Tonight’s interview concludes the 4th of July series at Bacon; thanks for joining me! (I’ll be taking a little time off following tonight’s post – back before long).

I’m delighted to wrap things up with Lawson and Mary Lauren Allen and their celebration of the 4th, Center Hill Lake style…

Hi Lawson and Mary Lauren! Great to *see you! What will your family do to celebrate July 4th?

Mary Lauren and Lawson:  Our family will celebrate July 4th at Center Hill Lake with family and friends. We enjoy wearing red, white & blue and grilling/cooking good ‘ole southern food at our lake home, followed by watching Hurricane Marina fireworks from our back porch. It is beautiful seeing, from above, all the night lights of the boats sitting on the lake. The boys also like to shoot off a few fireworks as well! The 4th of July is a celebratory holiday for us as we are proud to be United States citizens.

What do you remember about July 4th as a kid?

Mary Lauren:  I remember running around my grandparents’ home with sparklers in hand alongside my cousins. “Dodie” was one of fourteen children and my grandfather had 3 siblings, so there were over 100 family members there at times. We swam, played tennis, rode go-carts in the field, ate Kentucky Fried Chicken, and shot off our own fireworks. I always feel that “great family love” at this time of year, as we always celebrate with lots of family!

Lawson:  Our Hyde Park neighborhood would always organize a big 4th of July celebration. We got permission from the City of Corpus Christi, Texas to close off the streets for the day. The day started with a flag raising at one of the homes, followed by the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America. The admiral from the Naval Base was always our guest of honor to give some patriotic remarks and then serve as the Grand Marshal of the street parade that was full of kids on their decorated bicycles, anyone with a convertible car and others that just wanted to dress up and march with posters, fun hats and festive attire. All of the neighborhood kids went to one of the homes each year to swim, while the parents enjoyed mimosas and merriment, and then the festivities ended after a wonderful BBQ lunch for all of the families.

How has your summer been so far? What’s been the hardest thing about life in the time of corona? What has been the best thing?

Mary Lauren:  Summer has started off with a different vibe, having missed celebrating some milestones in this time of not being able to congregate during the quarantine. Thankfully, the temperature has remained comfortable to truly enjoy the outdoors at any time of the day. The hardest thing about life with Corona is having to stay distant from our parents. I am a southern “hugger,” so it’s been a change not being able to hug, touch or give a pat on the back to show love in this Corona time. Also being a rule follower, the 6 ft distance guideline does not promote such signs of affection, so I hope there will be a vaccine soon.

The best thing about Corona is spending quality time with our three sons. Two of them spent some time in Music City with remote work and school from Dallas. It has been a blessing to have all five us under one roof, enjoying our new home. We have loved playing card games, solving puzzles, watching a variety of movie genres, learning the rules of pickle ball and having some competitive games, as well as engaging in meaningful “porch time” conversations.

Lawson:  Summer has been an interesting change of pace. We have been blessed to spend many weekends at the lake, as well as a few trips to 30-A. The hardest part of coronavirus is limited interaction with friends and family. Not being able to visit my mother who has struggled with some other unrelated illnesses, has without a doubt been the most difficult part of the pandemic. On the bright side, we have been able to spend a significant amount of time with our oldest son who is out of college. He is working remotely but has been able to spend some quality time with us in Nashville, the lake and in Florida.

What has surprised you about yourself or others in the time of corona?

Mary Lauren:  Being an extrovert, I want to pack as many things as I can in each day. I am an “early bird,” meeting friends at the gym or at Percy Warner to walk before sunrise. It brings me great joy to start my day before the sun is up. However in “Corona time,” I have learned to enjoy the less stressful, slower pace of life.

Lawson:  It has been interesting to see the various reactions to the severity of the disease. Some friends have taken all precautions with the greatest of seriousness, while many others do not seem to let the current environment change their lifestyles in any way. Being in uncharted waters, I have learned to respect everyone’s views on this environment, as we are all just trying to juggle the ever-changing news and guidance, as best we can.

How are your sons doing?

Mary Lauren and Lawson:  We are blessed that our boys have all stayed healthy. Harrison has been working remotely since March but still staying very busy. His remote work has enabled him to spend a lot of time here without having to take precious vacation days, as an analyst at Crow Holdings in Dallas. Frist has been home some, but he is now back in Dallas with a great summer internship with a healthcare company. Frist has most enjoyed picking up his guitar again after many years of gathering dust, learning several new songs. He is excited about his upcoming senior year at SMU and hopes that he can enjoy many of the traditions of school, despite the pandemic. Cole is also having a busy summer with summer sports and looking forward to his senior year of high school. He has been the ringleader of creative home games during quarantine, and he has been running numerous summer camps during recent weeks for younger kids.

What do you think they’re learning in the time of corona? In terms of life lessons…

Mary Lauren:  They are learning to be structured and disciplined with their time, as well as serving the greater good with social distancing and responsible quarantine behavior.

Lawson:  I think that our sons have hopefully learned that hanging out so much with mom and dad is not so bad. The slower pace of life has also made them realize that it can be fun to take afternoon walks, work on a puzzle and spend more time reading instead of technology-related entertainment.

What do you worry about most right now?

Mary Lauren:  One worry is the decline of patriotism in our country. I grew up saying The Pledge of Allegiance in school each day. I have always taken great pride in respecting the flag and our country. My uncle was the Senate Majority Leader under President George W. Bush, and one of my most treasured gifts is a flag flown over the United States Capitol given to me by him. I love history and appreciate all the men and women who got us where we are today. We have a great country where we are blessed to live!

Lawson:  I also worry about the deterioration of patriotism. Our country has many weaknesses and much work to do, as highlighted in recent months. However, living in the land of the free is a privilege that I feel is being lost with a total focus on our weaknesses. Let’s work diligently to improve all of our flaws, but let’s not forget the blessings of being Americans that are united under God.

How do you relax?

Mary Lauren:  My favorite way of relaxing is in our outdoor hot tub. It is a delightful way to unwind in the evenings with great conversation under the moon and stars.

Lawson:  I have found that this pandemic has freed up more time to walk in the Warner Parks, read for fun and watch some old movies. My biggest escape for relaxation is spending time at Center Hill lake. There is nothing better than time on the water and the slower pace of life there.

You’ve always traveled to extraordinary places in years past – Machu Picchu, the Galapagos, Thailand and Africa come to mind. Will you travel this summer?

Mary Lauren:  Many of our most treasured times are our summer travels. We enjoy vacationing and seeing new sites with each other and our extended family. It is such a gift to all to carve out that time for each other. This summer, our family is “road tripping” rather than flying. We have vacationed at 30A in Florida with our boys, as well as just returning from taking a group of rising seniors in high school. I wanted to “kick off” senior year with some bonding and good times, especially in this “corona time” of hoping that school and football will start on time. Originally, we were planning to go to the Amazon to see pink dolphins with Lawson’s family, but that trip was cancelled. We were also hoping to go see the Grand Canyon this summer to help celebrate our 50th birthdays. It is on my Bucket List, so hopefully we can do soon after Corona, as we have decided to stay close to home for the rest of the summer.

Lawson:  We have been blessed to share in great travel experiences around the world, as my parents thought that exposing their grandchildren to the amazing cultures and traditions of the world was one of the greatest gifts that they could provide. However, in the age of COVID-19, we postponed a number of trips to the future. We had hoped to have some amazing experiences, as Mary Lauren and I both turned 50 this year. However, we are looking forward to a fun international trip next summer as Frist and Cole graduate from college and high school, respectively.

What are you reading/watching/listening to? 

Mary Lauren:  I am reading Michael Pillsbury’s The Hundred-Year Marathon & listening to “A Second Opinion” podcast. Living in a home with boys, I tend to be not in charge of the TV clicker in our home, so I watch whatever the others are watching. I am currently writing 50 letters to 50 people who have most impacted my life, as it is a good time to reminisce in this 50th birthday year.


Lawson:  I am currently reading The Social Animal by David Brooks, as I always enjoy his books. I have watched a lot of movies and TV series, few of which I feel are worthy as “must watch” shows. My goal in the coming weeks is to go back and watch the Oscar Best Picture winners that I have never seen.

Do you think it is possible to come out of this period of time with greater cohesion as a society?

Mary Lauren:  I am an optimist and a believer, so I hope so! However, I am concerned about some of the violent riots, destruction of property and political divisiveness. As Winston Churchill said, “A nation that forgets its past has no future. “ I want to be hopeful but think greater cohesion in the near term is unlikely because the divisions run so deep.

Lawson:  It is a difficult question. During the pandemic, we have all been isolated and largely surrounding ourselves with the news sources that we “most trust” and that happen to only to conform with our “core beliefs”. Now, more than ever, is a time for an open dialogue and willingness to listen, but these interactions are difficult when we are all isolated. I want to believe that things will get better, and I think that they will over time.

Okay let’s finish up with the speed dating round!

Favorite beverage in the time of corona?
Lawson: Lime Topo-Chico
Mary Lauren: Homemade smoothies

Greatest aggravation?
Lawson: Not being able to buy hand sanitizer anywhere
Mary Lauren: Fake news

Favorite time of day?
Lawson: Sunset
Mary Lauren: Sunrise

Eating out yet?
Lawson: Just starting to each out some for lunch, but still primarily picking up and UberEats
Mary Lauren: Yes in Florida. No in Nashville, but supporting local restaurants

Most proud of?
Lawson and Mary Lauren: Our three sons

Least proud of?
Lawson: Not working out more during quarantine
Mary Lauren: Not experimenting more with new recipes during quarantine

Most encouraged by?
Lawson: The dedication of healthcare workers, brave first responders and faith leaders
Mary Lauren: Our favorite pastors and being able to watch several virtual church services on Sundays

You have a terrific family, and I hope you enjoy a terrific evening, Lawson and Mary Lauren!

Happy 4th of July, dear Bacon readers!! See you in a couple of weeks…