GRAND Parents; Fair Grandparents

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Riney and Karen Jordan opted to “go retro” in retirement, and they’ve been moderately successful. They first chose small-town life in Hamilton, TX, before embarking on true rural living a while back on property miles from town off a dirt road.

Few people pass their house going to town. They’re coping on even terms with “old-timey” life–gathering eggs, planting gardens and driving tractors. And they glance out their windows regularly to see “if it’s coming up a cloud.”

Overall, this well-known public speaker and his wife deserve an “A+ life grade” heading into sunset years. (He served three decades in Grapevine schools, rising from classroom teacher to principal to district PR director.) They raised three children, and now are responsible for a grandson during his senior year of high school.

It would be untrue to suggest Dustin has magically become a “good farm boy.” After all, he was thrust into the role last summer when his folks moved to the hill country.

Still ringing in his ears is his grandparents’ generous offer to provide room and board so he could finish Hamilton High.

Oh, the warm memories he can share–this candidate for graduation in a few weeks– including ones from a recent night when “it came up a cloud.”

To prepare for such times, the Jordans built a storm cellar–upgraded from the ones they scurried into as children when ill winds blew through. It is concrete lined, and has electricity, six comfortable chairs and board games.

Out of sight–and hopefully out of mind–is any evidence of social media, TV and such.

When Riney yelled warnings about a storm the other night, Karen happily followed him to the cellar. Dustin, however, opted to “stay put.” After all, Chicago Fire–a favorite TV show–was on, and it is his habit to watch it while shoveling down a mountain of vanilla ice cream generously slathered with chocolate syrup. Riney and Karen often join him in the dessert repast, although with reduced portions.

They aren’t apt to fret when Dustin’s objections are rarely voiced. So they proceeded to the cellar without Dustin in tow.

As winds howled outside, they voiced prayers for him, so concerned for his safety they didn’t even begin board games. Before long, their cellphone sounded. It was a text from Dustin saying how much he’d enjoyed both the TV show and dessert. He also sent a picture of four heaping scoops of ice cream, chocolate syrup sloshing against the side of the bowl. Touche.

Maybe this is a memory Dustin will share with his grandchildren when they ask him, “What’s a storm cellar?”

Mrs. Lyndon Priest, who lives in Big Spring, has a story she has repeated across the years. She and her late husband, church goers all their life, were proud of their modest home. “Priest,” their last name, appeared prominently in yard art.

And a cross implanted in their front yard made their Christian commitment obvious to all.

One day, a couple drove slowly passed their home several times.

Finally, they stopped, exited the car and rang the doorbell.

“You perhaps noticed we’ve driven by several times,” the man explained. “But we’ve had good reason. We have a nice piece of land we want to give the church, and since a priest lives here, we figured you could help us out.” (Before you ask, I assure you of Mrs. Priest’s claim that she quickly explained they “weren’t that kind of priest.”)

A rural friend claims there’s yet another reason to consider addition of “outdoor privies” that were “part and parcel” of country life before modern bathrooms.

For those who don’t remember, they were small wooden structures, usually with half-moons carved in the door. “I don’t remember any arguments about who could use it,” the old-timer said.

And neither do I. I do remember storm cellars, however. It’s where we went when it was “coming up a cloud.” It was also where spiders abided, snakes slithered and makeshift shelves provided storage for my grandmother’s boxes of Mason jars containing her homemade fig preserves. We spent many hours therein, but never once did our house blow away.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Columns archived at, newbury blog.