Wednesday, August 27, 2014

You are what your wear - August 28, 2014

As published in the White River Current - Thursday August 28, 2014

Well, I have learned a good lesson.  In these bi-weekly visits I have tried hard to stay clear of religion, politics and other things controversial.  I must have stepped over the line a little bit in a recent article because the facebook pages lit up with posts on the subject.  It could be coincidence, but if I said anything or even implied something that one of you considered judgmental, I erred and I apologize.  I promise that I will be more thoughtful and considerate in my opinions.  I do, however, reserve the right to offer my opinion on various subjects and should do so, I guess, because this is, by name, an opinion/editorial column.  For instance, I have written about music several times.  I much prefer the older tunes than those that are broadcast across the airways today.  The oldies had lyrics that I can understand and enjoy.  Here’s a favorite from about thirty years ago:  “My back is sore from bendin’ over backward to just lay the world at your door.”  That was from the song, “You Take Me for Granted,” was written by Leona Williams and was recorded by the great country artist, Merle Haggard, who took it to Number One.  And how about this:  “Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt.”  That line was from another country song, “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” penned and performed by Kris Kristofferson.  Now, I can relate to that “dirty shirt” line.  You may have observed that I am never considered when it comes to naming the “best dressed” citizen of Calico Rock.  As a matter of fact, I may have appeared downright slovenly lately.  I wear what feels comfortable, regardless of my possible unkempt appearance.  Now when my shirt  doesn’t show any dirty or greasy spots and passes the “sniff” test, I may decide to wear it one more time before it goes into the hamper.  It wasn’t always that way.  I have a photo of a cute little boy standing in front of the Rock House on Red Lane.  He is wearing knickers and long stockings, a long sleeved shirt and a necktie.  I imagine we were on our way or just returning from church.  My dad and most of the other adult men always wore suits and neckties to church.  So did I until a few years ago.  These days, casual (even ultra-casual) is the new church look.  My uncle Joe would not approve (he was Aunt Muriel’s husband; more about her in a minute).  Years ago, it  was almost an everyday occurrence that I would dress for work only to be greeted by Anita with “You’re not going to wear that, are you?”  I’ll bet some of you other guys have had similar experiences.  Anyway, she would march me to my closet and pick out a shirt that matched my trousers.  In my lifetime, I have seen numerous style changes.  I would almost wager a tidy sum that I purchased the last leisure suit sold in the Western hemisphere.  It went out of style overnight and, after seeing it hang in my closet for several years, I took it out to the Christian Service Center one night and, under cover of darkness, hung it on their front door.  Buying wearing apparel for school kids is also a real problem.  “Daddy, I wish you would take me down to the Salvation Army store and buy me some decent clothes.”  Those words came from Lisa, Don’s youngest daughter, several years ago when she was a young teenager and the fad at the time was the Eisenhower jacket, a war surplus item named after the famous WWII army general who became the 34th president of the United States.  When I was on the school board, there was talk in the Arkansas legislature about requiring students to wear uniforms such as those worn at some private schools.  It never became a law but there was a lot of support for it, primarily in larger school districts that were having a lot of peer-pressure problems.  More recently, the fad with the boys was to wear loose jeans that bagged in the back revealing their brightly colored boxers.  Whenever I got a hole in my jeans or overalls, my mother would sew on a patch to cover it.  Now girls can purchase new expensive jeans that already have large ragged holes produced at the factory and are very stylish.  Go figure.  Aunt Muriel selected the dress she wanted to be buried in (she was).  I’m thinking of following her example with a suit that I like.  I can just hear the teary-eyed ladies at the public visitation:  “My, doesn’t he look nice?”   


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Many Years Ago - August 14, 2014

As published in the White River Current - Thursday - August 14, 2014
Many years ago, Dean, Billy Charles and I, along with some other young boys who were searching for an adventure, would spend a large part of our summers playing on the bluffs that border the White River on the west side of town.  One great adventure that we repeated many times was to descend from the top of the bluff to the railroad track 200 feet below via the Billy Goat Trail.  Once we reached the tracks at the bottom, we would turn around and climb back to the top where, after a short rest, we would repeat the cycle, over and over until we got bored.  The BG Trail began at a point on the bluff in front of Mrs. Wright’s house where we could gain access to a narrow ledge.  Crawling along the ledge, on our hands and knees to keep from bumping our heads on the overhang above, we would eventually come to an opening where there was a huge boulder that sort of slanted downward.  Easing onto the boulder, feeling for hand and toe holds, we slowly made our way to a point about half way down the bluff.  From there, it was fairly easy the rest of the way to the bottom.  Sounds very exciting, doesn’t it?  Add this to my list of “Done it, but wouldn’t do it again for a million dollars” items.  Along with things like climbing to the top of the city water tower (one time was enough for me).  Or crawling through the narrow drainage tunnel that starts out in front of the Riverview Hotel, goes down the hill, under the train depot, under the railroad tracks and finally exits above the river.  Believe it or not, I did this several times but never again.  I never thought much about the beauty of the bluffs, the mountains and the river valley when I was a boy.  Much later, Anita and I partnered with Steve to build a cabin on the upper bluff, an area where I had spent many hours of my childhood about sixty-five years earlier.  My idea of camping out may be different from yours.  Our “cabin” has three bedrooms, two baths (one with a separate shower and whirlpool tub), a full kitchen and laundry, a TV and a covered porch on the river side that has a terrific view of the mountains and river valley.  It was Steve who came up with a name that might describe this scenic location.  He chose a biblical name, Nain (Nein in the Hebrew language), which can be translated as “Place of Beauty.”  I have, as you well know from previous columns, always been fascinated with words and names.  There was once a performer who was billed as a comedian that appeared on several late night shows several seasons ago.  He resembled a young Groucho Marx (complete with the long cigar) and had a monologue that went something like this:  “My name is Raymond J. Johnson, Jr., but you can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me RJ, or you can call me RJJ…..” and on and on.  You can catch his act on You-Tube if you are mildly interested in determining if he was funny or not.  Now, you can call me Reed or you can call me Mack, but  when I was growing up, everyone called me Reed Mack, mostly to identify me apart from my cousin, William Reed, who used only his middle name most of the time.  We both got our Reed names from our maternal grandmother, Rosa Reed.  Years ago we called our older residents Uncle or Aunt, even if no relation.  You can even call me “doctor,” not to be confused with our physicians or dentists.  I have a certificate from my alma mater that signifies that I am a Doctor of Pharmacy (PD).  Sara is also a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D).  Tom, my pastor, is a Doctor of Divinity.  I call Connie “doctor” because she is a Doctor of Laws (LL. D.).  Ed, David and others have earned Doctor of Philosophy degrees (Ph. D).  You can call all these persons doctor.  

I was in an area store recently and, before getting through the check-out, was called “sweetheart,” “darling,” “ honey” and other endearing names that are reserved only for Anita.  You can’t call me those names.  Now, I know it’s difficult for you girls to refrain from grabbing me and giving me a big hug, and that’s OK, but please back off on the names.  Quickly I want to comment on the wonderful weather we enjoyed in the month of July.  Very unseasonable.  Is Global Warming real or is it a sham?  You can call me “not convinced.”  Right now you can call me “outta here.”  See you in two weeks for another discussion,  Bye for now.