Fred’s Story

After a failed marriage late in life, I’d given up on the idea of love. I didn’t really trust this "falling in love" stuff. It had given me nothing but heartache.

Sharing my sad story at work got me sympathy and some straight talk. I liked the straight talk more, so I talked to Ida. She had some wisdom and I began sharing more and more.

Prospects of being alone at Christmas turned me melancholy. Ida invited me to a friend’s family Christmas Day dinner. The gathering was fun and I found myself laughing for the first time in a long time. Later, playing board games, Ida’s eyes started to sparkle. I’m not sure what, when or how it happened. But it did, and I was falling head over heels into Ida’s eyes.

Almost in a stupor, with difficulty, I drove home. I walked in a fog for weeks trying to deny my feelings.

At work on Valentine’s Day Ida received a dozen red roses from a "secret admirer." I contributed nothing to the speculation as my coworkers’ tongues wagged.

Ida invited me to go with her out of town to visit a sick friend. Her usual traveling companion had canceled out at the last minute and she was uncomfortable with the long drive alone. "Sure," I croaked as my heart leaped into my throat.

We talked about all sorts of things on the drive and she seemed completely comfortable with me. After the visit with her friend she was more sober. Driving home I looked for opportunities to express my feelings and found none. Nearing home I became desperate, until I remembered her daughter’s code. "We tap three times to say, ‘I love you,’" she had told me. I tried it gently on her arm. She looked at me strangely. I sank deeply into my seat and we said little the rest of the drive.

We didn’t talk mu h at work for several weeks. Until she asked me if I would join her and her daughter on the river for a picnic. "Yes, of course!" I blurted out.

It was a beautiful sunny day. The nearby river talked loudly. We chic-chatted about work and the gorgeous scenery. She asked me to pass the potato salad. As I handed the bowl to her she grasped my hands and tapped three times. My heart wanted to leap out of my chest. The sun got brighter, the birds louder, the day more beautiful and all was well.

We married less than a year later. That was eight years ago and I still feel the butterflies in my belly when I see her and my heart starts to melt. Had I ignored my feelings, had I said no to love, I would have been a much poorer man. I would have missed one of the best things that ever happened to me. I would have missed Ida, my best friend. — Fred Heldt


Sometimes you come to a point in your life when you think you are happy and content with the way things are. Then there are other times when you think how they might be better. So I prayed, Lord is there is someone out there for me, and if it be your will, bring him on.

That is how it happened to me. I had become a very independent widow woman. I was not looking for a man. I did not have time for a man. I did not think I wanted to be married. I was busy helping others. Obviously, the Lord had his own plan for my life.

A handsome gentleman appeared out of no where, into the community center where I was working and having lunch with my friends. I was thinking, who is that, and where did he come from. I might need to get to know him. He had such beautiful hair and had a nice pleasant look. He asked about the procedure to eat lunch, so I gladly proceeded to take care of his request and completed his paperwork. We also talk about many other things and he asked me to join him to dinner sometime.

I thought he was very bold so didn’t give his invitation any more thought.

Thinking about my prayer, I thought, OK, Lord, I hear you.

I turned to the man and asked when and where do you want to eat?

We were very comfortable with each other and found we had many things in common. We enjoyed each others company and quickly worked our way into each others heart. We married a few months later and are happy living together.

We never know what the Lord has in store for us. We jut have to stop and listen to what the Lord is telling us. When the time is right, he will answer your prayers. — Kay Weaver

The Yellow Jacket and the Blue Devil

When I was a teenager, living at Banner Mountain, I’d heard of Gene Nichols and had seen him at least once before I met him at Shirley High School. I attended Clinton High my first year, but my school district consolidated and I was supposed to go to Shirley School. I went there for three days when I was in the 10th grade, then I transferred back to Clinton where I could take classes not offered at Shirley.

During those three days at Shirley School, I met Gene. He came in late to class, and there I was. Later on, I learned why he was late. He’d been delivering newspapers. Later on, I also learned that he had seen me for the first time riding, of all places, in the back of a truck. He told me that not only had he seen me then, he also thought, "That’s the girl for me."

Back to the classroom at Shirley. So there I was. The girl for him. And he was late. He has told me that if he’d known I was there, he would have been on time.

There was a new teacher in the class and she didn’t know any of the students. So the boys had a field day mixing up their names until even I didn’t know who was who.

But I would remember Gene Nichols.

During study hall, a boy who sat behind me, reached over and untied the long cloth belt on my simple cotton dress. That was it! I was tired of those "ole mean Shirley boys," so I went back to Clinton High. I became a Clinton Yellow Jacket,

leaving those Shirley Blue Devils alone.

Until one of them—Gene Nichols––asked for a date in the spring of the following year.

Our first date was at a Sunday night church service at Banner Mountain. Back in those days at some churches, the men sat on one side of the building and the women sat on the other side. When Gene and I arrived, I went inside and sat with other girls on a pew, while Gene visited outside with the fellows.

When church began, he came in and sat beside me. He was the only boy on that row. I didn’t even wonder if that might be the sign of a rebel.

We continued to date. We went to basketball games, other school activities, movies, and teen get-togethers. By graduation, we were in love. Didn’t see any fireworks in the stars, but somehow we knew our love was real.

When he asked, "Will you marry me?" I answered, "Yes."

That moment of commitment was simple because of the deep love in our hearts.

That love still holds strong, after all these years.

This is the true confession of a Clinton Yellow Jacket who married a Shirley Blue Devil. — Freeda Baker Nichols

My One Valentine

A while back two young girls were seated in a little café drinking a coke. It was a beautiful late summer day. They could see the park.

There were shade trees growing around the lake. In walked two young soldiers. They talked to the girls a while, then sat down and ordered a coke. A while later, they all walked down to the lake and took a ride around the lake in the little paddle boats.

The place was Oakland, Calif. The time was 1943. The young girls were me and Lucille, my best friend. The soldiers were Richard from Connecticut and Bob from Canada. That is the way it was back then.

Everyone was away from home, lonely, but never admitting that. We were there by choice. We had work. The young military men were there being prepared for war with fear and dread that showed on their faces. They needed to talk usually about back home. We met young men from all across America. We learned how to listen and the kind of questions to ask. The first question asked was "Where are you from?"

We never expected to see them again. You could tell they felt better, someone cared enough to listen.

We were invited to go to little parties at the YWCA or USO. There were always the lonely young military men. We would visit, dance, have something to drink and eat cookies. Hope we left people feeling better.

We never expected to see Richard or Bob again. Then there they were on the street where we were walking. We were going to get an ice cream cone. They went with us. We visited. Richard asked me if I could meet him later that week. Our time together had been pleasant. Over the next few months, we continued to meet when there was time. I listened to his plans, when the war is over….

We formed a friendship, a sense of trust. I enjoyed the time with him. We had discovered a dandy little park in Alameda. It had an exercise area with wonderful equipment, and a hill to climb. It also kept the cold wind from the bay away that area of the park.

Richard had called, wanting me to meet him at the park on Valentines Day. It was a crisp sunny day. To stay warm we would climb the hill hold hands and run back down, do the hand walking on the bars, or sit on the bench sheltered from the wind. I tried to out do him with physical strength. That was the kind of games we played at home with my brother and sisters.

I was at the park a little while when I saw him coming. I was so anxious to see him, I wanted to run and meet him, but never do that! Don’t let him know you care that much.

His greeting was more than friendship, I could hear his heart beating, he hugged me so tight. We sat on the bench. He handed me the brown bag he carried. It had a red heart shaped box of chocolates. A little hand written note, "Will you be my Valentine?"

I thought it meant that day. We were at a a good location, we could eat chocolate as we exercised. He said, "No, I want it to be forever!" He was getting notes from his pocket: "You are the best friend I’ve ever had", "Will you marry me?" , " I’m lost when I’m not with you.", "I know I love you.", "I’ve never felt this way before.", "I feel I can’t lie without you."

We were married the first day of spring in a little Methodist church in Alameda with Lucille and Bob at our side. We spent our honeymoon in the Red Wood Forest. He shipped out to Germany in December. Two years later he came home. He was

discharged at Jefferson Barracks there by St. Louis, where I was working and waiting.

We had 68 years together. — Lallah Lee Ostergren

That Ornery Boy

In the late 1940’s, Gene May and Fred Doby worked for the Border Patrol. They lived at a small line shack, just outside of Arenas, New Mexico. They rode horses to patrol the line.

One summer day the Rayburn May family went to visit his brother. One of Rayburn and LaVerne’s children was Buzz. One of Fred and Bobbie’s children was Trish. It seemed to Trish, Buzz was an ornery little boy. He was dressed like a cowboy and had a gun.

The horses "Booger" and "Brownie" were up in the corral. Buzz would shoot his little cap pistol at them and scare them. She didn’t like him very much!

Fast forward to Halloween 1962. Deming, New Mexico. Trish and her girlfriends were in town, "dragging Main" street. A car pulls alongside and "tomatoes" them, and speeds away, guys laughing. Later that evening Trish and her friends were at the "Triangle Drive Inn" having a coke and up pulls that same car. This guy gets out, and with a silly grin, notices the tomato streaked car and apologized for being one of the cars they tomatoed.

Trish thought Buzz was a cutie and had pretty eyes.The following month, Trish’s folks took her with them to a dance at Columbus, New Mexico. Buzz May happened to be there. He ask her to dance, they continued together throughout the night. He liked her!

Come time to leave, Buzz asked Fred if he could bring her home? Her Dad said "yes", that they would be along behind them. Buzz ask if he could come courting her; he would be off work Wednesday evening and would it be ok to come visit? Buzz was very mannerly, her Dad liked that, he agreed.

So the next two months Buzz would leave from work and go to the farm, sit and visit and they would watch "Beverly Hillbillies." Saturday nights they may have gone to a movie or had a date night.

At one point Buzz mentioned his Uncle Gene and Ann. Trish told him they had friends by that name! They discovered it was the same people."SO YOU’RE the ornery little boy who was scaring our horses!"

Over Christmas break from school, Trish’s folks moved her to Douglas, Arizona, to live with her sister and go to school there. Buzz was having none of that! The two wrote letters almost daily, he decided he would move her back to the farm. When they decided to marry, she said, "Go ask Daddy."

Fred gave his permission, telling Buzz, "It’s going to be hard for you two kids, but I wish you all the best."

January 23, 1963, Buzz and Trish were married at Bethel Baptist Church, Deming, New Mexico. He was 19, she had just turned 16, 10 days earlier. They have three married children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.Through 50 years of ups and downs, they would neither one change a thing. Their lives have been richly blessed by the Lord, their family and friends. — Trish May wrote this story on the occasion of the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. Her daughter entered the story as a surprise to her parents.

The Long-Haired Man

About 21 years ago I ran a Daycare Center at a Catholic School. I was looking to hire some additional help for the after school care program and a young man with long hair walked into my office looking for a job. I had never hired a man to work with children, let alone one that had long hair. I say, that not because I object to long hair, but I knew that the women and our one nun on the school board would probably throw a fit over not only him being a man working with children but a man with long hair to boot.

It took some doing, and a reminder that Jesus had long hair to get the school board convinced that we should give this young man a chance and hire him for the after school care program.

Over the next 12 years this man not only was well loved by all the children and parents at the daycare but he became my very good friend. We both grew, changed, loved and lost over those years and one day we found ourselves both single and still enjoying each others company.

One of our joint interests is that we both love the outdoors and loved hiking. After one very beautiful day hiking this very same man that I hired all those many years ago and have become such good friends with shyly handed me a handwritten note with the instructions to read it after I left to head home.

They say curiosity killed the cat, I’m no cat but my curiosity got the better of me and there was no way that I was going to wait the two hour drive before I stopped and read what he had wrote. I pulled over just at the end of his dirt road and read his note. What? Am I reading this right? I read the note at least three time before I continued on my drive home. I thought about nothing but what the note maybe meant for two long hours on my drive.

The first thing I did when I got home was to ask my, then-16-year-old, daughter to read the note and tell me what she thought it meant. I was just having such a hard time believing that this man would like me more than just a friend after all these long years. With a look of joy and a mischievous grin my daughter explained to me that this man liked me. I rebutted her statement by saying, "Of course he likes me, we’ve known and been close friends for years." Rolling her eyes and taking my hand she explained that she thought the note meant that he "liked," liked me as in he wants to date me, like me. "Oh!" was all I could manage to say.

After a few phone calls it was obvious that our relationship was about to change, but would it be better or could I possibly lose a very good friend if things didn’t work out.

We set our first date for New Year’s eve and I was so nervous worrying about what to do at midnight. Traditionally, you are supposed to kiss your date at midnight and that’s just not something we had ever done. Hugs, sure, we were friends after all, right? A kiss was all together something different. I had worked myself up so much over this that when this man walked into my home to pick me up that night I decided in that split second that I saw him smiling at me that I just had to know. I had to see if I was going to enter into something really great or would I possibly lose a good and cherished friend.

I walked right up to him, put my arms around him and laid one on him right there at my front door. Needless to say that kiss was the first of many and after 9 years of marriage I plan on kissing that man for the rest of my life. He is my best friend still and the man that makes me smile every day and all because he shyly handed me a note that changed our lives forever. — Jackie Sikes

The Officer and the Banker

In January 1979, the Officer Dwight Hood stopped my friend Carla and me, in those days officers would have DL checks. Officer Hood knew Carla from the bank that we both worked for. The branch that Carla worked in was just a drive-thru and she was the only employee, but everyday I would relieve her so she could go to lunch. He would stop by the branch, to check on her.

Anyway, the next day Officer Hood went by the branch to ask her, who was that beautiful girl that was with you? He asked her to ask me if I would like to go out with him….I said no…..well a few weeks later I asked Carla if she had seen that good looking officer that had pulled us over. She said yes, he stops by about every day. I told Carla to let him know that I would love to go out with him.

It just so happens that on February 14, 1979, I pulled up to the bank to relieve Carla and there he sat in his police car. But, when I walked up to the building he drove off. I guess he didn’t want to see me; I told Carla….she laugh and said he received a call, but to tell me he would be back. So I sat there about 15 minutes writing my name and number over and over, I wanted to make sure it looked good!

He finally came back and asked me out, I said yes, then he left…..when Carla came back I said he asked me out but didn’t ask for my number….she said I already gave it to him.

As the say, the rest is history.

As of February 14, 2013, we will celebrate 34 years of bliss. — Brenda Hood