The College Money Guys - July 2019

JULY 2019

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HOISTING THE STARS AND STRIPES THE WAY WE CELEBRATE OUR STORIES

If you’re a long-time reader of this newsletter, you probably know two things about me. I like to decorate my house for the holidays, and I’m not shy of my patriotism. So, of course, I go all out for the Fourth of July! In fact, last year I was lucky enough to find some old- fashioned bunting in red, white, and blue that really took our celebrations to the next level. But, of course, the most important part of the preparation is hoisting the Stars and Stripes on our front lawn. For me, this isn’t just about national pride — it’s about nostalgia. Believe it or not, my parents had a permanent flagpole outside our house when I was growing up. And, to be clear, we didn’t live on a ranch or in a mansion; this was the suburbs — I’m sure the neighbors hated it on windy days. But regardless, we always flew the American flag, followed by the Texas Lone Star, and finally the flag of the University of Houston. To me, the sound of those banners fluttering in the wind has always felt like home. I’m prone to thinking back on my family this time of year, and not just because of that flag pole. As much as Independence Day is a time to honor the history of our nation, it’s also a chance for each of us to celebrate our family’s place within that history. Just looking back through my family tree, you see the disparate branches that nevertheless fall under the banner of the American experience. One side of my family traces their roots back to the opening shots of the U.S. Revolution, helping drive out the British and forge the nation we celebrate today. On the other side

are Irish immigrants who fled the poverty and starvation of their homeland in the hopes of a better life in America. Instead, most of them found poor working conditions and discrimination, but they kept working, eventually making their way along the railroads into the Midwest. It’s there, in Fort Scott, Kansas, where these two very different family histories met. My grandfather, Charles “Charlie” King, worked on the railroad like so many of his family members before him. At the time, bars in the Kansas area still hung signs that read “No Dogs or Irish,” and he has a picture to prove it. But Charlie was still able to make a decent living — he had a great mind for mechanics and knew every part of the locomotives he worked on. Then, he met a woman named Yvonne. Yvonne was from a well-to-do family in nearby Pittsburg, Kansas, and Charlie certainly wasn’t the only one who thought she was pretty. In fact, she was a beauty contest winner — and exactly the last person you’d imagine hanging out with a soot-covered, Irish railway worker. I wish I knew what unlikely event led

these two to fall in love, but I do know that neither family was happy about it. In the face of religious and social pressures working to pull them apart, the two eloped to Victoria, Texas, and started a family. Charlie put his mechanical know-how to good use, and eventually became the chief mechanic for DuPont. The former railway man had an office overlooking Hermann Park, and he was able to pay for his three children to go to college, including my mother. All three went to — you guessed it — the University of Houston. So, in a way, this story really does come back to that flagpole in my childhood front yard. Flying proudly was the banner of the school that educated my mother, above it the flag of the state where her parents built their lives together, and atop everything, the Stars and Stripes of the nation that makes countless unlikely stories like Charlie and Yvonne’s possible.

God Bless America,

–Bra nnon Lloyd

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