Tubing & Mr. Christmas

Posted in Eternal Love | 2 comments

Frank Tubing on The Guadalupe River

The days and years were flying by us. Frank was working shift work at Phillips 66. Scotty was growing fast, involved in school, and extracurricular activities, and after applying then being hired, I became a Sweeny School Bus driver.

Early springtime at our home was for working flowerbeds and planting flowers. Frank and I shared a love for working in our yard, and since we lived on a corner lot, we planted and grew lots of flowers.  The first thing we did each Spring was to buy lots of new mulch, cow manure, and flower plants.  We had put landscape timbers around the house and all of the trees, making many flowerbeds. Although it took Frank and me many days working the flowerbeds, God blessed us with a bounty of beautiful flowers to enjoy all Spring, Summer, and Fall.

In the Summertime, Frank coached Scotty’s Little League Baseball team. I faithfully watched my two dimpled-faced guys from the stands, trying not to be obnoxious if there was a close call by the umpire.  When the baseball season ended, we took what became an annual week’s vacation to New Braunsfels, Texas, staying at the Guadalupe Outpost, spending days floating down the Guadalupe River. Frank, Scotty, and I loved floating down that cold river in a tube, and, as years passed by, we added lots of family members to this annual vacation.  Frank would take two weeks of vacation because a week before we left for the river, he would get the tubes ready, even making bottoms for some. There are priceless tales of what happened tubing on the river. Of course, what happened on the river stays on that river.

When we all arrived at the Outpost, some of us made a run to the grocery store, others aired the tubes, and got ready the ice chests loading them with snacks and beverages. Frank designated first light as leave time in the mornings for the river dump-off of inner tubes and energetic human floaters at Gruene, Texas.  The requirement was that you were up, fed, and waiting at the truck, or you were out of luck in going tubing that day. Funny how everyone was waiting by that Old Burnt Orange Truck, although Aggie Frank swore it was only orange. Even those who stayed up playing games all night were ready to go tubing.

Lots of vehicles were required to get everybody to Gruene, then people and tubes were unloaded, and we waited while the cars were taken to the park locked and left for pickup, except for the one that brought the drivers back to Gruene to join us on the tubing trip.

Frank created what he called “Hat Time” while tubing on the river.  When someone yelled, “Hat time!” everyone had to dip their hats into the cold water then put them back on our heads. Most of the food we took consisted of cheese, summer sausage, cut up fruits, chips, and crackers, but then there always were Fireballs and Lemonheads. Beverages consisted of small containers of juices, different kinds of canned colas,  plastic bottles of water, and, of course, Beer.

The tubing route from Gruene, Texas, to the New Braunfels park, took about six hours, but the Guadalupe Outpost was halfway between them, and we would climb out at the Outpost river stairs then all had lunch at the picnic tables.  Lunch consisted of sandwiches, chips, and cookies with your choice of beverage then after reapplying sunscreen, we all got back into the river to float to the park.

Once everyone returned to the Outpost in the afternoon, we would grill burgers, eat sandwiches again, or order from a takeout.  Little ones were put to bed early, and then teenagers did their thing playing games while the adults cleaned up, sat outside, and talked.  The next morning we got up and did it all again, making new exciting memories on the Guadalupe River.  The River Trip became an annual vacation for over fifteen years, and the memories made there are priceless.

Christmas was the ultimate favorite holiday at our home.  Not only did Frank love the river, but at Christmas time, he was Mr. Christmas.  Starting with the last day of November, Frank took weeks of vacation from his job to decorate the outside of our home.

The first year, Frank and Scotty measured the eaves of our house, then drew a diagram of the roof. Next, they tape measured all of the circumferences of the windows, then carefully calculated how many feet of lights and extension cords they would need. Once they thought they had the correct numbers, they purchased lights, extension cords, splicing tape, staples, and a staple gun. Frank and Scotty worked for days on their Christmas lighting project climbing up and down ladders, splicing lights together, stapling lights to boards lining the roof, and running many extension cords.

Finally, after days of hard work, it was time to try out the lights, so at sundown, Frank and Scotty plugged in the Christmas lights.  It did not take long before the circuit breakers on the house started to throw, shutting down all of the lights. Not being disturbed by that, Frank just laughed and added more extension cords then plugged them into more outlets to spread the load. Frank turned the breakers back on, and the house lit up like a five-alarm blaze!  Sunshades were required to look at our home lit up with Christmas lights at night.

People drove by our home, honking and yelling out of the windows of their cars, telling Frank and Scotty what a great job they had done. Of course, the compliments just encouraged them to want to add more lights, so the next day they covered all of the bushes and lined the sidewalks with lights too.

Frank’s lighting adventures even made it into the Phillips 66 newsletter called The Feed Prep under Team Highlights. When Frank came home from work one evening, he was laughing and proudly showed me this newsletter. He was so proud of this article and I was so proud of him too.

This is the article Frank brought home which was in the Team Highlights saying,

“Here’s a story that brings new meaning to the word Highlights.”

It seems there was a “brownout” on Avenue A and Orange Street, in Sweeny on Friday, December 2nd. It was just FRANK HENDERSON’s way of telling Texas-New Mexico Power Company that he needed a larger transformer for his 30,000 Christmas lights on his house.

If you have not figured it out by now, everyone Frank came in contact with loved him.  He had such a beautiful personality, and it was paired with his robust contagious laughter while he flashed you those deep dimples.  What more can I say?  Every second, minute, hour, day, week, month, and year with this man I married, made me love him more and more.  My heart had become Frank’s, and it was overwhelmed with love for him.

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  1. Ahhhhh….the difference between doing special things and the memories that come from everyday life! Thanks for sharing

    • Thank you so much, Kim and thank you for your comment. Everyday with Frank was special, but the vacations and holidays were even more special. He made life so much fun.
      God Bless You,

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