Remembering Hillon

As many of you are gathering to remember Hillon today, I am reflecting on the many good times we had over the years. Since our mothers were sisters and our fathers were brothers we never went to a reunion on either side without Hillon, Duane, and Donna being there. This did, of course mean a close affiliation through out our younger years. At any rate, there are so many times we shared I want to take a minute to share my appreciation of the those times.

Earliest memories do include Christmases for many years at the Chester Steeples’ farm, and at the Grandparent Kobler farm. Such fun for a little girl from town. Farm animals, chores, etc. fascinated me. Hillon and Duane would show me how the cats would catch the milk when they were milking and they “gave it a squeeze” their way. Watching as they would sheer the sheep and dip the animals, etc. all the while the cousins were busy, but never too busy to answer questions I had. Wonderful times remembered and even when they teased me (and they did) it was a fun tease, not a mean one. They showed me how you could take a bucket and swing it around and around and no milk flew out (demonstrating centrifugal force) which impressed me. Snakes did not scare them (they did me), and they taught me about buffalo wallows and so many other things one never sees in town.

One of the most fun times I remember was riding in their car with the rumble seat, and taking it over to the pond to fish. Hillon and Duane taught me to fish. I caught my first fish with them and I suspect it was too small to keep, but they never let on that I had not done a really good job! Ice skating on the pond when it was frozen was another special time. When Hillon went off to the Navy in 1944 Aunt Olive learned to play BELL BOTTOM TROUSERS AND COAT OF NAVY BLUE and any time there was a piano near by you could count on it, she would play it. Hillon made a very handsome sailor!! Fortunately, WWII was over by the time he made it to Japan, but I remember writing letters and how excited we were when he came home. He was seven years older than I was, which made little difference by the time Bob and I got married. We baby sat for Jim and Judy while we were dating and played bridge with Hillon and Monie every time we got back to Palco for years.

As our kids grew up and (thank God) became independent and we had retired, we traveled to Spain and Portugal together, staying in timeshare condominiums. We had one week in Portugal and two in Spain at two different locations. Such fun. Each place we ate Hillon would try a new fish. Each time he would say, “Well that’s another one I don’t need to try”. He was fascinated with the fish market where local fishermen came in with their daily catch. A huge warehouse would hold the catch and local (and probably some who were not) gathered and they would move from catch to catch and auction each variety of fish, all in Spanish. Hillon loved it (much like the cattle barn sales, of course) and we had to practically drag him away after a couple of hours. That is also where we saw the first Smart Car we had ever seen and got a picture of tall Hillon towering over the little car. In Portugal while on the beach Hillon and Bob spotted a gal laying on the beach who was wearing only the bottom of her bathing suit. Hard to get them away from there, too. Bob was going to take a picture but her husband or boyfriend sat up and looked right at him, so he gave it up. It was also in Spain where we went to a small town Tapas Bar. I don’t believe any Americans had ever been there before so we became quite an attraction. We had servers hovering over us and others watching our every move. They were very friendly even though no one seemed to speak English. They kept bringing fried sardines to our table (free) and finally Hillon said, “Stop eating the sardines, I think they won’t serve what we ordered as long as we keep finishing the sardines!” He was right, but I have to tell you those were the best sardines we had ever eaten.

Our next trip was to England and Scotland. We stayed at numerous bed and breakfast places throughout England and then stayed at a timeshare in Scotland just north of the Firth-of-Fourth. A great place to stay as it was close to St. Andrews where we went two days, and also close to Edinburgh, where we could spend some time with our cousin, Eileen (Steeples) Leitch and Bill Bell. They were great hosts to get us in to places we never could have gone (or found, for that matter). Besides seeing the family home in Mussleburgh, Scotland they took us to the University of Edinburgh where we saw a good bit of history in the buildings (I loved seeing the picture of John Knox and knowing he had taught there [good Presbyterian]). They took us to Bill’s golf club where we had dinner. Coats and ties were required and neither Bob nor Hillon had brought a dress coat. Bob could wear Bill’s, but Hillon was so tall with long arms that Bill borrowed a coat from the golf pro, the only guy in his club who wore a jacket that large. It was great fun, as they were roasting one of their members and (listening hard to all the Scottish brogue) we all left in a great mood.

Before we left for England and Scotland we spent a couple of days with Marcie’s family in New Jersey. Vince was just about two at the time and he was crazy about Monie and Hillon. He wanted to sit on their laps all the time, and as you might suspect, both were very accommodating. Hillon loved little kids, just like Dad and Uncle Chester.

I must include that when Hillon and Sonja married, it was always great fun to come to Hays and visit. I used to baby sit with Sonja when she was about two (no, she does not remember) and we lived next door to her grandparents in Hill City. They knew so many of the old friends I had way back when in Hill City. Great hosts and fun to be with, thank you, Sonja.

Well, to finalize this I wish to take this time to say, while many of you I have not had the opportunity to be so close to, I do have some wonderful memories of all the first cousins, and many of them have been as we have grown older (and wiser, of course) and become a closer family because of the family reunions, primarily. George and Duane and their wives who started our reunions, Tammy Steeples with Don’s support took over for two sessions when I had done about all I could do, did a fabulous job in Lawrence. When I was doing the reunions in Colorado, Tanya’s daughter, Lisa Stormes Hawker, was a big help. George and Berdena Whisman and their family, my daughter-in-law, Yvonne Settles and granddaughters, Mari Ellen Settles and Marie Settles, Sonja Steeples, who did so much in the kitchen each year, so many others I should name all of you were such a big help. Thanks to Dick Ross for being our MC a couple of times. To all of you who made contributions and attended time and time again, you are greatly appreciated.

Finally, I want to thank Doug for a great job on the book about grandpa and ALL OF YOU. This is our heritage and it is a phenomenon to have it down for posterity. Your children, grandchildren and all those following will have it for reference. If you have not taken time to read it, Mike Settles (our middle son) is preparing it (with restored pictures, new information from Doug, Eileen and me), to be put on-line soon. You can read it there, send it to your family, print it if you wish for a hard copy. It has been a lot of work on the part of all of us trying to perfect and correct so it will be as close to being what really has been for all to read. You will receive an email soon giving you the website address.

So, where am I going with this? Two places. Number one: I have a deep and enduring love for all of you. Dad used to say, “Blood runs deeper than water”. Our parents were brothers and sisters and learned to be determined, sturdy, dependable and loving in a musical, hard working household. I could say much more, but I will only say I am taking this opportunity to let each of you know how much you have meant to me. When we lose our loved ones we realize how little time we have taken to say you are special, you are cared for and you are appreciated.

Second. I am sorry it has not worked out for a reunion again. I hate to see it end, but it appears it is. Responses were sparse this time. Many of us are growing older and find it difficult to travel so much, to be in a high altitude, and others expressed wanting very much to get together, only give them a time and place, but no one seems to want to take the responsibility to get us all together. And, so, dear souls, please know it has been great getting to see all of you over the years. Should anyone wish to “arise again” both Tammy and I have information for the gathering.

You are special, you are cared for and you are appreciated. With love, Lois

One Response to Remembering Hillon

  1. Thanks Mom for sharing these stories about Hillon! I really like the personal and comical insight you provided that many of us had never heard.

    About the reunions, I certainly hope we will continue reunions in some form. I have talked to a few of the younger generation (although we’re not so young anymore) and get the feeling that there is still an interest for future reunions.

Leave a Reply