VILONIA — While attendees said the biscuits and gravy were good, it didn’t appear they were the main course being served at a grandparents’ breakfast held Thursday at Vilonia Elementary School.
Children and adults were indulging in hugs, laughter and conversation for about an hour beginning at about 7 a.m. Milling around the room, one could hear the grandparents’ aliases being used. Children called out to their pawpaws, peepaws as well as their mawmaws and nanas.
There were many shapes and sizes of grandparents in attendance. Some appeared almost too young while others were older. Some wore glasses but many didn’t. Some were dressed in work attire while others were dressed casual. The predominant hair color may have been gray but there was also plenty of other colors. As well, some of the grandfathers had no hair.
Some grandparents lived near the school. Others lived much further away.
A poll of the children, a couple of them shared that they were impressed with the fact their grandparents had removable teeth. The majority, however, were impressed with other feats. Some of the grandparents were standouts with their grandchildren for their abilities to play marbles, fish , ride horses, gather eggs and cook good food. Some grandchildren gave high marks to grandparents who let them eat their dessert first.
The one thing they all appeared to have in common was a special bond of love.
"I double love my pawpaw and mawmaw," boasted kindergartner Taylor Hoover referring to Linda and Joseph Hoover Sr. She also likes to play marbles with her grandmother and fish in the pond with her grandfather. She’s a hand at playing marbles and also quite the angler, she said. Referring to fishing in the pond, she said, "That’s where our old memories are."
Lucas Garcia, a third grader, says his "Nana and Papa," Junior and Vickie Roper, are his favorite people. He admires his grandfather’s remote control abilities and his shares his enthusiasm for watching television. He also enjoys eating his grandmother’s sweet rice. It is also a joy, he said, when they take him out to eat.
Nana and Peepaw, Jerry "Pot" King and Jeanne King, referred to their granddaughter Faith Johnson, a fourth grader, as their little helper.
"She is a very caring child," Jerry King said. She describes them as loving also. Her grandmother makes the best spaghetti and regularly puts new flowers in beds and helps her to find amazing clothing to play dress up. As well, her grandmother is teaching her to cook. Her grandfather, who she lovingly referred to as a farmer, rides horses and lets her have candy and Dr. Pepper before dinner. He also gives her rides on his four-wheel "Mule." One of her favorite memories is eating her first lobster at Red Lobster, with her grandparents, when she was just three.
Nicholas Johnson, 6, and Macy Johnson, 7, were excited to see their Mawmaw and Pawpaw, Lindy and Kathy Alsobrooks, who drove from Marshall for the event.
While Mawmaw Kathy got high marks for her peach cobbler, her chickens also received accolades for their ability to lay eggs. The children said they love to help with the gathering. Pawpaw, according to the children, is an expert fisherman and takes them along for the catch. As well, he lets them ride with him on his four-wheeler and has a cool motorcycle.
As far as their grandchildren, the Alsobrooks said they couldn’t be more perfect.
"We can’t tell you enough about them," said Mawmaw Kathy. "We are crazy about them."
This is the second year the Alsobrooks have driven the two hours to the breakfast and say it is a yearly highlight for them.
First grader Parker Jordan had lots to share concerning his Nana and Papaw, Lois and Clifford Jordan.
"I love my grandparents," he said. Especially, he said, "I love my Papaw."
Parker, referring to him as his best friend, leaned over and kissed his Papaw on the cheek. He shared that he is impressed with his Pawpaw’s ability to "generate heat."
"He’s good to snuggle up to," Parker said.
Nana Lois said she doesn’t get to spend as much time with Parker as her husband. The grandparents live in Louisiana and she had driven from there especially to attend the breakfast. However, Papaw Clifford works for Nabholz Construction, currently in the Faulkner County area, commuting on weekends. He spends as much time as possible with his grandson.
"Pawpaw travels," Parker added. "We used to work together building Popeyes (Restaurants). I carried a really big mallet."
Prior to kindergarten, Parker shared that he also worked alongside his grandmother at her daycare in Louisiana.
"I ran a daycare and construction site but I quit because we had to travel so much," he concluded. "Now, I’ve got to go to school for about 22 years."
He also loves hunting rabbits and bears in their backyard. One of Parker’s favorite memories is playing flag football with his Papaw in attendance.
"I heard him say, ‘Go, Parker, Go," Parker offered.
Nana Lois said it’s a well-know fact that Parker favors his grandfather. On that note, Papaw Clifford smiled. Soft spoken, he said, that he also enjoys teaching his only grandson new things.
"Nana is here for bringing her purse and her checkbook and getting him things that he needs and not wants," she said, a loving smile on her face.
Parker shared that he had a great time with his grandparents this summer catching crabs. As well, he said, he is making plans for a deep sea fishing trip to include him and Papaw.
"Nana can come if she wants to," Parker added. In conclusion, Lois Jordan sums up grandchildren as a special gift.
"Grandchildren are our second chances," she said.