This is a note-worthy weekend, at least in my small corner of the planet.
This is the silver anniversary of my employment at The Madera Tribune. My first day on the payroll was my late and dear mother’s birthday
Ninety years ago today, the birth of a baby girl with the exotic name would lead to the birth of those “Three Hill Kids,” a force to reckoned with on the gridiron, track, field, wrestling ring, the stage or the choir loft.
This family made its presence known on the political scene, sports arena, and the ability to draw what the eye sees or to describe it in the pages of The Madera Tribune.
My two brothers and I owe so much of “who we are,” to our mother. The remainder, of course, came from my father, whose birthday is August 25, 1926. I can get to his contributions then.
Born Quovada Louise Kirk in the town of Indianola, Oklahoma. Her parents, Joseph William Barry Kirk and the former Lillie Mae Hawkins, lit out for California in the back of her father’s truck.
Mom loved to say we were the rich Oakies because we had two mattresses on the top of Grandpa Hawkin’s truck.
She spent her early years as a nursemaid for her younger brothers while her mother and adored older sister Clara Oletha Banks, nee Kirk, kept the house and worked in the field picking cotton or anything else they could harvest to make a few cents.
She dreamed of a nursing career, four strong sons and I assume a handsome hubby since my dad had a gorgeous shock of dark wavy hair and a strong chin. Knowing her as I did, I think a homely man would have done just fine because the things that attracted her to my father were his strong work ethics, his sense of fun and maybe the way her girlfriends looked at him as they politely asked her for permission to dance with her man. Poppa Ralph was a charmer. His natural charisma made him an award-winning salesman.
His first-place prizes selling Quality Dairy Milk got to the point that the other drivers would view the awards and ask,
“So what is Ralph Hill going to win this time!”
His first name was Oliver, but he answered to his middle name until the day he died.
So how did I fit into this three-XY and one-XX family? Mom said about halfway through what was to be her final pregnancy, she decided it might be nice to have a girl. After six years surrounded by her testosterone-laden men, she decided it might be fun to have her very own mini-me.
I’m sure I inherited any ability I got for writing from QuoVada. She had styled the capitalization of the V in her name while working as a writer and radio broadcaster for Madera’s K-Hot AM radio station in the early 1970s.
Her writing on a quasi-autobiographical volume titled “Back with the Breeze,” was to be her magnum opus. She would tell us stories that were often told the way it should have been, rather than with just the cold facts. She loved to assign emotions and motivations to the actions of her ancestors. It’s my story and if it didn’t happen that way, it should have — her nod to poetic license. Anyway, who swears under oath when spinning a yarn about their family history.
I have always been a stubborn person. I want to do something the way I think it needs doing. I will put in an honest effort to march to the beat of someone else’s drummer, but the final product will be better if I am left to my own devices.
I will do most things you ask me to do, but if I have to do it in a precise manner, very little will turn out in its best form.
Good writers don’t use clichés, metaphors or similes, my female editors insist. Yeah well, my fan base says one of my strong points is that I write like people talk. Who would have thought all those years I played Lois Lane at home on a cardboard keyboard, I would one day have a fan base of more than just my mom and me?
Although she died before I landed my dream job at the Tribune, through the year’s letters to newspaper editors, magazine articles and newsletter columns, drew her strong critiques delivered with love and such pride. The Chipeta off her own block. She knew where I was heading before I did.
So, on this 90th anniversary of her birth, our loved ones and I celebrate the nine-decade anniversary for a woman who left us too soon, 30 years ago. I strive to make my mother proud of me with each word I write, grateful for the vocabulary she taught me and the courage she exhibited when faced with adversity. Be it in the political arena, on a hospital ward or in her day-to-day life, my rueful admiration makes me strive to live up to the bar she set so high while striving to raise it a couple more notches of my own.
Have a great and safe weekend, blessings until we meet again.
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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing email@example.com or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.