November 26, 2014

Nana and Pecans

Nana with her Grandson

Our yard was full of pecan trees that were planted over one hundred years ago by my paternal great grandfather, Isham Alfonso "I.A. or Al" Steele.  They produced pecans of every shape and size.  We had everything from the long, skinny pecans to the small round ones.  Some years the trees produced huge crops of pecans.  Other years they didn't do quite so well.

Pecan Tree on Home Place

Each Fall brought a familiar sight to our house.  My mother would spread out newspaper in the floor and get to work cracking pecans.  She would have different shoe boxes filled with pecans and a small hammer at hand for her tool.

Once all the pecans were cracked, the process was then moved to the kitchen table where she would begin shelling them and later chopping them up for storage.

In the photograph at the top of this page my mother is seen holding my son while shelling and chopping up pecans.

Top of Pecan Tree on the Home Place



A Grandfather and His Namesake

Grandfather and Namesake

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my son was the first grandchild on my side of the family.  He often enjoyed sitting with his grandfather in "the big chair" while my father watched television.


November 23, 2014

My Young Adult Years - Mall Days and The Pond


Arrow points to the location where the pond was later created

"The Pond", created on the southeastern corner of the mall property, was the scene for several events while I was working on the management team.  One such event was a fishing day for handicapped children assisted by local veterans.  The pond had been stocked with fish courtesy of the Louisiana Wildlife Association.

Ducks and geese donated by local residents also found a home at the pond and delighted many visitors.

Beach Party at the Pond

Another event (pictured above) was a Beach Party the management team sponsored for store employees. Sand was brought in to form a beach area around the pond where games, dancing and refreshments were enjoyed by everyone.

We did run into problems with turtles.  The turtles began to multiple at a rapid pace and were killing off the fish.  Traps were brought in and our maintenance team began the process of removing the turtles.




Years later the pond would be filled in to make room for a hotel.



To this day, when traveling back through the area, I still glance over and wonder about the price we sometimes pay for progress and the ability to gain more profits.


My Young Adult Years - Mall Days and Christmas Decor

With Jon and Terrie R.

Ever wonder what goes into decorating a mall for the Christmas season?  Well, there is lots of behind-the-scenes work that begins right after Halloween.

Our marketing department would switch to graveyard shift on the day after Halloween to transform the mall into a Christmas Wonderland.  A diesel lift truck was brought in for our maintenance team to hang the highest decorations.  A smaller mechanical lift was used by our marketing team for decorating the lower areas.

PLM with Jon


The first year I assisted with hanging Christmas decorations Jon and I manned the smaller mechanical lift.  This lift had to be pulled (by hand) to each location before Jon and I would climb aboard and elevate ourselves up twenty to thirty feet to begin our work of hanging strands of ice lights, ribbons and fluffing bows.

I remember the first time we went up in the lift.  After ascending to the area where we needed to work, I began hearing this rattling sound.  Concerned that we may have a faulty lift, I finally asked Jon if he could hear the same noise.  Turns out the rattling sound was caused by Jon's legs shaking so badly.  He was horrified that we would tip over and face-plant on the concrete floor.

Ken


While it was hard work and often a bit scary to be up so high, the results were worth it.  Walking through the mall in the wee hours of the morning after all the work was completed was magical.  The stillness and beauty of the lights hanging from on high and center court stages dressed and ready for Santa's arrival all added to the sense of awe and wonder.



My Young Adult Years - Mall Days and Softball

Mall Management Softball Team

As budget cuts loomed on the horizon, it was decided that the mall management team would no longer host annual meetings.  Another idea was hatched.....hosting a weekend softball tournament between mall stores.  

To defer the costs of such an event, I proposed bringing in sponsors from the area to provide food and beverages. Our local police department volunteered to act as our officials and a local radio station provided a giant boombox for our musical entertainment.  We rented two softball fields from the local university and supplied tee-shirts for each team.

Updating the brackets after each game

The softball tournament actually turned out to be a more inclusive event than our annual meetings as all store employees and their families were invited vs. store representatives only.  

Batter Up

Manning first base