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Roy and Carol Thomas Family, Christmas in La Junta, Otero, CO

L to R: Susan, Russell, Steven, and in Carol's arms, Robert.

Susan had been born in Washington, DC in 1952, just before the family moved to Colorado. Steven was born in Salida, CO. Russell and Robert were born across the street from this house at the Mennonite Hospital.


My Mother had a strong personality and she focused her energy and attention on immediate family and a few co-workers. I can see her influence in me -- intellectual interests, discernment, high standards, speaking patterns, sense of humor, and social/political values. But she was also different from me and my brothers and sister in many ways, which made for difficulties and life-long struggles for all of us. One thing for sure: nobody in the family was neutral about or indifferent to Mom/Grandmother/Carol.

As an adult I had many opportunities to ask her about her life. One broad theme, especially in parenting and family life: "I have tried so hard. I was so unprepared. I had to do it myself, figure out things myself...All I had was Dr. Spock books [on babies and children]."

Here are a few vignettes that, together, paint a vivid portrait:

- Summers in Colorado, lunch was ALWAYS the same 3-day rotating menu: baloney sandwich, cheese sandwich, followed by peanut butter sandwich (our favorite). Plus canned Campbell Soup, whole milk with graham crackers, and fruit.

- She had a huge recipe collection which she clipped or wrote on cards and then cataloged. Once in the early `80s she said, "Why would I ever want to use a computer? Maybe if it helped me with organize my recipes..." Later, she learned how to use an Apple ][ computer, and even helped other teachers at at Rockville High learn how to use computers for teaching and tutoring. "If I can do it, then anyone can."

- She never cooked with garlic, which was probably a cultural inheritance from her German parents and grand parents. "I don't want to taste my food the next day."

- In 1980, she gave me serious Mother-to-Son advice just before I moved to California after college: "Don't join any cults". She was earnest and serious, even though I laughed it off (because I believed I was the LEAST likely cult-joiner in the family).

- Christmas morning had to be a certain way: No opening gifts until everyone was up and had finished breakfast. Then, gifts had to be opened one person at a time, one gift at a time, with ritual appreciating for the wrapping, the gift, and the giver.

- She had some favorite TV shows, including the "Carol Burnette Show". I can remember her crying with laughter so many times while watching the skits.

- She always liked Baroque classical music, especially Bach. "I like what I like." Throughout my youth I hated it. Then, in college, I found my way into it as study music for my Electrical Engineering homework. Thereafter, we always had that in common and she delighted in my knowledge and appreciation of the fine points of composition and performance.

- She always had many questions. This is how she encountered life and relationships -- intense need to know what is going on and why. "I have another question..." was something she said many times in our conversations, and the questions might keep coming for an hour or more. (My late Sister-in-Law Debbie nicknamed my parent's house: "The House of the Third Degree" because of the intense questioning.)

- Just as we were finishing a family dinner (circa 2000), she announced "And now is the time for scintillating conversation!" My brother Robert and I immediately responded in unison: "Scintillate scintillate scintillate scintillate scintillate scintillate ..." to much laughter. (Words like "scintillate" and "chortle" were normal family conversation words, even when we were little kids.)

Owner/SourceRoy Richard Thomas
PlaceLa Junta, CO
Latitude37.98207 N
File nameChristmas in La Junta CO.JPG
File Size513.72k
Dimensions900 x 726
AlbumsFAMILY Carol Jean Wehrwein Thomas

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