I. Family Defined
Walter and Dessie had grown up in Lebanon but had never really been friends in their early years. It was not unusual for folks not to see each other except at church. Usually their work kept them on the farms by day and at home by night.
On Sunday nights after church it was traditional to break out the ice freezer and make home-made ice cream. Everyone stayed over for the event as it was a time to visit and fellowship.
At one of these church social one evening after a worship service, Walter was breaking up the ice by the light of a lantern. Suddenly he began to notice a young lady who was laughing and talking with the other girls from the church.
In the semi-darkness she was especially attractive so much so that he first thought surely she must be a visitor – but then he realized that it was Odessa Olson and his heart was smitten.
He made a point of getting ice cream for her that evening and he became her ‘knight in shining armor’ at every church social from that night forward. They were married one month later and their love for each other never waned. It grew sweeter each and every day.
Walter and Dessie soon started a family. Samuel Lance Johnson was their first son born to them in the early 1940s. He and Dessie had agreed to call him Sam and he soon captivated the full attention of Walter.
He would play with him throwing him up in the air and catching him. All to the delight of little Sam as he squealed with laughter.
Many nights, Walter went to bed with an aching back from the ‘horsy rides’ he had given Sam. He was even quick to change Sam’s diapers.
Walter wanted to be a part of every facet of Sam’s life as he grew. This caused an uneasy clamor in the community as the men felt it was a woman’s duty to take care of the baby. Walter did not care.
Two years later, Steven Walter Johnson was born. Walter and Dessie called him Steve. He was a spitting image of Sam at birth and immediately captured the love that Sam had received in his early days.
Walter had secretly wondered if he would be able to love two children equally. Would he love one over the other? It had troubled him when Dessie told him he was going to be a father again. That was soon forgotten, however, as the little bundle was placed in his arms for the first time.
As Sam and Steve grew up, it became obvious that they had different and much defined characteristics. Sam was an outgoing and energetic person, but could be withdrawn from others at times. He would move quickly in making decisions.
Quite often, Sam would not give challenges the proper consideration necessary for success. Just plow through the door and take what comes was his standard operational mode.
Steve on the other hand was more thought provocative. He would get to the same place as Sam in most cases, but by the time he got there, it was a well thought out plan. And it usually worked better than Sam’s fast and furious means to the end.
Sam got Steve into more trouble by moving out so quickly and forcing Steve to follow. Steve wanted his brother’s approval so much that he went along with him to please him even though in many cases he could see a better way.
Sam finished high school and attended a one year business school in Nashville. He received a Certificate of Merit in Banking from the Association of Banking for the State of Tennessee. He followed in his father’s footsteps.
Sam began his career working in the bank with his Dad, Walter. His Dad had one characteristic that Sam overlooked. Walter could as easily size up not only people but him as well as he did customers looking for loans who came into the bank.
Sam began his banking career in a teller’s booth. He was told that this is where everyone starts in banking. Sam had thought a vice president’s job was more in line for the son of the banker.
Life apart from the bank for Sam began with a young lady named Joan. She was a sweet girl from a farming family. Her roots were deep and strong in Lebanon.
Her family had bought a farm on Route 25 right out of town. Walter had helped them to arrange the loan through the bank.
Not knowing the background of all her classmates, she began to respond to the quirks and jokes of Sam. She thought that he was one of the more popular boys in school.
Soon she was caught in a relationship that she wished she had never started. But now she was bound and linked to Sam forever as they were going to have a baby.
All of her careful planning and dreaming of her wedding – that day would have to be forever banished from her thoughts. Though she looked forward to her life with Sam, she could not help but feel she was giving up so much for him.
Her family and the Johnson family met one evening and planned the entire affair without so much as asking her one question. She and Sam sat there and submitted to their every request.
They all went to Nashville the following Saturday night and were married in a Justice of the Peace’s front room. Only her parents and the Johnson’s were in attendance.
The story given is that they had eloped. An elaborate account was spread by Sam to cover the guilt and shame of the event. Sam’s popularity as a young man from a prominent local family was quickly overshadowed in the mind of Joan.
It became apparent that he was a self centered who could be classified as obnoxious as well as congenial. She knew she would honor her marriage vows for the sake of her unborn child, but her happiness did not seem to be a concern for Sam.
He and Joan had their baby within 6 months after the marriage. The rush of the marriage; the laying to rest all the rumors; caused extreme distress for the entire family.
It was especially difficult for Sam’s new family. Sam was not concerned as he saw his Dad as an solution for solving all his problems. “After all it was his duty of a father,” he was overheard telling one of his friends.
After Samuel Lance Johnson Jr. was born, she and Sam agreed to call him Junior. He was a bundle of joy for Sam with his quick little eyes watching his every move.
Joan had a difficult time in child birth with Junior. The doctors recommended that she take precautions so as not to repeat any further risk to her health through pregnancy. Sam went for it immediately although Joan was hesitant, but in the end she gave in to the procedure.
Joan had wanted to have a little girl that she could dress in a princess outfit. Go shopping together as she got older and plan special events in her life. That opportunity was gone with the cut of the surgeon’s scalpel.
Every time the subject of children came up in a conversation, you could see the disappointment in Joan’s eyes. The truth was apparent that she and Sam would never have other children.
It was either enjoy everyone else’s little girls or adopt a child. She knew that Sam would never agree to do that. So she had Junior, who was the apple of Sam’s eye.
Junior was a great son for Sam, but then that was the problem, he was Sam’s son more than her son. How she longed for a child to come to her for advice; to talk; to cry; to solve problems about relationships; and to plan for the future.
Sam’s work at the bank was tedious and tiring. He liked to take short cuts as opposed to the ‘nitty- gritty’ hard work that it took to achieve success.
Sam felt that with his Dad being the owner of the bank, it entitled him to success. His career with the bank would always be at the bidding of his Dad so therefore enjoy it.
Walter Steven Johnson, Walter and Dessie’s second son, whom they called Steve completed his high school education in Lebanon and went to Belmont University in Nashville to get a degree in business.
He returned to work full time with his Dad in the Community Bank of Lebanon, Tennessee. His presence was immediately felt by all the employees as he was quick and adept at helping them solve their problems.
Steve had inherited his father’s business aptitude and demonstrated it quickly. He had always been a self starter.
In the laid back community in this central segment of Tennessee that overlooked beautiful valleys in all four directions, Steve was classified as a phenomenon in business and as a banker. He also had the same ability as his Dad when it came to working with people and making them feel comfortable.
Steve experienced an illustrious growth in the banking business. Even though he had never gone beyond the region of his county lines to solicit business, his reputation as a deal maker was unequalled.
From the beginning, he was an instant success and soon was moved up to a Vice President’s position with the bank. His initiative and willingness to put in the necessary research paid dividends for the bank.
Though the position of vice president with a bank is to some degree a misnomer, it leads to a career ladder that leads to more responsible positions. After 2 years of diligent work, Steve was named an Executive Vice President for Loan Development.
Steve’s work ethic compelled him to provide a service for the community. And to do it with dignity and integrity. “That,” he thought, “was the main reason for success.
He maintained much of his father’s uniqueness in wanting to see his community grow and do well. He devoted himself to that end. Most folks recognized that banking and finance was Steve’s forte from the beginning of his career.
Even before he entered school in the first grade, he was helping his brother Sam with his arithmetic homework. He could add and subtract apples better than anyone. That simple beginning gave him a great start in understanding the complexity of interest that served him well.
When Steve joined the bank after graduation, Sam could not stand that he was an instant success. Even if he agreed the programs that Steve introduced were good for the bank; it was difficult for him acknowledge Steve’s accomplishments.
As much as Sam wanted to be on the cutting edge; he could not bring himself to put in the time and energy to see things beyond the ‘9 to 5 get done and go home routine. If it interrupted his time at the club or the golf course – it did not need to be done.
When Steve came to work for the bank, Sam was made a Vice President of Operations. The position was created by Walter just for Sam. The move was promoted as a positive move, but instead it was a move to get Sam out of customer contact.
Sam generated problems with the customers. Walter knew that he had to make a change. Sam had little interest in resolving issues for customers. It was leaving the impression that the bank did not care about the concerns of its depositors.
Steve’s life apart from the bank began with a little girl in pig tails in the seventh grade. He met Sandra Blevins and he had an immediate crush on her, but she would have nothing to do with him. Regardless of what he would do or try, she was never moved by his intentions.
Sandra’s dad, Jim Blevins, was the post master for Lebanon. Post master in most of those days meant meeting trains – getting mail – sending mail – and seeing that the mail was distributed – even in some cases delivering the mail. He was a well known man in the neighborhood and was well liked for his devotion to his work.
It broke Steve’s heart every time he would see Sandra with someone else. The school dances; the parties; or just the get-togethers with friends at the local drug store or Soda Shoppe.
It seemed that she made a point of always being with someone. His feelings so overwhelmed him for her that he would not accept ‘no’ for an answer.
Finally, she decided to attend a dance with him and much to her surprise, she found he was pleasant boy to be with. He made her laugh and did everything he could to make her comfortable.
Still she did not readily accept him. Coming from a prominent family in the area was a plus for Steve as was his pleasing personality. But he was a homely looking boy. Not bad – but if you were looking for someone to be on the cover of a magazine, Steve was not your boy.
If Steve were to win her, it would have to be on the merits of his jovial personality. Social status in Lebanon was not considered a plus at a young age. So he purposed to remain engaged in the conquest and take what she gave him and try for more.
At the beginning of the eighth grade, Sandra fell as she started up the stairs at the school. Steve, always nearby, witnessed the event and immediately ran to her to comfort and give aid as he could.
She was so impressed with his interest and concern that it seemed a glaze came over her eyes. Sandra saw only the most compassionate and caring person she had ever known.
Immediately, it was love as if she had seen him for the very first time. They were together from that time on.
Sandra was a young lady full of joy. She never had a dull moment and folks just seem to migrate to her when she entered a room.
Steve, being a bit laid back, consented to let her to take over while he just sat back smiling. He realized how fortunate he was to be with her. It was a match made in heaven for both of them.
When Steve and Sandra graduated from high school, they both went to Belmont in Nashville. Graduating from Belmont, they returned to Lebanon. Both their families lived there and they wanted to raise their family there.
They were married in a southern traditional wedding including all the frills. There were 15 bridesmaids and 15 groomsmen. Flowers were in such abundance that it smelled as if you at a funeral.
Over 500 people from Lebanon attended. Everyone was invited as the invitation was published in the local newspaper.
Caterers were instructed to standby with ample food and drinks for the unknown number of guests. Every detail was covered.
When the door opened to the sanctuary, it was all eyes on Sandra. She was beautiful.
Her gown was a vividly glowing white low neck strapless design. It was as if it had Sandra’s name on it in the mind of the designer. You just knew that something special was under the wedding veil.
The organ; the amenities; the decorations; the flowers; the set-ups were all designed to point to the quintessence of Sandra. The stage was set for a beautiful unveiling.
When the veil was raised for Steve to kiss her after they were pronounced husband and wife, the audience gasped. Such beauty could not be duplicated in Lebanon.
It was considered as the wedding of the century in Lebanon. It will be a long time before Lebanon would again see such an extravagant event.
The majesty and purpose for the beginning of a loving relationship was overwhelming. Truly it was a match made in heaven.
Joan’s eyes were filled with tears at Steve and Sandra’s wedding. Though she was proud of Sandra and her big day, she silently sobbed for what she gave up.
“Sam will never ever be able to match the event,” she cried to herself. He was her short cut to wealth and happiness or so she thought. But it was not proving to be so.
Sandra was a natural alongside Steve in the banking business. She did more for the banking business than most were willing to acknowledge. Her openness and honesty set the stage for many relationships with the wives of husbands who needed banking services.
It was thought by many that the men in the neighborhood could only use the Community Bank because their wives told them to. And it probably was true.
Steve and Sandra decided almost immediately that they would have children. Sandra could not dream of a home that was not filled with the laughter of children.
Though they tried for over a year, it did not happen. They had discussed adoption but could not bring themselves to accept that as an option.
Recognizing that they might have to wait for awhile for children, both Steve and Sandra immersed themselves in community projects. All the while dreaming of their children.
Steve loved to go camping. He looked forward to the time when he could take his family camping out in the open under the moon light. But since family did not seem to be anytime soon, he proposed the venture to Sandra for just the two of them.
She agreed and they planned the trip to the Columbia River banks near a park not far from Lebanon. Setting up the campsite fell to Steve. Sandra prepared the meal for them that evening.
Steve leaned back in his camp recliner after having filled himself with her delicious entrée of hamburger steaks. They were cooked ever so slowly with onions and a touch of jalapenos’ over the fire.
She left the steaks just a might on the medium side as she knew he liked them that way. He could not fathom the idea of eating meat when you could see the color red on the meat. Sandra knew exactly how far to go to get it just right.
Afterwards, they sat with just the camp fire providing light and watched the stars dancing across the horizon. Time ceased to exist as they watched the wonder of it all.
Steve broke the silence exclaiming, “Look, see that shooting star!” He pointed to the place where the star shot across the sky. “Wonder who came up with the ‘shooting star’ concept and how does it apply?” Questions on God’s creation always intrigued Steve.
Steve could not imagine how anyone could ever come up with a theory of evolution and not recognize God in creation. He deduced that evolutionists had never sat out under the stars at night and looked up at what God had done by just speaking them into existence.
He wanted to say something spiritual, so he mustered up “Look at that masterpiece up there.” It indeed was a masterpiece to behold.
Sandra, without a moment’s hesitation replied, “It should be – the Master painted it.” They fell into each other’s arms laughing at the thought and considering the greatness of God.
Later in the tent and without a care in the world, the conception of little John happened. That set the stage for not only John, but their second child Sarah, who was to follow a year later.
God blessed them with the delight of their heart – children! Their family became the masterpiece created by the Master Himself.
Junior, Sam and Joan’s son, seemed to grow over night. He was a go-getter. All through high school, he was good in his academic studies and excelled in all athletic venues. Everything that his father was not, Junior was.
While in high school, he was approached by several colleges with scholarships in football, basketball, and baseball. Junior accepted a basketball scholarship from Belmont University in Nashville and excelled in the sport there.
Offers did not come from the National Basketball Association (NBA), however, and he returned to Lebanon after graduating from Belmont.. He entered the family banking business with his Granddad at Community.
Junior was entwined with the negative influence of his Dad and the love of Joan causing him to be beset with personal issues. He so wanted to succeed and desired to do well, but his decisions were not always above board. He would take short cuts – a trait he learned from his father.
To Junior success was personal even if it was at the expense of others. He worked in the loan office of the bank and many of his loans included creative accounting methods not always above board.
Steve allowed Junior a certain latitude within boundaries of course. He always covered his tracks if he needed to move forward to get a loan approved. And the audits by the State Banking Commission seldom questioned his methods.
Junior met June Mulholland shortly after entering Belmont University as a freshman. He thought she was from Houston, but unbeknownst to him; her family had purchased a farm in Lebanon. To Junior, the big city girl overwhelmed the little country boy with her charms.
June eventually told Junior she was from Lebanon but had only lived there her senior year. She still considered her hometown as Houston.
June had moved to Lebanon when her parents purchased a farm in Lebanon. Junior’s circle of friends and hers had not crossed paths in the short time before she too left for Belmont.
They found they had much in common at Belmont being from Lebanon. Their relationship grew while studying together.
Junior and June were married shortly after their graduation. They went to Acapulco, Mexico for their honeymoon.
Few from Lebanon had ever been out of the county much less the country. Everyone waited for their return to see the photos of their exciting trip.
June was a tough-minded young girl with great ambitions. She was unwavering to get her husband Junior to the top.
She had heard about successful men who made it to the top because they had strong women to drive them. She single-mindedly set about to drive Junior. “If there was a person in Lebanon who could do it I am the one to do it,” she thought.
She determined that Lebanon would not soon forget her eagerness in the pursuit of wealth, attention, and happiness. And in that order – Junior would was the vehicle to accomplish her goals.
June’s parents had come from Vernon, TX, a farming community in North Texas. Prior to moving to Houston; the hot temperatures and droughts in Texas had taken their toll on the Mulholland’s. It left a lot to be desired for farming in Vernon.
Jason Mulholland, her dad, had always wanted to be a farmer but at the time he gave it up to move to Houston. To provide for his family, he was willing to give up his love for the land.
Jason’s wife, Susan and the mother of June encouraged him to go to Houston for better work opportunities. Jason sold his farm and invested the money in mutual funds hoping that someday, he could return to farming.
He had a degree in business and it was quite easy for him to make the adjustment into the booming industrial market. He did well with an oil refinery that had ties with the Houston ship channel importing crude oil from foreign markets.
Jason and Susan Mulholland had only the one child – their daughter, June. She was born shortly after they moved to Houston and she became an inspiration to both of them with her determination to succeed.
She was involved with every extracurricular activity in addition to being on the academic honor roll. Whatever June set her mind to do, it was best not get in her way.
It was on a vacation to Nashville, that Jason and Susan met Walter and Dessie at the Grand Ole Opry. Walter and Dessie had brought some clients and were getting to their seats prior to the show. They inadvertently took the Mulholland’s seats.
An usher corrected the mistake and it turned out that Walter, Dessie, their clients, and the Mulholland’s were all seated together. Since they were early to the show, they were apologetic about getting the wrong seats and playfully exchanged conversation.
Walter invited the Mulholland’s to go with them afterwards to a local restaurant. There they found out about Jason’s desire to go back into farming.
Walter surmised that Jason had a good head for the farming business. There was a farm in Lebanon that was going on the market within the month. It was 1,000 acres of prime farming land.
You could see the twinkle in Jason’s eyes as they began to discuss the fate of the previous farmer who had a heart attack. The wife was not going to be able to continue working the farm.
The farm was complete with up-to-date equipment, barns, animals, and crops in the field. One only had to buy, move in, and go to work immediately for a return on the investment.
It would be a sweet deal assuming the dollars would match. The farmer’s wife had already decided to sell and it was only a matter of getting it appraised and set up with a realtor.
Walter invited Jason and Susan come to Lebanon to see the property. He made an appointment for the following day for Jason to go see the farm. Dessie invited Susan to visit with her while the men went to look over the farm.
Jason Mulholland was impressed with the farm. He could not wait to get Susan to come out with him to see the farm house and the immediate surroundings.
It was a farmer’s dream to have up-to-date equipment, a beautiful home, and a neighborhood that was as peaceful and friendly as Lebanon. They jumped at the chance and were able to save the real estate fees by dealing direct with the farmer’s wife.
Walter brought in the bank’s lawyer to finalize the deal. He further assisted them with the transfer of the mutual funds and arranged a reasonable loan for the difference. It was as if the entire affair had been a providential meeting.
It was traumatic for June to make the move to Lebanon as she would be a senior in high school in Houston the next year. But she saw the change in her father and mother as they joyfully talked about going back into farming.
She knew that she would have to go along with them. Plus she knew where she was going and it really did not make any difference if she was in Houston or Lebanon, TN. She would make it.
With June’s family in Lebanon and her marriage to Junior who was a Vice President in the ‘one and only’ bank in Lebanon, she became quite a socialite in town.
If it was a fund raiser or special social club meeting, she was the first to join or throw her hat in to help. She kept her finger on everything that was going on in Lebanon.
She headed up almost every special need for Lebanon. When they needed a steering committee to get a country club for Lebanon, June was the one. The club later served her purpose for many significant meetings.
June learned to love Lebanon as if she had spent her entire life there. With Junior involved with the ‘one and only’ bank, she was natural to be involved with all of the community events.
Junior and June both were ambitious people in character and performance. They had little interest in children in their early years of marriage. They decided that they would address the issue further down the line after they had accomplished their goals in Lebanon.
Steve and Sandra’s children, John and Sarah, had a storybook family experience growing up with only a few deviations. Sandra, their mom, was totally committed to seeing that their every need was met.
Steve – the dutiful father – did everything Sandra wanted him to do for and with the children. To him children came second in marriage after love – which was first.
Play with the kids, take them to school, come home; and make sure they were OK while she went to her meetings – you name it. Steve was there Johnny-on-the-spot.
When they wanted to go out, there were ample babysitters in the neighborhood. Sandra had to spend almost an hour each time giving instructions where they would be; how to get in touch if needed; what to let them eat; and when to put them in bed.
Even when she used the same babysitter, she would have to go through the same routine every time again. While they were out the first few times, she called in every hour on the hour, but soon allowed herself the apprehension of calling only once or twice.
The first day in school for John was traumatic. Sandra had taken him up the previous year for a practice first-time run through.
John was as excited as could be when he met his new teacher. He thought that was his first day in school. He was finally getting to go to school.
But the next year when he did officially enter school, he had a new teacher. The teacher from last year had a baby and was going to a take a year off to be a mother herself before coming back.
John could not understand the change with the previous teacher not being there. This new woman was a stranger to him.
He immediately began to cry with the new teacher. Sandra could not leave the school until she could settle him down.
Then Sandra in her rush to get him there that morning forgot his lunch sack in his back pack. She had to take it to him.
When he saw her, he thought she was coming to pick him up. But when he realized that was not the case, here came the tears again.
“Oh,” Sandra reached down to comfort him, “My heart is breaking, but I know that you will get through this first day – all of it.” John did make it but as Sandra says it was by the grace of God.
John was in the 3rd grade when Sarah started school. The date of her birth did not allow her to start immediately the next year after him.
It was probably better for them to not be so close anyway. It gave Sandra time to adjust having both of the children in school at same time.
Sarah joined right in with no problems at all the next year. She made friends; liked her teacher; and was up and ready to go every morning.
School was John’s misfortune. Every year in school until he got into high school. He did not seem interested and was consistently late getting ready.
But then came high school and something snapped his junior year. Sandra did not know if it was athletics or girls that encouraged him to become more astute in his surroundings.
But one day, John jumped out of bed – got ready for school. He was off in plenty of time to be there early.
From that day forward he was a new person. His grades came up drastically; his attitude changed for the better; he had an appreciation for school.
Things improved so much, Steve and Sandra questioned if someone who looked like him might have exchanged places with their son. They were amazed.
Sarah confided with Sandra as they were discussing John a few years later. “Mom, I know what happened,” Sarah explained.
It was hard for Sarah to tell Sandra as it meant that she would have to disclose things she wanted hidden. Things she wanted no one find out including her Mom and Dad.
But now that she was in pre-med school at the University of Kentucky, she felt she could share it with her Mom. “Remember, the night of the Senior Prom when I was only a freshman and a senior, Roger Stevingsley, asked me to go with him?”
She reluctantly continued, “It was a treat to be asked by an upper classman and to get to go to the Senior Prom – I was elated beyond measure.”
She continued, “All of my friends were ecstatic when I told them and especially when I told them who had asked me. He was one of the most popular boys in school.”
Roger had been the starting quarterback for their team that year and they had won state. He had actually received a scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee.
“The pump and circumstance of the prom was fine but afterward, Roger wanted to go to a special place where we could spend some time alone together,” shared Sarah. “When we arrived, he became quite fresh and started making moves that I did not feel comfortable with him doing.”
“But he was the most popular boy in school,” she said and continued, “I did not know what to do.”
“I wasn’t well versed with dating at that time and Roger was a senior and had been with many girls. I hate to admit it, but I allowed a certain amount of touching at the beginning.” She recounted.
“I was even fascinated by it. Truth be told, I enjoyed it to some degree thinking how that Roger considered me as a woman and not a little freshman girl,” Sarah acknowledged.
She went further, “I was, however, totally unaware of his intentions. Before, I could resist, he pushed me down and had his way with me.”
Sarah stammered, “The pain was awful. I started to cry, but the tears were not for the pain; they were for I had allowed myself to get into. I just laid there wondering how I got myself into this predicament.”
She continued, “When Roger finished, he pulled up his pants and noticed that I was crying. He began to mock me for being so naive. I felt horrible.”
Sarah said she shouted in no uncertain terms, “Take me home.” Roger moved over to the driver’s seat and drove me home.
He warned me, “Don’t tell anyone what we did tonight. You wanted it as much as I did.”
Sarah said that she was still sobbing and shouted, “Just let me out of this car. Let me go.”
“The next day at school, John said he was coming around the corner of the Ag building and dropped a book. As he stopped to pick it up, he overheard Roger laughing and telling his friends about an episode he had with a girl at the prom the night before,” she explained.
Sarah had to tell her Mom everything, “Roger’s friends migrated to him as the losers that they were. They fantasized their life through his experiences as their own.”
Sarah continued, “John heard Roger bragging and say, ‘You know how they say that anything over a mouth full is too much, well little Sarah was definitely too much.’ He said he thought that was Roger just being Roger.”
“John said at first thought it was someone else Roger was talking about, but then he remembered, Sarah … my sister Sarah? This is the brute that took my sister Sarah to the prom. He is talking about her. He became enraged,” concluded Sarah.
Sarah was embarrassed remembering, “John told me, Roger formed his hands as if he were holding two cantaloupes and was juggling them. His hands were supposed to represent juggling my breast.”
“The group hollered and was delighted with his explanation. To cap it off, John said that is not all as Roger went on. ‘I found the cherry blossom right on the cherry tree.’ John told me Roger started to describe his conquest, ‘She was great.’ That did it.”
“John had picked up his book by that time and had put two and two together. He realized that it was the Roger who had taken me, to the prom the night before,” she continued, “He said that he threw his books to the ground and headed straight toward the Roger.”
“John explained that he heard that one of boys noticed him coming. He told the others to hold it down, here comes John.”
“John said he went straight for Roger. Roger started laughing. He started to say ‘You got quite a little ….’ Before he could finish, John said he caught him with a right hook to the jaw that sent waves of pain all the way to Roger’s feet. His knees buckled as he fell against the building.”
“John said that he caught him by the shirt; pulled him up; and laid another right across to his mouth that broke his nose and put him out. He was bleeding profusely.”
Coming to the end of her explanation, “He said that it happened so quick that Roger’s friends had not been able to react. John asked them if anyone else have anything they wanted to say about Sarah.”
“He told them he knew who they were and he knew where they live. He had better not hear one thing or one iota about this or he would be coming after all of them. John said he had never been that angry in his entire life,” she shared.
Finishing, “Roger’s friends did not wait to answer to John and they took off in different directions. He then noticed that Roger was coming around. Roger was a senior and John was a junior. John was on the second team and Roger was the first team quarterback, but on that day, you would have never have known it.”
Sarah said, “John said he told Roger the same as he had with his friends. He had better not ever hear him say my name again and he better not hear a rumor or anything about this. If he did, he would be coming after him again and this will be just a sample of what he would get then.”
She went on, “He said Roger looked down at the ground with blood all over his shirt without answering. John then asked him if he understand, or did he want more right now?”
Sarah concluded, “John said that Roger sheepishly looked at him, and said no. He would not hear anything else period. He would see to that. He apologized to John saying he didn’t mean anything by it.”
“With that John pushed him against the wall; picked up his books. He went to class,” finished Sarah. “He was still bent with emotion, but his composure was manageable.”
“Mom, you have never seen a boy become a man as quick as John did that day,” said Sarah. “He looked after me when I didn’t even know he was there. But not only me; he looked after anyone else if he heard of any one being harassed.”
“Overnight our school changed its complete sensitivity. He had half the school scared they were going to set him off and the other half were glad they had not,” exclaimed Sarah.
“Most of them were glad when he graduated and went to Texas A&M on that football scholarship. Remember when he was only second team his junior year and yet what he did his senior year?” she declared.
“Not that I am happy about the circumstances that brought it about, but that one event gave him a double dose measure of self confidence. He had every school in the country wanting him to play for them and A&M got him,” Sarah laughed.
“I had to go to the University of Kentucky just to let him know that I could take care of myself,” explained Sarah to her Mom. “I could not let him be my care-taker for the rest of my life.”
Sandra had listened carefully to every word Sarah had said. “How could all of this be going on and I only think that John had just turned over a new leaf. What goes on around me that I do not know about is beyond me,” thought Sandra.
She reached out and hugged Sarah, “I am so sorry I was not there for you. Thank God for John.”
“What about the sex? Were there any consequences from that?” Sandra was thinking “God forbid – abortion?” She could not believe that she used the word ‘sex’ with her daughter.
Sarah responded, “No, Mom, you do not have any grandkids running around that you do not know about. And there was not an abortion. I did about it for a couple of months after that but it proved to be nothing.”
“And because of that, I put a hold on my dating practices until I meet the one and only and then only after marriage. I can’t be a virgin for my husband, but then he probably won’t be either. We will just have to learn to live with it,” declared Sarah.
Sandra wondered about this kind of frank conversation with Sarah. But now Sarah was indeed a grown woman in the University of Kentucky studying to be a doctor. She was more than a daughter – she was her friend as well.
And Sandra knew now that they could talk as woman to woman although Sarah would always be her little girl. Wiping a tear from her eye, Sandra said, “Thank you for feeling free to talk with me about this. I only wish you had come to me then.”
She continued, “I could have helped you through it and we would have kept your Dad in the dark. I hate to think if that is what John did, what your Dad would have done.”
“I know one thing; Roger would not have gone to Tennessee with a football scholarship,” stated Sandra emphatically, “your Dad would have seen to that.”
She reached over and hugged Sarah as only a mother can hug. “We love you and John both so much and we want the best for you,” replied Sandra.
John was finishing up at A&M this year. There is a lot of interest in him in the NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys announced that they wanted to trade several draft picks to get in position to draft him. But still they would not have the number one draft pick this year, so who knows where he might go.
Sarah was continuing her studies at Kentucky and planned to complete her education at the University of Texas through an internship in Fort Worth. She had already been assigned an internship with the VA in Fort Worth.
Steve and Sandra could not be more proud of their children. Still in the back of her mind, she remembers the day when John started his first day in school with a strange teacher and no lunch. His crying days are definitely over now.
Times were much simpler and peaceful in the ‘good ole days of banking,’ as Walter used to tell sitting on the veranda in the cool of the evening at his home. The soothing fragrant smell of the magnolia blooms from the trees in the front yard made the mood pleasant.
Walter’s wife, Dessie, was a wonderful cook. She could really lay on a great meal. She used to call it her ‘farmer’s meal’. It had everything.
She would have buttermilk cornbread, turnip greens, onions, corn-on-the-cob, fresh garden tomatoes, potato salad, home-made pickles, and hamburger steaks. It was a great meal. Dessie had a way with cooking that placed her at the top of the list on all community projects that required food.
Little did she know that when she fed Walter that big meal – as a farmer before he became a banker – he would go back to the fields and find a shade tree to take a nap. And he never told her he did that either.
The Johnson family had all the warts and wrinkles any family could have, but they immersed their frailties into a positive and always moved forward. Little did anyone know of the challenges they faced in everyday life.
Their family was truly defined by their character.