Alva Review-Courier -

You want me to do what?

 


A lot of people, especially politicians, are talented in persuasion, defined as moving people through influence, not authority. My late husband Lynn had the ability to persuade people that they were capable of learning new skills and taking on new roles.

Soon after we were married, he began photographing weddings on weekends, partly to earn extra money and partly because he loved photography. I frequently accompanied him as a way of spending more time together. Soon I was arranging bridal dresses and rounding up relatives for photos. Eventually, he put a camera in my hands and asked me to take a few photos. He always preset everything. In those days of black and white film, good cameras required manual settings and manual focus. Nothing was automatic. We even had to advance the film by hand. Forgetting to roll the film forward could lead to unintended double images.

We’d been married only a few months when Lynn asked me to photograph a small wedding because of a scheduling conflict. I refused because I was afraid the photos wouldn’t turn out. Even worse, the bride was a high school friend and my recent college roommate. Lynn kept reassuring me that I could do it. He gave me some lessons, and I practiced with a couple of rolls of film. Finally I agreed. Most of the wedding pictures were good, and I didn’t miss anything important. After that success, I more readily agreed to other photo assignments.

The next time was a bigger commitment. Instead of one afternoon, this was for six weeks. Lynn wanted me to take a course with the end result of passing a test to become a first class radio engineer. I was much better at math than he, so he thought I had a better chance of learning the material. The big catch was that the course was in Chicago.

We were working at his dad’s radio station in Rolla, Missouri, at the time, and the business would pay for my course. The station had an advertising trade-out with a regional airline so the plan was that Lynn would drive me to St. Louis where I would board the plane and fly to O’Hare in Chicago. Thankfully, I’d been to Chicago once with Lynn attending a broadcasters’ convention.

The process didn’t work as smoothly as Lynn promised. I arrived in Chicago with a radio station check for the course plus some extra. He expected the school to refund the extra in cash so I could pay for lodging. Lynn told me to ask them for a nearby hotel recommendation.

However, the school turned out to be one man working for a nationwide company. He could not do the refund immediately, especially since it was Sunday. He must have seen my panic. He came up with some money of his own, put me in a cab and sent me to the YMCA where I could rent a small bedroom at a very reasonable rate. They even had a restaurant on the first floor.

Later, Lynn arranged for money to be wired to me. Classes were in the evenings, and I could walk several blocks to them from the YMCA. In concern for my safety, my instructor arranged for a male classmate to accompany me back when it was dark. The classmate was staying in a hotel in the same area.

Lynn’s plan also included my flying home every Saturday morning and returning in time for the Monday night class. Weather problems caused a cancellation one weekend, and I learned about bus travel. Another weekend, my luggage didn’t arrive in St. Louis. We retrieved it a day later in Jefferson City. I finished with the desired licensing and new knowledge about travel. I also became a little less vulnerable to persuasion.

Lynn’s next enthusiasm was flying. His sports broadcasting partner secured a plane ride to a game with a private pilot. After a couple of times, Lynn was ready to take flying lessons. That led to buying a small plane. Lynn also wanted me to share in his new-found hobby. I always suspected he wanted to get me hooked so I wouldn’t complain about the expense.

I eventually agreed to take lessons, soloed and took the required solo flights for the licensing. My instructor taught me about navigation (before cellphones and tablets), but I had to learn the laws and regulations on my own. Before I was ready to take the tests, written and flying, Lynn took a job in St. Louis. He used the plane to commute, and it was no longer available for me to practice. Then life got in the way, and I never finished.

Next Lynn developed an interest in computers. We were now living in Alva, and Northwestern Oklahoma State University had a new computer science program. He thought we should take an evening class together. This new system used punch cards to input simple programs into the computer which occupied a room of its own.

This time I discovered I was as enthusiastic as Lynn, changing my college major from accounting to computer science. That led to numerous courses teaching me to program (now called coding) in different computer languages, now mostly outdated.

Over the years, Lynn persuaded me to learn radio announcing, news reporting, sports writing, video editing, lots of computer software programs and more. I also learned to say no at times. But overall, I learned to look beyond my self-imposed limitations and expand my horizons. Perhaps you’re ready to try something new, too.

 

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