I was born to an Irishman of small statue...but don't let that fool you...black hair & black eyes made him loom......And to an American Indian Mother, with dark auburn curly hair and eyes of green, with just enough French in the mix to be interesting. I consequently retained the Olive complextion from both my parents and dark curly auburn hair with green eyes from my Mother.
But make no mistake I was raised All American!
Growing up in South Memphis during and after WWII was the Greatest!
Truth be told, we were poor...but we had riches of another kind...Life long friendships from K-Nine....And then not having enough we went Sophmore to Senior in treasured time.There was Mallory Heights...then A B Hill...Longview Heights...and then...the long awaited...South Side High School.
A period of innocent days when you could make a brown bag lunch and ride your bicycle to Riverside Park....Spend lazy days at the Rosewood Drug Store drinking chocolate cokes,or going to the Saturday matinees and having a zero bar at the Rosewood Theatre...where "The Thing" scared me so much...but then progressing to the back row with a Friday night date and not caring what the movie was.
A period...during which...a stepfather entered my life...whom my sister and I embraced!
We could sit upon his knee, and discuss anything...for we soon learned that any man could be a father, but it takes a special man to be a Daddy...and, so he won us over to lovingly call him, Daddy to this day.
And Oh! those glorious summers at the Pine Hill swimming pool...the Saturday night dances at the Pine Hill Community Center with John Taylor...oh, we practiced so much in my kitchen...and for Wink Martindale's Saturday Dance Party on Channel Five, or the Bellevue Drive Inn on a hot summer Friday night...In Sammy's father's little red borrowed pickup truck with the frozen fish from the market for peddling the next day....But equally important to be seen at Leonards BBQ with Sammy Locastro (Class of 1957), the star football player...having a BBQ sandwich,a bean pot,and lemon ice box pie in a borrowed green and yellow 1953 Buick Special from his Mother...especially after winning a football game at Crump Stadium.
Yes, those were the days of transition!
Many Friendships and Dreams that will last a lifetime...For you see...
Of all the gifts that life can send, There is none more precious than a Friend....Much like John, my dance partner, who has never left my side
as a loyal Friend...Carolyn, Ann, Kay, Jan, Wilma, Yvonne & Shorty, Louie & Dot, Joe, Billy ...just to name a few...But a Special thank you to David, for those velvet kisses on Dison Avenue, when just kissing was enough ....Friendships that stand the test of time...Now footprints in my Heart.
Our Beloved South Side High School gave us years for graduation, but there was no year that kept us apart as Friends...after all we had known many from kindergarten all the way through.
As some of us moved on to Memphis State University...we had a wake up call...as a freshman again...trying to cope with the vastness of it all, and being seperated from our friends...as we seemed to be going in different directions...For an education was why we were there.
I was fortunate to be recognized...but caught up in the drama of it all...I did't realize that an education was more important...than being a beauty queen.
And then there was Sammy returning from Greenland as he completed his tour of duty in the Army...After all the wine and dining...we decided that California was too far away...and the time was too long to wait.
So, we eloped...couldn't wait for California...I became a Mrs. in Santa Rosa, New Mexico in November 1960.
Our first enchanting experience of married life was in San Pedro, CA, at Fort Mc Arthur...but then the papers came to report to Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, CA...for Sammy had been trained in Missle Control.
I found a job in Redlands, CA. So, we moved because I could walk to work, and Sammy could drive the car to the base as he worked swings, mids, and night shifts.
We were so homesick that after he served the rest of his time and was honorably discharged...we decided to return to Memphis, since I was going to have our child.
Our beautiful daughter was born in Memphis during September that Summer of 1962...when we welcomed Shalon Michelle.
But our lives had been changed by California, and we decided to return to Redlands in 1964...and that became the beginning of a wonderful life...We were So Happy....
Sammy had become Manager of the first Kinney's Shoes...and well, me, I got my old job back with a promotion and the raise that came with it at Provident Federal Savings & Loan.
It was a classic fairy tale of the Prince & Princess come true...given a lovely daughter...living the beautiful life, in the valley of their Kingdom...surrounded by such elegant mountains.
But, so many moves away from Redlands with Sammy's company took its toll...as we drifted apart...and dissolved our kingdom after 14 years...And thus the end of my Italian Connection....but still a relationship...remained... as Friends...after all, we shared the love of our daughter.
Oh! How those moves took their toll...let's see, there was...San Pedro, San Bernardino, Redlands (of course), Palm Springs, Olympia WA, San Mateo, Foster City, Rohnert Park, San Ramon...and Concord....But, the best part of it was so many friendships!
Life was not easy as a single parent...but I managed to raise my beautiful daughter...who has now become my best girl friend!
When she married in 1980 and moved to Dallas, TX, I was okay to be in CA with a Great Career... but my Grandmother and my Mother were having health problems and needed me to return home.
So, I moved back to Memphis in 1983....
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I became ill for the first time in my life...and ended up having emergency surgery within two weeks...and truth be known...I came close to death, but fortunately the Lord wasn't through with me yet.
For He intended me to be reunited with ("Wink" as he was known at South Side HS) Wendell Dawson...from the moment he came to visit me in the hospital...we knew...and began our journey together in 1983...married in 1991...and still together to this day...still remembering all the times we were together in our youth...since Tommy , Sammy's younger brother, was Wink's best friend...and one of my best friends (Yvonne) was his first girlfriend...Plus all our years together in the same Church...sharing so many of the same friends and stories together...keeps us close.
But during our years of discovery...we have discussed how many times our paths crossed in CA...and did not know...even living two blocks from each other in Concord at one time...and going to all the same places....but the timing was not quite right...The Lord knew better!
My beautiful daughter, Shalon, has blessed me by moving to Memphis...and giving me two granchildren, and a wonderful new son-in-law...as Dallas ended her marriage, we welcomed Michael Todd into the family...Ironically sent to
Memphis from where he was raised in San Diego, CA...to work together and
fall in love.
My grandchildren, beloved...when they began their journey as Shantel (1984) and Joshua (1989).
Sammy has passed on now...as we gave him a fitting memorial...friends from South Side High and loved ones spoke of him in a kindly way...back.in 2004.
The Lord works in mysterious ways...and...so, we live for more chapters in the circle of life (or death)...in this realm...for the Lord's Kingdom awaits when we have fulfilled our mission...And that will be a Glorious Day!
Until that time, I would like to share this Native American Blessing with You..My Great Grandmother might have prayed...
Let us walk softly on the
Earth with all living beings
great & small remembering
as we go, that One God
Kind & Wise created All.
Life to be continued...Until....