About Cindy Downes . . .
I was born in Lewes, Delaware, and raised on a farm near the ocean. My mom was a LPN (practical nurse); my dad was a farmer and part time furniture builder. I have two brothers: Randy, my older brother who passed away when I was in my 20's, and Keith, my younger brother, who still lives on the family farm with his wife, June. Being the middle child and having a headstrong temperament, I kind of ruled the boys. (Photo below is my mom, Randy and me.)
I cooked for the family and worked in the garden. Because my mom worked 3-11, I always say I raised my younger brother, Keith. Life on the farm was difficult, but we always had wonderful food to eat. We raised all our own produce and either canned or froze it for the off seasons. Our meat was often wild game that we hunted or gifts from local fisherman who had more than they could use.
Our home was made from an old prisoner-of-war camp that had been built on the beach to house prisoners during WWII. My dad brought it over to our land, cut it in three pieces, and used one piece for the house, one piece for his workshop, and the third piece to make the ends. He made three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room.
We had no television nor plumbing until I was twelve years old. We cooked on a wood burning stove which was made from an oil drum on two cement blocks. My dad had cut a door in the front and hinged it so we could close it up for roasting. We called her “Big Bertha.”
I remember when we first got an electric stove and in-house water. We also bought a wringer washer! The washer had two rollers on top through which we would push our clothes to squeeze out the excess water (See photo - unknown girl.). Then, we would hang them on the line to dry. In the winter, they would freeze. When you took them off the clothes line, they would hold their shape all the way into the house!
For entertainment, I read books, played my clarinet, and visited the three "old maids" who lived across the street. My brothers and I would go exploring on our 240 acres of land searching for treasures such as flowers and wild berries. Once, we brought home a pair of baby crows, which we hand-raised and called Heckle and Jeckle; and another time, a snapping turtle that we found at the creek.
I began writing a diary when I was very young and continue that today. Unfortunately, I do not have any of those written before 1980. I do have my moms diaries from 1953 on. Someday, I hope to write our family memoirs.
I was a good student, loved school, and very active in band, choir, and drama. I received a full scholarship to college so off I went to the University of Delaware - the first in my family to go to college.
My College Years
I went to college at the University of Delaware in 1968. Unfortunately for my education, I was so excited about my new-found freedom that I wasted my college years. My main goal was to have fun, date at least one guy from every fraternity, and study only as much as I had to.
I went to college to become a home economics teacher, but after one semester, I gave up on that. I took classes in psychology, organic chemistry, economics, and business trying to find something I wanted to do, but nothing clicked. During this time, I met my husband, Bill, and after he graduated, we got married. I was 20 and this was the end of the first round of college!
Immediately upon marriage (photo right), I became a military wife. The Vietnam War was going on, so Bill was training to fly helicopters for the Army. We moved to Texas, then on to Alabama. I enjoyed seeing new parts of the country and meeting new people. But after six months, it was time for him to go to Vietnam. I came back to Delaware while he went to war.
I returned to college and took a few more classes. Still not sure of what I wanted to do, I decided to get a job. My first job was as a typist for the Du Pont company. Bill came home once during Christmas and then for good after 11 months. The war was over.
We settled into a three bedroom apartment with our two cats and two tanks of tropical fish. Bill became a State Trooper and I continued working for Du Pont in the International Division as a Investment Clerk (I think that was my title) until, at 26, I had my first child. By then we had moved into our first house.
Bill and I had two children, Wil (AKA B.J.) and Shelly (photo left). Wil is a Broadcast Designer/Animator/Compositor and lives in Tulsa. Shelly earned both her Bachelor's and Master's Degree at NSU and is now an English professor at Tulsa Community College. She also lives in Tulsa along with her two cats, my only grandchildren!
After returning from the war, Bill became a helicopter pilot for the Delaware State Police, and we had a wonderful life in Delaware for many years. However, he retired early from the police because of an on-the-job injury and then decided to get his Master's Degree in Photojournalism. We moved to VA Beach in 1988 where Bill attended Regent University. After his graduation, we moved to Rehrersburg, PA, where Bill worked for Teen Challenge. In 1991, we eventually ended up out here in Oklahoma with Bill working for a local church. After working in photography and the computer field for several years at the church, Bill retired early. He was beginning to lose his vision, so it was my turn to go to work.
My College Years Part II
After raising our children as a stay-at-home, homeschool mom, I started writing. First, as a volunteer, and later as a freelance writer. I have written for iPhone Life magazine, Oklahoma Living Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and a number of other publications.
Finally, in 2007, I decided to finish a degree in something since it looked like I was going to have to go to work if I wanted spending money. Since I like to write, I decided to major in Journalism at Oklahoma State University. Shelly and I attended college at the same time which was super fun even though we were at different colleges. I began writing a blog about my college adventures, which landed me in an episode of Good Morning America! I completed my Bachelor's of Science degree at Oklahoma State University on December 12, 2009. You can read more about my college adventures and being on GMA on my Blog: EmptyNestMom Goes to College.
The Rest of My Life
Here is a current photo of Bill, me, and my dog, Oreo. I'm a "bit" older and "fluffier" now! Wow, the years are going fast!
Life has been interesting since I completed my degree. I continued to write articles (both online and in print), wrote product reviews, and even wrote curriculum for homeschoolers (The Checklist and Oklahoma History).
At home, I became the driver because Bill was now legally blind. He had been interested in HAM radio for years, so now I had to attend his ham club events as well. Finally, I decided to get my own amateur radio license. I earned my Technician license in December 2010, my General in May 2011, and my Extra in July 2011. K5CED is my call sign.
Since 2012, I've been tutoring high school Biology and Composition at Cornerstone Tutorial Center. I thought my teaching days were over, but obviously not! I enjoy my students immensely and it definitely keeps me young. I will probably keep doing this until they decide I'm too old to continue.
In 2015, Bill and I moved into a retirement community called Country Club of Woodland Hills. Moving here makes it better for both of us. He has some independence, and I can work without worrying about him at home alone. And, since neither of us have parents around any longer, it's nice to have all these new "adopted" parents and grandparents to hang out with! We eat together, garden together, craft together, read books together, walk together and swim together. There is a lot to do here, so it keeps both of us busy. We're also super close to both our kids so that is a huge benefit!
Life is awesome!
Copyright © 2004 - by Cindy Downes