One primary benefit of our travels to Phoenix has been the chance to spend time with some of my (Chuck's) relatives. This entry will be limited to identifying the people we have spent time with during the past month and introducing readers to two young men who made quite a positive impression on us.
Beverly Jahn, the daughter-in-law of my maternal grandmother's sister, planned a catered dinner for several friends and relatives. Kay and Joel Truemper from Naperville, IL had flown in for a few days.
Later in the evening, a spirited game of Ninety-nine involved Beverly, Raina, and Jesse, with my aunt Evelyn (standing) keeping an eye on the play.
Other players were Bob Franklin and his wife Joyce Kreyer Franklin (from Peoria, AZ). Joel and I (both not pictured) joined the others in losing to Joyce, who was the winner of the lively game.
We attended the Cubs-Angels game with Jesse and Raina last Saturday and then had them out for dinner
along with Evelyn, Raina's mother, on Sunday. It was just a few steps from the living room to the dining room table in our compact home.
Within the past week, my cousin Dora (left) arrived in Phoenix from Springfield, IL. She is shown here with Evelyn while waiting in line at Matt's Big Breakfast.
Included in our party of seven for breakfast were Rebecca (Dora's daughter) from Bardstown, KY, Dora, Kate, and I. Raina and Jesse (not shown) filled out the group, which represented almost 20% of the customers seated in the tiny eatery.
Following breakfast, two die-hard Cubs' fans, Rebecca (left) and Dora (right) headed to HoHoKam Park with Kate and me for the Cubs-Padres game.
And now for the "+ Two." After a day of visiting the V-Bar-V Heritage Site and the Palatki Red Cliffs (to be covered in a later entry) near Cottonwood and Sedona, the occupants (Jesse, Raina, Dora, Rebecca, Kate, and I) of Beverly's borrowed seven-passenger van stopped at the Rock Springs Cafe (north of Phoenix) for some of their famous pies. Since we were only having pie, we opted to eat in the informal seating area right by the refrigerated areas where the pies are kept and just behind the gift shop space. This is a very busy area on the weekends with sales of 600-1000 pies commonplace from Friday to Sunday.
We moved chairs from three tables to one table, ready to place our order for pie that we had considered ordering earlier that morning when we stopped here for breakfast. Soon Jake appeared and the fun began.
The majority of the group eagerly looked forward to the blueberry crumb pie, but Jake noted that there were no blueberry crumb pies or slices of this pie available. His explanation was extensive and included that he bore the title of "Mr. Pie" (or a similar title). When Dora heard this, she chided him about this situation and said that we would wait while he prepared a pie. Jake took up the verbal back-and-forth with quick explanations that had us all laughing.
Second choices of cherry crumb pie, apple crumb, Jack Daniels pecan, and chocolate cherry pie were filled successfully. Dora, again, played a co-starring role with Jake in the quest for the cherry crumb pie. Jake's presentation to Dora of the last piece of cherry crumb led to questions of what "price" she had to pay for the satisfactory fulfillment of her request.
Jake returned often over the next several minutes to check on any additional requests we might have had. Each visit was followed with a wider and wider range of questions and explanations, extending to Chippendales and pole-dancing. Jake was enjoying the six vs. one conversation so much that he brought out a stack of flat pie boxes and began folding and shaping them into boxes that would hold whole pies. He was also joined by his friend of 13 years, Mike, and both continued the conversation with us.
The addition of this second person changed the flow of the conversation to one of learning that they were both high school(!) students, one planning to become a neurologist (Jake, with a 4.0 grade point average, left in photo) and the other a surgeon (Mike, right). The conversation stayed serious for awhile as they talked about plans to enter the U of Arizona.
Mike plans to join the Air Force and have them finance his medical school education; he talked with Jesse, an Air Force veteran, about some of the training programs he has already participated in with members of that branch of the military. He has also received training as an EMT and plans to work in this field while attending the university.
After a brief respite from joking, the conversation returned to lighter topics. Both guys were sharp beyond their years, able to match comment for comment with our group--yet serious about both their work and future.
The convesation ended when the call for "Happy Birthday" went out to Jake and Mike. They quickly donned the Indian headresses and headed to the next room for a rousing rendition of this song.
In the 90 minutes it took for us to order and eat the pieces of pie, we met and learned about two young men who impressed us with their wit, winning personalities, motivation, and commitment to their work. We wished them well as we left, confident in their abiities to accomplish what they set out to do.