Saturday, January 30, 2016

Aunt Cotton

On Tuesday, we lost our Aunt Cotton. Today, we celebrated her life. She always said, “Everything happens as it should.”

For many years during my youth, I had the privilege to visit Aunt Cotton and Uncle Ted’s farm in the country for a week each summer. They gave me enough free rein to grow and explore. I learned to hunt, fish, avoid snakes, find my way home and more than I could ever state.

Each year, they also invited campers from Camp Soroptimist to visit their farm for a day. They borrowed some animals they didn’t own to complete the experience for campers.

Uncle Ted took the back-row seat out of his large, heavy-duty van (a small bus), and off we went to retrieve a goat. The plan was to have Uncle Ted soothe the goat in the back of the van while Aunt Cotton drove the van back to their farm.

From the beginning, the goat was uncooperative. It did not want to leave its home. It did not like the van. It did not like Uncle Ted. However, this journey was for the campers.

They tied a rope on the goat’s horns and pulled it up a ramp into the back of the van. Uncle Ted sat calmly with the goat as the doors shut. From my seat, I could only see uncle Ted’s head over the last bench seat. Aunt Cotton was at the wheel as we forged ahead.

As the van moved, I saw Uncle Ted’s expression change from soothing, to determination, to caution, to commitment, to acceptance, to a blur as the goat rammed him into the wall of the van.

Aunt Cotton remained calm at the wheel.

Over the seat, I saw Uncle Ted’s head suddenly whip around to the opposite direction. He had the goat situation under control. Then his head zoomed across the van, and his back slammed into the opposite wall of the van.

Aunt Cotton remained calm at the wheel.

Uncle Ted fought with and cursed at the goat for what was probably minutes, but seemed to be hours. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth the goat slammed him into the sides of the van.

Aunt Cotton remained calm at the wheel.

The sometimes-fragile campers didn’t need to meet a fiery goat. Luckily, the goat was tired and calm by the time the van stopped at the farm.

Farm Day was perfect as always. Campers got the experience of a lifetime, and I got some lifelong lessons that day:

1) Volunteer and help others when you can.
2) Have a plan.
3) Adapt when your plan doesn’t work.
4) Take the goat by the horns.
5) Hold on and never let go.
6) Have someone calm and steady at the wheel during a crisis.
7) Make fond memories for all.
8) Everything happens as it should.

Today, we said goodbye to someone very special. Thanks for being the calm driver of our extended family and memories. We love you Aunt Cotton.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

ETSU Art Dorm Community 1993-95



photos © Mark M. Hancock / NewsEagles.com

Art Dorm residents and friends pose for a group portrait during the annual Art Dorm Christmas Party at East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas in Dec. 1994.



See a larger version of this slideshow.

Residents and friends live, laugh and love in the Art Dorms at East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas between 1993 and 1995.

Named in this slideshow are:   Derek Hall Burford, Stacy Bzdok, Jedediah Goold, Mark M. Hancock, Robert Pitt, Heather Rice Sherwood, Erinn Starnes, .


Sunday, January 12, 1986

NTC Chuckwallas vs. Cal State Fullerton rugby


photos © Mark M. Hancock / NewsEagles

Members of the National Training Center Chuckwallas rugby team pose for a team portrait after a rugby game against Cal State Fullerton in Fullerton, Calif. around 1986.


Mark M. Hancock of the National Training Center Chuckwallas rugby team poses for a portrait before a rugby game against Cal State Fullerton in Fullerton, Calif.

At The Ghetto


© Mark M. Hancock / NewsEagles

Mark M. Hancock and Geoff Cottrell pose for a portrait in the A. Co. 6/31st Infantry NCO Barracks (aka "The Ghetto") at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. around 1986.

Tuesday, December 24, 1985

Christmas Eve 1985


© Mark M. Hancock / NewsEagles

Spec. Mark M. Hancock distributes gifts to family members on Christmas Eve around 1985 in Plano.