From the southern branch, a jolly Ho, Ho, Ho!, post-recession, and up-beat Yuletide greeting to one and all!
Who ever said “once you get rid of the kids, life becomes quiet”, obviously never had kids. What a year! Appropriately enough, it all started on Super Bowl night when Esther and Paul Harper stopped by in what was becoming an annual visit on their way to South Florida. A great tradition and one I hope they keep up, since we always have a great time. Nancy and Win Reed paid us a visit also in the early spring. Nancy is an old school chum of Joyce’s, and it is always amazing to watch folks jam three decades (sorry about that) of news into three hours. But we love to try, and wish more of you could do the same. In early May, Martha and Gordy Edwards headed South on their annual pilgrimage also, and this year they landed in Manasota Key; a relatively remote and presumably beautiful spot close to Englewood and Port Charlotte. I say presumably beautiful for when we arrived for a weekend visit, the temperature was 50, the sky gray and the wind howling such that the beach looked more like a scene from Rommel’s assault on El Alamein than a pristine sub tropical paradise. But never mind, South Florida tourists we were, and we arrived complete with blue shirt, blue shorts, blue lips, and goose bumps. Along with Martha’s sister Kate and her husband Murray, we had a great weekend, highlighted by a lively visit from Joyce’s aunt Gladys Haight Brunner – – We love being tourists.
Last year we reported that Karen and Barry were about to do it again, and in Jan. she did. She was kind enough to present us with a second granddaughter, Alyssa. It took about three months to get the dogs nose back into place, Barry down from cloud nine, Joyce out of toddler shops and Karen into a basket case. But it all came together in Oct. when Alyssa was baptized. The whole May clan (Barry’s folks) joined us in this celebration, and watched in transfixed wonderment as Alyssa successfully gooed, jerked, and came within a hair of snatching the minister’s glasses into the baptismal fount.
Bob’s mom (Mimi) made two visits this year, which was a bit unusual, but then again, events of the year were unusual. The first in June, was to be just a visit, and we convinced her on the basis of flying via Charlotte N.C. and meeting Diane, who still lives and works in that city. As Murphy would have it, the travel agency messed up and she ended up going through (ugh!!) Atlanta. As luck would have it, she got into Jacksonville just about the time Diane did, so no real problem. Along with Diane, Karen, Barry, the two young’ns and Jaws (the dog) came down. Bruce, who’s divorce was finalized this summer, was able to make it also with a delightful friend, Pam, and her dog Katy. They came in from Athens GA where Bruce still manages a color photo shop and lab. Finally George and his girl Karen Owens (K.O.) came up from Gainesville, where George is a Senior in forestry, and was just elected as vice President of the student chapter of the Society of American Foresters. I should have said he arrived with his fiancé, since he and K.O. took this occasion to announce their engagement formally. We of course were delighted. Has it been three, four, what, five years they have be going together? Just don’t know, seems like she has been around since diapers. What we are trying to say is we consider her as part of the family, and couldn’t be more happy to share this news with you.
Mimi’s second visit was inspired by what we must consider as one of the year’s highlights, and as far as Bob is concerned, his career highlight to this point. He was selected to be recipient of the St. Regis Order of Merit Award. This is the highest award for achievement available to employees, and was he ever surprised and proud of it. Once again the whole family was in attendance, along with Barry’s sister Theresa, who graciously consented to help with the baby contingent. A major feature for Mimi was St. Regis picked her up at her apartment and flew her to Jacksonville in the corporate jet. We met her and proceeded to a gala dinner, where everyone was subject to sit through several living eulogies for Bob which, of course were all flattering and nice. The stopper was when Bruce got up and suggested that while everyone might know Dad at work, he had a few words to add an behalf of him being a dad. Accusations not withstanding, Bob insists he didn’t write the script, and Bruce went on to deliver a speech short in length, but awful long in ego building. Bob didn’t have much to say for a few minutes, which is unique. For two nights we housed 11 adults, two babies, three dogs and the gear for all of them. Joyce and Bob decided to beat the rap and sleep next door with our neighbors Virgil and Nina Kidd. We out-foxed ourselves however, when the neighbors forgot to leave us a key. Talk about a zoo! Football, croquet, and ping-pong in a continuum, well announced and sponsored by Michelob, Bush, Miller, (or whatever was on sale). Mimi was in the thick of it all, and I think she must have gone home and slept for a week. It surly was the week that was. It is hard to see what we can do next year for an encore, but we will give it our best shot. We hope the year is such, you can too.
We wish for you the best for the season, an that it provides the starting point for a great 1984.
Love, Joyce, Bob and Mandy