From the final week of September 1962 through the end of October one month later our little family and certainly the entire world had much to celebrate, a great deal to consider, and a face-to-face encounter with what the next world war might look like.
But in mid-September, the news that concerned my folks centered around Rudy and Dottie Miller in Bluefield, Va. Dottie, Mom’s sister, was ready to deliver a baby and we were on hand that September 25 when Barry V. Miller was born up on the hill at the Bluefield Sanitarium. Not only was it a great event to welcome a new child into the family but it was also a rare occurrence that we made it all the way uptown on a weekday and not on a Saturday (the 25th was a Tuesday).
Now, unlike my parents who had only me to deal with — I believe to this day they saw how I turned out and decided that never again would there be another Hypes child! — the Millers had a large group. There was Edith, Fern, Steve, Elwood, Paul, Edward, Rita, Lloyd, and Jane. So, with a new baby to be cared for, it was a unique opportunity for me to get a new “sister” for a while.
Jane had been the baby of the family but now Mom was able to help Sis and take the little ‘un for a while until things settled down. I was not too happy about it but that’s just how it had to be. So, we got her clothes, wished mother and new son well, and headed the Ford Galaxie back toward Abbs Valley and turned our attention back to the news. Four Seasons Country (then usually referred to by Daily Telegraph V.P. and sports editor “Stubby” Currence as “Our Grand Area” reviewed another outstanding season by the high-flying Bluefield Beavers, who were on their way to another state championship season for legendary coach Merrill Gainer.
That same week that Barry was born, however, the Graham G-Men edged Tazewell, 7-6, and would go on to win the Virginia state champion for “Burrhead” Bradley. The coaches would later pose with trophies in a famous photo and Bradley let it be known that he had purchased a better trophy than the one sent by the state. A generation later, Barry would graduate from GHS. The San Francisco Giants were in the World Series that fall, too. Breakfast was changing at our house with Jane at the table. Sometimes it was easy to watch her little hands work on the food while I gobbled down the gravy and biscuits in my own corner. Daddy, of course, was long gone to his job over at the U.S. Steel No. 14 mine by the time “we” got up to prepare for school. Rudy, Dottie’s husband, also worked at the coal mine but his job was over at Jenkinjones at the CONSOL operation. He drove one of the giant “Euc” trucks (short for Euclid) with tires higher than my head up on the slate dump high above the old No. 8 coal mine.
Sometimes we would pass him coming up the mountain on his way over to the shop and it was always amazing how I could look out the car window and see only the truck’s huge wheels with Rudy still higher in his driver’s seat above us. We kept in touch, though and Barry was doing fine while all the other kids took care of the house as Dottie regained her strength. I quickly learned to like my sister, Jane, and we became great friends although Mom said I picked at the little lady entirely too much. Daddy just smiled and said we made a good pair. Meanwhile, in late October, our world turned upside down with news that Russia was sending missiles into Cuba and President John F. Kennedy sent a message to Premier Nikita Krushchev and the world that the United States would not allow that and our Armed Forces were on high alert to not only stop and search Soviet ships en route to Cuba but make certain that any weapons in Cuba would be removed. For nearly a week, we were all fearful of going to sleep, wondering if it might be our last night on earth. Finally, a resolution was reached.
The Russian ships turned around, missiles were removed and we took our weapons out of Turkey in response. World War III would have to wait a while. Dottie was tired of waiting and wanted Jane back home. I wanted to kidnap her — maybe just take her home for a few minutes and then slip her out the back door and into our car. It didn’t work, though, and I had to give up my only “sister.” Oh, well, my other near-sister, Brenda Hughes (Mom’s sister Gladys’ daughter) turned 10 on the day the Cuban Missile Crisis was settled.
I had reached the magic number three days before Barry made his appearance in Bluefield. There would be no World War that autumn, just a continuing series of little battles among the Millers, Hypeses and Hugheses.
Larry Hypes, a teacher at Tazewell High School, is a Daily Telegraph columnist.