Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Catch-up time is a must

Becky and me in Oxford

Today I met my good friend Becky in Oxford for a long-anticipated lunch. I retired in 2010 and she, six months later. Becky came to work at Northwest on Jan. 28, 1986. That day was memorable, not only because Becky joined the staff as program director of now-closed station, WNJC-FM, but also because minutes after she signed on, the Associated Press teletype machine started an alarm as did the DAX machine which connected us to NPR.  Space Shuttle Challenger had broken apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida, United States, at 11:39 a.m. The news came across the wire faster than we could rip and read it. Other departments came down to watch the TV coverage on our monitor. That was before smart-classroom technology. What a welcome. 
It was also a memorable day for me when a co-worker became one of my forever friends. Our husbands, Mike and Howard, became fishing and hunting buddies. Our children became playmates. Before the station went dark in 1988, we had some good times and learned a lot about Public Radio—just in time for the station to close. 

All of us at the zoo around 1987.  Howard was taking the pic.

Becky has a very distinctive Southern accent. When the college hosted the National Junior College Athletic Association Women's National Tournament in the 1980s, it was our job at the station to provide play-by-play for the colleges who did not want to send a radio crew by giving them a feed of our broadcast. If they did come, we had to set up phone lines for them. Those were the old days. When some of them called, they asked for Becky by name. "I just want to hear her talk," one station manager told me.
We attended the NPR National Conference in Washington in 1987. We were one of the first groups to hear the now-famouse Riders in the Sky—go Woody Paul, Too Slim and Ranger Doug.  After two days of the conference, I came down with Pleurisy and felt bad the rest of the trip. My Uncle Jim, who lived in Alexandria, Va., came to get us and took us on a tour of the U.S. National Arboretum.  I wheezed all the way around the trails. 

Hayley, Olivia and Beth. Olivia hated being the youngest of
the three. She's hanging on. Look at the clinch of her jaw.
The following year we attended the National Conference in St. Louis (view from our window) and went to the museum under the arch. Also on the agenda was a conference outing at the home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, a ride on a river boat and a tour of the Missouri Botanical Gardens.We were the best-dressed gals at the conference. We didn't know that NPR attire was long skirts with socks and sandals. 
When we learned that the station was to be a budget cut, we held our chins high and ended up across the hall from each other in the basement of Tate Hall—me in Public Relations and her in Financial Aid. Boy did we have a lot to learn.
On a lighter side, there were birthday parties, fishing trips at our pond, hours of cooking in the concession stand at the horse shows, trail rides, the list goes on and on.  We even got the guys to dress up and go to a piano recital at Ole Miss and to a reception afterward. How did we do that? There were times when my nerves were shot and she took the girls for an afternoon, only to tell me they had been angels. They had NOT been angels for me.
But I won’t forget Mike’s going with me to get Mama and Daddy when she was too sick to drive home after a chemo treatment and Daddy couldn’t drive at night. We stopped to get gas and the pump was so slow. Mike kicked it. When Mike lost his battle to cancer, Becky showed just what she was made of. After retirement she returned to her hometown of Pontotoc. 
It's hard to catch up on two years' of news while eating wonderful food from City Grocery. We won't wait that long for the next visit.
Howard and Mike's string of fish around 1987.
Dog Leo is near Howard. My, how we have changed. 


  1. Life long friends are the best friends....precious as gold and just as hard to find. Your words brought back memories of my days in the radio station as a journalism student. I'll bet not many people remember "rip and read"! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks Martha. Didn't know you did any "time" at the station.