Nostalgia #2

I was reminded by a friend that the summers in the sixties seemed so much better. They were longer, and the pace of life was much more leisurely. I spent those glorious days playing baseball, golf, and guitar. There was time to get a little band together…play some songs.

There were books to be read that I wanted to read, not some boring book assigned for a class. There was iced tea that Momma made to cool us down. There were walks to take, and rides in the cool cars of the “older” guys.

There were trips to the cool solace of Grandma’s house up in the mountains, and the resulting explorations. There was great music, the best ever, to be listened to. There were friendships to be cultivated that would last forever…many who are still surviving today.

But then, there was that inevitable day when down inside you a longing for the fall and the “new year” to start would come creeping into your brain. School was always a love/hate relationship but looking back now through the rearview mirror it wasn’t so bad. No, actually it was more than not bad, it was good. Even with some of the crisis we thought were so earth shattering at the time.

We moved on and became adults, and took on all the responsibilities that go with it. We raised our kids, worked our jobs. We lived our lives.

Things were as they should be. Things are as they are going to be. It’s inevitable. Change is inevitable, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to wander back every now and then in our minds to the days when we worried more about what notebook to buy for school than we do about how we’re gonna pay our bills. It’s actually soothing to the soul.

Where your pebble goes

It matters very little in the end what we have done or said while we live. For most of us, we effect only a handful of people with our lifetime actions. It’s the ripple effect that takes place after we are gone which counts. For you see, our pebble is not thrown in the pond of history when we are born, but only when we die.


In the future, nothing is going to be the same. I suppose that’s always been the case, hasn’t it?

Each generation has our own time, we have our own historical setting. We have the “good old days” which have belonged to us and us alone. The unique time which has been given to us, and which passes us by like a combination run of the tortoise and the hare. Slow the days….swiftly the years.

As I was driving to Rome today for a Drs. appointment, I had that feeling you sometimes get when you think you’ve been there before, and done that before. The deja vu affect. I think it’s simply because that particular drive, that particular way to go, is so familiar. I’ve traveled this way hundreds, or perhaps thousands of time. As a child I dreamed that Mom and Dad and I ran off the road in a rainstorm at the big curve right after you go by Hunters furniture. I still remember that dream vividly.

I felt a deep sense of nostalgia driving back today. Could have been because the dermatologist froze a big spot on my forehead and kinda cooled my skull down. Maybe cryogenics is the way to go after death.

All I know is that our HS 50th reunion is this summer, and that friends that I loved and played little league ball with, are passing away or are already gone. I don’t feel old, not really…but I know time is ticking away….slow the days , but swift the years…

“but, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep…and miles to go before I sleep.”

To Be a Better Neighbor

In this day and age I see, read and hear a lot of things I don’t understand. Back when I was a kid I think I was able to understand things better.

I understood trust better. Many people would give you their word they would do something, and they would. If they didn’t, it would get around that “so and so” don’t keep their promises. If you were in a business of some kind, a couple of cases of that might ruin you. Politicians who were not ethical didn’t get re elected. Relationships were built on trust.

I understood helping one another better. Neighbors would actually really do things for each other. I remember my Daddy mowing our elderly neighbors grass many times. “I already had the mower running” he would say. I remember brown paper bags of fresh garden vegetables being given from one place to another. “We got more Okrie then we can eat and more tomatoes…the neighbors across the street have more corn.” Out and back it went. People got together to help each other can vegetables for winter. A big mess of fish was shared, already cleaned. People…helped..each other. Look around and see if that’s happening now. Maybe sometimes…but most times not. In my neighborhood now I only have one person who has been there over a few months. The rest of the houses are rental houses. I should really take the time to try and get to know them anyway, but I haven’t. My fault there. It’s just a harder thing now for me.

I understood relationships better. There was only three TV channels and I had to go outside and manually turn the antenna to get one of them. Instead of constantly watching TV, we played. Baseball, football, hide and seek, freedom, board games galore, weekly Rook matches and so much more. My cousins were my close friends and playmates, along with our “neighbors on the street”. I could still name all of the ninth street gang if I wanted. There were a bunch of us. When it snowed during the winter, we cut up cardboard boxes and sledded all day. Didn’t even stop to eat lunch. We walked to the golf course with our clubs on our backs. We spent the night with each other. Does this kind of thing still go on? Do I just not see it anymore because I’m a grown up?

I feel like sometimes we have lost touch with each other, and when I say that I mean real physical touch, not just being electronically in contact. Don’t get me wrong. I have enjoyed and bought into a lot of the new age of communication and interrelationships. It was easy to slip into it, and it does have its good points. I think not being face to face with real people, and actually seeing and experiencing their needs and their own personal mannerisms and emotional expressions has robbed us of a certain ability to properly relate with other human beings. We see many people ask for prayer, and they get many likes and comments, but I bet one personal phone call or in person visit would mean more than 100 “likes” I came to a realization just the other day when I was “texting” my son. Texting is handy and necessary in some cases, but dammit there was no reason why I shouldn’t have just called and talked to him right at that moment…so I did.

I just saw statistics that more than 2700 hundred people will die in the State of Georgia over the next year due to the lack of Medicaid coverage because of political differences. That’s more people than the population of my entire town. If a tornado or a flood killed that many people it would be declared a disaster. If that many people died in a terrorist attack, we would go to war. As it stands, in this day and age, it’s just a number. Nobody’s outraged about it…nobody much anyway. Least not nobody who can do anything about it. I just understand it anymore.

No need to complain

Why complain about long grass?

I found myself doing that this past weekend, and I got aggravated with myself.

I find as the years pile up that perspective changes. What people think of me personally means very little. Worldly items pass like windblown leaves in the storm of days. You start to consider your legacy…what will it be? I spend a lot of time with my kids and grandchildren, and I find that I LIKE them more and more. I have always loved them, but having them as friends is now so important.

If I indeed have a legacy it will not be anything I have every written or said, anything I have possessed or will possess, anything which I bequeath, anything concrete thing I have ever created.

It will be the images I leave… in the minds of those I love. It will be a kind word that people who I call my friends might say about me. That is all which will matter.

Not how long the grass grows, it’ll be growing over me someday and it won’t matter to me a bit.

October Winds

For all those October winds…that blew in the winters for all these years now. For all the Decembers which have crossed my path as quickly as a snow bunny….and for April’s spirited and joyous showers. Even for July’s blistering heat which hasn’t bothered me or made me sad. I am thankful..I am thankful. I have lived them all, and God knows I am thankful…and not yet empty of time’s draw.

I simply find when I look at the calendar.

And subtract the year I was born from…

The year it is now…

It gets…


The Greatest Generation- from 2012

I was at the Trion track field yesterday for the Memorial Day celebration. I saw a lot fewer of the men from my Dad’s generation there than ever before. The men and women from “the greatest generation” are very quickly and for the most part quietly leaving us. Ten years ago, I still used to see them down at Trade Day, walking around and still buying tools and things to work with. That was their signature, their iconic symbol. Work. They came back home from World War II and Korea and worked. They worked in the Cotton Mills, in the Car factories. They worked as farmers and carpenters. They built this country back up from a depression much greater and more cutting than this current one. They were men of few words, and ever fewer gripes. They didn’t piss and moan about how hard they had things, about not having the luxuries of life. They ate beans and ‘taters, and did without. They did without a lot of times so that they could give us, the “baby boomers” more than what they had…giving us things that they themselves had always wanted as children but could not have; toys, clothes….a childhood. They mostly gave us love. Many of them gave us more love because of all the death and destruction they had seen in the Wars. So, I was happy to shake the hands of some of these men yesterday. More than that….I was honored. I have been honored to know so many of them who are now gone and have been so instrumental in shaping my life, that being what it is, not perfection but at least respectful in most instances. I wish I could name them all….I hesitate to even name a few for fear I would leave some out from my bad memory who really need to be included. My Daddy of course, Gaines Bowers. Men at the First Baptist Church when I was a child, Mr. Watson and Tip McCollum and Leo Lanier, J.W. Greenwood, Mr. Bailey Gilbreath, Billy Locklear, Paul Arden, Mr. Styles, Jake Woods, (still miss his birthday phone calls) Hugh Henderson, Joe Woods, Logan Parker, Mr. King, (still see him at Trade Day..bless him) Norman McClellan, Victor Pettett, King Anthony, and so many more. The men at Riegel Textile many of who were also members of the Church but some not, Henry Rider, and Dee Wilson, Thurman Day, Julius Sprayberry, Namon Dennis, Joe Collette, Mr. Brown (Roy and Marty’s Daddy) Porter Durham, Mr. Shamblin, and again, so many more. The people of the town…Mr. Sprayberry at the Post Office, and Jules Stephen, who always cut my hair, Joe the Postman always walking his beat, Mr. Chief Starkey, Hoyt Williams, Alfred Mount, Mr. Hurley’s, (Sr. and Jr.) Mr. Horton the pharmacist, Deck Brewster, Sloppy Floyd who was our neighbor at one time, Tommy Brown, Mr. Clyde Bethune, Mr. Grubbs, and so many more. All of our teachers, Mr. Sam McCain, Mr. Miller, Mr. Strickland. So many of them, and of course ALL of their wives who had as much, if not MORE influence on us. Just look at the name of the men, and think…you will know their names. Yes, they are leaving us, and for those who are already gone let’s take a moment to remember them this weekend. For those who are still here and getting around, shake their hands, hug them, tell them you love them while you have a chance….because they ARE passing away and will all soon be gone.

Sandpaper or Polishing Cloth?

Throughout my life I have been like rough sandpaper. Anyone who has ever built anything knows that sandpaper is a required item. You cannot smooth down things which you are building without sandpaper. I know I have been abrasive. I feel like at times it was necessary. When building anything, a table, a house or even a life, all tools have their place. The hammer, the nail, the wood, the sandpaper. Shape and reshape. Learn from mistakes. Start over if needed. Tear it down and build it up again.

I hope I am finally to the point where I am going to be more like a polishing cloth in the future. Brightening things. Removing tarnish and making items beautiful. Most days I have more patience than I used to..but I still struggle as evidenced by some writings where I am still angry when I let my thoughts spill out. But, I continue to try. In those instances I need to try and remember all the times other people have had patience and compassion for me during my life. There have been some nonredeemable characters who have breezed in and out of my life, but only a very,very few. I have been lucky. I have been blessed. Through all the years I sometimes have failed to realize just how much, and to be thankful for what I have been given.

I’m probably still going to rant and rave sometimes. I’m still gonna get mad sometimes, and be unreasonable. But changing from rough sandpaper to a polishing cloth is not an overnight thing, no matter when you decide to start.

What DO you want out of life?

Ages ago, on a cool September morning my Dad took me to Carrollton, Georgia to start school at West Georgia College.

I was excited, nervous and uncertain. I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a profession. I had no grand master plan for my future. There was no manual in my suitcase with the title “What to do in Life”. I never figured it out either.

My original thought was to get a degree in History and become a teacher. I veered from that path.

Paula and I met and became friends, and then a couple. Then we fell in love. Her Mom and Dad moved off to California and we decided we’d get married…little more than kids though we were, we did it…in June of 1968. We are still best friends, and still love each other.

I went on to UGA, and took three more years of classes. I worked full time on the third shift at Westinghouse electric, making transformers for power poles. It wasn’t easy trying to do a full time job at night and school during the day. I fell asleep in C parking lot early one morning trying to study for a test that day. I woke up sitting in my car that afternoon with my notebook in my lap. I got a zero on the test.

I never finished college. After four years and over 200 quarter hours, I left in 1974 with my wife and two year old daughter to start my work in a “career”. Only I never had a career. Just a succession of jobs that I worked, in order to raise my kids and keep food on the table.

I did everything from building mattresses to selling medical supplies. I finally got an interview with the VP of manufacturing at a fairly large Textile operation in 1988 for Quality Manager. I talked my way into the job, and stayed there and was successful for 12 years…until they sold out to a larger company, who of course had their own people…so it was bye bye.

It was during this twelve year period that I tried to break into the Nashville songwriting scene. I was good enough, but not dedicated enough to move to Nashville. No career in songwriting for me….but that’s a story for another time.

I went through stints at several more places as QA manager before my heart took me out in 2010-11, after the stress of losing both parents within 6 months, and being constantly under pressure to stay at work…when I really needed to be caring for them. It was a lousy couple of years.

And yet…I have found more peace and gratification in the last five years in my career as a Papa care person then I ever did at any of my “career” jobs. I have finally figured out out that my career was my obligation to raise my children and grandchildren to the best of my ability, to love them as much as I can, and to ensure that they had and have the best beginning to the most rewarding life that I could give them. I dunno how well I have succeeded, but with my wife’s constant help, and assistance as my conscience, I guess we’ve done ok.

I’ve said all of that to get to this: success is measured in many different ways, by many different people but I could care less for any labels anybody puts on me. I finally know the true measure of myself, and while I’m far from being perfect, I at least…and at last, feel like I have accomplished something of what I meant to do on that cool September morning back in 1968.

Well Auttie is graduating tomorrow…so I’ve got five more to go…at least that’s the number right now. And I’ll keep walking and exercising, and plugging away as long as God gives me breath….

Memories of Trion, Mainly Playing Golf

I took a ride with Ted Bowers this morning at the newly reopened Trion Golf Course. He was driving a golf cart out of which we frequently exited to swing at the little white dimpled ball. Some would call it playing golf, but what I did today more closely resembled gardening than any sport.

I could not remember the last time I partook in this activity. There was a golf card in the bag which read “Calhoun Elks Lodge golf course” It was dated 2002, and had the names “Larry”(me) and “Joe”, who was Mr. Joe Sultan…my boss at the time. Since the rubber grips had dry rotted off all the irons in the bag from sitting in my utility room, I figured 14 years was about right. There were 14th generation spiders and cobwebs who were inhabiting that bag and protested loudly when I removed their home, and forcefully ejected them last night. A lot of water, a flood and a torrent has gone under the trestle bridge since these clubs were last used.

My Dad’s playing days had passed when I put those clubs away. I had suffered one heart attack and one stent at that time, and thought I was in good shape. I wasn’t though. I lost my job with Mr. Sultan’s company. A good company and a good job. I still don’t know quite why til this day…but it was a hard blow to me. I went on from there to 12 hour night shifts, constant uncertainty and anxiety, deaths of my parents, major surgery with permanent damage, and overall health decline. It is only since last June, that I began walking my way back to some mobility. I must tell you though my friends, that if I see you out and don’t recognize you, or if I sound uncertain about some past event which I should remember, or some part of our friendship which I should remember and I don’t…please forgive me. My memory is very spotty. Much more so than I let on at times.

However, I did still remember how to swing AT a golf ball. And so we did this morning. It was fun. Some great memories returned to me as we trekked the course. I could picture J.W. Greenwood, my old coach driving the green on number one hole. As I sat there waiting I saw many more men who played there return to life. Jack Shamblin, with his huge all or nothing swing. Harold Florence, who had a low flat swing. Roy Williams Sr., up on his toes at the height of his swing. There was Otis Tanner, with his huge backswing and follow through. Skinny old Faye Brown, who could hit the ball a mile. Tommy Brown, and Jimmy Brown, and Michael Brown…with who me and Daddy played so many rounds. I saw Lamar Chandler on his tractor mowing the fairway. I heard the “Loving Spoonful” in the background playing “Hottown Summer in the city, back of my neck getting very too gritty” My theme song during the two Summers I worked there, mowing ditches and working in the downstairs clubhouse. I’d peep out the doors on Monday mornings during the summer and “Muley” Camp would be out there hunting golf balls. Only on Mondays..Only day it was allowed.

I passed over the creek at number two hole and remembered the dozens upon dozens of yellowjacket stings I had gotten waiting off to the side on one of those Mondays for some guys to play through. I had gotten them all stirred up by poking a stick absentmindedly in the ground. I had to run and jump in the creek to get them off me. Old Doc Clemens had to give me a couple of shots to keep me breathing. Cousin Rick had been standing right next to me and hadn’t gotten one sting. Same cousin Rick who was the only person to see me hang back at my Daddy’s funeral and sob like a baby. Some people always seem to be there at the strangest times.

My Dad, the old lefthander…Same as me, or me the same as him. That’s the way he taught me to swing. He couldn’t hit them long like Jack Shamblin, but always straight and deadly around the greens. I imagined him there today too. J.W. in the background teasing, saying “You lefties need to turn around and hit that ball right” If he had seen me today he would have laughed his head off, and rightfully so.

I’m glad they opened the place up…think I may go back for another round of memories sometimes.”