Thank Goodness, I’ve Got My Own List!

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:34 AM.

Bobby C. Melton influenced me. He was big and fast and could spin on a dime. When I was in grade school I’d go to the high school football games just to watch him run. He picked his knees up so high and he’d slice into the off-tackle hole! I was going to be just like him someday!  

Mrs. Charlie Mitchum was the first older person outside of family that took an active interest in me. She would stop and talk to me just like I was an adult! She was kind and she was always telling me what a fine boy I was. By high school I would take my dates by to meet her and see if she approved…..which, of course, she always did. I steered away from some trouble I saw my friends get into partly because I didn’t want to disappoint Mrs. Mitchum. She was so positive and upbeat and caring. She single handedly changed my thinking about elderly people. Now, that is influence!

My teenage friends held a great sway on my life in those formative years. If Ricky and Buddy thought it was cool, so did I. If Skip liked the “Kingston Trio”, I bought their albums. If Squeaky could kick a half dollar off his heel and flip it into his shirt pocket, I was going to practice until I could do it to. We didn’t look to national magazines, the new fangled television or world leaders for direction. We scratched out our path by mostly observing the ones closest to us.

We don’t always have to think individuals when we are talking influence. I have made a career out of writing about the little West Tennessee town I grew up in. How they shaped me, molded me, influenced me. And I couldn’t for the life of me single out one particular part of that town that touched me the most. Maybe it was the magic coming out of the movie theater. Or the way everyone turned out for the homecoming parade or the 4th of July celebration. It could have been Mr. Holland delivering the milk with a wave and a smile. Or the loud hullabaloo abounding at Frank’s Dairy Bar……or the quiet sereneness of the town square late at night. I appreciated then, and more so now, the conservative, solid, small town values that were so lovingly instilled in me.

Maybe Time has lost sight of what has made us such a great nation. Maybe they just made up that list to sell magazines. Or maybe, quite possibly, Time (time) has simply past me by.

If the editor had consulted me, I would have added Billy Graham to the mix.  I don’t care that he’s a tad older now with perhaps one foot already in Heaven. If he is alive, he should be on that list! And I would put Avery Lee and Hannah Colbert in there, too. They are my two youngest granddaughters and they can get me to do anything and everything they want me to. If they point to it, I buy it!

Ed Ruscha, Wang Shu, Justin Timberlake and Barack Obama can only dream of influence like that!



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