Thursday, July 30, 2015

Golf Gypsy: The Man I Love

Thirty-two years ago, at 6:25 pm Las Vegas time, Jack and I married in a simple and swift ceremony at The Little Chapel of the West.  We had met two years previously as single parents, both raising children who would soon be teenagers.  When we met I was a mother, librarian, professional storyteller and puppeteer, and my golf clubs were hiding in storage in an old leather golf bag.  Golf was the farthest thing from my mind.

The summer after we married, I intended to be the mother extraordinaire, but my plans went awry by that July.  I spent my mornings cleaning house, washing clothes, and getting meals ready for the day, little did I realize what three pre-teens could do to a house in a few hours. One evening as I vented my motherly frustrations, to a loving patient husband who had worked all day, he said, "Don't you have a set of
golf clubs in the garage?"  "So!" I mumbled.  He continued, "Why don't you get up several mornings a week and go out to Westwood and play golf, then when the kids get up you will have enjoyed your morning outside."  He was a smart man, and I was wise enough to follow his advice.

My life changed.  Our love and lives blended.  Three decades passed.  Three children became happy healthy and wise adults.

All those years he supported me with smiles, hugs, and thoughtful words: when I practiced and performed my stories; when I created puppets and plays; when I traveled and taught college classes and workshops; when I said yes to projects and committees that I didn't have time for; when I said, "Yes, I will write that book with you Dr. Laughlin."  We
played golf together, and I learned not to coach him. Sometimes he caddied for me in golf tournaments, or took me down to the river bottom to practice sand shots; When I pondered becoming an LPGA teaching pro, he said, "Go for it." When the van of traveling gypsy golfers broke down, he traveled to far ends of
The Original Golf Gypsies
Oklahoma to bring us back, clubs, dirty clothes, woes, and all.  And when my parents died, he and our children cried with me. 

One evening, he glowed with excitement as he told me about a job offer in Hutchinson, Ks. I followed that man I loved, and our lives changed again.  We became a couple without children, as they had grown and left home.  I was lost and empty without my family, my school, my kids, and my friends. I cried.  Once again he said, "Why don't you go play golf and meet some new people."  I growled, "because it's winter in
Kansas!"  But the sun came out, the ice began to melt on the ponds. One warm winter day, I drove to the Highlands Golf course and played golf with new friends, who enjoyed laughter and competition, in that order. Still I taught school and continued to tell stories,all the while playing golf whenever time allowed, and meeting new friends through work and play.  

After the USGA announced that Prairie Dunes would host the 2002 Women's Championship, we joined the Dunes, knowing it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Even though my parents weren't there to enjoy the event, Jack's mother came up with our nephew to see Nancy Lopez play golf in person,
Nancy Lopez, 2002
because her husband, Albert, had been a fan of Nancy Lopez.  Golf had touched us all in many different ways. 

Letty, Peggy, Manon
I retired in 2008 and became a golf gypsy--traveling with friends and Jack through out Kansas;  to California, Colorado, Arizona, Arkansas, and Oklahoma; to Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas, too. When I wasn't playing golf, my mind was spinning
Tony, Lora, Jack
stories, and a blog called "Literally Letty" was created.  What fun it's been sharing our universal stories.

We are both retired and living back were are roots were formed, in Oklahoma. Jack plays much more golf and travels with his buddies and his wife, and has found time to relax with life.  

Lucy Beeler, Jonya Stapp,
two State Champions
This year the Kansas Women's Golf Association KWGA and
Letty and Hannah Martin 
the Oklahoma Women's Golf Association WOGA
 both are celebrating 100 years of women's golf.Their history is like our lives, filled with up and downs, and yet they are building for the future, for the girls who will one day tell their stories through golf, through parenthood, and through careers as yet unimagined. I am grateful for all of the women whose lives helped to make in difference in my life, through work and play.

Through it all, I am most proud and thankful for Jack, the man I love, who stood with me as we raised our children, and who has chosen to travel this time with me.   
Jack and Letty, The Gallery in Marana, AZ

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Golf Gypsy: And then....

And then, there are truly some bad days on the golf course, even with cool temperatures and a breeze blowing. After all, there are those moments when all a body can do is sigh and say, "Thank you Lord for this day." 
The Pro, Johnie Stapp.

Like my father, I am generally a fairly lucky golfer and a respectable putter, but few weeks ago, my golf game tested my strengths and sense of humor.  It began on a Monday at Lincoln Park West, after having "not" practiced a single shot and still unsure of my body's endurance after nearly six months of rehab.  First of all, my putter didn't have any zip or ping to it when I fluffed the ball.  In fact, the ball didn't even scare the hole after a putt, it just sat there 3-4 feet short of the hole, and so the putting continued to be feeble.  In order to laugh I initialed myself LWB, for Letty Weenie Butt! Nothing worked, 18 holes later and 36 putts I was frustrated.

But then, that's not all.  My tee shot landed in a divot, not once but four different times during the day.  Even the ladies in my threesome noted my bad luck.  Still I chuckled and reminded myself that somedays are like that, even in Australia.  (I'd still like to go to Australia to see if that is true.)  On number 10, a short par 3, my tee shot landed in the water and mud filled bunker.  Hump, I slammed it out leaving my glasses and clothes pock marked with muddy sand. After the shot, my ball wasn't on the putting surface, so I could not clean it before I putted it back onto the green.  It is interesting how a ball rolls when it is caked with mud!  After five shots, the ball gave up and went in the hole.  Imagine my relief.  

A few holes later we came to a large water hole that only required a easy rescue club over the water and onto the green, except the dry land between the green and the water's edge was packed with gaggle of geese, honking and eating the lush green grass or bugs??  As I swung through the shot,
Canada Goose lurking near the water.
I happened to look up early to make sure I didn't hit a goose. I watched and then screamed the ball over the water's edge, And Then ...I hit a goose, right in the wing.  Ouch, I cried, and the poor goose went wobble walking toward the safety of the rough.  The day ended, and I realized I had paid my bad luck dues.  The next day I rallied, and improved my putting by nine strokes.  I smiled, and thought of dad.  He taught me well; that you must take the bad luck with the good.  

Luck returned the next week when I volunteered to help the Women's Oklahoma Junior Girls Golf
Championship at Southern Hills.  I was back in my element of being with children who were passionate about learning the game of golf.  I'm so thankful to have enjoyed sixty plus years of golfing moments and the amazing people I've met along the way.  
"Beans" Factor golfer.

To my friends along the way Salute! and as the shirt says, "Kiss my putt."  

*Letty Stapp Watt
historian and storyteller

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wardogs--Pieces of Memories, The Test

I ran down the hallway screaming, "I passed.  I passed.  I'm a fifth grader."  Mother was sitting in Miss Hamilton's office at Roosevelt School waiting to hear her daughter's fate.  That night dad took us out to dinner to celebrate at "Billie Mendenhall's" in Commerce, and I ordered mashed potatoes with yellow gravy.  

In order to pass from fourth to fifth grade the teachers decided that I must know the following skills and take a test when school started in the fall: 1. Times tables to twelve; 2. Name and identify the seven continents; 3. Name and identify the five oceans.  Thank heavens I wasn't required to pass a spelling test, but I most certainly understood that the teachers would be watching me.

Here's what I did know:  Jump rope rhymes like--
  Cinderella dressed in yellow
Went downtown to kiss a fellow
  How many kisses did she give 1, 2, 3...
  **Night after night we'd jump rope on our driveway, and everyday at recess.

That summer between fourth and fifth grade I was  determined to pass the test, and prove that I was smart enough to stay in my class.  My parents were as determined as I was.  We bought a set of flash cards for home and one for the country club.  It was a total team effort and flash cards appeared at dinner, at parties, in the car when we traveled, on top of the TV, on the counter at the club where I would sometimes clean the members clubs, and other places where my mother could surprise me. I practiced memorizing the cards so I could see the
answers.  Dad and Mom worked as hard as I did, and we tested each other. My little sister even learned her numbers and played school with us. After a month I began to make progress in memorizing facts. Mother bought me a slider puzzle to help me enjoy math.  I mastered the 1-15 puzzle, gained skills in the 1-30 puzzle, but when the rubik's cube came out, my fingers and brain were no longer young and eager. 

  Will I marry, tell me so
  Is the answer yes or no?
  Yes, No, maybe so, Yes, No, maybe so....

World map 1958
Our red set of Encyclopedia Britannica's became my best friend.  I had already worn the edges on the D book for dogs and C book for cat.  That summer I discovered X,Y, Z because the back contained the maps.  Luckily, understanding the maps and learning continents was easy.  I think in part because dad had already taught me how to read a map when we traveled.  

Neighbor, Johnny Badger
Jacks:  Onesies, Twosies, Threesies; Pigs in the Pen; Pigs over the pen; Around the World; and we learned the rules.  *We kept Jacks in our desks at school, and I always had golf balls to share, which were much more reliable than silly rubber balls

My free time was spent playing with the neighborhood kids, playing golf, swimming, but my favorite time was going to NEO in the morning three days a week for some type of activity camp. The girl who organized it was the daughter of Red Robertson, the football coach at NEO.  I learned all kinds of crafts, games, and my neighborhood acquaintances increased with kids ages 6-12.  Suddenly, I knew kids who lived all over giving me more room to run and play.  

Card games:  Crazy 8, pairs, rummy, slap jack, old maid, war, but concentration was my favorite (and I still like that game). 

Playground and evenings in the neighborhood we played these games: Tag, Hopscotch, Marbles, Red Rover, Kick the Can, Blind Man's Bluff, Freeze tag, Hide-an-Seek, Grey Ghost.  
LuJean Howard

Even though I continued to struggle and lag behind in many areas through junior high, slowly but surely I began to catch up with my classmates.  In sixth grade, Mrs. Murphy taught us all of the states and capitols.  Our test was on a blank US map, and we had to label each state and mark where the capitol was located and it's name.  After we handed in our papers, she asked, "If any one thinks they got all of the answers correct please stand." Tommy Spaulding and I stood, then I began to shake and nearly cry.  She graded Tommy's first and he missed one, then she graded mine.  It was perfect.  I knew then that I had passed another test, and belonged in this class.  Little did I know that my life would present me with many more difficult tests. 

Board and paper games:  Monopoly, Sorry, Tiddly Winks, Pick-up-sticks, tic-tac-toe, hangman, bingo, hidden pictures in Highlights magazine.

**Please feel free to comment below with people you remember, moments you recall, or games you played.  I approve the comments before they are posted.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Missing Harmony


Take note
Tune in
Strike a chord
Live in concert

I went in search of words today
to describe my flustered mind.

I asked, what do you want of me
what can I do to help?

"I want you to sit with me 
and stay by my side."

I cried, I'll stay awhile 
but then I'll leave when you sleep.

"I'm afraid to walk," she said.
"I'm afraid to eat for I might choke."

You are not alone,
we are here to help.

"Papa and Mama came last night
but they didn't take me home."

I sat and listened 
and searched for things to say.

"Did you bring me pizza?
I like corn dogs, too," she explained.

When you feel better we will
drive out to the lake to see the flooding waters.

"Albert and I used to stand on the hill
and watch them build that lake."

Then she smiled and drifted away.
I watched her as she dreamed, and kissed her good night.

Sleep came at last,
fitful for me and I'm sure for her.

Another day of pain, fatigue,
and fear, while all we can do is watch.

I searched for words and found that 
we were missing Harmony.

Our chords are striking sharp and flat.
Our keys are not making  music.

Then I found harmony, in a friends words,
and in Alleen's red roses that bloomed today.

Such beauty there truly is in this world.