Friday, January 30, 2009
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Christian Village resident sends poem to President Obama

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[January 30, 2009]  Eighty-two-year-old Betty Armstrong has seen a lot during her life. Thanks to a writing group at The Christian Village Nursing Home, a great deal of what she witnessed over the years will always be available for everyone to read and to share.

The group, administered by Rebecca Johnson, activity assistant, meets every other Monday, and Betty can't wait for those meetings. "I enjoy writing, period. And my teacher (meaning Johnson) is just wonderful," she said. "There are some very good writers, and I look forward to the meetings very much."

It is through this writing that Betty has created a file of short stories -- memoirs, in many cases, that tell of her past experiences. And interesting experiences have filled this woman's life.

One of four girls, she was born and raised on a farm in Nebraska during the great Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. Betty wrote about the year a tornado swept through the area, literally destroying the town near the family farm:

"The tornado came from the southwest and traveled many miles, taking some farmhouses along the way. We had some damage to our farm, but our town of Hebron was almost destroyed. It went right down Main Street, damaging all the businesses in its path."

Perhaps her most vivid account so far of a historic event is her story about living in those days when the land dried up and nothing would grow, as rains were seldom if ever seen.

"We could see the dust clouds roll in from the south along with herds of grasshoppers. They ate everything in sight and the pastures all dried up. The trees, yards and fields were full of grasshoppers. It was horrible. The wind blew and blew, and the dust blew into the house under the doors like a snowbank. Lots of times while we were eating, the dirt would crunch in your mouth. It was unbelievable."

When Betty was 12, the family had enough of Nebraska and moved to California. She writes that it was probably her favorite place where she lived, but there were still earthquakes and blackouts during World War II that Betty remembers vividly in other stories.

She has had a varied and interesting life in Logan County as well. Her husband, George Armstrong, had four boys and a girl when Betty married him. "So I went from no children to an instant mom," Betty said.

Armstrong's jobs included working in a restaurant, banks and as a telephone operator. She was a supervisor at LDC for 24 years before retiring.

The octogenarian is still very sharp, with just a little complaining about her hands shaking too much to write. She has a typewriter in her room, and when the mood hits her, she works on another piece of prose, which happens more often than not these days.

A seven-year resident of the nursing home, Betty has found a distinct passion for getting her recollections and thoughts down on paper. When asked if she was the best writer in the club, she begged to refrain from boasting, saying, "They are all very good."

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Johnson noted that all six members of the club have had something they wrote published in Capper's, a national magazine.

Betty said that she isn't terribly involved in politics except when it is interesting, and interesting is what she thought of the last presidential race and the fact that Barack Obama won the election..

"I have often wondered why (we have never had an African-American president). They deserve a chance as much as anyone else," she said. "We almost had a woman president, you know."

Armstrong is bullish on America and holds out great belief that the new president will get things turned around in our country. It is this firm belief that caused her to write a poem to the president, a poem that Johnson sent on to the White House.

Still showing that positive attitude about our new president, Betty said, "I wish I could be there when he reads it."

We wish we could be there as well.

The following is the poem from Betty Armstrong to President Barack Obama:

I am so proud of our country
and our flag so beautiful.
They make tears come to my eyes
And fill them completely full.

We have a different president
He is of another color.
Sent to us by our Lord God
We should give him all the honor.

The time has come for change
We need to all look forward
To a better time of living
For he certainly isn't a coward.

We are all ready to jump in
And give him a hand
Let him know we're on his side
To keep safety in our land.

It will be different, this we know
We have to look ahead
And help him all we can
for he is willing to do as he said.

Betty Armstrong
The Christian Village Nursing Home



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