Category Archives: A Pocket of Resistance

The Elephants in the Room

i am posting this here because i wanted to make it available for everyone i know. My entry when i shared my brother’s post on Facebook is included.

Once more, thank you, Joe.

https://firebrandmag.com/articles/salvaging-catholic-spirit-in-the-context-of-contempt?fbclid=IwAR3bSBF7L0KcSbvzkVDuVsYhwX4f4fA_eXmU6DXDNgJCrmTLLH29E29Cib0

Thank you, Brother. i wanted to add my thoughts, not only about my sadness over where my church is headed, but how our country, our world are in the grass below the elephants. But Donald Haynes writes it all better than i could, and if he chose to add his words, Joe would go deeper and more accurately into the problem. i hope those who read this, think and contemplate how they might change for better facing and solving this problem. i am sad, deeply sad. Thanks again, Joe.

Henry the Hammer: A Good Man

When i heard yesterday afternoon, i choked back a few tears. Then i started checking out the news, the sports, the social media, and this morning, the newspaper.

He came from another era. He not only lasted but succeeded in becoming a legend, a history maker in the next era and the next.

i shall not try to add to the tributes for Henry Aaron, except two.

Today, driving to the VA for my first COVID vaccination, i heard a quote i thought captured what the man accomplished: Muhammed Ali once said that Hank Aaron was, “The only man I idolize more than myself.”

The other quote which has been replayed and quoted in writing numerous times after the sad news broke yesterday came from Vin Scully announcing the game for the Dodgers when the Atlanta Brave became the most prolific home run hitter in major league baseball and still holds that record if you don’t count the steroid enhanced performance of Barry Bonds. When Aaron hit his blast to go past Babe Ruth, Scully announced:

A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. And it is a great moment for all of us, particularly Henry Aaron, who was met at home plate by not only every member of the Braves, but by his father and mother.”

That pretty much tells how much this man meant to baseball, our country, and the world.

i have provided the link to today’s “Sean of the South” column. He covers the emotion better than i could. But even more impactful for me was the quote of Howie Bedell at the end of the column. It echoed how a number of other quotes have described Henry Aaron. It is also the description i found to be the best for my father, and what i hope will eventually be subscribed to me.

“…Hank Aaron was a good man.”

https://seandietrich.com/hank-aaron/

Thanks to Don Williams

About a thousand years ago, there was this part time dee jay at a small AM-day time/FM radio station in a small town in Tennessee working his way through college and running the AM side on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. One of the songs he played affected him deeply and he became enamored with the Pozo Seco Singers work. But he left for the sea and the Pozo Seco Singers albums were simply in his fairly large music library. Then later, in a very dark time in his life when what he had was no longer his, he discovered one of the Pozo Seco singers had become a single act, and the ex-dee jay, now a mariner heeded the songs of Don Williams with a deeper understanding.

Today, this old curmudgeon who used to be a dee jay and still longs to return to the sea was about to write about his dislike for big government, greed, politics, and the lack of respect for and understanding of others he keeps seeing in this world.

Then tonight, he went out to grill a kebob dish his wife had created. He took his bluetooth device and old iPod containing most of his music library,  a glass of an unpretentious red wine. As the grill  heated up, he selected the artist Don Williams on his iPod.

About half way through the grilling, Don Williams’ song came on that hit home for the former dee jay, the guy who had his life course altered in mid-course and was now a bona fide curmudgeon decided his rant wouldn’t do much good.

The song?

“I Believe In You”

The lyrics:

I don’t believe in superstars
Organic food and foreign cars
I don’t believe the price of gold
The certainty of growing old
That right is right and left is wrong
That north and south can’t get along
That east is east and west is west
And being first is always best
But I believe in love
I believe in babies
I believe in mom and dad
And I believe in you
Well I don’t believe that heaven waits
For only those who congregate
I like to think of God as love
He’s down below, he’s up above
He’s watching people everywhere
He knows who does and doesn’t care
And I’m an ordinary man
Sometimes I wonder who I am
But I believe in love
I believe in music
I believe in magic
And I believe in you
I know with all my certainty
What’s going on with you and me
Is a good thing
It’s true, I believe in you
I don’t believe virginity
Is as common as it used to be
In working days and sleeping nights
That black is black and white is white
That Superman and Robin Hood
Are still alive in Hollywood
That gasoline’s in short supply
The rising cost of getting by
But I believe in love
I believe in old folks
I believe in children
I believe in you
I believe in love
I believe in babies
I believe in mom and dad
And I believe in you.
And in case you would like to listen to song i consider one of my mantras:

An Impolitic Story About a Piano Player

I have been recording some off-color and impolitic posts here over the years, even recently. It has always bothered me that there are folks who read my stuff who might be offended. There are also a bunch of folks like me who find these things funny with no intent to insult or offend anyone.

So this afternoon, it struck me there could be a way to warn the more sensitive (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being sensitive) such an impolitic or offensive post would follow.

You see, when i was growing up, i was in awe, worshipped girls. i thought they were pure, beautiful, chaste, without guile, innocent, sweet, and incapable of doing or thinking what all of those crazy boys, like me, could do and could think. i would have never, ever told them an off-color joke, never cussed in front of them, never made a crude or vulgar statement to them. They were on a pedestal.

Well, i have since discovered that is not always the way it is. My wife loves to hear ribald jokes. i’ve found out there are others as well. But i don’t know women enough to tell which is which…or is it whom is whom?

But for my purposes here, if you are a woman (or man for that matter) who believes she (or he) fits my description of my youngster perception of women, i will precede the off-color, impolitic, or sexist jokes with the warning “Not for the young ladies of my youth.”

This post is NOT FOR LADIES OF MY YOUTH:

i am pretty sure JD Waits told me this joke. Thinking it was a great joke, i told it to Maureen, who lost it completely, laughing her famed laugh so hard, i thought the entire neighborhood might be laughing at her laughing.

This guy comes into a bar, carrying a very large briefcase. He sits at the bar and orders a martini. As the bartender is working on the martini, the guy opens the briefcase pulls out a very small piano and bench. Then he pulls out a foot tall man, and the little guy sits at the piano and begins to play incredible music as the bartender serves the guy his martini.

“Wow, that’s incredible,” the bartender marvels, “How did you get this guy?”

“Well,” the guy explains, “I was walking along a beach and i found this funny looking bottle,” pulling the bottle out of the briefcase and setting it on the bar, before continuing, “i picked it up and rubbed it and this voice told me i would be granted one wish.

“This is what I got,” pointing to the the tiny piano player.”

“Incredible!” the bartender exclaimed and then asked, “Could i try that with the bottle?”

“Sure,” the guy agreed, handing the bartender the bottle.

The bartender took the bottle, went over into a corner, rubbed the bottled and responded to the voice.

Nothing happened. The bartender was perplexed but cleaned the bar while the guy was drinking his martini and the little guy was playing another beautiful piano etude. The bartender went outside to take out some trash and came back in muttering to the guy, “This is incredible, i wished for a million bucks. Then i go outside and the sky is filled with ducks, an incredible number of ducks. There must have been a million ducks.”

And the guy at the bar says, “You think i wished for a 12-inch pianist?”

Now that’s the joke. Maureen loved it and wanted to share. A few days later, we met our friends Jim and Sharon Hileman for dinner. After we finished the main course and ordered dessert, Maureen asked me if she could tell the joke to Sharon and Jim and i said of course.

Although excited, Maureen set up the punch line perfectly, pretty much telling the story as described above.

Then she got to the punchline and said:

“Do you think I wished for a foot tall piano player.”

Sharon and Jim looked puzzled, very puzzled, and i tried to explain, but i was laughing so hard i had fallen on the floor.

Thanks Not Yet Complete

i am really quite blown away. When the first birthday wishes began popping up in mail, email, and Facebook, i vowed i would obey my mama and reply individually to everyone. Thus far, i have responded to about 50 during a full birthday, including a golf outing at Coronado arranged by Maureen. It was lovely, but took almost the full day.

Although i  remain dedicated to fulfilling my vow, it’s going to take some time, AND with the infernal machinations of this thing called social media, i often lose things…you know, like a 77-year old man. To add to that, i received somewhere over 200 well wishes, far beyond what i thought i might get. Oh yeh, i still have to send my thank-you notes for Christmas gifts. My mama would get mad if i didn’t.

If you don’t immediately get a reply from me, be assured i did read yours and my response should be coming. If you never get a reply from me, know it was not intentional. It’s lost somewhere in the la la cloud thingy. Don’t blame me. Blame my age.

It was a wonderful day. i decided i did not feel like 77. Sometimes i feel like i’m 50. Sometimes, at least 50% if not more, i feel like 130.

And thanks to all of you. i cannot express how great it made me feel.

77

i’m jumping the gun on this one just to get it done as it looks like tomorrow is going to be a full day. It’s actually about 14 1/2 hours early. My bride is treating me well for this one. Today, to celebrate this event and because one of our cleaning ladies has contracted the current plague, i mopped our floors, about three-quarters of our home.

Maureen managed to get a tee time for the two of us on one of my favorite courses. Undoubtedly, i will be treated to a wonderful  dinner tomorrow night. i will be most appreciative.

But passing along some of Mother’s recipes to my niece, Danielle Boggs, in the last couple of days, i began to think about birthday dinners. There have been many memorable ones. But tomorrow night, i wish Maureen, Blythe, Sarah, Jason, and Sam were with Mother and Daddy sitting at the oak table in the breakfast niche on Castle Heights Avenue, eating Mother’s meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fried corn, a fresh tomato, and biscuits with ice tea.

Now that would make my day.

Keep smiling.

Today.

77.

With one more 7, I could win the jackpot.

Ain’t gonna happen.

With the turn of the clock, I have made it to older than every male relative of mine, besides my father.

Grandfathers, uncles, all passed away at 76 or earlier.

i have twenty years to become as old as my mother when she passed just shy of her 97th. i would have to live another two years after that to reach the age of my father when he passed just shy of 99.

“Good genes,” they say.

“Yeh, but they didn’t live as wild a life as i did,” i respond.

Ain’t gonna happen.

Oh sure, I hope I make it that long, if for nothing else to see how my grandson Sam turns out in his thirties. 

Ain’t gonna happen.

There is a freedom that has grown upon me as I grow older. It’s damn close to reaching its apex. 

I know there will be a point where I don’t think so well anymore. I can already perceive this decline in rationality, good thinking, is upon me.

 i have a reel-to-reel tape of The Dillard’s album, “Live, Almost.” Rob Dewitt let me tape his album when we were shipmates on our first ship, the USS Hawkins (DD 788)  — Bob returned to his home in Maine, practicing dentistry (thanks, Rob). i just found the album on the web and ordered the MP3 version because i had been looking for years with the wrong title. The Dilliards, in case you don’t know was the fictional band “The Darlings” on the Andy Griffith Show. In one song on the album, the Dilliards came up with the lyrics, “I wish I were an old man. I’ll tell you the reason why: he dribbles his tobacco and never zips his fly.” 

i mean really.  Like Saturday i went to get bagels and coffee to my go-to Donny’s Cafe. When i got back, Maureen told me my fly was open. Now i haven’t chewed tobacco since college when i graduated from leaf to wad to twist and could chew while drinking water…or beer: for some reason, a feat i was proud of over a half-century ago. Haven’t chewed since. So i don’t dribble my tobacco, but not zipping my fly certainly unequivocally qualifies me as an old man.

So perhaps it’s time for me to tell you how I really feel about a lot of stuff.

Nah, you would choose to find fault with it because I don’t agree with just about everything presented in a package. Just ain’t worth it. I value my friendships, my relationships. 

You might learn some things about me after I’m gone. I truly am a pocket of resistance, a “contrarian” as daughter Blythe accurately titled me. I have found there really isn’t a “right” answer to solve all of our problems. Oh, there are lots of answers to those problems, but there is no one way to solve everyone’s problems. They might solve the problems of the ones who propose that to be the Right answer, but guaranteed that solution is going to make it worse for someone else.

Perhaps it’s because of the vagabond kind of life I lived in the time I’ve lived. Perhaps it is because the Navy life gave me access to a wide, wonderful world and the people in it, and spending a significant amount of my 22 years upon the bounding main gave me the time to contemplate what i’ve seen in those places and in those people.

Doesn’t really matter what caused it. It seems i’ve reached a point where my viewpoint is different from everyone else’s. At this 77 juncture, i wonder if we all, if we all quit acting like lemmings for a moment, would we feel the way i do about being different?

What i do know is i’m not gonna change the world, especially not gonna change anyone’s opinions. Tried it. Doesn’t work, especially with those folks around my age. Most are locked into their opinions and aren’t going to change regardless what facts reveal their opinion is wrong…er, different from mine. 

i have decisions to make. Those decisions are ones that have been before me all my life, just different. i have to decide, since i’m not gonna try to change the world or people’s opinions, what am i going to do the rest of my life? 

i can just say the hell with doing anything but what i want to do and enjoy life. i like piddling around my house, doing projects that are pretty much worthless for anyone other than me. i love to play golf with friends even when my golf game is close to pathetically inconsistent. i have a sizable bookshelf a credenza chocked full of books, many of which i’ve read. i would like to read the ones i haven’t read and reread the ones i have. 

Now, i have a repeating schedule of up-in-the-morning early to watch first light roll into dawn. i get pleasure out of prepping the kitchen and the breakfast table for Maureen to make another one of those incredible breakfasts, often turning the run of the mill eggs into something any chef would envy. i find it calming to go through the steps for grinding my Columbian coffee beans (thanks, Donny), dropping them into the French press (high end, double micro-filter) Maureen gave me a year or so ago, taking the brush on the end of the measuring cup and brushing the container clean, pouring the steaming hot water into the press and waiting the allowed time for it to steep while i scan the headlines of the newspaper i’ve retrieved from our driveway to see if there is something worth reading. Most often, there isn’t any news worth reading or from the headline, i can tell it has already violated the old rules of acceptable journalism. So as i pour the coffee out of the press into my USS Yosemite coffee mug, i place all of that stuff by Maureen’s breakfast table setting and the sports page and comics by mine. i prep her coffee — Maureen has recognized all of the ingredients she adds to her coffee pretty much wipes out the necessity of having great coffee so she uses off the shelf (but good) coffee because it’s cheaper — and i brew hers in a coffee maker.

And while she cooks, i go through my emails and Facebook page on the laptop and check the weather.

The whole routine takes a couple of hours but it’s daily and that’s okay. It’s us. Of course, golf can suspend it for a day.

The other option is to pretend like i’m still working. That would be by writing. Although i have accepted not being able to change people’s minds, i can express thoughts about what we might consider, delve into my past experiences with the hope of giving someone, especially those much younger than me, some different perspective when making up their minds. It seems like something worthwhile to do: to provide counsel, not direction.

As i face this day of 77, i reflect on those old folks from my past, especially the old men. Many of them died too young because the medical world wasn’t as advanced back then. They were good men. Then, i think of the ones who faced this 77 like i am facing today. And i heed the words of two of those most dear to me.

Ray Boggs, my father-in-law, didn’t reach 77. He left me when he was about a half-year away from this portal. As he first discovered he had cancer, he told me, “I want to live as long as I can think clearly”.

i now have that same wish. i hope and pray i will retain my wits, if not all my memory, until the final moments. 

Ray did. 

In the last conversation he had with me (and i was the last person he spoke to before the morphine allowed him to be at peace and pain free in his final hours), the old engineer discussed how the curtain rod above his bed could be improved. Then he finished by noting, “Oh hell, it’s just a curtain rod.”

Ray, i hope i’ll be looking for curtain rod improvement in my final moments.

And of course, i took heed of my father’s words he considered in my garage as we worked on a project together when he was 87 (but looked and acted like he was even younger than my 77). He paused for a moment, looked at me, and said, “Jim, I’ve had a good life, have a wonderful wife, have good kids, and great grandchildren. All i want now is to go quick.”

He did “go quick” although it was almost a full dozen years later. It took a month and a half for the pneumonia to get it done. Even in that short time, he kept teaching me how to live well. 

Now, going quick is on my wish list. It’s time for me to consider such things.

But hey, i got some projects to finish: There is Steel Decks and Glass Ceilings that needs completion of the first draft and severe editing and fact checking. There is my autobiography for Sam, my grandson, to get beyond my fourth grade, which is where i stopped several years ago — i don’t intend to publish this one. It’s just for Sam.

There is Willie Nod,  the book of poems for children, essentially completed, that i wrote for Blythe, then Sarah, then Sam; it needs editing, choosing the graphics Sarah compiled for the poems, and completing the layout. There is the draft for Pretty Good Management JD Waits and i co-wrote, which needs to be drastically re-written but will retain the chapter titles of “Never Take a Duck to a Cockfight Expecting to Win,” “Hunt Possums at Night Unless You Are Looking for Road Kill,” “Shoot the Wolf Closest to the Sled,” “The 2×4 Theory of Mule Management,” “Frog Legs Don’t Grow On Chickens,” and several more nearly all the product of JD’s rather amazing mind. And then there is the huge project of a very long novel or a number of short stories about a fictional “New Palestine,” Tennessee.

So if i choose to focus on writing, i think i can finish these and perhaps another book of poetry in…oh about forty-eight years, three months, and two days. Uh, that will put me at 125 years plus a couple of days..

But hey, i’m 77 today. 

77.

i’m going to enjoy whatever happens the rest of the way. i am not afraid of anyone or anything. i can’t think of anything i hate other than stupidity; laziness physically and mentally; and bad drivers, the latter of which i can be at times. i do know i will not make my decisions based upon some current fad, some cultural movement, or anyone tied to those movements, and as i have tried to do all my life (failing quite frequently even though my intent was there) to try and do the right thing (Thank you, Peter Thomas).

Since i can no longer play football, racquetball (from a lack of folks who can or are willing to do so with me), cannot ski (i can; but my greatest asset in skiing has been the ability to fall well and not hurt myself; and now, even if i fall well at this age, i am damn sure going to hurt something), and the doc told me not to run (for essentially the same reason i shouldn’t ski) although i might cheat on this one every once in a while, so i am just going to trudge along…and play golf, mostly walking.

i am at the age where everyone younger than me treats me like a child, like i don’t have a clue about what to do what’s best for me. It is almost always presented as something i shouldn’t do that i have always liked to do. i should not drink as much — yeh, i’ve cut back because i wish to be in control of me, but by everyone else’s standards who never came near the craziness and fun i had raising hell, i certainly have and probably still do drink too much. And hell, by their diagnosis it’s probably going to kill me. Of course, just about anything could kill me in the next hour at my age.

i am not supposed to eat damn near everything i really like: sugar, dairy products, salt, steak, hamburgers, pork, hot dogs, chips of all kinds (except the ones that taste awful), hot sauce, grapefruit juice, sausage, bacon, butter, fried anything, potatoes of any variety, tomatoes, eggs, pancakes, cookies, Three Musketeer bars. Hell, there are probably a lot of vegetables i’m not supposed to eat. Apple sauce, maybe? Oh yeh, those slimy green things they call “smoothies.” They are okay, i guess. Just make me gag.

If i obey — and i’ve never been very good at obeying except for those 22 Navy years — i am going to live a long, long time being miserable.

So to hell with that.

i’m not getting into all of the things in this new world requires and doesn’t require, which i am just not up to, because those things have been pretty well covered. It is not beyond my abilities to keep up with most of it, and there are many wonderful advantages to all that is at our fingertips. But i am actually considering, using this infernal machine just to write, dropping social media, ignoring the news, leaving my iPhone at home, you know, like we used to do when we had those things wired to a wall socket, and not turning on any electronic information in my car.

And i still would consider moving to Ireland. But i gotta wife who is a Southwest corner native, and i have superb Navy and VA medical right here in the Southwest corner. She ain’t moving, and i need that medical stuff.

 i don’t do casinos, primarily because Maureen has a great dislike for them, and i am terrible at gambling, but i just might sneak away and play a couple of bucks on the slots just to see if that third 7 aligns with the other two.

Happy 77 today to me. 

Nashville As Described by Sean of the South

I’ve written about this stuff before, but i don’t care. i’m thankful i am where i am.

As you probably know from earlier posts, i read Sean Dietrich’s columns, “Sean of the South” daily and often either share them on Facebook or make a comment with the link on posts here, like today.

Today’s column was entitled simply “Nashville.” Sean nailed it.

In 2014, Maureen and i were seriously considering moving from the Southwest corner. The motivating factor was financial, but the thought of moving back near my home of Lebanon, thirty miles east of Nashville, was intriguing to me. We had considered other places.

Austin is where our daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live and the draw was strong. But annual reports of 100 days over 100 degrees cooled (pun intended) that idea.

Thoughts about Florida were attractive. Our first year of married life together (Right after we married, about nine months of separation due to my ship deploying delayed that first year together) was pure bliss while we rented a great home in Ponte Vedra Beach. There also a lot of friends and my family there. Again, heat kept Florida from serious consideration. Hey, Maureen is a native here, and i have spent enough time in the Southwest corner to be a wimp when it comes to weather (more 7’s, 8’s, and 9’s on a scale of ten compared to any place i know in the world).

We narrowed down our choices to Chattanooga and Nashville. Maureen chose Nashville with her reasoning Vanderbilt had OSHER extended studies, which she loved attending at UCSD and San Diego State, AND Trader Joe’s. Chattanooga didn’t have either. i was glad she chose Nashville. After all, it’s just down the road from Lebanon and home to Vanderbilt and it’s athletic programs of which i’ve been a fan since like forever.

So we went back and were checking out houses and areas of Nashville that spring of 2014. When we returned to the Southwest corner, we both decided we were staying put, that we were in good enough financial state to make it here and be comfortable, even if we had to be conservative in travel and house renovation.

In my last couple of visits to Nashville (before the pandemic), i decided we had made a good choice. San Diego, Austin, and several other cities used to be places were ideal but growth came calling with a fury. The necessity for increased taxes to support such growth and traffic, and people upon people, and less access to really neat places, and the increased cost of living, and house prices have become a pain. Now it’s Nashville going that route.

Just ain’t the same. Now don’t get me wrong, Nashville is a wonderful place and Middle Tennessee is incredible in many ways. Sean captured what is good about Nashville…and what is not. Thanks, Sean.\

https://seandietrich.com/nashville-5/

The Tempest Sea

This is probably going to be edited a grunch later, but the opening hit me when i woke this morning, early as usual. So i sat out on the patio with my coffee as dawn passed me by while i completed the first draft. Being me, i decided to share it now, rather than after another edit or two or three or…

The Tempest Sea

have  you heard the gale wind howling
from the fetch on the open sea
‘bout 450 leagues south of the Arabian monsoon
that created the tempest sea?

have you stood on the bridge wing staring
at black waters with roiling foam below
while the ship rolled more than forty degrees
just shy of the point of no return
‘bout 60 leagues east of Cape Hatteras,
the bane of the Atlantic sea?

have you increased speed to run ahead
of a typhoon’s angry winds,
hoping to make it across the South China Sea
‘bout 100 leagues west of Luzon?

have you flinched when green water, not spume,
climbed across the forecastle’s decks
to smash against the pilot house
while you hunkered down inside
‘bout 150 leagues nor’east of Nova Scotia?

if you ain’t felt the sea’s fury,
an old mariner can tell you
while you are in it, you ain’t afraid
‘cause you’re too busy doing
what needs to be done to worry
but
when it’s over and the seas are calm
you get a little scared;
you marvel at the woman we call the sea,
fall in love with all her moods
and
wish that you were home.

Mama Jewell

i posted a memory, a photo of my father and my grandmother on Facebook today with several comments.

It is getting late. i may have written about this before. i don’t care. i’m blowing off going to bed even though i missed my nap this afternoon. i don’t care if somewhere in this King Minos labyrinth,  modern style, i have written of this incident before.

This is my time tonight.

It was 1950. i was six. It was autumn a month or so after i started first grade at McClain Elementary where my mother and father attended, and my father helped my grandfather, the city’s school custodian, fire the furnace in the morning, and clean up in the 1920’s and 1930’s afternoon.

My mother with my sister in the stroller, walked with me to Tarver Avenue. McClain was located in the middle of the block between South Tarver and South Hatton. Her account claimed we stopped there and i told her i could go myself the rest of the way, and she didn’t need to come get me because i could walk home those three blocks or so by myself.

Knowing my mother now, i am amazed she acquiesced. i also think it could have been the creation of my pocket of resistance. From that day on, except for rainstorms or snowstorms, i walked to and back to home every day. Our neighborhood swarmed with children. The gang would leave school and walk home in groups up the truly Main Street in town.

My group of six or so would begin. By the time we got to my house, there were only about three or four of us. Ronnie Collinsworth was in  my first grade class. He lived up Wildwood Avenue, about another block. That day, for some reason, Ronnie began picking on me, being a reasonable facsimile to Scut Farkus in the movie “Christmas Story.”

By the time we reached my home, i apparently reached my limit with Ronnie, put down by books, among which was Fun with Dick and Jane. Ronnie charged me swinging. Now, it’s a bit too long ago for me to remember exactly but i think it was a right cross i connected on Ronnie’s left jaw. He hit the ground, started crying and ran home.

Mama Jewell was then living with my Aunt Naomi Martin caddy cornered across the street. She had been sitting in the living room knitting, reading, or other things grandmother’s do in front of the picture window as the fracas was going down. She saw the drama played out.

My mother was working part time at several jobs. My other grandmother, Katherine “Granny” Jewell was the child care go-to, and taking care of my sister, my infant brother, and me when i got back from school.

Mama Jewell picked up the phone, asked the operator, who probably was my Aunt Naomi Jewell Martin, to dial 339R. The phone rang. Granny went to the narrow hall in the center of the house and picked up the phone headset off the base.

Mama Jewell told Granny Prichard their grandson didn’t do anything wrong; that the other little boy started it all, and their shared grandson shouldn’t be punished.

 

“Three Musketeers”

It wasn’t really cool enough for me to build a fire in the hearth, but i did. Maureen made an Italian sauce — she will correct my incorrect description later — and served it over polenta, aka grits, along with another salad perfection of hers.

We dined on our dinner trays while watching THE game with a nice red blend.

i watched a game that didn’t involve Vanderbilt or the Padres for the first time in a while with mixed emotions. A dear young lady, Laura Grabowski, is a graduate and huge, huge fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. A close friend from home, Louis Thompson, who married the woman who was my “sweetheart” in the 1962 Castle Heights annual, was a star defensive tackle for Paul Bryant at Alabama.

Since the Bear took me under his arm and talked to me like a son back in ’64, and my Commodores are in the SEC, i favored the Tide. As i watched, the fandom thing sort of vanished. i just sat there and marveled at the incredible athletic ability of every player on both sides. It was an amazing performance, only dimmed by the dumb reference to “physicality,” which from Webster’s i interpret being physical and not real bright, by Kirk Herbstreit in his unrelenting over-analysis of play after play, a common…no, the new norm for sports play-by-play and analyst commentators, which, in my mind, is — pardon my French — bullshit.

Still, i enjoyed watching some rather spectacular football and wondered how many NFL teams, ‘Bama could beat.

Then, Sarah took Billie Holiday, her wonderful dog, to her bedroom and went to sleep. She had a long day. Maureen faded and went to bed. i left the embers in the hearth and sat down at this infernal machine with the last of my wine…AND a Three Musketeers candy bar.

My favorite Christmas present this year came from Maureen. She has heard my story many times and remembered. The story?

Growing up, the only grandfather figure i, Martha,  and Joe knew was Wynn Prichard. He was my great uncle. i have written about him before.

“Papa” and Aunt Corrine lived in a farm house with a tin roof on their farm at the intersection of Hickory Ridge Road and Blair Lane in Lebanon, Tennessee. When i was very young and my sister Martha and then my brother Joe were younger, Papa would come to see us around mid-day every Wednesday. Papa owned a 1929 Model A Ford. i’m pretty sure it was the only car he ever owned. He took out the seats of the rumble seat in order to do two things: 1. To carry his two fox hounds to the fox hunts  he attended for pretty much all of his life, and 2. To carry his produce to market on Wednesday to Lebanon’s “Farmer’s Market.”

After he had sold his wares at the market, which then was located somewhere at the top of East Main Street, Papa would drive home but stop en route and park his Model A on the side of the road in front of 127 Castle Heights Avenue.

i was waiting. And when he emerged from his car in his khaki work shirt and pants with a wool cardigan and a felt fedora,  i would run a full speed and leap into his arms. Papa woulds shuffle me to his right arm, dig into his pocket with his left hand, and dig out a Three Musketeer’s candy bar. Unceremoniously, he would hand it to me. It did not last very long. It remains my favorite snack of all time.

Well, my child, er, my wife gave me a box of thirty-six Three Musketeer’s candy bars as a Christmas gift.

i just finished having one of the thirty-six.

And as i get ready to accomplish the old man routine putting the night to rest, i remember Papa and those glorious Wednesday’s when that old Model A would come to a halt in front of our home.

Good night.