Jack & Sally and Newt & Willie

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.

Jackie’s wedding, 1963

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!

The dress that Hazel made for me….

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.

“Jack, Sally, Newt and Willie”

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.

 

 

 

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Drifter

Drifter

 

by Debi Snider 1979

this song once had music, which I have totally forgotten,

so now, I suppose it’s just a poem.

Evidently I was full of angst in 1979 .

 

 

She was only sixteen, the summer she met him,

so began their romance with a midnight swim.

He was so much older and she was naive

that everything he told, she always believed.

 

She was only seventeen the day they were wed,

and her mama and her daddy cried softly in their bed.

He was so persuasive that she made a vow to him,

that anywhere he went, she would follow him.

 

She was only nineteen when her daughter came to be

and then when she was twenty he wanted to be free…

he was like a bird and he spread his wings to fly,

then he up and left her without explaining why.

 

He was just a drifter who called no place his home

and if she ever needed him, he was always gone

They all tried to tell her that he’d break her heart someday

but she just turned her head and slowly walked away.

 

She was only twenty one when the little daughter died

and she could see that he was hurt no matter how he tried

to cover up his feelings, when he asked if he could stay….

…..but she just turned her head, and slowly walked away.

 

~Me and Willie Nelson~

Once upon a time, out in the west Texas town of El Paso, which was so very, very far away from home, I had a great many adventures and experiences. Some I’ve already written about, some I have only alluded to, others I will definitely take to my grave. This is one experience that I will share.

~Willie Nelson slept on my couch.~

I had the privilege of working with a drummer named Bill Wilson….he was several years older than me then, and had been in and out of the music business for years. His real job, you know, the one that paid the rent, was plumbing. He often said there were 3 things you learn being a plumber…..

1) $h!t runs downhill,

2) payday is Friday and….

3) don’t bite your nails!

Bill also drank a lot, like most of the musicians that I met back then, and he could spin a yarn like no one else could. So, when I repeat this story, I’m really repeating Bill’s story, because I was not actually there at the time. I’ve had a lot of fun with this one over the years, though!

Me, on the left, Bill Wilson, and my friend Clara, New Year's Eve 1987

I had recently been forced to give up my one room apartment across town (okay, they made me move out since I couldn’t pay the rent!) and had moved in with my friend Carrie and her 2 kids, while Carrie’s husband, also a drummer, was on the road for the summer. (Carrie saved me from sleeping in my car and being homeless…thanks Carrie!) Meanwhile, Bill and his wife bought new furniture for their living room, so I bought their old set of rattan furniture, (now “vintage”) which I loved, for the paltry sum of $40.00. No one shared my love, though. The couch and chair were dreadfully uncomfortable seating!

Bill had told us all the story about the time that Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings were on tour, and their regular drummer had to take some time off, so Bill filled in with them on the road for several weeks. During that time, they stopped in El Paso and spent the night at Bill’s house. After a long evening of drinking and more drinking, Willie was too drunk to go to his hotel, so he spent the night…..he slept on the couch in the living room……the very couch that I was now the proud owner of! I never doubted Bill’s story, because he told it often and it never varied. I thought it was amazingly cool that Willie Nelson had slept on MY couch!

My friend Carrie, standing in front of the infamous couch!

I took the furniture back to north Texas with me in 1988 when I went back home. Then when I began working at the fabric store I bought new foam cushions, covered them in a beautiful cabbage rose print, and it went perfectly in my little garage apartment at 1700 1/2 South Fannin Avenue.

When I met Mike in 1989, I still had the sofa and chair set, but after we set up housekeeping together, I was “encouraged” to sell it. I’m pretty sure I got my original $40 back, too!

I have really missed being able to say “Willie Nelson slept on my couch”!

Willie hangs on the wall over my desk in the music studio.....he's probably looking for a place to sleep!

If You’re Happy and You Know It….

If you’re happy and you know it, then most likely, someone, somewhere else is unhappy. That’s the yin and yang of life. It would be ideal if everyone in the world, or in our own little world, could all be happy, all at the same time. Life doesn’t seem to work that way. Of course, it isn’t fair. When we, ourselves, are happy, it’s only natural to want to share our happiness with those around us, and we don’t want to see someone else in misery, because it infringes on our joy and makes us feel bad for being happy!

What do we do about this? If we are the happy person, do we try to uplift the sad, unhappy person? Or do we get down to their level and commiserate? If we are the sad person, do we look for the happy people to try and bolster our spirits? Having been in both places emotionally, sometimes in the same day, or same hour, even, I can say for certain, that I don’t have any answers!

Sometimes, if you are hurt, sad, mad, or unhappy, you just have to work it out, get through it, until you come out on the other side. Sometimes, it takes time. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what others say to cheer you up, even though they are sincere in their efforts.

There’s really not a huge point to this post, since I am not a therapist or philosopher; just an observer. But, next time you are bouncing off the ceiling with excitement and joy, think about those in your orbit that are living with the equal and opposite feeling.

The world needs more kindness and compassion.

Peace.

My Sister’s Porchlight

Once upon a time, way back in the late 1980s, my sister Becky and I became very good friends. It was the first time we had ever really been together much, because I am 16 years older, and she was just 6 months old when I married and moved away from home. So, she and I didn’t grow up together, she grew up with my daughter. Then in 1984 I got divorced…..it was not pretty and it was not easy. My family was upset with me, and to make matters worse, I became a working musician, playing in clubs and bars. But, in 1988, I came back home, to north Texas, settled down somewhat and got a real job. I still played in bars and clubs, but I had a better plan for my future.

My sister had graduated from high school by this time and was waiting tables at a local Mexican restaurant. She was very good at her job and always had cash in her pocket. I was making minimum wage at the fabric store, so I was broke all the time, and there were many times when I would have gone without groceries, except for Becky. Everyone says that sisters share a special bond, I think that’s true. We also share a love of food. And eating.

Becky was always entertaining!

Becky liked to hang out at my little apartment, and we spent lots of time cooking and eating. She bought all the groceries, of course. Sometimes I’d come home from work and she’d be there cooking already, she had a key so she could come and go. We had a blast cooking together, we even made Chinese food once, and it was really good. Funny, I still don’t like Chinese food, but whatever it was that we made that day, was really good. I seem to recall lots of spaghetti, tacos, sloppy joes…..real gourmet food!

My garage apartment was at the end of a long driveway, and we both had to park on the street, so it was very dark between my doorway and the street….and since I felt responsible for my baby sister, I would stand outside my door and shine the flashlight on her as she walked down the drive to her car on the street. That’s how the simple flashlight became the “porch-light” for the two of us. It has been an inside joke for 23 years now. No one else understood, but we did. That was the only thing that mattered. I love  MMYS…….

PORCH LIGHT!!!!!!!

All Cows Eat Grass?????

All Cows Eat Grass….Every Good Boy Does Fine…..

Anyone who has ever taken a piano lesson will remember these phrases meant to help you learn your lines and spaces. I’ve known them since I was 5 years old, maybe even before that. Possibly even before I was born!

My mother played piano, and taught piano lessons from the time I was a small child, so I heard these on a daily basis in my home. I thought everyone’s mother played the piano, and I thought every child took piano lessons. I think every child should take piano lessons. I think every home should have  music.

Debi

I began my love/hate relationship with the piano at the tender age of 5, my mom patiently tried to teach me. I admit, I was not a good student at the time. I preferred to sit in the corner of the room and listen as she instructed other students, and then when they left, I would proceed to play what they had learned.

Maybe I was a bit of a show off?

Mom gave up and sent me to her teacher, one seemingly ancient lady named Thelma Braun. Thelma lived in a grand 2 story house in town, that she had filled with the most interesting furniture and accessories that I had ever seen, along with a beautiful grand piano. She was a very intimidating teacher to me, and she finally dismissed me because I would not practice. I took more lessons with her when I was about 16, but my boyfriend would drive me there, and I was more concerned about my plans after the lesson was over, so once again, I was dismissed. I absolutely regret not studying and applying myself, and for letting down this teacher. She was a legend in my hometown, and left a legacy when she died, The Thelma Braun Foundation, which supports the arts and music. I hate to admit that I am possibly her only failure!

Thelma Braun

My mom was still studying with Thelma after she married and was also teaching her own students at the same time. In 1958 they gave a joint recital, I think I remember it. Maybe I think I remember it because I have the recital program?

An Evening of Music 1958

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom’s students gave a recital the next year or so, at our church and I chose not to participate. Stage fright…..lol. Somewhere I have a photo of the students, all the girls in their fluffy best dresses and boys in suits and ties….like a time capsule of the 1950s….

So, my mother has retired, several times, from several jobs, but keeps going back to work! She’s like a steam roller, you just cannot stop her! Her latest job, is teaching piano again. She has a few students each week, at a new studio in my hometown. It’s very easy for her, they provide the piano, the room, book the students, collect the money, she just shows up, teaches the lesson and collects her money from the studio! She really enjoys teaching and sharing her knowledge and love of music with anyone who is willing to learn.

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over my lifetime, I’ve had so many people ask me to give piano lessons, and I’ve declined every time. Even though I possess the knowledge, it takes a special person to teach successfully, and I’m not that person.

I did get over my stage fright in the 1980s……I’m ready for my piano recital now!

My hat is off to Thelma Braun, and my mother Clover Kimberling….thank you for instilling the love of music in me, I am a better person for having learned from the best.

 

All Cows actually DO Eat Grass!

 

~fear~

~fear~

august 22, 1986

darkness seems to follow me

no matter where i run

i turn my face towards the sun,

looking for the light

to save me from the shadows of my mind.

a rainbow can’t be found, on a cloudy day

so i just run away, there’s bound to be a reason why

i can’t play the game.

my tears won’t stay behind my eyes, my feelings never clear….

i wonder what my purpose is

should i still be here?

or should i give it up?

that’s my biggest fear.

fear of death, fear of life

afraid of not succeeding in either one,

afraid to face the consequence

for what i haven’t done.

but the darkest fear of all these fear

sometimes i wish, i just weren’t here.

(written during the el paso years)