March is a joyful month for Carroll and Nelda Hodges as they celebrate two events in their lives’ a birthday and wedding anniversary. We have had several ladies reaching 90 or more, so it is fitting that the men get equal time. Statistically, women live longer than men; however, Carroll Hodges is moving on up and was 93 years old on March 18. Carroll grew up on a farm at Waldrip in a large family of seven sisters, Mable, Darrell, Myrtle, Lucille, Corinne, Nettie and Loretta; and six brothers, Rudolph, Jack, Paul, Ben, T.L. and Norman, no doubt a valuable proving ground for future events in his life. Rural life meant hard work for everyone in the family, yet there were pleasant interludes of community activities, parties and dances where one got acquainted with the opposite sex. Relationships began under these circumstances and often united many couples in marriage. Carroll and Nelda Hester were one of those couples. They began dating while she was in high school. Young men coming of age in the late 1930s were well aware of the situation in Europe and many went into the service long before Pearl Harbor. Carroll enlisted in the U.S. Cavalry, spent a year stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, the historic 1849 post, home of the 1st Cavalry Division. The Cavalry was slowly being phased out and becoming an armored division, so he opted to transfer to the Army Air Corp in 1941. He was stationed at Randolph Field in San Antonio and Ellington in Houston. In 1942, he was at Mathers Field in Sacramento, Calif. when he and Nelda decided to marry. Back in those days, the government used posters as a visual means of communication, some subtle, others not so subtle such as “Uncle Sam Wants You,” “Every Citizen a Soldier” or “Keep ‘Em Flying, Loose Lips Sink Ships.” Or because of gas and tire rationing, “Is This Trip Really Necessary'” Well, Nelda thought the trip to California to marry Carroll was really necessary, so she departed on a Greyhound bus from Brady. Arriving there, she discovered there was a three-day waiting period before they could marry, and Carroll only had a three-day pass, so arrangements were made with a friend to drive them to Reno, Nev. so they could marry. Carroll went overseas for action in the vast South Pacific; Nelda and Caroline, born in California, returned to Lohn to wait out the long uncertain time until he returned. Carroll spent four years in the Air Corps, and upon returning to civilian life, he and Nelda bought the Tedder place north of Fife, operated the filling station and small store nearby for the next 14 years. Three daughters were added to the family, Dianne, Nancy and Kathy. They lived at Pear Valley for a period of time, then moved to Vick where Carroll ran a station and store while Nelda served as Postmaster. The Hodges returned to the land and took up farming in Adamsville for several years. In 1983, they traded places with a Santa Anna farmer and moved to a farm outside Santa Anna. Carroll discontinued farming but continued raising cattle, and at 93, he still is raising cattle and has no plans to cease. Carroll reminds one of the lean, lanky old-time cowboy in a Russell or Remington painting. Nelda hasn’t lost the wonderful smile that lights up a room and captivated the heart of Carroll Hodges all those many years ago. They have shared a happy life together with their four lovely daughters, eight grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. On Sunday, March 18, the family met at the Tabernacle in Lohn to commemorate the happy occasion of Carroll’s birthday and the 65 years that he and Nelda have spent together. Attending were Billie Jean and John Nicholas from Menard, Billie and Houston Kennedy from Olden, Nancy Hodges, Kellye Duncan, Tess Wooten, Denny, Tracy, Mackenzie, Makayla and Chance Morris from Mertzon, Lindsy Cole, Lee and Kathy Doggett, Dianne English, Steve English,Judy and Paul Wayne English from San Angelo, Vickie Ratliff, Rocky and Kelsey from May, Caroline and Ivey Cole from Liberty Hill, Ray, Janelle, Adella and Taryn Cole from Elgin, Mindy Cole, Ryan and Blake Fugate from Georgetown, friends Eunice Day and Nadine Browning from Lohn. Another time of March “gladness” was on Saturday, March 17 when a crowd gathered at the Tabernacle to share the joy of expectant parents, Sterling and Gini Moore and shower her with gifts for the baby expected in April. The Moore baby will be the fifth generation of both the James Singleton Moore and the Green Doyal families. The young one will be welcomed by great- grandparents, Gayle and Shirley Doyal, Bill and Peggy Stoker, grandparents, Andy and Luan Carlton, Ronnie and Candy Moore and Janet Doyal Gloria. After the shower, a crowd enjoyed a hamburger supper in Gayle and Shirley’s backyard. Those attending were: Sterling and Gini Moore, JoAnne and Michael Martin of Brady, Janet Gloria of Fredericksburg, Raegan and Mitch Ely, Madalynn, Dana and Holt of Austin, Addison Doyal and Alexi of Denton, Shelby and Malachi Boyuls of Dallas, Andy and Luan Carlton of Grapevine, Ronnie and Candy Moore and Terry Doyal of Lohn. Jocelynn Doyal of Marble Falls has completed the necessary requirements in Austin to become a dental assistant. She will be moving to Denton where she will be employed by a local dentist and living with her sister, Addison, who is currently employed as a Certified Nurse’s Aide while taking courses to become an LVN. Another happy occasion took place in Pear Valley this past Thursday with the arrival of Canadian Sandra Hamilton to visit her son, Scott Kronstedt and wife, Frankie. Mrs. Hamilton flew to Austin from Edmonton, Alberta Province. She was looking forward to lots of warm weather and sunshine. Fortunately, she brought a pair of jeans and capris, a denim jacket and a sweater. Her nice walking short sets were left in the bag. Frankie suggested that she might need to pull out the swim wear if the rain did not let up. Frankie said her mother-in-law thought the small communities were very charming and the easy living appealed to her. She, like Scott, had not lived in communities where one could leave things in the open and they still be there upon one’s return. The Kronstedts have purchased a vintage 1950 cruiser Airstream for future travel. It became her room for the five days that she was here. The rocking of the wind seemed not to worry her any. She found it to be very comfortable. Isaiah calls her Nanna. She fascinated him with stories of her grizzly encounters and stories of his Grampa Scott’s adventures in the hills of Jasper. Her mother’s family name was Crowfoot. They are Nez Perce’ and have a deep regard for wildlife and plant life. Frankie’s new mother-in-law still backpacks over 35 pounds in the mountains, shoots the rapids and goes kayaking on a regular basis. She and her husband own a lodge and guest house on Hornby Island off the west coast of Canada near Victoria Island. Next spring break, Scott and the family will vacation with them there. They were reluctant to take her back for her flight home as it was such a delight to have her here. On Saturday, Frankieher’s 10-year-old granddaughter, Maci Wooten, from Brownwood, fell from a tree in her back yard trying to see if there were eggs in the birdhouse. She sustained serious internal injuries. Maci had emergency surgery and stayed in the hospital until Sunday. She was released and came home with her for some follow-up wound care and convalescence. She is mending nicely under the ever-watchful eye of her Mimi. Maci is the great-great-granddaughter of Pearl and Lawson Watkins, formerly from Pear Valley. Maci will celebrate her 11th birthday this Friday. We seem to have visitors from all over. Next week we are expecting some from Europe, Hungary, I believe, and we will attempt to get their impression of rural Texas. There is a bit of “March madness” to accompany this week’s column: My 18-year-old grandson, William Black, graduates from high school this year. He attended Round Rock Christian Academy until last year and has been home-schooled since then. William has always loved basketball and has been playing on a team of home-schooled students. Two weeks ago, his team played for the national championship in Oklahoma City. There were over 700 students from 33 states in the tournament. William’s team, the Round Rock Royals, won the national championship, and he (along with a few other boys) was voted MVP. Update on my house snake we’ve been unable to locate. He came out, looked around, did not like what he saw and returned to his lair, wherever that may be. At least I trust that is true.