Archive for the ‘Family’ Category
Ada Grace Creighton was born Grace Ann Creighton on December 18, 2001.
Grace Ann is a fine name. Everyone in the family was fond enough of it. But it was clear from the beginning (at least to me) that it may not fit just right.
I kept my concerns to myself because I could think of no good alternatives. I like the name Grace a lot. Ann is fine, too. I have cousins and good friends with the name Ann.
It was the combination of the two that didn’t work quite right for me. You see, to me, Grace Ann – especially said very quickly – sounds a lot like Greason. Jimmy Greason was my next door neighbor when I was growing up. From the moment Grace was born I think of Jimmy every time I hear Grace Ann said together.
I called my parents to tell them about Grace’s birth. “We have another girl,” I said. “Her name is Grace Ann.” It was an uncontrollable reflex. In the next instant, I just blurted out, “Jimmmmy.”
Again, I did my best to hide my misgivings about the combination of Grace Ann and my peculiar speech reflex.
Joni is fond of the name Grace, too. She has no special attachment to Ann, it just seemed to go well with Grace (clearly we did not communicate well on this point).
Joni, though, was thinking of her own childhood neighbor when it came to names. Ada Wederski was a special person in her life. She very much wanted to give Ada’s name to one of our children. She just couldn’t seem to come up with a good way to work it in.
It became clear soon after Grace’s birth that she would be our last child. There would be no more opportunities to honor people by giving their names to our children. But, that didn’t stop Joni from thinking about Ada.
Some friends of ours, when Grace was about three, had a daughter of their own. Ava Grace, who lived a short but special life, was the name she was given. She was the inspiration Joni needed.
Joni always imagined Ada as a middle name never a first. Grace Ada just didn’t roll off the tongue. But, Ada Grace, that just might work.
Joni kicked around the idea in her own mind for quite a long time. Grace was five years old before we talked about the idea together. Was Grace too old to change names now?
I thought why not. Grace wasn’t yet in school. School is what sets a kids name in stone – at least while they are at that school.
Joni and I agreed it would be okay to make the change. We asked Grace but she didn’t warm to the idea immediately. Joni told her the story of her neighbor Ada and that helped a little. But Grace wasn’t quite ready to change identities.
Scheduling issues and preschool desires led us to send Grace to a different elementary school for kindergarten than Emma and Joe. She would switch back to Central Elementary in first grade.
The second week of kindergarten a strange thing happened. Grace, without consulting anyone, began to sign all of her papers with Ada. That is sort of Grace’s way. She does things quietly with little or no fanfare.
Grace’s teacher was confused. Where did this name Ada come from? All of the school supplies, name cards at the desk, coat hook and locker said, “Grace.” Let’s go by “Grace” this year. We all agreed.
First grade, back at Central Elementary, provided another opportunity for Grace to decide if she wanted to be Ada Grace or just Grace. She still wasn’t sure. Her teacher, Kelly Sanseverino, said, “We need to decide so I know what to call you.” So Grace took the plunge and declared herself to be Ada Grace. And, that’s how all her classmates know her now, as Ada. At Central Elementary, there is no turning back.
Old friends still call her Grace. At home, it’s a mixed bag. I hardly ever call her only Grace. It’s either Ada Grace or Ada for me. Emma and Joe go back and forth. Joni tends to call her Grace in the summer and Ada during the school year. It’s a name that is still taking shape.
But, I like it. It’s unique. It’s a pretty combination, Ada Grace. It makes a connection between generations of people who were special to Joni. And, it saves me the embarrassment of reflexively shouting out “Jimmmmy” when some says Grace Ann.
My Uncle Joe Wilson – no, not the husband of Valerie Plame and, no, not the South Carolina Congressman who yelled, “You Lie,” just Uncle Mac – and his wife Marty are planning a trip to Colorado in October. We don’t get to see Uncle Mac as often as we’d like. He’s always lived on the coast East and Left. But, we’ve had some memorable times together.
We spent the most time together when we were both students at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Mac was in the mid-career program. I was in the more rigorous two year Master of Public Policy program. We MPP students liked to think of the mid-career program as the reason our tuition was only outrageous rather than extremely outrageous. The “cash cow” program subsidized the next generation of leaders.
Our shared experience that Uncle Mac remembers best is not our time in Cambridge. It was the 1976 Rose Bowl between UCLA and Ohio State. Dad, Alec, Uncle Mac and I scalped tickets the day of the game right after the Rose Bowl parade. Dad and Alec took one pair of tickets. Uncle Mac and I took another in the opposite side of the stadium. For an eleven sports fanatic – me – it was a thrill to attend such a big game. It was, for my uncle, life threatening.
The Woody Hayes/Archie Griffin led Ohio State Buckeyes needed only to defeat the Bruins, who they had manhandled earlier in the year 42-20, to complete a perfect season and claim a national title. The Buckeye fans were confident. The Ohio State band marched into the stadium chanting 42-20.
I didn’t know much about UCLA. I had never heard of their coach Dick Vermeil. But, I did know I was going to cheer for UCLA and cheer my heart out. I loved an underdog!
No one took much notice of my proclamation that I would be cheering for the Bruins on that day. That is until Uncle Mac and I found our seats – right in the middle of the Ohio State cheering section. Still, there wasn’t too much to worry about. The Buckeyes were heavy favorites – 15 ½ points. Bruins fans wouldn’t cheer much that day.
It was one of those games that breathes life in the old cliché, “That’s why they play the games.” The Buckeyes got off to an early 3-0 lead in a defensive first half. But, in the second half, the Bruins reeled off 16 straight points – a field goal and two touchdowns. I cheered louder each time UCLA drove down the field. When they tied the score 3-3, I was just annoying to the Buckeye fans. When they built up a 13 point lead, my cheering was beyond the pale. A big fan in a plaid shirt who had been soothing his anxiety with alcohol turned around to my Uncle and said, “If you don’t shut that kid up, you’re going to get it.”
The Bruins matched the Buckeye’s only touchdown of the day with another of their own. The final score, Bruins 23, Buckeye’s 10. Oklahoma beat Michigan later that night to win the National Championship.
I left the stadium happy that day. My Uncle left a little pale but happy to escape alive. I don’t know if he’s completely forgiven me yet or not. I’ll have to ask him in October.
Providing support has its limits. No matter how much we might want to do more for someone we love, when we’re in the cheering section, there are many moments we can only watch while our loved one does the hard work.
I learn and relearn (but never completely master) this lesson often as a parent, husband and son.
The lesson was never more harshly taught than during the untimely deaths of my parents. Mom passed away at age 64 of recurring breast cancer. Dad, a nationally competitive marathon runner in his 40s, died at age 73 of pulmonary fibrosis. We were fortunate to be at their bedsides, to hold their hands, during the last days and weeks of their lives. But at the end of each day, the hard truth was, Mom and Dad had to face their illness and ultimately their mortality alone.
A far more joyful, recent event again reminded me of the limits of providing support to a loved one. Joni, Emma, Ada Grace and I cheered for Joe at an IronKids Triathlon in Avon, Colorado. I stood at the edge of the swimming pool as Joe lined up with 80 other kids each waiting their turn to swim. I thought to myself we arrived here together but now, Joe is his own journey. Joe and only Joe had to master his nerves, fight through the pain of a side ache (he gets every race) and muster a second wind to finish the run. There was nothing more his family could do except cheer – and cheer we did.
Playing a support role is not always easy. When we’re at our loved one’s side during times of illness it often means sleepless nights, gut wrenching tears and suppressed emotions. Supporting our kids presents different kinds of sacrifices – spending money, long hours standing around waiting, and getting up at absurdly early hours to, in this case, set up a bike and lay out a towel. But the stresses of those of us in the support role are trivial compared to the challenges of being a competitor – whether it’s competition against illness, in sports, or taking on the fear of starting middle school.
It was a privilege to be witness to my parents’ final hours. It is a privilege to watch my children take on the challenges of growing up. In times sad and happy, there are many days I would like to do more for the people I love. But, I have to settle for holding a hand, saying “I Love You” or shouting ‘til I’m hoarse, “You can do it.” That’s all one can do when they are sitting on the sidelines.
It is, indeed, a privilege.
John and Joni Creighton were married on August 19, 1989 in St. John’s Catholic Church in rural Rawlins County. In twenty years of marriage, they have lived in Boston, Massachusetts; Falls Church, Virginia; Bethesda and Rockville, Maryland, and Boulder, Colorado. They have called Longmont, Colorado home since 2001. Both John (1983) and Joni (1986) are graduates of Atwood High School.
John is the son of Robert and Barbara (Wilson) Creighton. He was born in Atwood on October 11, 1964. He followed the family tradition (fifth generation) attending the University of Kansas where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with degrees in economics and business administration in 1987. He received a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1990.
John worked on Governor Mike Hayden’s campaign staff in 1986 and 1990. For the past 20 years, John has worked as a public leadership consultant with a focus on public opinion research. He worked for The Harwood Institute for Public Innovations from 1991-1999. John founded his own consulting firm in 1999. Most recently, John agreed to write for the community section of the online edition of a major national newspaper.
John is active in Longmont, too. He was elected to the St. Vrain Valley School District board of education in 2007, the same year he succeeded his father as president of the High Plains Bank Holding Company.
Joni is the daughter of John and Betty (Rooney) Mickey. She was born in Atwood on May 20, 1968. She was a member of the Atwood High School state cross country championship team in 1986.
Joni attended Kansas State University and graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Maryland in 1994. She worked in the emergency room of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, as a floor nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland and as a research nurse in Boulder, Colorado.
John and Joni have three children, Emma Cloe born on May 26, 1997; Joseph Paul born on August 7, 1999; and Ada Grace born on December 18, 2001. All three children were born in Boulder, Colorado. Emma, Joe and Ada Grace hold the distinction of having two grandparents serve as Mayor of Atwood – Bob Creighton, 1983-1991 and Betty Mickey, 1999-present (Betty is the first woman and longest serving Mayor in Atwood history). The children enjoy visiting Atwood where they take swimming lessons most summers.
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Submitting to The Rawlins County History Book
Bob and Lavina Creighton were married October 5, 2002 in Skiatook, Oklahoma. Bob and Lavina reconnected after the death of Bob’s first wife Barbara (Wilson) Creighton. The two were classmates from seventh through twelfth grades in Flagler, Colorado dating for a time during their senior year of high school. They re-entered each other’s lives at their fifty year high school reunion.
Bob and Lavina had many adventures traveling the country. They visited each of the 50 state capitals and all 105 county court houses in Kansas. It was Bob’s longtime dream to put together a photo collection of these civic landmarks and he was able to accomplish this goal with Lavina’s support. Lavina even convinced Bob to travel to Alaska and Hawaii, not on the original photo tour itinerary, so his collection would be complete.
Bob had two sons, Alec and John, with his wife Barbara as noted elsewhere in this volume.
After graduating from Flagler High School, Lavina attended Colorado State University before marrying Loren Patton of Scott City, Kansas. She and Loren had four children: Mike Patton and his wife Maggie live in Scott City; David Patton and his wife Tonya live in Kennewick, Washington; Debbie Dunbar and her husband Larry live in Skiatook, Oklahoma, and Todd Patton and his wife Marci live in Scott City. Lavina has eleven grand-children and two great-grandchildren.
Lavina has lived in a number of communities over the course of her life. In addition to Flagler, she spent some childhood years and many years of her adult life in Scott City. She has also lived in Gunnison, Colorado and Skiatook, Oklahoma. While living in Skiatook, Lavina worked for Barn Dandies, a children’s furniture company, doing all of the company’s sewing and upholstery work.
Bob and Lavina enjoyed five wonderful years of marriage before Bob’s life was cut short on April 5, 2005. It was one of Bob’s great joys to bring Lavina to Atwood, where she embraced the community and the community embraced her. Lavina often says that the greatest gift Bob gave her was Atwood.
Lavina continues to live in their home in Atwood. She is a member of the Courts of Praise church, manages finances for the Atwood Second Century Fund and serves on the Atwood Public Library Board. Lavina enjoys spending time with her friends in Atwood, visiting her children and grand-children and traveling.
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Submitting to The Rawlins County History Book
Bob and Barbara Creighton came to Atwood in search of a town in which they and their children could play a vital role and they found what they sought. They were proud to call Atwood home until the time of their deaths.
Robert Atkinson Creighton and Barbara Lee Wilson made their home in Atwood in 1960. They raised two sons who now have families of their own – Alec, his wife Christie and their children Ben and Rachel of Fort Morgan, Colorado and John, his wife Joni and their children, Emma, Joe and Ada Grace of Longmont, Colorado.
Barbara was a homemaker, mother, grandmother and active in the community. She served as president of P.E.O., Union Club, and Town & Country Guild, was a volunteer reader to Atwood first graders and the 1991 starter of the Lake Atwood Ten Mile race. She served on the boards of the Atwood Public Library, Kansas Quilters’ Organization, and High Plains Banking Group in Colorado. Barbara enjoyed needlework, gardening, genealogy, and was an avid reader.
Barbara stood toe-to-toe with breast cancer on two occasions. She beat the odds and triumphed over the disease in 1987. She was able to enjoy 15 additional years of life and spend time with all of her five grand-children. Barbara passed away on May 28, 2002 in the company of her husband and sons.
Bob was given the opportunity to practice law in Atwood by Forest W. Brown. His law partner when he retired in August 2005 was Charles Peckham. Bob worked with his secretary Margaret (Kanak) Hagler for 27 years.
Bob gave up competitive running in the late 1980s and focused on his law practice, banking and public service. Bob served as president of the High Plains Bank Holding Company based in his boyhood home of Flagler, Colorado. He was appointed by Governor Mike Hayden to the Kansas Board of Regents, which he served as chairman. He also served on the Kansas Hospital Closure Commission, Kansas Commission of Judicial Qualifications, Board of Governors of the KU Law School and to the Kansas University Hall Center for the Humanities Advisory Board.
In June 2005, Bob was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. He always said, “If complaining would help, I’d shout the loudest. But the truth is you get the years you get.” Bob passed away on April 5, 2007 leaving behind his wife Lavina, two sons and their families.
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Submitting to The Rawlins County History Book
Heidi Priebe, the younger sister I never had, asked me to make some suggestions for the update she is submitting to The Rawlins County History Book Vol. III. She said that she’s probably not going to use all of the suggestions – the write up is currently over the 400 word limit. So you can read my version now or her version when the book comes out.
Phil and Heidi (Mickey) Priebe
Heidi Jo Mickey Priebe is the daughter of John and Betty (Rooney) Mickey. She was born in Atwood on June 30, 1972, the first year of the Lake Atwood 10 Mile race. She graduated from Atwood High School in 1991 and attended Kansas State University (because she couldn’t get in anywhere else).
She and her husband Phil Priebe, who is much older (in fact rediculously older) met while part of the wedding party for her sister Joni and John Creighton. While Heidi was at Kansas State, John invited both Phil and Heidi on a summer vacation to North Carolina with a group of Atwood alumni and future residents. Marriage soon followed. Thanks John! (No worries, you’re welcome.)
Philip Nathan Priebe was born on March 20, 1965 in Hackensack, New Jersey (which Heidi just learned in their 15th year of marriage but is now trying to cover up that fact by saying she was only confused about Phil’s brother). He is a graduate of Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky. Phil graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas (the greatest school ever) in 1998.
Phil and Heidi were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan Kansas on July 23, 1994. That same year, they moved to Louisville, Kentucky where Phil earned his Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Louisville Medical School in 1997.
Phil and Heidi lived in Westminster, Colorado from 1997 to 2001 while Phil completed a residency in Obstetrics/Gynecology at St. Joseph’s Hospital. During this time period, Heidi worked as an assistant for one of the greatest managers she’s ever known (her brother-in-law, John), cared for her neice Emma, graduated from the Art Institute of Colorado School of Culinary Arts and owned and operated her own business as a personal chef for highly paid athletes and other Denver luminaries.
Their daughter Elizabeth Agnes was born in Denver on June 12, 2001 on the same day that her Uncle John had a business trip.
Phil joined the staff of The Medical Center of Bowling Green, Kentucky in the summer of 2001. Phil and Heidi lived in Bowling Green for five years. Their second daughter, Anne Wesley, was born there on April 15, 2004.
Missing the Creightons desperately, the Priebes returned to Colorado in 2006 and continue to live in Fort Collins where Phil is a partner and rabble rouser with the Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado. Their son Coy Lewis was born in Ft. Collins on June 8, 2008. The Priebes are active members of the Ft. Collins United Methodist Church. Heidi also serves on several school committees for Poudre Public Schools.
Phil enjoys his annual trip to Rawlins County to hunt pheasant. Heidi continues a career as mom. Realizing that she is so close to 40 that she should just call herself 40 and pining for more adventure, Heidi lives vicariously through the characters in the novels she reads, collects memories visiting famous restaurants and sometimes wonders how her “family update” would read if she was a heartless woman with no children.
We all know television was very different forty years ago compared to today. Our parents told us stories of listening to radio broadcasts of The Lone Ranger or the Shadow. We now tell our children tales of the time when television was limited to three channels, began with test patterns in the morning and concluded the broadcast day with a rendition of the National Anthem.
Sunday night was my favorite night of television when I was very young. Normal family rules did not apply. We are allowed to eat in the living room rather than at the kitchen table and, most importantly, watch T.V. while we ate.
We set up T.V. “trays” in the living room. Our trays were small wooden tables that stacked on top of each other. These tables were gifts from my grandfather Creighton who broke one slamming his fist down when K.U. was called for too many men on the field in the 1969 Orange Bowl, blowing sure victory against Penn State.
Not only were we allowed to eat in the living room, but Sunday night meant a special meal – one my mom didn’t have to cook. We often had Swanson T.V. Dinners. My favorite was the Salisbury Steak. I also was partial to the Turkey and German Style Dinners. I’d be scared to try any of these today.
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom came on first. Marlin Perkins narrated the show sitting at the desk under the Mutual of Omaha logo. As a child, I assumed he was sitting in Omaha, Nebraska. I had no concept at the time that the show was sponsored by an insurance company.
Jim Fowler, Perkins’ assistant, became a legendary figure over the years as baby boomers wrote and produced countless television parodies of his heroics – “Jim will now enter the brush and wrestle the lion.” He was the Crocodile Hunter before there was a Crocodile Hunter.
I had a collection of savannah and jungle animal figurines (made of plastic of course) that I brought out of storage every Sunday night. I enacted lion hunts of zebras on the fireplace hearth as I watched the natural drama unfold on the screen.
The Wonderful World of Disney was the evening’s main event. Each Sunday, we were treated to classics such as The Parent Trap, Herbie the Lovebug, and That Darn Cat. Dean Jones and Hayley Mills were the stars, not Lindsay Lohan. My favorites starred Kurt Russell as Dexter Riley with the gang at Medfield College – The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him Now You Don’t, and The Strongest Man in the World.
Television is not the event it once was. Children don’t wait weeks in anticipation of the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz. Families don’t plan their weeks around a special T.V. night. Thursday nights is not Must See T.V. Media no longer reports on the new lineup of shows for the kick-off of the television season – shows seem to premier at random times throughout the year. Disney has its own channel. And, there’s nothing that special about setting up the T.V. trays in the living room.
I don’t miss these things for my kids. They weren’t such a special thing in my life that I wax nostalgically for their return. But, as a young boy, Sunday night was exciting.
I am curious, forty years from now, what my children will tell their children about family rituals that have come and gone. What are we doing today that will be unimaginably out of date in just a decade or two?
Only time will tell.
This is a cautionary tale about the perils of scaling up.
Our kids and their 300 block Pratt Street friends captured magic in a bottle last summer. Three Mahoney kids, three Creighton kids, Sonia Frasier who helped with sets, Emily Shulte from next door, Jackson Brown – a short bike ride away – and “Big” Anna their baby sitter (also from next door) formed an acting troupe known as the Pratt Street Players and staged a production of CATS in our garage.
The performance greatly exceeded the standing room only crowd’s expectations. The show included sets, lighting, costumes, props, programs, pre-performance hors d’oeuvres, and several highly choreographed dance numbers – all the work done by the kids. No one had an official job but all of the work got done.
There was no rehearsal schedule. The kids would simply knock on each other’s doors or see each other in their yards and call out, “Do you want to practice CATS?” Some rehearsals lasted twenty minutes. Others went on for hours. At lunch, during the full day sessions, kids would run home to eat and then return on their own. The day-to-day enthusiasm for the upcoming show was palpable.
The kids had so much fun experiencing the thrill of success, of accomplishment, that they wanted to grow the show. They wanted to share the experience of performing with friends from more distant parts of town and do multiple shows to a much larger audience.
As parents, we were supportive. “It is fine to expand the show but you’re still in charge,” we said. “You need to organize things. We’re not going to get involved.”
That word, “organize,” is where things started to go awry. Some of the kids recruited to join the Pratt Street Players lived too far away to ride or walk to our house on their own. Parents began to ask about a schedule – when should I drop off my child for practice, what day and time, when will they be done?
Joni and I began to consider the prospect of ten or fifteen kids in our backyard. “We’re not going to run a restaurant this summer,” we cautioned. The implication is that rehearsals would have to end before or begin after lunch.
The kids did get organized just as they were asked to do. They assigned themselves job responsibilities, made out practice schedules, printed them up and handed them out. They were diligent about making phone calls to notify troupe members of changes in plans. They did all the right things to scale up.
But, it is summer time. Schedules change. Kids decide they want to go swimming or go to a movie rather than practice CATS. Parents make plans for weekend trips and vacations. There are already many scheduled activities – swim team, triathlon practice, camps. Families aren’t necessarily in the mood for one more.
The spontaneity so critical to last summer’s magic was squeezed out by a rigid rehearsal schedule. Job descriptions led to disagreements about who should do what and complaints about “that’s not my job.” There’s been disappointed when kids missed practice and guilt when the organizers want to reschedule.
The feeling of “Pick Up Theater” has been hard to recapture.
The kids are undeterred. They plan to forge ahead with their performance the first week of July. I’m confident they will have fun.
As a parent, though, it’s a bummer to think that we required structures that ultimately hampered the creative process. How often are we guilty of doing this? How can we, as parents, learn from this experience?
It is an important reminder about the costs of imposing formal structures on creative endeavors. It is an important reminder that there are consequences of scaling up.