Thursday, September 13, 2018

Six Years After Retirement

At Saracen RV Park, Pine Bluff, AR



1a

Above is Saracen Landing, it is where, back in February 2011, Marcia and I got married.

1b

That was us back then…me, 100 pounds or so more than I am now…her, as lovely as ever.  It was a cold, slightly rainy, February day…dogs in the car, and just her, me and the minister.

1c

This is Robert…the minister.  Back in 2011, he was also a fellow Rotarian, and a member of my Library Board.  He would not take any money to marry us, but I insisted that he take it and “give it to someone who needs it…”, which I am sure he did. 

2a

In 2005 I separated from my first wife, a devout Mormon, and I just could not go along with the tenants and beliefs of the church anymore.  That said, I bought a 5th wheel, and moved out to Saracen Park, 2+ miles deep into the Jefferson County Regional Park, safe from the crime and rampage of the Pine Bluff area.  Abundant with deer (above) and and a $300 (now $350) monthly rent including water, power and a dump station…it was the best place to live.  By 2010, I had met Marcia online, in February 2011 we married with the plan that I take an early retirement, and we travel for most of the year.  That was in 2011…in 2012 I retired and we started our travels.  It is one of the best things I ever did in my life….

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While here, I paid my respects to the living and the dead.  Miss Ann, Virginia Ann Lightsey (bottom right), was the children’s librarian at the Library for over 30 years.  I can remember coming home from church on Easter, and she and a friend had decorated the outside of our house, and hid Easter Eggs for our kids, and left…knowing that they would enjoy them.  Every Halloween she would stack up on Halloween Candies and Cakes and Treats, and had something SPECIAL for each and everyone of “HER KIDS”, those who came to Storytime on a regular basis, when they came by her house…we would go by each year with the kids, near the end of the night, and she would have so much stuff that she tried to load off on us.  The next day at work, the break room became a candy/cake store.  That is how Miss Ann was.  I miss her to this day…she was a very special person, never married, never had biological kids, but has as many kids today as any school teacher around.  Her influence moved kids to become doctors, lawyers, you name it, they became it.  In 1999, one Wednesday night in February I left work, headed to church for a youth program…saw this wreck on the way going the other side of the major road.  Did not think much of it…until I got home an hour or so later.  That wreck was Miss Ann and her mom…her mom died the next day.  Miss Ann was fine, but they were worried about shadows in her abdomen.  It was Cancer.  She lived another 6 years.  On the way to a Library Conference in Phoenix, March 2002, three of us drove there…left early enough that we could visit the Grand Canyon if weather permitted…it did.  She LOVED that trip…and somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma, in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant, a young man, about 22, comes up to our table.   “You are ‘Miss Ann’, aren’t you?”  “Yes I am, and you are (and she named his named).  WOW, one of her “KIDS” had found her all the way in the middle of Oklahoma!   I will never forget that.

4a    4b

It was nice to see the folks at the Rotary Club of West Pine Bluff today…my club for 20+ years, and I am still a Honorary Member.  There was a time that we had around 70 members…40-50 coming to meetings…today there were around 20 there.  I was the President for a year back in the mid-90’s…then the newsletter and webmaster, moving the club from paper newsletters to the Internet, saving lots and lots of $$$$.  Today, Robert told me that he is the webmaster, and it is a nice website which creates webpages from a database of names and important dates. 

I decided early on not to take pictures of the various libraries…but I visited or drove by each one of them.  Took Skruffy to the Main Library where for 2 years she was the “Library Dog”.  I surprised many a staff member by just showing up…it was fun.

After Rotary I went by the local “older peoples” home, this one which has apartments, then Assisted Living, then Nursing all at the same location.  One of my favorite Library Patron, Ann Johnston, moved in there a few years ago.  Ann is 98 years old…living in the ‘apartment’ living area.  I knocked on her door, which was partway open…said, “Hello, Ann…”, and she said, “Come in”.  The look on her face as she saw me was just precious.  When she was 95 years old, she was still bowling…even broke 100 once in awhile.  Back in 1994, I first met her because she was looking for a way to gather and store her genealogy.  I told her the computer was the way to go, and she had NEVER used one before.  By 1996, she had over 500 names in her genealogy database.  Many times I would go over to her house and get her computer working again…replacing a power supply, or a mouse or keyboard.  I acquired at least two newer computers over the years, through her limited funds, to keep her up and going.  Last I remember, she had sent over 2000 names to a genealogy database to store for the use of others in the future. 

Pine Bluff is combating Poverty and Urban Deterioration of the town.  In 1970, Pine Bluff had a population of 57,400 people.  Today, it is estimated to be under 43,000.  White Flight has plagued the community since the 1980’s, and the downtown area is now nearly non-existent outside of Simmons Bank Headquarters, the County Courthouse, and the City Complex (where Main Library is located).  By 2020, there should be a new Main Library across the street from Simmons Bank.  They have demolished some of the more derelict old downtown buildings, and there are commitments for new buildings and revised older buildings…but none of this has come to pass yet.  Time will tell.  I hope things get better.

It was so nice to see so many friends and former colleagues.  It is sad that a few of them have passed on, a couple since I left in 2012.  Those who are still around, I hope to see again when we come through in April of next year.  Now, the final stage towards home…

4 comments:

  1. What a great walk down memory lane!! I love that you go back and visit everyone.

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    Replies
    1. Many good memories, also a few sad ones. Thanks Nancy

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. A great way to reflect on how you got where you are now:)

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