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1965-06-14-2_edited-1This photo, taken about 1966, is my favorite one of Grammy. I thought she was so pretty.

When I was about 4 years old, I can remember going to Grandma’s house and she had a special drawer for me, in the kitchen. Each time I would visit her, she was sure to have something new in that drawer. Often times, it was new crayons, chewing gum, or coins. Over the years, she maintained this tradition of having a special drawer for my brother and my children.

I can so remember visiting Grandma and waking up on a Saturday morning, sitting in my child-sized upholstered rocking chair and watching the Jack La Lanne Show, which was the first television show devoted to diet and exercise. (The boy is sitting in that chair in the birthday photo here). 1963-08-31-2-copy1Grandma and I really liked his show and I did the exercises with him and his dog. Interestingly, I found this information about the show and the dog “LaLanne enjoyed talking about “Happy” the dog. Happy was a marketing tool to get the kids’ attention in the mornings during his show. When the show started, LaLanne didn’t have much money and could only afford to buy early morning airtime. He said the only ones watching that early were the children—not really the adults. That’s funny because as I studied his shows the last year or so I always thought he was joking with the adults when he said, “Good morning boys and girls” but he was serious! He thought if he used Happy and taught Happy some good tricks the kids would be more interested. If the kids were interested, then LaLanne could get their attention and tell them to go and get their parents to the TV so the whole family could exercise. Guess what? It worked! Happy was a huge success with the children and LaLanne got reports from all over about kids throwing a fit until their parents went over to the TV to see what Jack LaLanne wanted—how hilarious but also simplistically brilliant. LaLanne likes to keep it simple and straightforward. The Jack LaLanne Show was just that—simple, basic, user-friendly exercise at home.” Now I wonder if I liked the show and encouraged Grandma to watch, especially because I do not recall her doing any of the exercises with me.

When I was about 6 years old, I remember walking around Grandma’s house in Choctaw early one summer morning taking care of her plants. She wanted a coke and asked me if I wanted one too. I told her that it was too early for a coke.1967-05-choctaw-01 She told me she always had a coke in the morning and it would be okay, just don’t tell your Mother. Grandma loved junk food just about more than any other person I’ve ever known. It seemed she always had a stash of chips, candy, cookies, cokes, and such.

During the time I lived in Oklahoma City in 1966, Grammy took me to her home for the weekend several times. She had just recently married Roy Billings and lived in his home in Choctaw. I really liked Roy he introduced me to fried pig’s skin, which come in bags like chips. He made Grammy happy and he made me feel happy, too. Unfortunately, he died shortly after they married.

When I would go to her house, on Saturday morning I would wake up and sit in the living room, which had a very small bay window type of area. I would sit there and watch Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon. Later, Grammy told me that the pond she had made was for me.(The photo of me with my cousins shows that pond in the upper left hand corner). 1967-05-choctaw-pond-05She didn’t live there very long after Roy died but I have fond memories for such a small time period.

After Roy died Grandma moved to the house at 537 SW 50th. I remember helping her move into that house on a cold, dark evening. Dad started the floor furnace but since they had to leave the front door open to move the furniture in, the house remained freezing cold. Later, after she was fully moved in I enjoyed spending the night with Grandma. She would paint my fingernails and toenails in a fun, bright pink or red that matched hers. Then we would have junk food, turn the lights out in the living room and watch TV. Grandma loved to watch Hogan’s Heroes and, though I laughed often, I can’t imagine that I fully understood the humor. We also often watched a movie in the evening. The next morning we would wake up and she would take me to the drug store at the corner and tell me to pick out a toy I wanted. It was usually something like a new coloring book, a magnetic hair “Wooly Willy” toy, or jump rope. –8/15/07

Do you have something to add to these memories of Virginia?