Posts Tagged ‘Ada Grace’
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.
I never knew and to my knowledge never met Ada Wederski. My first memory of hearing Ada’s name was the day Joni told me of her death. It was 1987. I was in London attending summer school. Standing in the hallway of a school dorm, I tried as best I could to listen on the payphone as Joni, fighting back tears, told me the news.
Ada was one of the special people in Joni’s life. Ada and her husband Lee lived across a dirt road from the Mickey’s in Blakeman, a few miles west of Atwood. She and Lee were one of just a few neighbors within reasonable walking distance.
A visit to Ada’s meant that Joni could do all the things she wasn’t allowed to do or simply weren’t possible in her own home. She and Ada kicked back on the sofa to watch soap operas. Joni drank strawberry soda and ate Swanson’s pot pies – true luxuries in the eyes of a young girl. And, for an hour or two, she could be an only child not having to share attention with two sisters.
Ada and Lee lived in a simple home. Two rooms and a kitchen. There was running water in the sink but there wasn’t an indoor bathroom. Ada wore a plain house dress each day to do her daily chores as well as to lounge in between. She often kept her teeth in a glass by the sink. On the rare occasions that Joni smells denture cream, it brings back memories of being near Ada.
Ada and Lee worked hard. They grew, harvested and canned their own produce. Ada kneaded dough for bread on the Hoosier that stands in our kitchen today. It’s easy to see from the worn area were so much work was done. Lee raised chickens and pigs.
Ada and Lee were not wealthy by any measure save one. They had unlimited love to share with young neighbors. This love was shared without condition whenever the girls ran across the road conveying a lifetime lesson of how special it is when one opens their home to another.
Joni visited often after school, on weekend and summer afternoons – as soon as the chores at home were done. The visits included activities of no particular note. Joni would help Ada in the garden and kitchen. She would follow Lee in the yard and do what she could to help with the chickens and pigs. If she returned home on any particular day and was asked, “What did you do at Ada’s?” “Nothing much,” would be just about accurate.
Grand activities aren’t what Joni needed when she went to Ada’s. It was many days of doing “nothing” in the garden, in the kitchen, on the worn out sofa watching TV that forged a lasting bond between a neighbor and a girl. It is a relationship that will be cherished for at least another generation and is celebrated in the name of our youngest daughter.
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
My Dad invented this snack – at least as far as I know. He often ate it on summer evenings after long runs. I picked up on the habit at about nine or ten years-old. It’s been my favorite snack ever since – though I only have the snack occasionally now. It’s best enjoyed with a cold glass of milk.
Here’s a video by Emma in which I show Joe and Ada Grace how to make the best snack ever.
I rang the doorbell, turned and ran as fast as my feet would carry me toward the front gate. But, I hadn’t planned well. The gate was latched shut.
The seconds it took to make my way through the front yard exit cost me dearly. Miss Bearly was swift of foot. She caught me by the collar just a few strides outside her gate.
The penalty for trespassing was severe. I knew it before I rang the bell. A kiss. Or, a pinch. Probably both.
A game of ding dong ditch? No, it was May Day.
May Day – not to be confused with the Communist celebration – is one of those second tier holidays you greatly anticipate as a child and then forget completely until you have children of your own.
Our tradition was to make baskets filled with candy for our friends and neighbors – it was the sugar fix between Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Mom often added pansies to the baskets for the other Moms.
Apparently, flowers is supposed to be the featured item in a May basket. I cared only about the sweets.
My favorite “basket” was the cupcake with a pipe cleaner handle. I loved to decorate the cupcakes and lick the knife.
Once the baskets were complete, we left them on a friend’s or neighbor’s doorstop, rang the door bell and tried to escape. The chase was the best part of the holiday (okay, licking the knife with frosting was the best part but the chase was a close second). I liked being chased far more than chasing a culprit from our yard. I didn’t want to catch anyone. Especially if I had to kiss them.
We always went to Miss Bearly’s (now Mrs. Erickson) on 2nd Street, I think it was. She was my first grade teacher. She was fun. She was always up for a chase. We share a birthday of October 11. And, most of all, I’m grateful that she helped Mom discover I had dyslexia. That led to a lot doctor’s visits and exercises I wasn’t too keen on but paid off in the long run.
Joni was excited to renew the May Day tradition when we moved to Longmont. She had fond memories of the holiday, too. But, we soon discovered we were one of the few people who had ever celebrated the holiday as children. When our kids placed baskets on friend’s doorsteps and rang the door bell, no chase ensued. There were just strange looks and questions, “What are you doing.”
We still plan to celebrate this year. Our kids are getting older and we won’t have many May Day’s of interest left.
The debate in the house is what to include in the baskets. Our kids follow in my footsteps. They want candy.
Joni suggested flowers, fruit leathers and pistachios. Huh?
In the end, it won’t matter much what we give as gifts. The main thing is that May Day is our last good excuse to ding dong ditch.
Pickup theater season kicked off this weekend.
I played pickup basketball and baseball when I was young. We played basketball in friend’s driveways and at the tennis courts by the Court House. Our baseball fields were vacant lots behind the Christian Church, the corner of 8th Street and Highway 36 and the southeast corner of the Court House block.
Our games had little organization. Whoever showed up, no matter what age, was in the game. Sometimes we put together loose organization that lasted for a few weeks. We had a three-on-three baseball league at least one, maybe two summers – The Holaday Twins and Rod Briggs (sometimes Greg Green) were the northern team; Doug Trail, Tim Yount and Matt Cunningham represented the south side of town (Tim’s roots were in the south), and Paul Hayden, Mark Buhler and I, along with substitutes who we could recruit were the Central Atwood team.
We even went so far as to make homemade uniforms. Kids of every generation seem to love uniforms and costumes. You can make out a few jerseys on Gene Currier’s video clip.
Our kids’ interests are different than mine were as a boy. Somewhere along the line, our kids got a theater bug – especially Joe. When the kids were very young they became infatuated with a movie version of CATS. It’s a love affair that has lasted almost seven or eight years.
Last summer the kids organized an acting troupe they call the Pratt Street Players (we live on Pratt Street) and did a performance of CATS for parents and all the neighbors the kids could recruit.
The practiced every day, three to four hours, for nearly a month in our garage. My office is located in a loft just above the garage. If you would like me to sing you a CATS song, I’m capable.
Our kids have long put on after dinner performances when we have friends or family over to our house. A typical performance included more time figuring out who is going to do what and competition between “directors” than actual acting.
We told the kids (okay I told the kids) if you’re going to invite people to a performance you need to be a bit more polished. I was blown away by their production. It included a buffet of food to be a “dinner theater”; a stage crew who operated everything from background to strobe lights and ticketed seating.
The song and dance numbers were more than a bit polished. Kids from age six to eleven danced in (almost) perfect sync. Best of all, they had a blast.
They have decided to do a reprise of CATS. Rather than a one night only performance, they’re planning a three night run sometime in late June. They’ve already enlisted their grandma Mickey in making costumes. They’ve put together a practice schedule. And, they’re recruiting a larger cast.
Just like the pickup games of my youth it’s a “no cost camp” that keeps the kids entertained for hours on end. And, I’ll get to bone up on my CATS songs since my office still sits above the theater.
“When are we going to Atwood, Dad,” Ada Grace asked today on the way to a birthday party. It’s a question that comes up on a regular basis.
“I’m not sure. We’ll go this summer.”
“Oh, good, I like the summer.”
“What’s your perfect summer day in Atwood,” I asked.
“Being at Grammies house.”
“Going to swimming lessons. It’s fun with the teacher because you get the whole pool. Emily and Macy are good teachers. I remember Emily. It’s more fun than in Longmont.
“One time we went to the deep end in Longmont. One girl couldn’t touch. She was scared. So, we all had to leave the deep end.
“I like it in Atwood because the teacher will let you go to the deep end.
“Going to the dime store. Grammies will buy us a toy or some candy. Sometimes she buys us both. It’s better if Mom doesn’t go.
“And then to the grocery store. On days that aren’t real hot, I like to get ice cream. On days that are hot, I pick the slushy. Mom won’t let us have both. But sometimes I get the slushy and Joe gets ice cream and then we share. He tries mine and I try his. But sometimes I don’t like to do that.
“And going bowling. I mostly like to eat because I’m always hungry. And the games. I mostly like those. I’m not so good at bowling.
“Oh yeah. And riding on the golf cart with Grammies. One time Grammies let me drive and it tipped over. So now I just ride. I don’t like to drive anymore. But when I’m eight I can drive by myself.
“Mostly, I just like to be at Grammies.”
“That sounds like a good day, Ada Grace.”