A story of friendship, popcorn and music.
My parents married when my mother was very young, just 17, and dad was 24….then I came along a year later. Yes, they were lucky to be blessed with the problem child FIRST. About as far back as I can recall, my parents had these good friends named Jack and Hazel….Jack and Hazel were a few years old than mom and dad, and seemingly had nothing in common, but they got along famously. We spent many a Sunday evening at their house, eating huge bowls of popcorn and playing Wahoo or dominoes. I mostly ate popcorn. Lots of popcorn!
Dad and Jack loved to play jacks, the kids game, with jacks and a ball…..nothing was as funny as seeing these two grown men, sitting in the kitchen floor, bouncing a little rubber ball and picking up jacks. Oh, they took it very seriously, too! I loved to play with the Lincoln Logs or the Lego’s that they had at their house. Those were the only toys for me to play with since their only daughter Jackie was a few years older than me, and quite the young adult.
Hazel was an elementary school teacher, so she taught me how to read long before I ever started first grade. I wish I had those books now that she used to teach me with…..Dick and Jane, Puff and Spot…..I think I knew them all by heart when I started school, therefore I was pretty bored for the first semester.
When their only daughter, Jackie got married, I was a candle-lighter in her wedding, it was my first wedding and I think I pulled it off with ease. I’m on the bride’s right side, the adorable 10-year-old, hehehe.
Hazel was always very patient with me, because I was terribly shy as a small child. I would hide behind my mom when Jack saw me, he was very tall and was forever trying to make me laugh. I eventually warmed up to him, about 8 years later! I spent a week with Jack and Hazel as a teenager, after they had moved to Irving. They took me out to eat, we went shopping for fabric, and Hazel made me a dress. It was brown A-line with bell sleeves, lined, and with ORANGE ball fringe trim around the sleeves and the hem. I loved it!
Jack’s given name was Earl, but no one EVER called him Earl…..and his nickname for Hazel was Sally. Somehow he learned that my mother’s grandfather had called her “Newt” as a kid, and he called my dad, whose name is William (Bill) Willie…..hence they all became “Jack, Sally, Newt and Willie”. I don’t think I ever rated being given a nickname. Hmm. I think I’m hurt by that fact! Jack had a beautiful tenor voice, and was the choir director at our church, where my mother was the pianist. Jack always sang at every wedding, and back in the 60s, the two traditional songs were “Because” and “I Love You Truly”, with The Lord’s Prayer sometimes added in. Jack and dad loved to sing quartet music, so when my parents hosted the get togethers, mom was at the piano and everybody sang. It was truly grand. I have a small snippet of a bad quality recording of the quartet singing, and I can hear Jack’s voice, my moms beautiful piano playing…I wish I had more. It brings back such memories to hear those Southern gospel songs.
Over the years, there were multiple practical jokes and adventures between the two families; short sheeted beds while one family was gone on vacation, salt in the bed on another…..coffee and pie at The EatWell Cafe on Main Street after church on Sunday evening, trips to Lake Texoma on a Saturday morning, very early, just to cook breakfast! Seems like some car keys also got locked in the trunk once at the lake. I’m sure I had nothing to do with that!
After Jack and Hazel moved to Irving, we saw them less and less, but they were still great friends to our family. When my folks celebrated their 50th anniversary, in 2002, Jack and Hazel made the trip to Denison, from Oklahoma where they were living then. It was the last time we would ever see them.
I am now in touch with Jack and Hazel’s daughter, Jackie, through Facebook, and it’s been fun bringing up these old memories.
Jack, Sally, Newt and Willie had a great friendship, I’m glad I was there to see it. And to eat popcorn.