Another Change

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Frank, Scotty, and I loved the people of Bremond, but Frank had begun to worry about something, and it would change our lives and put us in a more permanent place.

Contract renewal time was quickly coming up at Bremond schools in the Spring of 1981.  Frank asked me to have a sit-down discussion about renewing his contract.  Frank was concerned that Scotty would be starting to Kindergarten in the Fall of 1981, and he wanted to make sure that Scotty would go through school from Kindergarten until Graduation in one town.  Frank had gone to only one school, Van Vleck, until he graduated and knew the beauty of the forever bonds and lasting friendships that he had made.

Knowing in my heart how important this was to Frank, I told him that whatever he wanted to do was okay with me, then asked him what he wanted to do.  He told me that he would call and talk to his Dad to see if the Phillips 66 Refinery was hiring and if they were, he would apply for a job there. Frank’s Dad assured him in a phone call that evening that it was an excellent time to fill out an application, so Frank got recommendations from the Head Coach, Principal, and Superintendent and requested a Friday off.

Not long ago, I found the recommendations sent to Phillips 66 Refinery for Frank in 1979. One of them stood out when I read it. Below is the recommendation from the Superintendent of Bremond ISD:

“I think Frank is strong in all of the ancillary characteristics.  He has done and is doing an excellent job.  He is a very hard worker willing and capable of other things other than coaching.  Examples:  Helping to build lockers in the field house before school or his pay started.  Initiating a program with the athletes to collect cans, sell, and then to buy a stereo for the field house.  We are very fortunate to have a man of his integrity and abilities.”

On a Thursday afternoon after my bus route run, we all traveled to Van Vleck, Texas, where we stayed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with Frank’s folks. Early Friday morning, Frank went to the Phillips Refinery and filled out an application for a job there. As soon as he finished the application form, they had him take some aptitude tests, which he passed with high marks. After completing all of the tests, Frank was asked to do an interview then told that someone would call him on Monday morning.  Sunday evening, Frank, Scotty, and I returned to Bremond to wait and see what our future held.

Just as promised, Frank received a call from Phillips 66 Personel on Monday morning.  They hired Frank as a Machinist, and they wanted him to start work for them as soon as possible.  Frank talked to the Principal and Superintendent of Bremond schools, and they released him from his contract with a stipulation that he would speak to me about staying to finish out driving the bus route mornings and evenings until school was out.

When school was out, and my bus run over, that evening, Frank asked me to sit down with him for a chat. Frank told me that Phillips 66 hired him, and they wanted him to come work for them as soon as possible, and the school released him from his contract. I was so excited until he said, “Nancy, hear me out. There is one little stipulation to being released from my contract, the bus route. It is too late in the school year to replace you and me as bus drivers, so they asked me to ask you if you will stay and drive the morning and afternoon routes until school is out. I promise you that I will come back on my off days to help you pack and look for us a place to live in Van Vleck after work . What do you say?”

Dang those dimples! What could I say?  Looking at the excitement in Frank’s sparkling eyes, I told him, “Frank, I will do it because I love you and want you to be happy, but promise me that you will be careful.”

That evening he called his folks and asked them if they wanted a visitor for a few weeks then told them that Phillips hired him.  Of course, they were totally on board with him staying at their home.  After Frank hung up the phone with his folks, I helped him pack his bag.  Frank taught the next day and told everyone goodbye at the school then while I was sitting in the school bus with Scotty waiting for school to turn out, Frank came to the bus and told us goodbye, he loved us, and that he would call us when he got to his folk’s home.  As Frank looked at me before he turned to walk away, I smiled my biggest smile even though tears welled up in my eyes.  As promised, Frank called us that evening.

The next morning, Scotty and I got up very early then went to drive our new bus route, which was identical to my evening route. The only difference being it was run backward.  Between the bus routes, I was keeping the head coach’s daughter, who was Scotty’s age, selling furniture that we did not need, and packing up our other things.  My days were full, but after Scotty went to bed at night, a long-ago remembrance of the feeling of separation and loneliness tried to creep into my mind, but I prayed, and God took care of it for me.

Frank came back to Bremond when he was off, and we loaded boxes and furniture into his pickup, but it was small, so it did not hold a lot. The last week of school, Scotty and I were down to sleeping on a mattress on the floor in one of the bedrooms, but we knew that when Frank came back to Bremond on his next day off, we would follow him to Van Vleck, Texas.  Scotty and I were getting excited about that happening.

Not being able to find a rental house, Frank had ordered a new trailer home from a friend of his, who lived in Bay City, Texas. The trailer was going to sit on a piece of land that Frank’s folks owned, and their home would only be maybe a couple of football fields distance from our trailer home.  While the trailer company manufactured the trailer home in Waco, Texas, the electric company ran lines and poles, a water well company drilled a well, and Frank and his Dad dug a hole for a septic tank plus lines.  Frank’s folks told us that we could stay with them until we could move into the trailer home.

On the last day of school, Scotty and I ran the morning and evening bus routes then we said our goodbyes to everyone.  Frank was waiting at the house when we drove up. He had loaded the last of our things in his truck.  After a brief hug and kiss, Frank locked up the house.  Scotty wanted to ride with his Dad, so I followed the pickup truck driving our trusty Super Beetle.  As we drove through town, a few tears rolled down my cheek while remembering the beautiful friendships we had made with the people of Bremond, Texas. A city where they made great Polish Sausage,  where I learned to drive a school bus, and where I raised chickens that laid the biggest double yolk eggs ever.

Bremond, Texas, you are engraved in my heart.

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