Out of Pearidge

Authorization is granted for the use of short quotes for educational purposes as long as proper citations are used.

From Whence Comes Our Blessings - Politics, Economy or Luck?

Thanksgivings, in general, do not stand out in my memory. However, one was special.

I think it was 1950 and I was seven. Huntsville was in something of a recession. Redstone's military-support function has attenuated since the end of World War II, and its space-exploration role was minuscule.

I had little concept of what a recession was. I knew it was not as bad as a depression. I had heard enough stories to know we did not want a depression. No, a recession was bad enough. It had taken Daddy to Memphis to work.

Mother assured us that his transfer was temporary, only until he was again needed at the arsenal. In addition, Dad came home for the weekend every month or so. Still, communication with him was difficult since he could neither read nor write and we had no telephone. Home was different without him.

In August, Mother started talking about what we could do to reunite the family. She suggested that she might quit her job and move us all to Memphis. It sounded like an adventure to me, but my brother and sisters did not want to leave their school and their friends. After Daddy's visit, Mother no longer talked about our moving.

As the leaves change color, Mother began to talk about how Senator Sparkman was from Huntsville and she and Daddy had worked to get him elected. I didn't know of their political effort, but, then, I was just a kid. When Mother said she was going to write to Sen. Sparkman and ask his help, I hoped it would work.

Obviously, the reply from the Senator's office wasn't favorable because soon Mother began to talk about other options. Hope seemed less justified. With winter coming, we all had to do more of the chores which Daddy usually did. When winter came, someone would have to be the first one up to build a fire to warm the house for the others.

On a Sunday afternoon in October, Mother walked us four kids, still in our Sunday best, up the road to the house on the corner. It was a large white house with an enclosed back porch. We entered through that porch. It was filled with old newspapers and magazines coved by hanging plants.

Inside, we passed through the kitchen that had the smell of baked bread and dining room with huge furniture. We children were escorted to a sitting room that seemed like something straight from a Sears catalogue. I could see the silver-haired woman talk to Mother for several minutes and then the woman went to a telephone. She talked into the telephone and then she waited for a long time before she spoke again. When she hung up I could hear her say to Mother, "He'll call me back. No telling when that'll be, but whenever it is, I'll see what he can do to get the ball rolling. All you can do now is wait. May be, he can't do anything."

We waited without hearing anything from either Washington or Memphis. My sisters planned a special meal of chicken and dumpling for Thanksgiving dinner; but, we knew that it wouldn't be special with Daddy in Memphis.

Thanksgiving morning as they prepared dinner, Mother talked about going to the neighbors and seeing if she could call Memphis and talk with Daddy. When the table was spread, we ate in silence. After we finished, the table was cleared efficiently. I knew that Mother didn't want to bother the neighbors; but, we all wanted to know about Daddy.

That is when he walked through the door carrying a large grocery bag. "Sorry, I couldn't make it for the meal, but we'll have our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow," he said taking out some potatoes, some cans and finally a turkey. "And, we have lots to be thankful for. Next week is my last week in Memphis. I'm being transferred back to Redstone."