Sunday, February 25, 2024

I’ve never been this age before!

By Rosemary O’Keefe

I suppose many of us often ask this question, “I wonder whatever happened to…?” I’m always excited to find the answer and love it when I actually meet up and can converse with said person. I have had such an occasion recently and thought you might enjoy sharing my enthusiasm. My “wonder what ever” person was Judy Hayden.

I first knew her as the daughter of Bill and Mary Hensley. Mary was a nurse in the St. Mary’s Hospital in Cairo. I met her in the nursery when I had my first child, Becky. She was a native of Vienna but lived in Cairo at that time. She and Bill returned to Vienna where they raised their family. After her retirement Mary took some classes from me. I loved having her in my class.

I met Judy after moving here. I know her as a mother of four young boys, lived in the country, which she loved, was an excellent cake maker and also a sought after caterer. Jusy was one of those people who when asked if she would assist she would do a perfect job. I often called on her to help with refreshments or other projects when I was active as a volunteer co-ordinator at the Vienna Grade School. She never let me down. I remember one occasion when we were having a day long program on Drug Awareness. There were many guest speakers and we included the teachers as guests to a noon time luncheon. Jusy and her father, Bill, whom I enjoyed knowing, pulled off a great luncheon that ran it’s timing so the days schedule worked exactly as planned. One does not forget this part of an event especially when it’s done perfectly.

Judy, too, took several classes from me. The one I remember the most was a speech class. Wayne, yes, my husband took a Speech class from me, he was in the class with Judy and they became good friends. His favorite conversation about Judy while in the class was the time she demonstrated how to decorate a cake and served us all a slice. He could never forget the talk she gave about how healthy it is for one to drink lots of water. It seems at that time Jusy was drinking way more water then most of us could fathom. Seems there was a health program being touted at this time about the benefits of drinking much water. Wayne would often chuckle and say, “Man, I wonder if Judy is still swigging all that water?” I’m sure every time he saw her at the grocery or out he would have to ask.

Time passed but somewhere in that time span I remember that Judy’s husband, John, had passed away from cancer. Her youngest son was 17 years old. She had also lost her mother-in-law Syble and her father-in-law, Emil. Her mother-in-law was one of her favorite people, because Syble loved and understood a young wife and mother, and was always there for her daughter-in-law.

I had heard that Judy and son Matthew had purchased a transmission business in Marion, and Judy was managing the business. Matthew recently opened a furniture store here in Vienna, a very welcome business for all of us. And you can sometimes find Judy, “minding the store.”

A few months ago I met up with Judy while we were both shopping at a local Dollar Store. After the surprised “ Hello’s” I of course began asking questions. I complimented her on her look of well being and noticed she was driving a red convertible. Not bad for a country loving woman I knew several years ago. It seemed she had caught on to what was best for her and was not afraid to follow through. Judy looked vibrant, confident and content. You know that appearance that just tells you all is well. Perhaps you, too, have experienced this in your lifetime.

When I asked the age old question about what she was doing now her eyes light up and she tells me she has a most wonderful job. She works for the Mecum Auctions, a business that specializes in the sale of collector cars. It is America’s largest collector car auction company. Their auctions span coast to coast and I’m sure some of you have found some of their auctions on TV. Some weeks they may auction over two thousand cars. A very impressive business with some very impressive merchandise.

When I met later with Judy at her home our talk continued as if there no years of absence between us. She explained that her brother, Jim, had worked with Bob King when they were state troopers and that Bob was now helping out at Mecum. Judy wished to have Mecum sell her 1992 Cavalier convertible and when she contacted them, at her brother Jim’s suggestion, they agreed to sell it at the next auction in Indianapolis, Indiana. She said that the minute she got in that atmosphere she knew this was some special place. At this time I must admit I wanted to hear more and to tell the truth I wanted the inside scoop on how our “local girl does good” story. It seems that when her brother went to continue the procedure of selling her car she decided to ask a very daring question to Bob King. She said, “I’ll be here all day with nothing to do, is there anything I can do to help while I’m here?” She was told perhaps and sent to see Cathy and Frank who were in charge of the staging area. They gave Judy several ways she could help and at the end of the work day she was asked to return the next morning at 9 o’clock, Of course this was not possible but Judy quickly made arrangements to come back and sign in for a job. She said she knew the minute she stepped into that auction world and met the people in charge she knew this would be a perfect place to be a part of something so big and beautiful.

Mecum Auctions is owned by Dana Mecum and he has managed to have him business operated by family and friends. She insists this company is the greatest in how well they treat their employees. She has no problem saying they are her family when she is with them. I find this refreshing to hear as a large company is often criticized for it’s business first attitude and the workers who make up the company are often treated as unimportant.

A gentleman named Harold Gerdes, a former employee of radio stations in Marion and Johnston City, and graduate of SIU Carbondale and is now customer shuttle manager and Judy’s boss. She says he’s a great boss.

Judy says she has chosen to work seven of the seventeen auctions Mecum is having this year. So far she has worked in Kissimmee, Fla., Kansas City, Houston, Indianapolis. Later she will go to St. Charles, Ill., Anaheim, Calif., and Kansas City, When I asked how she manages to make all the connections in these travels she stated they do it all for her. She travels mostly by plane but sometimes drives if not to far away. Besides being comfortable in her  work world she feels she has met some great people, those who guide her through her jobs and also the people she meets as she assists them.

Right now Judy with her crew, from five to some times seventeen, see to it that their customers get transportation to the areas where they need to be. They are transported in six person golf carts. Judy charts the routes and I bet she does it just right same as she did when she helped me in my endeavors. Judy, if I were younger I’d ask if you thought Mecum might consider hiring me.

Judy, the true mother, updated me on her four sons. Told lives in Creal Springs, Ill., Matthew lives on his property on the family farm in Simpson, Nathan lives in Leads, South Dakota and William “Cody” lives in rural Marion, Ill.

More later. Be good at living life.