You’ll forgive me, I hope, if this column isn’t funny. After last week’s serious essay, I wanted to write something lighthearted and entertaining this week—and I did, I think. But as the preacher of Ecclesiastes says, “There’s a time and place for everything, and then there’s not,” or something to that effect. Or maybe that was my old senior English teacher.
I originally wrote a long, waggish column about that—not about old English teachers like me, but about my old days at Hibriten High School in Lenoir. After all, it’s homecoming there this Friday night—Hibriten’s 50th homecoming, in fact—and I thought it would be fun to write about what defined me as a high school student in the mid-1970s—you know, the noun that filled in the blank in the old Q-and-A, “Oh, him? He’s a(n) _____.”
Something happened last Sunday night for the first time—for me, anyway. No, not making one bag of pork rinds last the whole Sunday Night Football game. I got myself blocked on Facebook for arguing about Colin Kaepernick.
Now, the person who blocked me was a perfect stranger before we started exchanging opinions last weekend, even though he or she apparently was a friend of several friends of mine—and, of course, by friend, I’m talking about Facebook friends, which is often a dubious term at best.
Also, this individual must have been so tightly wound on Sunday evening—there was a full moon last weekend, after all—that when I said, basically, that I disagreed with his or her position and that I found absolutely no validity in it—in almost those very words—he or she blocked me, then went on about his or her socially-mediated business.
After last weekend’s Historic Morganton Festival, Timberley and I had to watch our step on our evening walks downtown. For a couple of days, gobs of gum, shards of glass and doggy IEDs littered some of the sidewalks on our usual route.
If you’re wondering, that’s Impromptu Excremental Doo. And, yes, I hate getting it on my shoes worse than anything. So now I carry a tactical flashlight on our zero-dark-thirty patrols around the Historic District—just for self-defense, mind you.
Last weekend our schedule didn’t allow us to attend the Friday and Saturday evening concerts that attracted the largest crowds downtown, but we did manage to walk through the festival booths on the courthouse square and on Union, Sterling and Green Streets around noon on Saturday. It was gratifying to see so many folks downtown, even though attendance seemed down somewhat.
Last week Timberley and I celebrated Labor Day right, by attending the Hickory (N.C.) Crawdads’ season-ending game at L.P. Frans Stadium with friends. Thanks to my month-old low-carb, low-sugar diet, I couldn’t enjoy a dog and a beer like many baseball fans, but the salad and water that I had at the Crawdad Café was just what the doctor ordered, literally.
The older I get, the more I love baseball. Now, before you quit reading because you need to go finish painting your “Keep Pounding, Panthers!” banner for our regional NFL team’s first home game, rest assured that I like most sports, played several in my youth on organized squads—football, baseball, basketball—and even coached high school tennis and basketball teams, earning conference tennis coach-of-the-year honors four times.
Admittedly, I myself wasn’t a star athlete—relatively few individuals are—and, in fact, I got cut from more teams than I made in high school. But that’s another essay for another day. As a child who would eventually grow to a towering 5-foot-9, my favorite sport was basketball, and I attended every home game at Salem High School in Morganton, N.C. Back then, my single goal in life was to be a Salem Tiger and play for coach Wilton Daves. As far as I was concerned, he was Dean Smith.
I loved those silky white jerseys with black numbers and gold trim, and the matching mid-thigh length shorts. My heroes were high school cagers Steve Garrison, Dickie Burnette, Al Steiner, Bobby Miller and Kent Poteat, among others. I celebrated when they won—like when Salem beat Oak Hill for the Skyline Conference tournament title—and I cried when they lost. It was a big deal for the nine-year-old me. Continue reading Where Have You Gone, Slats Ledbetter?
Back when Timberley and I worked together in the newspaper business, one of our all-time favorite bosses was an affable man who still managed to get under our skins now and then.
In paying us every two weeks, our boss also printed memos on our paystubs, whether it was to wish an employee happy birthday, to encourage us to have fun at some local event that weekend, or, my favorite, to remind us, “The eagle flies today!”
That phrase has stuck with me for a quarter century even though I’m now receiving pension checks at the end of each month. The eagle still flies, just not quite as high or as far.
But even our old boss would have to admit that some of his tongue-in-cheek paycheck notations could be just a bit irksome to hard-working employees, especially after a long week. The best one in that category always showed up on the payday before Labor Day, a holiday that our newspaper did not observe, at least as far as we laborers were concerned.
“Celebrate Labor Day!” the memo exclaimed, before ending with the zinger, “Work hard.”
Yeah, we chuckled about it—the first year that our payday fell on the Friday before Labor Day. It wasn’t quite so amusing the second and third years.