Of Cabbages and Kings
Sometimes another person’s story reminds you of your own, sometimes not at all. Larry Jackson grew up in a family of eight children in Hoopeston, Ill., four miles from the University of Illinois at Champaign. His wife, Sally, grew up in the small towns of Spangle and Rockford and other remote places in Washington state. Her family moved a lot. Before they met, both Larry and Sally had endured the heartbreak of having several loved ones die at a young age.
Life was not finished with Larry and Sally. Larry joined the Marines and as a corporal found himself in the battles of Okinawa. Those were tough days. One day Larry’s helmet was blown off his head. No injury to his head, but his helmet was still attached to his chin. “I lived in a foxhole for 88 days and one night, sleeping an hour and watching for the enemy an hour,” he said. “Another time I was walking along and saw the enemy hiding in the bushes. I had a canteen and filled it with water. The enemy stood up and I shot him in the chest.”
This was war. It was no time to say, “Good morning, how are you.” Another time a mortar shell landed right in front of him near his feet. “It makes you believe in the Lord when that happens,”he said. Malaria was rampant among the men. Larry remembers he had 10 different buddies in an 88-day span die from malaria.
Larry said a lady he knew wrote a 47-page biography of his life at that time. He didn’t want her to write it, but she insisted. Like many other veterans, Larry didn’t tell his children about many of the ordeals he had been through.
“I grew up with my guitar,” Sally said. “We were very poor. We had no car and I had to walk to wherever I needed to go.”
“My mother taught me, rather than have me go to school,” she said. “She read the Bible to my brother and me.” Sally’s father died of a stroke in his early 50’s. Her mother also died young. Sally got a job with Jensen Byrd and worked there for 29 years. She also worked for Miller Company, walking everywhere she went. She had music in her soul. Sally played the organ and sang at church and played her beloved guitar. “I was going to be the ‘lone wolf’ in the family and never marry,” she said.
Then along came Larry. He moved to the Cheney area in 1954 with his first wife and three children. He opened a service station and garage, worked it night and day for 32 years and retired in 1985. Cancer claimed his wife. His children were growing up.
Larry began going to church. It happened to be the same church that Sally attended. Sally played the church organ and sang alto in the choir. Larry also had a nice voice. He began to sing tenor in the choir. Soon Larry and Sally sang duets. After one Sunday at church Larry said to Sally, “Would you like to go for a ride?” The ride turned into dates. They have been married now for 27 years.
Together, Larry and Sally have visited Branson, Mo., a favorite vacation spot for many people. They have been to Alaska three times and hopped on a cruise ship that took them from Vancouver to Hawaii.
Sally had to give up her guitar, but has an organ she practices twice a week. As well as being a musician, Sally is a painter. She has sold numerous plates she has painted. Add saw blades to that list and a large nature painting showing an elk. There are a number of other paintings Sally has given away to friends and relatives.
“Larry does so much work around our home. We do things together,” Sally said. They feel that the Lord brought them together. Sally threw away her “lone wolf” banner a long time ago.
We wish you well, Larry and Sally.
Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at email@example.com.