I try to remember everything. At least everything that is worth remembering.
I love to write and, as you are all aware, I do so all too frequently. Sometimes I cobble words together that make for informative or enjoyable reading. Other times I post lines that will disgrace even the trash heap they are destined for. Along the way I am helped by those of my classmates that choose to give me something to read and build on. I don’t mean just the well-meaning sentiments and “thanks for sharing” that robotically appear. I mean the words from the heart that have substance. Over the years these “footnotes on life” have taken different forms but all of them have been meaningful. Shirley Anderson being so embarrassed in public speaking class as she stood on the podium at the lectern struggling with the recitation of “Casey at the bat”. Jerry Browning’s accounting of his and his brother Jimmy’s ordeal at birth in Lake Worth being incubated in an aquarium and the strength and courage exhibited by his mother was vividly related. Danne Pillsbury telling me that Dave Parham, as a boy, learned how to drive on one of Matter & Co.’s produce truck’s night-time runs to the Miami Produce Market. The list goes on and on …
Many of the heart warming or heart breaking stories I’ve heard haven’t come to me on the internet. Connie Berry’s candid, almost tearful, confession of insecurity when she and her recently divorced mother first moved to West Palm Beach. Sammy Bigbie relating to me about his brother Abner’s last day on earth and the circumstances that surrounded it. Driving, with Frank Madsen, past an old man walking along the side of a country road ….. only to be told after we had passed him by …. “that’s my father”. Nick Coppola’s and my unspoken agreement to never mention the day he found his 33-year-old son dead or what may have led up to it.
There has even been one of these experiences that I witnessed first hand. It was the summer soon after we graduated from PBHS. I was with Carl Reetz the morning after his father had died, just a few hours before, in an automobile accident. At the salvage yard, I watched as Carl pried one of his father’s bloodstained shoes out of the collapsed floorboard of a virtually unrecognizable Thunderbird convertible.
Recently, Tom Henriksen complimented me, paraphrasing either Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, or some sports writer named Paul Gallico, by telling me that we both knew that good writing was easy … “you just open a vein and bleed”. From a man whose e-mail address ends in @stanford.edu that was heavy. But let me challenge Tom and all the rest of you with a little test of your memories. Let’s see if a posting by one of our classmates years ago made as much of an impression on you as it did on me?
In the course of our everyday lives, when we tell people about ourselves, our families, our life experiences, and especially our up-bringing we seldom tell the whole truth. Psychiatrist earn their living giving us a place to “share” things we wouldn’t tell our spouse and certainly not our PBHS classmates. I would not want even hints of my life’s deepest secrets scattered in hundreds of places about the country even though the only injury they could ever cause would be to my pride. Few of us ever consider the fact that just by opening up and putting it on the line we might help others realize that they have not been alone in facing some dark moments in their past. What is so remarkable is that, in this case, the story was not even relayed to us as a hardship but as a story of love and understanding.
In 1945 we lived at Southridge, or as it was called “the Project” along with some people you all know, i.e., the Williams and Corbett’s, plus many others that we ended up going to school with thru the years. I never knew in the morning, when I walked into our living room, exactly who would be sleeping on the couch. My mother brought home lonely military guys she ran into, sometimes there would be 2 or 3. For all of you who knew my mother well, there are many reasons she might have brought them home, but I will leave it at that … “they might have been lonely.”
I have saved and reread these lines many times and the admiration I have for the person that wrote them is boundless. Do you remember who it was?
“the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places”
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!
View all posts by atthecampusshop