Thursday, November 21, 2013

25. Looking Back After 49 Years to My Estes Park, CO Summer of 1964...

In 24 blog posts, I have told the true story of the summer of my 19th year which followed my 9 month stint as a freshman at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. My summer of 1964 was spent in Estes Park, CO which is the little village at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

That summer, 1,200 miles from my home on a WI dairy farm, had many mountain and valley experiences and only a couple of those included beautiful Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Over the 49 years that have passed since that summer, I have infrequently shared the story with family and friends but have known that certain aspects of that summer were etched vividly in my memories.  I knew that there was  valuable significance to what I learned about myself, God, family and friends which I would one day like to share in written form.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

24. Quotes of Clarification... Estes Park, CO Summer of 1964...

I have done some further search of letters I've saved for nearly a half century.  I found a letter which I had written to a good friend of mine during that summer.  That letter clarifies a few things which I hadn't written in the letters to my parents.

If you have been reading these blogs since I started telling the story of my Estes Park, CO summer, you know that my sister and I went there in order to find jobs as waitresses in order to make and save money for our college educations.

We arrived there on June 16th but did not get hired in waitress positions until July 3rd - just a little over two weeks later.  The two weeks of searching and waiting had nearly completely depleted ($2.00 left when we were hired) what little money we had with us but had provided fertile ground for our faith in God to grow.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

23. Last Letter Home from Estes Park, CO...August 29, 1964

In this post, I will share the last letter I wrote to my parents in late August of 1964.  My summer had seemed very long but it was coming to an end with much for which I was thankful.  This letter shares the mundane facts as my summer draws to a close.  My parents will soon be on their way to pick me up and I await their arrival with joyful anticipation.
Dear Folks,                                            Aug. 29, 1964
Business is really slowing down out here.  It's so slow that we don't have anything to do except sit so I'll take this time & write you a note.  Sure hope it gets there before you leave but I'm sure it should.  I'm still real excited about your coming out here.  I probably won't have much time off as I work from 5:45 am at Crowley's to 2 pm and then work at Ranchouse from 3:30 to closing which is between 9:30 & 10:15.  It's sorta rough but I'm making it & feel pretty well & rested. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

22. My Summer in Estes Park Draws Near to a Close... August 1964

My next letter home would be written a few days later...

           Dear Folks,                                                      Aug. 26, 1964
Today is my day off from Crowley's & I don't go to work at Ranchouse til 3:30 so I'll try to write you a note & let you know I'm still alive...
Actually when I think about it, I don't really have much news to tell you because I never do much except sleep & work.  Work is still going O.K. but the routine is really getting to be quite a drag.  Just this week though, we've noticed that business is slacking off.  I guess the season is really finally coming to a close & as far as I'm concerned, that's great with me.  Lots of kids are quitting jobs now & going home.  Ranchouse is really short of waitresses.  In fact I don't see how they'll be able to stay open til Labor Day because we have 4 waitresses now & after the 1st we'll have 3.  There are supposed to be at least 7 waitresses working to run the place so you can imagine the pressure & conditions we're working under.  I'm sure glad there's less than 2 wks left.  I couldn't stand it any longer I know.  Kathy helped out Sat. nite & Sun. at Ranchouse which sure was great!  She did O.K. in tips too.

Friday, November 15, 2013

21. Crowley's & Ranchouse...August 1964...

I had learned that all the other girls that had been fired at Ranchouse had packed their bags and headed home.  I wondered how the restaurant could stay open because I knew they must be very low on staff.

I would get some update on their situation soon.  More about that next time.
Now to continue...

Within the first week on my new job, I looked up one morning to see the manager from Ranchouse walk through the door.  I froze inwardly as I thought I knew why he was there.  I do not know how he found out where I had gotten a job but somehow the word had gotten to him.  I watched as he scanned the restaurant to observe where my station was and headed to one of my open tables.  I dreaded taking him a menu and waiting on him but I had no choice.

As I got to his table, he immediately leaned forward, looked intently into my face, spoke just above a whisper with intense urgency and asked what I felt certain he had come to ask,
"Linda, can you please come back to work for us?  We really need you."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

20. Good-Bye Ranchouse; Hello Crowley's...August 1964...

I crawled into Joyce's hide-a-bed and slept soundly and safely for most of the day.

This is probably August 2nd or 3rd and someone else is on his way to Estes Park with his new bride.

How will I break this awful news to him?  Certainly he will be so disappointed in me.  And what am I going to do now?

More of the story next time...
When I woke up at the Bennett home, Joyce and I began to talk.   She was not surprised about my situation.  She told me that this same thing happened each year at Ranchouse Restaurant.  And she told me it would probably be quite possible to get hired at another restaurant as she knew that traditionally college students were quitting and heading home in early August.  She had a place in mind and said she'd take me job hunting the next day.  She was always joyfully positive.  It was so comfortable to be around her.  Though I was hurting because of my circumstances, her words buoyed my spirits.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

19. Not Guilty But Charged - Major Hiccup in Estes Park, CO... August 1964...

There's another huge reason for my gratitude for my brother's arrival in Estes Park, timed just as I was experiencing a major hiccup in my employment at Ranchouse Restaurant.  This will be my story in the next post.
Continuing the story...

It would be Aug. 21st before I would write another letter home to my parents.  My previous letter was dated July 31st.  What was going on for me in Estes Park during my silent three weeks?

As I have explained earlier, housing was provided for the summer employees of Ranchouse Restaurant.  College girls were waitresses; college guys were busboys.  The girls lived in rooms in the basement of the restaurant owner's year round home which was next door to the restaurant.  The boys lived in a room above the detached garage which was also on the property.

We college students had a curfew.  We were to be in our rooms for the night at 11:00 pm.  The restaurant closed at 10:00 pm so there wasn't much time after all the final clean-up was completed before the curfew began.  Perhaps some employees could leave early if there weren't many patrons still needing service but some employees were on duty until all was cleaned and prepared for opening the next morning about 10:00 am.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

18. The Bonds of Family Friendship... August 1964..

Marrying the only son in a family with four sisters who were each interestingly unique and not always winsomely opinionated, could not have been easy nor predictable.  That is what makes the honeymoon choice even sweeter.

Why were my brother and I such close family members?  My next post will give some insight into the origin and continuation of our friendship bond...
My story continues...
3 year old, Jim and 1 year old, Linda - probably helping me learn to walk
In my family of origin, my brother is the first born; I am second.  We were followed by three more sisters.

Since my brother did not have a brother sibling, I became his closest friend and sometimes, confidante. 

Cross Ridge School in 2013 nearly just as it was in the 1950's
He included me in a number of his childhood activities.  For some time, he planned to become a major league baseball pitcher.  Our mother was a huge Milwaukee Braves fan.  We loved listening to games as they were broadcast on the radio.  That may have been the inspiration for Jim's desire to become a pitcher.  But a pitcher needs a catcher and I had that privilege.  Jim allowed me to wear the one baseball glove we had as he pitched his fast balls at me.  He taught me the signs for each of the pitches he was
perfecting so that I could signal my choices.  Everything was wonderful with this arrangement until one Sunday afternoon as we were getting ready to go to Cross Ridge School for the "End of the Year" program and picnic.  Jim and I had some time before the others were ready so he started "burning" his pitches "down the pike."  I was doing well with his near perfect aims straight at me - except for one.  He wound up, threw and I, for some reason, did not think I could catch it.  It was headed straight for my face and smacked into my check just below my right eye.  Pretty sure I screamed, cried and threw down my glove.  I would arrive at school with my right eye nearly swollen shut and a real goose egg on my cheek.  Mrs. Stelzner, my Cross Ridge teacher for 5 years, was not happy.  I think she said something to us like, "How could you have done something so stupid!"  We didn't think we were being stupid - I was rather proud to be my brother's chosen catcher.

Monday, November 11, 2013

17. A Honeymoon Surprise...August 1964...

I have been working nearly a month at Ranchouse Restaurant.  August will begin with my brother's wedding 1,200 miles away in WI without my sister and me but something else will happen as
August begins...  More of the story to come...
Continuing the story...
Have you wondered if I'm misspelling the word Ranchouse?  Let me prove that I'm not..
Somehow a paper placemat from Ranchouse has been preserved for 49 years...
I found 2 of these placemats nestled amongst my letters home which Mom saved in a file folder.

Friday, November 8, 2013

16. Update for Home Folks & Middle of the Night Memory...July 1964...

Joyce mentions " the caliber of the majority of youth who work here in the summer" and I will become more familiar with her assessment soon.  Another letter home in my next post...
Water damaged 4 page letter...

Sharing my letter of July 21, 1964 is more difficult than the sharing of other letters has been. Not because of the content of the story, but because somehow the original letter was severely damaged by some liquid - probably water or coffee.
Thankfully, Mom saved the letter even in its compromised form and I have been able to recover approximately 99% of its content.  There will be reference to my brother's August 1st wedding which I will miss. 

The story continues as this letter reports...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

15. Letter of Commendation & Invitation...July 1964...

Joyce Bennett had become a dear friend to my sister and me.  She decided to write to our parents and today I'll share that letter.                                                                                              July 20, 1964
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Groves,
Allow us to introduce ourselves.  We are two people who have fallen in love with your two daughters, Kathy and Linda.  Our names are George and Joyce Bennett.
The Lord has privileged us to know many young people in the past but none have impressed us more favorably than your daughters.  I have never written a parent before this to tell them how fine is their child.
Truly it is easily evident that Linda and Kathy came from a happy, loving, Christ honoring home life.  Thank you for rearing such precious offspring.  Perhaps you think it strange that I should say, "thank you," but if you only knew the caliber of the majority of youth who work here in the summer you would understand why we are grateful to you for two girls such as Kathy and Linda.  Most parents have just cause for being concerned about what their children are doing here in the summer but you have no need to "get one gray hair" because of the conduct of your daughters!  In other words they're "the greatest"!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

14. Heading to the Continental Divide...July 1964...

My mother's birthday letter also shared about another exciting outing with George and Joyce Bennett.  I'll save that news for next blog. 
Picking up from where we ended in the last post...
My letter of July 21, 1964 included this...
Last Sunday I didn't go to work until 4:30 & Kak didn't work at all so George and Joyce Bennett (we've mentioned them before as you probably remember.  They're from the Baptist Church here & are the most wonderful Christian couple I have ever met.  They have been so good to us in every way.  They've been married 18 yrs but have no children of their own but really do love young people.  They would do just practically anything for us.  They were the one's who invited us out the first Sun. we were here for dinner & then took us to Bear Lake.  Joyce has written you a letter which you'll probably get today if you didn't get it yesterday.  I hope you read my letter first though. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

13. Making Some Money; Making Some Changes... July 1964

I had no doubt in 1964 and I have no doubt today, that God provided our jobs at Ranchouse Restaurant.  

We had housing and jobs.  Would the rest of the summer flow peacefully and joyfully or would there be further disappointment? 
My previous blogpost ended with the above words.  Now to continue...

We were trying our best to provide great service to our tables but the learning curve was very steep. It was a struggle to keep everything straight and please everyone - patrons, restaurant owners, other waitresses, bus boys, cooks, salad makers...  We were exhausted each day. 

We also continued at Mrs. Tagg's laundromat to iron on our days off.  We were planning to use the extra earnings from those hours for a surprise we were hoping to bring about.  But one day while ironing at the laudromat, Mrs. Tagg asked my sister if she would come to work full-time for her.  She had become very fond of us and was happy with our work.  Both of us had been ironing since age 10 at home so we came with experience in that career opportunity.  Kathy was ready to hear those words and decided to accept Mrs. Tagg's offer.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

12. Becoming a Ranchouse Restaurant Waitress...July 1964...

"Have you ever heard of consomme, Lobster Newburg or Frog Legs - the kind you eat?  Do you have any idea of the prep time required for any of those items?" 

How do you think my sister and I fared in our new jobs?  More prayers required?
The above words closed my previous update. To continue...

In my cute uniform with adorable headpiece of some sort...
My sister and I were so excited to begin work at Ranchouse restaurant.   But it was a completely new world for both of us.  

I had spent a previous summer while still in high school, working at a small diner / soda fountain which specialized in ice cream items.  I had gotten good at making malts, shakes, phosphates  and banana splits.  I knew about eggs, American fries and hamburgers.  But none of these items were on the Ranchouse menu. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

11. Celebrating July 4th in Estes Park, CO, 1964...

The next letter I wrote home was dated July 7, 1964...What would that letter reveal?  Don't miss my next installment...
I left this story yesterday with the above words.

Time now for the next installment to begin.

There is a very exciting reason that I did not write home between July 1st and July 7th!

My sister and I were hired on July 2nd to work at Ranchouse Restaurant.   

The details of this answer to our many prayers probably had been shared with our parents in a phone call home and therefore not written in a letter.  But I will do my best here to reconstruct what led to this opportunity for us.