Two American kids doin’ the best they can…
By Jim Arber
For The Vista
Most Wednesday and Saturday evenings, if you’re lucky, you may just catch sight of Jackie and Ben Ryba in Legends or Stonehenge.
In fact, they may have been the first to start an occupy movement right here in Legends or Stonehenge. They hate to miss Wednesdays at Legends because as Jackie says, “The chicken is world class and the Martini’s are a bargain.”
These two aren’t hard to spot because they may be the only ones in the room that are “dressed” for dinner. What a great idea. Sure beats folks that look like they just got off the lawnmower.
If Jackie and Ben are there they’ll be lookin good — and always in color-matching attire.
Another clue would be Martini glasses. As many of you know, cocktails when dining out is a long standing tradition in some parts of good old America. For J & B, I believe it is a way to celebrate the evening and another blessed week here in the Glade.
Jackie does limit herself to two Martini’s because she says that any more than that just makes her “too sexy.”
There is a great American tune by John Cougar Mellencamp titled: “ Jack and Diane” that speaks of “Two American Kids Doin the Best They Can.” Could it be that Jack and Diane weren’t really fictional and somehow found their way here to the Glade? Who knows?
Now I suppose it could be said that Jackie is a bit ornery. Not mean spirited, but ornery — and that can only be said because down here in Ol Dixie ornery is mostly a compliment.
Maybe Jackie could be described as the Cumberland County Queen of the quip. That would not be far from the mark.
Not surprisingly her husband Ben, whom she still expresses her heartfelt love for after all these years, is an almost perfect compliment.
Ben it seems is the perfect straight man. Jackie the quick witted Irish chick and Ben the stoic Polish dude. Perfectly complementary.
Before retiring up there in the great Ohio they had five children and now have six grandchildren — all of who are scattered around up North.
Ben worked for NASA and then got transferred to Lima, Ohio with the Department of Defense. As for Jackie, she was busy making babies, raising babies, cooking, cleaning, uplifting, counseling and more. She is quick to point of that a woman’s work is never done and who is to argue?
They finally reached the point in their lives when most responsibilities were finished. They moved to the Glade from Lima in 1987 after a short search for a place to settle in for the rest of their days.
Jackie wanted Florida but after a short visit, “Himself” as she calls Ben when he gets his way, “Himself” said “too many bugs, too crowded, too hot.”
Who’s to argue? Not Jackie, Himself has spoken.
They looked around a bit and finally made their way to Fairfield Glade. It was love at first sight. They bought property, had a house built and have been living happily ever since.
They attend St. Frances church faithfully. Ben has assumed a role of handyman and helps as Jackie says, “His many Honey’s.” Apparently, Ben’s clientele may be mostly ladies.
They also volunteer at the Elk’s Lodge occasionally, do Bingo at the Windridge Nursing Home, and are Greeters at their Church among some other fine and useful things.
One secret about Jackie that most do not know is … (Drum Role) … She is a prolific poet.
That’s not hard to understand as she is the niece of Eugene O’Neal the noted Irish playwright. It’s the Irish genes as Jackie would say.
Since Fall is only around the corner it’s only appropriate to include one of her poems:
The air is crisp
The leaves are down
All my flowers are turning brown
The days are short
The nights are long
The birds don’t want to sing a song
They say to walk briskly
It’s good for you
But all my toes are turning blue.
My ears are red
My nose gets cold
I really must be getting old
I do not like fall
Give me spring and summer
Cold weather – it’s a bummer
Ah yes, vintage Jackie. Maybe she’ll get famous one day just like Gramma Moses.
Good food, good conversation and the opportunity to trade barbs with some of their many, many friends are some of the many things they look forward to.
By the way, if you want to trade barbs with Jackie you better brace yourself. Jackie is quick, to the point and sometimes painfully insightful. She just has a way of hitting that nail squarely on the head.
Like they say, “If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Guess you could say that Jackie is a hammer.
Jackie and Ben have been married for 55 years now, the last 19 of them right here in the Glade.
Throughout those many years they have come to know, to love and to be loved by many, many Glade residents.
Their evenings “on the town” have almost become a tradition.
Should you spot Jackie and Ben be sure to stop and say hello. They would love to meet you and you will surely enjoy them as they are delightful folks. They still enjoy life, are “committed to the Lord” and have an abiding love for one another.