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Two Remembrances from Ryland Safford Stacy about her grandfather Dr. Alfred Philo Howard

October 23rd, 2014 Comments off

Dr. Alfred Philo Howard circa 1918

When I was 4 I had to have my tonsils out, and Dal said no grandchild of his would have to stay in the hospital at that age, so he gathered his doctor friends (Carlton, Kincaid,Thorning) and I think I became the first outpatient surgery case in Houston!  This was 1950.  Mom got me a new pair of pj’s, slippers, and robe for the occasion, and I was promised all the ice cream I could eat.  I thought that was great until I woke up…..  I remember Dr Thorning holding the ether thing over my mouth and nose and I counted forward (because I couldn’t count backwards) and we did the deed in Dal’s offices!

Also:
When I was in high school, Biba was at Vanderbilt so i spent many chunks of nights at Nannie’s while Mom and Dad went out of town.  I LOVED being there because Dal and I would listen to the radio in the evenings if he could find something in the sports category (especially baseball!) and we would play gin rummy.  I don’t think I won many games in those two years!  Needless to say, he was a crackerjack at any game we would play.   why didn’t I inherit that trick?????

Love, Ryland (the younger)

 

A story from Heather Wren Welder about Dr. Alfred Philo Howard born October 25, 1878 Palestine, Texas

October 23rd, 2014 Comments off

Dr. Alfred Philo Howard circa 1918

Precious Uncle Philo… Mother, Florence Wren, always credited Uncle Philo for mine & Campbell’s births. I do not know any of the details but Uncle Philo never refuted the compliment. Campbell was born Jan. 26, 1943 in Sandwich, Mass.  My father, Clark, was on a last WWII maneuvers before he left for Africa & Italy in March, as was the doctor. Mother left me with their landlord and she took a taxi to Hyannis Port, Mass. to the hospital as she was in labor. When she got to the hospital, she was told that the dr was on maneuvers and would get back to help her as soon as possible. The nurses put her on a steel table with a sheet covering her feet & left. Campbell came quickly and Mother, all alone, helped to deliver her own son. She was badly hurt & not sewn up correctly. After my Father left for Algiers in March, Mother with a 17 month old and a 6 wk old baby took the train to see her sisters, tell them goodbye and went to Texas in May of 1943. Uncle Philo immediately put her in the hospital, found the best surgeon and according to my parents, saved Mother’s life and made the rest of her life bearable.


I have my own special memory as he diagnosed my ruptured appendix  as he and Dr Worhall conversed over me, deciding that the 6 year old was dehydrated and could possibly die. They rushed me to St Joseph’s Hosp. Uncle Philo came every day for 2 weeks to check on me and bring me, I think, a lollipop. It is little wonder that I loved him dearly and respected him greatly. We are all better for having had this dear and precious man in our lives.

Heather

A sister takes a moment

September 14th, 2014 4 comments

Lalu Wedding

It must have been around ten forty-five in the morning or so on a mild, sunny Saturday as I recall. December 22th, 1955.  My oldest sister was getting married in a little over an hour, judging from the clock in the left picture above. I was seven years old.

Always last to be ready, my mother was still in her bedroom putting herself together, as she often said. My dad and I were in the high-ceiling, more glass than brick living room of our mid-century house in west Houston. Dad was almost certainly reading the paper in the wing-back chair. I was on the couch sulking.

I had two sisters in their twenties and a sixteen-year-old brother. I don’t know where my sister Robin was at that moment. Probably doing her makeup. (She was our blonde bombshell.) My brother Grainger was  probably feeding the snakes caged in his room. (A future biologist, he was allowed to keep non-poisonous snakes in the house, but that’s another story.)

My unhappiness on the couch was born of my disappointment at losing my sister Lalu, who took that name from me when I was two and couldn’t pronounce “Nancy Lou.” We were very close. Being sixteen when I was born, she evidently put me in her bed when I cried in infancy. She took me to movies, got me my first haircut, taught me to play chess and cards, etc. When I was six, she returned from Stanford, as promised, to teach science at a high school. I had started school late due to my mother’s misperceptions (a good story, that one). It was then that she discovered I could neither tell time nor read.  Lalu taught me these things in short order, which saved me further embarrassment at school.

Now, two years later, she was leaving again, and for good this time.  When, sitting on that very couch, I heard of her engagement, I tried to poison my future brother-in-law.

Sort of.

On hearing the news, my dad opened a bottle of champagne, an ounce of which was allotted to me as was the custom on such special occasions.  Something had to be done, I thought. Not waiting for my pour, I walked into the kitchen and retrieved a glass from on high. Into it I poured tomato juice, Worcestershire, my father’s beloved Mexican hot sauce, and carried the concoction to the couch where I handed it to the fiance saying, “Drink this. It’s poison.”

Silence.

After I disclosed the recipe, the others laughed – the fiance rather nervously. I did not.

What followed were months of preparation for what was to be a very large wedding. Everyone pitched in. A lot of money was spent. (My father offered the couple the same amount if they’d elope, which my sister declined, and my mother poo-pooed.) Hundreds of invitations were assembled in our living room. Licking stamps was my contribution, which I considered mildly heroic. (No one mentioned the use of a damp sponge until I began to gag.) And during the months that followed no one bothered to ask me how I felt about my hitherto doting sister’s impending disappearance from the house.

And so it was that I was brooding on our living room couch the morning of December 27, 1956.

Lalu walked into the room, looking beautiful in her white dress flowing all around her. My dad put down his paper and said as much, then talked breezily in his usual fashion about how boys are no damned good and offered to put the groom in jail if Lalu had changed her mind. (Dad was a humorist and a civil judge who very rarely put people in jail and then only for contempt.) My sister laughed heartily, as she still does. She kissed Dad, and declined both offers.

At this point Lulu looked down on her little brother and found him sulking once again. It was then that Mother entered the room. Seeing her daughter doing nothing but standing there staring at her brother, Mother suggested there must be something Lalu should be doing.

Indeed there was, Lalu said. She promptly opened the game cabinet and retrieved the carved wooden chess set and placed it on the coffee table before me. “I need to play chess with Sperry.”

And so she did. The game didn’t last too long, I’ sure. Lalu was very good at chess. But she was in no hurry. We spoke of things I can’t possibly recall. Only that we spoke only to each other for the little while she had separated out for me, her anxious little brother, a moment that stands out to me now as clearly as it did these many years ago.

A note about the images. The photos at the top of this post are of Lalu and Dad (left) and Mom and her brother, the beloved Uncle Philo. Below is a picture of Lalu and me a few years ago with Mt. Shasta in the background and, of course, the bride and groom with Lalu and Robin’s dear friend Jean Garwood.

Lalu and Sperry 2006Lalu and Roy

A Robin story from Campbell Wren

July 25th, 2014 Comments off

The one I remember was the summer your [Sperry’s] parents went to Europe and we, my father, Clark, mother, Florence, sister, Heather, me, Campbell and Pittle Luppy, our mongrel dog, moved into your parents home to watch over your sister, Robin and your brother, Grainger while they traveled.  That must have been about 1956.  Pittle Luppy was called that in honor of Spoonerisms(my father’s favorite word game) and the fact the Little Puppy peed everytime she got excited.
Robin was studying singing at the time and was always practicing singing her scales in her room.
As a joke I would put Pittle Luppy outside Robin’s room and start her howling when Robin started practicing.
It was very irritating for Robin because she did not know I was the one starting the dog howling each time.  But she would come out of her room to find the dog sitting there howling away.  Being Robin and always so nice; her remark was always, “The little dog just loves my music”.

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A message from Maureen in Seattle about Robin

July 24th, 2014 Comments off

Dear Sperry,
I so enjoyed Robin and her irrepressibly sense of humor, was delighted that herself and had a wonderful few years in which they both wrote and shared poetry.
I have fond memories of our visit in Seattle with Robin, Amy and Bill, and the time awe spent at my home, at that time on Mercer Island and really feel a huge loss at the passing of your lovely sister.
Maureen

A memory from Emory

July 24th, 2014 Comments off

[A thoughtful recollection from Emory R. Guest written to Robin’s brother Sperry]

I am Uncle Bill’s second son (if he had one).  I enjoyed having lunch at their house every Friday for a year or two.  Most of the time Robin would be able to join us.  I really enjoyed helping her set the table or bring out drinks to the patio table.  But most of all, cloth napkins.  She wouldn’t settle for anything less even though it was just a sandwich whipped up in the kitchen with spare items, often a fried Reuben sandwich.  She had my napkin and napkin ring assigned to me to use each time I came over.

The reason I enjoyed helping her in any way I could is because she made me feel loved, comfortable and welcome from the first moment I met her.  She always greeted me with a big smile and kiss which I returned with pleasure.  I truly felt like she was my companion as much as Uncle Bill’s during our Friday lunches.  If I had to come up with one thing negative to say about her to save my life, I would just start praying for mercy because I would be on my way to meet the Lord.   But what was up with that art she hung on the walls?  It sure made for some interesting conversations when I brought my two young sons over for family gatherings.

I love your sister and am sad that I didn’t get to have more time to enjoy her.  Another reason to look forward to eternity in Heaven I suppose.

With love,
Emory

A memory of Robin from Mary Mize Hellums

July 23rd, 2014 Comments off

Robin McCorquodale

One of the most endearing qualities of Robin was her vulnerability and her open spirit.

The memory of those qualities is forever cherished in my memory. One of my favorites occurred as we stood in front of the kitchen sink at the ranch after one of our Thanksgiving feasts. She told me about something that she was struggling with and ask me what I thought she should do. From that time on we were dear friends as well as cousins. There was no guile in Robin!

A Story About Our Dear Robin McCorquodale from Heather Wren Welder

July 22nd, 2014 Comments off

[I] remember how whenever Robin began to speak, we would all listen but with our mouths open in rapt & adoring attention ( my mother one time had to tell me to close my mouth while staring adoringly at Robin). A year or so ago, my Beeville book club invited Robin to come to visit and talk about her books, how she came up with ideas, where & who were her muses and etc. My living room was filled and crowded and as Robin spoke, oh my gosh, I realized, everyone in the room was staring at Robin, spellbound and…with their mouths wide open, in absolute rapture!!

Later when I laughed and told Robin & Bill, Robin, in characteristic fey amazement, played her, as we all can attest, straight man role, unbelieving what I had said. I can hear her now, ” oh Heather!” I have received so many calls from my friends in Bville who have heard that I had lost my dearly beloved Robin. She touched so many lives with her sweetness and zest.