As fall knocks on our doors, we greet it by opening the windows and enjoying the cooler temperatures. There is nothing like being able to work with the windows open. I’m fortunate to have that luxury and I know it. So many new buildings have pretend windows or glass walls that won’t allow you to feel the breeze.
Baseball season is winding down and the playoffs are getting ready to start.
Again, it is my favorite time of year.
In my office, sit two funny looking wood chairs with the legs sawed off at just below where the stretchers hit the legs. Most folks would have put them by the side of the road for trash.
I could never do that…
There are too many memories associated with those “short-legged chairs.” Please note that legged is pronounced “leg – id.”
My earliest memories of the chairs were about 40 years ago as 10 or 11 year boy. When I would visit the newspaper, I knew where to find “Reese,” as everyone called him. He would be over next to the window “taking a break” sitting in one of the chairs with his knees almost at the same level as his shoulders.
One of the legs had broken on the chairs and Mr. Reese sawed the legs off so they could still be used.
Mr. Reese was my friend and as I got older, he was the fellow who kept me from doing too many stupid things or getting hurt while I was working at the newspaper.
I started working/getting paid at the newspaper when I was 12, cutting the grass and moving things. As I got older, I got to clean the restrooms, move big rolls of paper and pretty much anything Mr. Reese wanted me to do.
However, the best times, were those times sitting in those short-legged chairs “taking it easy,” as Mr. Reese would say. We would work for 30 minutes or so and Mr. Reese would proclaim, “We need to take a break.” And we would.
Mr. Reese would always justify these breaks by saying my Daddy didn’t want me getting hurt or overdoing it. I’m pretty sure; especially as Mr. Reese got older that our breaks were because he enjoyed doing nothing and talking about life with me.
So did I.
Mr. Reese knew all about baseball and knew all about the stars of the old Negro Leagues. He taught me about Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige. He looked as if he would have been a good ballplayer in his younger years; he was probably about 60 years older than I.
He loved the Atlanta Braves, although through the years that I worked at the newspaper, the Braves were never very good. But still, we talked baseball and about other topics a grandfather would talk to his grandson about.
When I look at those chairs, I can almost hear Mr. Reese humming a little tune, “tat a tat tat tat.” He was a like a blues or jazz singer stuck on the same tune. His humming seemed to be loudest on Fridays, particularly paydays.
As I got older and was allowed to drive the newspaper’s van, I would chauffeur Mr. Reese over to a house where they seemed to selling something in Dixie Cups out the backdoor. He seemed to hum a little louder when we would make those stops on Friday afternoons. That was ok…
Mr. Reese didn’t even own a car or want one; he caught rides back and forth to work.
He was a good man, who enjoyed life and took it easy, a lesson that we all need from time to time when we get in a hurry.
Whatever was in the Dixie Cups seemed to get him in a little trouble at home though, because his wife, “Ms. Helen,” did not approve of it. Ms. Helen was a school teacher and one of the best cooks around. She made these pecan candy things that I was always happy to help eat when I would go over to Mr. Reese’s house, which was pristine.
Mr. and Mrs. Reese never had children. They would have been good parents. To the day he died, Mr. Reese thought it was his fault that they lost the one child that she was carrying. He told me the story many times.
Mrs. Reese was pregnant, he brought a frog home in a paper bag and opened the bag and showed it to her. Soon after, she lost the baby. It was heartbreaking, but he really thought “the frog scared the baby out of her.” Some folks might call that simple-minded.
Mrs. Reese passed away and without her guidance and friendship, he didn’t last very long afterwards.
I have the short-legged chairs, the memories and I don’t care what was in the Dixie Cups.
Simple people make the best friends.
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