I didn’t say “I’m gonna quit”. I said, “I’ve got to get out of this writing business.” You can say “semantics.” The point was, is, we can’t cruise Frank’s Dairy Bar forever! We can’t linger in front of Cannon’s Rexall Drugstore until the cows come home. The distinct smell from the hoop cheese on Mr. Woodow Kennon’s back counter fades over time. At some point in life, we’ve got to let LaRenda Bradfield, Richard Lynn Hale and Hollis Mayo grow up. Even the Saturday afternoon double feature at the Park Theatre finally came to an end.
I’m been writing these little blurbs for years like we were sitting on your front porch, sharing the breeze and the lemonade as the sun dropped behind the trees. The conversation was great, the company even better……then it dawned on me, ain’t NOBODY doing much front porch sittin’ these days!
Life seems to have passed my little stories by.
So I wrote that it was getting late, I’ve got to finish my lemonade and get home before dark. Besides, you’ve already heard most all the good tales, some tall—others not so tall, that I have. And since Mother died, I didn’t think anyone was reading these things except for the editor and one of my brothers.
You guys never cease to amaze me. Folks have stopped me going into the grocery store and asked me to continue. I’ve had phone calls from friends that I haven’t spoken to in quite some time, encouraging me to “keep writing”. There have been letters to the paper with some very nice comments. Please understand that I appreciate each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.
Apparently more people understand the times and places I’m talking about than I realized. And that is the most encouraging thing. I don’t think any of us are talking about “living in the past”. We just remember with great feeling a time when the pace was a little slower. Neighbors had time to be neighbors. The milk seemed to be a little colder, the watermelon a little sweeter. You could send your kids out to play and be assured that the whole town would take care of them. There is just something so special to me when you get out to where the black top ends.
You don’t know how much I have enjoyed throwing rocks at Pet Milk cans with you. We have caught a lot of water in those Prince Albert Tobacco tins. And we have spent countless hours dropping a knife off our elbow and tossing washers at cut out circles in the ground. I bet we have sung “Que Sera Sera” more times than Doris Day!
Let’s cherish those moments. Let’s pass as much of it as we can on to our children and grandchildren. But let’s not be foolish or too sentimental here. I’ve said often times before, nobody wants to go back to cutting okra or cleaning out fence rows!
ESPN and The Golf Channel are two modern conveniences that I appreciate as much as I did that old Western Flyer.
One guy caught up with me at the little league field, “Are you through writing for good?” I couldn’t tell if he was sorry or relieved! Maybe he figured I ought to write something “bad” for a while.
Most everyone asks about Leon. He will get along just fine without me bringing up some “off the wall” thing he did or said every other week. I did realize this as person after person mentioned him……you get what I’m doing here! I’m not selling anything or trying to be the next Ernest Hemmingway. I’m simply and straightforwardly discussing life as I see, and have seen, it. I’m not mad at anyone, grinding on an ax or politically inclined to bring you “around to my way of thinking”. You genuinely care about Leon. You see the love and admiration I have for him, notwithstanding what I might say or write about him. I wish you could have shared those brown beans and cornbread around our family table just once in your life. Maybe that’s what I have been trying to explain to you all these years.
I fully believe that you share my love for the town, the buildings, the history and the folks we talk about week after week. Life is so full of good people, good times and great possibilities. Sure, we live in a world that turns more toward the negative, can’t do, regulated and dangerous each day. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. Or give into it.
Surely a little light hearted, nothing story from time to time can’t hurt. And if it brings a brief respite from the headlines of today, gives you a chuckle or a nod of remembrance, all the better.
You have been kinder to me than I deserve. You have become a big part of my life and for that, I am grateful.
As for me continuing this writing gig, I’ve told you the tank is about empty in as many ways as my limited ability allows. But if I can think of something for next week, I will certainly pass it along to you.