaching me how to work hard and play hard, by teaching me to not take things too seriously and to laugh, by disciplining me, and by always being there for me whether it was attending a game or mowing my yards while I was at basketball camp.  You are awesome and I love you.

-Mike

My Mom #2

These two memories of my mom come from my kids.

One of my memories of Grandma Elaine was that she lets us get some M & M’s at night time.  She likes it when we come to her house to stay the night.  I like when she takes us to the Country Club.  I love you. Xoxxoxxxoxxxxxooooo

–Will

One day, grandma came over to our house. We were playing at the Preston’s house, and it was time to leave. Grandma decided to go over the fence instead of going to the front of the house to ask for us. She also decided to go headfirst. Will and I cracked up as we watched her struggle over the fence. After 10 minutes of grandma trying to get over a fence (which would have taken us 5 seconds to get over) she finally got over.  The end of this funny story.  (This funny grandma is the best grandma ever!)

–Maly

My Mom

A few years ago, my Mom turned 70.  One of the cool things that someone had us do for this occasion is collect memories of Elaine from friends and loved one.  I came across some of those the other day.  I thought about saving them for another major birthday or Mother’s Day or something.  But I’m not going to.  You know when I think you should do or say something nice for someone?  When you think of it.  Right now.  There’s no time like the present. Tomorrow never comes.  And all like that.  Here is my contribution.   More to follow from others (despite what I just said about tomorrow never coming).

 

In the kitchen Mom taught me how to dance to Buddy Holly and Elvis.

It’s hard to separate Mom-memories from other childhood memories.  That’s because we had a mom who was very involved.  She came to our events, spent time playing with us, and waited up for us every night, usually falling asleep in the recliner before we got home.  But she also allowed us our freedom.  I remember biking to and from swimming lessons by ourselves when we weren’t very old, walking to kindergarten by myself, and being allowed to make many of my own decisions about how I spent my time.

Mom’s involvement brought her into contact with all of my friends and most of the other kids at school and church as well.  So I always heard, “You have such a cool mom.”   I probably shrugged or rolled my eyes when they’d say this.  But she was always cool, and very generous to our friends.

Of course there was the time when she walked through the basement when we had some friends over and were watching 48 Hours, a movie with Eddie Murphy at his raunchiest.  She didn’t say anything at the time, but after our friends left she tore us up one side and down the other for showing such a movie in our house.  She went on, and on, and on.

It’s good that Mike played basketball and now golf, because I know that it was hard on mom, a p.e. major, to have a son who’s only real athletic talent was running a long way.  But as others have mentioned, she came to all the meets.  Her voice probably still echoes across the golf courses of North Central Kansas, “Run!”

And while she wouldn’t have driven to Lyons to watch a race if Mike and I weren’t running, it wasn’t just us that she came to see.  She yelled for everybody, and she made an effort to especially cheer for those kids whose parents weren’t there.

That’s one of my favorite things about her.  The way she takes care of kids who need it.  After Mike and I were gone, Mom began to substitute teach.  And I really think she did great things for the kids at that school who didn’t have anyone who cared about them.  She cared.  I remember walking with Mom in downtown Abilene after dark.  We came across some kids hanging out on a street corner, looked like trouble makers to me.  When one of them speaks.  “Hey Mrs. Sears.  How are you?”    If you hang out with Mom in Abilene, you’ll see this a lot.  And most of those kids aren’t even kids any more.

Finally, I don’t know if she’s taught the grand kids how to dance in the kitchen yet, but as she was a great mom, she’s a great grandma too.  She was there at the airport both times that our kids came home, and she can recall the series of emails that she received from us during each trip better than I can remember sending them.  The kids love to see her.  They know that she loves them.  She’s patient and generous and forgiving with them.  Everything that a grandma should be.  I’m glad that they have her.  I’m glad that I had her.

And thank god I never saw her pick strawberries in her underwear.

Freedom

Several years ago I assigned my students the task of telling a story from their life on a website called VoiceThread.  VoiceThread combines pictures and voice and allows people to comment on your story, leaving written or spoken comments or even drawing on the photos; more about that later.  I wanted their story to have a theme and say something about life, you know, all those things English teachers get excited about.  I created my own VoiceThread to show the kids as an example of what I was looking for.  I recently came across the script for that example.  Here is the link to the original with pictures and everything.  Years ago I quit checking the comments for something intelligent as the rare compliment or insight wasn’t worth wading through all the drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees.  My students’ stories are still there.  I haven’t checked them out. Here is my original.  It’s called Freedom.

As a kid, like all kids, I longed for freedom.  Freedom from my parents, freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  To be honest, I didn’t have that much to rebel against.  I was expected to make decent grades and stay out of trouble.  But I had a pretty liberal curfew, and got my driver’s license when I was in the 8th grade.

And I didn’t give my parents much to worry about.  Yeah, I was one of those kids.  Didn’t drink, smoke or fool around.  My friends and I had mostly good clean fun and mostly stayed out of trouble.  After high school I went to college.

This was a bit of a change.  My good-clean-fun friends and I all went different directions.  At K-State I lived in a house with 20 or so other guys.  Suddenly it was up to me to get to class, get to church and mostly stay out of trouble.  Two out of three, as they say, ain’t bad.  The biggest change for me at college was how much more freedom I had.  How much freedom did I have?  More than I needed.

When I found myself graduated, I wasn’t quite ready to give up that freedom.  While my friends were interviewing for jobs, I was making arrangements to travel overseas.  I found work at a pub, which I loved; the pub, not the work.  I worked six days a week and was paid pretty well.  Not the free-est time of my life, except that I could leave anytime I wanted.

Which I did after a few months.  With money and a train pass in my pocket, I caught any train I wanted to any destination I could afford.   After a few months I came back to the states, traveled some more, worked some more, when to school some more.  I was pretty much doing whatever I wanted.  It was pretty sweet.

It was during this period that I met my wife.  Well, she wasn’t my wife yet.  But she would be soon.  Less than a year after our first date, we were hitched.  After a semester of student teaching were packed our bags and moved to Virginia.

We found jobs, friends, and adventure.  Eventually we bought our first house.  In the meantime we continued to play.  When school wasn’t in session we could pretty much do whatever we wanted.  We went to the beach, movies, restaurants, concerts, and parties.

Eventually we found our way back to the Midwest, decided to settle down, raise a family.  That’s what I’ve been up to for the last seven years or so.  Being dad.  Playing ball, teaching manners, tickling, snuggling, sometimes lecturing.  Spending time.

Makes it tricky to run off to Europe or the beach or the bars any time I want.  And there are times when I do have that urge.  When that happens I might put on some music, maybe look at some old pictures.  It’s never long before somebody says, “Dad, let’s play?”  And I’m off to bigger and better things.  How much freedom do I have?  All I need.