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Ice cream social brings together Victoria's seniors

May 25, 2011 at 12:25 a.m.

Volunteers ready ice cream bowls for senior citizens at the Old Fashion Ice Cream Social at the First United Methodist Church on Wednesday.

My Memories of Yesteryear WinnersFirst Place: Betty Jean Lowry Leatherwood - "Train Travel During the War."

Second Place: Elida Medellin - "Memories of Grade School."

Third Place: Arthur W. "Art" Kenne - "Ole Billy and Me."

"Train Travel During the War."

BY BETTY JEAN LOWRY LEATHERWOOD

Lompoc, Calif. July, 1945 - Arthur, Carol and I were living there while he was stationed at Camp Cooke while in the Army. We were both 25 years old and Carol was 10 months. Arthur was being sent to a forestry school in Wisconsin for a month so I told my parents that Carol and I could come to Victoria that month if they could send us a train ticket, which they were delighted to do. The trip home was uneventful, but the trip back was an adventure.

There I was at the train station in San Antonio early afternoon with two large suitcases, a bag over one shoulder and a big baby in my arms and there is no way to carry it all so I carried one suitcase, and pushed the other ahead with my right foot, then stepped up to it, then pushed, then stepped up until we got up to where passengers were boarding. Of course, I had to have help getting us and the cases aboard.

There were hundreds of people wanting to board including dozens of soldiers. It was a madhouse. I managed to get us and bags through several cars with my push/step method and finally got to the family car! No vacancies! In the restroom that contained the sink, the toilet with a straight backed seat not more than 18 inches wide. But I set up house there for two days and nights until I finally got one of the double seats in the family car, and then the rest was relatively easy. Of course, there was no air-conditioning and all windows were open as it was so hot. At stations where the train stopped for a while, local people came to the windows selling food and drinks but you didn't dare get off the train or you could lose your seat. At one stop, someone was selling pints of milk, so I bought two. One was not sour and every other one bought by everyone else was sour. We arrived back safe and sound and a good time was had by all. In case you wondered why I didn't just check the bags - you didn't dare to if you ever wanted to see them again as the baggage cars did not always travel with the passenger cars they started out with. So there was no telling when your bags would get there, if ever.

"Memories of Grade School."

BY ELIDA MEDELLINI was born and raised in the country. Back in those days when I had to go to school I would run and hide in the back of my house and cry because I did not want to go. I was very shy and other kids were mean but my uncle would come and get me and pull me all the way to school. Later we moved about a mile and a half away but I still walked to school. It was very cold in the winter time. In those days people used wagons and there was a man who covered his up to keep it warm. He put benches on the inside and would take us to school. It was very cold but we were not as we were not walking to school anymore. I only finished the seventh grade because that's all we had. I did pass to the eighth grade but I had to come to town to finish school. But I was scared to go to school here so I did not finish school. In those days, there was not a law that said we had to go to school. As I got older, I had a dream to one day go back to school and get my GED When I was 60 years old, my dream had come true and I got my GED. So like they say, "Si se puede," meaning "Yes, we can do it."

"Ole Billy and Me."

BY ARTHUR W. "ART" KENNE

While growing up on a Goliad County ranch in the late 30's and early 40's, we had a kid's horse named Billy. Now a kid's horse was usually old or ageless, was dog gentle. Billy was a pet. He taught a lot of kids about life and horses.

Catching, bridling, saddling and riding him was always an adventure, especially when you stood about four-feet tall. Billy knew to move just enough when you were swinging up the saddle so you'd just about miss. He'd usually be all puffed up when you fastened the girth so later you'd have a loose saddle. If you were barefooted, he had a knack of getting on your toes and if you needed climb up help to get on bare back, he knew just when and how far to slide away at the last second. Once you got on you could ride him anywhere. He always knew the shortest way home. I'd like to say he taught me a lot about life, but ole Billy and Me, we were life in that place at that time.

ICE CREAM SOCIAL sponsorsFirst United Methodist Church in Victoria

Wesley Nurse-Methodist Healthcare Ministries in San Antonio

Adult Protective Services

Golden Crescent Area Agency on Aging

Victoria Senior Citizens Association

Care Improvement Plus

A healthy looking woman sat, legs crossed as she stared up and looked past a woman reading a story.

The tale was from July 1945 and it was about a woman making a train trip from San Antonio to California. Her name - Betty Jean Lowry Leatherwood.

The 91-year-old Victoria woman who had been sitting so poised stood up, held her first place certificate and had her photo taken.

The story was her own and was part of an old fashion ice cream social held at the First United Methodist Church in honor of Older Americans Month on Wednesday.

Leatherwood had won the "My Favorite Memory of Yesteryear" essay contest.

"I thought it was an unusual happening," Leatherwood said, cracking a smile. "I never could write essays."

The Victoria resident had been visiting her parents in Victoria from Lompoc, Calif., where she lived with her husband, Arthur, and 10-month old daughter, Carol.

Her husband had been sent to a forestry school so she and her daughter headed to Victoria by train.

The visit was a good one, however their trip back to California was eventful.

Leatherwood had a lot to carry. She had to hold the baby in one arm, a bag over one shoulder, a suitcase in one hand and she would step and push another suitcase with her foot.

When she arrived to the train car, there were no vacancies, so she ended up staying two days in the bathroom until a family seat became available.

It was a trip she will never forget and that's exactly why the essay contest is so important, said Cindy Cornish, director of the Golden Crescent Area Agency on Aging.

"So much of these wonderful experiences are just lost," Cornish said. "This is a nice reminder."

After Leatherwood's story was read and the second and third place winners were announced, the Toast of the Coast Barbershop Harmony took the stage and started singing songs like "Blue Moon" and "Beautiful Dreamer."

Sugar-free ice creams designed in every which way were handed out to the roughly 50 senior citizens, who had showed up for the event.

From sprinkles to whip cream and nuts to cherries, Gayle Harvey likes it all.

Harvey, 64, attends the senior citizen center in Victoria and was excited to learn more is being done for people her age.

"I think it's a good thing," she said as she beat the heat in the air-conditioned facility. "They should do more stuff for seniors."

Cornish said the social was a great new idea that the senior healthcare agencies will pursue again in 2012.

"We need to honor senior citizens," Cornish said.

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