Category Archives: A Pocket of Resistance

Daddy

This is a bit late. i played golf with friends as he used to fish with friends. Afterwards, i took a nap as he and i had done together for a countless number of times on the couches across from each other in the den. Then i chased my newfound and unexpected work with marketing my book. He would not only understand but would approve.

Today is his 108th birthday. i still miss him terribly. He would chastise me for that. i have written volumes praising him until he told me to stop.

After he passed just shy of 99, i have praised him again, often. i don’t think i can add to that. Below are two items i wrote about him that he liked. i don’t think i need to add anything.

An Incredible Man (2000)

There is an incredible man in Lebanon. He was born September 28, 1914.

The first record of his family in America dates to 1677. His great, great, great grandfather came over the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky with Daniel Boone and apparently was Daniel’s brother-in-law. His great, great grandfather moved to Statesville in southeastern Wilson County in the early 1800’s.

He had three brothers and three sisters. He is the only one left.

He has lived through two world wars, fighting as a Seabee in the southern Philippines in the last one. He has lived through the depression, the cold war, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War.

He had to quit his senior year at Lebanon High School to go to work when his father contracted tuberculosis. He started as a mechanic, shared a business with his brother-in-law in the 1950’s, and then became a partner in an automobile dealership and a gas and oil distributorship. He retired in 1972.

He and his wife have been married for 62 years. They remain infatuated with each other. The first home they owned was a one-room house, adjacent to his wife’s family farm on Hunter’s Point Pike. They bought their next home on Castle Heights Avenue in 1941 with the help of a $500.00 loan from a friend. They have lived there ever since.

He and his wife put three children through college. They have five grandchildren. They have visited every state in the Union, except Alaska, where they were headed in 1984 when his wife’s illness forced them to turn around in British Columbia. Nearly all of their travel has been by RV’s, most in a twenty-eight foot fifth-wheel. When he was 87 and his wife was 84, they made their last cross-country trip to San Diego where they spent winters since 1985 with their eldest son and his family. They have made several trips up and down the east coast since then, and the fifth-wheel is still ready to go in their backyard.

They live comfortably in their retirement. Most people guess his age as early 70’s. Last month, he painted their master bedroom and sanded and painted the roof of his two-car carport. When he can’t find anyone to go fishing with him, he hooks up the boat trailer and goes by himself. Now he usually throws his catch back in. When he used to bring the catch home, he would clean the fish and give them away. He doesn’t like to eat fish, just catch them.

For years, he had the reputation as the best mechanic in Wilson County. He can still fix anything except computers and new cars because he has shunned learning the electronic advances.

All of this isn’t why this man is incredible.

He is incredible because he is such a good man.

He is a willow. He bends with the winds of change and the changes of “progress.” Yet he never breaks. His principles remain as solid as a rock. He is extremely intelligent but humble.

He seems to always be around when someone needs help. Everyone considers him a friend and he reciprocates.

He is not rich, financially. But he is one of the richest men around.

My generation’s fathers were family men. They lived through hard times and hard work without a whimper. They believed in giving a day’s work for a day’s pay. They kept their sense of humor. Their sons wish they could emulate them.

Jimmy Jewell, or James Rye Jewell, Sr., this remarkable man, remains my best friend. I am his oldest son. I have worshipped him since the first recallable thoughts came into my head fifty-three or so years ago. I still find myself wishing I could have his strength, his kindness, his work ethic, his love, his faith.

My father and I have had enough talks for him to know how I feel. But I’ve seen too many people wait until someone was gone before singing their praises publicly. I figure he’s got a good chance to outlive us all, but I wanted to acknowledge how much he means to me and how great a man I think he is.

Happy eighty-sixth birthday, Dad.

Hands

When most folks meet him,
they notice steel blue eyes and agility;
his gaze, gait and movements
belie the ninety-five years;
but
those folks should look at his hands:
those hands could make Durer cry
with their history and the tales they tell.

His strength always was supple
beyond what was suggested from his slight build.
His hands are the delivery point of that strength.
His hands are not slight:
His hands are firm and thick and solid –
a handshake of destruction if he so desired, but
he has used them to repair the cars and our hearts;

His hands are marked by years of labor with
tire irons, jacks, wrenches, sledges, micrometers on
carburetors, axles, brake drums, distributors
(long before mechanics hooked up computers,
deciphering the monitor to replace “units”
for more money in an hour than he made in a month
when he started in ’34 before computers and units).

His hands pitched tents,
made the bulldozers run
in war
in the steaming, screaming sweat of
Bouganville, New Guinea, the Philippines.

His hands have nicks and scratches
turned into scars with
the passage of time:
a map of history, the human kind.
Veins and arteries stand out
on the back of his hands,
pumping life itself into his hands
and beyond;
the tales of grease and oil and grime,
cleaned by gasoline and goop and lava soap
are etched in his hands;

they are hands of labor,
hands of kindness, caring, and love:
oh love, love, love, crazy love.

His hands speak of him with pride.
His hands belong
to the smartest man I know
who has lived life to the maximum,
but in balance, in control, in understanding,
gaining respect and love
far beyond those who claim smartness
for the money they earned
while he and his hands own smartness
like a well-kept plot of land
because he always has understood
what was really important
in the long run:
smarter than any man I know
with hands that tell the story
so well.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Old Man

i’ve got snorts and grunts and wheezes;
i’ve got coughs and hacks and sneezes;
Docs check my skin, my ears, my eyes;
Docs check my back, knees, hips by my thighs;
Everyone tells me what i shouldn’t do:
“Don’t drink or eat what you want, and don’t run, too.”

i’m an old man now and to keep getting old
i have to do things on which i’m not sold;
i must decide what is best for me
Without a clue: just let me be.

But then i fart, and then i chuckle.

…suddenly, i feel young again.

Falcon

the falcon perched atop the dead tree,
a sentinel surveying the river valley for prey;
red tail hawk mates had occupied the perch
for a long time
but
disappeared a couple of years ago.
i spotted the falcon while teeing up on the ninth tee;
the course is straight down from our house
where
the ensign flies at the top of our hill,
where before first light this morning;
the neighbor’s small dog had managed to escape
from the fenced back yard,
little tike, yappy mean,
growling at me when i emerged for the newspaper,
still growling and yapping when i left;
three houses down, two walkers espied a coyote
in the corner of a yard, nearly trapped;
the coyote escapes and darts back into the canyon;
after pausing to determine an escape path,
had he headed up the street,
the mean yappy dog would have been breakfast:
we share this land with the wildlife
but
often forget the two, us and the wildlife
are entwined;
while the falcon scans the land
from his perch;
i am glad he’s there.

Elvis and Me

Against my religion since i have sworn off all movies, news, and most sports events except for depressing Padre baseball games — no, i don’t know why i watch Padre games — i watched a movie Monday night. Oh…okay, i do watch old oaters, and few special ones like “The Quiet Man,” “Silverado,” and anything produced by Mel Brooks.

“Elvis” was streaming. i don’t even really understand what “streaming” means except there are somewhere near 450 gazillion things i can watch if i pay to stream them. Incredibly, very few of them are something i would want to watch.

The movie was “Elvis.” i shall not critique too much here because i do not qualify for a movie critic. If it ain’t an oater, then i’m not qualified.

But “Elvis,” the movie, took me to many, many places, including writing a post. i have somewhere around 786 posts started, lying fallow in my notes and draft. But this book has morphed into a time bandit, requiring me to do some things i would never have imagined i would be doing at 78. Now, Elvis has called me.

i looked up Sun Records where Elvis’ career was launched. i had a pleasant wander through the annals of the Memphis recording studio. The first thing that struck me was there was this guy, old guy at 58, when Elvis cut “That’s All Right” for Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun. i have a a 45 RPM record of Mr. Yelvington’s stored in one of my empty Henry Weinhard’s 12-beer cartons — the emptied boxes, of which there were quite a few, made terrific storage boxes, that transition capability discovered when JD Waits and i shared the ultimate bachelor pad in the Coronado Cays in 1982-83 and screwed it up by both of us getting engaged within four and six months of moving in.

The old guy’s performing name at Sun Records was Malcolm Yelvington. i don’t have his biggest hit, a cover of “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee”  by Sticks McGhee & His Buddies, but i do have “Rocking With My Baby.” Haven’t played it in years. Now, i must dig it up out of one of those Henry Weinhard cartons.

But i digress, a common and often affliction of mine.

“Elvis” brought back memories. Like Lebanon Junior High memories. From that early prehistoric moment until college, i wanted to look like Elvis. Hell, i wanted to sing like Elvis. i wanted girls to like me like they liked…no, loved Elvis. i wore Levis with no belt, white socks, and shirts with the collar turned up and buttons unbuttoned down as far as i could manage. i pitifully combed back my hair to a woeful incomplete ducktail because my mama and daddy refused such foolishness. i must looked like one really goofy pre-teen. And then i went to Castle Heights Military Academy and the ducktail effort became more pathetic.

Recalling that now, i try hard, very hard, not to denigrate young folks for their choice of dress…except, of course, for this very strange fashion craze of jeans that look like my mama would have thrown away.

i recalled how Elvis captured me, not with hip swiveling, gyrating antics, but his voice, his range, his emotion. His rendition of Tex Ritter’s “Old Shep” still makes me tear up. i felt like i was him when his friend told him Marie was the name of his latest flame. Even Mrs. Gwaltney, my piano teacher who, when i was in the eighth grade, had driven me to a piano recital at George Peabody in Nashville, and as we drove back home, turned on the radio and told me how she liked to hear him sing.

Lord, lord, lord, how i wish i was so innocent again.

i was very satisfied with the movie. It was a bit too hip — Is that an operational description anymore? — and i suspect it made Parker a bit more of a bad guy than he was, but i don’t know. No, i don’t know, and neither do the directors and producers of this film.

But there was one thing missing:

“Thank yah, thank yah very much.”

Golf

This morning, Peter and Nancy Toennies, and Maureen and i are packing up, soon hitting the road, departing from our golf Mecca of Park City, Utah. Tonight, we stop at Nellis Air Force Base, hopefully spending some time with our daughter Sarah, and tomorrow going home.

It has been a crazy week of golf on some incredibly beautiful and incredibly difficult (for this duffer) golf courses and highly enjoyable with great dining in Park City.

It was four rounds of golf in five days. This old man is a bit tired, but i love golf, just wishing to have a more respectable game. i will keep at it, even though my mediocre skills are dwindling further with age. Golf is the only game i can really still play (or desire to play). i also have found joy in the occasional good shot, walking or even riding in a cart along any course, and the fellowship of other golfers who put up with my professional level profanity on bad shots.

It is a beautiful game and can still be competitive because of the handicap system. And, it always has been a game where the player calls his or her own offenses, aka penalties. Unlike today’s football, basketball, and baseball, golf frowns upon cheaters — The origin of “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” is ambiguous as many sports claim it. i thought it came from a Southeastern Conference or NFL football coach in the 1960’s but no longer recall the actual coach. A search for the origin was confusing.

i’m not saying some golfers don’t cheat. They are out there. i don’t understand how they can live with themselves if they are sandbaggers, or cheat outright on the course. i think nearly all golfers despise such folks.

However, golf at the professional level is losing my interest. It, like the other sports, is driven, not by competition but by money, big money. This week, the FEDEX cup is attracting golf fans like flies in a box car full of garbage. Why? Money. It’s contrived.

When the FEDEX cup began its contrived money chase, the leader begins the final four-day tournament with a negative score because he is the leader in the “cup standings.” Max Homa shot a 62 yesterday but still trails the leader Scottie Scheffler by ten strokes because Scheffler began the tournament ten under par. Contrived. Yep.

Now, Tiger Woods and Roy McIlroy are creating games and the PGA is adding money to the biggest winners. Why? Money. Big Money. And they are trying to put down the “LIV” tour, created by Greg Norman and Saudi Arabia, which was contrived for what? Money. Lots and lots of Big Money. All contrived. The best golfers in the world are greedy. Poor folks can’t get a job, can’t put decent food on the table. We’ve got homeless problems. And these guys rolling in dough, more than i can imagine, and much more than i would ever want. are pissing and moaning about not getting enough. Money.

i whine constantly about athletic skill and competition going down the toilet because of all of the contrivances by media, coaches, colleges, pro organizations selling out for money, more money. Golf has had lots of money and now the elite golfers and those associated with golf have joined the tribe. College, high school, even Little League are all driven by someone making money, not by athletic contests.

Think i’ll go watch a sandlot baseball game or a touch football game on open fields. Oh, i forgot. We don’t play those anymore. And open fields are pretty much gone.

Yeh, i’ll still watch golf , baseball, football, and other sports. After all, i have been involved with sports all my life. But i won’t watch as much. Think i’ll go play a round of golf when i get home, with friends.