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Marie Stalser

Country of Birth:

United States

Year of birth: 1962

Places of Residence:


CH 1 ~ The Sherry Years (1983-1990)

Sherry's grave site
Most people are interesting in one way or another but the woman I am about to tell you about was one of a kind, by far, hands down, no question about it! Sherry was a teacher with my husband, Brad, for 7 of her 8 years, at the elementary school, the grades 4-6 building. Since he was the youngest teacher hired into the 6th grade mix and Sherry was 10 years his senior, if that, the two of them and their classes were paired together for various school activities. The other two 6th grade teachers were older, had children, and had taught in the district longer. For those reasons, and scheduling, Brad & Sherry, linked their classes together for lunch, recess, outings, and programs; any way the four classes needed to be grouped into two. Needless to say, Brad & Sherry worked closely together so, of course, when moving into a completely new area extra curricular activities, at least for the first several months and subsequently years, involved getting together with Sherry and her husband Doug. The year was 1983 and Brad & I had just started dating and thinking of ourselves as a couple, as we'd met in the summer, just weeks prior, in July. The game Trivia Pursuit was a new game catching on like wildfire and all the craze. We spent many enjoyable times playing the board game with them on Friday or Saturday evening, more so after we married and I moved to town and alcohol was never spared from our get-togethers. We later learned Sherry's husband was alcoholic, as well as a pot-head and probably had other chemical addictions we were unaware of. Reflecting on this at a more mature age, it wouldn't surprise me if Doug was dealing too. Nonetheless, we had an absolute blast with those two discussing current events and arguing the solutions to the world's problems, as well as religion, politics, education, marriage and human relations even. Some of our conversations were intense, to say the least, and lasted the entire evening. The two teachers had fun discussing work. One thing that sticks out in my mind was Sherry's favorite form of discipline for a wayward student. She explained standing kids in corners really did nothing. Her punishment was the ol' "air-chair" routine; sit in an invisible chair for 5 mins. Nothing hard about that, right? Try it. I'd much rather stand in a corner for an entire day than "sit" in an air-chair for 5 mins. We got comfortable with each other and closer than most couple-friends dare, probably too close, looking back. The conversation flowed easily and readily and no subject was off limits. They shared many thoughts and views, including insight into their bedroom that we could have done without. Their claim to fame as husband and wife was that they had made love every day of their 10 year marriage. My husband and I, were take aback, dumbfounded, and in the wildest side of our imaginations could not decipher that. Though impressive, I challenged them saying that just couldn't be the case they had to be mistaken, but neither backed down and were quite proud of it. Doug asked us, "Look at it this way. Which would you rather do, sleep or make love?" Brad & I, sitting on their couch, in unison chimed, "SLEEP!!" It was evident that each couple was matched perfectly for each other.

Sherry and Brad were both 6th grade teachers, I a nurse, and Doug did not work. He had a back injury and his source of income was unemployment/disability. He was taking classes at K-State to be a H.S. social studies teacher, a driver's ed teacher and coach. His biggest interest though was partying so when he got a D.U.I., it blew all chances of him becoming a driver's ed instructor. So, he quit going to college. Doug & Sherry had no children. That was a good thing because they hadn't grown up yet. They owned a split-level home that appeared as though 10 and 12 year old children had run a muck for years without parents; a Lord Of The Flies situation indoors. I remember Doug anxiously awaiting the Atari 5200 gaming system for purchase. They had an Atari 2600, as did a lot of people, but the 5200 unit could do much more and could accept cartridges of all sorts of games. Doug even talked Brad into buying one but we didn't play it much. They really really enjoyed games and I think because we played with them so often it made me a better parent in that I made sure we played lots of games once we had our children and they were old enough.

When we were invited over things would usually be picked up but never what anyone would call clean. They vacuumed the floor and cleared the living room. I never saw dishes not piled in the kitchen sink. They had a newer home but it was modest and there was no dishwasher. Walls, especially around light switches were smudged up and dirty like nothing I've really ever seen out of adults. The walls were scuffed, the bathroom atrocious; the entire interior of the house needed to be repainted. They not only allowed their dog to drink from the open toilet but taught "Smoke" to do so, that way they didn't have to fill a water bowl. Smoke was a dark gray poodle mix of some kind.... a sweet dog, but a real lazy thing. There was a cat too that I can't remember but I do know was present because the house had cat odor. Incense masked it long enough to ensure us a great time while we hung out there. Their basement was unfinished but they had large fish tanks and black lights with black fuzzy velvet & neon colored posters hanging up on the basement walls and old upholstered chairs setting around. They had the largest freezer I have ever seen anywhere, the size of trailer homes in the 1950's! They were making payments on it, $26/month for 5 years. We were money conscious and wonder if they ever really thought about that and which one did the math and thought it was a good idea. They had a garden in the summer and grew lots of zucchini. Sherry made up zucchini bread and froze 40+ loaves. They hit the bread store too and got day old bread but still had only about 1/3 of that freezer filled.

During our first summer as a married couple, we had a garage sale with them. We had one at their house first, and one at our rented home on Pine Street next. We were just married and moved in together after returning from our honeymoon in July, 1983. We packed up all our duplicate items, things we didn't need or want, and priced them with masking tape price tags. Many things were given to us or we got them from garage sales, or had them left from college, and with many new things as wedding gifts we surely wanted to get rid of our used things. Selling them and making a little bit of money made good sense to us. We priced most things for what we'd paid for them a few years prior, when we bought them at yard sales. When we arrived, we set our things out on tables with their stuff. We sold and sold and sold things. It was a productive day. I believe we sold $130's worth of stuff, which was GREAT, considering our rent was $140/month. We almost made our next month's rent! Doug and Sherry on the other hand, well, I'd noticed when we put our things with theirs they didn't have a real good selection of quality items. For example, I saw them hang up a wrinkled sheet of burlap, about the size of a large cookie sheet, with a price tag of $1.00. It was sewn on the top so that a wooden dowel would thread through it, and a string suspended it. It was the crappiest thing I think I've ever seen at a garage sale. I asked what it was, I mean, for a dollar?? Really?? Sherry said it was a bulletin board. Okaaaay. I think they made $1.35, but that burlap piece didn't sell. No surprise there! I made the comment that we sure had a good sale. Doug said, "Yeah, but you 'gave' all your stuff away; you priced it so cheap." I told him that was the idea, to downsize and get rid of stuff. They just didn't get the concept. Peculiar how people could separate our things from theirs and buy only ours.

They held parties and gatherings at their home frequently. Several of their party stories come to mind when I think of those years. I wasn't present for this gathering but I really chuckle to myself when I think about Sherry. One of the funniest stories she told me about was a predicament she was in. She and Doug had a group of only men over to play cards with the two of them. I believe she said there were 4 plus the two of them. They were all seated around the kitchen table playing only she had a dreadful case of, well, gas. As they got into the game she knew she had to pass gas so she got up and went to the bathroom, fart, and came back. She did this time and time again where she'd excuse herself from the game and come back to the table. After numerous trips they asked what was wrong, why she kept leaving. She admitted that she was going to the bathroom to fart. The guys being guys told her that wasn't a reason to hold the game up but she kept up the routine, continuing to go to the bathroom to pass gas. They got angry at her and they all insisted she just let 'em rip and not hold up the game. Sherry said these guys were quite insistent so the next time she felt the urge she just stayed put. But, the stink was a lot worse than they had expected; so bad they were coughing and gagging and carrying on about how horrible it was. It was so bad they actually ended the card game and left. That really makes me laugh. Doug and Sherry threw an annual Halloween party at their house where they provided a keg set up outdoors, directly in back of the house. Those parties were well attended and everyone dressed in costumes so you weren't real sure who you were partying with but it was so much fun seeing the crazy costumes. We didn't know many of the people in attendance anyhow. Two different years we brought some of our friends from Topeka so we'd know someone and they had a blast as well! One year we went as a patient and a nurse. Brad was the nurse. The drunker they guys got the more friendly they got with Brad. At one point he was sitting on the couch and some guy was rubbing his knee. Oh my! One particular party we attended at their house was one with people we weren't at all accustomed to hanging out with, and can't say we'd be comfortable yet today if we were in the same situation. Bikers! Biker chicks and long-haired biker dudes, not polished but rough around the edges, sporting tattoos long before tats were popular among the general population. Brad and I usually stuck fairly close to one another at any given party but at this party, with so many bikers we didn't leave one another's side. We were in the kitchen with the gals and these special ladies were talking up their tattoos and getting to know one another by rolling up a sleeve, lifting up a pant leg, or pulling aside their collar, showing off their tattoos. They were bragging about their most recent one and their favorite one. The conversation and show continued around the kitchen with these 5 or 6 women when Brad pops off and announces, "Lyla has a tattoo!" If I'd had dentures they would've dropped in my drink. I couldn't imagine what, besides alcohol, would make him say that! I quickly rebutted, "I do NOT!!" to which he replied, "Honey, don't be shy. You can show them. We're among friends." Now, just to be clear, I did not then, nor do I now, have a tattoo! But, these women, unlike anyone else, were not about to take my word over his. Anyone who knows the two of us would agree people are going to believe Brad over me, at any given time. He is quiet and trustworthy and genuine. These leather-clad women started reassuring me that, of course, we were among friends and they wanted to see my tattoo; body art that I couldn't produce and that they were beginning to insist on viewing, due to Brad's continuously one-upping me each time I told him to stop and tell the truth. He kept saying that I shouldn't be embarrassed to show them. That just egged them on, causing curiosity to challenge them on a quest to find something that simply wasn't there. Two began adjusting my clothing, asking where it was, and all the time I am firmly maintaining that "I do NOT have a tattoo!!". They're trying to peek down inside the collar of my blouse, asking if it was on my breast. The situation was becoming uncomfortable and was escalating into a scenario that was soon to be out of my control. I turned to Brad, who was honestly a fairly new boyfriend at the time, and whispered, "You'd better tell these people that I don't have a tattoo before they strip me naked, have me pinned on the kitchen floor, looking for something that's not there!" He gave them a sheepish straight answer, that I didn't have a tattoo. They backed off and abandoned the search but I am certain they still believed that I had one hidden secretly on my body and wasn't willing to show it.

Sherry was raised in Nebraska; Hastings, I believe. She was adopted by a minister, Clarence Stankey, and his wife, in the early 50's and raised as an only child. She told how her dad wrote his sermons on the way to church on Sunday mornings and nearly wrecked the car on several occasions, and how strict she was raised. I never met her dad or her mom. She had been married before Doug, at age 18, she said simply to get away from her parents. I don't think the marriage lasted through her college years or if she started college after she divorced. Seems like she said it lasted less than 2 years. I can't remember where she met Doug but the two of them were dysfunctionally functioning. He was taking classes but she wrote his papers and did his homework. She went to school for a Master's degree and no more finished when she started earning Doug's degree for him. Doug was intelligent and knowledgeable; seemed to know something about everything, or so he'd have you think. He certainly had an opinion on every subject, showered you with spit splatters the more drank, and didn't back down from anything. Sherry was perpetually late to work and usually looked like she just rolled out of bed and slept in what she was wearing. She wore heavy make up, had frizzy bleach blonde hair, and donned dresses a lot. Her slip hung at the bottom of her hem always; I'm not sure I ever saw her wear a dress when I didn't see 1/2"-4" of her slip. She wore garage sale clothing and her shoes never fit quite right. She was color-challenged with the outfits she put together. Her shoes rarely matched her dress. One could identify her coming closer with eyes closed or back turned because she had an unmistakable clatter-clomping sound, like the beating of a deaf percussionist. If the cause wasn't her mis-sized second-hand shoes she wore it might have been her web toes. Her second and third toes on both feet were fused, a peculiar site when she wore flip-flops, referred to still then as thongs. I think of her occasionally and how her clomping continued to ring throughout the school long after she was gone from there.

Sherry was a pretty woman with a contagious smile and laugh, and a zest for life and did not want to accept getting older. We later learned the secret to that 10 year sexual marathon; she had an insatiable desire, which eventually did not work to her advantage. Ever remember watching a movie called Looking For Mr. Goodbar? This gal lived that movie, in real life fashion, nearly flawlessly. She was a teacher who loved to party and be around people. And, she was a good teacher; Brad could attest to that. We were married in June of 1984 and spent about 2 years after that, living in town, renting a home, and continued inviting Sherry & Doug over and accepting their invitation to join them in their home for drinks and games or conversation. We had a falling out one weekend when they were at our house and Doug began teasing our cat. He was holding her head down on the couch, firmly. She obviously felt threatened, as any animal would, and began to kick and scratch at the soft, underside of his forearm. She had only back claws but knew what they were for. She scratched him violently and he allowed her to continue rather than being the bigger "person" and walking away from the brawl. She inflicted deep scratch wounds at least 7 or 8 times and nearly the entire length of his forearm. We watched this power struggle fury between man and feline until he was dripping blood and urged him to let her go long before he actually did! An argument ensued that it was our cat's fault and they left, upset, with his arm wrapped in a tea towel. I remember looking at Brad after they left saying, "What just happened there?" We decided he had to have been high on something because no one sits calmly allowing an animal to maul your flesh like that. It was years before we tried to get together with them again. By that time, we'd purchased a house outside of the city limits and had other friends. Some we met through church and school and others were friends who lived in Topeka and we met on weekends. I believe Doug and Sherry were only in our home in the country once before things went sour for the two of them.

Doug & Sherry had taken out bankruptcy at some point near the end of their marriage. They had so much credit card debit they couldn't begin to ever get it paid off. When they went to file, their lawyer told them that anything they charged on their credit cards for the days prior to their decree being processed they wouldn't have to pay back. That's sure not something someone with spending issues should be told. Sherry bought a lot of new sweaters and clothes that weekend and told it at school on Monday. Not cool. Sherry had become pregnant but miscarried early. In the months that followed these two events there were scuffles at home and confrontations at school between the two of them. Their arguments were overheard carrying throughout the area of Sherry's classroom, after school. When that happened a few times Doug was asked by the principal not to return to the school. There were whispers that there was serious trouble with the two of them, but that was a conclusion, but not one difficult to draw. Brad updated me regularly with reports for several weeks when it was told that neighbors saw Sherry running down the street, naked, with her clothes in her arms, crying and screaming for help. The police came to her aid and we got wind that it wasn't the first time the police had been called there. When their marriage fell apart Sherry moved out. That summer she spent working in a homeless shelter, assisting those needing to learn to read. That's the story she told. We believe she had no where to go and the capitol city's rescue mission provided ways and means for Sherry that she could cleverly take advantage of without anyone from our little town knowing: A support system after the divorce, not to mention a place to sleep. A sense of purpose by assisting others there, doing what she knew to do, teach! And, access to night-life with a quick drive back from the college hill bars. Although she drank very little, she enjoyed being in the bar scene, as most had music and dancing and young people.

After the divorce, Sherry's car quit. She needed a new one, but had bad credit at that point. Her dad came to her rescue by helping her purchase a new one. Interest rates were real low, an unheard of 1 1/2%. Free interest wasn't a thing yet then. She got a 1989 baby blue, flat paint, Ford Tempo. They had an arrangement where he took the loan out in his name but she made the payments. There was also some sort of an insurance policy they took out. The loan would be forgiven if he died; the car would be instantaneously paid in full. She was deliriously happy about finally having a nice car to drive. I don't remember how she met Dan but he was an EMT. She moved in with him and spent a few short weeks in the early part of the summer at his place. It was a short-lived relationship though we did meet him a couple of times. He had a home of his own and was a stable "normal" guy. We think Dan peeled back the outer Sherry surface which revealed this woman was not whom he thought she was and asked her to leave. She spent the rest of the summer in the shelter, in Topeka, as far as we knew, and met Darrell there. I'm not sure where she was staying when school started back in the Fall but she and Darrell hit it off. This sounds crass, and it is, but Sherry had a streak of luck. Her father died of a massive heart attack that Fall and she was left with a house to live in and a new car paid in full. She could car-pool with other teachers who drove in from Manhattan. Her mother was alive but was in a nursing home suffering from severe dementia. Sherry wasted no time moving into her parents' house and with her she brought the young man named Darrell. Sherryl & Darrell. He was 26, she was 38. Though the two of them were comfortable with their ages they worried about what people would think if they were to know their true ages so they fibbed and said he was 2 years younger than her. They really weren't fooling anyone. Everyone knew better. I tried to get them to tell us the truth but they stuck to their story of him being just two years younger. These two lovebirds decided to make it official even! They were married in a matter of weeks, in her parents' home. Brad & I were the only two guests invited to the wedding. The other two in attendance were Anne, another teacher friend, who served as the maid of honor and Bill, Darrell's friend, was the best man. The minister came to the house and I was actually embarrassed for her, as there was no incense that would camouflage the cat odor in that dwelling. The cat that lived there obviously wore the pants in the family because he clearly relieved himself frequently, if not always, completely ignoring the liter box. The odor was almost visual and the smell nearly stung one's sinuses and eyes upon entering the place, making a person want to turn back and run before anyone saw that you had arrived. As the nuptial ceremony began and the minister said his spell, "If anyone can show just cause as to why these two should not be lawfully married then let them speak now, or forever hold their peace" I had to hold myself back from speaking because we knew this was a doomed union but I had nothing compelling to say about that. I had that gut-retching feeling that this was just wrong. Now, try to picture this; a card table set up just inside the front door, in the main room, holding the cake & punch and the minister's bible and keys. As Sherry was saying her vows that defiant cat moseyed under that table, within inches of their feet, assumed the position with intent to defecate on the carpet. In hind site, I should have just let it happen but instead saw the travesty about to permeate their space and ran to the rescue, sweeping the cat into hands and out of the room. The minister, bride, and groom never really realized what was about to present itself but it wouldn't have taken them long to figure that one out. Sherry looked more beautiful than I had ever seen her that day. She was genuinely happy and glowing and serious about this new chapter in her life, her third marriage. We invited Sherry & Darrell over for dinner one evening that Fall. I made pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy and a dessert. I was in the kitchen finishing the meal prep and setting the table when they arrived. Darrell wanted to show Brad something in the car. To this day, Brad does not know why but Darrell showed him that, in the trunk of the car, he had placed a couple of steel rods, about 18" long... for self defense maybe? And, he had a sack of long tub socks each knotted in the middle... a gag? I came out to call them for supper and I saw what Darrell was showing Brad. We didn't know what he was planning or why he'd showed us these things but we never had them over again!

When Sherry married Darrell in the summer of 1989 she basically married the best man as well, Darrell's friend Bill. Where Darrell went Bill followed. Bill was a even younger guy of only 23. The two men had became friends in the homeless shelter, but one in Oklahoma City, not Topeka. They moved to Topeka together to the rescue mission there. Bill was basically a lost pup when Darrell married Sherry. The two guys had survived for some time, depending on only each other for friendship. They had no jobs, and honestly didn't make any effort to find employment. Sherry would send Bill away and he'd leave for a few days but eventually found his way back into their home. He was with Darrell daily when Sherry was at work. Darrell's means of making money, at that point, was to sell things out of the house while Sherry was at school. She confided in Brad that she was growing tired of Darrell dropping her off at school, taking her car and selling off her parents' belongings from the house. One day Brad heard her on the phone during break. She was saying something to the effect of, "I didn't really want to sell the sewing was my mom's. Well... I wanted to keep the bench..... I guess if you can get $40 for it then go ahead and sell it." Sherry began missing a lot of school, after Christmas, saying she had diarrhea most of the times she would call off. She used her entire stock-pile of years' worth of sick leave and was to the point where her pay was being docked when she wasn't there. An average person would have dried up like a crispy discarded leather glove if they had as much diarrhea as she claimed to have had. We don't know if she was trying to get things settled between her and Darrell and get Bill out of their lives or if she was seeking legal counsel to pursue an annulment for her marriage, which she did eventually do... almost. Perhaps, she and Darrell were going to marriage counseling, working out their problems, as the following article would lead one to believe. However, I noticed there are several discrepancies in that article. School ended and it was summer break. We do not know how Sherry spent her summer break of 1990 except that she was working on ridding herself of Darrell and the third and last of her marriages. She did return to school the end of the summer and made it known that she and Darrell were history.

On Sept 7, 1990, a Friday, Sherry took the day off from school. She told fellow teachers she was going to Topeka to sign final papers for an annulment from Darrell. The marriage had lasted about a year, on paper. I really wonder how long they were happily married or if they ever were. She was not lucky in love and always picked the wrong man, make that men. She met with her lawyer in Topeka, as planned, then went to a bar called Sneakers. It was a smoldering hot day, as was that entire weekend. One police report shows that Sherry was last seen wearing a sleeveless black dress with brown beads. When she was found on Sunday morning she was wearing only a black slip. The principal phoned us Sunday about 4:30 p.m. saying he'd received a call from Topeka police telling him Sherry was found dead in the trunk of her car. It made us sick to think about it. That evening, on the 10 O'clock news, we saw her body zipped in a black bag, being removed from the area where her car had been abandoned, probably Friday night. We were just creeped out! There's no other way to describe the immediate nausea that struck me when I heard the news. I was unable to go to the funeral. I was in RN school and had a mandatory conference 4 hours away. Brad was a pallbearer and the principal that Sherry had taught under most of the time she was at that school, Bob, returned to give the eulogy. He stayed with us the night before the funeral, as he'd left the area to become "The Kansas Man", a self-employed traveling educator/presenter, at different schools in Kansas. The middle school was in the process of being built and Bob read me the eulogy he had written. In it, he concluded that he hoped and prayed that the new school would be named, "Sherry Crowder Middle School." I really could have been knocked over with a tap on the back. I hadn't expected that. The idea didn't carry and the school has no official name other than the town's name. After the funeral, Brad came home and told me it was a sad funeral. Sherry had a white casket and it remained closed. The gals, one of whom I knew from class,worked at the nursing home Sherry's mother was residing in, were asked to i.d. the body from pictures. What they described was horrible, that she wasn't really even recognizable. Brad said Doug was having a harder time at the funeral than Darrell, which is understandable. He was an emotional guy and knew Sherry and cared about her for a lot longer than Darrell. I liked Doug, but he had some messed up ways of thinking. He's now sober and I'm sure that's helped him a lot. I ran into him a few years ago and he was employed full time at Home Depot. Months passed after Sherry's death and in March of 1991 I was home when the phone rang sometime after lunch. It was someone from a credit card company wanting to know if I knew the whereabouts of Sherry because she'd not paid her credit card bill or answered any correspondence requesting payment for several months. I told the caller Sherry had been murdered in September. It was the first time I said the words. I had a friend that had been murdered. Surreal, to say the least. We discovered that Sherry had put Brad's name down as a point of contact on several documents. We later heard, from staff at the school she taught in, that in the evenings, when it was quiet, they would hear Sherry walk around the school with the same unmistakable clambering that was indicative of her walking in her heels. The janitor said it was really unnerving until she started yelling out loudly, "Sherry STOP IT!" and the noise would stop like it was manually turned off. Eventually, Sherry walking the halls ceased altogether but the employees of the building that heard her walking in the school after her death would go to their graves arguing that it was caused by nothing or no one except Sherry.

As I mentioned before, this is a link to the article in the Capitol Journal. It is not entirely truthful. I know for a fact that she lived in her parents home without them present. It says the autopsy findings showed that she'd been assaulted but the police report we saw said there was semen on her clothing and body but no force, so she wasn't raped the evening she was attacked. No one will ever know what really happened but Sherry, God, & Peter Spencer. Oh, and it tells that he was given "Life". That's not true. He was sentenced to the "Hard 40", only to be released in 7 years, which makes no sense. He was released from prison and 18 months, or so later, he killed a man in Kansas City. That's when he was sentenced to Life. As for Darrell and Bill, only the wind knows where they drifted off to. We don't know if he got any money from Sherry or if the annulment went through or if she was still legally married to him at the time of her death. If she was, KPERS would have awarded him the rest of her school year's salary, $30+ thousand dollars. Darrell didn't dare stay around Manhattan though. The entire town knew some of what he had put Sherry through, the stress she was under the last year of her life. When she died the town had tried and convicted him before Peter Spencer was ever found. I told my husband we should not support that theory and should not join in the gossip and put Darrell down because "what if he's innocent?" And, he was!

Copy and paste the following into your URL address window to read the article.
End chapter 1

CH 2 ~ Heaven Sent to Rainbows

First ever pic together at that anniv dance Karl wouldn't go to. Aug 1983
Brad & I met and married within a year's time. July 15, 1983 I met my husband at a nightclub in Topeka. I moved to Topeka in November 1980, after High School, and went to LPN school at Kaw Valley Technical School, graduating in 1982, Feb. I took a job at a local nursing home when it was offered to me. That job was like the 2 other previous nursing jobs and several others after that I worked and never looked for. I had several friends that lived in Topeka and we enjoyed going out to the bars & clubs on the weekends. The evening I met Brad, Barb Kongs and I had decided to go out together. She reassured me there were a lot of nice guys out there and after breaking it off with Karl I needed a great night out. We decided on the newest club in town that was gaining attention and becoming popular with young single people especially. She said there were a lot of cute guys there. I'd never been but Barb had. We decided to meet there at 7:00p to get a good seat for the evening. This new club required a membership to set the place a notch above all the other plain and regular bars in town. A few required memberships, the ones that served drinks and not just beer, but those were usually creepy old-men-in-ties, after-work clubs that young people didn't want to join. That was probably the idea. But, Rainbows' only requirement was that you wait until the next day for your free membership to be valid and that you wore a collared shirt. No T-shirts. Barb and I had a lot of catching up to do and we had a couple of drinks before the night really got started. I would guess it was about 8:00-8:30p when the place started really filling up and we both were glad we had sense to come early and snag the table we had; a table for four. As we sat across from one another it became more difficult to visit, as the music and crowd were making it a challenge to hear the person next to you. Two guys approached our table, leaned in, and one asked, "Would you ladies mind if we shared your table with you?" They looked respectable, everyone did, because they were all wearing collars, but Barb looked at me and said, "Its okay with me if its okay with you!?" I was fine with it so Barb moved on the left side of me and the guys each took an open seat, Brad sitting to my right. I thought they wanted to sit with us because we were two girls they thought maybe they'd like to get to know better AND we had a table. Come to find out, we were two gals that had a table AND their good friends had one next to ours. Barb and I chatted and the two young men chatted on their side of the table. They ignored us and we ignored them for at least 15-20 mins. Brad and I broke the ice when the two of us nearly broke our glasses. We each had reached to blindly set our drinks back on the table and both chose the same spot on to set them. They really clanked together... loudly! We both apologized a number of times for our clumsiness and explained that we weren't paying attention to what we were doing. My drink was blue and in a hurricane glass over ice. Brad recognized it and asked me if it was a Blue Hawaiian. I like sweet, foo foo drinks and that was what I was had, complete with pineapple wedge and a little paper umbrella. We started talking and he told me how he'd been to Hawaii when his brother Scott lived there. He told me his name was Brad and I told him my only sibling was named Brad and that I loved my brother so much didn't get to see him much because he was in the Marine Corps. He told me he had graduated and was a teacher and had his first teaching job. We talked and danced the evening away. We danced to Mick Jagger & David Bowie's Dancing in the Street, ( )and I asked him if he'd ever been to a street dance. He said he had not and I told him I would take him to a street dance some time. We had a blast getting acquainted. The friend Tim told Barb that Brad NEVER had never seen Brad talk to a girl before and honestly couldn't believe what he was seeing. He probably found the whole process very interesting. We ended turning to face one another and chatting. By the end of the evening we kind of had hold of hands. We eventually realized that we were not the reason they sat with us but their friends were fine and one (Bob Caroll)even bought everyone a round. The night ended and I think we both wished it would have lasted longer. We slow danced several dances and kissed on the dance floor. I asked Brad now who's idea that was? He said, "I think it was mutual." That was something I sure never made a habit of, especially after one incident in Topeka.

My friend Janet and I drove to Topeka and spent the weekend with Barb Kongs, I think was the way it was. We were just barely 18 and we went bar hopping. Barb took us to The Old Weigh Station. It was a 21 club that served alcoholic drinks, not just beer. The place was 3 stories with 3 floors of seating and dancing on the first 2 floors. The coolest place I'd ever seen! It had a flowing water system in a trough that ran from the middle floor to the main floor in which it then flowed around in a large circular trough. There were some plants growing around it. It wasn't like other bars and I've really not been in a restaurant or bar like it since. I was never much for dancing. I'd usually just passed, saying I didn't want to dance if someone asked. Janet and Barb were dancers. Well, a thin black man with big lips came over to our table and asked me to dance. Janet said she was tired because she'd been out on the dance floor for a long while and wanted to sit but Lyla can dance with you. I didn't want to but Janet insisted that I dance with him... practically threw me out on the dance floor. And, it was a slow dance. I really really didn't want to dance but did. Janet was watching me dance and laughing and laughing. This guy must have decided to give them something to laugh about because he pressed his lips to mine before I even knew it was happening. Janet laughed so hard it was just hilarious to them. After that, I don't remember slow dancing with strangers. It was out of character anyway. But, Brad had my attention. He was heaven sent, an answer to my prayers.

Brad asked if I wanted his phone number, which no one did then, so I said no. But, I gave him mine and he said for him to call me. Most guys called the next day but he didn't. The next day he didn't call so on Sunday I set out on a quest to find his name and number. I knew he was Brad and I knew he lived in the north part of Topeka and I knew his last name started with "B". Enough to go on, right? Not necessarily. I called a few numbers, only ones with North Topeka prefixes and simply asked if Brad was there. I knew this guy was a good thing didn't want to let this opportunity pass me by and end back with Karl. I was mad at myself for not taking his number, at that point. I was getting nowhere and the last one I called had a Brad. I asked to talk to him. The voice wouldn't. I asked again and he said, "How old is the Brad you're looking to talk to?" I said, "23." He said, "Our Brad is 12." I gave up trying to find him on my own and called April. She looked him up in her yearbook and said, "Brad Bowser, but he's not very cute!" I said I didn't care. I knew what he looked like. I called him and he was home packing for a camping trip, leaving the next morning. We talked for 2 hours. I obviously took him away from what he was doing. He told me he'd get with me when he got back in a week. Seemed like a long time but I held onto that hope the entire week. He sent me a postcard from Crested Butte, Colorado. When he returned he called me and I was planning on a date the day he got back! Instead, he had a date with his buddy, Tim, the guy he was with the night we met. He said he was leaving for a job in Ohio and he wasn't going to get to see him much. I was quite disappointed and asked if I could just go with them. He was hesitant but I was relayed my disappointment and he caved in and said he'd come get me. Brad showed up at my door to get me, holding his neck, and was real nervous. His eyes were shaking back and forth uncontrollably and he was talking too fast for me to even understand. Something about his nick hurting. If he hadn't been holding his the back of his neck I'd not known what he was saying. He'd been rear-ended at a stop light and his car had damage, as well as his "nick". So, we started our first date by going to the police station to fill out an accident report and with a third wheel. The night sure didn't start out as most first dates do. I pushed my way into it and he said I could but it wasn't really fair, to Tim. In hindsight, it could have cost me the relationship, but too, Brad was entering the work force as a single white male in a few short weeks, starting adult life, away from H.S. friends. It worked the way it was suppose to. God sees to that, as he answered my prayers by putting this guy in my life and me in his. We chatted and got to know a little more about one another. Things were going well when he told me that he was in a predicament. He had met a woman on a cruise he and his friend Harold had taken. Her name was Donna Kaye and they'd spent time on a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise, the ship called Skyward, in January. They had been writing one another and were planning a get-together. She was going to fly to Kansas and he would pick her up and bring her back to his parents' house for a visit. I told him that he had to call her and tell her she shouldn't come, if he thought we had any chance at all. He said he didn't know what to do about it but I told him it wasn't fair for him to allow her to purchase a ticket only for him to tell her he'd met me when she got here. He said he didn't know He told me he'd take me to Hawaii on our honeymoon, if we ended up getting married. Tim visited for awhile then played pool part of the time Brad and I were sitting alone at the table, milking the pitcher of beer, and talking. He brought me a little cactus in a pot from Colorado. That was special. He later said he and his brother bought it in a grocery store when they went in for food and beer.

On Saturday afternoon, Brad invited me to go to Keifer's in Lawrence, an audio store with all sorts of expensive audio equipment. He bought an entire system. The salesman asked us if we wanted to see the latest and greatest in audio/stereo equipment. He took us to a back room or the basement,off the showroom anyway, and showed us a compact disc player. He explained that a beam of light read the music rather than a regular record player with a needle and that these compact discs were much smaller than a record and were going to replace record albums. Interesting, but it'll never catch on.. was going through my mind. I wish I could remember the exact cost. It was expensive, that I remember! He told me I should come back and see it when he got it set up. The next evening, Sunday, I drove out to his house. It had been a couple of years since I dated someone that lived with their parents so that was an odd feeling. But, I went anyway. When I arrived, Tim and Brad were pulling into the driveway. They had been to a movie. He confessed to me later that he'd asked Tim, as he got out of his car, "How am I going to get rid of this girl?" I'd like to think that Tim would have said, "What's wrong with you? Why would you want to get rid of HER?" When I get something new I put it together right away so I figured it was good to go. And, I wouldn't have ever showed up if he hadn't told me to come over. That week, Barb and I went to the movies with Brad and Tim. It was an okay time, nothing spectacular. After the movie the guys teased that they wanted to take us to the submarine races at Lake Shawnee. We knew there weren't submarine races at the lake. The lake isn't deep enough, for one thing. But we played along and went to the lake with them. It was pretty dark so we didn't even see the water really. Tim left and moved to Ohio for his first job as an engineer. Within about the next week's time Brad too moved to Belvue for his first teaching job, in Wamego. He rented a small apartment. The building had been a school and converted into several apartments. His rent was $190 and he still had to pay utilities on top of that. There were no cell phones and it was 35 miles from Topeka. Calling each other was expensive so we called every few days. I was a lot cheaper to drive up to go to dinner and drive back, spending at least an evening together, than an hour on the phone. We had large phone bills. I don't think it was love at first site for either of us. But,

I kind of wasn't as crazy about him as he was me. Getting used to someone new as oposed to
End chapter 2

CH 3 ~ I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW, the fog is gone

LPN 1982
I met Karl at a very large popular disco called Mr. K's, in Topeka, on a Saturday night in February of 1982. It was not my favorite hang out but the place hosted Nemaha county night the third Thursday of every month and we usually went there at least once a weekend, for awhile. The night life in Topeka, in those days, was huge. There were so many places in that city for young people to go and dance and have drinks with friends that we rarely, if ever, went to and stayed in one place for an entire evening. The Nemaha county evenings always proved to be fun; like being in Seneca, only in Topeka, with all the people I was used to seeing at school, church, or wedding dance from my teen years. Karl was a friend of April's and had met there some time before. April introduced us, we shared his table, and he and I started talking when she wandered away talking to others. I don't know what happened to Alan. We chatted, danced a little, and exchanged numbers only he was missing a tooth in front. I really wondered about that. He didn't look honest with that tooth missing. He'd broke it on a Jolly Rancher hard candy. He worked at Wolf Creek Energy Center as an electrician. He was 26 and single, never been married and had no children. My friends did not like him but when you like someone, have fun going out with them doing things you both enjoy,its hard to see that there's a problem. Karl wasn't a college graduate and he wasn't a friendly sort of guy. He was an outdoors man and trapped, had run a marina with his dad, liked to watch TV and go to movies and out to eat. But, he didn't like the bar scene so we didn't go. I found this very odd since we'd met in a disco with a huge lighted dance floor.

broke up with my boyfriend of nearly 2 years just two days before meeting Brad. I prayed so hard, nearly constant for 2 days, to not let me be lonely. I like having a man in my life but not the wrong one.

Alan was gay but was not out of the closet. I mean, he never told me directly but it was not difficult to come to that conclusion. He gave me the number to the gay hotline in Topeka. I thought he gave it to me because I'd get a kick out of it or something. I didn't know why but, as I said, I was pretty naive. I should have asked him if he was trying to tell me something. That's now apparent. He loved clothes and outfits. He was a sharp dresser. When the punk-rocker stage came along he went nuts! I ran into him and another guy who had his hair spiked and punked out! They were a sight!! We kind of lost track of one another about 1983 when I met Brad. But he told a story that I just didn't know what to think of at the time. His brother Roger was a year older than Alan. These guys were raised in Corning, Kansas. They lived in a nice house with their much older brother, who owned the house. They paid him rent and worked at UPS and made good money. They were taking Washburn classes but not going to school full time, if I remember correctly. Roger was not gay, not in the least. He liked women, lots! My uncle once told me I went through boyfriends like people do a box of Kleenex. With Roger, it would have been a travel size during hay fever season. He always had a girl but I never saw him with the same one more than once. Alan told me this story but he never related it to anyone. He told of a guy he knew had taken a girl home from a club and they had slept together. When the guy awoke she was gone but on his bathroom mirror, in lipstick, was written, "Welcome to the World of AIDS". Now, keep in mind, this was early into the AIDS epidemic and Syphilis and Gonorrhea had all but been extinguished or it wasn't a problem among the people I hung around with. I don't know of anyone ever saying they had it or knew someone that did. "Protection" was used to prevent pregnancy and most young women that were sexual active were on birth control pills. Condom use was just not pushed like it is today. Alan said this guy had a blood test and was found to be HIV pos. I heard that Roger later developed full blown AIDS and he died April 12, 1995, when I was pregnant and Reid was a little boy. There's little question that the lipstick message wasn't written for Roger on his bathroom mirror.

As I said, people did not like Karl. They thought he was trying to isolate me from my friends and family. I still to this day don't feel that was the case. We were just at different points in our lives. I was still interested in going out to the bars and having a nightlife. He didn't. We lived 32 miles apart so one had to drive for us to see one another. I spent most of my days off at his place. He had a trailer house and it was quiet and peaceful. I liked to cook and he liked to eat. I was working as an GPN until I failed my state boards the first time. That was a huge disappointment. 22 points missing from my score to pass. My friend scored 4 points above and made it. Our instructors told us not to study, that there was no way TO study. That was really poor advice. I bought a book and studied it at Karl's place. When I took the boards the second time I passed with flying colors. A score of over 450 allowed one to be licensed in numerous states. I more than doubled my score, as I'd earned a 496. One day, Karl and I had any number of fights. Most were because I wanted to go out to the bars and be around people of my own age, 20. Or, buy some alcohol at the liquor store. He just wasn't a drinker. And, as I write this, I could care less about drinking alcohol ever, for the rest of my life. I feel God knew it wasn't right and was guiding me to see clearly. If I'd married Karl, it would have been disastrous. We really weren't much alike on values and morals. He did go to church with if we were together on Sunday evening. I liked to attend Mass on Sunday evening at Most Pure Heart. They had a very very informal Mass for young people, almost like they have now for a few in the nursing home. We sat on the floor if we chose and guitar players provided the music. Karl liked to go to flea markets and eat crab legs. Those two things I passed on to Brad. I think Brad and Karl could have actually been friends if they knew one another but that, of course, never happened. I had hopes and dreams and he really had no desire to ever leave Lyndon, KS. I was praying about this relationship I was in with Karl. Thank goodness God never gives up on someone because he sure helped me see clearer, with my friend Amy's help. I had lunch with a classmate, in Seneca. We talked about the guys in our lives and I told her that no one really liked Karl. She said, "That doesn't really matter, Lyla. Its what you think! Just don't let him treat you like 'shit'. I see so many girls whose boyfriends treat them like shit and they do nothing, just stay and put up with it." I quickly popped up and said, "Oh no, he doesn't." I think this was on a Tues. Amy and I had never had lunch together before and we never did afterwards. But, her words "just don't let him treat you like shit" really echoed in my conscious; just kept coming back to me." Karl and I had been arguing about my aunt and uncle's wedding anniversary dance. I wanted to go and he didn't want to take me. He said I could go, but he didn't want to. My mom even called one time, thinking I was there, and wanted to talk to me. She asked if we were going and he told her no, he wasn't taking me to it. In hind site, I don't really blame him for not wanting to drive 2 1/2 hours to go to something that was for one evening and him not knowing anyone, when he worked 10 hours a day away from home, 5 days a week. But, it was the fact that I wanted him to go with me. My mom made the comment over the phone, "You'd better take her or she might just find someone else to go with!" That made him mad.

When I did arrive, he was stompin mad and confronted me about what my mom meant by that. I blew him off and told him I had no idea. When I entered the kitchen, he had empty pop bottles to be taken back to the store and recycled. Stores would give you 10c a bottle if you brought them back. There were lots of Pepsi bottles in cases. Some were broke. I asked him what had happened and he said he'd broke them after talking to my mom, that he was so mad. That was the first time he frightened me. In the next few days I was really questioning the longevity of our relationship. So, after that message from Amy popping into my mind over and over on the ride home, from Seneca to my place in Topeka, I decided to confront him, over the phone. I called him that evening and asked him, "So, are you going to go with me to my aunt and uncle's wedding anniversary dance?" He replied calmly but firmly, "I told you no and I'm not going to change my mind." This dance was a while off, at least 3 weeks away. I didn't stay on the phone long; I'd decided that if his answer was still no I was going break up with him. That was Tues. One Wednesday, I wrote him a long "Dear John" letter saying that though I loved him I could see no future for us and pointed out some of the differences in us. When he had attempted to months before that he asked me, "Do you know what the difference between you and me is?" I said, "Yes. I'm a woman and you're a man." He laughed and forgot what he was going to say. But, I know I was the cause of much frustration to him. I was too happy go lucky, liked to be around people and have a good time. He was older, more serious, and a loner. He said he'd never get married. But he did, not even a year after I did. I wonder where they went on their honeymoon!?

I would really piss him off at times though too. He had a Corvet but the interior was really beat up bad. He ordered this repair kit. It was a patch kit for the firm but spongy parts of an car interior, only one had to use a heat tool and sheets of plastic, heat it and mold it inside the appropriate texture mold, which was the size of a nickel, allow it to dry then peel it off and you had your patch that you could use the tool for again to place the patch and melt it into place over the hole. This patch kit was for something like a cigarette burn, not for entire pieces of a dashboard and doors that had 4"x6" jagged strips peeling and missing. I tried the technique a few times then kind of laughed and told him there was no way that was EVER going to work. It was just too large of an area he was trying to repair and it was going to look horrible when he was done. That did not set well with him, only served to make him mad. He didn't like to be told no and neither did I. I wanted to some day go to Hawaii. He told me rather mean-like that I would NEVER get to travel to Hawaii and that was a stupid idea that I even wanted to go there.

I wanted to get married and he did not... at that point. We went to an older couple's home and they had taken a double-wide trailer and put it on a basement foundation. They showed us around and Karl went with the man and the woman and I talked. I told her if we got married I'd probably move in with Karl, making very little changes, but save up money instead, to buy a home later on. We left and the next day he called me and chewed me out saying he wasn't ever going to get married and how could I have told that woman anything of the sort. My mistake! Apparently, the wife I'd talked to told the husband, the husband went to work and told other guys, and he got some harassing and couldn't take it so he came back and chewed me out. That was another reason I knew the relationship was doomed. We just weren't on the same page. He said he thought we should try dating other people. Oh, that's going to work! For whatever reason, he told me that he went to the secretary at work, placed a long stem rose on her desk, and asked her out. Now, he never did give me a rose! Or a card. Or candy, or even a gift! EVER. So imagine how that went over with me. I was deeply hurt. The "dating other people" didn't last long at all; a few weeks. We drifted back into each others' arms but we never did really get back on track, I never felt.

I think this just goes to show how far off and apart we were. You reap what you sow. Mine is looking at medicine as a career, is waiting for marriage to find her true love, and loves God above all things and isn't afraid to say so. Here's a different scenario:
End chapter 3

CH 4 ~ You Might Be a Nursing Student If...

When I was young my maternal grandmother was my biggest hero. She told me over and over that I was going to be a nurse. I went along with her, and agreed with her, when she asked, "You're going to be a nurse when you grow up, aren't you, Susie?" She gave me some type of nurse/doctor kit as a gift when I was little. She really instilled the nurse-thing in me often. I didn't think much of it after about 1st or 2nd grade until I was a Junior, and then again more seriously when a Senior in H.S. and was forced to make a career decision. I had been a home healthy aid for a couple in Seneca, he had cancer and she wanted to care for him at home. However, I was suppose to sleep on a cot in their home, get up and spend some times 45 mins helping him with stretching his muscles, use the bedside commode, get something to drink and maybe food, settle him for sleep, then finish my sleep, and get up, and go to school for the day. I got to where I was so tired I couldn't wake up and the Mrs. was having to wake me in the middle of the night. It was very difficult and I was not getting paid much at all to do it. $7.50 a night. Very little, but I probably wasn't worth much more. When he died they gave me a fluffy Teddy Bear. I was 16. Someone else called me and wanted me to stay with her parents in town. I slept at their house, as well. They were so cute! They kissed one another every night before bed then each went to their own bedroom to sleep. Being in the field of nursing I only searched for a job in the paper once. I've really never had to look for a job. I joke that I was hired in jeans, shorts, and even a swimsuit. I was at the lake with my folks and the director of nursing knew I had worked in some homes and she asked me to come to the nursing home in Seneca and apply. I got that job and worked about two years prior to moving to Topeka to start LPN school, in November of 1980.

I wasn't a very good student in my primary or secondary schooling but sure could have been if I'd have parents like me and my husband. But, I didn't. To make matters worse, the manner in which I was beat down as a child, probably from age 3 til 18, verbally and physically, and not built up, left me with no self-esteem or confidence whatsoever. But, my mom did encourage and help me get accepted into the nursing program by helping me get my reading up to par, where I could pass the entrance exam. My mom and I went to Topeka looking for apartments, for a place to live. In the process, we stopped at a garage sale and my mom told a woman there that I was starting school and looking for a place to live. The lady knew of someone looking for a roommate and I moved in, with Kim Williams from Waverly, the day before school started, less than 2 weeks later. I remember my parents bringing me and my things down to Topeka, having me drive to school to make sure I knew what where I was going, and leaving me. I remember when they walked past the front window I felt abandoned, kind of a sick feeling in my stomach, a feeling that I should be going with them and very confused feeling when I'd been looking so forward to going to school. The next day, I went to the school and they had us sit in chairs in a conference room setting, not at desks. They lectured us on grades and behavior. A genuine scare tactic that nursing school was not for everyone and "if you are not completely dedicated to this program get up and walk out that door now because you can still get your money back. After today, you will not get any money returned to you if you want to quit. No one walked but a gal did have to leave. They required all test scores to be above 75. If one was to fall below 75% on three tests they were kicked out of the program. There were some that never made it to that speech. Everyone was required to take a three month "Pre-Nursing" course. They told us it was to prepare us to enter nursing school and to weed out the ones that weren't tough enough to hack it. One gal that really wanted to go to nursing school quite because she kept passing out. They took us on a tour of a dialysis unit. When they told us to about "all the blood in the body passes through these tubes to be filtered and returned to the body and it takes 4 hours..." and she dropped somewhere at about that point. She fainted in some patient's room after that and she realized she wasn't going to make it. She was one of our "barroom buddies". We went out to a bar across the hospital called "The Recovery Room" or "The Dutch Goose". Either one of those places got a lot of our business while getting to know one another. This was 1980-81 and several of our fellow students had been laid off of Goodyear. A few had been beauticians, one a former postal worker, and far more than half were married. Very few of us were directly out of H.S.

I joke that Brad has been my best roommate but in all seriousness its completely true. He went to college while living at home so he never had a roommate and has no one to compare me with, thankfully. I'm kind of messy and wouldn't win the "Best Roommate Award" with him, if he had. My first roommate, Kim, and I lived in a basement apartment in a large complex. It had a nice swimming pool that I enjoyed in warm weather. I met a guy that live in a different building but the same complex, at the pool. He'd ask me if I would be there "tomorrow" and we'd make plans to meet, swim and lounge around the pool the next day. He even came over a couple of times and asked me if I was going to swim. Nothing ever happened,he was always a gentleman, and no lines were crossed; we just had a very innocent friendship going. But, he would come over and we'd talk for 15 or 20 mins occasionally. One day, I saw a woman and 2 children in his car! Next time he came over, I just came out and asked him, "Are you married?" He answered, "Does it matter?" I was very firm and said, "Yes! Of course it matters!!" I didn't want some woman accusing me of trying to befriend her husband or breaking up a marriage. He stood up and walked out my door. I never saw him again except in his car driving by. I moved from there after 9 months. Kim worked at Washburn University and was really a boring gal, large gal. She did have friends and she did go out but she didn't have a boyfriend while I was her roommate. She suggested we pool our money and buy groceries. One of us would make supper, she'd fill her plate, eat it before I had a chance to sit down, and then would finish off what I left. She got to the point to where she only wanted to stay at home rather than go grocery shopping. She'd give me her share of the money to do the shopping. It got to where I was even buying her family's birthday cards. I remember getting her grandpa a card with a basset hound tub of soapy water which read: Once a year, whether we need it or not. She was not taking the trash out, ever, it fell on my shoulders. I went into strike. I bought mac & cheese boxes and other non-perishable food and kept it in a full-size milk can from my dad, that I'd spray painted silver and was using as a plant stand. But it made a good food storage fault. After 3 huge bags of trash piled up she finally took out the trash! I was done. It was making me sick to be there. I was getting nervous and having pent up anger was causing me to break out with Rosea. I was so nervous and the situation so tense that I decided to move out but didn't want any more pressure for the next month, waiting for time to come to get into my new place. I didn't tell her I was moving but was gradually packing things up from the house. My parents showed up to move me and I let them tell her. She had a friend come over and was acting all crazy, smoking and shaking her hands, as if SHE was going to have a breakdown. I was at that point for some time. My mom and dad paid my half of the rent ($152.50), to allow her a month to find a new roommate. They also paid my share of the rent at the new place. Mom mom said once that it was a rough month for them to have to pay rent on both places. I didn't realize they were living that close to paycheck to paycheck. I had decided long before that I wasn't going to be poor, or if I was, I was going to figure it out so I didn't have to live like I was poor. I moved in with a gal at school, that was in my nursing class. Kathy Murphy was her name. I can't say the situation with Kathy was any better, just an altogether different bad situation. Kathy had a boyfriend. And my things with her things looked awesome. We had a pretty apartment. Only not everything was hers. The large console TV set was her boyfriend's. We paid the cable and we watched what he wanted. He was there often. He drove a Dodge Li'l Red pickup truck I just read on this and it tells that it was indroduced in 1978 and was among the first self-proclaimed "adult toys". Little River Band was popular and heard often on the radio singing, "Reminiscing". Well, these to started talking about a "life-time plan" and got engaged. I now had two roommates but only one was sharing rent. I spent most of my time in my room. The ONLY thing good about this arragement was that Randy drank coffee and was an early riser and would have coffee made for me when I work. That was the only perk. :) Kathy was dinging; not very bright. Some would say a dumb blonde. She never did pass the state board of nursing and I don't know what happened with her. She was from New Orleans and had an accent, and was very thin. She put a chicken in the sink to thaw. That evening I went to bed and it was there in the sink. When I got up and went to school, it was in the sink and cool. When I got home from school it was still in the sink and was warm, when I went to bed that night it remained in the kitchen sink. After three days, when it was starting to stink, I asked if she was going to do something with that chicken. She said, "That's not my chicken, its YOURS!" I said it wasn't and a little verbal shove-of-war broke out, each denying that the chicken was hers until I said, "Kathy! Look at the label. It says, 'Dibbles'. I don't shop at Dibbles. I shop at Dillons." She laughed at herself and said she sure didn't remember putting that chicken in the sink. Maybe Randy put it there. All I know is that I didn't and I wanted it out of there because it was all kinds of nasty! I don't know the details but it wasn't long before Air Supplies "I'm all out of love, I'm so lost with out you..." was in my mind and Randy and Kathy had broken their engagement but he gave us the TV. FREEDOM! Well, that is until Kathy found new interests. She wasn't very lost without Randy, at least not for long. In one week, she'd brought three different men home and since her room was next to mine, let's just say the walls were thin, and I was kept awake or awakened by her attraction to men. I'm not sure I was there a year or not. I had a classmate that was looking for a roommate so we got a place in the same complex in the building across from the one I was in, at 21st & Fairlawn, on the third floor. I worked it out with the manager that I would take the deposit. School was nearly over and we were both moving out early and we were going to forfeit our deposit, or so Kathy thought. Instead, it transferred to me to continue living in the next building. I started moving my things across the driveway to the other building when Kathy wasn't there or after she'd gone to bed. I had an black and white antique enamel table with chrome legs and four black chairs with chrome legs as well that I just adored. I bought it at an auction for $12. It was so adorable! One night, after Kathy went to bed, I decided to move it across to my new place. I took the chairs first and then the table. The table was entirely too heavy for me to handle but I got it to the other building and was on my way up the three flights and had it kind of stuck plus I was catching my breath. I wasn't sure how I was going to get it up the rest of the way. A man came along, about my age, and I asked him if he'd help me. He said he would but, "Answer me one thing. Are you stealing this?" I was like.. "No, of course not. Its mine and I'm moving it from across the street but I don't want my roommate to know I'm staying in the same complex or she'll want her share of the deposit back!" I actually pulled that off. I try many things in life but few I actually get away with. Amazing that I was able to retain my deposit for that place.

End chapter 4

Ch ~ 5 Honor Thy Father and Mother

It is with a heavy heart that I include this chapter of my life, as it causes me a great deal of pain, distress, and even tears recalling it and putting it into words. The reason I'm including it is because I want any and every person that ever reads this to THINK before striking a child. If, after evaluating the situation and finding that the action does require consequences, that is, if its been discussed and the child chooses to continue his/her action and is in complete defiance at the current and present time, then one swat on the bottom suffices and really does do some good. The episode I'm about to tell will explain why the commandment, Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother, is one I've struggled with during my lifetime. It was very hard for me to appreciate parents when they treated me poorly and inflicted so much pain, both physically and emotionally, upon me, and my brother.

I missed a test questions in nursing school and I still remember it. The question was: The most important thing a child needs is: A) Shelter B) Safety C) Love D) Self Esteem. My answer was B-Safety. Logic took a back seat to my experience. My instructor explained that LOVE was most important because if a child was loved everything else would come with it.... shelter, safety, and self esteem. From my experience, I felt like feeling safe was of utmost important and then everything else would fall into place. Clearly, my way of thinking wasn't right. And, I do know my parents grossly failed to protect me from harm when I was under their roof. I never ever felt safe and I never felt loved.

I can tell you, first hand, that as a child who was neglected, yelled at, hit, and belittled there was no love expressed, verbally or non-verbally. What they gave us was anger and hate ... not love. I really felt nothing but hated, as if I was in their way. Not knowing when you're going to get hit next, shoved against a piece of furniture or yanked into a sharp, piece of wire pierced deep within you to where it scrapped your bone, or yanked out of bed angrily and spanked was an unsettling way to live out one's childhood. I don't know who to hold responsible for their actions; my mom or my dad. The first thing my dad heard when he walked in the door from his wife, my mom, was how bad of kids we had been. I often wonder what kind of satisfaction my mom got from tattling to Dad and getting him all fired up when she'd already struck us and sent us to our rooms, putting the fear of God in us by saying, "You just wait until your dad gets home. You're really going to get it!" Yet, she'd already spanked us. Was it some kind of unhealthy satisfaction on my Dad's part to arrive home after working all day,only to inflict pain on his children like we were the spawn of the devil himself?

It was orchestrated the same way every time; through gritted gritted and all the hate and anger he had pent up after work and before he even got a chance to sit down or relax. My dad was large and strong and when he "spanked us", that's what they called it, spanking but it was much more of a beating, it stung like nothing else I've ever had intentionally inflicted upon me. The blows were delivered one after another, after another until the pain took you from breathing, to crying, then screaming, and finally to the point of not being able to even take a breath. At some point shortly after that he seemed to be fulfilled and went for the other one of us. I don't know which was better, getting it over with and being tossed aside so as not having to watch what was happening to my brother, or waiting my turn and having to watch my brother take his licking first. I don't know if I'd say it hurt the most, but what's really disheartening is he never asked US what happened, or wanted to hear OUR side of the story. This was a regular occurrence. It happened several times a day, some days, if Mom spanked us first then Dad. But, I'd guess that we always had one of these bonding sessions at least once a week, if not several times a week.

As an adult, it makes me wonder if my parents had a pack of cigarettes hidden away somewhere and they secretly sat in the living room, lit one up, and puffed away on one after these punishment episodes as a reward for tackling and conquering the weak and traumatized. Or, perhaps they shared one saying, "We really taught them..." I'll never know, because I didn't dare make a peep or move from my bed to go downstairs. One of the saddest things is, there was no lesson to be taught from that; no good came out it, unless, as I mentioned, it was some sick gratification. Wouldn't any logical adult say to the other, "I don't think our form of discipline is doing one bit of good. Perhaps we should try talking to the kids and teaching them what they're doing wrong ... telling them what we'd like to see from them"? I just don't understand how an adult could feel anything but remorse and shame once finished treating your children like that; your most precious asset that God blessed you with.

I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I carried out such punishments to my defenseless young kids. I'm not going to say innocent because we may not have been innocent but, for the most part, my mom made it impossible to mind her. She worked outside the home. If we were sick and couldn't go to school, her instructions were to stay in bed and, "You are not to watch TV." Seriously? I would be sick, have a fever, and sleep all morning only to have to get out of bed to move yet I wasn't suppose to watch TV. People in prison have TV. Every hospital bed has a TV. Why did she make it so impossible to obey her?

I think if my parents would have spent quality time with us, real quality time, given us as much or more time than they did their friends and organizations, they would have seen that we weren't so bad; that children are a gift from God, not to be neglected, hit, yelled at, and belittled, they wouldn't have had to strike us as they did. If you have anger issues, please reconsider even having children or go get help!

or humiliated on the playground. I went to Catholic school and the principal and many teachers were nuns. Bullying was then perceived as something physically; getting roughed up and threatened, but not teasing and razzing because you weren't wearing the right clothes or shoes or wasn't a cheerleader or failed a test or wasn't a good student. All the things that we now know bullying to be, weren't al included in the 60's and 70's. Though I had friends at school, I knew at recess I was going to get picked on because I didn't have my ears pierced or picked last for teams because I couldn't run fast, or because I didn't have popular clothes or glasses. I just was not in the loop because I wasn't allowed to pick my own clothes or decide to have my ears pierced or select popular frames for the glasses that I had to wear on my face. I started wearing glasses in 5th grade. The eye doctor discouraged what all other kids wore, wire frames. He explained that plastic frames held up so much better for kids so of course, my mom made me get plastic glasses. Now, this was a time when NO ONE, and I mean NOT ONE girl in our class who was getting new glasses went with anything but gold wire-rim glasses of some sort. I liked that I could see better but oh how I hated that I had to have dark plastic framed glasses. However, I did wear them.

My grandma and grandpa lived 16 miles north west of us, out in the country. She really wanted me to be a nurse and pushed the nurse thing every chance she got. I enjoyed any time that I could have with them. I spent time outdoors there snooping around the chicken house, seeing if there were any eggs. I'd always gather them if there were. Grandma had a huge garden and I enjoyed picking peas and strawberries, though she was very very particular about her strawberries. She didn't want you to step on any vines, which was nearly impossible. I'm not sure how she was able to pick without stepping on some but always scowled a bit and told me when I was standing on a vine. She'd say, "Oh Honey! You're standing on a vine. Get off of it. Come this way." She was small and very flexible so probably could get away with picking and not smashing a vine into the straw, or doing as much damage as I would. Every time we were there in the summer we'd be given a certain amount of days when we were dropped off. When the time came for us to make arrangements for us to go home Mom and Grandma would be on the phone talking about it. We'd just beg and beg to stay and Grandma would keep us longer. We had food and got to eat until we were full. That wasn't the case at home. I'd get yelled at if I ate too much, and some time hit. Grandma made sure I wasn't hungry. And she never hit us. I fantasized about packing a bag and running away to their house, where I'd be safe and not hungry, but I knew if I did she'd have to call my parents and they'd come get me and I'd really get smacked good, long, and hard for it. It was the 60's and child abuse was when someone really did damage to a child's body. The mind, they didn't care much about. I only had to go to the Emergency Room once because of getting smacked and shoved around. They didn't care, even when I told the truth and said it was my dad's fault that I needed stitches. No red flags were raised. Nor did any of my teachers notice when I'd cry at the drop of a hat. You'd think that would have been something they would have been taught to look for; the overly emotional child that cried often and easily, when someone yelled at them. Nope.

I used to pray that my dad would die. I had a classmate whose dad was dead and Mom said that they got money for the kids to be dresses nice and fed. That sounded pretty darn good to me. We'd have decent clothes to wear an not get smacked around and be happy like Amy, her mom and her sisters were. They were happy and they didn't have a dad. I was miserable and had both parents. I don't know why but my mom was so challenged to clothe me. I had homemade coats even! One particular coat I had was a rain type coat. It was floor-length. It was white with Peace-Signs in purple all over the entire thing, so much so that one would say it was a purple coat. It was a cloth-backed plastic material, and I was forced to wear it. My mom always said that if I loved something I'd show that it would still fit and try to hold my arms short in it, so as to make them think it still fit. This coat, I remember showing that the sleeves were too short, and they were. When I wore the coat, which I did kind of like, we'd enter the lunch room with the high schoolers. The coat, being purple and white, was the public school's colors; the high school that I eventually attended. But, our school colors at the time were blue & gold/yellow. When I'd enter the lunch room with my classmates the upperclassmen, who were already seated and eating, would go wild booing and yelling. I honestly felt so much shame that I nearly cried. Our nun principal would tell them to hush. I don't remember if someone told me or if I figured it out that when I wore the coat they'd go wild or and when I didn't they wouldn't boo or what. Its been too long ago. But, I know I felt then as if it was my coat that was setting those kids off. It sure made me NOT want to wear or like the coat. I was relieved when I didn't have to wear it any longer.
End chapter 5

Ch 6 ~ The Wedding

Brad sent me three yellow roses after we had known each about two months. I think he may have even sent them to me for our "2 Month Anniversary". The card attached said, "I love you and want to be with you forever" or "always" and then, "Love, Brad. Not sure but will have to look because I saved the flower card. I kept looking at that message, in his hand-writing, and thought... is this guy serious? Is this a marriage proposal? I just wasn't sure what to make of it. It was just the week or two before that he started telling me that he loved me. And, I would say, "Don't say that. Its too soon. You don't love me," and he's say, "Yes I do! I love you." This went on every time we'd see one another. He'd even pick me up and twirl me around and say it. I'd always respond in the same way, "Stop saying that! Its too soon." And he would respond, "But its true. I love you." So, when this message with the flowers arrived I kind of just kept looking at it and thinking about it. He'd really hadn't ever dated anyone. He said his mom made him take a girl to the movies but she was weird. And he didn't consider it a date. And he had this girl on the cruise that he'd spent time with, for a week. And they wrote to one another. He called me two days later and I asked him, "Hey, the message you wrote on my card, do you really mean that? 'I love you and want to be with you forever?' " He assured me that he did. I thought about it some more and it was just too easy to fall in love with him. Once I realized his feelings for me and that they were genuine, it came so natural. I had dated a lot of different guys, I mean, everyone is different, but my mom advised me to date a lot so I'd know when they right one came along. I'm not sure it was good advise but I did know that what we had was real and it was easy to recognize our relationship stood apart from other friendships/relationships I'd been in. Any feelings I had were returned two or three fold until I got used to the idea and that this was truly right and good and everything a lasting marriage was built on, which only too about a week! I had no doubt... none whatsoever... that we would remain with one another and have a good married until God decided it was over and called one of us home. Beautiful! I don't know if he was really thinking marriage and engagement but I really did envy our friends who were married and told Brad, making it clear that our married friends were lucky they had found "the one" and were happily living together as husband and wife. And, "It really would be nice to be married." He agreed and one Saturday, I was scheduled to work the 3pm shift. We made a quick trip into Lawrence for something, not sure it was just for rings but we had lunch together and looked at a couple of jewelry stores on Mass Street. I knew I wanted a Marquette and yellow gold and a solitaire. One place had a double Marquette setting. It was really nice. I have the picture of it. They took a Polaroid and let us take it with us. Any number of times, over the course of our marriage, I've thought about that ring with two Marquettes and that I should've gone for that one. It was unique. But, we found a good salesman at Krigel's in Kansas City. Brad bought my engagement ring but at the store decided I should pay for the wedding rings... both of them! Yet, he picked them out. I was like??? what the heck??? But, I didn't put up too much of a fuss but I remember thinking this isn't right; we're both suppose to pay for the other one's ring/s. But I just decided to shut up and bite the bullet because I had a good thing going here and I wasn't going to screw it up over $200 bucks! I could look back but I'm pretty sure that was the amount of his ring and mine was a little less because it was a ladies' ring.

The thought of getting engaged and being together was thrilling. We knew our parents would probably really really wonder if we knew what we were doing. I will say that I would question my kids if they pulled what we did but our parents really never said much at all. We kind of laugh about it now and wonder if they honestly thought we'd make it to the alter. We got the rings on 90 days same as cash. They sized my rings but not the bands, and mailed all three to Brad on the last Saturday in October. We were going to Doug & Sherry's Halloween party and I asked if I couldn't wear my engagement ring to the party. He didn't want me to wear it because he wanted to officially propose but he should have lied to me and not told me they were in because I would have been hard pressed to talk out of it. He said I could but I had to give it back! That's what he said. I don't remember giving it back. It was exciting being able to wear it and showing it off somewhere. I gave it back and could barely wait the two weeks later when he decided to take me to a restaurant way about the top a hill in Kansas City. It was called Baby Doe's Matchless Mine. didn't take long getting it

The engagement was nearly 8 months long. We had to have 4 months advance notice for the church and we really wanted to get married in December but after we'd just met in July we figured our parents both would, his and mine, have a conniption fit. But, we talked about a wedding on Sat. Dec 31st in the evening and the girl's dresses would be rich solid jewel color (emerald green, blue sapphire, ruby red,and purple amethyst). Their bouquets would be white spider mums, red poinsettias, and carnations with fern greenery and gold sparkle stick accents. We would have had candle sticks with glass covers on every other pew. I had it all planned out except that the most we could have given was two months notice and we needed four. No exceptions! Turns out, that would have been the worst weekend to have any wedding in Kansas as there was a blizzard. But, it sure would have been pretty! I would love to attend a wedding that looks like my dream wedding but I never did.

Two weeks before our wedding Swann's phoned me saying the best man hadn't come in for measurements and they needed them "last week".
End chapter 6