Thoughts of a Curmudgeon

The world keeps changing…and i don’t.

i think and therefore i put those thoughts i can down here. It is a privilege of old curmudgeons. If nothing else, being able to record what i want to say gives me tolerance. i don’t damn those folks who record things that don’t agree with my point of view.

But while i’ve been working on my book in the closing stages, i have continued to think. A couple of those thoughts have been rambling around in this old head for a week or so. Here they are:

Free. Man, it felt like we were free. Maureen and i had our second covid vaccinations over two weeks ago. In celebration of that and also as her birthday gift to me, we spent a day vacation (nah, i ain’t shortening to the new faddish “daycation”) at the Rancho Bernardo Inn with our close friends, Pete and Nancy Toennies. We had a nice dinner, a good night’s sleep away from home, a great breakfast on the veranda, a fun round of golf (where Pete pointed out one of my 468,324 faults, which helped my game a bit…now, i just have to figure out how to correct the other 468,323 faults. We concluded the escape with a lovely late lunch on the veranda again in Southwest corner weather made to order.

You know what? It was like they let us out of our cage. Now, being the age i am i don’t think this sequestering in place has had the nasty impact on me as others. To start, after the first couple of months, we could play golf. Then, there is the book thing, and that kept me busy. and Maureen and i watched the Padres play baseball, which is our nightly event during the baseball season, and, of course, i have somewhere in the vicinity of two gazillion honey-dos to accomplish around the house. The doldrums were further ameliorated by supporting our local dining favorites with pickup, take-out meals, or whatever you call them. So i was really okay.

But that one night outing early this week made me feel like Clint Eastwood escaping from Alcatraz (without that swimming thing).

It gave me hope.

i also, because of my advanced age, have two other advantages: 1) i don’t have to go to work, and 2) i can sit for hours just remembering things that have happened over the first seventy-seven years. If i can’t just sit there and call them up, i can go to photos, old notes, and a bunch of things around this house that relate back to many things that give me pleasure. A few are tender moments.

i had one of those recalls this weekends. i would like to share it.

It happened about eleven and half years ago (if i added and subtracted correctly, which is often called into question: i lost that skill a number of years ago). i have taken two columns i wrote for The Lebanon Democrat, condensed them, and added what was to me one of the most tender moments i have experienced.

My father, Jimmy Jewell, was the Grand Marshall of Lebanon’s Veteran’s Day parade. “Coach” JB Leftwich, and Jim Henderson, LCOL,  USAF, retired, had a lot to do with Daddy being so honored. His children were there, and the one grandchild, Tommy Duff and his mother, rode in the back seat of Jay White’s 1921 Ford “Hack” at the head of the parade with Daddy in the shotgun seat (i thank the oaters for it being called that) beside Jay.

Brother Joe and i went with them to the parade assembly point on South Greenwood next to the First Presbyterian Church on West Main. Joe and i saw them embark on the hack and then went back home to pick up my mother. Estelle was experiencing some significant medical problems. So we loaded up the car with her wheelchair and put her in the back seat. Because of the parade, we drove a circuitous route to the gravel parking lot behind Henderson’s Flower Shop.

An aside (old farts have the privilege of wandering off the original story): The front parking brought memories of my driving Wilson Denny’s claimed utility motor cart owned by the city’s Public Works. On my first day of summer work for Public works, Jim “Beetle” Harding and i took the cart, barely accommodating for two folks,  and answered a help call, pulling a sizable dead dog out from under a house and taking it to the city dump. Jim, who began working the week before i did,  had driven to the house and the dump. He offered the driving to me back to the public works yard. i readily agreed. i was driving down main street and crossed. the railroad tracks just over a block from the square. The motor cart jumped up when it hit the rails and i lost control. We crashed into the fire hydrant in front of the flower shop. Beetle hit the frame for the roof and plastic windshield. i took a somersault through the windshield and landed on the other side of the hydrant. When i woke up, a blond nurse who was in the shop buying flowers had come out to help and she held my head in her lap. i thought she was an angel and i had gone to heaven. We rode to McFarland Hospital in the ambulance. Beetle got the worst of it, with stitches on his eye and forehead. They picked stuff out of my face and  put a clamp on my eyebrow. Lucky.

But on this day, Joe and i pushed Mother in her wheelchair to the sidewalk. The Hendersons brought out a couple of blankets to keep her warm.

Joe and i stood behind Mother as the parade approached, the hack in the lead. My father was waving and smiling and spending a great deal of his time standing on the running board, holding on to the roof with his left hand and waving with his right.

As the hack approached the tracks with the high school band right behind playing its marching songs, my father directed Jay to stop the Hack, the band, and the entire parade. He hopped off the running board, came across the street, reached down, held my mother’s hand, and kissed her.

He went back to the Hack and the parade resumed. It ran through the square up to the new  county court house where a very nice ceremony was held. As my father went back to his role as Grand Marshall, i teared up as i am tearing up now as i write.

It was the best tender moment.

And there are special moments i can remember, like the night before the parade.

When supper rolled around on Castlewood Lane, the original family of five sat at the same round oak table where we sat over fifty years ago. We could not remember when just the five of us had been together since those meals in the breakfast room on Castle Heights Avenue. We have gathered many times since, but a spouse, another relative, a friend or a next-generation member was with us.

The fare: meatloaf, fried squash, string beans with fresh onions, coleslaw, and biscuits with ice tea and chocolate pie for dessert (Grandma Specials, I call them). 

Our family has been particularly blessed. There are not many families with three children born in the 1940s who can sit down and have a meal together just as they did over a half-century ago.

Our parents are gone now. The five us did not have another meal together without other loved ones in attendance. That meal is a special memory.

i hope everyone reading this returns to a more normal life and get out to some place special. And i hope you too have special moments to remember during the hard times.

1 thought on “Thoughts of a Curmudgeon

  1. Uncle Jim, I am thoroughly enjoying, getting to know your parents. They are “jewels “. Last name, apropos.
    That kiss for your momma. after your daddy stopped the parade, brought me to tears, as well.

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