The Edmond Sun

Features

December 2, 2013

At the drop of a hat

Sing it again, Mr. Hamm

EDMOND — He was sitting alone at a table for eight; obviously seven diners had left for some place, somewhere, someone. He sat with elbows on the table, chin lowered to his chest. I was reluctant to speak, but I quietly asked, “Mr. Hamm?” He raised his head and graciously replied, “Yes, Clarence Hamm, H A M M. Please sit down.” And he added, “It is my birthday, and it is also the day I lost my wife, Ruth two years ago. And do you want to hear something special?: I nodded. “I sang at her funeral. Some people thought it was odd.” He searched my face hesitantly for my reaction, and when I replied with, “I think it is beautiful, and what did you sing?” Mr. Hamm responded with, “Do you want me to sing it?” I answered, “Please do.”

Then and there, in the dining room at the Touchmark, Mr. Clarence Hamm sang softly and tenderly, “I’ll be loving you always” just as he had said good-bye to the love of his life with whom he had shared 66 and a half of his 87 years. I was visibly touched. My friend broke the tension with, “So I tell people I am Ruthless, but I am harmless.”

Moving along, I learned that Clarence Hamm had met Ruth at a church party when she was 16 and he was 18. He later learned that when Ruth was 12 years old a fortune teller had told her she would marry a man named Clarence and that Ruth had told her mother later that day, “I have met the man I am going to marry!” However, Uncle Sam had other plans for young Clarence and he was whisked off to a plant where certain products were made that were being used in a place called Vietnam.

Ruth pursued Clarence by writing letters and their courtship was mainly by mail, but the two were married on Christmas Eve in Seattle, Wash. I inquired as to the qualities which contributed to the length of their marriage, and his response was a firm, “I have had a wonderful life, even though there were both hills and valleys.” He hesitated and then he explained that he had chosen to be a pastor and served as such for 30 years, although in order to take care of the four little Hamms — three girls and one boy — he had to work sometimes at three jobs. His job as a minister of a small church paid just $25 a week, so he then worked part-time as a machinist and was also fortunate to add a third job at a local post office, which he maintained for 29 years.

One of the valleys in this wholesome marriage was the negative health condition of their son who required a kidney transplant. They were deeply grateful when a teenage boy volunteered to provide the kidney, and their son is alive and well today. The event left painful scars when the Hamm family learned the young man who had donated the kidney had participated in a grocery store hold up; the young boys returned their ill-gained loot, but the victim of the robbery chose to pursue the crime. The youth who had benefited the Hamm family used a gun he had received for Christmas to take his own life.

Mr. Hamm appeared pensive for a moment before he slowly added, “ . . . and then we lost a grandson . . . our son lives in Boise, Idaho, and you remember those forest fires? Well, my grandson didn’t make it out. But I have been sustained by a deep faith in my Lord and He has given me peace, and a gratitude for all the good things I have experienced. I have had a wonderful life!”

Moving on to the “mountains” in his “good life” I asked Mr. Hamm if he had any particular hobbies and he repeated that his church and church activities were uppermost in his life and had given him strength and balance. Also, he declared with great enthusiasm, “I sing! My father and my sisters sang in church when I was growing up as a poor country kid down in old Kentucky, and I still sing, and my daughters sing. I’ll sing anywhere, any time. I’ll sing at the drop of a hat. I don’t care if people laugh.”

I admired his exuberance and his defense of his passion for singing and remembering his singing at the monthly resident tea. I reminded him that when members of his audience were smiling they were smiling with him and not at him. I have a feeling in future events at Touchmark there will be many guests “dropping their hats” for the pleasure of a favorite song request. We hope Mr. Hamm will keep singing and keep the audience smiling because it is quite probable that our singer has touched a tender chord of remembrance in their own lives.

“So, please, sing it again, Mr. Hamm.”

JIMMIE J. COOK is a resident of Touchmark at Coffee Creek in Edmond. A longtime newspaper columnist in her hometown, she will occasionally profile local residents who reside at Touchmark for readers.

1
Text Only
Features
  • pm_Ramona Paul.jpg Keith, 5 others to receive service awards

    The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
    Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • MS_Andy Billups.jpg Local man relies on experience in July 4 emergency

    Andy Billups just happened to have gained experience as a combat zone firefighter/medic while he was serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq.
    The Edmond businessman just happened to have a friend with a place on Grand Lake where he has been viewing Independence Day fireworks for a number of years, and he just happened to be there July 4.
    And he just happened to be relaxing on a hammock when he heard a some kids making a commotion.
    Located two blocks east of Disney on State Highway 28 in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range in northeast Oklahoma, the 59,000-plus surface acre Grand Lake is known for its state parks, marinas, restaurants, motels and fishing.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • -1.jpg 5-year-old learns valuable lessons

    It is never too soon to learn about giving and receiving. An Edmond 5-year-old recently learned about both.
    Kendall Kingry will be entering kindergarten at Will Rogers Elementary this fall and she is already looking forward to November.
    “I get to go to Disneyland in November,” Kendall said.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • peach formatted.jpg Hard year for peaches doesn’t dampen summer tradition  

    A rusting, silver-colored water tower tells visitors to this rural town between Muskogee and Tulsa that they’ve come to the “Peach Capitol of Oklahoma.”
    Residents of Stratford, the state’s other self-proclaimed peach capital, might beg to differ. Even so, Porter is known for its peaches, and every year thousands of people flood this town of about 600 residents to taste and celebrate the local crop during the three-day Peach Festival.
    Like the aging water tower, Porter’s peach industry isn’t as vibrant as it once was.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Final step to train toddler with baby on way

    Q: Using your advice, I successfully toilet-trained my daughter by age 16 months. It is now three months later and we are still using diapers at naps and nighttime. At her nap, which lasts several hours, she fully soaks her diaper. At night, she is taking off her diaper prior to falling asleep, wetting the bed after she goes to sleep and then crying for us when she wakes up in a pool of pee. Is this a sign that I should begin night training? I'm hesitant to do this because I am 8 months pregnant and don't relish the idea of waking up several times a night to take her to the bathroom and tending to a newborn as well. I would prefer to continue using diapers until she is old enough to get out of bed and take herself to the potty (even a potty in her room). Is this unrealistic? Or should I just deal with the extra night wakings and start taking her to the potty a few times a night now? If not, how do I keep her diaper on at night?

    July 25, 2014

  • Living Smart: How landscaping can deter intruders, pests

    Done right, landscaping can do much more than attract compliments and boost your property value. It can help you repel intruders, both human and natural.
    Landscaping experts who’ve earned high marks from Angie’s List members say overgrown bushes and shrubs are like welcome mats to burglars. Keep plants and trees trimmed. Place thorny but attractive bougainvillea or barberry bushes under windows, sending would-be thieves a sharp message to go elsewhere.

    July 25, 2014

  • 7-26 YARD OF THE WEEK.jpg Ganns earn Yard of the Week honors

    This week’s “Edmond Yard of the Week” winner has been in existence for 44 years at 105 Barbara Drive, but looks fresh and new thanks to longtime residents Betty and Gordon Gann as they fill their garden spaces to overflowing with colors and textures.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Discard the boredom of family game night

    We’re all about families having fun together, and game night is one of the best ways to do that. But playing the same games over and over can get a little stale. So in the interests of injecting a little more fun into your family’s game night, here are some great choices that will keep you and yours engaged and laughing.

    July 25, 2014

  • What’s normal age for voice change?

    Q: When is it normal for a boy’s voice to change? My son is 10, and his voice is getting deeper every day.
    A.: “It’s a very variable process,” says pediatrician Bonnie Miller, associate director of general pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.. “Puberty will begin as early as age 9. Generally with the advent of puberty, the voice box changes.”

    July 25, 2014

  • IMG_2996.JPG Krazy Daze hits downtown Edmond

    Newly transplanted Edmond residents Hannah Brenning, Cheyenne Middle School 8th grader; Jordan Brenning, Cross Timbers 4th grader; and Sydney Brenning, North High School freshman; check out the items in front of Sterling's in downtown Edmond during the Krazy Daze Sale lasting through Saturday. Businesses will open their doors at 10 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo