History: My Mother’s Story

by cindy

As my parents aged, I urged them to write their personal histories. My siblings and I had heard many tales during our childhood but I felt it was important to have those family stories written as each parent remembered them. I wasn’t the only one making this request, of course; other siblings did as well. It wasn’t, however, until after my cousin‘s wife, Bev, made the same suggestion that Mom actually sat down, in 2007, and began to type. So, thank you, Bev! And Mom, I’m only slightly miffed that you ignored my earlier pleas. Harumpff.

After transcribing Mom’s story here, I was reminded of her intrepid resilience. Life dealt her blows even at a young age, yet she never allowed herself to fall victim to those tragedies. She continued to move forward in spite of circumstances. Mourning a loss was one thing; honoring that loss was something quite different. By example she taught us to honor our losses by holding dear the memories while continuing on with our lives. Her advice to me for any given concern? “Put one foot in front of the other, Cindy. That’s all we can do. Keep moving forward.”

Please note that what follows is transcribed as it was written. Any corrections or additions, have been bracketed. I also selected the photographs to enhance the story because who doesn’t love stories with pictures?

The Kirk History

by Mary Kirk Randolph

Mary Frances Kirk Randolph, Graduation Photograph, University of Maryland School of Nursing

My Dad, Francis Warner Kirk, called Frank for most of his life, was born in Baltimore, MD, on December 5, 1867 to Robert Edwin Kirk and [Sidney] Althea Starr Kirk. His mother died either at his birth or shortly after, and indirectly affected the rest of his life. From reading the genealogy record, I learned that he had several siblings, all of whom died in early childhood.

Francis (Frank) Warner Kirk

Dad’s father remarried, and the new wife apparently was not happy about taking care of this little boy, and I guess this is where the term “wicked stepmother” originated. His father and the new wife did have one son, Robert, who settled in Baltimore and I did meet him and his wife, Jenny, during my teen years in Baltimore. During the few times we got together, they were welcoming and we got along well.

When Dad was about three years old, he somehow, in trying to untie his high-topped little shoes, got one into a solid knot. He asked his stepmother for help and her reply was “You did it. You undo it.” He roamed around until he found a pair of small sharp-pointed scissors, sat down on the floor and tried to undo the knot. And, of course, the inevitable happened—the scissor flew upward, straight into his right eye, and he was blind in that eye for the rest of his life. This was in the [1800s]. They didn’t remove the eye, just left [it] in a congealed mess of blue and yellow and white, which must have startled anyone meeting him for the first time, but Don and I had never seen him any other way and thought nothing of it—it was Dad and that was that.

Conditions at his home apparently did not improve. Dad told us one time that his stepmother from then on called him “that blind little beggar”. I must mention something at this point: Dad died when Don and I were just thirteen and for a year before that he was ill a good bit of the time, we were young and not interested in backgrounds of elders, and didn’t really listen when he told us bits of his life, something I regret very, very much. At this age of 85, I’ve observed that few people become interested in family backgrounds until they reach their 40s or so—I THINK that makes me feel better!

But I digress. When Dad was 12 years old, he apparently had had enough and he left his home. How he got up the East Coast all by himself, I shall never figure out, but he did it. How did he eat? Where did he sleep? Did he pick up odd jobs along the way? We will never know. He finally settled in Boston, and from the little he told us of that period, I deeply admire him and see where I got some of that independent spirit—the rest of that tendency came from Mother, a strong spirit if I ever knew one! I do know he worked on the docks in Boston and went to Harvard night school; [I] don’t know where he lived or any other details. At any rate, somewhere in those years he learned to speak seven languages fluently and could read and write and communicate on a limited basis in two more.

Through his young adult years, he led what I call a “wanderer’s life”—he spent some time in the US Navy. I have some old snapshots of him aboard a ship, in uniform and smiling happily, and also in a box somewhere there is a framed letter from one Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then Sec. of the Navy, praising him for his tenure of duty.

Frank W. Kirk on deck of USS Maine during training through the Civilian Volunteer Training Program’s Volunteer Cruise, August 15, 1916 – September 12, 1916

During the early war years (World War I) he was on the staff of the American Embassy to France, in Paris. Considering his aptitude for languages, I would expect he was an interpreter. While there, he developed an infection in his only eye and was sent to a hospital just outside Paris. It was there that he met Mother, and here I switch to Mother’s history and will “link” them together—eventually!

Mother (Emily Agnes Hollands) at a rather young age

Mother, Emily Agnes Hollands, was born December 23, 1885, in Gravesend, England, an old picturesque town just outside London. Her father, the Reverend Charles W. H. Hollands, was a priest of the Anglican Church. He was born in 1857 and died in 1918. Her mother, Emily Burles (Hollands), was born in 1858 and died in 1947. She was decorated by King George V for her work during World War I in organizing the women of Newfoundland: knitting, sewing, sending supplies of warm clothing to the soldiers overseas. She was awarded the title M.B.E.—Member of the British Empire. Grandfather had been transferred to churches in Labrador and then to Newfoundland, where they lived the rest of their lives, and some of the family still lives there.

Emily Hannah Burles Hollands, MBE, Grandmother of Mary Kirk Randolph

Mother went to New York for nurses’ training at the New York Hospital for Physicians and Surgeons and their School of Nursing for three years, followed by a three-month course at Columbia University School of Nursing. This was 1915, the war was on, she signed up with the American Red Cross and sailed to London where she became a member of the British Red Cross, and then was sent to France to work under the French Red Cross. Stationed at the French Military Hospital, V. R. 76, her duties were varied—drove ambulances, often crawled into the trenches to retrieve wounded men, had ward duty and operating room duty. I have a book on the shelf in the family room about this hospital and there are some pictures of her and a history of the hospital.

Mother (Agnes Hollands) feeding an infant somewhere in France during W.W.I
One of several certificates documenting Agnes Hollands’ work during World War I

Dad was sent to this hospital for his eye infection, and it was there that he and Mother met, but simply on a casual nurse-patient basis. Finally the war ended, Mother came home but her stay was brief. Her brother, Jack, had been killed in the bloody Battle of Ypres, Belgium, and her father had died in the O.R. during an operation for appendicitis. She returned to New York to take a post-graduate course at Columbia and to work in the hospital. Dad had returned to the U.S., developed pneumonia and was admitted to the same hospital and on the same floor as Mother’s assignment–and the rest is history!

Agnes Hollands, nurse with the British Red Cross, and her brother Harry, also serving in WWI with the Royal Newfoundlander Regiment

They were married December 5, 1919, Dad’s 52nd birthday. I don’t know if Dad was on a break from the Embassy or had decided to return to the U.S. but he soon went to work for the Music Trade Review as a writer and a music critic. They bough a home in Woodbridge, NJ, where their first child [Sydney] was born on December 30, 1920 and was named after Dad’s mother, Sidney Althea Starr Kirk. Frank W. Kirk, Jr. followed in December 1921 but lived only a few hours. Mother told us that he was “just too little to live” so we assume he was a preemie. Then, to complete the “December cycle” Don and I arrived on December 17, 1922, and the family was complete.

Mother & Dad & twins (Don & Mary)

When we were about six months old, tragedy struck. Mother had run down to the basement to get some potatoes, leaving the pot of water boiling on the stove. Two year old Sydney pulled on the handle and of course water poured out and burned her on the shoulder, just a spot about three inches wide. Mother applied home remedies, but she died two days later after going into shock. My parents never really got over the loss. Dad wrote about her in an editorial which was published in the New York paper of that time. There is a copy of that essay in our lockbox.

Apparently to help eradicate some of the memories, Dad decided to take a job that had been offered, from Chicago, with Bill Brothers’ Publishing Co. He was to take on the job of working with trade magazines who were floundering and get them back on track and flourishing—as soon as they were doing well, he was finished and eager to do another one. He enjoyed the challenge and loved his work. We moved to Elgin, IL, about forty miles out from Chicago, which he commuted to and from on a single rail, electric car–which I always think of as the “Toonerville Trolley.”

Our home in Elgin, Illinois

We had [a] large Mid-western frame house, set on five acres of ground and Dad felt we were safer there. We had a large vegetable garden, lots of fruit trees and berry bushes and six huge Bing cherry trees along the front lawn, which Don and I would climb up into, sit on a limb and eat to our hearts’ content, spitting seeds down on the lawn—we were so disappointed that new trees never sprouted from our seeds! Mother, the Englishwoman, had many flower gardens and I was the helper (Don helped with the veggie garden). When we reached school age, we walked fifteen blocks to and from, including coming home for lunch. When we were old enough, we rode our bikes to Franklin Grade School and then to Elgin High School. Our home also included an old barn with several lofts reached by small ladders leading to the different levels and we spent many hours chasing each other and playmates up and down the building. I remember one year Mother had our whole class out for a Halloween party. Friends came to help and we had a “ghost house” in the barn. The friends and Mother dressed up in sheets, filled rubber gloves with ice, stood at the foot of each ladder and shook hands with the kids before they were allowed to climb up or down to the next level. Then on to the house for food. We had a large, warm, always dry basement which was always kept clean and we were allowed to draw streets on the smooth cement floor to play with toy cars, set up train sets, etc.

Dad was tall, thin, quiet, extremely intelligent, not particularly comfortable in social situations, while Mother was small, trim, lively, and perky, loved working at our church, the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Elgin, and English enough that she always had a pot of tea at the ready. She loved to have small “teas” for friends, mostly ladies from the church. I remember one incident at one of those teas. There was a cherry tree at the end of our driveway, near the walk to the house. Don and I climbed up into the tree and sat there, hidden, spitting out cherry seeds as the women walked under it. Well, we got reported, and it took several days before we got back in Mother’s good graces!!

Don and I were thirteen in December 1935, and in January of 1936, Dad collapsed at work, was brought home, unconscious, and died five days later, of colon cancer. We had no idea he had been wrestling with this for a year or more—Mother knew, of course, but felt we would be better off if we did not know. All I clearly remember about it is that he died on a snowy night, January 24, 1936, and I watched out the large front window as the undertakers, struggling through snow up to their waists, carried the stretcher out to the hearse.

A few months later, Mother found a lump in her breast, and thus began a two year battle with cancer, in and out of the hospital, radiation, surgeries as the disease spread. Don and I carried on by ourselves, Don drove the car, at fourteen, got us to school, [we] drove to the hospital every evening after school to see Mother, stopped at the store on the way home to get groceries, fixed our meal, did our homework, got to bed, got up the next morning and did it all again. On weekends we kept the house fairly clean, visited the hospital, etc.

Our dear cousin, Sybil, from Canada, also a nurse, came to Elgin to take care of Mother her last few weeks and to stay with us until we were settled and able to move on. Mother died March 15, 1938. She had written earlier to a second cousin of Dad’s asking if they would take care of us until we were grown. Bless their hearts, they agreed immediately, took the train from Baltimore to meet with us and with our lawyer, and thus began a new phase of our lives.

Sybil Toy, nee Rusted, cousin

It was agreed that we should finish our school year in Elgin. Our lawyer took me immediately to their home, one of their four daughters was a friend of mine during our childhood, and I lived with them until school ended in June. The[y] were so good to me—when Mrs. Churchill came to kiss her four daughters goodnight, she always came to my bed and kissed me too. I have never forgotten their loving care. Don was very active in Boy Scouts, and the troop leader and his wife immediately took him into their home and he was quite content.

By the time school ended, our house had been sold, the estate settled, my piano and Dad’s etchings shipped to Baltimore, and Don and I took the train to Cousin Billy and Cousin Bertha’s house, where we received loving care for several years. I must mention how strange life can be: as we rode east on that train, we passed through a section of the countryside where there were green mountains and forests and for a while the tracks paralleled a tumbling stream full of rocks—it fascinated us, coming from the flat state of Illinois. Little did I dream that this, the eastern part of West Virginia, would become my home for so many years.

Billy and Bertha Brandt Crowe, circa 1940-41, behind their house on Richmond Ave. in Baltimore

We settled in with Cousin Billy and Bertha (which is what they suggested we call them); they had a large family [though no children of their own] who welcomed us warmly and included us in all their doings. Don and I immediately joined the Episcopal church just a few blocks away and went to church every Sunday, also to Sunday School where I helped teach, to Youth Group every Sunday evening where I ended up serving as President. I played the piano for Sunday School, studied the organ—I had resumed my piano lessons with the church organist and he started me on the organ lessons. How I loved to play that instrument, but when I headed off to college that part of my life fell by the wayside. As a side note: whenever I was scheduled to play the organ for the early service, Don, who had been a crucifer for a good while, would insist that HE carry the cross down the aisle—the other crucifers never objected because they could then stay home and sleep late. We led the normal lives of teenagers: movies, roller or ice skating, small dances, etc.

Don & Mary, circa 1938-39, Baltimore, Maryland

Then it was on to college, Don to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in New York and I to the University of Maryland for two years and to the University Hospital for three years, ending with my degree, BSN, Bachelor of the Science of Nursing.

Mary in her student nurse uniform and Don in his merchant marine uniform

Let me “regress” before I forget something important. Our childhood was a happy one, though we were strictly brought up; our parents’ word was LAW and I guess we never really thought of defying our elders—that was a different age! Dad had a bit of wanderlust and Mother was also very used to traveling, so we took many trips in our first thirteen years. All our journeys were by train or boat. To this day, whenever I hear a train whistle, I feel a tug of some sort. We never really grow up, do we? We made trips from Illinois to Baltimore, to Ocean City, MD, to Colorado, to New York, to Canada, to Newfoundland.

Mary & Don, Boardwalk, O.C., Md., 7/25/1929

On Saturday afternoons during the fall and winter, we always sat in the living room with Mother and Dad and listened to the opera, on radio, while Dad explained the story as it went along. On Sunday, after church and lunch, we then again gathered around the radio to hear the New York Philharmonic, with Dad once again guiding us through the score. It wasn’t until after they died that Don and I discovered that other children were actually outdoors playing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

When we were about eleven, Dad felt we needed to learn about the cultural side of life, so he would take us to Chicago on Saturday mornings on the electric train (we thought that was the best!). We went first to his office, high up in a huge building, where he ushered us into a corner conference room with a view of the Chicago River, where he gave us each a legal pad and a pencil that wrote in red on one end and blue on the other while he worked in his office next door. We played “school” happily for a while and then would watch out the window at the boats on the river. Dad then took us to lunch at a cafeteria where we were allowed to choose ANYTHING we wanted to eat—Mother never knew what rich, gooey, unhealthy, unbalanced things we gobbled happily down. After lunch, we went for our lessons in culture—the opera, a symphony concert, the Field Museum, the Planetarium, huge libraries with lectures commensurate with our age. This is probably why I so enjoyed working with the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation for so many years, and I still love classical music.

And then came World War II and our whole lives changed. When Don graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy, he sailed as First Mate on a ship carrying supplies to the troops on the European front. They sailed in a convoy with our destroyers and battleships. They transported soldiers, medical supplies, food, weapons, planes and even carried on one trip a locomotive and rail tracks to get through France and on into Germany to end the war. (Can you imagine getting something like that on and off a ship?) Well, during the war, they did it. They would sail up to the north tip of Scotland, unload there in the dark of night and the English troops would then sneak supplies by night down to the south, many things to be used for the assault known as D-Day.

Donald Hollands Kirk

Later, they left Scotland and headed down toward France, when German forces who had invaded Norway, fired on their ship blowing the front clear off, but not enough that the ship would sink. Poor shots! They (Don) simply turned the ship around and sailed carefully BACKWARD all the way to the French coast and unloaded supplies for the Allies as they fought their way up through France. I’m glad to be able to report that Don came through in good shape, and in 1945 or so, we resumed our normal lives.

And now we come to the “romantic” part of my life!! In March of 1943, I was on duty in the Nursery of the hospital—there were sometimes as many as ninety babies at any given time, with only two or possibly three student nurses on duty at any one time. We were scheduled for eight hours of duty a day, but due to the war and shortage of nurses we usually worked ten and often twelve hours at a stretch, day after day, with classes at certain times, taught by medical school professors. But we were young and giddy and survived it well. In March of that year, a little girl was born, the daughter of a professor at the adjoining Dental School, one Dr. Randolph (Ted). At visiting hours, we showed babies to families, through the nursery window. Several times I showed her to the Randolph family, among them Ted’s brother Burl. And here we go again, little did I dream that I was showing this child to my future husband!

Burl bought me this dress

Later that month, I was assigned to duty in the out-patient clinic next to the hospital. I sat at a desk in the middle of a large room with curtained examining spaces while about twenty-four medical students examined these poor patients, supervised by one of the teachers. Among the students was a most handsome young man named Burl Randolph. Most of the guys were fellows who had gone to pre-med at the University of Maryland campus and Burl was one of the few I did not know—but he certainly caught my eye!

About a week later, he called to ask me out and thus began our history together. This was May 1943, the U.S. was fully engaged in the war in Europe and in the Pacific region, and all our futures were certainly cloudy. We became engaged in the fall of that year. I must remark on this: Burl did not propose to me nor I to him. We were so “together” in thought that we simply started to speak of “when we are married”, decided to set the date of August 5, 1944 when we both had a 4-week summer vacation from our schools.

Heading for the church, Aug. 5, 1944
Mary and Burl leaving the church on their wedding day, Aug. 5, 1944
The newlyweds.

We were married at 7 p.m. that night of August 5th in the Church of the Epiphany in Baltimore, on a sweltering summer night—the temperature was 90º when I stepped off the porch and into the limousine—please note that air conditioning was not available in those days. Cousin Billy walked me up the aisle so proudly; I shall never forget the smile on his face. Don was on the high seas, somewhere near the northern coast of Scotland, and wrote me a letter at the precise time he knew I was walking up the aisle—sea-going navigators know how to figure out time zones—and that letter is a keepsake in our wedding album. The reception was held at the house, we spent the night at the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore, and the next day we traveled to West Virginia in the car with Burl’s parents—remember that gas was strictly rationed in those war days and we didn’t have a car. We then took his dad’s car and spent a week’s honeymoon at Lake Floyd; his Aunt Mabel and Uncle Jim had given us the key to their cottage as a wedding gift—what a thoughtful and wonderful idea! Aunt Mabel had left a fridge full of food: sandwich stuff, a meat loaf, a small ham, fried chicken, salad ready to toss, casseroles, fresh fruit, chocolate cake—all this at the time of tight rationing—their rowboat was at their dock, we had all the privileges of lake membership. We were in heaven!!

We returned to Baltimore on the train and resumed our lives for a brief time in a little apartment that we had rented near the hospital and med school. I went back on duty as I still had a year to go in order to get my degree, and Burl had just a few weeks until graduation from med school. He had been accepted for internship at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, so he was there and I was at the hospital in Baltimore. Burl would stand duty for other interns so he could accumulate enough days to come to Baltimore on the night train arriving early Saturday morning and leaving on the night train back to Pittsburgh Sunday night, but at least we would have two whole days together. One has to have a deep commitment and a lot of love for a marriage to survive a year like that.

Dr. Burl Randolph, visiting in Baltimore during internship year in Pittsburgh PA

As soon as his internship finished, the Navy was waiting for Burl. He was stationed first at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, VA; I was able to get a two-month leave from the University of Maryland Hospital, so I could be there with him. While I was there, the war finally ended and I remember that day vividly. We took the ferry across the bay to Norfolk and walked in the streets with the crowds of cheering, laughing people, dancing youngsters, and young men in uniforms whooping and celebrating; life at that moment was just glorious! I soon returned to the hospital, as Burl had been assigned to sea duty as ship’s doctor aboard the USS Great Sitkin, an ammunitions ship. Their job was to take defective ammunition far out in the Atlantic and dump it, trips fraught with possible disaster. Then in the summer of 1945 he was sent to Huntington, WV, as a recruiting officer and medical examiner, until he could be demobilized, not discharged, but subject to recall if needed.

E. Burl Randolph, 1942 or 1943

We resumed our lives together. Pam was born October 10, 1946, while we were living with Burl’s parents [in Lost Creek, WV] until we could find a small house in Clarksburg, 102 Carpenter Street. Burl had now entered actual medical practice with Dr. John McCuskey, an urologist. In 1949, Dr. McCuskey urged Burl to take a basic course in Urology at the Unversity of Pennsylvania, the Post-Graduate School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Once again we were separated for nearly a year, he living in Philly and Pam and I in Baltimore with Cousin Bertha. Cousin Billy had died the year before and she was thrilled to have us there. Burl came to Baltimore on the weekends. After a year, we were able to return to Clarksburg and I thought that our lives were settled. Not to be!!

102 Carpenter Street, Clarksburg WV

Dr. McCuskey again urged Burl to further his training by attending a five-month course of study in London, England. This was now 1949, I was pregnant with Cindy, London was still badly torn up from the bombing during WWII and all food was still rationed. Maudie and R.B. [Burl’s parents] were not happy about Pam being over there and not getting the proper foods, and they offered (insisted, actually) that they would take perfect care of her right there in Lost Creek. We hated to leave her but she bloomed under their care and devotion. So once again, we took off on what was to be yet another marvelous experience.

We had lodgings at the ancient Windsor Hotel, just across the road from Hyde Park. While Burl attended classes and observations at the Hospital of St. Peter and St. Paul of the University of London, I spent many, many days exploring London; the people were friendly and helpful with directions, I was never afraid, loved riding on the double decker buses (this was April through August, so the weather was good) and many afternoons I relaxed in the beach lounges that were all around the Round Pond in Hyde Park, reading and watching small children sailing boats on the pond.

The Windsor was a residential hotel that catered to dear old ladies whose homes or apartments had been bombed. Since we were about the only persons in the place under sixty or so, the old dears ended up trying to “mother” us and they made our stay most pleasant. All meats were rationed, as well as milk and eggs, but since I was pregnant I was allowed a pint of milk and an egg once a week, which of course came from my ration book. We were able to buy fresh fruits at the “greengrocer’s” and all our meals were in the hotel. We had a community bathroom on each floor, and if we were chilly, we just put a coin in a small heater in our room and were nice and cozy. Ah, but we were young and it was a glorious adventure! We had sailed over on the Queen Elizabeth and we returned home on the Queen Mary, settling in once again in our little house on Carpenter Street. Cindy was born October 31, 1949, strong and healthy like big sister Pam and we resumed what we thought was the rest of our lives.

August 1949, aboard the Queen Mary, heading home

Oh, no! Not yet! The Korean War began, the Navy needed doctors and Burl was called back to active duty. I shall explain here: at the beginning of WWII, medical students were drafted into the Navy or Army and then were deferred until they finished school and internship. The government provided their uniforms, tuitions, etc., and then they were committed to active duty for a certain length of time. When WWII ended, Burl had not completed his required time so this is why he was recalled to active duty. Having been on sea duty, he was entitled to shore duty so [he] was assigned to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. So we packed up again, this time with furniture and two little girls, moved to a row house on Wheeler Street in Philly, enrolled Pam in her first year of school, and I was pregnant again. This was the fall of 1952 and on April 4, 1953, Edward Burl Randolph, Jr. was born in the Naval Hospital, healthy and scrappy.

Cindy, Eddie, and Pam on the front porch of our Philadelphia row house

During dull times in the hospital, Burl began intensive study for the exam to be certified by the American Board of Urology. In February or March, he traveled to Chicago to take the exam, which he passed the first time—smart guy! I must tell readers a funny part of all this—when we returned home in the spring of ’54, he had not heard the results of the exam. He and I had an agreement: when the envelope finally arrived, I was to open it and call him immediately, whether at hospital or office and simply leave this message, either “The news is good” or “The news is not good”. He was in the operating room when I called, so the nurse simply tip-toed into the room and told him the good news. Burl looked up, grinned, raised his gloved fist into the air, and yelled, “Yeow!” The patient, who was under local anesthetic, looked up and said, “Well, I’m sure glad the news is good. I hate to think what might have happened if it was bad!”

Now a family of five, we had returned to Carpenter Street, Burl had completed his duty to the Armed Forces, was discharged, and he resumed his partnership with Dr. John McCuskey. I’m glad to write that we were at last “home to stay.” We loved our little house on Carpenter St., but as Pam and Cindy and Eddie began to grow we could see that we needed a house with more space, both inside and outdoors. Thus we built our house at 908 Duff Avenue, moved in on September 17, 1956 and remained there for 46 years.

We were happily settled in and life was going smoothly along, I had started in to community activities, when I found I was pregnant—again!

908 Duff Avenue, Clarksburg WV
The Triplets, one half hour after birth. From left, Barbara Ann, Rebecca Susan, and David Kirk
Eddie beside Dad holding (from left) Becky, David, and Barbie
Christmas 1966—Back row: Pam, Cindy, Eddie; Front Row: Becky, Barbie, David;
Place of Honor (in front of all): Friskie

The Triplets arrived at 11:35, 11:40 and 11:45 A.M. on July 15, 1958, all healthy, and life turned into a bit of a circus with the addition of Barbara, Rebecca, and David. All went happily and busily along until March 28, 1969, when Pam, now 22, working in Washington D.C. for Senator [Joseph] Tydings [of Maryland] as his Director of Maryland Affairs and due to be married to David Distad on April 5, 1969, died suddenly in Washington of a blood clot that lodged in her [lungs]. We are fortunate that this did not tear our family apart, as so often happens, but we pulled together, remember her daily and have been able to go on. I’ll not dwell further, except to say that I could write a book on the kindnesses shown all of us at that particular time. We still keep in touch with David and he came to visit us just last year.

The remaining five progeny have provided us with so much joy, pride, laughter and love and memories. In due time, they have given us ten grandchildren: Andrew, Ryan, and Erin Owens, Alejandra, Ana, and Maren Rodriguez, Sarah and Cassie Abbate, and Kirk and Dean Randolph, and now (2008) a great-grandson, Nikolis Owens. We’ve also gained five wonderful in-laws (they call themselves the OUTlaws), John David Owens, Elena Diamond Randolph, Jorge Rodriguez, Gary Anthony Abbate, and Danette Burns Randolph, and two grand-daughters-in-law, Marisa Owens and Nootan [Bharani]. We are truly blessed!

The Family, Christmas 2008

The years have gone by so fast! All our children are college grads: University of Maryland, Towson State College, now Towson University, Salem College, and West Virginia University, some are post-grads from West Virginia University and Wake Forest. The in-laws all have their college degrees and some have the post-grads. Burl and I were able to become involved in the community and in our church, as well as developing hobbies which sustain us in our “old age.” We have traveled over most of the world and most of the United States, experiences that were valuable beyond belief. Just for my own fun, I decided to list the countries we’ve explored: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas, St. Maarten, England (three times) , Scotland (three times), France (twice), Spain, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia (did I spell that right?), Italy (twice), Turkey, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Greece (twice), Rhodes and other Greek islands, most of the United States, including Alaska, Puerto Rico, and three times to Hawaii. If I could go back to any of the places again, I would go first to Egypt, where they have uncovered more ancient temples, and then to Jordan, where I could ride theArabian horse down into the ancient city of Petra. They have discovered more of the old city dating back beyond Biblical times.

Mary Kirk Randolph, December 2008

December 17, 1922-April 18, 2010