Fort Smith High School
Glynda Sue Vernon

I started just a few months after John Horne—July 14, 1940, St Edwards Mercy Hospital, Fort Smith, Arkansas. Spent the first school years in DuVal School (except for 2nd grade which was spent in Morrilton Orphans home.)

Seventh grade was when I started going by “Sue” and I just refused to acknowledge the first name from then on—Glynda is a big secret so don’t tell anyone! I don’t remember much about 7th through 9th grades except having a crush on Liberace and learning to cook “eggs a la goldenrod” in 7th grade cooking class. In Junior High I was pretty much an introvert. Come to think of it I was an introvert in High School and yes, I still consider myself an introvert. In the Keirsey-Bates Temperament test I’m an INFj— introverted, intuitive, feeling.

So what happened during the five decades since graduation? I married May 10, 1958 and in December 1959 had my first child, a girl named Tammy Sue. In February 1962 I had my second daughter, Denise Renee and by then I was living in Lawton, OK. In 1965 I divorced Mr. Ingram and in August 1966 I married a career military man who was sent to Viet Nam shortly after we were married. He returned and we had my third daughter on July 14, 1968. In 1969 Louis retired from the Army and we moved to Austin, Texas where he became a letter carrier. I stayed home and took care of the three girls until my mother passed away in 1976. That was a life-changing year for me—both my parents died. It was the Bi-Centennial year and the year of the Dragon. I was born in the year of the Dragon so those are supposed to be good years! Not! I went to work at the newly formed Public Utility Commission of Texas. I worked in the personnel department for five years. Quit the job to move to Lower Burrell, PA with my third husband. Oh, btw, I did divorce #2 in 1982 and we remained friends. That’s an important statement, which I’ll explain later.

Dick Peterson was an Engineer for Alcoa. He developed seven patents and gave papers at AIME meetings. I traveled with him to NYC, Denver, Anaheim, Las Vegas, and Massena, NY; seems like we were always camping or going to AIME conventions. We visited all those places I was so bored reading about in summer school when I had Ms. Barnwell for American History. Standing where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address is to stand in a hallowed place. You can feel your heart beat when you walk that battlefield. Antietam is also a very moving place. Camping in the Smoky Mountains is a joy. Watkins Glen was a special place to camp. I’ve slept on the ground all over the US and it all started in my back yard in the early 1940’s.

In 1992 Dick retired and we stayed in PA for a time. Seemed like a long time to me because I wanted to get back to the South ASAP. I stayed busy doing newsletters and keeping up with the 250+ members of the Burrell Chapter of the AARP. Also got involved with the Burrellton Garden Club and the American Cancer Society. I finally decided I’d rather have a 40-hour regular job. Volunteering can take over your life. In the fall of 1999 I moved to Midland, Texas. FLAT COUNTRY, NO WATER, FEW TREES, but OIL & GAS, Tommy Lee Jones, sometimes Matthew McConaughey. Oh, I almost forgot, General Tommy Franks and George & Laura Bush.

Dick went to Spokane to take care of his aged mother. She died but meantime he met someone and decided to stay on in Spokane. His lady-friend had cancer and passed away so now he’s in the later stages of a debilitating disease and can no longer drive so he lives in a 500 sq ft apartment all by himself. Sometimes you get stuck with the choices you make and he’s STUCK. I miss all the people I left in Midland but I couldn’t live there having been born with mountains, forests, violent summer storms and good water. I remember J. Harold Smith, my pastor at the First Baptist Church, visited the Holy Land and he said he couldn’t wait to get home to a good drink of Fort Smith water.

Midland became a sad place for me. My seventeen-year-old grandson was a junior at Midland High and had just taken the college entrance exams in the spring of 2003. He was ready to start Midland College on May 12. Sometime in the early morning of April 29 he decided to go to a “better place” so he’s there waiting for his “Gran.” I thought losing my mother was the worst thing that could happen to me. Wrong! Logan wanted to be an architect to build places for homeless people to live.

I said earlier that I would explain the “we remained friends” comment about the 2nd husband. When he had eye surgery in June and again in August of 2004 I drove from Midland to Austin to help him for the few days that he couldn’t drive. A few months later said he didn’t want to continue living in Austin. He wanted to live near his children in Tulsa. He was living in a house that I owned so that was going to create a problem for me. Denise had said she didn’t like having her dad in Austin and her mom in Midland at Christmas time. She wanted us to live near her in Jenks, OK. Her husband is a realtor/builder so I sold the house in Austin and the house in Midland and built a house here in Sapulpa. My youngest daughter lives here too. She has three cats, I have three dogs and now there are three Toyotas in the driveway.

I consider my life to have been interesting and probably wouldn’t change many things about it. I would try to make better choices in the significant others I chose. We make choices and sometimes they pan out and sometime they don’t. We keep learning don’t we and I’ve always learned more from my mistakes. At least you have a chance to improve and look forward to better times. I’m pleased now to watch my grand daughters’ successes. One of my grand daughters has a beautiful 7-month-old baby boy. I’m a Great-Gran! Oh my—and it seems like only yesterday I was walking to DuVal, North Side Jr. Hi and North Side Sr. Hi. I can still smell the new books purchased for the school year. I remember dragging the gut and drag racing down Garrison Ave. Skipping Sunday school to drive to Sallisaw, Natural Dam or Lake Fort Smith. I remember swimming at Silver Bridge and a summer of swimming in Galveston. My mother was seeing a fellow that summer who later became known for fighting oil well fires. His story was made into a movie called the “Hell Fighters.” Red Adair was his name. He didn’t look like John Wayne. He was about 5’ 8” and had red-blond hair and millions of freckles. Wonder what a movie of the ‘58 graduating class would be about? Mostly successes? Mostly happy? Peyton Place? Mostly satisfied with where we are 50 years later? I’ve had some sad and some glad. I’m content to be where I am at this time in my life. Close to home.

Glynda Sue "Vernon" Peterson - 2006