Hell of a Guy
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter, Then and Now…


I awoke this fine March morning and get to observe my 70th Easter.  While more than certain I am not the only senior doing it, I could not help but to reflect on Easters past and compare them to Easters present.

Back in the old days, and I don’t mean just a few years ago, Easter was a big deal, a really big deal.  Eastertime has always had tremendous meaning to Christians, and always will.  It’s all about The Resurrection of Jesus and a new beginning.  While no one is certain the actual date or time of year The Crucifixion took place, it is celebrated in the spring of the year just at the time new life appears and renewed life burst forth.  Spring is my favorite time of the year.

When I was a kid Eastertime was a season within itself.  Lent began it, and I was too young to comprehend the meaning of it and since it didn’t being me any candy I can’t say I cared a bunch about it. But then came Palm Sunday, that being the day when palm fronds where passed out after the Sunday church service.  As a kid the significance of the frond was secondary to the fact we kids could wave them at one another like whips as we excited the church.  The significance of Palm Sunday to us kids was that we were one week away from the big day.

The big day was Easter Sunday.  It was a day that required much preparation.  It was the day we all got dressed up in new clothes and often new shoes (a new beginning) and went to church with all the people in their new clothes: the boys looking good in new suits and clip-on ties, and the girls in frilly dresses and the requisite Easter bonnets.  Easter Sunday services at Andrew Chapel Methodist Church on Frankfort Ave in Baltimore were always SRO.  The church was packed to the gills with what my mother referred to as “sunny day Christians,” it was the place to be and to be seen, and the place people wanted to be seen strutting around in all their glorious Eastern splendor like a bunch of peacocks, and then when the service was over the return home for a family gathering and a big Easter Sunday meal. 

The big day began with an early rising to see what the Easter Bunny had brought.  I awoke this morning recalling Easter 1955.  It was the year Fess Parker played the role of Davey Crockett for Walt Disney, and it was the year my brother Wayne and I got fake “coonskin” caps, tail and all, in our Easter baskets.  Somehow it is rather difficult for me to picture myself in a coonskin cap 58 years after the fact, but I know it happened and I wish I had a photograph of the moment.  Those wonderful Easter baskets were filled with jelly beans, boiled eggs we had dyed with weird colors the day before, a chocolate bunny or two, and with some chocolate-covered Easter eggs Mother had made filled with a coconut candy concoction that tasted a lot like a Peter Paul candy bar, all neatly and meticulously wrapped in waxed paper.  This was Easter at its finest and the one Sunday of the year we as kids didn’t mind going to church.  It was also the day we so looked forward to church being over so we could get home and delve in that candy.

These days it is a tad different for me.  Over the past 40 years Easter pretty much has been just another day for me, I have made it to Easter Sunday church services maybe five, ten times.  Easter hasn’t lost its flavor, I still enjoy it, but I just have a different spirituality, probably as many of you may.  This Easter finds me here typing this while my bride sleeps in.  No new clothes, no Easter baskets, no family gathering, and no plans to leave the house.  In a way I like it, in another way I miss the old days, Easters with kids and with family, the new clothes and Easter bonnets, Easter parades and all the stuff that used to make up my second favorite holiday of the year.

In any event, Happy Easter to all, may this day bring to you a renewal of spirit, a new beginning, a new path.

And that is all I have to say about that… 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Let’s Get Physical, Physical…


A few years ago I pledged to begin a program to maintain a higher level of health.  Part of that program is a yearly physical and a daily exercise program I attempt to maintain.  The physical part is a snap.  I just call the doctor’s office and make the appointment.  Once there, the doctor does the rest.  The exercise part is all up to me and a tad harder to maintain, but I manage to exercise an average five and a half days a week…I think.

My exercise program these days take me about an hour and fifteen minutes and includes treadmill, some free weights and some calisthenics.  According to the treadmill I burn about 600 to 700 calories, which is about the same amount in three beers, making the exercise calorie burn and the beer calorie intake a washout.  Perfect!

The physical thingy is a little different.  I am not a modest guy, generally speaking, but it is a little disconcerting to be standing buck naked in front of another man who is checking your private parts asking you to turn your head and cough.  It is even more disconcerting when the doctor asks you to bend over and grab your ankles – most unpleasant.

I made it through all the nastiness of the physical with a determined smile on my face, but one part of it did make me laugh.  I was lying on my back on the examination table which other than a stool the doctor sat on and one very uncomfortable chair was the only furniture in the room.  The doctor was pushing on, prodding and squeezing my abdomen, my arms and my legs.  He squeezed my ankles and was looking closely at my feet.It surprised me when he told me the condition of a person feet, especially the toenails, were an indication of that person’s overall health.  Sounded weird to me, but he’s the doc and I am just a gullible patient.  And then he said something even weirder: He said I still had hair growing on my toes and that it is even a better indicator of my overall health.  Hair on my toes is an indication of my level of overall health?  Whatever!  I felt like Bilbo Baggins, except as a six-footer I don’t quite look the part and I generally wear shoes.

I walked away from this year’s physical feeling pretty good about myself.  Yeah, I have some aches and pains, mostly as a consequence of aging, I think, but all-in-all nothing I can’t put up with.  I find myself slowing down a little…maybe I should say it takes me a little longer to get things done, but I can deal with that, too.

Hopefully, I will be around for the completion of another orbit of the sun and another physical in 2014, and maybe for the next one I have my toes painted and ribbons in the hair on my toes.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nostalgia Trip…


I am not one who lives in the past, but I do enjoy an occasional visit there, especially a look back at the most pleasant times.  One of those looks is at some wonderful summer vacations and my fantasy childhood.

My mother’s family, though she was not born there, was from North Carolina near a small coastal village called Marshallberg, and for many of my childhood years we vacationed there.  Prior to his death in 1945, my grandfather purchased an old house and some land adjacent to the waterfront home place of his father-in-law.  He lived in Baltimore and this house was to be used by the family as a vacation home.  It was not opulent in any way, shape or form; it offered no amenities – none.  While it did have electricity, it did not have indoor plumbing, save a hand- operated pump in the kitchen that offered some of the worst water I have ever had the displeasure to drink.  Even with ice, it sucked. The kitchen lacked a refrigerator but had icebox (which has to be experienced to appreciate), and there must been a stove of some sort, though I cannot for the life of me remember it.  The old house had three bedrooms - one down, two up.  The one downstairs was reserved for my grandmother, who was known as “Bertie,” and those upstairs were crammed with three or four beds in them that allowed little room to navigate, and each equipped with a chamber pot.  Those two offered communal, albeit uncomfortable, sleeping arrangements for our family of six.

Other than the couple of unpleasant camping trips I have taken in my lifetime, vacations in Marshallberg were the only times I have been forced to use an “outhouse.”  In a word, it was a nasty experience.  About the only thing nastier than having to use a smelly outhouse full of spiders and indescribable odors might be the portable toilets at outdoor events or a chamber pot. There just ain’t no graceful way to use a chamber pot, though good balance is a must.

I was born in 1944.  My earliest recollection of a vacation at the old house is when I was six or seven.  We traveled there in my dad’s 1948 Plymouth coupe; Mom and Dad and little brother in the front, my two sisters and me in the back.  It was always in August, and it was always hot as hell.  We would leave Baltimore about 4:30 in the morning for the 450-mile trip and arrive tired and sweaty at the old house about 3:30 in the afternoon for a two- or three-week stay. 

So many wonderful memories of this place; Sleepy Creek just seconds from the house where we swam, fished, crabbed and boated (rowed); getting blocks of ice for the icebox to barely keep our food cool; the whistling noise of salty breezes as they blew through the window screens; waking up in the morning to the sweet smells of freshly brewed coffee and crispy bacon; and just not having a care in the world.  Those were the days - lazy, awesome, unforgettable days.
Marshallberg vacations, where I got to get a banana split at White’s Ice Cream Parlor in Morehead City for 50 cents (an extravagance in early fifties) and the shear enjoyment of our once-a-year restaurant dining at “Tony’s Sanitary Fish Market” and hush puppies and fried shrimp right off the boat.  Yum!

I could go on and on.  Each word I type brings up more and more memories of days gone by of a childhood that was wonderful beyond wonderful.  These thoughts make me so happy I could cry, but I won’t. I’ll just keep on smiling and keep on remembering.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Writer’s Block…


Forgive me, father, it’s been nearly a month since my last addition.

It’s funny how the blog thing works most of the time these days.  If I sit down in front of this laptop my mind goes completely blank.  As I begin to write all of the sudden my medulla oblongata goes into hibernation after a few sentences.  Actually I think I do my best writing with a slight buzz, but let’s keep that between you and me.

I get my best ideas when I am driving and have no way to record them or write my thoughts down, and at my ever advancing age recalling my thoughts at a later time is nearly impossible.
With that said, I apologize for the lull between my posts.  Please know I will be back as soon as the fog taking up the space my brain use to fill prior to the cerebral atrophy I suffer clears.

And that is all I have to say about that…for now.