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  • Writer's pictureDiana McDaniel Hampo

Playground Love in Hot Springs

Updated: Apr 14, 2020


I wear a tiny gold elephant on a simple chain almost everyday. If you know me, you'll know this story and you have seen my elephant.


This story starts as so many of mine do. My mom, Ann Stell and my dad, Irven Granger McDaniel, fell in love in third grade at Jones School in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was during the depression and times were really tough for my dad's family; his father was an architect. But my mom's father was a surgeon so they really didn't struggle.


After months of playing together on the play ground at Jones School, Irven gathered up his nerve and asked Dr. Stell if he could walk Ann home after school, everyday. It's probably a one mile walk.


Reluctantly, my grandfather agreed, though he wasn't a big fan of the rough cut little boy hanging around his beautiful daughter. So, just to be on the safe side, he insisted their maid, Iolla, follow behind the two eight year old's. She was to stay no more than a block behind. and there would be no holding hands!


Irven was thrilled and proud that first day. Of course he carried her books, but half way home he used to say, "I realized this rich, beautiful girl would never love a poor boy like me. So I made up a lie. I told her my uncle owned a circus with seven elephants and the girl who married me would get her very own elephant."



Mom complained with a smile all the time, that she married Irven under false pretense. "I never got my damn elephant!" she laughed. So on almost every anniversary Dad gave her an elephant of some sort, including the beautiful gold elephant I wear almost ever day.


Ann Stell and Irven McDaniel were married for almost thirty years before he died suddenly in his early 50's.


I wear my golden elephant it for strength, I wear it for wisdom and I wear it for love, always wishing my own four children could have known Ann Stell and Irven.


If you like this story I hope you'll read the others I've posted here and share.


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