Spotlight: Carol (yardqueen1948)

By Brenda Essig (Zanymuse) on December 5, 2011

I have had the great pleasure of getting to know another cubit member better through the interview process. I hope that you will enjoy her story as much as I have. I asked Carol to start by giving me a little bit of background, and we took off from there.


2011-12-04/Zanymuse/7d2368 I'll start with this...

Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas June 20, 1948 (63)

Married to Gary for 44 years (as of Dec 9, 2011 that is).

Three children: Mindy 42

Clay 36

Stacey 31

5 Grandchildren: Jeffery 24 (Mindy's)

Lauren 12 (Clay's)

Ross 9 (Stacey's- stepson)

Shae 5 (Mindy's - Adopted)

Jack 2 (Stacey's)

Live in Northeast Texas in Emory.

Retired 3 years ago at age 60. Travel a little, would like to, a lot more.

Interests: Our kids and grandkids



Shopping for all of the above

You will be celebrating your 44th anniversary soon. Where/how did you first meet your partner for life?

2011-12-04/Zanymuse/ba13b8 We met at church. Gary was in the Air Force and stationed at Kelly AFB in San Antonio. He was a jet mechanic, working on jets going back & forth to Viet Nam. This was in 1966 during the Viet Nam era. He just happened to pick the church I attended to be the one he would attend while in San Antonio. We started dating, and the rest is history.

This is a picture of my father, giving Gary my hand in marriage.

 What a wonderful picture! You look like a fashion doll and Gary biting his tongue in anticipation is priceless.

Did you stay in San Antonio or were you moved around by the Air Force?


We were only in San Antonio one month; in January of 1968, he got orders to go to McChord AFB in Washington State. That was about as far away from home as you can get without leaving the USA. It was pretty there, but we just wanted to go home! We were there 2 1/2 years and our first child was born there. On March 27, 1969 we were blessed with Mindy. We finally got to go home in October of 1970.

 What was it like to be so far from home with the birth of your first child?

I was so excited to have a baby. It would have been nice to have family around I guess. Especially after she was born. But my parents and LITTLE sister came right away. I say LITTLE because she was just 2 1/2! An aunt at 2 1/2. It was great having them there at that time.

 When you did get to go home, was that the end of your military life?

 Gary was honorably discharged in Oct. '70, and we finally got to go back home. He  went to college for a while on the GI bill and then went to work for the MKT railroad (which later merged with the Union Pacific) in 1972. He retired after 34 years at the age of 60, in Sept. 2007. He was the Director of Terminal Operations from Dallas to Longview. I also got to retire and draw railroad retirement at the age of 60, even though I never worked for the railroad. One of the benefits of being the spouse of a railroad employee.   

As a RR worker’s family, did you get a chance to travel the lines much?

No, not at all. My husband did not even ride on the train. He was either in his office or in his car all the time. I think the only passenger trains are AMTRACK and they use the UP tracks...

Sorry, dead end there I guess.

Well yes, we may have come to the end of that track. Let’s take it to the roundhouse and make a switch.

How did you become interested in beading?

2011-12-04/Zanymuse/e41a11I had piddled a little with it when working; redoing stuff to match an outfit, not really knowing what I was doing. I didn't have tools, or the right stringing materials, wires or anything. Right before I retired, there was a young lady whom I worked with who was making some jewelry, and I bought some from her.

 Then when I was visiting my sister in San Antonio, she had started beading a little and taught me a few things. I bought a few beads and made some things while I was there. When I got home, my girls loved my stuff, and wanted me to make them some, and the ladies at church admired my jewelry and so I made sets for them as gifts. I never thought about selling them. But I kept buying beads, and it got to where I couldn't go in a store that sold beads , without buying anything I thought was pretty.

2011-12-04/Zanymuse/47251b AND THEN... I discovered a fabulous website where I could buy all I wanted without leaving my house!!! Well, this website has a big discount if you buy over 50 items. So whenever I was out of something like ear wires or headpins, it just made sense to go through the whole site to see if I needed (translate "wanted") anything else. I really became a beadaholic. More than beads... metals, glass, shells, gemstones... you name it. People kept telling me I ought to make jewelry to sell. At first I thought no, I really don't need to do that, but then I started needing to get rid of my "creations" because I have too many and my daughters have too many. I needed another way to dispose of it. I have all this jewelry and I have enough beads...

I opened my "store" in cubits; got business cards, and went to a craft fair. I even sold some at my daughter's garage sale (not at garage sale prices but I did take 10% off, since I didn't have to mail it). I have made a lot more sets that are not posted in my store, because I haven't taken  pictures yet.

Click here to visit Carol`s Creations Store

Oh yes, the obsessions build quickly when we find something that rewards our creative urges.

You mentioned retiring. What kind of work did you do?

I spent most of my forty years in the workplace in banking. I started, right out of high school, at Federal Reserve in San Antonio. My first job was to check out of balance tapes, find the error and correct it. I still remember thinking "I can't believe they are PAYING me to do this!" After a while I was assigned to encoding the amounts and routing numbers on checks. The checks came from banks and were batched with an ADDING MACHINE tape (this was before calculators) and our totals of course had to match theirs when we were through. That is where all the out of balance tapes came from that I had been finding the errors on. We had to put routing numbers on the checks that did not have them. Nowadays those are always on there, but in the OLDEN days, a lot of stores and businesses had blank checks for the customer’s convenience. The customer wrote the bank name and their account number on the check.

 Well, in order for the computer (yes there was a computer...HUGE MONSTER) to read it and sort it to where it was supposed to go, the routing number had to be encoded in magnetic ink. We had to memorize those routing numbers (each bank has a different one) or we would constantly have to look them all up. I still remember a lot of them to this day! I had to leave that job when we were sent to Washington state, where I worked in a 24 hour check processing department. It was a huge operation with lots of machines doing the same things I had done at the Fed. These checks were from branches of that bank all over Washington state and were brought to us by courier. I worked the "swing shift" which is what Gary was working at McChord AFB. 

I worked there until I was 6 months pregnant with Mindy. They wouldn't let you work there past the sixth month so I had to quit. I didn't work again until we came back to Texas. Then I worked at a day care and took Mindy with me. By then she was two. After about a year, I decided to work full time again. I went back to banking in the Proof Department of a bank in Dallas. We lived in Dallas at that time. Still encoding, but these were the checks people and businesses deposited at the bank. We only had to put the amounts on. There were just two of us, each at our machine with the door closed, and only a little glass window in it. Kind of like a closet. I was there until one week before Clay was born. Between that time and going to the next bank, I worked part time at Sears, once in catalogue order, and once in the credit department. Nowadays, it’s not so; but back then almost everyone had worked at Sears at one time or another!

We had, by that time moved to Mesquite. I worked at a Savings & Loan in Dallas, prior to and during the big Savings & Loan crisis (Late 70's-early 80's) as a teller and new account person. I was there until we moved to Emory. By then I was pregnant with Stacey, and didn't work for a while, but when I did, oh yes, it was back to the bank. I worked in Emory for most of the rest of my working days.

 So, are you ready to tell me about your family now?

And I was just going to say, "Ask me about my grandkids!"

 2011-12-05/Zanymuse/e5900bOur oldest daughter, Mindy, has a son, Jeffery, who is now 24. He graduated from a local Junior College, and I guess he considers the associates degree enough... He is now working and has moved away from home (a few miles) and is very happy with that situation. He used to want to be a marine biologist, but for now, he just wants to go fishing. And hunting. He has managed to stay single so far, which is great as far as we are concerned!

2011-12-04/Zanymuse/e5faabMindy and her husband, Ken, have adopted a "special needs" child, Shae, whose parents were from Pakistan, but live in Houston. Ken was the director of the home for medically fragile children, the only one in the state with facilities for infants. Shae was sent there when she was only about 4 months old, and was not expected to live. It is a fascinating story about all the miracles this child has had in her life. 

She is a miracle child. She was paralyzed and not expected to live. She had a large, disfiguring tumor in her head. She is now 5 years old, and she is, and has been, the light of our life. She had personality-plus, from the beginning. Everyone, who sees her falls in love! She just thrilled us a few days ago; she is now able to walk without her walker or cane. She has 4 different kinds of therapists that come to the house.

And here she is,  at her 5th birthday party:2011-12-04/Zanymuse/3369c6

2011-12-04/Zanymuse/b3dcb3Her birth parents see her about 3 or 4 times a year.

 This is a picture of her with her birth mother at her first birthday party. As you can see, her head is at least twice the size it should be.

What a beautiful little girl! Did she lose an eye to the tumor, or is she a winking flirt?2011-12-04/Zanymuse/4d7157

Yes, she is blind in that eye due to the tumor. She can't open it either. She is supposed to have another surgery that will fix that, and she will have a  prosthesis; but I think she has to be a bit older before they do that one. She does not see really well out of the other eye. She started wearing glasses right before her 5th birthday.

 She has had three surgeries on her head, at Children's in Dallas. Her surgeons are the ones that separated the Egyptian twins that were conjoined at the head. The surgeries were very critical. The first one they reduced the size of her head.


Are you sorry you asked for this interview??? I never dreamed I had so much to say...

Not sorry in the least! Keep typing…please.


This is one with Mindy.2011-12-04/Zanymuse/722233

Her first surgery was soon after that. She was not able to even sit alone due to the size of her head.

Here, she is about 2 and able to sit alone.2011-12-04/Zanymuse/dca02e










She had had the 2nd operation by then to fix the ridge in her forehead. Here she is before the surgery: This is after. We were afraid we would lose her during that one, because her blood pressure plummeted. They had to reposition her brain. The tumor had 2011-12-04/Zanymuse/e022c2pushed it into that ridge. That is one of the reasons I say she is a miracle.





 Here, she is in an outfit from Pakistan that was given to her by her birthparents.











This one is right after her third surgery to work on preparing her eye for the future surgeries.

This is a girl who the doctors said would die, and that she did not have a brain. She is a very precious addition to this world, don't you think?

2011-12-04/Zanymuse/545ac1I want to add that before Mindy and Ken got Shae, Ken had a degree in psychology  and social work, and Mindy had a degree in education and social work. He was administrator of the Truman Center, a facility for medically fragile children, and Mindy was a special education teacher. They feel that most of their lives, they were being prepared for Shae.

They certainly were well prepared to care for such a special child!

You made a comment that the Drs. said she was born without a brain? Obviously she has proven them wrong on that count. What is her prognosis for learning abilities?

No one knows. Since the doctors were wrong about her to begin with, if they gave a prognosis, we wouldn't believe it anyway. They thought she would not live... she did. They thought she would never walk alone... she does. We couldn’t even venture a guess, because she never ceases to amaze us! She memorizes lots of things, especially songs. She has a sense of humor and teases us at times. What can I say? She is loving and happy. There are lots of things going on in her little brain!

She truly is a miracle child. You mentioned that she is now able to walk! She has been blessed to be in such a loving and caring family, and it is obvious that your family has been blessed to have her in your lives.

That is so true! She never ceases to amaze me!




Here are a few pictures of Clay and of Lauren in some of her plays. If I know the name of the play I will add it, but sometimes I don't remember. I am thinking that this was from the Princess and the Pea... I think this was from an Improv they did…I have no idea

A few of the actors being silly. Lauren is second from the right.











Our baby is Stacey. She and Derek married in Feb. '03 so I guess it will be 8 years... They got married in Jamaica and Gary & I, our other kids and their spouses, and Derek's Mom, all flew over there for the wedding. It was really nice, and of course it was beautiful weather even in February.










Ross is Stacey's stepson and he is nine now. He was 3 when she and Derek married. He is really a cute little guy, and very smart. Oh and I  was wrong about the year they married. It was Feb 2006 and he turned 4 the following August.










And last but not least is Jack! He is 2, and quite a character. He keeps us laughing ALL the time.

Meet Jack: Jack is a real character.

Anticipating the birth! Gary and I on the left, Rita (Derek's mom) and Max (stepdad) on the right.









He is the sweetest, funniest kid I have ever known.

I can see his humor in those pictures.




Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to add?

I have a wonderful family! Our kids and grandkids fill our hearts with joy and love. All of this is what makes the aches and pains of old age so worth it!

Related articles:

About Brenda Essig
I believe that everyone has a story worth telling and a uniqueness that sets them apart from the crowd. We are like snow flakes. We look similar at a glance but no two are identical.

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A lovely story nap Dec 9, 2011 5:13 AM 19

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