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Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Barton-Ross’

I updated my End of the Beginning post and somehow none of it was saved, so, try, try again. The title comes from a song by my good friend and talented singer/songwriter John Flynn : http://johnflynn.net  You can hear the song there.

The lovely and talented John Flynn

The songs resonates with me because I realize there are far more years behind me than there are ahead. I have lost one parent:

Sterling L. Hornsby Sept. 27, 1920-Dec. 24, 2009

My mother is 90 and a half, and I don’t think it will be long before I become a motherless child:

Velma Ruth Stewart Hornsby, April 2, 1921-

Mother and Dad lived for 40 years in the old house where they watched 3 generations grow up:

family on the porch

grandchildren, great-grandchildren, even great-great grandchildren:

T

Jan. 2010 DFW Cemetery

The time came when Mother could no longer stay in that old house:

Our experiment with sending her to live in a fancy “assisted living” facility didn’t work out. After a mistake with her medication that almost killed her, my sister Gwen took Mother home with her.

Mother's lonely new home

So now I find myself at the beginning of the end, although I hope it’ll be a long time before I get there. John’s song says “The journey of a single step can begin with a thousand miles.” Here was where I started:

Shirley Jean Hornsby Sept. 1946

I grew up, went to college, got married:

Sept. 2, 1967

We had kids:

Baylor and Mom Oct. 1971

Jeff and Mom, Bangkok, July 1973

Then we had some grandkids:

Ashley b. Sept. 1, 1994

Amber and Autumn, Jan. 27, 1996

We got divorced, but later became friends again. I had some adventures, did a lot of traveling, met some interesting people and some great friends, mostly because of Arlo Guthrie:

Shirley, Arlo & Annie Aug. 1989

"Matterhorn" in Okemah, Ok.

Guthrie Center Fall Revival - Blunderites all

Guthrie Center 1996

John Flynn and the Flynettes, Okemah WoodyFest

To quote John again, I’m thankful “for old friends you can count on, even though their ranks are thinning.”

Alasdair and Shirley, Macchu Picchu. Miss you always


Dennis Lachappelle, best bus driver and best friend anyone could ever ask for.

Goodbye, old friend

There are others I dearly miss: dear, sweet Jack Dultz, Gay, who will always be sitting at the front table at the church, Gerry Harper – your daughter grew up to be as wonderful as you were, sweetheart. So many friends and loved ones gone but never forgotten.

Our sons grew up:

Baylor and Jeff

Our granddaughters are teenagers!

So, what happens next? I need to work on that Bucket list – maybe finish the mystery I started writing many moons ago. I have continued to write and get published – here’s the launch of the latest anthology from the Final Twist, Oct. 2011:

Shirley at Murder by the Book

Chorus of The End of the Beginning” “Oh, the journey you make, from the first breath you take, to your last dying day, the mystery will take your breath away …”

Kris Kristofferson, who accompanies John on this song, has a song with a similar line:

From the rockin’ of the cradle to the rollin’ of the hearse, the going up was worth the comin’ down. I do believe he’s right. Journey on …

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Wavy Gravy is famously supposed to have said “If you can remember the ’60’s, you weren’t there.” That may be the case for you and many others of our generation, Mr. Gravy, but I do remember them, and I was there.  I kinda wanted to be a hippie chick, but my parents were strict, my college, Texas Tech, was in the middle of the Bible Belt, and my husband was a law student at Baylor University, then an Army captain, so my hippie plans didn’t work out for me.

Until August of 1989, when I answered the call from Arlo Guthrie to join him on a trip to Europe to avoid the commercialism and hype of the 20th anniversary of Woodstock. I wasn’t sure what might happen, thinking the other travelers might be aging, microbiotic-eating, shaggy-haired and bearded people with whom I couldn’t relate. I had am image of Arlo as a good guy, a hero of my youth, and I didn’t want to find out he had feet of clay. I took the chance anyway.  Boy, was I wrong on both account!

Shirley, Arlo and Annie, Matterhorn in the background

Shirley, Arlo and Annie, Matterhorn in the background

Thanks to Janet Alley, here’s a photo of some of my fellow travelers. The Japanese tourist, who look variously happy or terrified, weren’t part of our group:

Blundering through the Alps

Blundering through the Alps

Some of us tried to plan a 20th anniversary of our escape from the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, but we couldn’t pull it together. Instead, there were mini-reunions at various spots around the country. Here’s a photo of my mini-reunion at the WoodyFest with Judy B., Margaret Barton-Ross, T-Shirt Cathy and me – thanks to Shelley Caldwell for the photoshopping – note, this is still a work in progress:

Judy B., Margaret B-R, T-Shirt, Shirley at the Blundermaterhorn

Judy B., Margaret B-R, T-Shirt, Shirley at the Blundermatterhorn

The trip was the start of my new life. I met some wonderful people who are still my friends, and some I haven’t seen again but remember fondly. I discovered that Arlo Guthrie is who you want to believe he is, no feet of clay. And through him I did get to meet some amazing people – my guru, Ma Jaya, and my guru bai at Kashi Ashram, all of Arlo’s kids & his wife Jackie, a strong and fabulous woman, Kris Kristopherson, Richie Havens, and a bunch of other performers who came to the Indian River festivals in Florida in the early 1990’s. Oh yeah, at Thanksgiving 1989 a bunch of us reunited at Arlo’s Carnegie Hall show, and I got to go backstage, and one of my biggest heroes of all time, Pete Seeger, offered me some popcorn. I even met Wavy Gravy, who was standing in the pond at Kashi that represents the River Ganges, playing a ukelele and singing “The Old Gray Goose She Ain’t What She Used to Be.”   It was a surreal moment, and I’ll never forget it.

Twenty years ago, on the twentieth anniversary of the weekend that would change my life twenty years later (do the math) I was with Arlo & the Blunderites at a little hotel in either Austria or Switzerland. Some of us were sitting outside, when the hotel manager came out and said “Mr. Guthrie, we’re showing the Woodstock movie inside, do you want to watch it?” Arlo declined, but the rest of us decided it was a fine idea. The manager looked at Arlo, his hair now a reddish shade somewhat like a lion’s mane, and said “You know, you don’t look the same.” Maybe not, but he was the same inside, and still is, even though the dark curls are now all gray. Thanks, Arlo, for being who you are and for changing my life in such a good way.

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I’ve finally recovered from the shock of actually being outdoors in Okemah, Ok. in 105 degree heat – with the wind chill factor, that was about 2000 degrees F! Surely, you say, being from Houston you should be used to that? And I say, “don’t call me Surely” – that joke just never gets old :-) and no, Houstonians, unlike mad dogs and Englishmen, don’t go out in the noonday sun. We rush from our air conditioned homes to our a/c cars to our a/c offices and rarely spend more than a few minutes in the sauna that is Houston from June through September.

Back to WoodyFest 2009. It was special for a couple of reasons – one, it was the 20th anniversary of the trip some of us took to Europe with Arlo Guthrie in his quest to avoid the hype and commercialism of the 20th anniversary of Woodstock. He called the trip Blunderman’s Adventure, because we were all subscribers to his newsletter, the Rolling Blunder Review. Those present for this mini-reunion were Judy B, Margaret B., Annie Guthrie, T-Shirt Cathy, and moi. We couldn’t find anything resembling the Matterhorn, so we improvised, with a lot of help from Shelley C., who wasn’t on the trip but wanted to be. We call it the Blundermatterhorn.

T-Shirt, Shirley, Margaret, Judy, Connie

T-Shirt, Shirley, Margaret, Judy, Connie

Did I say this was special for 2 reasons?, No, it was really 3 reasons.  While some of us were quietly sitting in the audience at John Flynn’s kiddie show:

Flynnettes at rest - Judy, Shirley, Connie, Nancy

Flynnettes at rest - Judy, Shirley, Connie, Nancy

Connie – it would be Connie, always the instigator, starting making arm motions to go with John’s song “Love takes a whole box of crayons.” Of course we had to join in, and John, either totally amazed by our skill and talent or so he could get us out of his line of sight, announced that the audience was about to witness the first performance of the Flynnettes, and next thing you know, there we were on stage!  We’ve been waiting by the phone for John or his booking agent, T-Shirt Cathy, to call and let us know when we’ll start touring with him, but so far, we’ve heard only the sound of silence. T-Shirt, we thought you were our friend!

Nancy, Connie, Judy, Shirley and John Flynn

Nancy, Connie, Judy, Shirley and John Flynn

Now for the third special thing that happened. Thanks to this blog, I was re-united with a relative who’d been lost from the family for a long time. Scott, my first cousin Marilyn’s son, had decided it was time to come home again, and he was searching for information about both his mother’s and father’s side of the family. He discovered my posts about my mother’s first husband, who died in WWII – his great uncle on his dad’s side, and found that we were related on his mother’s side, and he reached out to me. He also noticed I go to WoodyFest, 100 miles from his home in Oklahoma City, so we arranged to meet there.  Out in front of the Crystal Theater (at that time it was the Cry Theater, the other letters being burnt out) a beautiful young lady came up to me and I knew it was Scott’s wife Valerie. We hugged and cried and then Scott came over – 6’4 and the spitting image of his great-uncle Hulbert Robertson, and we hugged and cried some more and then we went into the Crystal to hear Rob McNurlin. I whispered  to Scott that my good friend Rob was a fine Christian clean-living fellow, and then Rob,  that dog, did a song about a chihuahua. Oh Rob …!

Rob McNurlin - he looks so innocent!

Rob McNurlin - he looks so innocent!

We stayed around to hear Annie Guthrie, who was a cute teenager on that Blunderful trip to Europe and has grown up into a lovely and talented mother of two. Then my new-found kin and I took off for lunch and some intense family bonding.

Shirley, Scott, Valerie and Woody

Shirley, Scott, Valerie and Woody

Valerie, Scott, Shirley Christmas in July

Valerie, Scott, Shirley Christmas in July

A good time was had by all. Valerie and Scott took care of me like I was a little old lady – in a good way. I kept trying to prove I wasn’t. All was well until we got to my motel. I got out of the car, started to step up on the curb, and fell flat on my face.  V & S rushed over, sure they’d killed me, and I brushed it off – “I meant to do that to show you how fast I could get up.”  Somehow I think they didn’t believe me. Val & Scott, it was a pleasure and an honor to spend time with you, and welcome back to the family, I love you both.

Finally the show was over and it was time to return to the Real World. As we headed for the cars, we ran into the fabulous David Amram, who hung out with Woody and Jack Kerouac and folks like that, and boy, can he tell some stories!  Here we are:

Judy, Shirley, David, Chuch and Connie

Judy, Shirley, David, Chuck and Connie

I remember a time when I couldn’t see why I’d ever need e-mail, and a couple of years ago when the library staff had to learn the new stuff the kids were doing, I scoffed at Twittering and Facebook and other toys that seemed like a waste of time. I’ve gotten over that feeling. Through my blog and Facebook, I’ve connected or reconnected with relatives, some I’ve never even met in person, old, old friends – hey David and Barbara, I’m talking about you :-) and made a lot of new friends.

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