⚽ I spent 43 years of my life working at the local shipyard. I have been retired for 14 years and, as such things go, I have forgotten a lot about those years, but I haven’t forgotten how important Fridays & Sundays were during those times.
Each Friday I would get out of bed around 6 a.m., head for the bathroom to wash my face and to shave, and then get ready for work. Friday always put an extra hop in each step because Friday nights were always fun, and Saturdays allowed me to do anything I wanted. Most of us know that the anticipation of a vacation to some far-off place is almost as good as the actual trip itself. That’s why planning is so important: it allows you to experience the joy of anticipation and lets you double down on how enjoyable that vacation is going to be. The same applies to anticipating the weekend on Friday mornings.
Now, as a retired person, you would think I would have difficulty telling the difference between weekdays and workdays, and I admit it’s not the same, but back then it was a big thing. I had two small children (a son and a daughter) and weekends let me spend more time with them. Their mother worked at Sears on Saturdays, so I got to spend a lot of alone time with them during the winter months. They felt free to ask any question. Some were frivolous, some serious, and some difficult. I recall my daughter asking me when she was twelve how many times a week did men want sex? I always tried to be truthful with my children, but that question caught me off guard. After some thought, I looked her in the eye and said, “Sweetheart, men want sex often.” That wasn’t good enough for her, so she rephrased her question and asked how many times a week I wanted sex. I read a study once that said men think about sex in some way at least once during every waking hour. I didn’t realize it was that much, but I guess they were kinda right. I have no idea how much women think of it. Of course, those thoughts wane as we men age.
Anyway, back to my daughter’s question. After a few moments, I responded, “Sweetheart, it’s not important how many times I have sex with your mother, what’s important is how much we love each other.” The look on her face waffled back and forth like the bubble on a carpenter’s level. I explained to her that sex is an important part of love but that other things were equally as important, such as holding her mother’s hand as we walked, or putting my arms around her waist as we talked with friends, or showing her every day that I loved her by being attentive. To this day, I do not know whether that information helped her in any way, but I hope it did.
Ok, back to the weekend thang (hillbilly term 😊). As much joy as Friday & Saturday brought me, Sunday evenings were totally different. As each hour went by, the dread of having to get up the next morning and go to work haunted me. The fun was over; it was time to go back to work and “bring home the bacon” (that term originated in 1906 and pertained mostly to boxers who were expected to win and take money home). Sure ‘nuff, Monday morning would arrive, and I would shake off the sadness and head out the door to welcome another week filled with nothing but problems. Fulton J. Sheen famously said that “one becomes more interested in a job of work after the first impulse to drop it has been overcome.” As a teenager, I watched Bishop Sheen on TV (Life is Worth Living). He was often referred to as the first televangelist and won two Emmy Awards for Most Outstanding TV Personality. He died in 1979. I was always impressed by his knowledge and his piercing eyes. I always felt as if he were talking directly to me. Ah, the things we remember! 😊
⚽ I once read that what we say about others gets applied to us. I’m not so sure that I believe those words. It implies that if I say good things about you, then those good comments get applied to me as well. Hmm, I don’t think so. I think the intent was that if you say bad things about someone else, then they get applied to you. The person who came up with that idea didn’t think it all the way through. Of course, I’m guilty of doing the same thing, so I shouldn’t complain.
⚽ My Grandma McCoy had a sister (Naomi) who had 13 children, all named after someone in the King James version of the Bible. They lived just across the Virginia border in Kentucky (45 minutes away), so as a young boy of 4 or 5, my grandparents took me with them to visit her. I was amazed at how well behaved the kids were, and it was easy to tell who was in charge (Aunt Naomi 😊). Those visits were utterly confusing to me, because with so many kids around I felt insignificant and believed the other kids felt the same way, except for the older ones. As I got older and moved away, I forgot about that big, wonderful family that lived down by the river in the middle of nowhere. I have heard of larger families with 15 or more children, but the most prolific mother of all time, and the one that holds the record for childbirths, is Valentina Vassilyev (Russia 1707–82). She gave birth to 69 children, including 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quadruplets. She was pregnant 27 times and 67 of her 69 children survived infancy. Now you would think this was the end of the story, but as it turns out, her husband, Russian farmer Feodor, fathered 6 sets of twins and 2 sets of triplets by a second woman, giving him a total of 87 children. Of course, we all know that mothering takes a lot more strength than fathering, so I’m not so much in awe of old Feodor as I am of Valentina.
I knew a family in our little coal camp whose mother, upon giving birth to her 5th child on a chilly winter morning, got out of bed in the afternoon and washed a load of clothes, and put them out on the clothesline to dry. I was amazed at that feat then, and still am to this day. I can only wonder what the neighbors thought about Valentina. I imagine there was fear on her face whenever Feodor looked at her with the gleam of passion in his eyes. Undoubtedly, tubal ligation (tying the fallopian tubes) wasn’t available in the 1700s, so the poor woman was doomed to be pregnant almost all of her adult life. I assume Feodor had more grandchildren and great-grandchildren than anyone else as well. Heck, he may be responsible for a large portion of the Russian population. I have a good friend in Russia (Irina), and I’m thinking that I should ask her if she knows about old Feodor’s reputation 😊.
Having raised two children, I’m at a loss on how you raise 87 of them. It was hard being a good parent for my two, I don’t know how that happens when the number goes that high. It’s a good thing that he was a farmer, because if he had to buy all the food for his family, the Devil would always be dancing in his back pocket 😊. I see it now: the school principal calls Mr. Vassilyev and says, “sir, we’re having a lot of trouble with Vladimir, could you come down to my office for a visit?” He scratches his head, pauses for a moment, and kindly says, “who?”
John Andrew Holmes said that “a child enters your home and makes so much noise for twenty years that you can hardly stand it. Then he departs, leaving the house so silent that you think you will go mad.”
⚽ The English dictionary doesn’t give a particularly good distinction between joy and happiness, but I think it should. I believe joy is related to a particular event in your life. For me, it would be throwing a “Ringer” in horseshoes or having the power generator fire up every three months without me having to work on it. In other words, for me, it is normally a singular event.
Happiness is a totally different animal. That is something that covers you like a warm blanket in the dead of winter and allows you to sleep the entire night without waking up. It is something that stays with you until something happens that brings you back into the constant ups and downs of normal life. Mostly, I think terrible things stop the “happiness train” and that can be many things; health problems for yourself or someone you care about, deaths, financial problems, or family problems like drugs and alcohol.
I have been on that “happiness train” for almost 28 years and there have been a few times that it screeched to a halt. But sooner or later, it came back to life and continued on its journey with my wife and I onboard. A friend (Reese) told me recently that life for him has been like a bus ride with people getting on, riding for a while, and then getting off as new riders got on. What we all know is that as we get older people get off and fewer and fewer get on. Finally we get to the end of the ride and only a few people are still on the bus and only a few of those were on it from the start.
My “happiness train” is still chugging along, some getting off and some getting on and all of us bringing happiness, or joy, to each other in some way. Yup! I prefer happiness to joy because it lasts much longer.
An old German Proverb goes, “When a man is happy, he does not hear the clock strike”. Now, that dog will hunt! 😊
⚽ By the time we die, most of us will have spent a quarter of a century asleep, of which six years or more will have been spent dreaming—and almost all of those dreams are forgotten upon waking. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, head for the bathroom, and upon returning to bed, pick up the same dream again even though I purposefully try to avoid it. Most of them are nonsensical and I ignore them but occasionally they are meaningful and leave an impression. Last night I had a dream about my dearly departed sister-in-law (Mary Ann) and that will stay with me all day.
So, I don’t think all dreams are a waste of time, although I do think most are. From everything I have read about them, they are believed to serve a purpose in rebooting our brain to re-energize our cells. I do know that when I fail to get enough sleep I tend to make poor decisions, at least that’s what I’m blaming it on 😊. I have also discovered that I can sometimes determine what I’ll dream about by thinking of whatever is on my mind as I drop off to sleep. It doesn’t always work, but often it does. I was once asked if my dreams were in color or black & white? Honestly, I don’t know. If they are in color, they’re not very bright, because that never seemed relevant to whatever the dream was about. I believe the only time I don’t have dreams is when I go to bed dead tired.
Truth be known, I probably don’t get enough sleep each night, hovering somewhere around 6.5 to 7 hours. Doctors want all of us to get from 7 to 8 hours, but I only get the maximum about once a month. I like to think that I’m an “Early Riser”, but deep down I know that I’m not. I go to bed at midnight and get up at 7am. My daughter gets out of bed at 4:30am to get ready for work. She needs to look exactly right before she gets in her car to make the daily commute. She’s a true “Early Riser”. Walter Dwight said, “Early risers, as a rule, are a notably arrogant set.” My daughter isn’t arrogant, she just wants to look her best before going out her front door 😊.
⚽ I have had 20 homes in my life, my wife only seven. Of those 20 homes, I spent 17 years in one and 28 at my current residence. Most of my moving was during my 20s and we were always renters, not homeowners. It often gives me pleasure to trace the course of my life thru the places I have lived. I remember the very first time I moved in my life. I was nine years old and living in “Page” coal camp. A house about 50 feet away was being vacated and it was much bigger and better than the one we occupied, so we were told we could move into it. I believe the rent was about $20 each month. Well, the big day arrived for the move and we began transferring everything in our old home to the new home. It took all day and what seemed like a thousand trips to get everything moved. I remember being surprised that we had that much stuff. My family and I certainly enjoyed living in that “upgraded” home. Compared to homes today it wouldn’t have been such a great upgrade, but life is all about what you’re used to having, especially when you’re nine years old 😊. I remember Mom being so excited and that transferred to my brother (Jerry) and I. It had a finished basement for Mom’s washing machine and rinsing tubs and a shower for Dad to use when he came home each day from the coal mines.
I had a lot of fond memories while living in that house. I wanted to be on the high school football team in the 9th grade and P.L. Williams, the coach, came to our home to convince Mom & Dad to let me come out for the team (our school was small and he needed players). Dad bought a new 1955 Ford Fairlane while we lived there. My Great-Uncle came to visit one Sunday and didn’t know how to use the bathroom. He had an “Outhouse” with no running water. I was outside playing in the yard and he slyly came out and asked me where the outhouse was, and I told him we didn’t have one, that he needed to use the bathroom. He embarrassedly asked me to show him how to use it. We went inside thru the back door to avoid everyone inside, and I dutifully showed him how it worked. His eyes opened wide in amazement as he observed this “newfangled way” of using the toilet. I had my first date while living in that house, played a thousand hands of “Knuckles” poker there during the winter months.
“Yeah, I had a lot of good memories in that old house, and in almost every place I have lived during my long life. In some of those homes, I experienced a lot of success and in others failure. Michael Jordan said, “I missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games and 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.” I can surely relate to that 😊.
⚽ As some of you may know, I am an avid walker. I started running when I was 51, and twenty years later my right knee started giving me problems and I was reduced to being a walker. I convinced myself that I should thank the Lord that I was still able to walk and not be so dejected. It sorta felt like your family coming to you and saying, “You can no longer drive, you’re a threat to yourself and others”. I’m confident that day comes to all of us if we live long enough.
For me, 2000 steps equal one mile, and I average 50,000 steps each week, so I’m walking about 25 miles. Last week (5/3) I challenged the members in my Fitbit walking group (my 3 granddaughters, my wife, and a friend in Russia) to walk 100,000 steps the following week (50 miles). I promised to pay anyone that did so $200 and an extra $100 to the one that had the most over that goal. I calculated that I needed to walk 14,300 steps on each of those seven days to get to that magic number, and I wasn’t sure my cranky old bones were up to the task.
Sure enough, by the end of the 2nd day I had a small blister on the side of my right foot and I became worried that my quest was going to come to an end. I gave it some thought, looked closely at my walking shoes, and determined that I was probably tying my shoelaces too tight. In a short walk I wouldn’t notice anything, but a much longer walk would be a different matter. So, the next day I walked with my shoelaces much looser and to my delight the blister didn’t hurt. Also, I noticed as the week progressed how much better I was feeling, my stride became fluid, and I could tell that my waist was shrinking. Now, let me tell ya, that’s a good combination!
The competition ended Sunday night at midnight and the battle was between a 79-year-old Great Grandpa (me) and his 27-year-old granddaughter (Chelsea). I had 110,701 steps (55 miles), and she had 103,787 (52 miles). Earlier in the week she was 10,000 steps in front, but I believe she gave it some thought and decided it was more important for me to win than for her to beat “old Grandpa”, whom she loves dearly. I wonder if I could have been that magnanimous if I were in a competition with my grandfather when I was her age? I have an idea for a new competition in the near future, but I have to let my old aching body heal before announcing it.
I recently had a friend tell me they weren’t into walking as a means of exercising. What I wanted to say, and failed to because I feared offending them, was that not only do you get the health benefits but if you’re walking with someone you get the benefit of good conversation. My wife and I talk more on our walks than at any other time. The only exception may be when we travel. I have learned more about her than otherwise possible thru our thrice weekly one-hour walks. Although retired, we both keep an active schedule during the day and by nightfall we are exhausted, setting in front of the TV eating dinner and, perhaps, snoozing at times like old folks often do 😊.
This “Walking & Talking” thing applies to almost anyone. I love walking with my granddaughters, including the greats, and talking as we stroll along. If I were a police detective and I wanted to get information out of a suspect, the first thing I would say to him is, “let’s go for a walk”. If I were a doctor, I would tell my patients, if capable, to walk for 30 minutes at least three times each week and preferably with someone. I would want them to show me that they were willing to do something to promote their health. I know there would be exceptions, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable. True, we pay our doctors very well to look after our health, but I believe they can rightly expect us to help them get us to the place we want to be health wise. I do have friends that expect their doctors to slow, or stop, their declining health, without lifting a finger to help in that quest.
Yup, I know that having a healthy lifestyle is not a guarantee of a long and healthy life, but I strongly suspect not having one is indicative of a much shorter one with many health problems. An old Spanish proverb goes, “A person too busy to take care of their health is like a mechanic that’s too busy to take care of his tools”. None of us want to be that person 😊.
⚽ Back in March, I had an appointment with my new dentist (my old one retired)), and his task was to bring back my smile. Well, COVID-19 made its grand entrance into our lives and the appointment was canceled. Last week the Governor of our fair state (Virginia) let some business sectors reopen with restrictions. Dental offices were part of that group, so his office called last week (5/6), rescheduled me, and a week later I’m setting in front of his office in our truck. I called the office and his receptionist asked me 15 questions about my health and, after answering “No” to all of them, she invited me to come inside. When I arrived at the door she calmly asked, “Where is your face mask”? I was confused, why would I wear a facemask to the dental office? How are you gonna work on my mouth if I’m lying there with a facemask on?
I had been told beforehand there was no waiting in the waiting room and that I would be ushered directly to “The Chair”. I didn’t have a face mask, so she went inside and returned with one for me to use. In a few minutes my dentist walked into the room I now occupied, and after the customary greeting, revealed a needle that looked to all the world like one you would use on a full-grown horse. All of a sudden, he had my full attention. I thought he was a dentist, not a veterinarian. As I laid there with fear in my eyes, he casually sat on his stool, gave me a pat on the shoulder, and told me that I would only feel a slight sting.
He was definitely wrong about the “slight sting” thing because it was still there when I went to bed that night. The good news is that it worked. I was in his chair for quite a while and I never felt any pain, so the tradeoff was worth it. His job was to replace two caps and 1 filling, and he did an excellent job.
My experience with my dentist reminds me there are things in life that need to be done even though the experience may be less than desirable. A few come to mind: going to the tax accountant, getting a yearly physical, taking the car to the shop for its yearly safety inspection, an annual visit to the optometrist, and of course, the twice-yearly dental visits.
These are things we need to do as we navigate our way thru life, and deep inside we know that any of them can turn into a disaster. I have taken my car to the shop for inspection and watched patiently as the mechanic ambled slowly in my direction and informed me that the necessary repairs to make it roadworthy would cost about a thousand bucks. I have had my family doctor tell me that my blood platelets were too low and send me to hematologists. I still remember the fear in my heart as I walked into his office. Fortunately, the platelets have since increased but the concern is always there.
We all know that our stroll through life will be filled with times of joy and distress. The joy part is easily handled, it’s the part that causes distress that is worrisome. And to me, my friend, this is the part we have to concentrate on the most. How we handle stress plays a large role in how comfortable life is for us. I have developed a plan that works for me and it requires that I ask myself this question, “In one year will this problem still be here?” That has worked quite well for me because not very many of my stressful situations lingered for that long. Sigmund Freud said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful”. Sorry, Sig, that doesn’t work for me 😊.
⚽ It has been said that everybody does not have a love story. That is a pretty harsh, yet profound statement, because everyone should have at least one love story. Some, including me, have two love stories and some have many. Of course, there are many types of love, but the one I am referring to is the romantic type. I encountered my first experience with love when I was 16 years old. She was a classmate of mine, and her name is Joyce Weaver. Our romance lasted for three months and she was all I thought about for days on end. Turns out, what I thought was love, was called, “puppy love”. Later on, the term evolved into “a crush”. So, those two situations do not qualify as being in love since they are of a temporary, short term, nature. Being married twice has left me with many fond memories. My first wife and I split after 32 years of marriage and the time immediately after that was not happy for me. I knew that I did not want to spend the rest of my life alone, that I needed someone to share it with. Fortunately, a year after the split, I met my current wife and immediately my life got better. I was 52 at the time and felt as if a new chapter in my “Book of Life” had started. I wanted to make it meaningful, thoughtful, and exciting. The twenty prior years were filled with stress, little fun, and no way out. Now, all that was behind me and I was going to make life interesting. My current wife and I have been together for 28 years and during that time I do not have one single regret. We never go to bed mad at each other with kisses and “I love You’” exchanged on a daily basis. It never gets old. I have never been happier since her love became a way of life. “I love you” are the last three words we say to each other before going to sleep. I plan on it being the last words to her on my last day on this wonderful planet. Everyone should have a love story! Oscar Wilde said, “When you really want love you will find it waiting for you”. I believe a need for love, without the action required to find it, is just a wish.
⚽ Almost everything we know comes to us either through our eyes or ears. I think that is probably true for 75% of our knowledge, but the other 25% comes from, in my humble opinion, intuition, in which the heart plays a major role. Intuition could reasonably be influenced by knowledge, but I suspect what we do in response to what our heart tells us is not. For example, I believe love has no basis in knowledge. We suspect we fall in love with someone because of their beauty or personality, but it is much deeper than those two qualities. Although my wife has both of those qualities, the reason I love her has more to do with other aspects of her being. After my failed first marriage, I gave a lot of thought about what I was looking for in a mate. I was unable to determine what I was looking for, but I was able to decide what I did not want in the person with whom I wanted a romantic relationship. After about 4 months of living a solitary life, I started dating and I looked for those traits. It was instrumental in helping me decide which relationships to pursue. I would like to say that I consciously made the decision to fall in love with my wife, but that would be untrue. My heart made that decision without consulting me, and my brain had absolutely nothing to do with it. As it turns out, my heart made the right decision and my brain felt abandoned. I tend to believe we place too much confidence in our ability to decide things based on our knowledge and a lot of times we try to be too practical. If we try to rationalize everything and ignore our heart, we will surely, over time, harden it so that it becomes unable to help us pursue happiness. When that happens, we tend to lose that vital part of our being call empathy and we all know that comes from the heart, not the brain. There are many times in my life when my heart told me what to do. It’s the heart talking anytime you say, “It just feels like the right thing to do”. I am confident that any act of charity comes from the heart and that any act of cruelty is calculated and, therefore, generated by the brain.
Randolph Bourne said, “The logic of the heart is usually better than the logic of the head, and the consistency of sympathy is superior, as a rule for life, to the consistency of the intellect.” See, it didn’t take me long to find someone that agreed 😊.
⚽ It has been 2 months since I’ve had a haircut due to COVID-19, and I was beginning to look a shaggy dog. I picked up the phone and called my barber, Renee’, and asked her when her shop would reopen. She replied that it was still closed, but she would come to our home and make me handsome again. She said it would be ok if I invited friends over that needed her services. We set the time of her arrival (2 hours) and, after hanging up, I started calling some of my male friends. Only one accepted my invitation (Don) and he arrived within an hour. I setup a place in our garage for her to do her work and Don and I sat and chatted while the rain tried to erase all footprints in our area from the face of the earth. In a short while Renee’ and her friend (Karen) pulled into our driveway, jumped out into the rain and dashed for the garage. I had set up two lawn chairs and a stool, so everyone had a seat that needed one. I sat on the stool as she calmly placed her tools in a neat row on my workbench and commenced her work. I gazed in amazement as gray hair fell in all directions. Was my hair really that long and that gray? After finishing, she trimmed my eyebrows and cut the hair in my ears. As you age it seems like hair grows in places you wouldn’t expect it to. I paid her, including a healthy tip, got out of the chair and Don sat down in my place and she began her work anew.
A barber is sorta like a bartender, and their customers chat with them as they perform their magic. Turns out her husband died a mere 4 days earlier at the age of 51 and as she spoke of him, there was so much sadness in her voice. She quickly turned our conversation away from that and we attempted to help her push aside her grief. In about an hour she was finished, Don & I were satisfied with the results, and as she repacked her tools, I commented that she sure brought a lot of them with her. She replied, “Since you couldn’t come to the barbershop, I brought the barbershop to you.” She smiled, tapped me on the shoulder, and she and Karen, her security for house calls, bravely hurled themselves into the downpour of rain and dashed for the car. Don & I were glad that our wives would no longer complain about our hair being too long and equally glad that we could help someone during this terrible time of job loss due to COVID. I concluded that getting a haircut every month has become a habit and not a rule, and as Dr. Frank Crane said, “Habits are safer than rules; you don’t have to watch them. And you don’t have to keep them either, they keep you.” That is probably truer than I want to believe.
⚽ I have discovered over time that some people are naturally thoughtful. They go out of their way to do things for others, to make them comfortable, less uncomfortable, or happy! My wife is one of those people and so is our next door neighbor, Mary Beth. To visit with her and her husband (John) has always been a good experience for me. Conversations flow so easily, and I think that is because she was a schoolteacher for 30 years. Both are near my age, but their enthusiasm for life hasn’t diminished at all. There are, in my opinion, very few homes that are as welcoming and warm when you enter. Mary Beth will almost immediately ask you if you want something to eat or drink. I kinda think that was the type of home she grew up in back in Kentucky. Turns out I grew up about 2-3 hours away from their hometown. My childhood was spent in southwest Virginia. Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina all border Virginia in that area. Of course, the prominent topographical feature of that area is the mountains. Plenty of us old “hillbillies” came down out of those hollers and spread our warmth and generosity all over this wonderful country. Mary Beth and John are perfect examples of our heritage. They have been our neighbors for a very long time, and everyone should be blessed with such kind souls for neighbors. Reminds me of the adage, “God picks your relatives, you pick your neighbors”. We picked really good! William James said, “It would probably astound each of us beyond measure to be let into his neighbor’s mind and to find how different the scenery there was from that of his own”. I think that is probably a very true statement.
⚽ Last week I took our 2017 Nissan Titan to the dealership and had them install a “lift kit” that would raise the truck three inches. Now, I realize that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when I went down to pick it up after they had completed the work, I climbed inside and it felt like I was sitting on the top of Pikes Peak! Wow, I exclaimed to myself, I can see over the top of everything.! As I drove home with my wife following me, you would’ve thought I was one of those trucker guys driving a big rig across the country. The only thing I needed, I told myself, was a big set of horns that scare everybody to death. The dealership tried to convince me to buy a bigger set of tires to compliment my big truck look but I refused, determined to wait until I wore the ones out that, at this time, only have 25,000 miles on them, and now are looking a little smallish. I arrived home in about twenty minutes, and as always, backed the truck up the driveway and parked it in from of our garage. We have a two -car garage and two vehicles and both are refused entry into the garage. The truck is too big, always has been, and the Prius fits nicely, but we have too much stuff inside to allow our vehicles entry. Anyway, before I got out of the truck, I looked out at the wing mirrors to see if my head was even with the top of the house 😊. I guess that no matter how old a guy gets, he still likes to have his “man toys”. Now, I just gotta figure out how to mount the gun rack on the inside of my back window.
John Oliver Hobbes said, “Men are all the same. They always think that something they are going to get is better than what they have got.” That stings a little!
⚽ When I was a young lad and got into scuffs with my friends, it was customary for the loser to “cry uncle” when he wanted to give up and stop fighting. The battle we are all fighting now is an opponent we cannot see, but we know it’s out there, waiting to attack us if we are distracted. COVID-19 scares the bejesus out of all of us, and we have to be careful and not cry “uncle” and let our guards down. This fight began in earnest in early March and is projected to last the rest of the year, at which time we are told we should have a vaccine. My wife and I strongly feel that, at our age, we would have a hard time surviving such a strong enemy, so it is imperative for us to take stringent precautions.
In my 79 years, I can only remember one other such scary time and that was in the late ‘40s & early ‘50s when there was a polio scare. They had a drive called “The March of Dimes”, started in 1938 and interrupted by WWII. We would get a “March of Dimes” card when Mom and Dad would go to Grundy, about 15 miles away, to buy groceries on Saturday. That small town was always bustling on the weekend and I loved that trip. It had three movie theaters, so entertainment was always at hand. There was a pool hall underneath one of the barbershops, and of course, my Dad’s favorite place to go was the local ABC (whiskey store). He would avoid alcohol all week long, but when the weekends came all bets were off. I lose focus easily, so back to the March of Dimes. We would get a card that had about 10 slots for dimes and my brother and I would do chores all week to fill our card and turn it in on our trip to town the next Saturday. I remember my mother being scared of Polio, so that made my brother and I scared as well. For some unknown reason, my Dad never, ever, showed fear. I always admired that about him. He wasn’t a big man, standing about 5’7”, but he wasn’t afraid of anything. I mean anything! In hindsight, I think all young boys strive to be that kinda guy. Children seem to follow the lead of their parents. In 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk, a young scientist at the University of Pittsburg, developed a vaccine and it was tested on almost 2 million schoolchildren. On April 12th, 1955, it was approved as “safe, effective, and potent”. Thereafter, Polio was practically wiped from the face of the earth. I was 14 years old at that time and I remember the collective sigh amongst the adults in my world. In 1958, The March of Dimes changed their focus to the prevention of birth defects and that focus prevails today. I firmly believe we will conquer this marauding foe, but we have to be careful and not “cry uncle” too early. Bill Mauldin said, “To a soldier in a hole, nothing is bigger or more vital to him than the war which is going on in the immediate vicinity of his hole. If nothing is happening to him and he is able to relax that day, then it is a good war, no matter what is going on elsewhere.” Ahh, but we know we cannot relax in this war