Susan Elferdink Upton

 
 Well, I’ve postponed this just about long enough to keep the mystique alive.

I was born one rainy, somber morning in a Greyhound bus somewhere between St. Louis, Mo and Philadelphia . . . but, wait a minute – I suppose I needn’t go back that far. (Interestingly enough, that same Greyhound, albeit somewhat older and with balding tires, delivered me to sunny, cosmopolitan Sarasota in 1959 where I was to spend my Senior High School year.)

My journey to SHS began in tiny Three Oaks, MI where, had I continued to matriculate, I would have graduated with 35 other seniors. I didn’t really want to leave Three Oaks and my two friends behind but my folks insisted I come with them. Something about a subpoena. I can’t really remember. But once enrolled in SHS, I quickly made two more friends, Lydia Vihlen and Isabelle Kurjack, and came to realize that 80 degrees and sunshine on Siesta or Lido beaches was much preferable to minus 20 and ice skating on Lake Michigan.
 
One of my favorites at SHS was Art teacher, H.O. Davis, he was also new to Sarasota that year. Mr. Davis took me under his wing and I learned a lot from him. I had Mrs. Nelson (or should I say Senora Nelson) for Spanish who used to say of me, “Susie es muy lista” but “necesita estudiar su vocabulario.” (Suzie is very bright but need to work on her spelling.) Another favorite teacher was “Mama” Deal. Does anyone remember when she brought First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to SHS?

While I suffer, like many of us I’m sure, from CRS (Can’t Remember Stuff) I do remember one stunt four guys pulled on me after graduation practice. They wedged my Fiat Bianchini between four sabal palms and I couldn’t get it out. I didn’t know who they were then, but with the help of the Sarasota CSI and some 50 year old fingerprints left on those palms, I now know. Vengeance will be sweet if they show up at the reunion.

After graduation, many of us sped, literally, while trying to outrun Hurricane Donna, to Tallahassee and Florida State where Janice Garrigus and I entered the Home Ec program. And, yes, all you gals who vented over our Home Ec teachers at SHS can now vent on me for I became one. I first taught at Charlotte HS in Punta Gorda. (Janice, being the wiser of the two of us chose to use her degree for better purposes.)
Then I married Ted Fox, remember him? Good looking, football player, best friend of Dick Nelson. Well we moved to Memphis, TN where he earned his Dental Degree. Ted went on to set up a practice in Gastonia, NC and before you know it we had two sons, Kevin of Asheville, NC and Noel of Gastonia. Both are practicing dentists.

Well, since all things, good and bad, must come to an end, Ted and I divorced in 1974 and I and the two boys moved to Temple Terrace near Tampa where I completed an MA in Art Education. (Gave up Home EC.) A short while later, I taught for the Department of Defense in Grafenwoehr, Germany and spent the next two years working and traveling Europe with my two sons and my cat, Pepper.

Finally, the day came when we left Germany and moved back to Florida, Sarasota no less, and I spent the next three years teaching home skills, pre and post natal care countywide to pregnant teens in the Cyesis program. Now, that was an enlightening experience if I do say so. One other thing, I actually did teach Art at Sarasota High with my mentor, H.O. Davis.

Then I met Bill Upton, class of ‘63, Albany Oregon, a fellow who worked for the Sarasota County Homebuilders Association. I’m not sure what I saw in him. Couldn’t have been money – he didn’t have any plus he soon got fired from his job (for doing it too well). But, that’s his bio, not mine. Still, after ten years of calling my my own shots, I not only married this guy, but moved away to Oregon with him for the next 20 years. What was in that drink anyway?

Still, somehow, things have a way of working themselves out and not only did I end up with a great honey, I also gained two more sons, Nathan and Justin, both in business for themselves. While in Oregon we built a small chain of equipment rental stores. I went from “Dental” to “Rental.”

About 12 years ago, Bill and I bought a condo on Longboat Key and came back ever so often and about six years ago we retired and moved here full time. Bill balked at first, but then caved when I said, “The deal was that I did 20 years in Oregon and since we’ve retired you’ll have to do the next 20 in Sarasota.”
And, in spite of ourselves, we are enjoying retirement. We have eight grandchildren who we see as often as possible. In the meantime Bill writes and edits a magazine and I paint. What fun!

Hope to see you all in October.


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