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A spectacle

Life Story Club Contributor

When I was studying, I was studying Russian and I went to St. Petersburg. I wanted to go to the opera, I went to the circus, but the opera had gone to New York for the first time ever, and I couldn’t believe! So, I went to St. Peter’s the Great’s summer home. And so I looked at all this beautiful artwork throughout the castle. And then going out they had this whole walkway. They had a bench that was there, and he was a practical joker, he would just play jokes on people. I didn’t think the bench had anything to do with the practical joke. But, when I sat on the bench, water, it was like I was in the middle of Niagara Falls, and my hair went like this. And it was so funny, I’ve never been laughed at. And it was so funny, even funny to me because people didn’t see my hair turning from like Marilyn’s to like mine now. But all over my head, it would be like curly from the Three Stooges. And we just laughed, all the way back into town and it was so funny in that.

So I call that a true spectacle. I was in the midst of it. I laughed, all the way. He designed it, you thought it was a bench, but it was actually a waterfall. He was a practical joker. If you go there, if that bench is still there, because they don’t tell people that, that’s what it is. Unless you happen to know enough not to sit there. Yes, because I was just looking at the whole gardens, because everything was incredibly beautiful in terms of the sculptures that were there, the plants that were to the side, and I sat there and all of a sudden, I was just completely drenched. That wouldn’t have been so bad, I wouldn’t care, except my hair just went crazy. So funny!

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A Joyful Memory

Life Story Club Contributor

Mar 10, 2020

When I moved back to Texas, I was really happy about moving back to the place where I grew up. I had an opportunity. My focus in college was Urban Studies and the most important thing I could do was work in my home, where I started. And so I had an opportunity to support who had their own business or wanted to go into business, so it was really timely because Fort Worth had been competing and was in the deadline for the Olympics. Texans think that the world begins in Texas. We have experience of being a country five different times. And people talk about New York, New York, but Texans think Texas, Texas.

One thing that’s that I can always remember was the rivalry between Dallas and Fort Worth. I was working with the University of Texas, Austin. When I got out of high school, I started to go there and that’s where my brother went, so this whole project was very personal. And it was a community MBA program for a group of entrepreneurs.

So I could select the entrepreneurs and design the program. And so I based it on a program that had been created a year earlier in Dallas. It was called Dallas Together. So the whole name of the program reflected what I wanted to capture for life experiences. They thought I was completely out of my mind because I had the city manager and all of us. We had to meet with Dallas to decide to commit to this program and that was like the beginning. I was working with a Professor from UT. And I tried to make this conversation in honor of Professor Walker. But anyway, we had the program. I even got my brother and he thought I was crazy. But he came to the program.

And there was another person in the same business that they were in, but he was Hispanic, and he was starting his own business. In terms of my family business. I had my brother, who had been part of one of the first family-owned businesses in that area of the city, and a new Hispanic family going into that same business. And there were a variety of professional businessmen with all different types of businesses and the professors from UT taught the class. And so, they all graduation. The event was the graduation. They really worked. They had assignments and they participated. It went perfectly and it after that it was adopted in the surrounding cities. The University of Texas at Arlington and TCU in Fort Worth also developed programs.

So it was kind of a seed. It was like planting a garden and having roots that would be beneficial. So I’m really joyous, as you can probably guess.

Me and My Biddies

Life Story Club Contributor

I learned so much from each of you. And then I reflect back on my own life and trying to remember what I’ve shared already, and learning from what I haven’t shared because what I think about based on what I’m hearing from each of you. And so, it’s really funny how we talk about our strengths and things that we aren’t really good at. And how they define what options we have in the future in terms of growing stronger, and in terms of growing stronger appreciating the benefit of what we can’t do, or what we didn’t have the opportunity to do, but how we redirected it or appreciated it.

And for me it, to be honest with you, I have an overactive imagination. And that’s always been at play from since I was little. And the best way for me, or at least my parents, to direct my overactive imagination was keeping me busy. so keeping me busy was making sure I had a job that I would take very seriously and would do my best, in turn, whether they perceived it to be my best…because half of the time it would be coming up with stuff that no one would ever imagine that, you know, like can you really follow instructions and it was beyond ADD or whatever that acronym is … More like Frank Sinatra – Doing it my way. So anyway, that’s pretty much the story, and I’m just smiling as I think about all the paths that that’s taken me through in terms of successes and failures. But all of them have been learning experiences.

My parents thought they were keeping me in check. And it was like a chess game and I didn’t know how to play chess. But I found that I was doing it intuitively, and I think they realized I was doing it intuitively, and keeping up with me as well as my keeping up with them. And it follows me till the days because I still see I’m playing the same games with those that are taking care of me as I try to challenge myself to take care of myself. As I watch my dog and I’m concerned about him, and I see that he’s concerned about me, and he’s funny. This morning he has this routine and everybody has routine. I have a routine, he knows it’s time to go outside, time to go back and then no matter whether it’s part of his routine, he says it’s time for me to do some exercises. Meaning that’s what Disco is saying to himself, so he’s found the way to do his exercise. I’m saying, “Where did he get that from? Is he listening to me, observing me? Or observing us? Because he really pays attention to us when all of our stories and he just nods his head, I puts his head against my knee and the chair and say, hmm….Interesting and he does this little side thing, “Got that.”

So I just really appreciate all of you and learn so much from you and for myself upon reflection. I’m glad we got this recorded, I hope this is recorded so I can play it when Disco was listening but he’s not supposed to be listening and, you know, it’s so funny when I first started with this, my…Have you ever said, “I’d like to be a fly on the wall, where I can hear and see everything?” I would find myself dealing with being by myself or being engaging or being responsible. There’s something from childhood that I just have ingrained – that participation is expected in terms of what not only what you should expect of yourself and what others expected of you, but being a contributor. And so I found that …my husband, I didn’t realize he was in the room, but I could see a reflection from, you know, just the screen, that he’d sit back and he’d just kind, “like unbelievable.” And he calls us, “me and my Biddies” And the male biddies, I don’t know what he has for them, “Bats and Biddies,” I guess. So we’re an awesome crew and he can just sit back, “Hmm, can’t believe she’s coming up with that. I can’t believe they’re believing that! That’s going over?” So not only am I learning from one another, who knows what others are learning from us, including the people that are taking care of us. And, you know, we are our friends, and everyone in our environment is here, it’s very intentional, it was not by accident.

Greatest Historical Event

Life Story Club Contributor

For me, I’m thinking about those same times, in the 1960s and JFK, because for me, those were the best of times and the worst of times. And in so many personal ways.

I’m from Fort Worth, Texas and the Kennedys were coming to Texas. It was controversial before they got there and the decision to come there …we had just Finished the Cuban Missile Crisis, so President Kennedy had faced a challenge that I felt very much a part of because cars were based in Fort Worth. So the bombers that we’re headed toward Cuba, with the Cuban Missile Crisis, were right there. And as a child, I remember having to go in the halls and bend down, expecting the bombs. And you know, you think about bombing of Europe or you think about bombing in other parts of the world, but it really made that present danger and whole, force, counterforce between Khrushchev at the time and the world…America vs. Russia. There were so many lessons to learn because at that time Khrushchev, he didn’t have to worry about us destroying ourselves from within. And so the prediction of the divisiveness didn’t come true.

And I was so near everything because they flew into Love Field. And think of the infinite love and gratitude. Everyone was excited and at the time, they stayed at a hotel. They came into Love Field in Dallas and then flew to Carswell and stayed at the Hotel Texas. Everything was personal in Fort Worth. That’s where he, they spent their last night together.

And everyone went to the base when he landed at Carswell Air Force Base and Jackie, they both came out and they came into the crowd. I was the oldest and my little sister, my little brother, my little brother was on my dad’s shoulder so that he could reach over and see them and we were so excited! And that night we woke up excited. They had a breakfast at the Hotel Texas before he went back to Dallas. I was so upset because I was so excited and my father took my brother to the breakfast. And so I missed that.

But there was just an air of presence, and the moments, and the challenge that we faced and thinking that we would overcome. And then I was in the, I guess, third grade, still in the lower grades, and everything was at a halt. It’s like breaking alert, a moment where everything just stood still. An unbelievable thing that it happened there, and that it happened not only there but from the Book Depository. And that’s where we got all of our school books! It was so related to.. when I say, best of times and worst of times I really mean that.

And then re-visiting the steps of our lives, the positives and the negatives. And going back to Khrushchev’s words, thinking about what’s positive and negative from within. Because Oswald and his family lived in the next community. That was the University of Texas at Arlington, they were adjacent to the community that I lived in Fort Worth. And their mascot were the Rebels. They were just known… you just had that tension between the cultures. Our family cemetery was on a hill overlooking Lake Arlington, overlooking the cemetery that serves the Arlington community and Oswald lived with his family just a few streets away from that. And there were people that would come in and there were back roads that would go up to the lake. It was a beautiful lake. On one side of like you could look into Arlington or another side, you could see our family cemetery. People would come in and vandalize, because it was a black cemetery and a family church cemetery. And so in many ways that was the best of the times and the worst of times.

And it endured throughout my life because I wanted to get married at Hotel Texas, because that’s where I had really good memories of the Kennedys being there. That’s where I wanted to start that change and when you think of transitions in your life, in so many ways we go from the worst of times to the best times. And it’s up to us to make it the best of times.

…I remember going to all these places where they were selling undergrounds, the things that you would put in your backyard or wherever, where you would go and get in. We didn’t have basements. I mean very few had basements. And so we’re actually going there and can see like Dorothy going to some shelter, having to purchase that. And so in terms of the best of times and worst of times, you could imagine that happening to you and everyone else around you and such challenging ways, which to me is still one of the most challenging things that I’d like to share with you.

I didn’t end up getting married at the Hotel Texas, though we stayed at the Hotel Texas. The birthday present for the Leonard family, because you have these families that are the pillars of the community, and for her 50th birthday, her husband had this chapel built, called the community chapel. The community supported kids that were challenged and were disabled, and there was this chapel around it. A colleague of Frank Lloyd Wright built this chapel and he built them around the country. And this was a church chapel that I fell in love with me. It caused all kinds of chaos with the family because I didn’t decide to get married at my family church. Which was, you know, a historically black church in the community and it was all kinds of chaos. But we got married where we wanted to get married and it just worked out. And so the best of times, worst of times. And you find that you grow through and are stronger through the best and the worst, wherever and whenever.


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Childhood Friend

Life Story Club Contributor

Feb 18, 2020

Oh, my best friend. Even before I met her. Her name is Angela. Angela Maria Berry and our mothers were best friends. I’ve known her forever. We did everything together because our mothers did everything together.

So I just remember everything about her family. Her family was from Oklahoma. I had a great aunt in Oklahoma. So we would take the family trek to Oklahoma. My mother was actually born in Redbird visiting her aunt. And Angela’s family was from a nearby town. It was a bigger town than Redbird. It was Wagner. I think that was the name of the town. Or [town name]. Those are close. And so she had family both places.

So we would visit every weekend and during the week. And her mother played the piano really well. So she would on Saturdays, we’d sit in the living room. And my mother loved to listen to her best friend play the piano. So before there was a name that tune, we did that. Name that tune. And later, all of the fun things came back with the big bands in the mall. And, you know, no matter where life took us, our lives intersected.

She’s now in Florida and she she was born. Lucy, was it a year? She her birthdays, the same birthday, same year as my husband now. And so just going through weddings. I remember her. We were very guarded but when she went to college she met her husband and her father was just concerned because, you know, was he going to church and everything. And having to meet the dad, he decided to become a minister. And her dad was very into the church but he was his minister’s biggest challenge. And he was thinking, “Oh okay, I don’t have to worry about her going to be religious but that’s taking it a little bit too far.”

So we’ve had so much fun from times in the park, first boyfriends, first date. She was always ahead of me. So when she went to college, her first roommate became her best friend so the two of them became my older best buds.

That’s putting that in a nutshell.

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