Thursday, March 8, 2007

Confessions of a farm girls' past (Pt.1)

I was born into a military family - the first of two children. My younger brother was born just two years later.  My dad was a Marine (Semper Fi!) and my childhood was spent at the typical bases in the south...Camp LeJeune and Norfolk being the predominant ones. Mom was a stay-at-home mom. She was an amazing cook and could sew anything - our school clothes, bathing suits, evening gowns!  My kids still prefer Grandma to mend something instead of me.

I spent about 2 years in Indiana when I was little, close to my grandparents, while Dad was serving over seas in Indonesia. I can remember going to my Aunt Annie's farm in Indiana - probably the closest I ever came to anything agrarian.  I even remember her making me a cup of herb tea one time when I had an upset tummy - peppermint and catnip - funny how things stick in your mind!  I worked with my Grandma in the summers, when we visited, in her rose garden and occasionally with my Grandpa in his tomato and pepper patch.

At the age of 10, we settled in Fairfax, VA while Dad was assigned, at various times, to The National Security Agency, The Pentagon and Marine Corps Headquarters.  My Dad retired from the Marines but was called back to active duty the next day.  He was placed in charge of all the Marine activities involved in Nixon's inauguration.  My Dad, being the super organized Marine he was, showed up and asked for the procedure manual on Marine Corps involvement in Presidential Inaugurations.  There was none!  They had been "winging" it for years. So my Dad wrote the manual...I often wonder if it is still the manual used today. I can remember my parents attending Nixon's Inaugural Ball and the beautiful green beaded gown my Mom wore.  I remember going to watch the Inaugural parade - it was so cold and poured snow that day.  We stayed in Fairfax until Dad retired....again.

We attended a variety of churches growing up - Methodist,  United Church of Christ....we even flirted with the Mormons for a time!  Never did I hear the gospel!  It was the time of the "Jesus Movement".   I had a hunger during high school for things of God but no idea what direction to head in to find Him. I never doubted that God was real...and I can't really tell you why.  I read my Bible daily but never really understood anything - I think God was wooing me even back then.

I graduated from high school in 1974 and went on to Guilford College in N.C. with the desire of earning a teaching degree.  I ended up leaving college in my second year - the teaching market was flooded and my prospects for a job upon graduation looked dismal.  I enrolled in the Washington School for Secretaries - a very prestigious school in Washington D.C. at that time.  I chose the legal secretarial route.  it was a grueling school in the heart of downtown D.C. but I learned a lot and still feel it was extremely beneficial.  This was light years before personal computers so our skills were based on typing, shorthand, filing and organizational skills along with correct "office protocol".  I still use some of those skills today.

After graduating from the secretarial school, I landed a job with a legal firm that specialized in construction contract law....I worked for a Senior partner and a Junior partner.   I enjoyed the work even though the hours were horrific before a trial.  It was there that I had my first ride in a limousine - high falutin' stuff for a little southern gal!  I enjoyed working for the attorneys - until the Jr. partner seemed to feel that "extra-curricular" activities were part of my job description.  Evidently he skipped the class on correct office protocol! The pressure was on - I was in my early twenties and never heard of harassment (did they have that term back then?) but he made my life miserable when I said no.

Finally, I had enough....I told him what I thought of his behavior and went out to pack my desk.  The Sr. partner showed up and was SHOCKED.  They offered me a job in another place in that firm, more money...etc.  I think I was so naive at the time I didn't realize what they knew....they were in trouble!  Instead, I took a very generous severance package that included a wonderful letter of recommendation!
I contacted a headhunter, although I don't think they were called that back then.  I went on several interviews but didn't really care for the jobs.  Then she sent me to a man named Harris life was about to change....incredibly!


  1. Wow, Cheri, you certainly have had an interesting life! I'm anxious to hear "the rest of the story." I graduated in 1974 as well!

  2. Ok you can't stop there. I want another installment SOON!


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