Friday, February 28, 2014

A Glen Ferris Memory

                               You never know what people you'll be meeting
                               They can all affect our lives in many ways
                                Sometimes they even leave a lasting memory
                                Like the ballgame that I played one summer day.
I think that most of us have memories that we cherish. Sometimes you don't realize at the time how special they really are. This blog is about a childhood memory of mine.

I grew up in a small "company town" that included a fenced in tennis court with a basketball  rim at each end.  While I have many memories of playing tennis on those courts, a certain basketball game is my fondest. It was a game that I played in when I was very young.

Normally, when older kids wanted the basketball court for a game, the younger ones were told to leave. This time was different. One of the older boys said that I should be allowed to play and I could be on his team. He said that I could be the one who passes the ball. I knew that I also would be the one to retrieve the ball should it go over the fence, but that was alright with me.

They called my new friend Zeke, but he didn't seem to like that nickname. He told me to just call him Jerry. Even though I wasn't really part of that game, I do remember watching him make shots from everywhere on that court.

I remember that "our" team needed one more basket to win the game when the ball rolled to me. I'm not going to say that I made the winning shot because that wouldn't be true. What I did was pass it to my friend, Jerry. I remember how he gave me a quick wink before he shot the ball. There was never any doubt in my mind that it was going in the basket. I had made a pass to the person who made the winning goal. I had been a small part of the victory.

I never saw my friend at the courts again, but I did see him play on television for years and years. He went on to play for West Virginia University and then for the Los Angeles Lakers. He is now a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. The first "assist" that I remember making in a small town basketball game was to Jerry West. That day he was my teammate and my friend. He grew up about fifteen miles from me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Childhood Memory

                    It doesn't take a lot of time, just give what you can spare
                    It takes so little effort and you'll let them know you care
                    I remember times when someone smiled and turned my day around

                    It might be the best medicine that I have ever found.


It was the fifties and I was probably in the forth or fifth grade. It was a time before computers, cell phones and video games. It was a time when parents did not feel  responsible for their child's entertainment. They didn't seem to worry about whether or not we were bored. They had their own agenda and it rarely included us.

I lived in a small town in the hills of West Virginia. I had a paper route which included seventy-one subscribers. I delivered to every home in town except for one. There was one man who didn't want the service. I had heard that a he thought a nickle was too much to pay for what I had to offer.

There were railroad tracks not far from our home and they used to fascinate me. I would spend hours trying to learn to walk on them without falling off. I would need to learn the art of balancing myself. In retrospect, that would take a lifetime.

One day a friend told me something that I thought was very cool. He told me that I could leave a penny on the railroad track and the train would run over it  and flatten it. I'm not sure why defacing a penny and  making it worthless seemed so appealing to me, but it did. I began to listen for the train whistle. I waited for the times when I could place another penny on the track.

I wanted to share this new experience with someone. I wanted to show it to my best friend. I wanted to show it to Mead. He was an older man who lived a few houses down the street  He used to work on projects in the workshop that he had set up in his garage. Many days I would walk by and see Mead busy, but he wasn't like most of the adults that I had been around. He always seemed to find time to listen.

One day I showed Mead one of the pennies that I had placed in the train's path. He asked me to follow him over to his work bench. He placed the penny in a vice and drilled a hole in the center of it. He then turned it to its side and placed it back into the vice. He  started to hammer the sides of the coin. He would hammer the coin a few times and then rotate it before striking it again.

After a few minutes I realized what he was doing. Mead had been making a beautiful ring out of my smashed penny. When he gave it to me, it instantly became my most prized possession. I remember wearing that ring every day of that summer. Kids  seem to lose things and I eventually lost that ring. I wish that I still had it.

I don't think the ring was as important as the meaning behind it. It had shown me that I was worth someone's time. It showed me that I had value.After over half a century I still remember this one hour out of my life. I still smile when I think of Mead , the ring, and his workshop.

Sometimes the smallest act of kindness can change someone's day for the better. Sometimes these acts are remembered for a lifetime.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Groundhog Day and More

                  I apologize, but would you mind if I get back to you
                  I'm waiting for a rodent that will tell me what to do
                  I looking at vacations sites and places I could go

                  But, I must learn if we are getting six more weeks of snow.

 I like to consider myself an animal lover, but this time I think I smell a rat. I have been doing a little research on my own and some things just don't add up. I happen to believe that this year's Punxsutawney Phil was a ringer. I also believe that this is not the first time it  has happened.

While "Punxsutawney Phil" has been predicting our weather for 128 years, the maximum life span of a groundhog happens to be six years. That fact alone made me suspicious. Yes, I had finally spotted my first red flag. I began to wonder about the original Phil and if he had been given a voice in selecting his successor. Was this honor passed from generation to generation of Phil's family or were other groundhogs considered?  Was this amazing gift limited to the genes of one bloodline or is it common to this species?

I also had to consider something else. I asked myself  if nepotism was involved. The dictionary defines nepotism as favoritism shown or patronage granted to relatives, as to business. The questions seem to be endless in this mystery that I choose to call "Shadow-Gate". Was there ever a "Punxsutawney Phyllis"?

During the week proceeding the Super Bowl, I saw an interesting segment on ESPN. They showed an ape that had predicted the winner of the "big game" for the past six years. After some quick research I also discovered that an octopus, a porcupine and a "clairvoyant" manatee named Buffett had also been successful in choosing these winners. Some things may seem hard to believe, but facts  are facts. Nostradamus may have finally met his match.
I have to admit that I have done a few strange things in my lifetime so I will warn you about something in advance. If you happen to spot me walking into a local Sports Book on the first Saturday in May, (Kentucky Derby Day) with a parrot on my shoulder, think nothing of it. I happen to be an animal lover.       


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Old Habits Die Hard

              I wish I'd taken care of this much sooner

              I should have started way before today

              But, as far back as I'm  able to remember

              I've handled many things in just this way.


I was thinking that this would be a  great day to make my New Year's resolutions. Now is a good time to select at least one part of me that I will try to improve on. This year I think that it would be fitting to work on my biggest fault that I am aware of. I will attempt to stop procrastinating.

I  have been guilty of this for as long as I can remember. It certainly goes back to the early days of having homework. I remember an assignment that our sixth grade class had been given. It was around Thanksgiving and the New Year's Day parades were about six weeks away. We were to choose one of the parades and then write to the Chamber of Commerce of that city and ask them to send us brochures.

Within a few weeks some of my friends started receiving their packets. They would then bring them to school and put them on display. I had chosen the Rose Bowl and my letter was going to Pasadena, California. Well, as soon as I got around to writing it.

 I finally reached a point where I could no longer postpone my assignment. It was more than just waiting until Sunday night to finish my homework. I had put this off far too long and it was time for action. I could no longer blame the city officials of Pasadena for my lack of responsibility. I mailed my request.

It has been over fifty years since that happened and I still feel that I owe the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce an apology. The city that got the most blame turned out to be the one that responded the quickest. They made me look  less irresponsible than I  was. I still cannot watch a Rose Bowl Parade without thinking of Mrs. Reed and her sixth grade class.

Now, I will get on with my day. I am planning on cleaning out a closet that is filled with way too much clutter. I figure if I haven't needed it in the past five years, that might be a sign that it needs to be thrown out. I think I will even toss my collection of  "belated" birthday cards. I don't plan on needing them any longer. That would be a good start!