We were enjoying our late afternoon hike in Frozen Head State Park outside of Oakridge TN, when I came across a solo ranger with a chain saw working on a large logjam. “Hi,” I said. Joe enjoyed the interruption. “Do you have any volunteers to help?” I asked. “No,” he replied. Then I did what I always do best. “Larry will give you a hand; here he comes now.” I’m always volunteering my husband of 47 years. He just set the date for what he calls his Darth Vader knee replacement earlier that day. “This logjam is causing water to spill onto the graveled path,” said Joe. Larry, a former contractor and teacher, looked at the situation and came up with a workable solution. The two entered the stream thigh deep and removed large branches and trees. As their cheerleader, I gladly stood on the sideline taking pictures I would add to my lifewithlarry.org blog. The ranger, a bit fearful of cutting the large root of the tree, gave it the go. “Boom!” It finally came to rest on the bottom of the stream where it would be much easier to dismantle. Joe beamed from ear to ear, and Larry was thrilled to use his knowledge and muscle as a 69 year old man to help in a random act of kindness. “It was the best part of the vacation,” he said as he asked the ranger to please hand him his silver cane.
Less Mess I must confess
No piles of clothes by the side of the bed
No giant work boots to trip over
No stinky socks and trails of drywall
No fudgesicle sticks stuck to the counter
No sugary cream filled coffee mugs
No I-Pod music pipping Carmen and Hank Williams
Yes, Life without Larry is less mess I confess
But the plants scream for hydration
The birds search for seeds
The weeds beg to be picked
My arms miss his embrace
So come home Larry from your trip to Costa Rica
Where tools and cutting boards are your friends
Let laughter and fun reside once again
In this home you build with your very own hands
Bring on the mess I confess
Life with Larry is the best
By Sue Schuerr
In 2008, I started a book club and we have become dear friends while reading many historical fiction and non-fiction books. We recently read The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. It took place during World War II. Women came from all over the US to a town that was not on the map. Today, we call it Oak Ridge, Tennessee which is located near Knoxville in the Cumberland Gap Mountain range. Everything was top secret. Little did they know that those working there were instrumental in ending World War II. I had a friend who grew up in Oak Ridge. She wanted to talk in her church about her new faith in Christ and asked Larry and I to join her in the Spring of 1978. I knew her parents were scientists but little did I know that they were also involved in the Oak Ridge project. I lost track of my friend Cynthia but was determined after reading this book to contact her. After years, we have connected and here is what she said about the experience first hand.
I was very excited to receive your letter and catch up a bit on you and Larry. First of all, yes, my parents were part of the beginnings of Oak Ridge. My father, Boyd, was tasked with research that would help dispose of the waste from nuclear reactions. However, he never spoke of what he was doing to anyone outside of the Lab, even to my mother. Secrecy was very much a part of the work that was going on in the three different laboratory facilities. The town was entirely surrounded by barbed wire fences. Each worker entering the city had to show an ID that indicated that they had received security clearance at some level. I remember the big billboards at each of the gates that reminded people entering and exiting to guard their speech.
To the outside world, there was no Oak Ridge. My grandmother in Ohio could not call us directly on the telephone. The phone operators would tell her that there was no such place as Oak Ridge, TN. I think she had to ask for the phone center in Knoxville, and they transferred her call. My parents discovered after the war was over that one of their women friends was an official spy for the government. He job was to report anyone who at parties, etc has “loose lips.” The woman’s husband was the most surprised of everybody when her spying was revealed.
It was a wonderful city to raise a family. With the high percentage of very educated scientists who were moved there, these was a high priority on education. So, the schools were excellent. Also, because we were a closed city, there was a strong sense of community. Volunteerism was huge, especially in the area of the arts. We had our own symphony orchestra, theater group, playground programs for children in the summer, and a well-stocked library. Neighborhoods were close and supportive of one another. The wives in my neighborhood got together frequently and played canasta. I do remember as an elementary student responding to air raid drills. We were to leave our classrooms and squat down in the halls. It was an accepted possibility that we would be bombed. There…enough about Oak Ridge. I hope your reading group finds some of what I’ve written interesting.
I’m looking forward to visiting Oak Ridge in the near future. The wild flowers are suppose to be the most beautiful at the end of April. We are in Oak Ridge right now April 26, 2016 and getting ready to explore the history of this town and to bike the beautiful paths along the river.