22 -1964 Christmas Part 2: Car meets Telephone Pole, Camping, & a College Fund

Decorated for Christmas Season

As I write part two of the Christmas Season narrative, I notice the themes spotlighted in this title, as well as more Christmas celebrations, mention of Pearl Harbor anniversary, first junior high basketball game of the season, a boy scout camping weekend and visit from family.

With this story, I will complete a look back at the entire year of 1964, as captured in my diary writings, as I transitioned from elementary school into junior high. The beginnings of the year showed an 11 year old enjoying some of the fun of being a young girl; the writings by the end of the year capture the excitement of beginning junior high as a 12 year old, making new friends, enjoying and acclimating to the experience of a new school and welcoming the events as a new year approached.

As I was commenting in the previous post about the events of December 1964, I focused on the celebrations of the season, but other normal everyday activities ensued, as well.

December 7 reveals a comment about Pearl Harbor anniversary — ”23 years ago, way before I was born” — Anyone who lived through it talked about it with great intensity even so many years later. I had only one event like that to afford me an understanding of my father’s retelling of sitting by the radio and listening to FDR announce that bombing. At such a young age, I had the JFK assassination etched into my memory with a similar detail of recall.

As that week unfolded, we had an unexpected power outage, caused by a friend of my brother driving his car into the telephone pole right in front of our house. We rushed out to see if he was ok and brought him into our kitchen to phone his folks about the accident. He was OK, but was a little shaken up. We spent that evening by candlelight until power was restored.

Before school let out for vacation, the junior high experienced the first boys and girls basketball games of the season. As mentioned in an earlier story in November, I made the team and was super excited for the first game. I picked up my basketball suit on December 4th and my folks took me to Columbus that very day to get basketball shoes. The opener (December 10th) featured our Stewart County Jr. High team against another small town team, Arlington, 50 or so miles away. The excitement wasn’t so much whether we won or lost, but was definitely linked to getting out of school a 1:00 PM to ride the bus to the game!

As a weekend approached, my brother headed for a camping weekend with the local boy scout troop, led by Mr. Moye. Destination: Buena Vista — a 45 mile trip with a scout leader and group of 8–10 boys. I spent that Friday night with Laurie and then she joined my mom and me for a Christmas shopping trip to Columbus on Saturday, December 12th.

On December 15, one of the most remarkable events of my young life occurred. One of my mother’s brothers who lived in Nashville, Tennessee presented my brother and me each with a small passbook savings booklet annotated with $5000 apiece! He had given each of his nieces and nephews that same generous gift as they reached ages between 12–15. Amazing as it sounds, that $5000 paid my way through Auburn University and certainly my life changed its course as a result of that gift.

As with many families, as the vacation time approached, other family members began arriving for the holidays. My oldest brother, his wife and my two year old nephew arrived on December 16th from Tennessee to spend two weeks with us. The big news from them was that they were expecting another child by summer of 1965. Everyone was happy and we celebrated the news with feasting on good food, visiting family and friends, and enjoying special moments with awareness that another year would bring big changes.

A favorite holiday event for my dad was the Lion’s Club annual Christmas party. He took my brother Joe with him to the dinner and celebration. The gag gifts brought plenty of laughs and fun for the group. Joe got a little banjo in the exchange of gifts and he brought it home for his son. Nothing could have been more fun for a two year old!

Some normal concerns for me that season: being bumped out of my bedroom by our visiting family and being envious that a friend was able to go to a Christmas dance, when most of us 12 year olds were not able due to parents’ limitations.

As most families who celebrate Christmas, we began our Christmas day opening presents. Neighbors would customarily stop by each other’s homes to see what each received and to make plans to play with new gadgets and surprises. My little nephew was thrilled with a tricycle. Neighbor Jimmy got a tape recorder. I listed in my diary “new pocketbook, couple new dresses for school, PJs and new radio.”

As the last week of December drew to a close, we greeted my Uncle Leonard (my father’s brother) from Roanoke, VA who always made an annual trip to our house the day after Christmas to spend a few days. My mother’s brother, Frank and his family from Florida arrived for the weekend. By the time December 31 arrived, my family had bid good-bye to a few family holiday guests, but my aunt & uncle who lived near Louvale still had a full house of family. We all congregated in my uncle’s country home and had New Year’s Eve dinner together. I love the sound of their names because so many memories are stirred to the surface as I reflect back on these times. I speak those names aloud as I write the final words to close the year 1964. Names of family and friends who appeared in my diary during that season of love and renewal, December 1964: Mama, Daddy, Adie, Joe, Joanne, Rody, Uncle Leonard, Uncle John, Aunt Marion, Mary John, Kathy, Uncle Rody, Aunt Gladys, Aunt Mae Helen, Uncle Frank, cousins Bill & Stevie (family) AND friends, Jimmy, Laurie, Nan, Wanda, Debby, Razz, Merrill, Ms. Martha, Ms. Joyce, Ms. Ruth, Ms Louise, Ms. Ethel, Mr. Cox and Mr. Moye.