For towns large and small, it’s a wonderful life.
May 22, 2015
FORT WORTH CITIZENS recently paid homage to 92-year-old Jim Wright, who rose to be Speaker of the House in Washington, DC.
Two stories untold at the funeral date back to the late Christian statesman’s years as “boy mayor” of Weatherford. On a sleepy afternoon, he received two bird-related phone calls a few minutes apart. One caller on the west side complained of the growing sparrow population in his neighborhood. Another on the east side was angry that some youngsters with air rifles were firing at sparrows. “I relocated the kids with air rifles to the side of town where they’d be more welcome, thus pleasing both callers,” Wright said.
At a dinner honoring the late Larry Hagman–Weatherford actor who played JR Ewing on TV’s long-running Dallas TV series–Wright spoke of being Hagman’s boxing coach. “Thank goodness you weren’t my acting coach,” Hagman responded.
Home towns keep bars held high when they measure up to the ways they are remembered. Memories’ afterglow is abundant with “warm fuzzies.” We gather memory bouquets of roses, giving little thought to thorns encountered in their gathering.
Folks growing up in small towns believe experiences during their youth are unique, far different from others coming of age in the city.
Uniqueness, though–like much else–is in the mind’s eye of the beholder.
Adam Hill, a nine-year-old in Albany, Texas, is bound to have a trove of tales to one day tell his kids and grandkids. He’ll brag about growing up in a small West Texas community where it’s a given that parents “look after” all children—theirs and others.
With their “one for all, all for one” spirit, much of life in Albany is little different than thirty, forty or even fifty years ago.
The youngest of four children of Kevin and Kim Hill, Adam is making memories as an observer–and an occasional participant–in a popular summertime game. Sometimes, he joins older brother Ryan in what is called “Ding-Dong-Ditching.”
It’s kinda like Halloween, except the players are all in for tricks. Treats aren’t in the equation.
The game calls for children–most of them ten to twelve years of age–to ring doorbells, then running down the street, hoping to avoid being identified. “They don’t realize parents are a hundred percent ‘in’ on what’s going on, happily playing along by ‘chasing’ the children down the street,” Kim said.
When Adam participates, he’s always barefoot, sometimes “dressed down” to his underwear. During one of his recent “observation sessions,” darkness set in.
That night, one of Kim’s friends sent a text warning that bell-pushers soon would appear at the Hills’ front door. Overhearing the conversation, Adam hid in a front yard bush to take it all in.
Later, darkness fully in place, Adam asked, “Okay, Mommy—I have a really important question: Do cats sneeze?” Kim answered she was sure they do.
Adam was greatly relieved by her answer. “That’s good. When I was hiding in the bushes tonight, something in there with me sneezed, and I was sure hoping it was just a cat.”
Some accounts withstand the test of time, like a son who stubbornly showed up his dad years ago in Sulphur Springs. He accompanied his father, a longtime farmer, to the Sulphur Springs Cattle and Dairy Auction, where they planned to sell a cow and a calf.
A special needs son, he begged his pappy to sell the cow and calf separately. The old man was adamant, however, insisting they be sold as a pair.
The auctioneer was so instructed.
While his dad was getting coffee, the son–obsessed with a hunch that the animals should be offered separately–revisited the auctioneer. He said his pappy had changed his mind–they should be auctioned separately.
When the animals paraded separately into the ring, the farmer was furious, ready to march on the auctioneer. He mellowed quickly, however, upon learning the proceeds of the two sales would be several dollars more than if the cow and calf had been offered together.
“I never thought I’d ever see the day when a calf was worth more than its mammy and I was smarter than my pappy,” the happy forty-something son beamed.
Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com. Archived: calebandlindapirtle.com, newbury blog.
Read more of Don Newbury’s humorous and inspirational stories in When The Porch Light’s on.