The Adventures of "Old Petal" ( aka "Old Carol")
In the last few years, I have thought a lot about my life and the choices that brought me to where I am now. I have been amazed by the bios, so many different paths. Well, here goes my adventure.
After high school, worked at General Telephone and hung out with the drag racing Dutch Treat bunch. Met June's cousin Sam "Chevy" Shanaberger and 'fell in love'. We married in 62 and settled into the buy a house raise a family routine. However, "Uncle" Sam had other ideas, and in 1963 we landed at Homestead AFB in a 30x8 trailer with a monthly income of $159, PLUS a baby (son Mark) on the way. It was not pleasant. I was so afraid my brain would atrophy that I read constantly. Took Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" to the labor room. The money did get a little better and we grew from the experience. Sam learned to manage and supervise, I learned to budget and be a mother, we both learned that if you can do it yourself, you don't have to pay others, one child is enough, being a stay at home mom was not for Petal, and the trailer life was 'the pits'. Not until many years later, did it register that it was a small inconvenience compared to the price paid by those who went to 'Nam.
Left Homestead in 1967 and returned to Sarasota poor and chomping at the bit. Like Scarlet, 'as God is our witness, we'll never be poor again' Well not quite so dramatic, but we were 'motivated'. Sam went into business with his brother, we lived with his mother, and I pondered 'what to do what to do". "COMPUTERS??? PROGRAMMING"??? Sounded like my 99%ile in math could be an asset and best of all, WOMEN were paid the same as men. Borrowed money and went off to school, feeling an OLD woman of 24 in girdle, nylons, high heels, French twist, shifting gears in our only asset a '67' GTO. Took about two days for the hair to come down and the dress code to drastically change. Got out of MJC in 69 and went searching for a job, magna cum laude in hand. Applied at the Sarasota County School Board. Would I work for $6020 a year? Were they kidding? That was a fortune! IBM 1401, AUTOCODER, two 16K disc drives. I was in Heaven. I truly loved my job and being a "nerd". Managed to get in a third year of college, but skipped out on the fourth.
Our motto became "Work hard, play Hard". We bought lots at Lake Sarasota. Sam took off work to build the house. We worked evenings, weekends, holidays and we 'got 'er done'. Moved in with 'all' our furniture, six table chairs, a beat up coffee table, two used beds, and an ancient TV. Two adults, one child, and a dog celebrated by having a giant pillow fight in the empty living room.
Sam and I both loved cars. My first was a 55 Chevy two door hard top, BUT it was automatic. I have not had a car without a clutch since. Over those years we had four 55 Chevys, four 57's, an SS396 Chevelle, and two GTO's. Loved going to the drags, "Sebring" and the "24 hours of Daytona".
In 1970 we discovered dirt bikes. Bought two Yamahas and headed for the woods with son Mark hanging on to Sam for dear life. Mark got his first bike for his 8th birthday, a 60cc Yamaha. Soon it was bigger bikes, and then the Sandslingers, Florida Trail Riders, Enduros, Hare Scrambles, Croom, SADRA, TEAM CORN. Lots of camping, crashing, sprains, bangs, bruises, frustration, money, more bikes and always excitement and pure fun, some twelve years of it. Mark got 1st place overall in the FTR Junior Class when he was 16. My best was 6th overall in FTR Women's B in 1981 at 38 years old.
Sam and I drifted apart and split up in 1980. I feel very fortunate that we have remained really good friends over the years. We have two grandsons, Chris and Cody, at home with Mark and his wife in Murphy, NC. Of course, they are all wonderful.
The eighties were, well, the eighties. There were concerts, Pink Floyd, The Who, Dylan, Buffett, Clapton. later, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page together. I gave up the dirt bikes and got into power lifting. Didn't have the build and liked food too much to try body building. Anyway, I worked hard at it and had a great time doing it. Got a couple of 4th place trophies in bench press/dead lift. Can't believe now that I actually picked up 285 pounds. In 1982, I visited my outdoorsman uncle in Oregon and hiked up to the rim of Mt St Helens' before the roads. Awesome! Took an Outward Bound NC course in 1983. Ropes course, canoeing on the Chattooga, forced marches, solo, climbing and rappelling. Spent lots of time in the water under the canoe. Other white water trips were on the New and Gauley Rivers in WV. Yes, I spent time under the rafts. I am really not very coordinated (Carol Klutz), but I have had fun.
The years 1986 thru 2002 are best described as "Two ADHD's set up housekeeping on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride", subtitled "Love is Strange". If you know Bruno Zacchini, you will understand. Our 1st marriage in '87' lasted 28 days. Together, not together, hate you, love you. Tried marriage again in '97', made it to 2002 and gave up. There was never a dull moment. I am grateful that Bruno and I can say "Remember when.", have a good laugh, share a hug, consider each other friends. During those years I got to see Canada from the Pacific to Toronto and got a very small taste of what it is like to 'get the show on the road'. Tear downs, short hops, set ups, no sleep. I got to paint scenes on one of BZ's carnival dark rides, an 'experience' for a non artist. We camped on the beach on Vancouver Island, took a horseback trip into the BC back country, rafted on the Rocking Horse(stayed in the boat that time), rented a fishing cabin in North Ontario. I took some solo camping trips while Bruno played spots. At the Calgary Stampede, I tented from Banff to Jasper and back, stopping for hikes and sights at Lake Louise, the ice fields. Another time, from Staunton VA to Front Royal in the Shenandoah NP. Bought a cabin north of Franklin, NC at Lake Nantahala and, yes, I spent time under rafts on the Nantahala River. We spent many hours at SHS football games watching Bruno III play.
I retired in 1999 after 30 years with the school system. I loved programming. It was complicated, stressful, frustrating, exciting, rewarding and always changing. Believe me, making a programming mistake and looking at 20,000 screwed up report cards is a thrill and a half. "Way-back-when", as a shop, we wrote our own O/L system, student side and financial side on an NCR Crittter. Lots of 'follow the index registers thru the hex dump' for any of you old computer people. I did some system analysis work, but didn't want to do it full time. Frankly, I loved the job but didn't want to marry it. Hired on an IBM 1401, retired on an IBM AS400. Twas a trip.
I stay away from weights, motorcycles and white water, now. My only sport is target shooting. Inherited several rifles built by my grandfather and have bought several of my own. Love my 6.5x55 Mausers, they don't beat me to death. Have a neat 1899 Krag 30 40 and a 303 Lee Enfield # 5 Jungle Carbine (all kept off site for safety). Tried hunting. I can stay in the deer stand for five hours, but I when I hear the deer, I jump and they run. Think I really like the meditation aspect more than the hunt. For my 59th birthday, I treated myself to two parachute jumps, tandem of course. Absolutely unbelievable. Maybe again on my 70th HA. I really do have a quieter side too. Have an antique/collectibles booth at Stuff-Tiques in Murphy, NC which has given me an excuse to search thrift shops, yard sales and flea markets for 'treasures' like tea sets, figurines, Roseville, Hitchcock chairs, etc which seldom get to the booth. Our boat house is now a green house full of Frangipani's and bromeliads etc. I AM compulsive.
My spiritual side is most valuable to me. Around 1990, life nudged me not-so-gently into seeking a higher power, a major task for a life long atheist. What's that old saying about 'mysterious ways'???? Took five years of courses in Religious Science and more years of New Thought, now attend Unity. Love, Law, Divine Mind, Troward, Buddha, Fillmore. The Tao, Upanishads, Jesus, The Bible, etc From 'There ain't no God, to There is only God". I am grateful for that elbow in the ribs.
Stan Seymour, SHS class of '56', and I ran into each other as singles six years ago. We had dated in HS and I had gone to prom with his brother Charles class of '62'. We bought a house together on Lake Blackshear between Cordele and Albany, GA. It is so beautiful here. Also spend time in Sarasota, at the NC cabin, and at my Mom's old house Melbourne Beach. We are parents to Xena, Princess Warrior, a two year old yellow lab.
I used to feel shame and regret that I have never been really good at any one pursuit. I have done a bunch of things, a few well, some pretty well, some okay, some pretty badly. I now look at my life as a trip, a journey, a growth experience, lessons learned, lessons taught and a life that, since it did happen was the best thing to happen. (Spinoza?) I have worked hard, played hard, loved hard(no pun intended), and prayed hard. Believe me, it has not been all fun and games. There are two therapists with beat up pillows that can attest to that. In reviewing my life, I realize that 'now' my thoughts go first to the good, the 'positives'. The 'negatives' have lost much of the power to cause me pain, after all, they 'positively' forced me to grow.
I feel very grateful and truly blessed.
AND SO IT WAS, IT IS, IT WILL BE
Petal Keadle Shanaberger
P.S. I hear an African Safari calling "Petal, Petal" and a wee voice asking "Are you out of your mind, you old fool?"
Time will tell.