Saturday, December 7, 2013

Miami Memories: Moments that Connect

The other day I received a notice from Verizon, my phone carrier, that I had  used 100% of my free any time minutes.  I laughed and wondered what it would cost me to keep talking.  I refrained, however, and then borrowed my husband's cell phone and began making phone calls again.

Ellen Gunning Jones
These weren't ordinary phone calls--they were calls to my classmates many of whom I hadn't heard from in decades, from the class of '65 in Miami, Oklahoma.  I have a note over my computer that says, "Make It Happen."  It is suppose to help my finish writing my memoir about growing up at the golf course in Miami, instead it jumped out at me in early November, and I thought of my classmates who were not connecting with us as we organizing for our class reunion in 2015. We are putting together a slide show of our twelve years in school, and Roosevelt school, where I attended grades 4,5,6, had no pictures in the slide show.  I didn't have any to send Richard, so I did the next best thing.  I called nearly every classmate I could find that Sunday afternoon, leaving messages and chatting with many.  Within three phone calls I found Ellen Gunning Jones who knew she still had all six years of photos, knew how to use a computer, and would send them off to Richard Spencer to be added to our class slideshow.  I was having so much fun by then that I just kept calling people until it was dark and my husband smiled and asked, "Are you hungry?"

Two days later, stepping out of the car to go shopping for new shoes, that wouldn't hurt my feet and yet look stylish, my cell phone rang.  Forty-five minutes later I walked into Brown's Shoe store with grin on my face.
Judy Scruggs Mathers
Judy Scruggs Mathers, my best friend for six years, and I were reconnected. We talked again a few days later, and  both confessed through giggles and tears that we were now buying old lady shoes, or at least the best looking old lady shoes we could find, since our feet had aged, not our minds or spirits.  At least I'm not wearing the black lace up shoes that some of my teachers wore!

A classmate I hadn't talked with since graduation, Ann Habeger, called me one evening and my husband fixed his own dinner that night.  Forty-eight years melted as we laughed.  "We must have passed each other in the crowd at the Solheim Cup last summer,"  we both said simultaneously.
Ann Habeger
 She lives in Aurora, Co and Jack and I had spent a week out there watching the international golf event.  Would we have know each other if we had passed?  I told her about the time I was walking to a football game and heard a voice in front of me that I recognized.  I tapped the woman on her shoulder and asked, "Gale?"  Gale Longacre Smith and I have stayed connected since that game.

Scotty driving my old car.
Last week Scotty Jackson,  who was a few years younger than I am, died.  I was stunned and most thankful that I had taken time two winters ago while in Norman to chat and listen to his stories of growing up in the country club.  A great memory we shared was knowing Mickey Mantle, who played golf at our club when he came to town "back in the those days."  After my parents died in 1989, I remembered cleaning out my dad's top drawer, the forbidden drawer, the off limits drawer when I was a kid.  Inside I found old M80's covered up by funeral booklets of the death of his friends.  I felt old that day when I read about Scotty and wanted to see my friends once again.

Each story gets better.  On Thanksgiving morning at 5:30am, when sleep left me tossing and turning, I crawled out of bed and began emailing classmates one by one...connecting.
Bill Oliver
Within an hour Bill Oliver emailed me back.  He was up baking cinnamon rolls for his wife and preparing to celebrate his 67th birthday that day.  I yipped and skipped with joy because we were celebrating my husband's birthday on Thanksgiving, and a once in a lifetime moment with Hanukkah and now with a classmate.  So the cliche's are true, "it is a small world."

Our committee of searchers has grown from 15-40 and one by one we are finding our nearly lost classmates.  Last week as the stories began to filter in to me to update our website, I laughed over and over at a reoccurring theme.  "I found......because he was home recuperating from knee surgery." I can imagine the future conversations..."well I had my knee replaced ..... or I'm thrilled with my new hip that Dr...... built for me."  Somehow I don't see many of us dancing to Chubby Checker's The Twist on the night of our 50th class reunion, but who knows with new joints we may be able to do things we haven't done in some time.

Goosebumps...One by one the stories connected us like the construction paper rings we used to make in grade school to hang on our Christmas trees.  A close friend, C.Ann Richards, died in the early '80's.  She'd been much like the boy in the bubble story, as her body was ravaged with allergies and breathing issues.  Her father and mother had taught her to sing to build her lungs and make her strong.  She was my nature friend who loved to play at Tar Creek with me; and became a golfing companion in our years in junior high.  No matter what she did, she did it with gusto, as my mother would say, and often with complete abandonment.  My father once built a small car for me (shown above with Scotty).  One day on the wide sidewalks at NEO where I had parked my car, C.Ann jumped into the car without me and drove it right into a bush then a building. That wreck nearly cost me my driving privileges, but what do you do with a friend like C.Ann.
C.Ann Richards Ricker
I didn't know when she died so I posted a note on facebook asking if anyone knew when or where she died. With that posting on facebook we found out a few more stories and family obituaries, then I discovered that she had a relative living  in Durant, Ok.  Since I still had anytime minutes I called C.Ann's aunt and chatted for quite some time about C.Ann's life.   I no sooner had finished that conversation when Karen Yoxall called me to say that she had found C.Ann's death certificate through the internet.  Coincidence or meant to be...we will honor our friends who have left this world a better place.  GO WARDOGS!

Cecila Ann Richards Ricker  b. September 1, 1947 -- d. September 12, 1985
Scott Jackson b. May 20, 1952 -- d. November 10, 2013


  1. Boy, you really did connect with lots of classmates…and used up all those minutes! Thanks goodness Jack had his phone!

  2. What great stories! It appears you are having a great time connecting with fun!!! Your reunion will be a blast!!! kt

  3. Thanks for sharing and that is the way graduation pictures are to be. The ladies are so pretty and the guys are so handsome. mr