Thursday, August 29, 2013

Journal - August 29, 2013

Journal - As published in the White River Current - Thursday August 29, 2013 We spend our years as a tale that is told. This verse of scripture from the Old Testament book of Psalms (90:9b, KJV) has long intrigued me. Every life is different and everyone has a story of their own to tell. My great grandmother kept a journal for twenty years, from 1890 to 1910. I have a copy, thanks to the effort of my mother in preserving this document. My sister had a diary that she wrote in every day and kept hidden in her chest of drawers. I knew about it and, after a search, found it and was reading some of the juicy entries when my mother caught me and gave me a good paddling. More recently, when I have remarked to Steve about something that occurred several years ago, he would say to me “write that down.” I wish that I had honored that request more diligently. It would be great if everyone kept a record of their life. Some of the entries in my great GM’s journal are very brief (about the weather, etc.) while others are somewhat humorous. Births are recorded (my mother in 1901) and deaths (her husband, who she called Mr. Mac, and she says “what will be do, what will we do?). Those were difficult days but we know about them because of my GGM. Her name was Tabitha, but everyone called her “Aunt T.” The title of “uncle” or “aunt” was still very common even when I was growing up. It was applied to older adults quite often even though some of them were only in their fifties. My granddad’s name was Lucas, but to everyone else he was “Uncle Luke.” Other community residents were Aunt Lou, Aunt Sally, Uncle Lynn and Uncle Ed (actually my real uncle but everyone called him “Uncle”) to name a few. Sorry, I’m getting away from the subject matter, but, hey!! This is what I do. I ramble. Back to the scripture verse at the top. The part about spending our years as a tale that is told is only found in the King James Version of the Bible (if I am wrong, please let me know.) This psalm, which is attributed to Moses, is actually a prayer. It is widely used at funerals as part of the scripture text. Now I don’t want to get morbid here, but we might as well face it. It’s coming, someday, to every one of us. You know. The big “D”. As certain as taxes, the saying goes. In the past, when I was more active, I was called on to play the piano or organ for funeral services at various churches and funeral home chapels in Calico Rock and other cities. I wish I had kept a record (journal) and these probably would amount to several hundred services, on some occasions three or four times a week. I admit that I became somewhat desensitized to the situations but now, in my old age, I think about it a lot. Several columns back, I wrote a little piece about “September Song.” One of the verses refers to the days dwindling down to a “precious few.” Another way of putting it is that when we get old, like me, we are close to the “last chapter” of our journal. How will it all end? We aren’t sure but I had a friend that told me he would like to live to be 110 years and be shot by a jealous husband. I assured him that wouldn’t happen. Oh, he might live to be 110, but forget the jealous husband part. However, when the final curtain falls, I would like to be as ready as possible. I’m giving some thought about my funeral service. I have some music selected, some pallbearers picked out and I want the minister to use Psalm 90 as the text for his eulogy. Most people would rather not discuss these things, so if I have offended anyone, I apologize. I’ll be more upbeat when I see you in two weeks when the topic will be “food.” Bye for now.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

School Days - August 15, 2013

School Days as publshied in the White River Current - Thursday August 15, 2013 School days, school days, Dear old golden rule days, Reading and, ‘riting’ and ‘rithmatic Taught to the tune of a hickory stick. You were my queen in calico, I was your bashful barefoot beau, And you wrote on my slate “I love you, so” When we were a couple of kids. So goes the chorus of a bouncy tune written over a century ago by Will Cobb and Gus Edwards. We had a 78 RPM recording of this song that I used to play often on our old wind-up Victrola when I was a little boy. Byron Harlan recorded a version of this song in 1907. You can listen to it on YouTube while you are getting the kids ready for another school year that begins next Monday at least in Arkansas and Missouri. When I was growing up, school started the day after Labor Day in Calico Rock. Some schools started earlier, some later. Now, because of state law, everyone starts on the same date but ending dates may vary somewhat. All of my schooling, from grades one through twelve, took place in the old two-story building that served the Calico Rock area for many years. Grades one through six were on the first floor with the other six grades on the upper floor. Miss Hattie was my first-grade teacher who started me off in the right direction as she did many others in the 40-plus years she taught in the Calico Rock system. Mrs. Wilkerson was my teacher in the second and third grades, Mrs. Brummit in the fourth, Mrs. Leola in the fifth and Mrs. Tarkington (or was it Mrs. Toothaker? Anyway, began with a “T”) in the sixth grade (I’m sure Shelby will straighten me out on this). I graduated from CRHS with the class of 1947. I have a lot of memories of my school days, some good and some not so good. But since I am on the subject I will comment on a few. The “hickory stick” mentioned in the above song makes reference to the corporal punishment that was widely administered in schools several years ago. The tool that was ordinarily used was called a paddle and was commonly hand made but could also be purchased commercially in several sizes, sometime highly decorated. The paddle was usually placed in plain sight in the classroom and served as a not-so-subtle reminder to the students to “behave” or suffer the consequences. Each teacher was given the task of defining an act of improper behavior and administering the penalty for an infraction, which could be as small as “talking out loud: two licks.” I was warned by my parents to always behave at school and that if I ever got a spanking I could expect another when I got home. I confess that I did receive two or three spankings (underserved, of course) at school but in each instance I forgot to tell my parents. If they ever found out about it, they never mentioned it. However, I did receive some spankings at home but they were not administered with a paddle. In these instances a small limb from the peach tree (called a switch) was usually used. The back side of a hair brush also worked and, on one memorable occasion, the razor strap came into use. I think this type of punishment is no longer used on rowdy school kids because of the liability threat and that may be a good thing. Several years ago, when I was a school board member, the parents of a young teenager and their son appeared before the board with a complaint against a male teacher for overly harsh treatment of the boy. They even had him lower his pants and exhibit the blue marks on his buttocks which they complained were caused by “beating” (they claimed) he had received by the teacher. I don’t remember the terms of the resolution of this complaint, but I think that might have been the last case of corporal punishment in the Calico Rock school system. I may have some other memories that I would like to pass on to you, but I will wait for a later date. That’s all for now. Thanks for tuning in. See you in two weeks. Bye, Bye!!