Here it is December already and I am wondering what happened to Thanksgiving, the expression “time flies” really is a truism. I never let the passing of time bother me before and I don’t know why I should let it do so now.
Getting back to my story, I know I mentioned St. Judes’ Ranch for children before but I want to tell how how working there blessed our life. We had just returned from our trip to Germany from visiting our daughter and son in law. We had been there almost two years enjoying the birth of their first child John. We learned to adjust to the cold winters and the countryside. But it was time that we got on with finding a place to settle down.
We were visiting our son and daughter in law having the comfort of bed and bath on the lower level of their tri-level home with all kinds of privacy. After not being able to decide where we wanted to live Carl came out of the shower, he told me we couldn’t move as yet because he contacted St. Judes and I assumed it was the St Judes in Memphis, Tennessee, but it wasn’t, it was Boulder City, Nevada. That is why I told you we went back and forth over Hoover Dam many times coming East to see the kids.
So while in the shower he said he prayed to the Lord that he really didn’t want to retire and asked for help to find a place where we could help others because we were too young to retire. When he stepped out of the bathroom the phone rang and it was for Carl. (Isn’t that just like God to answer immediately.) The caller said he was impressed with his resume and wanted us come there so they could interview us . They paid our expenses for the trip. They hired us on the spot and gave us our own cottage up on a hill away from the 4 cottages where the children stayed with their cottage parents.
Here is what we found out about the place: St Judes was started by an Episcopal Priest that was not connected to the diocese as working priest but one who was not doing priestly duties because his heart was for neglected children. These children had parents that kind of shunned them because they were too busy and didn’t want to care for them. These were not poor or disadvantaged kids just ones with selfish parents who showed no love to them. Most of these kids were very smart and knew how to get around the rules so when you escorted them to doctors or other activities you really had to watch them closely.
One day Carl and I took two of them fishing and all they wanted was to try hide from authority and perhaps do what they shouldn’t like spend money buying candy or playing pinball machines. One occasion we took them bowling and we knew we couldn’t do that anymore. Too many places to hide in the bowling alleys like having to go to the bathroom too many times. They use to say I can go by myself and we learned the hard way to never to let them out of our sight.
Father Bert ---- was really a pastor that could demand respect and get it from them. They knew right off they would not be allowed to stay at the ranch and they also knew what awaited them if expelled from the Ranch. Some would have been put in detention homes they knew their parent didn’t want them home all the time. Here at the Ranch they knew they were loved and people cared for them and they were never were left alone.
Once a year the celebrities in Vegas had a dinner and fashion show to raise money for the ranch. The one year we were there the dinner host was Ed McMan and whatever stars were appearing in Las Vegas at the time. The Kids, Cottage Parents and volunteers were also invited. It was a great night out giving the kids and opportunity to dress up for the night out. The dinner was either steak or lobster with all the trimmings. The stars made people aware of the ranch and its’ needs.
The Ranch used the front of Christmas cards and pasted them on of blank cards with the information printed on the back telling about the Ranch. They still do this so if you care to send card fronts in their address is:
St. Judes Ranch for Children
P. O. Box 985, Boulder City
When Carl and I were there we were called resident grandparents. We did whatever was needed. Every day we opened mail separating, the cards and the money it took us all morning just to open mail. I understand now it has grown from three bags of mail to a truck full of mail. They now have to hire people open mail. It was a rewarding job to us because we didn’t have to punch a clock.
We we went to Nevada the first time Carl had just purchased a Large panel Vanguard Chevy van that had a bed across the back that we slept in often. It kept us from having to worry about motels. We saw the desert in bloom and let me tell you it is a sight to behold. As far as the eye can see was color everywhere. It was amazing to see large cactus in bloom no one can paint like the Lord.
As I write about the different time in our life of what I can remember I am so thankful the Lord gave allowed us to have a memory. It gives me an opportunity to understand how frustrating it was for Carl when he lost that part of his brain. Someone mentioned I should volunteer in that area, but you know I don’t think I could do that family is the only connection the patient has to life they can remember.
Christmas time was a difficult time for the kids at the Ranch. Most of them went home but there were some that couldn’t because of conditions at home. Their parents did not care anything about the real meaning of Christmas. Now the Ranch was definitely started on a religious base and Christmas was a glorious time having many religious services. Of course we fit right in because we were of the same faith as Fr. B…. You know your Christmas memories play big roll in your expectations of the present Christmas.
Until next time, Immigrant Daughter