The Karen Series, Part 1 of 10

Since I’ve been recording family stories here in my blog I’ve decided I want to do a retrospective on an old friend of mine, Karen Daubenmire Wohrer. I want to do this for a number of reasons…

  1. She was my first “sister-in-law” back in the early 70s
  2. She was an incredible and lively person like few you ever meet
  3. She died of breast cancer 17 years ago in April of 1998 just after turning 49 years old
  4. I want to tell her daughters the fun and fascinating things I remember about her so they will have a record of it
  5. I loved her dearly

Now I have to caution you about that last statement…

Yes, I came to love her dearly. But it was NOT love at first sight between us and it took a good bit of time to get to that point. But it was a great journey and a story worth recording. And I will make as many blog posts here as I need to so that I get her down in writing. She is worth it.

And keep in mind that these recollections are how I remember them and may not be how others do. But they are my stories and I’m sticking to them! Take them with a grain of salt if you have to.

Sooo….

When I first met Karen I was dating her brother Bill. One night Bill said we were going to Karen’s apartment to babysit her toddler daughter, Beth Anne so Karen could go out with friends for a while. I said “great!” because I loved kids and was all for it.

When I first laid eyes on Karen I was stunned. She looked so much like Bill that I felt like she had his face on a girl’s body! And what a character she was. She was loud and sassy and sort of frightened me with her exuberance. And even though she was only a couple years older than me, she had a young child. I didn’t quite know what to think. But it was circa 1970 after all.

And that wasn’t the whole story.

As I got to know the family I learned that Karen – and her MOTHER (also my boyfriend’s mother!) – had been pregnant at the same time. While Karen was a teenaged high school student, her mom was expecting surprise baby number five. And if that wasn’t shocking enough, they both went into labor within a day of each other. But it doesn’t end there…

No… mother and daughter ended up sharing a hospital room with their newborns! Karen’s baby Beth was just a day older than Karen’s own new younger sister Kristen. And get this… Karen wanted to name her baby some variation of the name “Christian” after a dear friend she had lost in the Vietnam War. But since her mother had beat her to the punch and named her baby Kristen, she waited until Karen was asleep and filled out her papers, naming Karen’s baby Beth Anne.

Have you ever????

Now this sounds very dramatic – and it was – but by the time I came along a few years later it was old news and something everyone joked about. Both Beth and Kristen were adorable toddlers that everyone loved and doted on and I was soon among that score.

Before long, Bill and I got married and I became one of the Daubenmire clan. For better or worse. And as far as Karen was concerned in those early days, it was usually worse.

Karen was much more adventurous than I was and she was in the “wild-oat-sowing” time that she missed as a teenager. Plus she knew absolutely everyone in town and everything they could possibly have been doing. She worked full time but she was always out and about as well. Although, I can honestly say that looking back, she was a normal girl who just liked to have a little fun. I was too timid to do the same. But I would go to Karen’s to babysit Beth and be freaked out by her shenanigans with her friends. However, Karen was a natural politician and would keep me calm while she went about her business. And she always swore me to secrecy about anything that might incriminate her with her parents.

I don’t mean to make Karen sound like any sort of rebel. She was not. We just weren’t on the same page to begin with and I was always a bit wary of her. In addition, I was always trying to get along with everyone and Karen had no problem calling me out for being such a wuss. She literally scared the bejeebers out of me. But not for long…

Karen might have been acting out a bit back then but she had a heart of gold, which I was soon to discover. And that’s what makes our story so interesting. Because Karen did take me under her wing and was the best friend in the world – once I could catch up with her.

So the reason I want to be frank here is because I want her daughters to know how she was as I saw her – not some fairy tale person that didn’t really exist.

Karen was the real deal. And yes, I sometimes wanted to shove her down in a dark alley for being such a wild card. But it wasn’t long before she was one of my best friends in the world. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Here’s a photo of the high school Karen attended in the late sixties… (the same one Bill and I graduated from in June 1969.)

1967 LHS

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