The workers of my youth (coalminers) wore their work on their skin and clothes. They left home with skin and clothes well-scrubbed and returned with coal dust covering everything. Today, most of the people I know return home from work as clean as when they left. My father, grandfathers, uncles and cousins were all proud coal miners. My father had his own coal mine and during the summer of 1957 (I was 16), my uncle KD (who was 17) and I worked in that mine loading coal. My brother, Jerry, was 15 and wasn’t allowed (by Mom) to go into the mines. Dad’s best loader could load 22 tons a day and KD & I could load 18 tons each. The pay was $1 per ton, unfortunately, my pay was room, boardJ, and allowed to use our car on Sunday nights to take my girlfriend to the movies at Grundy (VA). The coal dust was fairly easy to remove from most of my body, but was almost impossible to scrub from around my eyes and from under my fingernails. Nobody, absolutely nobody, wants to pick up their girlfriend for a date looking like a raccoon! I would spend hours trying to get ready for those dates. Oh, and by the way, the cost of a date including gas, 2 movie tickets, popcorn, and coke for both of us was $4 (gas was 32¢ gal). I remember getting in the car at our small coal camp (Page) and driving about 6 miles to pick up my date (my ex-wife Mae) and then to Grundy to watch the movie. As we sat watching, the rest of the world made its appearance in our small community (the movie was always preceded by news from around the world). It was in that small movie house that I fell in love with actresses Jane Russell, Linda Darnell, and every other female beauty that floated across the screen. I have since stumbled across the meaning of true love (according to Mohandas Gandhi): Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginable”. I am unable to convince myself I wasn’t in love with Jane Russell during those hormone driven years.
I read the other day that “It can be safely concluded that siblings are not just inherent rivals, but the greatest source of stress between human beings”, and I wondered, “How can that possibly be true”? My brother and I were rivals as youngsters, but as adults we were the best of friends. My own two children barely speak (civilly) to each other, but I know numerous other siblings that get along fine. I believe that sometimes, it has to do with their parents, that one sibling doesn’t like the way the other(s) treat mom or dad. And, I guess, sometimes, they just don’t like each other as adults. Whatever the reason for their animosity, it would seem impossible to hold a grudge for a very long time against someone that you spent so many years with as a youngster and is a direct connection to your childhood. I loved my brother for many reasons and one of them was he knew me as few others could, and he loved me in spite of my short-comings (and the many beatings I gave him as a youngsterJ). I strongly suspect that if my two children do not resolve their differences, there will come a time when they will regret their anger. There are several people in my life fighting to stay alive, so grudges seems pointless and should be moved past as quickly as possible. Although I pray for my children’s reconciliation every day, I am reminded of the old saying, “Sometimes, the Lord doesn’t give you a full bucket, he only gives you half a bucket.” Since they aren’t actively plotting against each other, that must be the half a bucket that I’m getting.
I’ve been mulling over this quote by Christian Bovee: “No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities.” I wonder how that could be true. Are we constantly in a state of delusion, and therefore, unaware of the realities in our life? I know that I constantly try to put a positive spin on negative things, but I’ve never felt that I was deluding myself. A good example would be when my daughter’s car started running badly last week (it has little age on it). I took it to the garage for her and got it repaired. Now, she is determined that she needs a new car and I keep repeating the old adage that it is “cheaper to make repairs than make car payments”, putting a positive spin on owning an older vehicle. I do not think I have convinced her, but I hope she realizes a new car will seriously drain her bank account. Come to think of it, the delusion that a new car will make her happy probably reinvigorates the quote above. J
This thought crossed my mind the other day: how far back in history can I go with someone I actually knew? The answer to that was my Great Grandpa Hale (Dec 1868 – May 4, 1961). He was born 4 years after President Lincoln’s assassination (April 14, 1865) and a mere 92 years after the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pa. How cool is that! (my favorite expressionJ). If anyone could go back farther, I suspected it would be Jerilyn’s mother (Gladys) who is soon to be 92 years old (8/27). During my last visit with her, I asked her and she said she remembered three of her grandparents, none of her great-grandparents, and had no idea when they were born. So, here I sit, wondering who I know that can reach farther back in history than December, 1868. I’m betting there is someone that receives this missive that can reach back in history farther than I and will let me know.
There’s a character in the August Wilson play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” who says everyone has a song inside of him, or her, and that you lose sight of that song at your peril. If you get out of touch with your song and forget how to sing it, you’re bound to end up frustrated and dissatisfied. As this character says, recalling a time when he was out of touch with his own song, “Something wasn’t making my heart smooth and easy.” I read this recently and thought, “Maybe, I’ve lost sight of that song in me.” You would think that as a retired guy, I would have plenty of time to keep in touch with my song, but alas, that is not true. My philosophy in life has been to stay active, with something to do, something to look forward to, and life would be interesting and fun. Problem is, I have made my life to0 busy, and I sing that internal song less and less as time goes by. It only re-appears when I have conversations with those I enjoy, we leave town on vacation, or Jerilyn and I are lying in bed talking just before we drop off to sleep. Somehow, I have to get back to where I can appreciate and enjoy silence. I believe that is the key to “making my heart smooth and easy.” If, as many say, by and large life is mostly dull and without meaning, we have to work hard at making it more than that. The trick is not to go too far the other way.
How many of you have participated in the Nielsen TV ratings? We were recently asked (by phone) and I agreed. A few days later we received a “TV Viewing Diary” for each of the TV’s (2) in our home. Inside the envelope was a note thanking us for participating and giving us $1 to pay for taking the time to do it. Without demeaning the dollar, I wondered why someone in that organization thought $1 was a sufficient amount to reward someone for taking so much time to help them with their survey, which takes a lot of time to complete, and is certainly worth more than $1! I would tend to think there should at least be enough to buy a dinner at their expense. If they can only afford $1, why not just express their appreciation and let it go at that? There is a point where an act of appreciation can become offensive. In other words, you under-valued the request you made and your thanks fell short of the mark. I hope I have never done that! I hope that all the help I have received in my lifetime has been appropriately noted to the person responsible and gracious thanks extended by me. I believe it is true that proper “thanks” opens many doors and creates lasting relationships. Now would be a good time for me to convey to you my heartfelt thanks for taking the time to read my missives. I sometimes wonder why you sift through the offbeat thoughts that bang around in my head, and I’m always amazed at the comments I receive from you on some of the things I write. My good friend Dale wrote me a while back saying: “I look forward to reading your WOW’s (Window Ontha World). It’s like long ago when we got letters from home, but now the cell phone has taken that away from us.” I remember getting letters from home many years ago while going through basic training in the Air Force. I kept those letters for years before I finally let them go. I’m glad all of you like my musings.
I hope that wherever you live on this wonderful planet, you are safe from harm, secure in a happy life, and that you have enjoyed this view from “My Window on The World”. If you get a chance, drop me a line, I would love to hear from you…….Tommy
To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere
without moving anything but your heart…..Phyllis Theroux