From Learningabe.info, a Historical Page by Howard Taylor

written during spring of 2020

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

 

    A Story of the Romance and Life of Howard and Sandra Taylor Fall of 1975- through 2020, that Never will end.

 

     What? That sounds like the title of a Brian Wilson and Beach Boys hit song.  How does that relate to the young Taylor couple in 1975?

     In this little book, I would like to use actual lyrics of my favorite Beach Boys tune to tell the story of my Sandra and I meeting, engagement and marriage and later life events. 

     Just get the tune in your head and sing along with my story.   

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO PART ONE--CHAPTERS ONE THROUGH NINE

CLICK HERE TO GO TO PART THREE FOR CHAPTERS 14-16

PART TWO

CHAPTER TEN (A Wedding Picture Album A New Baby and Life in Herrick-- Continued)

Using lyrics from "God Only Knows" By Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys.

I'll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I'd be without you
If you should ever leave me
"God Only Knows" by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys

Wedding Album

 

 

 

 

 

 

 CHAPTER ELEVEN  (More about living in Herrick)

Though life would still go on believe me
 The world could show nothing to me  "God Only Knows" by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys
     

       Our years in living in the country near Herrick were pleasant years.  Sandra and I shared a liking for getting into the car and going to new places.  We had our regular places to eat including the Herrick Cafe right there in town. That little restaurant, and later a buffet, was run by Vicki and Tom Moll.  They cooked one thing at a time, and sometimes you had to wait a bit for for your food, but the environment was one of friendliness and the food was worth waiting for.  There was a large round table in which Jr. Carlisle, Leroy, the bus driver, and other workmen in town would be talking and eating.  We loved to eat breakfast up there.  Vicki had town bakers who made giant cinnamon rolls and a variety of pies.   The pancakes were huge and delicious.  During the evening, large hamburgers and fries and fried chicken. 

       A person in Herrick who was a big influence for me was Mildred at the funeral home and hardware store.  I've already talked about Mildred and her funeral home.  There was a different connection for me and Mildred.  When I was about 13 or 14, my mom was a sales tax agent for the State of Illinois.  Mildred's husband had passed away and Mildred needed help to handle the sales tax of her businesses.  She had to do all the work of her husband now.  Mildred was very smart in many ways.  My mom helped Mildred figure out the sales tax issues, and my brother and I was tagging along with her.  We enjoyed getting out and exploring the street.  I don't remember specifics, but I always remembered going to Herrick. 

       Mildred remembered my mom well.  Besides a business person, Mildred helped maintain peace and happiness of Herrick.  Herrick had no police department, and on occasion things would get a little wild.  The sheriff at Shelbyville was the only police and were about 30 minutes away.  Mildred would counsel the young people and adults into living a better life, and not doing bad things.  I think she had success. 

       Sandra and I moved to Herrick, adopted two children, and we both helped out in the school, and her preschool in the Herrick School Library.  We did not bother anyone, or cause problems.  Herrick was a very old railroad town and was continuing old traditions such as filling main street with junk and usually an outhouse.  You literally could not get through.  I don't know how many years this went on.  The young and old people would go around the countryside and steal farm implements, bales of hay, an outhouse, junk or whatever they pleased.  After Halloween day the city or whoever would have to remove it.  Farmers would retrieve their property.  I guess it was an area joke and the law was not involved.

        As I already discussed, about the harassment of teachers, retired people and people in church, all the old traditions ended.  This "stuff" continued for 8 years.  Finally it ended.  It was beautiful, quiet and peaceful for the rest of the years we lived there, but it was pretty stressful hearing guys talking outside the window, shooting off fireworks, climbing on the rood to put things, and waking up to find the garage had been broken into to try to steal my handmade wooden wishing well.  It was taken up town twice, and the last time messed up badly.  For 8 years we had a lot of stress with no solution.  It did end though.  I'll never know why there was so much disrespect and hatred of teachers in those years. 

        The nicest things about Herrick were the great families we got to know.  I was always called "Mr. Taylor," and Sandra "Mrs. Taylor."  People had respect for teachers.  We had neighbors by the name of Barnes who we visited a lot.  The Nelsons down the road, with the pigs, loaned me their special post hole digger and gave baby clothes to us for both of our children. The Wrights lived down the big hill.  She was a teacher at our high school.  They had two children.  We attended the Herrick Church quite a few Sundays, and later would attend the Oak Grove Church of Christ way down in the country.  Sandra had a good friend in nearby Ramsey.  When I start thinking about it, the harassment ended and became only a memory.  All the other people and places in Herrick are great memories.

        I must not forget to mention my best friends forever, Barb, Zola and Barb's son David Price, who lived in Tower Hill. I knew them before I got married.  Barb and Zola would have me for meals on the lawn almost weekly.  After I got married they accepted Sandra as their friend also.  I received helpful advice, and they seem to love hearing me talk about school and other things.  A good friend is good listener.       

       Sandra was not working anymore.  She went on disability with the teacher's retirement, and would remain on that the rest of her life.  Her job would end about when Pana Jr. High was having trouble with their old building.  She was teaching one day with her 7th graders and heard and felt a very loud noise below her.  She thought the janitor had fallen down the steps with a huge box of trash from the rooms.  Later she would find out the thick old plaster ceiling had fallen under her room.  It was the shop classroom.  Things got went downhill for her.  Justin, our two year old son was having trouble at the baby sitter.  We had to find a new daycare for him the last week or two of school.  That problem was solved by the home economics teacher taking Justin.  I think she was on maternity leave.  The old Jr. High building would be condemned and all the ceilings replaced.  At first they put thick plastic sheeting on the ceilings, but inspectors didn't allow that.  Sandra and her whole Jr. High went to the high school for split-shift with the high school teachers.  She went in about 1:00 pm. till 5:00.  That worked well.  She was pretty relaxed.  A little later, after the ceilings were fixed, she and the staff returned to the building. 

         Right by her room outside her door on the top floor, they had cut a huge hole in the wall to put an elevator shaft.  She told me the kids could hear the workers talking, with not so great language.  The hole had a plastic covering, and a wood railing, but was basically open. There was a big rainstorm and water was coming in also.  She got very upset and told her principal she needed to move to another room.  He said "You're not having it so bad..."  Sandra came home very upset.  I said you can quit.  She called teacher's retirement and they told her not to quit, but to take a leave and they would check out her medical problems.  Stress was causing something related to the lupus. She stayed at home, and I called the superintendent and told him she wouldn't be back.   After she used all her sick days, she went on disability.  I think those months were perhaps the most stressful of our lives, not knowing what would happen in the future. 

         Sandra got to stay home and take care of Justin.  Her life, and mine were peaceful again.  Evidently Sandra being at home made Baby Fold think about advancing us in getting our second child.  Remember that Sandra wanted an infant, and I thought I wanted an older child.  I just didn't really know.  We both thought Justin needed a brother or sister.  We would hear big news about getting another child being placed with us, but Baby Fold procedures didn't allow telling us for about a month or so.  Meanwhile, Sandra and I were invited to a "training" and "orientation" meeting at Charleston with other prospective adoptive parents.  We went there and told them of what to expect and how hard it was.  We didn't know it, but all the time Baby Fold was waiting the thirty days required to medically check out a child before placing.  Our future daughter would be one month old when we found out, and getting her would be similar to getting Justin. When we actually found out when we were in Arkansas on a vacation with little Justin.  That would be the last trip to take with Justin by himself.  His life and ours were about to change.  I would like save Chapter Twelve, to describe the adoption of our second child. 

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN  (A New Family Member, Lacie Louise)

So what good would living do me

God only knows what I'd be without you
God only knows what I'd be without you
If you should ever leave me

      The theme of this song seems to dwell on what would happen if your loved one would be gone.  When life is ongoing, as in Sandra and my life, we didn't think about one of us being gone.  When my parents passed, and later my brother Red, I had moments of thinking our longevity.  We were too busy to dwell on the sad subject. 

      In 1983, our active life would change greatly.  We were on a nice little fun trip to Eureka, Arkansas.  It was an old city built on a hill.  Justin was still small, but loved traveling and seeing new things with his parents.  We went to shops, walked down the street and visited the hotel with main entrances on two different floors.  We had good meals, and when our visit ended, we packed up and started home.  It was very hot that day.  On the way out of town Justin saw a billboard advertising the steam engine ride in Eureka.  With a slight bit of convincing from Justin, we went back and found the train ride check in.  We went up to see the steaming engine, and Justin was allowed to get up into the engineer compartment.  We then boarded and went on the trip a few miles down somewhere.  The scenery was very pretty and scenic.  When we reached the end we got up and the seats turned around so we would still be facing forward.  Back we went.  Justin would talk about his train trip for some time.

       While traveling down the interstate to Illinois, we went along not knowing the Baby Fold was trying to reach us.  When we finally got home, our answering service showed a call from Marge Ramsey, our social worker.  We called her back.  She told us that we were approved for a baby, and we needed to go up to Bloomington to meet her.  Lacie Louise would be her name, but she had her birth name still. We got up to Bloomington with Justin and Grandma Marjorie (Sandra's mother).  I really think we were all very happy.  I can't remember exact details, but again, we were told before we came up to bring a set of clothes and diapers.  No mention of a bottle was given, but we purchased one and brought it along.  Lacie's birthmother had selected us.  She had decided that she couldn't take care of another child, and was trying to better herself by going to nursing school.  I'm sure this was very difficult for her.  We were chosen by her, and had no problem with receiving her.  We had to put our dress on her, and put her in our baby seat.  There were no real car seats in these days.  I think we fastened her in, though.  We had a harness system for Justin.  He was strapped in with a harness that fastened to floor.  He could move around and lie down.  We headed for home.  This was the beginning our new life and Lacie's. 

       A year later, as was with Justin we returned to McClean County courthouse to finalize her adoption. This time, Justin was allowed to tell the judge what he thought.  I can't quite remember what he said, but he was very happy and bold to tell the judge what he thought.  When you adopt there are sometimes four lawyers involved. Lacie had her lawyer, we had ours, and her birthfather had one representing him, as he was not physically involved. That's the way it was.  Justin's adoption hearing was similar.  In both parents had to testify.  I always get nervous in these type things, but I did alright.  I'm sure Sandra was not nervous, and did beautifully.  Life at our ranch style home in Herrick would change forever.  We had no way to have a shower to get things for our baby, but friends, Herrick Church members and family had showers for us. 

       We didn't have a baby bed or any baby supplies besides the receiving clothing and bottle we bought going up.  Again, our neighbors, the Nelsons and Barnes and others were excited. We got clothes and other items.  A quick trip to Pana Wal-Mart would get us other items, including formula, diapers and other necessities.  We used cloth diapers for Lacie as I remember.  We might have used Pampers later.  I don't remember that.  Jan Jones, Sandra's Jr. High Librarian, loaned us a "play pen" and I suspect we got a crib pretty quick.  There was a lot of action.  Justin had given up his bottle quickly, and Lacie was a little more stubborn.  Justin's last bottle had water, and he threw it down and cried a while.  Lacie gave it up, but that detail I can't remember. 

       Sandra and I continued the tradition of getting in the car and going to Charleston, Westfield, Pana, and the other places we liked.  We took our kids everywhere with us, and didn't have a babysitter but once, except for Justin's brief time with daycare.  Justin would stay with neighbors and of course his Grandma and Grandpa Taylor in Charleston.  Ainslie did not get that experience of staying with others by herself until later years.  We were a little bit isolated in the country, and Charleston was 60 miles east.  We had to travel to go just about anywhere. 

       The house at Herrick served well for all of us.  It was very rural and there weren't a lot of special things for our kids to do.  Lacie and Justin did get swimming lessons at the Pana pool. Lacie was in gymnastics, I believe, in Shelbyville.  We rode our bikes a lot.  Lacie had friends in school who would come out to spend the night with her fairly often.  She went to their houses for playing and sometimes parties.  Sandra loved birthdays.  We would have parties for all of us, usually in Charleston or Westfield.  The holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas were also spent in Charleston and Westfield. On a few special occasions, we would be in the Bloomington, Indiana area.  Sandra was the card sender all the years of our marriage.  Sometimes I would mention someone, but she kept track of everyone's birthday.  She had a beautiful memory for people, birthdays and even anniversaries.

       Sandra's grandmother Mom, Mom as we all called her lived in distant Danville, Illinois.  We made trips up there with the kids, and even spent a night.  She loved to take us to the Steak 'n Shake, and all of us liked doing that.  After I joined the Antioch Church of Christ (rural Greenup, Illinois), I convinced the leaders that we should have Sunday night services and have revival meetings.  It was the same way when we attended Herrick Church of Christ and Oak Grove Church of Christ.  We would have preachers from Indiana and even Texas.  Later we had a preacher from Oklahoma and Alabama.  After the congregations would get to know them, they would host them in their homes.  Sandra and I hosted many preachers over the years too.  One special event was when we hosted Brother E.C. Severe from Malawi, Africa.  He got cold with our air conditioning, and we found him sitting outside on the picnic table when coming home from school.  He was a very smart African man who even new the President of Malawi. 

       I was invited to hold revivals in two Texas city churches, Canyon and Plainview.  We stayed in homes at Canyon, but at Plainview we had a motel in the city.  Plainview is majority Mexican, so it was a different experience staying there.  We had a good time.  I spoke in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and once in Arkansas at a camp meeting.  I enjoyed making the lessons and had results with people coming forward after the sermon. 

       The Herrick years would go on for a few years until my mom, in Charleston was having health problems.  My dad passed away April 13, 1990, and she was alone in the Taylor house after that.  I found out that she was afraid, but didn't want to more.  Her health was not so good, and sometimes I had to go over there besides weekends to check in with her.  We made a decision to make a move to Windsor, Illinois.  It was kind in the middle between Herrick and Charleston.  We did some looking for an older house we could fix up.  Well, we sure found one of those.  Sandra and I fell in love with a house in a nice Windsor neighborhood that had renters who messed it up.  The kids were not so thrilled, as it smelled.  This sounds like a fixer upper show, but it was real.  It would take about four years to totally finish it.  Sandra and I pulled the carpets, cleaned the floors, built a new bathroom floor, and cleaned the kitchen real good.  It ended up very livable.  About four years later we had the exterior done-- new roof, porch built in, windows, doors and siding.  The house cost us $15,000.  We put a little over $10,000 in labor and we bought all the materials.  It was pretty nice from the outside especially.  I did the inside myself including taking a wall out and putting in a big beam, putting a new bathroom in the front of the house, and new carpet.  When we got done, the house value got up to $55,000. 

       At the beginning of the second year at Windsor, I read in the paper that the Windsor Area Ambulance were way short on EMT's.  It was going to have to shut down if people didn't volunteer and get trained.  I always wanted to something my dad did.  He was in the first class of EMT's at Charleston for the fire department in about 1977.  I volunteered and joined in with nine other volunteer candidates to be an EMT-B.  I went to training at Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital in Mattoon.  I actually surprised myself in that I could memorize, take tests and pass them, do the physical skills such as blood pressures, delivering a baby (never did), take care of wounds, injuries, and help with doing I-V's.  I was encouraged to get EMT-I training in which I would actually stick needles, and give some drugs.  I declined, because I was afraid I wouldn't remember procedures.  I did everything but stick the needle.  I worked at Herrick still, and had to get up early to drive from Windsor to Herrick each morning.  I was the EMT that worked the after midnight calls.  I answered the phone sometimes, and usually was first to the shed. I was driver quite often, having to drive through busy Mattoon often.  The only complaints I got were when I hit a bump a little too fast.  I could write about many exciting calls, and how in my last weekend doing it, we saved two patients, helped a child with his grandparents who got sick.  I was up all night and went to Herrick.  I never was late for school.  On that last call, before the phone connection ended, I got cards from some of the patients I had that weekend.  Sandra was very patient with my EMT job, and ironically I drove her to the ER twice, in the ambulance myself with an EMT in the back.  She never complained about my driving. 

        My mom had gotten worse in her health, and I know she was scared living in the old house.  She refused to move in with us, and she wouldn't quit smoking.  I would spend the night with her quite often on weekends.  She and I had a conversation about her moving out with my brother in Kansas City.  She said she would go.  I took her out there, and in a month or so, I had to go get her.  It didn't work out.  While she was out there, we had let our son move into the old house.  I had her put in the Hilltop Nursing Home.  She agreed to it, but sadly that didn't work out.  She was only there a few months, and I was going to move her to the other nursing care home in Charleston.  I was at Herrick when I got a call from the hospital, that she was in the ER.  It was 60+ miles to Mattoon.  I took off and made it before she passed away.  She knew when I walked in.  They put her in ICU, but not much later, a nurse told me she was shutting down.  I needed to tell them to take the breathing tube out. The doctor didn't want that.  I think she had a stroke.  Her heart was still good, but she had blockages. My mom was gone.  My dad had died in 1990 at age 70 with a big heart attack.  My mom died in 2001. When both your parents pass away, you immediately begin to think, what will I do now?  Where will I get advice now?

        The story has been mostly about me, up to this point.  Sandra had changed her life once we moved to Windsor.  She had lots of experience with preschool teaching.  Now she was ready to to out and look for a job in a private preschool.  She did just that.  I would like to continue Sandra's story in Chapter Twelve.

 

CHAPTER TWELVE  (Sandra and the Sullivan Preschool, Life in Windsor)

Well life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I'd be without you "God Only Knows" by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys     

      While we lived in Herrick, Sandra found out she had the talent and ability to teach preschool-age children.  She started up the first Herrick Public Library preschool.   Herrick was several miles away from any commercial private preschool.  She had worked for Project Help, a State of Illinois funded program which was located in a Herrick Church.  She did that for maybe a couple of years. She and Diana Hinz of Cowden worked together to teach that program after the certified teacher had to take time off because of a personal injury.  That program had its' own bus, and kids were brought in by bus and parents.  That was a nice program with art, listening, and playing activities.  The kids were taught to line up, work together and sharing.  Diana and Sandra kept it going throughout the end of the year.  Sandra was a certified elementary teacher, but not for "preschool," as such. 

      During a time period at Herrick or Windsor, she and I took "Early Childhood Language" at EIU with Dr. Malehorn.  This 3 hour class would help Sandra to be qualified to be a teacher in a private preschool. We both got A's in the project oriented class.  The class also helped me to achieve the 15 hours of English/Language Arts to be qualified for lots of job possibilities. 

      We put our Herrick house up for sale, with the goal of us moving to Windsor and being closer to my mom, who lived in Charleston.  Sandra was close to Mattoon and Sullivan private preschools.  She looked at the one in Mattoon, and I vetoed that one for her.  It required a lot of janitorial work along with tending to kids.  She found out about the Sullivan Preschool, a few miles north of Windsor.  She applied, and they hired her to be an aid for another teacher.  That teacher was not doing so with discipline or teaching in general, and Sandra helped her run the class.  I can't quite remember the order of events, but Sandra ended up being the teacher. 

      Sullivan Preschool was a professionally run private school that had a board and administrators.  Teachers only taught and supervised kids, with no other duties.  There were assistants for each teacher, and it covered ages from infants to 4-5 year olds.  Sandra would have classes with 2-3 year olds and 4-5 year olds.  She seemed to enjoy all the ages.  She helped in the infant room some.  She would come home and tell me of her adventures for the day.  Each room had half doors, where the top would be open, and the bottom closed.  She told me of escape artists, who would open the bottom half and run off.  One time in particular was when one little boy would escape more than once and run into the big storage room nearby, and hide inside the toys.  He went to the same place every time.  Another time was when the same little boy escaped through the room exterior door (each room had a door to go out into the playground) and ran out to the playground, with Sandra's assistant running after him.

       She told me the boys enjoyed watching the big brown UPS truck out front.  They knew it was UPS. Sandra actually taught cutting with scissors to 2-3 year olds. Many 4-5 year olds could read the other kids' names on the cubby labels.  She did all kinds of art projects that were totally student generated.  She kept samples of their work and had all displayed for parent open-houses. 

       Most of the 4-5 and maybe 2-3 year olds are probably in or graduated from high school by now.  She always laughed about knowing the adventures of many of these future honor students with their potty training, and behavior.  She could name names and describe a lot of the kids even in 2020, including those in the earlier Herrick Preschool, Project Help and Sullivan Preschool, parents loved Mrs. Taylor, as did the kids.  Only on a couple events, did a parent complain, but the management at Sullivan backed her up. 

       After my mom passed away in 2001, things would change with our living locations. Sandra and I would end up owning two houses, one in Charleston and the one in Windsor.  We would end up living in the Charleston home (my mom's old home) twice-- different times.  We sold the Windsor house, and moved to Charleston.  I think altogether we moved seven times.  Probably that is a bit unusual for an older couple to move that many times.  We started in Tower in the rental house, moved to our first purchased home in Herrick, moved to another home in Windsor, moved to Charleston, I would retire in 2003, and we lived at Douglasville, Ga. for a year in an apartment. Lacie stayed in the Charleston house while we were gone, but we moved back to Charleston after I got a new job working for Charleston Schools, and later we bought a more modern house in Mattoon, and lived there. I rented the house in Charleston, and then as time went by we decided to sell the houses in Illinois and move to Mississippi.  Our moves kind of sound like the spelling of Mississippi. We bought a house in Southaven and lived there five years, and then I wanted a garage, so we bought a much newer house in Hernando.  That's where we lived and I still do.  I will tell more of these moves in later chapters. 

       Sandra and I moved to Charleston from Windsor and the jaunt to Georgia for a year.  I worked for Charleston Schools for five years as their gifted education teacher.  Sandra had a little problem driving over to Sullivan from Charleston.  She tried it, but her health was not so good, so she retired from preschool.  Sullivan Preschool was her favorite preschool in Illinois.  When we lived in Georgia for a year,2003-2004, she got a job at Rainbow House Preschool in Douglasville.  The director there hired her on the spot (after the normal criminal check with the FBI). Sandra had a beautiful recommendation from Sullivan Preschool.  She loved that school too.  One thing she talked about was that her classroom there also had a couple of autistic kids, who had different characteristics.  One like to throw things, so Sandra watched him closely and prevented him from throwing things.  She became friends with the director there and continued doing Facebook with her even into 2020. 

       I don't know if I mentioned this, but immediately after I retired in 2003, and before the move to Georgia, we got to go on a nice long driving vacation.  Our kids were grown up, Lacie in college at EIU, and Justin was married and lived in Mattoon.  We went to Mt. Rushmore. On the way we stopped at the Barnum-Bailey Ringling Brothers circus museum at Baraboo, Wisconsin.    Baraboo has a summer program with an actual tent circus.  They had some elephants in 2003, but I suspect they don't now. We also stopped and spent time in the huge Wall Drug Store in South Dakota.  Our vacations general involved visiting with friends, going to historical sites or just exploring.  Right after we got married, before adopting our children, we took off from Detroit, Michigan, across the Windsor Bridge into Canada.  We only had about $80 left, but that was plenty to get us to Niagara Falls.  We pretty drove straight home after seeing the Falls.  We probably got a room, but my memory does not provide details now.  We got to see the Falls from the Canadian side, and then crossed over and saw them from the not so beautiful American side.  Both sides had cities named Niagara Falls. 

      

CHAPTER THIRTEEN  (Sandra and the Sullivan, Life in Charleston and Mattoon, My job at Lake Land College)

What good is the dawn
That grows into day
The sunset at night
Or living this way  "The Warmth of the Sun" by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys

       I have changed my theme song for a while.  This song was written by Brian Wilson, right after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  It seems the song has a lot of emotional feelings in it along with hope with the warmth of the sun. 

       Sandra was a more avid traveler than I was in our pre-marriage years.  Her father took the family to Florida and Texas.  His trips were mostly with the purpose of visiting with relatives and Church friends.  Sandra, herself, took her sister Brenda to Mt. Rushmore.  She would drive her mother from even before she got her license, but had a permit.  She was a really good driver, and even drove me into Chicago.  I always said she was a more aggressive than me.  Her least favorite highway was I-75 from Chattanooga to Atlanta.  That highway had aggressive truckers, that she always seemed to get irritated with.  Sandra was a stickler of following the speed limit, and would not speed up to please any other driver. She would pass a little quicker than I do, but I think I pleased her in our 40,000 miles of driving while living in Illinois.  After we moved to Mississippi, the mileage went way down.  She was a very safe driver.  In the last few years of her life, Sandra developed double vision.  Glassed took care of it so she could drive, but the last couple of years I took over driving.  Both of us could drive a vehicle with a manual transmission. 

       Besides her driving skill, Sandra was really good at math.  She had a minor in math, but did not want to major in it and teach the high level math classes.  She would explain problems to me, and work them verbally.  I usually told her she was too complicated.  She usually said something back about me-- usually that I was smart and should understand.  We had so much fun in all our local and distant trips, going to churches in other states, and just driving around. 

        The chronology of my jobs are hard for me to remember the years, but I'll try.  I worked for Cowden-Herrick Schools the longest, 29 years.  When I retired I combined my months of bus driving under another state pension system, and had enough to retire at age 55.  I was driving to Herrick every school from Charleston and that was 65 miles one way.  We had a really nice S-10 small pickup that I drove most of the last year.  The way we bought it had limited miles left.  I had to drive our car for the last months of the school year.  I drove most of trip on rural roads.  I found they were better when the weather got bad.  I was getting worn out from driving, and didn't know it.  My job had switched from running libraries to running the technology in our schools.  I also wrote federal, state and other grants including the Bill and Melinda Gates grants.  I won a lot of money for our school district and the public libraries.  Each year for a few years we received large grants.  We bought computer labs, projectors, printers and had a lot of staff development for the teachers.  I personally conducted the training, and hired good experts to come in and do them.  I paid myself from the grants, and the teachers got paid.  I became a State of Illinois Professional Development Provider, and conducted workshops for a few other districts.  I traveled to northern Illinois and other places to present Abraham Lincoln and technology based classes.

       I one year I won two over $100,000 grants on technology.  One was a partnership with a district west of us on the Mississippi, and the other school was at the tip of southern Illinois. In that grant we purchased huge and expensive GPS devices and mapping software.  We learned to map in different ways, including field farms, and at Herrick we mapped the location of an old covered bridge.  I used the GPS to map Lincoln Historical sites.  We had field trips for the teachers, and I made trips for our grants. 

       One of the most self-fulfilling was to be the school official to compile and write our building school improvement plans.  We had worked on them, but according to State policies and auditing procedures, we did not have them in a concise written form.  I did research with teachers, worked with the high school principal, and got three plans put together.  The exciting part was when our Title I district audit was announced, the most important item on the list, besides financial records, was a school improvement plan for each building.  The two auditors came, there was a meeting, and I presented the school improvement plans.  We were checked off as satisfying state auditing rules.  Our school bookkeeper had all the budget records (including my federal grants) in perfect order.  I always got a little stressed that I missed something.  I guess I never did.  Altogether, I won about $300,000 in the various grants, and made all the givers happy.  I thought I would become a professional grant writer for schools or businesses after retiring.  My mind retired enough that I didn't further it. 

       Back to jobs now, I retired, and Sandra and I got antsy for moving.  We lived in Charleston in 2003. I retired in May of that year.  We let Lacie stay in our old house, and we packed up in a big Budget truck and Justin and I drove it to Douglasville, Georgia.  Sandra drove the van, that was so packed she really couldn't see out the back of it.  We drove down there and went to our new 2nd story luxury apartment. It was brand new and we liked the staff running it.  In those days we unpacked and moved things in and out ourselves.  Friends helped us.  I was much stronger and faster 16 years ago. Sandra was the organizer and arranger.  We took old antiques, my large paintings, our computers and printers.  I don't know how all was packed into a single truck.  Lacie stayed in our house and actually quite a bit of our stuff was with her. 

       We moved to Georgia for some good reasons.  There was a church there, with lots of members that we knew from several previous visits.  They were great friends while we were there.  Douglasville was a suburb of Metro Atlanta, but was mostly a residential center.  It had a large nice mall, lots of stores and a bunch of good restaurants.  I also had signed up for a job in College Park, Georgia, another huge suburb on the south side of Atlanta.  Mike Daniel got the job for me, and we would spend the year driving together.  That's the closest interaction with another person that I had ever had.  I'm sure I got on his nerves, but actually we got long well.  He and his wife Melba were members of the Antioch Church of Christ that we all attended.  Sandra and I would try to find things in Atlanta, but the only time we found what I wanted, we were semi-lost.  The highway I-275 around the city was like a Nascar racetrack.  My heart-rate would go up every time I had to get on it.  It was a circle around the city.  We were going to a job fair, but missed the turnoff, and we found a turn off for the Cyclorama Civil War museum, next to the zoo.  Yeah, that ended up being a nice trip after all.  No job fair on that trip. 

       During the last two months or so, of 2004, in Douglasville, I was applying for and have a lot of interviews for a better job.  People liked talking to me, and Sandra navigated us around Douglas County and Clayton County, where my current job was.  Through Sandra's navigation skills, I found all schools and had good interviews.  They were huge schools and I was applying for library or art.  I wasn't getting a job as I hoped I would.

       Sometime during that spring of 2004, I applied for a gifted education position in the elementary schools at my hometown of Charleston.  Out of the blue, unexpectedly, I got a call from Deb Poffinbarger, Assistant Supt. at Charleston.  I was a little bit shocked.  What now?  Deb pretty much said I had the job, but needed to come up to talk to the administrators to confirm it.  The job would be part time (2/3 yearly contract) and would pay good.  I said YES, and so I had to tell all our friends in Douglasville.  They were church members at Antioch.  I found it difficult to tell them.  It was very sad and emotional for all.  I think the reason for taking the job and moving back after a year, was mostly due to Sandra becoming homesick and missing her sisters and family. The other reason was that we were paying taxes and a payment on the old house at Charleston, and supporting a nice apartment.  It's called being realistic. 

       I would end up being gifted teacher at Charleston for five school years.  I loved the kids, and I think the feeling was likewise from them.  I had a whole different approach to teaching gifted, and allowed for lots of individual research, games, activities and field trips.  I could write a whole chapter on my years working for Charleston Schools.  A side comment is that a Charleston board member told my mom that Charleston did not hire Charleston natives in their schools.  That upset me so I didn't even apply.  I ended up working in country schools and wrote huge grants.  I taught art, reading, library and computers.  I would never have had the variety of experiences at Charleston.  My after retirement job with Charleston at Jefferson, Carl Sandburg, Lerna and Ashmore was wonderful, and it paid good.  It would be a different decade and new board members.  Lots of Charleston natives were working for Charleston Schools.  My mom had the power to get the policy barring me changed, but didn't push it.  I got my own jobs the old fashioned way.

        Along with leaving our friends and the church at Douglasville, Sandra had to leave her Sunshine House Preschool job.  She got very close to the kids there and the director.  When we finally got moved back home to Charleston in 2004, Sandra kind of wanted to work some more, but the drive to Sullivan was too far, and the preschools in Coles County weren't for her.  Lacie had lived in our old house and took care of it good.  She decided to stay with us. She enjoyed her stay and ability to save money for a special event coming in her life.  She would graduate from Eastern Illinois University, as so many of her family members did.  She got her first job at Mark Twain Elementary.  We both worked for Charleston Schools.  That was nice.  Sandra helped her in her kindergarten room as an assistant.  That first job was only a one year job.  She did a great job introducing actual reading to her classes.  That was not so popular at Mark Twain yet, but she stuck to it.  I think I'll stop with this time period here and take off in Chapter Fourteen. 

Thanks for reading all this so far.  Watch out for the trains, as my old-time cousin-- newspaper newsman would end his articles (1930's and 40's).


 

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO PART ONE--CHAPTERS 1 THROUGH 9

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