A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Friends That Shape Us

Growing up we had some good friends, Papa and Ruth Gordy. Papa Gordy was named Otis but no one ever called him that. He was Papa Gordy to everyone.

They were some of my parents best friends. Papa Gordy was a deacon in our church and Mrs. Gordy was my Girls Auxiliary leader at church. They were kind soft-spoken people and the memories I have of them are all good ones.

With Mrs. Gordy my class went to visit a girl in the hospital who was older than I was. She was in her late teens and had been badly burned. She was burning trash and threw some gasoline on it; the back draft of the flames on the fumes burned her. We were all scared, horrified actually, and silent on the visit but Mrs. Gordy talked to her as if everything was normal and that calmed us down and gave us courage. She died a few days after we visited her. I learned from Mrs. Gordy that sometimes you have to be brave and strong so that you can comfort others and that sometimes that is all you can do for them.

While we were still living in Monroe the Gordys moved to Grayson, Louisiana. This was about 40 minutes south of Monroe. It was also before we lived in Houston and a 40 minute drive won't even get you across town. At the time it seemed far far away. My parents weren't big on driving long distances and my dad never went over 25 miles an hour if he could help it. My grandparents lived in West Monroe and we only visited them on the weekend because it was such a drive. About 15 minutes at Daddy's speed!

But my parents loved their friends the Gordys so we went to visit them more often that I would have imagined. The Gordys had children but they were either younger or older than me. I was closer to Mrs. Gordy than to her children. I loved to visit her partly because she had a whole collection of Connie Francis records! This was getting pretty wild in my circle. She let me play them on her record player and I spent most of the time on our visits doing just that. Where The Boys Are had me dreaming of a handsome true love, Everybody's Somebody's Fool proved to be prophetic in my case when Lipstick On Your Collar told the tale; then I was Breaking In A Brand New Broken Heart, and Who's Sorry Now offered me hope of revenge if I was ever sporting that newly broken heart! She was beautiful and glamorous and sang dreamily about things a young girl wanted to experience, not the more grown up beer drinking songs of country music that my parents listened to. 

Where The Boys Are by Connie Francis

They lived in a wonderful old house like you see in small towns. The rooms all went round and round from one to the other. There were big trees in the yard and the yard sloped down on a slight hill. My sister Jackie (in photo) was 4 or 5 years old and she decided to climb into their car one day. We were in the backyard and looked up to see Jackie staring calmly out the driver's side window, both hands on the window, as the car rolled down the hill. She had put the gear shift in neutral and off she went! We yelled for Daddy and she was saved!

A year or two after the Gordys moved to Grayson we moved to Houston. They came to visit at least once but we rarely saw them after that. Mrs. Gordy passed away a few years after I graduated from high school. By then I was married with two small boys and a job in the big city. Responsibilities lay on my shoulders and the day-dreaming 12 year old child I had been was so far gone from me I barely remembered her. But every once in a while when it's a warm summer day with the breeze blowing on my skin, that young girl resurfaces and I'll find myself humming I Don't Hurt Anymore, an old Hank Snow song Connie Francis recorded on her country album. And I'll remember Mrs. Gordy and her wonderful old house and her kind heart and that you should always try and be brave even when you are scared.


  1. Great post! When our daughter started singing in competitions at the age of 8 she started with some Connie Francis songs. She won a 4-H vocal competition singing Where The Boys Are when she was in the 10th grade.

    1. That's awesome! I'm glad Connie hasn't been forgotten by young people. She had a beautiful voice.