Life and Deaf – Old College Friends

Friends – Trudy and Herb

Time for friends and family to part again. Our family is moving on to Jackson, TN to see some old college friends. The rest are going to the Ozarks. We hope to meet up with them in Eureka Springs several days hence.

Family – Barb, Ray, Nicole, Scooter, Jill, Terry

Part of our plan, while covering lots of the United States, is visiting as many old friends feasibly close to our general route. We’d originally had big plans to travel up the Eastern Seaboard as far as New York. Not only did two of my best friends from high school live up there, but some of the best and most established Auditory Oral schools for the Deaf were nearby. Knowing we were biting off more than we could chew in one summer, we decided to seek new horizons out west. The change of plans cut out many good friends. Will we ever see them again?. The last time we said good-bye to these friends, we were sure we’d see them again, but as time passes we realize many will fall by the wayside. It’s human nature.

The Pajaks will be our first stop. Embracing the concept of the Summer of Love, we adopt a hippie trait of just turning up without notice, and  justify it by never knowing how long it’s going to take to get from one place to another. If the timing is bad we give them the “Peace y’all” sign and keep moving.  We pull into town, call from a pay phone and find them home. Judy’s parents are visiting so we find a motel instead. Another wonderful first. Except for swimming in the lake we haven’t had a bath in several days. Ray jumps at the idea of a real shower and a clean bed. He’s the double Virgo in the group. Before we sold our house, an example of his cleanliness quotient was vacuuming every week because he loved to see and hear the dirt suck up into the machine.

After getting cleaned up we are invited to the country club to meet Doug as he comes off the golf course for a swim in the pool with their daughter Punky and a light dinner. Quite a divergence of our life styles has occurred in a few years time. We’ve dropped out and they’ve dropped into a life revolving around a certain social position in town that relates to job, house, club membership and financial status. They invite us to an upcoming wine-tasting party that the women have been arranging with all the embellishments of a multi-course meal and appropriate apparel. We decline. I doubt if our free-thinking attitudes and dirty blue jeans and sweatshirts would have done the trick.

We especially enjoy our last evening sitting outside with the kids setting off sparklers as our filthy clothes agitate in their matching, color-coordinated washer and dryer. When the sparklers are all gone Doug gets down and dirty with the kids rough-housing on the lawn. This is their best evening so far. Scooter and Nicole talked for years about going back to play with Punky and her daddy.

Hippie Days – Life and Deaf – Second Day

Kid’s Diary – 2nd Day

 Children’s Diary – June 27 – The Second Day

We went to see Aunt Carole. Then we went to the playground and the junior museum.

The next morning the kids wore blisters on their hands on the monkey bars and other fancy play equipment and loved doing it. Then on to the Children’s Museum and Zoo featuring wild animals in their natural habitat and ending with a ride on an authentic red caboose.

Life and Deaf – The Second Day

Only a ninety mile run is planned for today; just to Chipley, Florida for our first rendezvous with Terry and Barb at her mother’s house. Our timing is not the best. Barb’s mother, Elaine has just gotten out of the hospital after having surgery and her tight-lipped expression and one word answers show she’s not only still sick and depressed that her daughter’s leaving, but upset that a whole family with two small children has arrived on her doorstep, uninvited by her, to spend the night. Barb gives us her old room. She and Terry sleep in the van. My two kids aren’t happy either. They still aren’t camping.

We awaken in the morning to find another camper parked in the driveway. Terry’s other classmates, Trudy, Herb and Kathy have arrived in the middle of the night. Oh my God, I didn’t realize we were all rendezvousing here. Now Elaine has more to be upset about. She’s crying through all this commotion because, “Barbara honey, you’re leaving for God knows where and I won’t have any way to get in touch with you. How could you do this to me?” Same story we got at my house.


Life and Deaf – Chapter 12 – The First Day


I did research through the mail and going to the library – there was no such thing as internet – to find the best auditory/oral education for our son, mapped out a route and set a timetable for our exploratory trip. As we traveled we would meet up with my brother and Barb, and another couple of friends, Trudy and Herb, at specified locations around the United States. In between we’d visit with many friends made through the years of college and military life. Since there were no cell phones or email we had to rely on the US Mail General Delivery and public phone booths. Although there were several highly regarded oral schools on the Eastern Seaboard we decided to skip the crowded cities of New England and explore new territory in, for us, the wild west.

I’ve found the old loose-leaf notebook where my dream of telling this old hippie story started. I open it to: The First Day–June 26, 1974. What perfect timing. So we begin:


We left in a tropical storm on our shakedown trip from Ormond Beach to Venice, FL to say good-bye to family and friends. Violent winds and rain christened the new Dodge van and our carefully packed hand-built cartop carrier leaked like a sieve. All had to be unstowed. It took all day in Grandma Fifi’s clothes dryer to dry blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, clothes, while we did an epoxy repair job on the carrier. We tried to pack “intelligently” for the big haul cross-country and still have room for living. In a van? My mother spent many hours ringing her hands (and hankies) wondering what she would do with all the leftover gear that wouldn’t fit. She had just gone through the same thing with Terry and Barb the week before and her patience was wearing thin. I don’t blame her. The Green house has always been used as home base because of a welcoming attitude, ample space, and Fif’s delicious home cooking. Of course the real reason was that two out of three of her children and two of her grandchildren were leaving in vans for “God knows where” to live as hippies for “God knows how long”. Though we’d been hashing and re-hashing the plan for over a year, none of the parents thought we’d actually become wanderers.

I, myself, found it hard to believe that we were actually giving up our stable life with two kids, our little 3 bedroom/2 bath ranch in middle class suburbia. But harder still – how did I ever talk my husband into giving up his successful position as a white-collar “investment advisor” – the new-fangled word for a stockbroker?

Life and Deaf – Chap. 11 – Leaning Toward Hippie Daze

preparing our rolling home
So why, where, when and how did we get from Florida to Colorado? I began living as an armchair hippie somewhere between the late 60’s and the early 70’s as we followed a more traditional route of our conservative past: bearing two children, buying a ranch style house for $20,000 including a beach access, in a sweet young neighborhood half a block from the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Halifax River on the other in, Ormond Beach. We watered our salt-saturated yard, strolled the babies, hung out on the lawn after work with the neighbors, babysat for each other, slathered the kids with zinc oxide sunscreen, went fishing and crabbing, had a boat and a station wagon.

My brother Terry and his gal Barb would come over to visit and go to the beach from the University of Florida where Ray and I both graduated a few years earlier. And if we could find a babysitter we could head to our alma mater for live concerts: James Brown killing us with his music and falling down drunk off the stage, or the first live performance of Jesus Christ Superstar with ‘actual’ nudity. In fact Terry and Barbara were the first to offer to take care of Scooter for the weekend, giving us time alone together before our next baby Nicole was born. He was at the height of the terrible two’s: independent, willful and not very language proficient. I remember pulling up from our first vacation, the two of them looking totally exhausted, outside on the lawn with Scooter awaiting our arrival.

My mother, formerly a speech therapist and drama coach, felt comfortable taking care of him, which she would do often when we’d get together on weekends. They took to each other immediately and loved spending time together. In his words:

“Grandma Green, the grandmother I was closest to, was one of the most loving and generous people I knew. One of the reasons we had a close bond was because she used to be a speech therapist and would coach me on saying words properly when I couldn’t hear them. She always spoke to me as an adult and would discuss worldly things with me which I loved because it would broaden my inquisitive mind.”

We stayed in our little Ormond Beach Peyton Place for 7 years as the hippie itch attacked me. I read Be Here Now by Ram Dass, smoked my first joint, did macramé, wore vintage clothes without a bra, stopped shaving my legs and yearned to be a flower child. Such a dreamer! How in the hell did I ever talk daddy Ray into leaving his Merrell Lynch life, still wearing the tied neck and shiny shoes of his military past? Maybe part of it was that my brother and all his hippie friends were graduating from college and celebrating with an adventure across the USA, living on the road, and we got caught up in the excitement.

The planning began. We sold our house, bought a van and refurbished it into a rolling home. Ray quit his job and applied for unemployment. We’d have money to live on until we decided what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. Our underlying motive became combing the country to find a superlative oral school for Scooter to give him the background he needed to be successfully mainstreamed into regular hearing classes.


Life and Deaf – Chapter 9 – Old Movies

There’s a new addition to my blog. You can now subscribe and each new post announcement will automatically be sent to your email. Just put your email address in the upper righthand corner of the blog. Thanks for reading.

Back to Life and Deaf.

Scooter with his birthday dog.

A memory pops into my mind, so clearly, of Scooter showing his spirit while hoding his teacher, Sunny Bates’ hand in the parking lot of Marineland. He’s stamping his little foot, shaking his head no, next to the old Dodge station wagon we bought from Grandma and Gaga Patterson. He doesn’t want to go home and accept the fact that the excitement and spectacle of watching the dolphins and whales jumping, singing and dancing for us is over.

It all started when my TV cable went out. For a decade I’ve been piggy-backing off a cable that wasn’t supposed to be live. Holding on to the attitude of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book era, I didn’t feel too bad getting a little free cable from a big rich conglomerate. I started cleaning out the space getting ready for a new big legal flat screen variety and there, mixed in with the almost obsolete DVD’s and CD’s, is a copy that says ‘super-eight movies’. I pop it in and begin to watch. OMG, the beginning of our family: Scooter learning to walk. I laugh, I cry as our family life goes scrolling by. I do a quick calculation, 1968 – 1978, from Ormond Beach, FL where the children were born, through our lives as hippies traveling the country in a van, settling in Boulder, CO and our return to Sarasota.

After 1½ hours and a decade roll past, I’m emotionally drained. A smile soothes my face. My memory has been so easily nudged with these genuine images from the past. It’s all on a movie

Nicole and Scooter in Ormond Bch

lost, then found in the clutter of life. I sift through years of gift opening in front of endless Christmas trees, fancily dressed toddlers precariously carrying baskets of brightly decorated eggs, crowds of neighbor kids adorned in peaked hats in front of blazing, then smoking animal-shaped birthday cakes. But in between there’s real life: Scooter’s first steps,first run, first fall, picking himself back up and continuing on; no crying or laughing, just pure inquisitiveness and determination.The kids model silly wild outfits I sew them for Christmas. I sew myself  sexy ones to go with my bleached blond hair. We enjoy drunk,crazy fun times with the grandparents at their 25th wedding anniversary. I discipline Scooter and drag him away when he won’t stay of the street.We dancing and party with friends at a neighborhood New Year’s Eve bash where Ray passes out on the couch deeply enough to ignore us taking the drink from his hands as we continually change his hats. We take old Boulder Hippie friends boating to Sarasota’s topless beach (Sarasota was not so staid back then) and return to romp nude in our backyard.

Crazy Xmas robes I made for kids.

But let me pick up the thread where I left off. Scooter’s new teacher was with us on that Marineland trip. Miss Sunny Bates, the best teacher a child could have, had become a close friend of the family. She loved that boy, his spirited independent ways, quick intelligence and potential to move into the hearing world, and we loved her. After our shaky beginnings with oral education, she took the ball and ran with it, giving him the background he needed to successfully inhabit a hearing world.

Granted the circumstances weren’t perfect-a class of children with mixed disabilities: deaf, emotionally disturbed, cerebal palsied, autistic, aged 2 ½ (or potty trained) through 5. With Sunny at the helm, it worked and I became a volunteer teacher’s aide to pick up the slack, my first job since teaching elementary school in El Paso, Texas. What an eye-opener and education for me, too.

Hope my alterations and changes are not too confusing. Next time a different perspective – a memory from the horse’s mouth – my son.


I’m It! Ten Random Facts About Myself.

I just got tagged by Sue Ann Bowling to tell 10 random facts about myself, tag 3 other people and link to their sites.

To preface the assignment, I have been trying hard to publicize my newly published book Free To Bloom about the adventures of a single woman learning to live alone in Costa Rica and around the world. While visiting She Writes, a very helpful and interesting site for women writers, I encountered a group called WordPress Bloggers and finally left a comment listing my blog. Lo and behold, I got tagged. I just haven’t got into the habit of PR: surfing sites, dropping comments, linking to others. It’s hard, maybe harder than writing the damn book. Now, according to Sue Ann this is going geometric. Watch out everyone. Here we go.

You’re It:

  • Stepping Into The Water – a socially relevant and inspiring  blog and book by my good friend Marisa, member of my writing group, and author of the book The Sharkman of Cortez.
  • In The Company of Gentle Heroes – my wonderful friend Sue who has written a memoir of her life as a miiltary wife and just started her blog..
  • M C Coolidge Reality On Line – a fellow writer, lively journalist in the Sarasota, FL area and author of the book Sideways in Sarasota, who will join me next Tues. Sept. 20 at Bookstore1Sarasota for a gathering and book signing for local self-published authors.

Ten Random Facts about Jill:

The Hippie Family
  1. Became a Hippie during the 70’s, sold everything to travel and live in a van with husband, kids and dogs with the ulterior motive of finding the best oral school for my deaf son.
  2. Taking full advantage of his disabilities, my son has become a psychic and my internet guru, making it possible for me to understand enough of the intricacies of an online world to publish an ebook.
  3. Thanks to my adventurous daughter whom I have followed all over the world, I now have a home in Costa Rica, the catalyst of my personal transformation.
  4. Need to be close to bodies of water–whether riding the surf, kayaking the rivers or jumping from waterfalls.p91204071-300x225-8535107
  5. Teaching is a part of my life– first with my son, then high school science, English as a 2nd language and continues as a volunteer.
  6. One of my best life experiences was volunteering in Africa and joining a safari.
  7. Champion saving the environment and its people– from bringing water and sanitation to the poor, shopping at thrift stores, cleaning up the beaches.
  8. Love to dance.
  9. Love my kids but realize that grandkids are way more fun. Without the responsibility of their upbringing I become the old lady scientist and bedtime story-teller.
  10. Reading  is a joy and necessity. It brought me to writing and ultimately to publishing my book Free To Bloom.
Malawi Africa

Please pass this exercise on. It really made my think about my life past, present and future.