In some grade at either Southboro or Conniston I met Beckham. He was not a physically impressive boy and my first contact with him came in the schoolyard as I was pulling some big guy off him. “Bullying” was not a common term in our era but it would have applied to what I interrupted.
Beckham and I did not become bosom buddies as a result of my playground rescue. We seldom spoke or even saw each other but the other boys knew we were friends and he seemed to be a much happier kid from that day forward.
How many years passed before I saw Beckham again, I’m not sure. I was visiting a friend or relative at Good Samaritan Hospital for some reason in the early 60’s and as I was walking down the hall to leave the building, a nurse approached me.
“A friend of yours ask; if you would stop by in his room?”
“A friend, who?” I responded.
Beckham was in his early twenties but he looked much older and he had lost too much weight. He had that yellowish pallor that we associate with a liver disorder and his voice was weak. He was in a semi-private room but I don’t remember any other patient.
It would have been difficult talking to him if I had been the best friend he had on earth but with only one long-ago experience in common, it was painful. We made the expected small talk and Beckham soon began to tell me what had brought him to where he was.
Whenever he left school he went to work for Tylander Lumber Co. His work involved the soaking of sheets of plywood in a woodlife like solution to provide weather proofing. In the process of doing this he routinely spent hours each day with his naked hands and arms submerged in the liquid and handling the soaked product. He wasn’t sure, nor at that time was anyone else, but he thought his work may, in his words, have “made me sick”.
The feeling I had, standing there looking into his sad eyes, was the same I had had years before on the playground but this time I was helpless. There was no bully I could pull off of Beckham. I cried and so did he. The bottom line was that because few people had ever even heard of a carcinogen, my friend was dying and he didn’t know why.
When I left I told him I would “stop back by in a day or two”. I never did.
Can anyone tell me more about Beckham Walling? I believe it might offer me a bit of closure if you can.
profile: definition ....
meaning: 1. a short description of someone's life, work, character, and information about the person's interests and beliefs.
meaning: 2. an outline of that same person's face as it is seen when someone is looking at them from the side. If you see someone in profile, you only see them from one side.
From these two definitions I can only conclude one thing: profiles as such and offered by job seekers, politicians, and aspiring writers, risk falling into very obvious categorical traps ..... they will be hopelessly self-edifying and boldly "two faced"!
To avoid these pitfalls I intend to state an illusion and immediately counter it with the fact. If the latter is too candid or disturbing, just disregard it! This will allow me to come off (in your estimation) as the fine upstanding, clean cut, like-minded, and adventurous elderly gentleman you were hoping for.
Illusion: I'm an accomplished "sailor" and have spent over 50 years routinely putting out to sea, first under canvas and in my latter years with only the diesel iron wind at my back.
Fact: In all of my voyages I've never spent more than eight or nine full nights underway and that was only because, over open water, Walker's Cay was too far from Palm City or Havana from Key West. In reality, as the sun begins to set I'm usually tucked into some snug little cove, the hook set, and an icy drink in my hand. I'm not an accomplished sailor, I'm a fantastic "anchorer"!
Illusion: I'm a semi-talented "writer" that creates interesting characters in situations and settings that, sometimes, move a story along.
Fact: In most cases, I am the "character" and I've already lived the story. Then all I need to do is figure out how to just pretend I'm sitting in some sleazy dive in the Keys after a few beers and start to tell my story to ........ (only problem is: .......... is it “i” before “e” except at sea?)
Illusion: Because I am openly conservative and speak with a Southern drawl, I'm looked upon as a right-wing good-ole-boy that picnics under Confederate monuments, lives and breathes Fox News, drives a gun-racked Ford 150, and wears his "Make America Great Again" hat to bed every night.
Fact: I'm very discouraged with what is going on in Washington in general and at the White House in particular. I supported its current occupant and, seeing what options are shaping up on the horizon, I may be forced to continue doing so but he(and we) could do so much better. Do I have to surrender my judgment and intellect to remain a Republican?
I won't dwell on the President's Smoot-Hawley like policies on trade and tariffs ... time and the markets will be the final arbiters and greed on my part forces me to hope for the best. Needless to say, I endorse his impact on the Judicial Branch of Government and I could care less what next week's "horndog rumor" and accompanying hush-money payoff have in store .... I'll leave that to his poor wife and "Morning Joe"! But I do have one pet peeve: we don't need a $5,000,000,000.00 wall to keep out Guatemalans and their Central American neighbors. They only constitute the latest installment in 4 centuries of migration to our shores and may be the hardest working bunch yet assembled. The hardships they are fleeing are not unlike the pogroms against Jews in the Middle East or the 19th century Irish potato famine. The seemingly demeaning statement of: "how would the roof ever get patched or the grass cut without them?" or a variation thereof has been directed at virtually every American's fore-bearers. Unless you stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock or the swampy landing at Jamestown, there was always somebody "better than you" waiting to curse your arrival ……… or put you in chains.
On the flip side of all of this, and without inserting its own Illusion, we don't need porn starlets and their attorneys being featured on Sunday morning talk shows answering pointed questions from wax haired "contributors" about our Presidents libido! What we do desperately need is a media culture that will demand the resurrection and employment of an old concept ...... news REPORTING! On my home cable TV hookup; Fox News is on channel 44 and MSNBC resides on 42. The Guide tells me that the channel between them ...43 ... is dedicated to financial news but that can't be true. The call letters may be CNBC but, judging from the disparity in the adjacent editorializing, it must be Star Wars! ..... the distance between the adjoining galaxies is so "far, far, away"?
Over the past few months I've become a reluctant, almost incarcerated, soccer fan. The game is played, not with a pitch .... but on one, lasts an hour and a half, and often ends with a score of nil-nil. I endure all this because my sole source of, even remotely, unbiased television news and happenings in the good old USA can be found only on the British Broadcasting Corp ..... go Cardiff City!
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