Category Archives: Past Loves

Lana Jane Ratliff, Where Are You?

 

Lana Jane in 1952

Lana Jane Ratliff was the first girl I ever loved.  We were six and in the second grade at Irving School in Joplin, Missouri.  When she did not return  for the third grade, I learned that she had moved…to California, or so I was told, but that was incorrect.  In any case, I resolved to find her no matter how long it took.  I would propose marriage and somehow, we would find a way to survive on my dollar-a-week allowance.  So I have now been searching for her (on and off) for 65 years.  At this point, I only want to say “HI” and see how her life turned out.  I truly hope that she is well and happy and enjoying her grandchildren.  It would give me peace of mind to know this.

Lana Jane 1964

Lana Jane in 1964 (From School Yearbook)

Recently I was able to unearth a lot about Lana Jane using Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com.  After our second grade class let out for summer vacation, I never saw Lana again.  Her father, Gregor, was in the Navy and involved in training and recruiting, so he moved around a lot.  Eventually, the Ratliff’s wound up in Hutchinson, Kansas, where Lana finished high school (Hutchinson High School, Class of 1962) and then attended Hutchinson Junior College, in 1962 – 64.  She was the editor of the college yearbook.

I have determined that the lovely woman on the right is indeed the Lana I knew in grade school, and have corroborated this with research.  This picture on the right is how she looked at the end of the school year in 1964.  Unfortunately, all traces of her after that date are missing.  Perhaps she married and has a different last name, but I can find no marriage records and (thankfully) no death records either.

I hope Lana is alive and well “somewhere out there.”  If anyone knows, please let me know.  She would be 72 years of age if still among the living.

Lana’s parents were Gregor and Katherine Ratliff.  After Kansas, they went to Southern California, living in San Dimas, San Gregorio, and finally Fullerton, where they passed away.  I have not been able to locate their final resting places.

 

Skeeter Davis’s Letters to God

Skeeter DavisBack in 1963 I was in love with a pretty little blonde named Joe Anne Wade.  Joe Anne was a student at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California.  I was a freshman in college.  We loved a song by a singer named Skeeter Davis (pictured at right) who was big that year.  Skeeter sang a song called “The End of the World.”  It was about how someone feels when the one they love has departed their life.   When Joe Anne’s previous boyfriend got out of the army, she decided she liked him better than me.  Soon Skeeter’s song was more to me than pretty music:  it described exactly how I felt about losing Joe Anne.

The years have passed and I forgot about Skeeter Davis until tonight.  My wife and I were at the “Jazz Bash by the Bay,” a meeting of jazz bands  in Monterey, California.  In the last performance of the evening, the drummer of one group told a touching story.  His name is Danny Coots and he lives and records in Nashville. 

Danny said his wife had been a fan of Skeeter Davis.  Skeeter lived in Nashville and died there of breast cancer in 2004.   Mrs. Coots went to Skeeter’s estate sale and bought a bunch of things, including boxes.  Inside one of the boxes Danny found some letters that Skeeter had written to God in 1962 and 1963.  The letters were handwritten on hotel stationery and were written while Skeeter was touring.  They were her personal conversation with God, asking him why things had to happen the way they do, why she had to suffer the loss of someone’s love.  She spoke of touring as a popular singer and how lonely it was on the road.

Danny said that, in reading these letters, he felt that he was intruding on Skeeter’s privacy.  It was obvious that when she was pouring her heart out to God, she never intended that her writings would be read by anyone else.  Danny said that the content of Skeeter’s letters could best be summarized by the words to one of her most popular songs – “The End of the World.”

The Monterey jazz group ended their performance by playing and singing this song and by dedicating it to Skeeter Davis.  It was a touching thing to do.   The audience responded with a standing ovation.  Thank you, Danny Coots, for sharing this with all of us.

Following are two things:  the words to “The End of the World” and then a Youtube video of Skeeter singing the song.  Enjoy – then say a prayer for Skeeter Davis. 

THE END OF THE WORLD

Why does the sun go on shining
Why does the sea rush to shore
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
‘Cause you don’t love me any more

Why do the birds go on singing
Why do the stars glow above
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when I lost your love

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything’s the same as it was
I can’t understand, no, I can’t understand
How life goes on the way it does

Why does my heart go on beating
Why do these eyes of mine cry
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when you said goodbye

Why does my heart go on beating
Why do these eyes of mine cry
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when you said goodbye