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Half a Century Later….

by Nolan Maxie
N. Ray Maxie
We, the 1957 McLeod Longhorn seniors, each and everyone had our head full of dreams, all twenty-one of us. Life was new and fresh for this small group of eighteen-year-old wannabes. High-school graduation was an important milestone for all; rich or poor; fat or thin; pretty or ugly; dumb or smart. Or perhaps, just plain ignorant and apathetic (didn’t know and didn’t care). Several were still somewhat on the naïve side, immature and vulnerable. Mostly reeking with youthful ignorance and inexperience concerning real life waiting out there in the big world. (See "Oh, The Class of '57 Had Its Dreams." McLeod High School Longhorns....... )

Looking back, some of our little clan was basically ill prepared for life ahead. The branch was being cut off from the vine. As is often the case with little baby eaglets, some friends were being pushed out of the nest way too early. But, of all things my father taught me, I’ll never forget, “Nothing stays the same son. Nothing ever stays the same.”

Up to this point life had been pretty secure and simple living under mom and dad’s roof. A recent popular country song says, “Life is a dance. Sometimes it’s fast; sometimes it’s slow. Life is a dance. We learn as we go.”

Life for us during the 1950’s was much, much different than it is for young folk today. Our lifestyle in northeast Texas was slower, a little laid back and we had more time to relate to our parents, our siblings and friends. Teenagers took longer growing up than they do today. We were able to build lasting relationships and most everyone stayed out of serious trouble. High school sports were highly important to most every one of us, be they male or female. Teenagers had work to do in the home and about the family farm. Chores of responsibility were in order to carry out their part of the family load. The family that works together stays close together. Isn’t that what life is all about? (See Growing up Wasn't Easy in the '40's and '50's…… )

--- “Some say love, it is a river, growing stronger as it flows.. – Some say love, it is a flower, blooming more beautiful as it grows.”
Ray and Jean Maxie wedding 11-15-1957
Ray and Jean Maxie on their wedding day: November 15, 1957
About six months after graduation from school, my high school sweetheart and I, both eighteen years old, were married at the Huffines Baptist Church about eight miles northwest of McLeod, Texas, on the Atlanta highway. The Reverend N. S. Moody officiating. Both sets of each of our parents were present, along with several siblings and many friends. Two Christian families forever united.
Huffines TX - Huffines Baptist Church
Huffines - Huffines Baptist Church
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010

We spent the next four days of our honeymoon in Hot Springs, Arkansas. A beautiful, cool, mountain resort city that is still one of our favorite annual vacation spots. But, it has changed drastically over the last fifty years. Then what hasn’t? And, you know it still has great allure and fond memories for us. Hot mineral water baths on “bath house row” are still luxurious today. Plus, it is ranked #1 on Bland’s list of top 10 most affordable places for retirees to live.

By now you can see, for all these years, we have taken the “I Now The Wed” vows most seriously, having exchanged those vows only one time, ever. We feel there’s no doubt God has truly blessed our relationship and family; for without Him we could do nothing. But then, hasn’t He blessed this entire nation ever since Jamestown, over 400 years ago?

The next twenty-five years of marriage saw us raising our only children, two sons. The first of which was born in nearby Atlanta, Texas, in Cass County. Years seem to have just flown by like ripping pages off the calendar. The saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun”, is definitely true in our case. Second son was born in Sulphur Springs, Texas.

After 31 l/2 years of dedicated hard work for Montgomery County, my wife retired in 2002. By then, I had already retired from long employment with the state and the UP Railroad. Hey friends! We love it! Retirement is like a never-ending vacation. You must try it sometimes if you ever get a serious chance.

NOW 2007…..
This year, 2007, brings about great milestones; our fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration soon, as well as our fifty-year senior class anniversary bash. One matrimonial union, one life together, one family, one nation under God, half a century later, love is still supreme. Being classmates, my wife and I attend only one class reunion and in recent years, only one family reunion. And you know what? I think we soon will start to plan for another blissful fifty years together. Some serious and subtle negotiating has already begun. But plan or no plan, we might just try winging it for a while.

It is difficult for me to relate to the “loner” type person. Seldom in life have I ever been bored, lonely or all alone. No long nights with four boring walls just endlessly staring up at the ceiling. No playing solitary ‘til dawn, with a deck of fifty-one, nor counting flowers on the wall. If that ever happen it was very, very seldom and short lived. It was strictly by choice or perhaps necessity of me temporarily working away from home for a short while. I am a people person and dearly love company, companionship and lively, but not necessarily deep, conversation. I tell you what! I’ve never had much use for songs like, “Oh Lonesome Me”, “Only The Lonely”, or “Just Call Me Lonesome From Now On.”

“Joy to the world, all the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me.”---- Life is so full of joy, happiness and interesting things to do. This world is too enormously fun filled and interesting to live here with a long, sullen, sad face.

Once a very wise old man said, “Our attitude determines our altitude!” I strongly believe that, too! Life is mostly what we make of it! Don’t you think so? Life is always much easier when we plow around the stumps. I’m often reminded, “If life gives you a lemon, make some good lemonade”, and folks will beat path to your door.

A favorite old poem of mine from my high school days, “INVICTUS”, by William Ernest Henley, (1849–1903) goes like this:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but not bowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not ow strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

My darling wife is a high-energy country girl, low maintenance, petit and full of life; an avid conversationalist, she is! In recent years, she has returned to the love of reading good novels written by good authors, as well as working those “goofy little old” daily word puzzles. She’s also regularly involved in volunteer work for local charities, while keeping our home-life here on “Piddlin’ Acres” buzzing and oooh so comfortable. Our friends, family, church and grandchildren are mighty big priorities to us these days.

Recently I observed somewhere that people enter our lives for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime. Each one is very important. Although some folk have to occasionally be turned loose, let go of and move on. I strongly believe in “The Right People; The Right Place; The Right Time.” All of the “rights” will make for a successful life.

Let us dream no small dreams, because life is full of opportunities around every corner. Pay no attention to naysayers and doubters; those “it can’t be done” type. If you have a dream to dream, dream it anyway. If you have a song to sing, sing it anyway. “Step back non-believers or the day will never come.”

I also strongly adhere to the notion that good relationships can be cultivated to last a lifetime. Regardless of ever how long a lifetime may be, some folk are definitely keepers.

“Oh sweetie! Did you hear what I said?” No, she’s not listening. Her head is deep within the pages of a highly interesting book. ---- “I said, ’I virtually adore you!’ ---- HAPPY FIFTIETH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, my dear……”

Is that the alarm clock I hear? Oh, don’t wake this old sleepy head!…. Well! Who put the clock so far away from the bed?

There are those among us that might not entertain your dream. “Dream it anyway!” Others might be less that enthusiastic about what you need to do. “Do it anyway!”

A dream is a new seed. You know I love dreaming! Don’t let my dream world end!

© Nolan Maxie
"Nolan Maxie"
November 1, 2007 Column

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