My wife and I see things very differently. Take a stroll through our respective minds.
Papaw, the Devil Dog
My paternal grandfather, Linton Carl Fendley, was a giant of a man in my eyes - a lovable, affable, fun-loving giant. Papaw was usually the life of the party at family gatherings with his self-deprecating humor: “I have ears like open cab doors,” and his full gauge electric train, which occupied much of the basement. Going to visit Mamaw and Papaw was always an adventure. We counted on Papaw to provide fun and laughter, and even a mold for lead toy soldiers, which he and I used to crank out miniature fighting menk during visits. (This was the 50s. We didn’t know about lead poisoning back then.) Mamaw, on the other hand, was a gray horse of a different color. OCD to the max, melancholy, she was given to sitting in front of the radio listening to Billy Graham hour after hour. We kids learned very quickly to sit carefully on Mamaw’s plastic covered furniture, and to walk deftly on the plastic runner protecting the carpet. Serious consequences awaited if we happened to step off the plastic runners.
Been There, Done That
When 2020 rolled around, I realized that I was living in my ninth decade. Born in the 40s, I was one of the early baby boomers, part of the legion of post-war newborns. I don’t remember much of the 40s, because I was too young, but I remember clearly the succeeding decades. Let me take you on a trip down memory lane and share some history as I remember it.
Near Life Experiences
“Do you wanna hear about my near death experiences?” If I was a bit braver, I would ask if you care to hear about my life. But I can’t squeeze that out of my mouth right now. Katie, you can’t see the man I was then. You're just a little girl.
Slaying the Dragon?
My husband suggested that we write our different perspectives of an experience we had during the middle of last year. This ‘experience’ is better known as The Tail of the Dragon: an eleven-mile piece of asphalt designated US Highway 129 known for its 318 curves over some of the most beautiful hills along the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Enthusiasts gather at the Harley Davidson store on the Tennessee side or a convenience store on the North Carolina side, and drive across the mountain on a road much like the early 60’s Corvair: unsafe at any speed. While I thoroughly enjoyed the drive – the subtle movement of our convertible BMW pleased me – that trip was something very different for me. We had left home after an amazingly stressful evening, which had brought with it some realizations that could charitably be described as uncomfortable.
After nine months of combat command in Vietnam, I was called into the adjutant general’s office. The young man there said to me, “Lieutenant, you are overdue for a promotion to captain, so we have a choice to offer you. If you’ll extend six more months in country, we’ll promote you to captain ASAP, and give you your your own company to command.“
I Love “iPhotos”
Growing up I wasn’t much into photography. But all that changed in 1971 when I was reassigned from the command of a rifle platoon to the command of the battalion motor platoon. This assignment meant that I would spend my days and nights on the fire base, instead of out in the boonies. Hence, I was finally able to purchase a decent camera, specifically a Mamiya Sekor 1000dtl, 55mm, f1:4 SLR. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Prior to this purchase, all I had were Instamatics and Polaroids. Now, I wanted to shoot everything in sight. Somewhere I have a collection of shots from 1971-72 which I’ve not been able to locate.
Hope Springs. It’s Vernal.
“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in winter. Common symptoms include sleeping too much and having little to no energy, and overeating.” (Wikipedia)
Turgid. The first time I can remember ever hearing this word, it was uttered by my father. Our family was on a river boat cruise on the Ohio River, and, as he peered studiously over the side, he declared that the water was particularly turgid that day.