Old times in Trion

I look at the photos of our new “mega-gym” and it looks like a college gym…wow. Quite nice, but I think back to the old “Y” and I’m so glad I grew up with it! I’d love to take a time trip back and play in our old intramural basketball league “The playboys” Me and Marion Wingfield, Jim Warnock, Agnew Myers, and….heck I don’t remember now boys, help me out…maybe Don Reynolds? Bad when you can’t remember.

We had the grill, wonderful cherry cokes and great hot dogs. We had an indoor heated pool! J.W. Greenwood taught me to swim in that pool. That man loved his students! Helped teach me baseball, golf. He was good at it all and dedicated because he loved this town and its kids.

We had the Weight room, pool tables, ping pong…all that good stuff. I think the Webb’s and the Maddux boys were in charge of that area…leastwise I remember them being there a lot. We had our proms up in that gym, on that ancient hard wood floor, and never once worried about falling through into the pool on the level underneath..it was a well built place. I left a lotta sweat out in that gym from PE classes with Sam McCain, Gordon Jones, J.W., and Donnie Hayes. Also, a lot of good and BAD memories.

All in the 60’s! I don’t know what we woulda done with a huge gym…We really wouldn’t have needed it back then. Guess we were a little provincial. We had some great football teams, and players. Wallace Clark, was as fast and tough a running back as I can remember. Stacy Searels came along a little later as did the 74 championship team. Good players all. And they got their share of “the glory” They deserved their “bylines” and they got them.

I look back at my old copies of the “Bulldog” Barker, and see where back in the 60’s we had all kinds of stories. Features about writing, people, academic activities, some fiction sometimes. Ms. Wingfield believed in a balanced approach. Sports had its place, but wasn’t the only thing in the Barker, like this past weeks issue was. There were other things which were equally important. Plus she taught…really taught journalism. I can’t count the number of rewrites I had to do. I wrote about Homecoming Queens, Honor Roll, Teachers profiles, Student profiles, Literary meets, book reviews, poetry, the Band…You name it. I remember Billy Hyden being in there with me and I think Bink Dawson, but again…can’t remember it all, wish I could. I mean no disrespect to whoever currently is over this area. I just loved Mrs Wingfield.

I watched a professional football game tonight where it appeared to me a bunch of millionaires were trying to hurt and maim each other. They were constantly in each other’s face talking smack. Seems to be that way in many sports at that level. I get to where I hope my grandkids don’t choose to go that path. I wonder sometimes if we don’t put too much emphasis on sports to the detriment of other things. Hey, we’re falling behind a lot of other countries academically, but by dang…We got the NFL! We got the NBA! Some of the citizens of those burgeoning foreign countries may OWN them one day…hell they already own some, I reckon.

We got our new gym though, and I’m proud of that. I just hope we will provide great facilities like that for our band, for kid’s who want to sing and work in the arts. Great facilities for kids who want to learn to garden and grow things, to raise animals. Kids who won’t ever go to college on a sports scholarship. Kids who will grow up doing the “ordinary” things that keep the world running.

There is a place in our world for all of these and more. In my heart I hope we are doing enough for all of them.

Filling in the spaces

A million old memories run around inside my brain. Picking a particular one out often requires a lot of searching. Sometimes my memories are incomplete. They are like your satellite signal during a heavy rain. They go and come, and kind of get all fuzzy and blurred.

I see people I know I know, but I can’t place. Names often escape me, especially when it’s been a while since an interaction.

I think it’s just a lack of concentration at times. I remember things I don’t need to remember, and forget what I went to Walmart to get. I make lists but forget to take them. My mind is on more serious issues like the Federal Deficit.

My most often used defense is “I don’t remember”

I know I have lived a wonderful life. I definitely remember that. I have loved and been loved. I’ve seen the beauties of nature, and eaten great barbeque and awesome seafood. I have swam in the ocean. I’ve read great books, and have known unique individuals. I have a great group of humans who I call my family who help me fill in the spaces that need filling. So I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and making grocery lists.

Has the taffy pulled apart yet?

What is certain to be a divisive and decisive year in the political system of America continues. Honestly, I try to be open minded and see if I can discern the things which work from both sides which would be of benefit to all Americans. There are fewer and fewer people will who try to stand in the center and find common ground. If you try to do it, you are targeted by both extremes.

The country is like a big old piece of “Turkish taffee” with two big strong kids pulling on either end. The middle gets thinner and thinner, and pretty soon it’s gonna break and there will never be a chance to put it back together again. It happened once already 150 years ago, and we’re still feeling the effects from that.

Buy up canned tuna, bottled water, blankets and sterno and stay alert. Either that or drift on back by the middle sometime and see if we can’t get together on some stuff and move forward. There must be compromise because every single person can’t get every single thing they want.

Screens. A trip from pretty good to pretty bad.

I have been watching screens for the majority of my life. Television came of age when I was a very small child and my life, most of all our lives in Western society at any point, became intricately intertwined with the things which were being broadcast upon that little screen.

Even at first, although the “programming” was mostly innocuous, it was influential. How I tied a towel around my neck and pretended to be “Superman” and jumped off my porch and sprained my ankle terrible, because no matter what I had seen, I could not fly. I could not…fly…

I had my cowboy guns like Hoppalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers, and I went outside and put caps in my guns (my ammo) and shot the bad guys. All of us little kids did the same thing. It was our right to have our guns and imitate our heroes, wasn’t it? And so we did.

And the screens progressed. They got bigger. They went from black and white to living color. The “programming” became more complex. The news became an integral part of the screen.

I spent more time playing outside than a lot of kids. I spent a lot of time by myself playing, thinking, and formulating ideas. I read voraciously. The televisions screen was mostly a nighttime thing. My Dad limited our time watching it. It was a “privilege” and a lot of times that privilege was taken away as punishment for misbehaving. We weren’t allowed unlimited access. It was probably a good thing.

Throughout the years these information screens, whether you call them a television, a computer, a pad, a phone, whatever you might want to call them…these screens have come to do more and more of our thinking for us. They tell use what is “right or wrong”. They sway our opinions of other people and other things. This “social” media which has been created to play itself out in the virtual “over the screen” world, has come to be so influential, that “comments” and “posts” made using it, can make enemies of friend and family who we have known and loved all of our lives, while at the same time making us “friends” with people we have never known. Never has it been more apparent about this negative/positive media, then over the past year.

As I can continue to see hate and division spill across this screen, the TV screen, the phone screen, and any other type of screen that I look at, I begin to feel very tainted by it all. I want to divest myself totally from all of it….but continue to get pulled into the fray almost every time I look at a screen. It’s a powerful, almost irresistible pull.

I’m trying very hard, trying very hard. I’m devoting some time every day to reading, to thinking, to meditating, to praying. I hope to increase that time, and decrease this time. I hope to go back to mostly “family” kind of things like pictures and prayers, and sharing memories online. I hope I can do a “flip flop” and I also hope I can keep my attention away from the things which are divisive that are being posted by many, many people.

I may probably start tomorrow by keeping all my screens turned off, or at least keeping the sound turned down.

I have jumped off of the high porch again, and have found that I cannot fly…..I cannot fly…and I have hurt myself terribly…..

I leave you with the words of Paul Simon:

“and the people bowed and prayed

To the neon god they made

And the sign flashed out its warning,

In the words that it was forming

And the signs said,

“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls

And tenement halls

And whisper’d in the sounds of silence”