First Love

August 20, 2019

Let me tell you about George Smith. This innocuously named young man was my first true love.  We had beginning that could have been in a romance movie screenplay. I was a freshman at Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos in 1965, living in a dorm directly across from the student union. Many of the 500 students were from rural or smaller towns all over the State. The girls came to earn a teaching or nursing degree. Most of the dudes were ‘shit-kickers’ studying agriculture. There were some theater people and a few others, like me, studying sociology, the sciences or liberal arts.

During the first week of class, I was sitting in the student union with a group of girls when someone handed me a folded note. It read “Can you meet me tomorrow at 4pm by Old Main?” I looked up to see who might have passed that note to me. I locked eyes with a most appealing young man. He had shaggy brown hair, a mustache and goatee, and was dressed beatnik-like with a tan corduroy jacket and ‘desert boots’. Love at first sight! He was out of character with 99% of the student body at good ole SWTSU and that intrigued me.

We met the next afternoon and for many afternoons and evenings after that. George told me I was intelligent and set about giving me ‘lessons’ on the world’s best books to read, science and political theories, music, movies… We drank coffee in the evenings at the truck stop where we talked until I had to be back in the dorm at 9pm. He took me to Austin to meet his SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) friends and for a weekend at his grandparents abandoned farm house. I was mesmerized and in love.

I spent the summer break reading Kafka, Camus, Dostoevsky, and letters of love and devotion from George. When the next college year finally began, George met me to say he was not returning. He had met someone in Austin. He asked me to marry him and have children hinting that if I didn’t, he would with this girl.  I never regretted saying ‘no.’ After all, hadn’t he told me I should learn and experience everything I could?

I believe your first true love is your best love. I’ll never forget him though we lost touch, or the way he encouraged me to think and explore my capabilities. That was not a thing women got from men back then. I’m sure my life has been much richer because of his influence.


Tall girl tells shrinking tale

April 29, 2019

So, I measured my height the other day. I have to say it was a shocking and somewhat depressing revelation to find out I am now just 5’7” tall. Although most of us upon reaching the senior citizen stage of life, understand that we shrink in height as we age and our vertebrae compress, sometimes getting squeezed out altogether. But, in a way it made me feel somewhat diminished.

Why did I take it so hard, you ask? At the age of 14, I was a 5’10” gangly girl. Quite outstanding at that time, I was head and shoulders above, not only the other girls but most of the boys as well. Try finding a dance partner when the dudes would be staring right into your budding bosom. Skinny legs and all, I was mostly in angst over this tall development.

Some of the most frequent questions: “Do you play basketball?”  Well, no. You kind of have to be coordinated to do that. Did I wear high heel shoes ever? Uh, no! Did pantyhose ever fit me?  No again.

At 20years old attending college in San Marcos, TX

I managed to grow into being a tall woman and tallness became less an issue making way for many other issues. In fact, I am sorry to lose that youthful part of me. And, I’m sure those three damn inches went into my hips.


Why Girls Matter

December 11, 2011

Over the past few years, I’ve read some pretty enlightening and emotionally heavy books about the treatment of girls and women in some cultures around the world. It started with Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seirstad, and finally, Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. I had the pleasure of hearing both Sheryl WuDunn and Isabel Allende speak in person about their advocacy of empowering girls and women to bring about more equitable treatment and socioeconomic advances for their communities.

Along the way, the difference girls and women can make in a society is confirmed again and again. Some of the how that happens is by working to bring an awareness to the causes that fight to end sex-trafficking and genital mutilation; provide basic education, job training and micro-lending. It’s absolutely amazing to me that there is still so much gender inequality in the world. In many countries females just don’t matter. Even though, the truth is, that not only do girls and women matter, but often hold the key to the entire community’s prosperity, their family’s well-being, the socioeconomic evolution of subsequent generations.

This video by The Girl Effect lays it right out for you!


Banana Nut Bread with a Story

September 4, 2011

Or, how I got my Fannie Farmer Cookbook (1969 edition)

In 1966, during my sophomore year at college, I was invited to participate in the work-study program. I was paired with the new sociology professor, Dr. Bullion-yes, like the cube. During our initial conversation, he pulled out the bottom drawer of his file cabinet, handed me a magazine, and asked “What do you think of these?” Gracing the cover were pictures of young women volleyball players, inside were more athletic women–all totally naked. A quick mental assessment made me think “This is probably a test.” I said, “Nice, while they look very healthy, I’m not interested.” I must have passed, as I went on to work for him for 3 years with no other offers to view naughty magazines.

In those days, on the Southwest Texas College campus, students mostly came from small, rural towns. The guys were studying agriculture, the women aspiring to become teachers. There were no blacks on campus. Dr. Bullion spent several years opening minds and hearts on the civil right issues in his classes. He held the first class on Black History and introduced us to African-American writers and poets. Bullion would stand on his desk and holler out Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Du Bois. Quite impressive. He instituted the first, and I think only, student exchange week with Prairie View A&M, which at that time was an all black college near Houston.

But for all that liberal attitude about race, he somehow missed the part about women’s rights. For graduation, he gave me a copy of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Even then, I thought something about that was wrong, wrong, wrong. Was he telling me ‘now you have a college degree, but you really need a husband?’ Am I supposed forget about a career and learn to cook so I can be the perfect little wife? I was incensed, but kept the book as a memento of Dr. Bullion and his insightful, action-filled teaching style.

So, as life if full irony, I eventually grew to rely on, and love my Fannie Farmer Cookbook (not necessarily just to cook for the men in my life). It was the only cookbook in my home, until I married a chef and his gazillion cookbooks. It’s cover has long been missing. Some of the pages are attached with paper clips, torn and stained with spots of ingredients past. It’s simple and easy with timeless recipes that never fail me.

Here is the recipe for banana nut bread that now my grandkids love to make.

Banana Nut Bread

Some like to add 2 tablespoons melted butter to the batter. (I do)

Mix in a bowl

3 ripe bananas, well mashed

2 eggs, beaten until light

Sift together

2 cups of flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Add to the first mixture. Add 1/2 cup nut meats, coarsely chopped. Being Texan, we always add pecans.

Stir well. Put in a buttered 9×5 loaf pan.

Bake 1 hour at 350°

Enjoy every morsel.