Yes, the is me and my best friend back in the days of wearing our royal blue pep club uniforms with bobby socks and red velvet tennis shoes. We wore those uniforms sometimes three times a week as we never missed a sports event, we were the PEP CLUB!
Heidi Surber Teichgraeber and I have known each other since the 2nd grade when her family moved on to our block in Eureka, Kansas. Our back yards backed into each other so we were all destined to meet the three Surber girls meet the three Murphy girls. Heidi and were the same age and Ericka and my sister, Karen were too, best friends forever.
Here’s a picture of us now! That’s my sister, Karen, Erika, me, and Heidi with a painting done of us by author/artist Nicole Seitz.
Since last spring we have been putting together our 45th Eureka Tornadoes, Class of 74, The Year with More reunion coming up this Labor Day. The last classmate that did our 40th Class reunion, Doug Spain, died after our event, as well, as, several others so Heidi and I decided we could not wait until our 50th as we might miss seeing another classmate, the plan was on.
Last night Heidi, my cousin Cindy Saunders who owns and runs the local restaurant, Cindy’s Copper Kettle worked on the menu for our dinner. It’s a Kansas dinner all the way featuring steak, twice baked potatoes, green beans, choice of salad or Caesar salad, homemade yeast rolls, water or unsweetened iced tea, and for dessert Robert Redford. This is layers starting with graham cracker crust then layers of chocolate and vanilla pudding then whipped cream, to die for. In East Texas, we call it Guadalupe pie. But comfort food of home but times have already changed, I already had a class member inform me they were vegan. I told Eric to give his wife the steak and load up on all the sides, believe me, there will be plenty.
More family photos!
Kathy L. Murphy, my cousin Cindy Gravatt Saunders, back row, our grandmother Helen Marie Maloney, and my cousin Terry Pursell
Kathy L. Murphy, Heidi Surber Teichgraeber, my cousin Cindy Saunder, and my sister, Karen Penner
Now, most of my classmates I knew before Kindergarten including Larry Hollenbeck who was born at the same time as me and is now neurosurgeon in Kansas City. The funny thing Larry does not know is my father thought I was his firstborn child with his black curly hair then my Aunt Mabel told him, “No Buddy, that is your little girl”, pointing to me with my scrunched red face and very pointy head. Evidently, he made an abrupt remark which I will not repeat and left. He finally came around to me when I became a mother and we became friends as adults. He was a two time wounded Korean War veteran and reminded me very much of Pat Conroy’s “The Great Santini”. He mellowed as he got older, my daughters adored him.
But why I am so excited this year to go is so many classmates are coming that I have now seen since junior high or high school. Many moved away but I went to school with them up until then and small-town rural bonds were formed. We have a shared history.
So we will gather August 31, Saturday at 1:00 p.m. for social hours and catching up. I’ll be taken my phone to capture all of these friends back together again in photos. You know me, I love to take pictures because quite honestly I do not have many from childhood. Here is one:
Yes, we will gather at a very iconic place for me, the historic Greenwood Hotel. My grandparents for a while ran the Greenwood Cafe that was connected to it. In the front was a liquor store, inside you could purchase your Greyhound bus tickets and they sold nickel candy bars, my favorite was Cherry Mash. Outside on the bus waiting bench, the old men would whittle, smoke cigars, and tell us kids stories. I hung on every word and loved to watch the man who went about town picking up cigarette butts to resmoke, that was swell entertainment as a kid.
Here’s my dad one Eureka Days Parade on one of the benches out front.
Lots of time running up and down that sidewalk to my grandparent’s store, The Maloney Shoe and Saddle Shop at the end of the Greenwood Hotel with my sisters. Special days were when we could run-up to the Greenwood and go down Main to visit my Aunt Mabel who worked at the gas office and at night was the ticket taker for the Princess Theater. Years later in high school, we would drag Main for hours and hours honking at each other like that scene in the film “American Grafitti”. I’ll never forget the time our classmate, you know who class, who put an outhouse in the middle of Main in front of the Greenwood County Courthouse with a rigor mortis coyote stuck down in the pot for all to see. The cops went crazy trying to find out who did it. For fun, my and my girlfriends use to ride around with the cops, again small-town rural town and Lord knows that would never happen today for sure.
Here is the Maloney’s my mother’s side of the family.
My mother’s parents, Helen Marie and Earl “Dyke” Harrison Maloney My cousin, Terry Pursell My Aunt Teenie, unknown, my mother, Mary, and my grandfather “Dyke” Maloney My Maloney mother’s side of the family.
My great-great grandfather James Murphy came directly from Cork County Ireland as a stonemason to eventually pave the streets of Eureka with Murphy bricks long since paved over but the Francis house remains made of Murphy bricks.
So as I ready for my trip, I am reminded of something one of favorite authors, Willie Morris once said and paraphrasing here, “You spend half of your life trying to get away from home and the second half of your life trying to get back home.”
I so look forward to going home, my friends. I know all of you have similar stories but for most of my adult life I have been working on a love letter to my home town. It will be a novel to be called “Eureka” because the type of childhood we had is long gone. The freedom to hear the screen door slamming bang behind you as you ran out the door to only come back home when my mother rang this old school bell at almost dark. We ran the neighborhoods playing Kick the Can, Freeze Tag, and for me with all of the kids now senior citizens who will gather for my 45th Class Reunion. It’s all about the story, so stay tuned. Nothing I love than sharing the stories. Classmates, if you are reading this, please come. It’s all about our love for each other and the bonds that we have that now not many people have in this world. Friendships over 60 years my friends.
And being a Kansan, it would only be befitting to end with what Dorothy said in “The Wizard of Oz”, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
Clicking madly my ruby slippers,
Kathy L. Murphy and back home everybody just calls me Murphy