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Saying goodbye is hard!

I don’t like saying goodbye. I’ve always dreaded farewell parties. And while our children and grandchildren live close enough to visit often, I still get a lump in my throat when they drive away. When we lived at Windsong Ranch I would give them all hugs and kisses at the back drive as they loaded into their vans, then hurry to the big kitchen window that faced the road so I could wave to them one more time as they drove past. I still stand on the porch and wait for them to make the curve out of our drive and head to their individual homes…they roll down the windows and we all holler, “goodbye’ I love you.”

We five ladies are as diverse as can be. Thus the ‘stages’ part of the name. At first our commonality was our individual writing journeys–the ‘pages’, if you will. Yet, our diversity became the binding of those stories into a picture book of life. Singles, widows, mothers of special-needs, homeschool mom who now teaches in a Christian school, and grandmothers, freelance writer, cancer survivor, farm wife, advocate for families with special needs, and retiree. We soon realized that though we might approach any given subject from completely opposing views–our hearts were one. That won’t change. We won’t let it change. But once again, our differing stages have created different pages, and as writers that’s exactly something we strive to create…pages that keep turning to reveal an ever deepening story.

We are grateful for every comment made and every page view received. Some of you have become regular encouragers and are very dear to our hearts. We looked forward to your comments, and worried about you if we didn’t see your names. Thank you for being so faithful. It was a gift!

While we will no longer post on this blog, past postings can still be read in the archives. And we hope that you will continue to follow us on our individual web sites. We are still each on a journey, and would love to have you travel with us.

For now, I’m waving and calling

“Goodbye!  I love you!”

 

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That’s Perk!!

 

When Bob first started on the FD, there was no 9-1-1 dispatch. Each entity–fire, police, sheriff–had their own numbers, and the ambulances were run out of the funeral homes.  Newton had two fire stations–#1 station was at 5th and Poplar when he began his career, and later a new station was built on West Broadway, but always remained station #1.  Station #2 was at 3rd and Oak, and was the headquarter station.  When a fire alarm came in–the senior officer at station #2 would take the alarm and dispatch the engines–this being determined by the type of fire and the location. The officer at station #1 was only to ‘listen’, not talk.  Much like a party line!  🙂

Dale Perkins was a lieutenant when Bob was first hired. Bob has memories of his beautiful penmanship, his shiny shoes, and either a big chaw of Red Man tobacco, or a Muriel Magnum cigar in his mouth. And to this day, when hubby eats a bologna sandwich, Dale comes to mind!!  He also remembers (remember, they lived together 24 hours at a time) Dale always slept with an electric blanket in the winter. Bob stayed up late to watch TV and would always unplug the blanket when he went to bed. The routine was as expected–and Dale had choice words every morning for his endeavor.

During those early years the sirens on the engines were not electronic, and were run by the officer riding shotgun, by pressing a button on the floor. You’d press, and it would wail, and if you kept you foot on it, it would eventually hit it’s highest peak and stay there. And that was Perk’s signature!! As a rookie, Bob rode tailboard, and he recalls that by the time they left the station at 3rd and Oak, and headed north on Main street, Perk would have the button smashed to the floorboard. Riding down Main, the buildings on each side would echo the scream of that siren, held at it’s highest pitch, and it would vibrate through his whole body. Even if hubby was off duty, if he’d hear a  siren wind to it’s highest pitch, then stay there–he’d say “that’s Perk!!”

Dale retired a lot of years ago, but like many of the firemen he has a son who followed in his footsteps and is now is a Battalion Chief with the Newton Fire Department. Dale’s health is frail, but he holds a special place in the hearts of those who worked with him.

In the past, it has been custom dispatch to send a ‘last alarm’ notice at the graveside of a fallen fireman. I wish Dale could live forever, but we all know that’s not possible.

But I do hope, that instead of that last alarm–they will floorboard a siren and hold it there.  There won’t be dry eyes, but all the older timers will say –“That’s Perk”!!

Roger, Carol and Scott–feel free to add to this either on face book or here on the blog.  We’d love to hear your stories–from the tailboard.

 

Dale Perkins family

Dale and his children. L-R: Roger, Dale, Carol and Scott

 

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Help me, there’s a wasp in here!!

I’m a little late posting today–was on the road. But now have arrived at my destination and will try to catch up.

Remember how I said the firemen lived together 24 hours at a time?  Well, they also played together…a LOT!! One of our favorite pasttimes now, when we are all together, is to listen to the funny firehouse stories.  And they seem to be never ending.

Those who know my Bob, know that he is incredibly good natured, so it is no wonder that a lot of things were tried on him. This one involved his good friend, Tom Winters. Tom actually retired from the Colorado Springs,Colorado FD, but for a time he worked at Newton with Bob, and it’s been a friendship that will never grow old–even when they do.

So–Bob finds Tom holding a bucket against the ceiling with a broom handle.

“Winters? What the heck are you doing?”

“You gotta help me. I’ve got a wasp trapped in here. Come hold this bucket while I get something to kill it.”

Guess what?  Bob fell for it.  As soon as he took hold of broom handle, he knew he was in trouble.  The bucket was full of water–and Winters was gone!!

I’m not real sure we ever heard the real ending to this story.  Tom–can you fill us in?

Until next time–that’s all from the tailboard for today.

 

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There..Now can I go see Daddy?

I’m not particularly proud of this story–but there are times when  motherhood stoops to bribery.

Because of the hours hubby worked–24 hours on/24 hours off–there were  a LOT of times he missed the kids’ activities. They rolled with it better than I did, at times, and often a visit to the firehouse was both a reward and a treat, and my way of coping.

It was the church Christmas program he missed this year. Our oldest son (the third child) was 4 and had the Welcome speech for the program. Perhaps not the wisest decision to have a child open the evening, but after all…church Christmas programs take two avenues–Cantata or kids.  Right?

The problem with this scenario–oldest son did NOT want to say Welcome, Welcome, everyone. And because his daddy hated the thought of speaking in public, son #1 was not encouraged (or threatened).

Overhead lights went out, sanctuary was beautifully lit by Christmas decorations, microphone adjusted to four-year-old height—and son scooted closer to me, folded his arms across his chest, stuck out his chin and shook his head “no”. Teacher smiled and encouraged. I, on the other hand did what every proud, embarrassed mother would do (someone out there please tell me you would have followed my lead)…I whispered to him that if he didn’t say his part we couldn’t go see Daddy after the program.

Now, one of the real treats at the firehouse was strawberry pop in a bottle!!  I was certain this threat would work. Our two daughters begged and pleaded (in whispers of course) because they didn’t want to miss a chance to go see their daddy OR the bottle of pop they would share.

But nope–I underestimated the strong will of this child. And eventually, the program went on, and no one was Welcomed!!

Closing prayer. Eyes closed. Amen. Open eyes–and there in front of the microphone, arms still folded across his chest was son #1 , who–in a VERY important manner–Welcome, Welcomed, Everyone. Then added this little epilogue as he nodded my direction.

“There–now can I go so Daddy?”

We did!!

Mother’s pride OFTEN went before  humiliation in this family!!

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Like Minded

There is a special kind of bond that defines the firehouse. It’s more than just men working together–they live together 24 hours at a time. From the time they punch in on their shift, until they punch out again 24 hours later they’ve spent that entire time within the confines of a station house, sans fire calls or the other routine jobs that occur: i.e., fire inspection, hydrant testing, engine checking/cleaning, and yes–grocery shopping. They eat together, do dishes together, watch TV together, and sleep…well, NOT together in the sense you might think–but they do share a bedroom.

One of my fondest memories of those early years is the Fireman’s Auxiliary. The wives. In my first years was a fireman’s wife, there were few of us working outside the home, and we looked forward to that one night a month when we could meet together. Yes, it meant some of us had to have a sitter because our husbands were ‘on duty’. But we tried hard not to miss. It was a time of learning for me–and I learned from the best!!

Things the other wives taught me:

1. Firefighters’ wives don’t chase fire trucks

2. Firefighters’ wives don’t ask questions when there are blood splatters on their husband’s clothing (they’ll explain in due time–maybe)

3. It’s not unusual to be afraid to be alone at night–or to resent attending so many events alone (or with ALL the kiddos). HOWEVER–Get used to it, and stop whining!! Be proud of what your husband does, be glad he loves what he does, and support him every way you can.

4. Yes–some of the men were better cooks than we were. (I never could replicate Corny’s tomato preserves)

5. And–this was a big one–I wasn’t the first one to become  pregnant within the first year of hubby joining the fire service.

Of course there was much, much more. But I still value those times, and those women who welcomed me. We laughed and cried together, mourned and celebrated, and even in our diversity we were one–just like the men at the firehouse.

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The First Big One!

No…I’m not going to write about the first big fire run for my hubby. Rather–our VERY FIRST paycheck from a job we knew was going to be steady. No winter layoffs. We’d get a check every two weeks..and the first one was a whopping $167.50 (gross).  His starting salary in April of 1965 was $335.00/month (gross).  With the shift being 24 hours on/24 hours off, one can assume that he worked fifteen 24 hours shifts, which would equal 360 hours a month. You do the math. But we felt rich!!

Our needs were much less at that time, though not at all different from our friends whether they were on or off the fire department. We had groceries to buy, a house payment to make, utilities, insurance and taxes to pay, and two little girls to feed and clothe. I think at that time we must have been making a car payment, too. And before anyone mentions it–yes, those dollars stretched a lot farther in those days. We were never hungry, always clothed, and never missed a payment on anything. 

NOW I’ll mention the first really big event for hubby. June, 1965. By this time I had started to settle in a bit more. I no longer needed to keep the lights on all night when he was gone, and found I could get to church on time all by  myself!!  So the morning of the BIG ONE I got my two little girls ready and we went to Bible School. I remember the skies becoming darker and darker, and I think we teachers must have even decided what we would do with the children should the tornado sirens sound. Out sanctuary was A-shaped, very high pitched ceilings, and windows lined each wall. The bathrooms were the only place we felt safe enough to scurry so many little ones.  And then the rains came.  Pouring rains…and it rained and rained and rained. Parents came after children bringing extra coverings for them so they could get back to their cars. And by the time I got home, we were all soaked.

Meanwhile–back at the FD they’d had a call to the Presbyterian Church.  Lightning had struck, they were having Bible School, too, and could smell smoke. Bob was on that call…riding on the tailboard in the storm–and they could find nothing, so they went back to their stations. It wasn’t long before they were called again–this time there was smoke in the church..there definitely was fire somewhere. And this time they did find it…high in the peaks, but they were able to extinguish it. 

By this time Sand Creek was beginning to rise and hubby was sent to station #1 (which at that time, you Newton friends (was still on 5th street) and the decision was made to move an engine to the park department building so they would have engines on both sides of the creek. They went west, and the creek rose steadily.  He remembers watching it come out of its banks and cross the park. By the time they got the engine moved to yet higher ground, they drove in water axle deep.  

The water rose quickly…and went down relatively quickly, but left a LOT of sludge in its wake. Later that night, after hubs had returned to his regular station, they got a fire call to a restaurant on the north end of Main Street–right close to the creek. Water had gotten into the building and all the interior fixtures had floated around, so that when they got there they had to climb over tables, chairs, counters, etc., to get to the fire. And it was well after midnight when they got back to the station and got their trucks cleaned from the debris they’d driven through. Those of you familiar with the fire service know that you never back a dirty engine into the bay. 

I wish I could sit and talk with the wives of that era again!! We were so new to everything, and had no scanner in the house, I had no idea this all was happening.  We lived east of the bypass–might was well have been the wrong side of the tracks–but we were nowhere close to the creek or anything that even resembled one so didn’t know it had flooded and didn’t hear the fire sirens.

Like with any occupation, there are tales to be told. And I will tell them. Right now, the best part of writing this blog, is that look in hubby’s eyes as he recalls different events.  Retired fireman are like retired fishermen–the tales get bigger with each telling, but it’s the stuff that forges the hearts of those who stationed together.

See you next week!!

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In the Beginning…

It was time for a change. We’d been married seven years, bought our first home, had two little girls, and struggled from paycheck to paycheck. Hubby hated his job. Weekends were just plain awful–he so dreaded Monday mornings . And during the winter we could expect layoffs, we couldn’t afford them but we could expect them.

Then it did change.  A close friend suggested he apply at the fire department. Really? Neither of us had grown up in a city large enough to have more than a volunteer department. It was not his little-boy dream to grow up and ride in a fire engine, siren wailing, while they careened through traffic to save someone’s life–and property. But it was a job that was steady. They don’t lay firemen off during the winter. And the pay? Well, it wasn’t much–but it was steady, too.

He applied, was hired, and thus began a 32-year career. And thus began a whole new lifestyle for me.

I’d never been alone at night. I went from my bed in my parents’ home, to OUR bed in our new home, all in the twinkling of an eye and those magic words–“I DO”.  Now, I wanted to say–“I’m not sure about this”–not a life with hubby, but I did not like the idea of being alone at night. Believe  me–I got used to it.

When he first started the shifts ran 24 hours on duty/24 hours off duty. Period. If Christmas fell on those 24 hours on–you worked Christmas. Birthdays, Christmas programs, family gatherings–it didn’t matter. HOWEVER–there were four days a year that he would get an extra 24 hours off–they were called Kelly Days. (more about that in a later post).

Hubby remembers his biggest fear at the beginning was that he wouldn’t wake up if they had a call.

My biggest fear at that I’d never be able to sleep on the nights he was gone.

He learned very quickly there was no sleeping through an alarm.  I was a  much slower learner.

We both learned, this time at the same pace, that most firemen worked a second job on their days off. Thus–hubby followed the leaders. This now meant he would go to work (for example) Monday morning, come home Tuesday morning just long enough to change clothes, leave for second job and return again for supper. Then the routine would start again Wednesday morning.

I hated it. I hated his evenings at home being spent studying streets and hydrants. Even if we ventured out of an evening (those first months) to go to the DQ, I couldn’t talk because he was still studying names of streets, and where the hydrants were located. Up and down streets we’d drive, the girls licking their ice cream and giggling in the back seat…with me licking my shallow feelings sitting beside hubby and feeling totally ignored.

I had a whole lot of growing up to do. He was happy. For the first time in all our married life, he looked forward to going to work.

And that’s what mattered most–

 

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And then it’s…Wednesday!!

You would think, after two years, I would have it down pat. I’d know when I finished the blog for one week, that in seven days I would need to come up with something again. While I fancy myself fairly dependable–blogging is not on my list of achievements.

I’ve noticed that the really successful bloggers have a theme–be it recipes, fashions, devotionals, or whatever. And we’ve tried that…having one topic a week that we all (the five of us who contribute to this blog) use as our topic. Then we’d throw in a ‘free wheel’ week, ever so often. Now, I’ve lost track–sorry guys–but free wheeling seems to be the theme right now.

So this is what I’ve decided to do. Because we are all at such different stages of our life (thus pages from stages, duh), and they say one should write what one knows, I’ll write about my life as a fireman’s wife, the mother of two firemen, and where we are now in this ‘retirement’ stage of our lives.

Stay tuned for next week–when I begin this new venture…may also glean stories from my hubby and sons. I’ll call my portion “Tales from the Tailboard!!”  Catchy? I thought so.

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A Way of Seeing

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My fellow blogger posted a very thought provoking subject yesterday. How our lives become so busy we fail to take the time to see the everyday things. At the end of that post she asked a question–“what lessons did your learn in your youth.”

I answered that question and then thought on it all day. Lessons I learned as a youth are somewhat different than the lessons I continue to experience. From my youth, I think the lessons were  mostly in the negative–things I learned NOT to do again.

But in this stage of my life, things have changed a bit. I can now look back and see there are some lessons that are worth repeating. For instance:

1. IT’S OKAY TO KEEP DUST BUNNIES UNDER YOUR BED. REALLY IT IS!! I don’t recall even one instance when any of the friends our kids drug home even mentioned them…and the grands and their friends haven’t found them, either.

2. DISHES DONE WITH A TWO-YEAR-OLD IS MUCH MORE ENTERTAINING THAN A DISHWASHER. And you know what–if they’ll talk with you while doing dishes at two, guess what they will still find time to do when they are 12, or 15, or 18? Even boys!!

3. ONE DANDELION IN A JUICE GLASS WILL BRING BACK MORE MEMORIES THAN A DOZEN ROSES. Trust me on this one.

4.  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ‘NORMAL‘ BREAKFAST FOOD. Who says a child can’t have leftover pizza first thing in the morning?

5. AND OLD MATTRESS THROWN IN THE YARD IS MORE FUN THAN A TRAMPOLINE FOR A TODDLER. And much safer for the grandma who jumps with them.

6.  DON’T FRET MISMATCHED ANYTHING–EVENTUALLY IT WILL BE THE STYLE. Seen the socks lately?  FUN!!

7. MATCHED TOWELS ARE HIGHLY OVERRATED. Keep a set for company if it’s important to you–but I guarantee your legs don’t know, or care, what color terry cloth you dried then with, or if they clashed with the wash cloth.

8.  POPCORN IS A DELIGHTFUL SUNDAY NIGHT SUPPER. And it’s even better with lots of butter on it, a cold soda, and a movie!! (after church, of course)

9.  A DIRTY CUP LEFT IN THE SINK OVERNIGHT WILL NOT MULTIPLY. However, keep close watch on the dirty clothes hamper.  It rendezvous with the dust bunnies under the bed and multiplies faster than you can calculate.

10. LIFE IS TOO SHORT NOT TO TAKE TIME FOR THE EVERYDAY THINGS. Which brings us full circle to the negatives again. Funny how that works, But even a battery has a positive and negative end. It’s just knowing which end to put where that  makes it work.

All too often I try to plug the negative into the positive and expect my plans to work. Remind me, Lord, that unless you are my source of power, it won’t make a whit of difference which side I present to you. Without  you, there is no power and any light I put forth will quickly dim.

The Noise of Silence

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You’ve been there!

The day  is over. The only sound you hear is the clock ticking. You’re bone weary  and you can’t keep your eyes open because you were up late the night before.

Nothing scheduled tomorrow.

Bliss!

Then your head hits the pillow.

And instead of blessed quietness…

You can’t remember if you turned the coffee pot off–or locked the door.

What did your hubby mean when he said the new recipe was “okay’?

Why didn’t ______answer your text? Did you say something wrong…again?

You really shouldn’t have volunteered to______.  You don’t even like to__________.

Will you ever learn to say ‘no’?

What will you have for supper tomorrow night? Are you sure you have all the ingredients?

Oh, shoot! There is something scheduled tomorrow. You signed up to take a meal to______. Was there a list of special dietary needs with the sign-up sheet?

Hubby needs white shirt for tomorrow. Does it need pressing?

And on, and on, and on it goes.

If only one could ‘mute’ the noise that invades the silence of our lives.

I’m on a real kick here!!  BE STILL!  Is  much easier said than done.

Anyone identify?