As we start another new year, I’d like share a few of the events in our family’s history that may trigger your own “observations.”
Very early one morning, I noticed a small herd of deer – about eight – gliding across our back yard. A few of the neighbor dogs were barking, but since these pets were fenced, the deer sensed there was no danger. A magnificent buck led the herd in single file through the early morning dew making nary a sound as they disappeared onto the adjacent golf course. The only noise punctuating the serene quiet was the morning doves’ mournful cooing.
Similarly, during a rainstorm, I enjoy a feeling of quiet reverence as I pull the covers up around my neck and listen as the rain hits our roof and meanders down the drainpipe. The darkness of night increases my awareness of these familiar sounds, encouraging peaceful sleep.
As a small boy growing up in a rural setting, I gauged my time to fall asleep by the mournful sound of a train whistle in the distance, about a mile from our home. It was a comfortable reminder that my day had ended and it was time to fall asleep. Even though train rails run about a mile from our urban home today, a whistle doesn’t blow on a regular basis. But when it does occasionally sound, I always feel that strong sense of peace and serenity as in those days of my youth so long ago.
Today’s music renditions and performers seem to lack the sincerity and purpose of the soloists and orchestras in the past. The music of Broadway and Basin Street made memorable impressions in our young lives. The melodies linger and are still fresh in our minds – the lyrics echo repeatedly and tug on our memories, never seeming to grow old. It’s difficult for those of my generation to describe contemporary music, which I refer to as “noise,” the same way. I wonder if and how today’s songs will last a lifetime.
Memories of friendships of the past are often fleeting. We move away from those we knew in our youth and create alliances with new business associates and neighbors. It ‘s certainly true that we are fortunate if we have a handful of close friends in a lifetime. Outside of our families, it’s often difficult to really know, intimately, others around us. Even though it has been years since I’ve seen them, I measure those whom I consider true friends by my longing not to forget them. Today, we are able to correspond instantly with these “friends” through Facebook, Twitter, and email; however, nothing can ever take the place of an in-person relationship. In essence, that is what a true friendship is all about.
I have always had a vivid imagination. Listening to radio programs and attending an occasional movie energized my early images and fantasies. I looked forward to the nightly radio adventures delivered through the airwaves, and I can remember accurately the times I spent with my family at local movie houses. My grandmother introduced me to the antics of Laurel and Hardy, Bud Abbot and Lou Costello, and many other early 20th Century actors. During the war years of the l940’s, movies at the air base provided our weekly entertainment. My allowance of twenty-five cents per week allowed two ten-cent movie tickets in one week. Saving the extra nickel, I then was able to view three movies in the second week.
Here is one last memory from my youth. Mr. Longere was a local handyman whom my parents occasionally hired for small repairs around our home. In early l942, he was building something in our backyard and I tagged along trying to determine what it was. I knew instantly that it was going to be solid and lasting because he was erecting and securing steel pipes in holes filled with cement. The poles were about ten feet high with a steel crossbar running to a pole of the same height about eight feet away. Attached to the crossbar were chains to hold two perfectly balanced swings. Mr. Longere even wrapped the chains in old garden hose so that we wouldn’t injure our hands. My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed swinging and pretending to fly through the air for hours. As testimony to Mr. Longere’s skill and the sturdiness of the swing set he had built, returning home after four years during World War II, we found our swing was still as vibrant and solid as we had left it.
These personal observations are priceless to me. They represent a lifetime of living with “my eyes and ears wide open.” Doing so has enriched my life more than I deserve and more than I could ever explain in a short article. It is my sincere hope that you too have taken or will take the time to fill your memory vault with similar observations that will not only last but also will enrich your lifetime. Have a wonderful New Year!