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.

Another connection for my brother and me was our horse, Patches.
Jim on Patches in the front yard of our farm home near Fountain City, WI
Linda on Patches at the edge of a field adjacent to the barn.
The horse had probably been bought primarily for Jim when he was in his "I want to grow up and be a cowboy" stage of his childhood.  I shared part of that phase of his life also.  I assisted as he began to gather boards, select a spot for the bunkhouse of his "ranch" and then as he began to build.  His structure advanced partially up on at least 3 sides in the corner of the orchard along the fence line.  It may even still be there as it was well constructed.

I'm quite sure I loved Patches as much or more than anyone else in our family.  I have lots of great memories of riding him to the pasture to round up the cows or of saddling him in order to give rides to younger cousins and friends who pleaded for that opportunity.  I could saddle Patches by myself when quite young so felt proud of that ability.  Patches was a bit testy but I loved and enjoyed my gallops with him around our farm.  

Sometimes I would be welcomed into Jim's room to help him prepare for tests.  He would have me quiz him on facts, listen to his spelling or assist as he learned his German vocabulary and verb conjugations.
John and Linda as they announced their engagement.
When he came home from college, he would let me listen to many stories about life at UW-Madison.  Maybe that is why I applied to go there myself three years after he entered.  When he was home for Easter break during the spring of my senior year in high school, he told me of a friend of his whom he wanted me to meet. They were friends through Badger Christian Fellowship - the Inter-Varsity Chapter at UW-Madison.  This common commitment to Christian faith was the most valued of all the elements that kept us drawn together in friendship. 

The friend's name was John Worden.  I would meet him, we would fall in love and we would get married 3 years after I entered UW-Madison.
Carolyn, not in uniform, ranked higher than Jim

My wedding was scheduled for August 20, 1966.  That was in the middle of the Viet Nam War.  Many young men were being drafted.  My brother would have been drafted but decided to enlist in the Air Force along with his wife.  Both of them enlisted in 1966.  Jim was sent to basic training in San Antonio, TX and was there for the summer.  Unfortunately, Jim was unable to  attend my wedding which was held in John's home church in Madison, WI.

So there were many ties between my brother and me.  We were and are great friends.  Missing his wedding, the first for the 5 of us in our family, was very difficult but having the newly weds come to Estes Park on their honeymoon was something for which I am very grateful.
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.

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