Making a Difference

Brian Scott Beall

Brian Scott Beall

 

 

[Note: I wrote the following piece this morning for my Facebook page and decided to post it here as well.]

DAY 8: November 8, 2016–Election Day–I’m thankful that it IS Election Day, and I will probably be burning the night oil watching returns. When I woke up this morning, my clock read “4:45”. It was early–so I decided I could sleep a while longer. When I looked again, the clock still read “4:45”. I thought I looked at it wrong, so I rolled over. And, when I looked at it one more time, it still read “4:45”. That’s when I rolled out of bed. The battery expired. And I thought, “I hope that doesn’t mean something today.”

When I got up this morning, I immediately started thinking about Brian and his voting habits over the years. My earliest memory of any election was the Truman-Dewey campaign. I was five years old and in the hospital having my tonsils removed. Bev was in the same room with me; she also had her tonsils removed. Our parents took turns on Election Day going out to vote and as I recall, they voted for Truman. (He’s a distant cousin of mine–more distant than I originally thought, but in 1948–none of us knew about that. I would later discover that Nixon and Ford are also distant cousins—but that would come much later.) Then came the Eisenhower-Stevenson campaign of the 1950s. I thought I got Eisenhower elected because I wrote “I Like Ike” in the dirt all over the playground. My parents were never straight-line any-particular-party people. Mom always said she would “Vote for the man” and “Not for the party.” They both caught a great deal of flack from Dad’s parents (died-in-the-wool Republicans) because my parents both voted for Franklin Roosevelt–another distant cousin discovered much later). Grandpa Inman was a Republican State Senator in Iowa early in the 20th Century, and I understand, his picture still hangs in the State Capitol in Des Moines. Reportedly, he had the largest mustache. My parents voted Republican for a while. But in 1980, my mother voted for John Anderson, an Independent!

Howard’s parents favored the Democrats until the chaos of the 1960s. (They were from the South and his mother was a distant cousin of James K. Polk!). After that, they became Republicans and remained so the rest of their lives. They lived in Arkansas their later years. My mother-in-law was frightened half to death one day when she was driving down the road with an Impeach Clinton bumper sticker on her car. A guy in a pick-up truck was right behind her, bumping her along the way. That sticker came off the car as soon as she arrived home!

And so we turn to Brian. With all the cousin-Presidents in his background, how would he have voted?

Brian always favored the mavericks, and his first maverick was Ross Perrot! When we returned from Pennsylvania that summer, he tried to recruit us for Perrot. And when Perrot dropped out of the campaign, Brian still voted for him. That experience put a damper on his political interests until 2004 when he was working for the railroad in Illinois and was based in a small town in the central part of the state. One day, he heard about a man who was running for the U.S. Senate who was speaking in the town park.

“What’s his name?” Brian asked.

“Barak Obama!”

So Brian and his friends went over to the park to listen to Obama. Afterward, Brian managed to get through the crowd and shook hands with Obama. (I don’t know whether Brian knew that his Grandfather Beall once shook hands with a candidate named John F. Kennedy at the Cedar Rapids Airport. Howard was standing there with him!)

Brian told Obama he liked his message.

“I would appreciate your vote!” Obama told him

“Oh, I would vote for you in a heartbeat!” Brian told him. “But my home is in Colorado. I’m just working here temporarily for the railroad.”

Brian enthusiastically voted for Obama for President several years later. His enthusiasm dwindled by the second term, however, but Brian voted for him again.

Last year we were visiting Brian at his house and the topic soon turned to politics. Brian was busy running through a lengthy list of candidates he didn’t like and wouldn’t vote for under any circumstance. And I asked him, “So, who do you like?”

He looked at me and smiled, “I like Marco Rubio!”

Thinking back on all of this now, I wonder who he would have voted for today had he been able to do so. It didn’t take me long to decide.

I don’t think he would have voted for either major candidate.

Instead, he would have voted for one of the Independents and stayed true to his independent spirit!

You could lead Brian to water, but you couldn’t make him drink!

Letter to Brian: No. 2

Brian's Memorial Garden, June 25, 2016

Brian’s Memorial Garden, June 25, 2016

I was out in your garden the other day when something special happened. But I will save that story for later. For now, I want to update you on the progress of this special place.

It has really changed since my early efforts in creating it and now consists of many memorable objects. A memorial plaque bearing your name and the dates of your birth and death sits on the large center slab we found in Maryland years ago. I bought the angel at a statuary place in Pittsburg, Kansas over 20 years ago. (My mother–your grandmother–was born in Pittsburg.) Of course, a frog is present. Your sister gave me that frog some time ago and in view of  the story I told at your service, I had to include it here. One of my friends told me the garden would not be complete without a frog! I also added two stepping-stones: one inscribed with your favorite  Bible verse–

"Trust in the Lord" Stepping Stone (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Trust in the Lord” Stepping Stone (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 and the other containing a simple message about the suddenness of your passing.

"No Words" Stepping Stone

“No Words” Stepping Stone

Assembling all of these rocks and flat stones for the garden was no easy matter! They were all quite heavy! First, I had to pry them loose from various locations in the yard. Next, I had to lug them to their new locations here.  Needless to say, I am glad they are finally in place. I rounded up all of the pine cones during a recent mountain jaunt in an effort to keep roaming cats out of your garden. Cats do not like stepping on pine cones!

And speaking of cats, where would your garden be without Melvin?

Melvin, the cat

Melvin, the cat

Melvin was not only your last cat, but he was also your last pet. I don’t know what happened to the real Melvin since your passing, but when I saw this creature in a Breck’s catalog, I knew I had to have him. “Melvin” is now featured in the garden, but he only appears there for pictures.

Melvin and friends

Melvin and the “Hobbits”

For the most part, Melvin stays inside  with the other “hobbits”. Remember how you used to call me “Hobbit”? The little “hobbits” and Melvin are in the garden for pictures only. Then they all return to the house so they won’t travel all over the world and reappear in photographs  in strange places.

Melvin and the Hobbits

Melvin and the Hobbits

There is a rose-bush growing in your garden. It was there long before I created your special place, and it has been blooming since May. I think it was originally a Margaret Chase Smith rose-bush, although the colors have modified over the years. I’ve never had so many roses on this bush as I have had this season. From time to time I clip them and place them on your special stone.

Brian's rose bush

Brian’s rose bush

Your memorial plaque was an endeavor and is something I guard closely.

Brian's Memorial Stone with my necklace

Brian’s Memorial Stone with my necklace

I found an engraver on eBay who makes these memorial markers. And, of course, this marker has a  story. The marker originated in Stow, Ohio.  I didn’t know where Stow was located and discovered that it is in Summit County, Ohio–an interesting place since my Grandmother Inman’s Clay-Klee ancestors settled in Summit County! She was your great-grandmother. When it was shipped, I tracked it to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania–home of your favorite football team–The Pittsburgh Steelers–and a large number of our ancestors!

Brian's plaque and a rose from his rose bush

Brian’s plaque and a rose from his rose bush

Petals from the rose in this picture are now inside the heart necklace that I wear, (depicted in a photo above), along with seeds from the tree you used to climb in the back yard and petals from other roses that have been beside your plaque. The remaining petals from this special rose are now inside one of your memory books.

Solar lights in the garden

Solar lights in the garden

I have a series of solar lights in the garden, and they shine brightly through part of the night. Some of them are getting old and don’t stay on as long, so I will have to replace those from time to time.

Flags, flowers and a Service Marker in Brian's Garden

Flags, flowers and a Service Marker in Brian’s Garden

Recently I added several artificial flower bouquets to the container holding two flags, and I also added a Service Marker honoring your service in the Army.

View of Brian's memorial plaque in the display

View of Brian’s memorial plaque in the display

And now with the exception of seasonal changes, I believe your garden is fairly complete. I will be planting some bulbs here in the fall. Christmas will produce a Christmas tree and possibly a snowman. Spring will bring the arrival of a new Easter lily and the advent of a new blooming season. The columbine you gave me both bloomed beautifully in their pots this year. I hope they do as well in the future.

Scene from Brian's Garden.

Scene from Brian’s Garden.

Now for the story I mentioned at the beginning.

I was standing in front of your garden the other day when a large yellow monarch butterfly flew in front of me and circled the hollyhocks across the yard. After one more circle, the monarch disappeared. I thought it had gone, but it reappeared and circled the yard again. The same thing happened just a few moments ago when I was standing in front of the garden, talking with several neighbors.

I think you are pleased with your memorial!

 

 

Letters to Brian: No. 1

Mother's Bracelet

Mother’s Bracelet

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. I thought about it the other day and how this would be the first year I would not receive something from you. You and LuAn were wonderful each year bringing me flowers and plants for Mother’s Day and my birthday combined. I thought about not receiving my plants this year, but I have a special garden planted for you in our front yard.

Brian's Memorial Garden, April 2016

Brian’s Memorial Garden, March 2016

This picture is an early photo of my endeavor. Please note I have your little Pittsburgh Steelers guy standing in the display. (No, please do not worry. I do not leave him out there or the others. They are there for the picture alone! They would not be standing there in the morning if I left them out there permanently. I might be receiving letters and post cards from them from strange parts of the world!) A more updated picture of your memorial garden looks like this:

Brian's Memorial Garden. April 19, 2016

Brian’s Memorial Garden. April 19, 2016

We’ve had several blizzards since you left us, so this garden has undergone a number of changes. Please note that in addition to the tiny Kansas City Royals figure (your favorite baseball team), I added a Colorado Rockies weather gnome. I think he will keep us informed of approaching blizzards and hopefully, we won’t have any more this season! Please note that I planted the Easter Lily in your garden that we had dedicated in your memory in church Easter Sunday. I hope it will come up again next year, but this is a practice I plan to continue. I think you will recognize the columbine plants you gave me for Mother’s Day and my birthday two years ago. They are blooming since I took this picture.

I have been sick with a cold the last week–a terrible cold! I haven’t had a cold like this since the days when I was teaching college classes! You remember those days! Students would drag into class with every bug imaginable and pass it on to me! I would sneeze and cough forever! (You are so fortunate not to have to deal with colds any more! Thank goodness mine is almost over!)

So, what is it like now that you are in Heaven? I wonder about the people you have met there. I was working on my DNA matches on Ancestry the other day, and I wondered how many of those people you have met. I’m sure they have told you some amazing stories since they were such colorful characters. There was never a dull minute in their lives. Now you can see why you had a thirst for adventure. Remember my book? We are all the “sum total” of our ancestors!

Speaking of adventure, there is something I would like to take up with you. I was feeling a little blue earlier because this is the first Mother’s Day I would miss your gift. And while I was feeling sorry for myself, all at once, the idea of a Mother’s bracelet sprang into mind. I brushed it aside at first, but it kept coming back. And it wasn’t any time at all before I was on eBay, searching for Mother’s bracelets. Only one caught my fancy. I put it on my watch list and went about my business, but I kept thinking about it. Something kept urging me to buy it. And wouldn’t you know? That’s what I finally did. I have a picture of it at the beginning of this letter. It is coming all the way from New Jersey, so it may not arrive until next week. That’s all right since the plants I received from you were for Mother’s Day and my birthday. So this is for both as well. I guess it has already shipped. Wouldn’t it be funny if the post office delivers it on Saturday? Maybe I shouldn’t get so anxious. I could write a huge book about my experience with the post office and packages! I will certainly look forward to its arrival. If it gets here Saturday, I can wear it to church Sunday!

Love,

Mom

 

A Life in Pictures

A Life in Pictures: Brian Scott Beall (1968-2016

A Life in Pictures: Brian Scott Beall (1968-2016)

Shortly after Brian’s passing, I decided to create a scrapbook of memories for him. What began as one album quickly became two. Then three. Then four. And I eventually decided to cover each album with material representing his favorite athletic teams. Album No. 1 is covered with his favorite team: The Pittsburgh Steelers,  I found the material from a seller on eBay and now have enough Steelers material to cover two albums. But then I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. So I decided to decorate the remaining albums with material representing his other favorite teams.

We were living in the Missouri Ozarks when Brian became a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We were watching a Super Bowl on television in which the Steelers were dusting off the Dallas Cowboys. Early in the game, I asked, “Want to know which team is going to win, Brian? See the team with the black helmets?” (I confess I wanted the Steelers to win because some people I didn’t admire were rooting for the Cowboys! But I didn’t tell Brian that!) Anyway, Brian later informed me from that moment on, he became a die-hard Steelers fan!  Album No. 1 covers 1968 (his birth in Louisville, Kentucky) int0 1975 (our move to Kansas City, Missouri).

Album No. 2 is covered with Kansas City Royals material–his favorite baseball team. We were living in Kansas City, Missouri when he was a little boy, and that was when he began following them.  The second album begins with our move from Missouri to Colorado in 1980 through 1992 (his and his sister’s marriages).  I found the material on eBay and just barely had enough to cover the album! However,  I made it fit! Even though he was ill last fall, Brian watched the Royals win the World Series.  He was thrilled since he had been waiting to see that for years! Album No. 2 covers 1975 (our move to Kansas City) through 1992 (Brian’s and Debbie’s marriages in Colorado.)

Album No. 3 is covered with his second favorite baseball team–the Colorado Rockies! Yes, he actually liked a team from Colorado! He often attended their games at Coors Field and looked forward to going.  Whenever some of his relatives came to town, they went to those games with him as well. Album 3 begins with 1993 and concludes with 2010. (As can be imagined, Albums 2 and 3 are huge! I have to tote the things around in separate bags. I could probably use them for weight-lifting!)

Finally, Album No. 4 is covered with Broncos material–my fantasy, I suppose. I had to add the Broncos! Brian was not a fan, but he cheered for them when they were playing teams he didn’t like–i.e., certain teams who messed up Pittsburgh! He was really ill during this last Super Bowl, but he was delighted to see the Broncos win. So I feel justified in covering the last album with their material. This album begins with 2011 and ends in 2016.  It is the smallest album partly because of the digitals I copied for the pages. The other three albums hold original photographs; a portion of the third and 98% of the fourth albums house the digitals. I created Word documents for the pages and inserted the jpgs on the pages. My HP printer did a marvelous job in printing them.

Putting these albums together has been a rewarding and a healing experience, but it is time to move on.  There are a few pictures I’m still looking for, and I will insert them when I find them.

Now, I can finally return to genealogy!

Tribute To A Newspaper Carrier: Brian Scott Beall (1968-2016)

 

The day of Brian's graduation from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, 1996

The day of Brian’s graduation from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, 1996

 

 

Shortly after our move to Colorado in August 1980, our son Brian Scott Beall began carrying The Denver Post. We moved to a different address by November. He gave up his Post route and began carrying The Rocky Mountain News, and carried that route for approximately two years. After that, he carried not only The Rocky Mountain News, but The Denver Post and The Boulder Camera as well. I can still see him pushing his bike with the News on the front, the Post on the back, and the Camera somewhere in between. He needed to complete those routes before school. Eventually, he gave up the Rocky Mountain route to his sister. I helped her with that endeavor. But Brian continued with the other two, sometimes pushing his bike with flat tires through snow drifts.

In 1989 while he was still in the Army and stationed in Germany, one of our neighbors wrote a Letter of Personal Character Recommendation for Brian.  Howard found it among his valuables just a few days ago. The author passed away some years ago and now with the passing of Brian, I am sharing the contents of this letter:

To Whom It May Concern

Subject: Personal Character recommendation for Brian Beall

I have known the subject young man since he was a youngster. Brian was our paper boy and the manner in which he conducted that modest first business was truly outstanding. He undertook it as a profession and carried out his duty just as effectively as if he had been a highly paid person in another job. Being a paper boy is to many people near the bottom of the list in endeavors. Brian not only made it into something professional but to my knowledge never missed. He didn’t just toss it in the bushes or into a snow bank. It was always at the top of my steps where I wanted it.

I guess when you assess character it is how much zeal you put into the little jobs. This young man has been a real joy and credit to his parents but has always been well liked in the neighborhood.

Reaching adulthood he has elected to join the military and serve his country. It is my observed personal judgment that Brian should be observed as highly recommended for any job or position that he seeks and of course one commensurate with his abilities. Having been a Naval Officer for most of my life I consider my assessment of this young man to be much more than just a routine observation

Robert E. Williams

Lieutenant Commander, US. Navy Retired

April 9, 1989

A Star Wars Glass and the U.S. Postal Service — “May The Force Be With You!”

Brian's Star Wars Glass and Little People

Brian’s Star Wars Glass

“OH BOY!”

Brian’s exclamation came from the back seat. We were returning from our weekend grocery shopping spree in a Missouri town about a half hour’s drive from our place in the country. As always, the brownies and bananas never made it home. Brian and Debbie quickly devoured those as soon as they were inside the car. And now, they were examining the cereal boxes.

“I’M GOING TO GET THIS!” Brian announced.

“What?” I asked.

“THIS!”

He passed the box up to me so I could see what he had found.

“A Star Wars thermo-glass!” I commented. “You need two box tops from two of these cereal boxes and one dollar!”

“I have the money!” Brian announced. “I’ve been saving for something big! I want this!”

“Well, okay. You have the money and one box top. Now you need another box top.”

“Can we go back to the store and get another box of cereal?”

“Brian, we are halfway home! You can wait until next weekend for that second box. And then you can send off for this.”

During the following week, Brian and Debbie both acquired a taste for that cereal. They ate it for breakfast and lunch, and they also ate it during their snack time. I am quite certain that Louie the cat and Heidi the poodle were also given treats. And the following weekend, we were back in the store acquiring the second box of cereal. Brian wasted no time in removing the box top. Then he had me fill out the order and address the envelope.

“We’re going to the library Monday,” I told him. “You can take this into town and mail it at the post office.”

“I’m going to get it ready!” he exclaimed as he ran down the hallway to his room.

When Monday morning arrived, a happy Brian bounced out to the car with a bulging envelope in his hand. When we were all in the car, I had to turn around to look at his pride and joy.

“What in the world do you have in that envelope?” I asked.

“Two box tops, the form and my money!” he responded.

“Money?”

“I have a dollar’s worth of pennies!”

“Brian, that will not make it through the post office!” I told him. “The envelope will rip open, and those pennies will drop out!”

“Oh yes, it will!”

“Why didn’t you give your pennies to your dad, and let him give you a dollar bill?”

“Because these are my pennies I saved, and I wanted to use them! Besides, I said a prayer for my envelope!”

Well, who was I to question the faith of a child?

When we pulled up in front of the library, Brian jumped out of the car and ran up the street toward the post office.

“I’ll bet we have to buy two more boxes of cereal and give him a dollar bill and do this thing all over again,” I told Howard.

Presently, a happy Brian bounced into the library.

“See? I told you! He took my letter!” he announced.

“The postmaster took your letter with all those pennies in it?”

“He put a lot of tape around it!”

“I’ll bet he did!” I responded.

The wait began. Brian raced up to the mail box each afternoon, hoping to find his package. Then about three weeks later, an excited Brian raced down the driveway with a package in his hands.

“See? I told you!” he announced.

“Is that your Star Wars glass?” I asked, completely surprised.

“Yup!”

He tore the package open and sat staring at his prized possession.

“Two things must have happened,” I told Howard later. “Either the envelope made it through the mail with all that heavy tape on it and all those pennies inside it. Or, the postmaster waited until Brian left the post office. Then he made out a new envelope and replaced all those pennies with a dollar bill!”

Brian didn’t care what happened. He was so excited to have his Star Wars glass that he kept it on his dresser instead of in the kitchen. He drank all of his beverages from it ranging from Kool-Aid to milk. Then he grew up and left home, leaving the glass in our care, custody and control.

We kept it high in the cupboard for years until I re-discovered it several years ago. Today, it holds pens and pencils on an antique wash stand in our living room.

 

The Adventure of No. 1518 and Beulah the Buick: The Big Snow

March 23, 2016 Blizzard

March 23, 2016 Metro-Denver Blizzard

 

Our blizzard yesterday caused me to reflect upon a number of past snow events this time of year. March in Colorado often generates a spectacular snow to be long remembered. March 2003 definitely stands out as “the big one.” I was teaching back then and was granted two weeks of spring break–something I did not mind at all! Neither did my students!  March 2006 is another vivid memory, but not for the depth of the snow. Howard and I decided to make a trip to Missouri over spring break that year. The weather was wet and snowy–a rain-snow mixture that plagued us most of the trip until our return home. But we enjoyed it. As I recall, this was our second trip over spring break. Our first spring break trip included our children in 1984 when we left on a road trip for California. We experienced at least three seasons then. But there is one year that stands out vividly in my mind as another March storm event. That storm involved not only me but our children Brian and Debbie as well.

It was March 7, 1990. I awoke at my usual time and got ready for my day at the office. Turning on the radio, I caught the tail end of a local weather forecast.

“Light snow today!” the announcer stated. “No accumulation; just flurries.”

“TIME TO GET UP!” I yelled down the stairway.

“Yeah! Yeah!” Brian’s sleepy voice responded.

Discharged from the Army a couple of months previously, our son Brian returned home and settled in with us. He needed a job, so his sister Debbie got him hired by her employer–a radio shop in downtown Denver. At that time, my husband and I owned a large 1974 Buick Electra I had nicknamed Beulah. Driving Beulah was like driving a huge battleship, something I refused to do. I always felt the boat was driving me! So I used a monthly bus pass while Brian and Debbie drove Beulah. Howard drove a 1974 Cadillac DeVille he acquired  at a local auction. So we all set off in our separate directions that morning.

“It’s going to snow!” I announced to the others as we left. “But I don’t think it is going to amount to much.”

…or so I thought!

I stood on the bus stop, watching light flakes descend about me. By the time I reached the park ‘n ride, the flakes had grown larger and heavier. And by the time I reached downtown, the ground was painted white. During the ride down the mall, I watched the swirling flakes outside the window.

Glad I wore my boots! I hope the kids wore theirs!

“NEXT STOP! TREMONT!”

I remember calling home when I first arrived in the office. No answer. Everyone had left.

“Can I see you for a moment?”

The office adversary’s nose penetrated the doorway of my office. I quickly forgot the snow swirling outside my office window and turned my attention to her.  Something in her voice suggested that this would be one of those days. She led me down the hallway to the refrigerator in the employee’s lounge.

“Did you toss out the salad dressing in here?” she demanded.

Surprised, I responded, “No, I did not!”

“Well, someone threw it away! It’s not here now!”

“It wasn’t me!” I told her. “I don’t use the refrigerator.”

I watched her storming down the hallway in search of another victim. As for me, I returned to my office where a pile of correspondence awaited me on my desk–blessings from the adversary with a note:

You are to read through this correspondence, circle important matters, copy the correspondence and put it on the proper desk.

That project engaged me most of the morning. The noon hour found me in the employee’s lounge where the adversary was complaining about missing salad dressing to her thirty-fourth victim that morning. I elected to return to my office to eat my lunch, where I turned on the radio. The list of closures caught my attention immediately.

“All local colleges! All local schools! All government offices! All public libraries…”

Is it that bad?

A sheet of white draped the window, preventing me from viewing the extent of the storm.  I returned to my desk where another project awaited my attention. And then at 4:00, the office manager arrived.

“Barbara, we are closing the office. You should go home now. We want to make sure all our employees get home safely.”

At 4:00? I thought.

Other places had closed hours ago. But I wasn’t about to argue the situation. Before leaving, I called home. Hopefully, Howard, Brian and Debbie were there.

“I just got home!” Howard told me. “It’s terrible out there!”

“What about Brian and Debbie?” I asked.

“They aren’t here. I called the radio shop, and they have already closed. So hopefully, they will get here soon!”

“I’m leaving now. I should be home in an hour or two.”

Then I locked up my office for the evening and headed out into the storm.

Stepping out onto the street was like stepping out into the Ice Age. Huge snow drifts blanketed the streets and sidewalks making movement impossible.  The shuttles had ceased running. I would have to trudge to the bus terminal on foot–an endeavor that proved quite challenging. I don’t know how many times I fell during the process. Finally, the bus terminal came into sight.

And look at the lines!

It took a long time for me to make my way through the bus terminal, following the line for the Boulder bus. About an hour later, I actually mounted the steps of the bus and dropped upon the last seat available. When standing-room-only filled the aisle to the emergency line up front, the door closed, and the driver put the bus in reverse. This was not a small bus. Regional and express buses in this area are the size of Greyhound or old Trailways buses.

BZZZRRRRRRZZZZZBRRRRZZZ!

Snow and ice had filled the exit of the bus terminal. As soon as the tires struck the obstruction, they could only spin. The driver threw the bus into reverse and charged again to no avail. Finally, with chants of “Go! Go! Go!” from the passengers, the great bus overcame the barrier and lunged out to the street.

What is the number of this bus? I wondered, peering at the overhead sign at the front. 1518! I need to remember this. I think this is going to be a long ride!

I no longer remember how long it took for the bus to attain I-25, but it was a long time of tire-spinning, getting stuck and unstuck, stopping and starting. And the trek up I-25 was no better. That portion of the trip was an inch-by- inch enterprise.

“I don’t think we’re going to make the 5:30 connection at the park-n-ride!” one man commented.

The driver turned on the radio so we could listen to music.

“Don’t forget Happy Hour at Benigans!” the radio announcer stated.

“I don’t think we’re going to make that either!” another man quipped.

We were standing still at the entrance to the Boulder Turnpike. As we sat there in the darkness, listening to the howling wind outside, I settled back in my seat, wondering about the kids.

***

Presumably, the radio shop closed earlier in the afternoon. I do not know the time Brian and Debbie were actually set free. I’m certain the trek across the parking lot was a challenge and the fight getting Beulah out of the parking lot was profound. I-25 was jammed; the kids knew that.  I believe Brian may have opted for Wadsworth. Wadsworth is one of the major snow routes in the area that is supposed to be plowed and ready for action. However,  in a situation like this, the plowing was undoubtedly one swipe. Brian spent more time spinning his tires and freeing himself from snow banks than he did in achieving progress up the road. Debbie acted as cheerleader during the ordeal. When Beulah was stuck in a drift:

“Oh, please, God! Oh, please, God! Oh, please, God!”

And when Beulah sprang free:

“YIPPPEEE!”

There were more “Please, Gods” than there were “YIPPEEES” on their trip home. However, Brian and Beulah prevailed. Beulah inched her way up Wads with a lot of tire spinning, rocking back and forth no doubt to the rhythm of the blaring radio.  They finally reached the end of our street about 7:00 or 7:30 that night. And that’s when Beulah’s battery sighed and died. They got out of the car and trudged down the street to our house!

“WE’RE HOME!” Brian announced.

Relieved, Howard added, “But, I’m worried about your mother!”

***

Meanwhile, back on the bus…

We were still sitting at the entrance of I-25 and the Boulder Turnpike. Music continued to play on the radio. Passengers cracked jokes. Maybe we could get home faster if we walked, some suggested. Finally, the bus gained some traction and navigated the low hill it was trying to mount. We crept up the Turnpike and passed a school yard slowly, its swings and slides buried in drifts.  This storm occurred long before the invention of cell phones, so no one could call anyone and let them know our whereabouts. Then, we stopped again and sat still, completely unable to move.

“Well, that’s it!” the driver said. “We’re here for the night unless we try something else.”

He opted for the second choice. In those days, there was only a small barrier between the eastbound and westbound lanes on the Boulder Turnpike. By rocking the bus back and forth, the driver was able to turn the bus sideways. And then with more rocking and churning, No. 1518 mounted the barrier and landed safely in the eastbound lane.

“There goes the playground again!” someone quipped as we headed past it.

We took the Federal entrance and headed north. Federal is another snow route that is always plowed first during such occasions. In this case, the road was plowed, but ice defied travel up hill. At one point, passengers got off the bus and pushed it to free it from an icy spot.

I glanced at my watch. 11:30 P.M.

“I don’t think I’m going to work tomorrow,” I told the person sitting beside me.

“You and me both,” came the response.

The bus turned down a side street. We navigated that street well and came out on Wadsworth near the park n’ ride. Cars were buried there. We were told to get out at the edge of the park n’ ride and walk to emergency vehicles waiting there for us. They would take us down to Nativity Church for the night. Well, Nativity is only a couple of blocks from my house, I noted. I could walk home from there.

By now, the snow had stopped. We grabbed hands as we struggled through drifts to police jeeps waiting to drive us down to the town. I hurried up to one of them.

“Do you have room for one more?” I asked.

“Right here in front,” the officer told me.

First and only time I’ve ever had a trip in a police vehicle.

We pulled into the parking lot at Nativity. I went inside briefly to call the house, but discovered the line for the phone went on forever.  Instead, I thanked them for getting me down out of the park n’ ride and headed home.

The moon glowed brightly overhead as the clouds moved away. As I headed down Emerald, I remembered some of the resolutions I made over the course of my experience. One was to free myself from the awful environment where I worked–a place full of snap dragons and venom suckers. I had been in similar environments previously and now I was doing it again. No more! At that moment, I felt as though I could walk on forever.

When I turned our corner, I stopped to look at the great white Buick stalled there.

“Beulah?” I exclaimed. “Then the kids got home safely!”

By now it was 12:30 A.M. And when I opened the door, a chorus of voices greeted me:

“WHERE IN THE WORLD HAVE YOU BEEN?”.