A vivid memory from my one year at Creighton University was the evening a gang of the guys from Wareham Hall walked downtown to the movie theater and watched "The Longest Day." It was a long movie, packed with acting superstars like John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton and Sean Connery. Red Buttons played a paratrooper whose chute hung up on a bell tower in the town square of the French village of St. Mere Eglise.
Last Saturday evening I spent a remarkably satisfying hour or so just sitting at a kitchen table holding a sleeping child. The child is my 5-year-old granddaughter, Sage. Nancy and I were visiting the Chamberlain gang for the day. The day, for Sage, involved non-stop activity.
I see by a Facebook posting that at 85 years of age, my old friend Virge just had one of the two happiest days of his life. He sold his boat, according to a post from his elder son. You know. That's the old joke among the river-rat set. The happiest day of your life is the day you buy your boat. The next happiest is the day you sell your boat. Now and then, when things aren't going so well -- say when you wait most of the summer for a water pump or sacrifice an entire boating season to a submerged tree stump that takes out the lower unit -- the order of those two days might be reversed.
I only knew one of my four grandparents, and that one is the only person in the world who ever actually spanked me and meant it most sincerely, all the way to the bottom of her big, Irish heart. My Grandma McManus died when I was in first grade in Reliance. She was my mom's mother. Her husband had passed about the time I was born, and so had both of my dad's parents. These days, all four of those grandparents are buried within a few steps of each other in the quiet cemetery a mile north of Reliance.
Unless your last name starts with a letter way down in the alphabet, you haven't experienced the back-of-the-room feeling known well to the Ws and the Ys. In school at Chamberlain, most of my classes involved alphabetical seating. Even the teachers must have tired at some point of "Waysman, Wenzel, Woster, Yates,'' in the roll calls and assignment lists. But there we were, way down the list of letters and usually either across the back row in the room or the last four chairs on the far right side.
A year ago about this time, I was in the rehabilitation stages after a total shoulder replacement. Well, here we go again. Last spring, a skilled surgeon (at least I'm assuming the surgeon did it, I was out the whole time) deftly sliced open my right shoulder and replaced both the components of the joint. The parts have medical names, but I like to call them the ball and the socket. It makes things sound more mechanical than medical.
Funny, sometimes, how relatively insignificant events rush back from half a century when someone sends a reminder. It happened to me just the other day, and the reminder came through Facebook, of all places. I check my page most days, sometimes twice but usually not more than once. I rarely post personal stuff -- never photographs, once in a while a Sinatra song or some other music with lyrics that make growing older seem a noble thing. Now and then I find something a friend has posted, and I share that. Those are usually Winnie the Pooh sayings or Mr. Rogers stuff.
One spring back on the farm, rain fell for something like 900 straight days, filling draws, cutting new drainages along the ends of dam banks and turning the barnyard into about a dozen inches of slop. I don't know if it really was that kind of drought-breaker or if it only seemed so because I'd invited two friends from town out to spend a couple of days, and the rain placed some limits on the kinds of things we could do for excitement. What we couldn't do was spend every hour of every day in the house. My mom saw to that. I don't know if we were loud -- well, sure, I do.
One of the best college class periods I ever had came the late spring day Mary Margaret Brown led her "Literature of England'' class out the north door of Lincoln Memorial Library onto the grass of the Coolidge Sylvan Theater stage. Even with the best of instructors (and Dr.
The Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz'' says, upon being awakened by a surprise snow storm after falling into a drug-induced (Wicked Witch-induced) slumber in a field of poppies, "Unusual weather we're having, ain't it?'' He might have been talking about spring of 2013 in South Dakota. I've heard many words used to describe the weather in the past few months. "Unusual'' hasn't been one of the more frequent ones, but it fits. I'm not complaining about moisture, you understand. I grew up in the dry-land farming country just west of the Missouri River.