Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The end of the line - June 4, 2015

As published in the White River Current - Thursday June 4, 2015

Many of you are familiar with the old story about the farmer who had to hit his mule in the head with a two-by-four in order to get his attention.  Before I go any further, let me stop and introduce myself.  My name is Reid and I am Reed’s alter ego.  I will be writing the rest of this week’s column, No. 83 in the op/ed series, “Reed’s Rambling,” that has appeared in this publication on a bi-weekly schedule for about three years.  Reed is a little, shall we say, “down in the mouth.”  He has come down with another attack of Bell’s Palsy, a form of facial paralysis resulting from a dysfunction of the 7th cranial nerve causing an inability to control facial muscles on the affected site and often including the eye, which has happened in Reed’s case.  Reed had an attack of this malady in the fall of 1996 and recovered completely in a few months.  He expects the same prognosis this time.  The 1996 attack affected the right side of his face and this time it is the left side.  Certainly not life threatening, but more aggravating than anything else, affecting ability to speak properly, drink and chew easily or even spit (he can’t even say “spit”).  The cause of this ailment is unknown (probably a virus) but it was first described in 1821 by Scottish anatomist, Sir Charles Bell.  In Reed’s case, the analogy of the two-by-four and the mule is pretty close to describing his condition which has certainly gotten his attention.  After careful consideration, Reed has made the decision that this will be the last Ramblings column.  (Did I hear a big “Oh, No”?)  I made him aware that he was shooting for No. 100 in just a few more months, but he said (and I quote):  “When it’s over, it’s over.”  He always liked to paraphrase a lot.  His hopes are that one of you younger aspiring writers will step up with a new column, such as “Mary’s Mumblings” or perhaps “Don’s Drivel” or …..I think you get the point.  Reed was very excited about finishing out the Ramblings with something a little new for him.  He was planning to do personal interviews with several local residents, particularly those from “off.”  For instance, interviews with Ed and David were to be entitled “You can call me Doctor.”  The interview with Kim and John would have been “The Dog Walkers.”  He was also planning columns on families that lived in Calico Rock when he was a boy.  Reed is the last of the Calico Rock Perryman descendants so he was going to devote one column to his family.  He had already interviewed Frances concerning the ancestors of the Wood family who were very well known in the development of our community.  Reed feels terrible that he cannot continue with his projects, but, as he told me, even if his condition clears up in a few months it would still be difficult to get back into the rhythm of the series.  He reminded me that this column really got started by accident when he wrote a tongue-in-cheek issue about the people from “off.”  He got such a response that he agreed to write one more.  Here we are at No. 83.  Being his worse critic and liking some columns better than others, he gives the series a B-.  He wants to thank all his readers for their kind remarks and encouragement and invites all to keep a look out for his “great American novel” or listen on the radio for his Christmas song.  That is if he can drag himself away from this “pity party” and get back to work.  I think he can do it but we will just have to wait and see. He says that he and Anita need to spend more time taking care of each other.  They aren’t as young and active as they once were; last week they observed their 62nd wedding anniversary. Reed was a fan of the Carol Burnett show that aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978.  Carol (who, by the way, has an Arkansas connection) always ended her show with a tune that was written for her by her husband, Joe Hamilton.  These are the lyrics that Reed would like to use to bring the Rambling series to a close:  “I’m so glad we had this time together, Just to have a laugh, or sing a song.  Seems we just got started and, before you know it, comes the time we have to say SO LONG.”  Goodbye and God Bless from your faithful rambler, REED.   

Friday, May 22, 2015

Another day in May - May 21, 2015

As published in the White River Current - Thursday May 21, 2015

“It was a dark and stormy night.”  A huge clap of thunder had awakened me.  I rolled over and sleepily glanced at the alarm clock on the bedside table.  It was blinking which indicated that the electricity had been off and every electric clock in the house (seven, counting the clock radios) would have to be reset for the zillionth time.  Well, maybe five or six times so far this year.  I’m such a perfectionist that it takes me at least fifteen or twenty minutes to perform the resetting task.  I doubt if you are interested, but here is how I do it:  I grab my battery powered atomic clock, which is accurate to one-millionth of a second, and, figuring that was close enough to the correct time, go from clock to clock until all eight clocks register the same hour and minute.  I click the clock’s minute button just as the seconds of the atomic clock jumps from 59 to 00.  It takes a little dexterity and quickness, and I maybe lose a few thousandth of a second, but I always feel personally rewarded for a job well done.  Twice a year, daylight savings time, I have to reset the clocks in the cars also, but that’s another story and they don’t keep accurate time.

Rambling along, and congratulations to the graduating CRHS seniors, a very handsome group whose pictures appeared in last week’s Current.  I well remember my senior year, 1947.  Gracious sakes alive!  That’s 68 years ago.  Seems like only yesterday that we were getting ready for our senior trip to Memphis where we stayed in the King Cotton Hotel and visited the Pink Palace and other attractions. This was B-E (before Elvis).  We had previously been honored at the Junior/Senior banquet by the class of 1948.  Now we were ready to receive our diplomas.  The baccalaureate service was held at the Methodist church at 11:00 AM on Sunday with all the churches dismissing so that everyone could attend.  The choir sang “Consider the Lilies” and Rev. Watson preached the sermon.  The following Friday, in the old gymnasium, the commencement exercises were held with my Uncle Roy Perryman addressing the class.  (If you attend the all-school reunion on June 13th, be sure to check out our class picture.)  High School graduation is the end of a long period of preparation and the beginning of the rest of your life.  Some will continue their education while others will chose different paths.  My suggestion is to get all the advice you can, from your counselor and perhaps from your pastor.  When I graduated, I had already made a decision to go to pharmacy school, enrolling at the College of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas, the only pharmacy school in the state at the time. The pharmacy school moved from Clarksville to Little Rock in 1951, the year I graduated.  The transition from high school senior to college freshman is a giant step.  I was enrolled with students who were mostly older (I was 16) and from larger schools.  It took a while before I realized that I could compete, even though I was a graduate of a much smaller school.  The point of this discussion is that if you set the goal that you want to attain and keep your focus, you can succeed.  Of course, there were times that I wondered if I had made the right decision.  For instance, I had been encouraged by some to transfer to medical school.  I considered but kept my original plans.  I’m glad I did.  To further illustrate my point, I recently read an article that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine that described the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Garth Brooks classic hit, “The Dance.”  Described by Garth as his favorite song and used quite often as a closer at his concerts, this ballad was composed in 1989 by Tony Arata and appeared on Garth’s first album.  By the way, I have a photo of Garth and my grandson, Ross, magnetted to my refrigerator door.  Ross learned all Garth’s songs when he was growing up (“here’s the way Garth holds his guitar, Granddad).  In the song, Garth sings “Looking back on the memory…” and “Yes, my life is better left to chance.  I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance.”  In an interview in 2013, Garth commented on this song when he said “You don’t get to pick and choose your memories on life.  You have to go with things as they play out.  You don’t get to alter them.”  Change one memory and you change them all.      

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Remembrance - May 7, 2015

As published in the White River Current - Thursday May 7, 2015

Congratulations are in order for the Batesville Daily Guard for winning the General Excellence Award in the Arkansas Associated Press Managing Editors Association’s 2014 contest.  Winners were announced Saturday, April 25, at the Arkansas APME annual meeting.  The Guard took home 27 awards including 11 First Places overall, competing in Division 1 dailies.  Congratulations also to Calico Rock High School graduate, Angelia Sanders Roberts, who was awarded First Place in two categories, Editorial Writing and News Feature.  She is the Executive Director of Ad/Ed for the Guard and a very talented writer.  I am going out on a limb here and predicting that Angelia will win First Place in the Human Interest category for her article, “Pulling Together,” when the 2015 awards are announced next year.  This well-written article first appeared in the February 12th edition of the Guard and spotlighted a well-known Calico Rock couple, Gene and Reva Lockie.  The Lockies moved to Calico Rock from Charles City, Iowa, in the 1980’s and quickly became actively involved in the community.  Gene had first visited our city a few years earlier when he made the trip from Iowa to see his parents who had a home here. On the next visit, he brought Reva along.  They, of course, fell in love with the area and began making plans to make this their home when Gene retired.  Both had been active in civic and church activities in Iowa, so the transition to local interests was quick and smooth.    Unfortunately, Reva began developing a debilitating form of Alzheimer’s about 10 years ago and was a resident of the local nursing home for over seven years.  The article that Angelia wrote describes the devotion and loyalty that Gene has exhibited these last few years.  The vows say, “for better, or worse” and Gene never wavered.  Reva passed away April 20th.  The funeral was a few days later at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Calico Rock and she was laid to rest in the family plot at Riverside Cemetery in Charles City, Iowa.  At the funeral service, the pastor inquired if there were any friends who would like to say a few words.  I thought about it, but declined; afraid I might get emotional or speak too long (you know, ramble).  Here’s what I might have said:  “I first met Reva at a chili supper, a fund-raiser for the local fire department.  She and Gene had closed the deal on the purchase of the bluff property and were moving to Calico Rock in a year.  Sure enough, about a year later Jim C. called to inform Anita and I that Gene and Reva were here and were asking about us.  We rushed down to welcome them and very quickly became close friends.  Reva had a very infectious laugh (her daughters inherited this trait from their mother) and you could not be around her and not be happy.  Together, our two couples spent a lot of time together, travelling to such faraway vistas as Hawaii and our Nation’s Capitol.  We represented our small city at numerous tourism and festival conferences.  At one unforgettable Governor’s conference on Tourism, we had a confrontation with the top official of our state who later became our country’s 42nd  president, but that’s another story.  Even though Gene and Reva were from “off,” they never failed to sing the praises of our small community and the beautiful Ozarks area whenever the opportunity became available.  Speaking of singing, both Gene and Reva lent their bass and alto voices to their church choir (Reva’s father was a choir member at his church in Illinois until he died at age 103).  I will always remember the good meals and fellowship that we shared together.  On one occasion, Reva prepared a dish that was new to Anita and I at the time, known as shepherd’s pie.  Funny why I remember this event.”  Anita and I will soon be celebrating our 62nd anniversary. Gene and Reva were married for almost 68 years, sharing vows at the Little Brown Church in the Vale as Angelia’s article so eloquently portrayed.  Some might say that they met by accident.  Others might say that things don’t always just “happen,” but that they happen for a reason.  You would have to be a “believer” to have this opinion.  I’m a believer.  


Thursday, April 23, 2015

It's about time - April 22, 2015

As published in the White River Current - Thursday April 22, 2015

April Showers bring May Flowers.  I read that this phrase goes all the way back to the mid 16th century.  It seems that a poet and farmer named Thomas Tusser wrote the book “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry” and in the April Section, the following poem was written:  “Sweet April showers do Spring May flowers.”  Does this simple two-line poem with obscure origins mean that April is the rainy season and May is the beginning of Spring and all the likely new flowers growing in the meadows?  Sure, why not?  Widely accepted, right?  So, is rain good?  Well, sometimes.  I remember another little two-line poem:  “Rain, rain, go away; come again another day.  So, sometimes spring showers may be troublesome – like when they cause a baseball game to be cancelled or when you get caught without an umbrella and get your clothes soaked.  Or, even worse, when the rain comes down in buckets and causes flooding.  When I was a boy, Spring floods were common.  This was a primary reason for the erection of the dams that help to keep our riverfront cities from being flooded.  As I recall, the last major flood in Calico Rock, when the river water was over the railroad tracks, was in 1951.  There have been a couple of occasions when the water covered a portion of highway 5 for a day or two, once in the early 80’s and again about 25 years later.  Video of the last flood, when a house was washed off its foundation and  floated downstream to be demolished when it hit the highway 5 bridge, made every national news channel.  You can still catch this video on YouTube (yes, that’s Peggy’s voice in the background).  But, spring showers are a wonderful thing – they help plants grow!

And, did you know that even lightning can help plants grow?  A flash of lightning gives off enough electric energy and heat to make oxygen and nitrogen combine into nitrates that mix with the rain to fertilize the plants.  Amazing how nature works.  Way back in the 1920’s, two enterprising song writers were inspired to write a song that was made famous by a popular singer of that era, Al Jolson.  The chorus of the song went like this:  Though April showers may come your way, They bring the flowers that bloom in May; And if it’s raining, have no regrets; Because, it isn’t raining rain, you know, it’s raining violets.  And when you see clouds upon the hill, You soon will see crowds of daffodils; So keep on looking for the bluebird, and listening for his song, Whenever April showers come along.  Give yourself a treat and listen to Al sing this wonderful little ditty on YouTube.  Better yet, check out the video, “The Jolson Story,” and listen to some of his other famous songs.  He was quite an entertainer, performing sometime in blackface.  This would be unheard of in these times.  I remember that one of his most requested numbers was “Mammy.”  From a kneeling position, he emotionally declared, I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles, My Mammy.  They don’t write songs like that anymore (did I hear a “thank goodness”).  Well, things do change as well as likes and dislikes, varying from one person to another, from one age group to another, from country/rock to the golden oldies.  And, the seasons change, sometime dry, sometime wetter than normal.  Patience through the most unpleasant times, like April showers, will eventually lead to beauty, like May flowers.  Remember this on those rainy Spring days.  Speaking of time (we were, weren’t we), tomorrow, April 24th, is a huge day for you techies.  That is the day that the new Apple IWatch goes on sale.  Now I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you readers have already pre-ordered one of these marvels.  Shades of Dick Tracy!  I was a big fan of this comic strip detective when I was growing up.  That item on his left arm was his wrist-radio that he used to communicate with police headquarters.  Such fantasy, we thought.  Never happen, we said.  Well, it has, and all of you will want one.  It’s like having a miniature IPad on your wrist.  Want to send a message to someone?  You don’t need a querty keyboard, just speak the message and your watch will recognize your voice and type for you.  Take and send photos.  Listen to music.  Get phone calls.  Get maps.  Ask Siri a question.  And, of all things, you can even get the correct time of day.  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What goes around...... April 9, 2015

As published in the White River Current - Thursday April 9, 2015

Totally shocked! That is the way that Brenda responded to the last Ramblings column in which I wished her a “Happy Birthday” (her 60th, by the way).  I replied to her text, “Mission Accomplished.”  Now, before I go any further (or is it farther?), I must assure everyone that I do not have a single “get-even” bone in my body.  Sometimes things just fall into place at the right time without any outside assistance.  Maybe I should tell the entire story from the beginning.  When Brenda was about six weeks old, I received my army discharge papers so we loaded up the car and headed for Arkansas.  Without going into great detail, I’ll just say that the trip across Kansas in a non-airconditioned  vehicle with two women (Anita and my mom) and an infant daughter  was pretty stressful.  But, after a two-day journey of almost a thousand miles, we arrived at our destination, Calico Rock, Arkansas.  We set up housekeeping in a small rental house on First Street, remained there for two and a half years until we moved into a new home on Red Lane that became our dwelling for the next 45 years.  Steve was born a few weeks later so our family was complete.  Meanwhile, I was keeping busy at the City Drug Store on Main Street in Calico Rock and, in 1969, we built a new drug store at the corner of Park Street and highway 56.  The year that Brenda graduated from high school, we made a trip back to Colorado.  We thought it was a great idea but Brenda was totally disinterested in seeing where she was born (she was in love).  After a couple of years in college, she and Jack were married (strictly by coincidence on the day Elvis died, August 16, almost 39 years ago).  Both graduated and became school teachers.  After several years, Brenda decided to go back to college and graduated from pharmacy school in 1984.  She and Jack purchased the family business in 1988 and I became semi-retired.  (Since I am a rambling sort, it sometimes take me a long time to get to the point of my remarks, but here it is).  It was another of those days that I’ll never forget.  It was March 20, 1991.  I was puttering around the house when Anita asked if I would run down to the corner grocery and get a loaf of bread.  I said, “sure” so I jumped into the car and went to make my purchase.  When I came out of the store, something caught my eye.  There, in large block letters on the drug store sign across the street, begging for all of the world to read, was the announcement:  REED IS 60.  Being as good natured as I am, I took all the kidding in stride and vowed to just let it pass.  Fast forward to last December.  I was transferring all the birthday and anniversary dates from the 2014 calendar to the new one when I came to Brenda’s birthday.  I noticed it was on a Thursday so I checked to see if it was a Ramblings day.  Sure enough, it was.  The moral of this story is, “Don’t mess with old dad.”  OK, enough of that.  We had a great OFC meeting the last of March.  It was our annual birthday meeting where we invite the spouses.  Several of us have March birthdays and we had 100% attendance plus two guests, Shelby’s son and wife from Boston, for a record total of 14 present.  We sang “Happy Birthday” to George since he caught up with me on that date, making four of the six members the same age.  Thankfully, both Shelby and Harold had birthdays before the end of March, becoming the seniors of the group again.  By the way, Harold and Pat celebrated their 60th anniversary on the first day of April.  We were still in Colorado when they married, but my mom wrote us with the news that this popular young couple had tied the knot, and that they had been properly shivareed.  I’m sorry that we missed the festivities.  Anyway, to round out this issue, I think I have mentioned before that Shelby and Beth both love to read.  He reads non-fiction, she reads only fiction.  I also love to read but, for various reasons, have slowed down a lot.  However, I visited the library and checked out a book recently, a best-seller fiction tome, also made into a movie.  It was about a “girl” that was “gone.”  I should have stopped on page one.  The author insisted that she use the “F” word every other sentence it seemed.  The movie is R-rated, of course.  Shelby says that he reads to expand his knowledge.  I’m moving back to non-fiction.    

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Very Important Day - March 26, 2015

As published in the White River Current - Thursday March 26, 2015. (Brenda's Birthday)

It was one of those things that you never forget.  The date was March 25, 1955.   The place was unit 4, apartment 18 in the base housing located on the 577 acre campus of Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado.  Anita and I had been watching a program on the black-and-white 17-inch Admiral unit that we had purchased a few months earlier, when she became tired and went to bed.   Drafted into the army in 1953, I was only a few weeks from being discharged after a two year enlistment.  Anita and I had survived two winters, one mild and one severe, in the mile high Denver suburb and were excited about resuming civilian life in the beautiful Ozark community of Calico Rock, Arkansas.  I had received a direct assignment from the army basic training camp, Camp Pickett, Virginia (now Fort Pickett).  After a long train ride, interrupted by a two week delay-in-route in Calico Rock, Private Perryman reported for duty.  Thinking that I would be working in the hospital pharmacy, I was instead put to work in the medical laboratory, hematology division.  The sergeant in charge of my unit was from Hot Springs and he immediately nicknamed me “Arkie,” a moniker that I was stuck with for the duration.  I made PFC in a few weeks and several months later was promoted to Corporal.  My work in the hospital was more like a civilian job, an eight hour day, five days a week.  Every morning, my partner, Hugh Glissman, and I would take our little baskets of supplies out into the various wards to collect blood specimens that we would being back to the lab and perform the tests that were requested.  Pretty good duty.  We enjoyed our stay in Colorado and went up into the mountains often to admire the beautiful scenery.  The hospital facility was founded by the United States Army during World War I arising from the need to treat the large number of casualties from chemical weapons in Europe.  Denver’s reputation as a prime location for the treatment of tuberculosis led local citizens to lobby the Army on behalf of Denver as the site for the new hospital.  Army Hospital 21, as it was first called, was formally dedicated in the autumn of 1918.  In July 1920, the facility was formally renamed the Fitzsimons Army Hospital after Lt. William T. Fitzsimons, the first American medical officer killed in WWI.  A new main building, known as Building 500, was built in 1941.  At the time, it was the largest structure in Colorado.  The facility was used heavily during WWII to treat returning casualties and became one of the Army’s premier medical training centers.  In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower received treatment at the facility three separate times for his heart condition while he was president.  In an earlier Ramblings column, I wrote about one of his visits.  I was working in the urinalysis department at the lab when an orderly came by with this container of yellow liquid.  I almost did a double-take when I saw the name on the request slip but I recovered and performed the tests which were all normal.  I consider this my “claim to fame.”  Secretary of State John Kerry was born at Fitzsimons Hospital on December 11, 1943, while his father was receiving treatment for tuberculosis.  The facility was decommissioned and closed in 1999 and has been redeveloped for civilian use as the Anschutz Medical Campus, a part of the University of Colorado.  Anyway, Anita had gone to bed and, when I went to check on her, I found that she was having labor pains.  Did I say earlier that she was expecting?  She was, and we began to count the intervals between cramps.  At about 2 AM, we decided we had better go to the hospital, only two blocks away, but it was cold, 2 degrees above zero.  I warmed the car and we drove over, took the elevator up to the sixth floor where we checked into the delivery unit.  After an examination, Anita’s doctor requested that we walk around the halls for a couple of hours to help the dilation process and check back later.  She was admitted at 4 A.M.  They wouldn’t let me stay with her so I went back to the apartment.  When I called over at about 7:30, they reported that she had just delivered a little six pound baby girl.  I rushed over and got to hold my little daughter for the first time.  I was a father.  Now, today, March 26, 2015, BRENDA IS 60.        

Friday, March 13, 2015

Goodbye, winter. Hello, spring! - March 12, 2015

As published in the White River Current - Thursday March 12, 2015

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful.”  Throw another log onto the fire.  Thank goodness spring is just around the corner, next week as a matter of fact, and on my birthday of all things.  I’ll be so glad when the cold, snowy, sleety, icy weather is behind us for another year.  This has been a winter that orthopedic surgeons live for.  For a while, I thought that spring might come a little early this year.  Then came the middle of February and everything hit the skids.  Snow and ice, mainly slick, broken bone ice.  I gave up early trying to shovel my driveway.  I wish I had kept up with the number of times that I heard “whatever happened to Global Warming?”  And, “it could always be worse; you might be living in Boston.”  Remarks like that are supposed to pep you up, I guess.  We have already dismissed church on two Sundays this year because of the weather  .  Highly unusual, but necessary to lessen the opportunity of someone slipping and breaking an arm or leg or having a car accident.  When I was a boy, the unspoken rule in my family was that we went to church regardless of the weather.  Sometimes it was only us and the preacher, but we did our spiritual duty.  I don’t recall anyone falling and we always made it home safely.  Of course, you must remember that I was brought up in the days when we walked to school five miles, barefoot through eight inches of snow, uphill both ways (actually it was only four inches) so we were well prepared for facing the elements on Sunday morning.  Nowadays, with the accurate weather forecasts, phone trees, radio newscasts and internet service, out congregation can be advised well in advance about cancellations of church services or other meetings.  Maybe a little unusual winter, but things could, of course, be worse, and they have been.  For example, back in the winter of 1918, over three feet of snow covered North Arkansas and the White River froze over.  I have heard eyewitness accounts from my parents that things got so bad during a six week period mourners were unable to dig a grave to bury a loved one who had passed away.  I remember the winter of 1951 when the mercury descended to a minus 15.  I read somewhere that the all-time low for Arkansas is minus 22.  Sounds more like Fairbanks than Calico Rock. How about the ice storm of 2009.  We were still living in Missouri, but I heard things got pretty critical for a couple of weeks.  However, it has been a pretty rough winter, especially during February, which I heard was the coldest 28 days in over three decades.  Every thirty years is not too bad and it  does give us a little something different to talk about.  I have always had a hunch that the grocery store people are behind scaring us with these predictions of huge snow amounts.  Ever notice how milk and bread fly off the grocery shelves when the “s” word is mentioned?  I brought this up recently to the new Harp’s manager, Nate, and he didn’t deny it, so there just may be some truth to it.  The snowfall that we had last week was very beautiful and, thankfully, it was mostly gone in a few days.  I am enjoying these 60 degree days.  Let me transition here and go to next week and spring and my birthday.  Now I must insist, NO Gifts Please.  March is birthday month for several members of my family.  Very often I go into a deep depression for ten days after celebrating my birthday.  You see, for that ten day period, I’m as old as Harold Jeffery.  Scary, isn’t it?  Usually after March 30th, I recover rapidly and everything returns to normal for another year.  Anyway, goodbye old man winter.  You were kinda hard on us this year so remember to treat us a little kinder when you return in December.  While I’m in a complaining mood, I find it very aggravating  to have to get out of bed at 2 AM twice a year to reset my clocks, one hour forward in the spring and one hour back in the fall.  It  messes up my metabolism and takes me about six months to settle things down when I have to go through it again.  We went for centuries without having to fool with changing the time and I think we can do it again.  What do you readers think?