Hard as it may be to believe, I’ll hit a significant milestone this month. On July 13, I’ll celebrate the 20th anniversary of my 40th birthday. That adds up to 60. Where did all those years go?
Well, I don’t much feel like 60, in my head. Pat says I’m closer to 12 in that category. My joints remind me, however, that the mileage is piling up. I’m rehabbing from my second shoulder surgery. I have occasional bouts of gout, a tender Achilles tendon and take enough pills every day to keep several pharmaceutical companies in business. My hair, what’s left of it, has turned from brown to pearly white. I have unsightly spots on my skin and my feet have tiny little blue veins crisscrossing them: old man feet.
It could all be quite depressing, but I kinda relish the fact that I’ve hung on for 60 years without ever being shot, incarcerated or run out of town. Not that I shouldn’t have been, but I somehow escaped those pleasantries.
I still remember pretty well. I recall, for instance, that Dwight Eisenhower was president when I started first grade. I remember crying on my first day at school. (I’d just as soon have stayed home.) I remember the house we lived in when I was 4, 5 and 6 years old. It had three bedrooms, a kitchen and no indoor plumbing. I don’t miss that.
I don’t miss hauling water from the well, and I certainly don’t miss the outside privy — disgusting!
I do miss 5-cent soft drinks; candy bars for a dime; and a hot dog, Coke and fries for 25 cents. I miss not having to lock doors at night. I miss peddling watermelons and vegetables from the back of a pickup with my grandfather and I miss Sunday dinners at his house.
I miss baseball games in my other grandfather’s side yard, across the road from our house (the new brick one with indoor plumbing we moved into when I was 7). Sometimes we had only two players, my older brother and me; sometimes we had as many as six, three to a side.
I remember hunting rabbits with my beagle, shooting squirrels out of hickory trees with a .22 rifle and catching enough sunfish and catfish out of the creek behind our house to justify a fish fry.
I fondly recall camping out in the woods behind the house. We ate hotdogs roasted (burned to a crisp) over a fire, with a side of pork and beans and washed down with creek water. We never slept and were completely useless the following day.
I remember Sputnik, Alan Shepherd and “duck and cover.” I remember “flying boxcar” airplanes circling our house from an airbase in a nearby city. Sometimes large formations would fly over, reminding me of the latest World War II movie I’d seen on Saturday afternoon TV.
I remember Roy and Gene and Gabby Hayes and “Father Knows Best.” He always did, and so did mine.
I remember failing my driver’s test twice. (You might think twice even now about getting into a car with me.) I remember when gasoline was 25 cents a gallon, service station attendants washed your windshields, checked your oil, and gave you Green Stamps.
I remember my first day as a Farm Press employee. I flew from Atlanta, Ga., to Louisville, Ky., to cover the University of Kentucky Extension weed tour. That was June 19, 1978, so I’ve spent most of my 60 years associated with this company. Some of the folks who were on board the day I started are still around and seem more like family than coworkers.
Those 60 years flashed by in a blink of my eye. And in the words of my favorite philosopher, Jimmy Buffett, “Some of it’s magic; some of it’s tragic, but I’ve had a good life all the way.”
Where’s the cake?