⚽ 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
Frank Shortt says:
Tommy, I enjoyed all your articles. Your “Jonas Salk” mention brought back a lot of memories of that polio epidemic. We could not get near the creek, or drink from any mountain stream. Our mothers did a big job back then keeping us safe from harm