45th Anniversary…….January 14, 1972

45 years ago tonite was a Friday nite.   It was the coldest nite of the year.  Brrrrr…I remember it was below zero.  Rich and I were married in the St. Johns Lutheran Church in Toluca Ill.  We had a simple ceremony with the reception after at the church hall.  All we had was cake nuts and mints.   lol.  Really cheap.  My mom hired a photographer and paid for the cake.  We paid for everything else which wasn’t much.  The entertainment was everyone watching us open our presents.  I remember they were all practical gifts.  Sheets, towels and washcloths, a Mirro Popcorn popper, lots of kitchen stuff.  My dress was made by a friend of ours.  It was a simple A-line dress made of polyester and we added some pearl trim to it.  It cost a whole $16.  Rich’s sport jacket was made at the Toluca Garment Factory where I worked.wedding2

After the wedding we drove in my 1969 Camero to Peoria.  We stayed at a hotel that nite that had underground parking.  Thank goodness we did, cause the car probably wouldn’t have started in the morning.  Who would have ever thought that 40 years later the hotel would be gone, and a parking lot to St. Francis Hospital built their.  Tammy would graduate their with her BSN and probably parked her car in that parking lot.  lol  The next morning we drove to Keithsburg Illinois on the Mississippi to Rich’s grandparents.  I had never met them before.  What a strange honeymoon.  We spent Saturday nite their and Sunday we had to jump the car to get it started because it was so cold.  We returned home to our apartment on Sunday in Oglesby.  I was suppose to go back to work at the Garment Factory on Monday, but I called in.  So that was the beginning.  lolwedding-3

Now to tell you a little bit that you may not know.  When I met Rich, he was living with a bunch of his friends in Chillicothe.  It was about the time the Vietnam War was ending.  Every nite, especially weekends, they would party in the trailer.  Black lights, Brightly painted orange walls, and 8 track tapes.   The music was loud, the lights would flash and kids would come and go.  As I hung around more, I realized that the guys were all divorced or separated and the girls that come had husbands that were over seas.   That is all but Rich……Well as I found out…..He was also married…..With a 2 year old daughter….Wow….He was working at Caterpillar in Peoria but had been calling off work telling lies.  Finally it caught up with him and he was fired.  I found out about his marriage, he found another job in Mendota at Motor Wheel.  He filled for divorce the next summer.  It took awhile, but around Thanksgiving he got the divorce in Peoria.  On the way home he stopped at a jewelry store in Chillicothe and bought my ring.  We were married by January.


Now I was so innocent, I never even thought what people would think.  About a month later finally I was asked the question they all were wondering…….


What on earth were they talking about.  lol.   Finally April 6 1978 the baby was born.   Fooled them.   Well here we are 45 years, 3 kids, and 5 grandkids later.  Its really something as you think back to all those years.  At first your life is eternal.  You see old people who retire.  They have grey or white hair, and they simply stay home and grow older and die.  Either in the hospital or nursing home.  That certainly isn’t an age you will ever achieve.  Youth lasts forever.   It never grows old.  The family begins, baby’s come, before you know it youth is gone.  The weight problem gets worse.  Things start sagging.  lol.   And here comes the grey.  Finally retirement is before you……WHERE DID THE YEARS GO……We have retired ….  yes…  but were not sitting at home…..Nor in the Nursing Home…..Life has changed so much in the last several years.

We are now doing what we want.   Following the ADVENTURES in Life. 

It Is Our Plans.  These are the Best Years. 

Retirement is Grand……It Can Be What Ever You Want It To Be…..


This is not my picture, but this is what my 1969 Camero looked like……If We Only Had it Today….


Visiting Helen Ballard Before We Leave….

About a month ago we had found and visited an old friend of Richs.  Helen and Kenny  Ballard were old family friends from way back.  Kenny and Leo (Richs Dad) had met in the Navy.  I wrote a Blog about finding Helen awhile back.  Kenny had passed away around 1996.  Helen is now 92.  She is a wonderful spry lady with a fabulous mind and so much energy and memories.  We had promised we would be back before we left.  Monday, I called Helen  She said, “I wondered if you were still here.” She still remembered we had come.  So I asked,  What would be a good day this week to come visit.   She said,  “Not Tue.  I go up to New Virginia and quilt at the church all day.  Any other day is fine.”  lol.  So we arranged for Wed. at 11 am.  We would go for lunch.

20160901_142708.jpg  When we got their she was ready and waiting to go.  We took her little car as our little Ranger just doesn’t fit 3 adults very good.  We went to a restaurant in Osceola called “Family Table”.  …..Down Home Cooking…. They had a buffet for 7.99.   The food was so good.  We sat their for almost 2 hours visiting.  Her granddaughters husband had been in for dinner.  When we went to leave we found out he had picked up our tab.   It was so nice of him.   Thank You so much Brett.  Sure didn’t expect that.  We drove back to Helens.  I had brought all my blog books and we looked at them.  She was so excited to see them.  She has always wanted to write things done but never knew where to start.  I think as we get older, we realize the value of all the memories and information me have.  Once we are gone, so are they.     She wanted to show us the back 40, as she calls it.  Helen and Kenny had lived around 5 miles or more away from this property that she lives on now.  Kenny wanted to buy property to build and move to someday.  He found this property.  When Richs dad came to live here, Kenny had already bought this land but had no plans to move here yet. Up the hill in the back 40 he was building a dam to form a pond.  He wanted to make an area for fishing, camping, hunting and just a place where the whole family could come and enjoy and play together.  So these were things Leo seen back in the 80’s when his trailer was here.  Kenny did complete it.  They brought in a trailer  years after Leo left, and built on to it, and thus the “Trouse” was formed…..lol.. as her granddaughter Julie called it.  Well Kenny died in 1996, so he did enjoy it for awhile. So we got back in the car, Rich opened the locked gate and up the hill we went.


It is such a beautiful green area.  This is all nestled up in the hill side so nobody would ever know its their.  So full of nature, and wildlife, but yet so well maintained.  At the top of the hill, this is what we seen.


The Welcome Bear carved from wood, and the stone statue.  Now I asked Helen about the Stone piece.  I thought maybe they had made it or it meant something special.  It was given to her by her foster son who had gotten it from another family member.  They decided to put it up  here,  cause it needed a home.  It was just an interesting piece.  We followed the path across the dam.  It was so beautiful.  Now can you imagine sitting on that swing, watching the lake and wildlife, or yet watching you family have fun on the boats and swimming.   How many memories has Helen made here…..Amazing….What a Wonderful legacy Kenny and Helen have made for the family…It is something the family will cherish and hand down for generations. 


They have so many family get togethers here.   Plenty of water activities for the kids.  It was freshly mowed….Picture Perfect…..


Also had a kitchen area.  It is such a neat place to cook.  Bigger than home….lol…


It had everything one would need. Several frigs and freezer, Sink, Counters, Work table, and Cook stove and fireplace,  It also had 2 big smokers.  Imagine all the family here in RVs or tents…..all sitting at the tables eating….Wonderful family fun…I walked back toward Helen and Rich and they were just talking.


Mostly about  how Kenny had built all of this.  Her kids don’t let her mow anymore but she still takes care of maintenance.  She mentioned on the way up that she need to get a load of rock on the road.  She still takes care of all the needs.  She has quite a business head on her shoulders yet.  Finally we got back in the car, crossed the dam and back down the road.


Again so beautiful.  It was a cool crisp day, with a slight breeze…maybe in the 60’s….a great day to be out and enjoying nature.   As you see, all of this ground is kept mowed….Helen use to mow but they don’t let her anymore….lol…Helens youngest daughter, Norma and her husband, bought some of this acreage and built a log home up the hill from her.  Norma makes sure it is all mowed.   I noticed there was a zero turn mower up at the lake.  But there’s acres of grass to keep mowed.  Now the funny story about Norma.  Helen and Kenny had a number of kids.  When their youngest, Charlotte was 20 and already had a child, guess who got pregnant….lol…Helen, and here came Norma….We finally had to go, but what a good time we had.  We promised Helen we would come again next year.  We have signed up at the Park again, so if all goes as planned we will be back.  We all enjoyed our visit.  We talked about so many things.  She is about the only one left who really remembers much about Richs dad.  We asked her how Kenny and Leo met.   They met in the service.  They served on the same boat,  USS Tutuila (ARG 4) around 1944-45….not really sure.


It was an internal combustion repair ship.  It was constructed in 1943, by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation.  It served in World War II, traveling in the South Pacific.


Motto…..Eternal vigilance is the price of Freedom


It was decommissioned on December 7 1946. Later it was Commissioned again to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.   Eventually it was sold to the Republic of China.  When Kenny and Leo both got out of the Navy, Leo spent time at Kenny and Helens house.  Leo met and married Rose, Richs mom.  They continued their friendship through the years.  When Richs mom passed, he was only 15.  He spent the first summer at Kenny and Helens house.  Her kids were about the same age.  They had chores, as they were all hard workers.  Kenny had a wrecker business, salvage yard, also farmed and had livestock.  So their was always much work to be done.  That was one of the things Helen and Rich talked about, his summer at the farm.  How did he endure it ….lol….He actually enjoyed it.  Another thing she showed us was a picture on canvas.  It was given to her by a family member.  I don’t remember the story, but she was so surprised and excited to show it.


The original picture was taken in 1942 in DesMoines.  It was in an area called Capital Heights, which is now Altoona area.  Helen and Kenny had married sister and brother.  Helen and Kenny are on the left motorcycle and Helen’s brother George and Kenny’s sister are on the other.  Rich said they are both Harleys.  This was just a small snapshot and it was put on this large canvas.  It was bigger than an 11×14, and it turned out marvelous.  Helen said when she seen it, it took her back in time instantly.  She felt like a young girl at that moment of time.  As if she was their.  She had never felt like that before.  What a wonderful gift.  It was an awesome visit.  Now time to head back north to Adventureland…..Octoberfest….coming up….


Helen and Kenny Ballard     1980’s?