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Looking Back

By Barbara Sisney Daniel 

Circumstances can change our lives in one hour.  We can wake up to see a beautiful sunny morning, withing an hour see clouds building up in the sky with high winds and destruction of homes and life.  I saw this happen to Joplin, Missouri.  Joplin looked like a war zone for months after the tornado hit without warning.  

Change can come in an hour.   

A polio epidemic (1916-1955) struck down 57,628 Americans, caused 5,145 deaths.  In November 1946, I was taken down with polio.  Change came in to my life.  I was left with nothing except a strong will to survive.  The teenage girl was robbed of life as she had known.  All the aspiration I had to become a rancher’s wife in Texas faded like a dream.  My day of looking forward to going skating on Saturday evening at the roller rink just north of the Ava Square behind Normans Drug Store was ended.  My skating sport became a memory of skating the circle of the roller rink and the fun I had with other skaters. 

There was a crowd each Saturday and those who loved to watch the skaters.  One skater was a young lady dressed in her frilly skating skirt.  It was a delicate blue.  She skated like a professional.  The pretty young lady was Mrs. Woodrow Gray (Freda).  She loved to skate and was as graceful as a swan on water.  I remember comparing her to the beautiful ice skater, Sonja Henie. 

I can remember the Ava Square as it was the years I was a teen.  Time changes things.  Everything was in place and I never thought about change. 

Gaulding Dry Goods Store on the east corner.  Haskins little grocery on the southeast corner.  The ice cream parlor on the southwest corner, called the Store, this was where the kids liked to buy ice cream and soda at the fountain and sit and talk in the little ice cream tables and chairs. (Those became high on the antique market years later.) 

Dr. Gentry’s office was east of the Square.  He removed my tonsils by a local procedure. I was 11-years-old and scared I would be ruined for life.  The older Dr. Gentry was more gentle. 

I’ve been told that one of the Spurlocks owned the “Store” ice cream shop.  The kids loved to ask him what time of day it was just to see him pull up his pant leg and check his watch, which he wore on his ankle. 

When my son David was in the third grade (we lived in another part of Missouri) he read Laura Ingalls Wilder books. He kept me busy going to the library to get her stories.  I’m sure she must have observed the hill people when she lived north of Ava many years ago. Later in our life we enjoyed the television series weekly. Michael Landon acted in the series as Laura’s father.  

But, time changes stories into tales of horror, and television became a monster.  Every 10 to 20 years we can see the changes in society and the attitudes of people change. 

As for me, I am like an old soldier.  I will just fade away having lived a life fighting through the fog, sunshine, and it’s joy of living.  A life truly blessed by great people who have helped make my life a great one.  

God’s word from James 4 teaches us – life is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 

Life can change in one hour or less.  Take time to enjoy yours!