Monthly Archives: December 2021

Note from Mary Woiwode

Several years ago I wrote a blog post I titled Regret. It was about regretting that I didn’t get to dance with Larry Woiwode at his sister Mary’s wedding. Mary was a student teacher in my 6th grade class and her brother came to class and discussed what it was like to be a published author. Read the original post if you want to learn more.

This post is just about the sweet note she wrote me.

Our class must have done something for her. Maybe for the wedding, maybe just as a goodbye gift. It was sweet that she sent each of us a personal note.

Finding Johnnie

Note: I wrote the following a few days ago, before I made contact with his son, Jack, who confirmed that the letters were written by his father.

When I moved my blog from self-hosted to WordPress.com many of the photos were misplaced. I’ve been going through older posts and fixing any missing photos. That’s when I happened upon the Letters from Johnnie posts again. And again I wondered what ever happened to Johnnie Gannon.

I’d searched for him shortly after finding the letters and blogging about them, and again every so often when I remembered him. I was never near successful until recently.

If you recall, in the last letter I posted (I actually found more later but never got around to posting about them), Johnnie mentioned that his tour might be extended. I don’t know if that actually happened, but he ended up making a career in the Naval Medical Service Corps, retiring as a commander.

I know this because I found his obituary. And his Find a Grave page.

He did go back to Washington, DC where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The George Washington University. He then earned a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University.

Then, believe it or not, he lived in Bethesda for a while until he retired to Beaufort, South Carolina.

He was married twice. In 1960 he married Margaret Odessa “Peggy” Pope who was born in Montgomery County, Maryland. She and Johnnie had two sons. I’m thinking he probably met her when he was working in at Bethesda Naval Hospital. (Jack confirmed that Margaret worked at the Naval hospital too, as a business analyst). Margaret died in 2001.

John then married Joyce Anna Nestle but lost her in 2003.

I searched Facebook and think I found one of his sons’ Facebook page. I just now looked again and he’s posted his parents’ graves. And they are the same graves as on Johnnie’s Find a Grave page.

John Gannon died in 2014, two years before my mom died. But he was still alive when I found and posted about the letters. I wish I could have put them in touch before they both died.

Only One Giraffe

I have been thinking about drafts lately and that thinking brought me back to one of my earliest memories. We lived in an upstairs apartment near the highest point of a street on a (rare) hill in Elgin. I think my parents were having a party in this memory and I remember someone, possibly my mother, saying there was a draft in the living room. 3 or 4-year-old me heard “giraffe in the living room” and was disappointed that I could not see this giraffe my mother spoke of.

We’ve lived at our Bethesda house for more than 28 years. It’s an older home (built in 1947 or so) with mostly original windows on the main and second floors. For the first 13 or so years in this house we only had valences on the windows in the living and dining rooms. Each room has a large picture window plus up to 4 sash windows, so besides sort of living in a fishbowl at night, those rooms were also drafty and chilly in the winter.

Sometime in 2006 we installed honeycomb-style pull-down blinds on all the windows on the main and second floors of our house. It made a considerable difference in the temperatures of all the rooms in the house, especially the living room and dining room (and back room in our kitchen area that had two walls of windows). Winters were much more comfortable because of these shades.

A couple of years ago we bought new living room furniture. One piece was a beautiful leather “cloud” chair that sits next to the fireplace. It is exquisitely comfortable, has a light and plug nearby, yet I find myself drawn to the end of the sofa instead. I realized that the reason for that is because the chair is sitting in the coldest spot in the living room. The cold air from upstairs flows down the steps and into either the living room or the dining room. The cold air from the window behind the chair flows past the chair, into the kitchen. So even with the window shades, there is still that draft.

I searched online for a solution (I wanted pocket doors, but that was not practical) and found recommendations for curtains hung from expansion rods in the doorways (we have two into the living room). I bought some and installed them about a week ago. They are not haute couture by any means, but they do the job — very well!

The living room used to be several degrees cooler than the dining room (where the thermostat lives), but is now several degrees warmer.

When I realized that the curtains were working I proclaimed to no one in particular, “No more drafts in the living room!” Then I noticed the giraffe that Dean brought back from South Africa on one of his trips and amended my proclamation: “Only one giraffe in the living room.”