2017-07-19 / Editorials

Don Lively


I've come to the conclusion that I am no longer a spring chicken.

For those not familiar with quaint colloquialisms, that means I have reached the age when I can no longer refer to myself as a young man. Now before some of you hasten to remind me that my youthful milestones are behind me, don't bother, I already know. But, don't forget, it's us baby boomers that keep raising the bar.

Two decades ago we came up with the phrase, "Forty is the new twenty".

My generation has a simple philosophy.

Just keep revising the arithmetical calculations regarding middle age till there's no such thing as middle age.

We have that math down to a science.

My peers in my age group have all the answers if other folks would just listen to us and adhere to our wisdom.

After all, we were raised by the Greatest Generation. We learned a lot from those folks.

I will also tell you that being a fellow who spends a lot of time reminiscing is not something new. I've always been that way. Mama used to call me a daydreamer when she'd catch me sitting on the back porch of the old house, gazing out across the backyard. I'm not sure what I had to look back on at the tender age of eight, but, it's led to a lifetime of thoughtful reflection.

I don't really long for "the good old days" because, these days I have children and grandchildren and a fine new bride to make the present pretty dadburn good, but I do think that in some ways, old times were better times.

I can remember going to a few square dances as a child. Also, in my early years Out West I occasionally went to good, old fashioned barn dances. You know what happens mostly at barn dance and squares dances? Dancing. When folks are concentrating on the Allemande lefts and the Promenade rights, there's little time for much else. And no matter who the dancers were or where the event took place, everybody looked to be having a grand old time.

Somewhere along the way honky tonks and discos and hiphop clubs took over as dance venues and civility seemed to go out the swinging doors.

Never once at a barn dance or a square dance did I see a shooting or a cutting or a fistfight.

Not even a cross word.

I'm sure that somewhere in America there are folks still doing the Virginia Reel and performing the do-si-do to perfection.

I would like to see barn dances make a spectacular comeback.

I can remember when sporting events were more cordial than they are these days. Not to say that fights and boorish behavior didn't happen at games. They did, but it was mostly in the stands, not on the field. The few times that fights broke out between players, officials were able to quickly break it up and get back to the game.

Times changed.

Athletes became much more narcissistic. More interested in showboating and building up their own statistics than in playing and winning as a team. In football, at first it was mostly confined to a few flashy receivers and running backs but these days nearly every player at any position in any game has to perform gyrations and dance moves after every successful play.

I would like to see sportsmanship make a triumphant return to sports.

I remember several times throughout the year our church would have "dinner on the grounds" that were actually on the grounds. There would be a line of rickety old wooden tables laden with covered dishes of all types. Fried chicken, sliced ham, spare ribs. Macaroni and cheese, pork and bean casseroles, corn on the cob. Enough desserts to induce diabetic comas.

We still gather and eat at the church but these days we congregate in a climate controlled building with warming ovens and automatic ice makers.

No stately oaks to shade the proceedings. No kids playing tag or throwing Frisbees. No armies of fanners fighting off the insect hordes.

As comfortable as our new age church feasts are, every now and then I'd like to have a real "dinner on the grounds".

Maybe in October, after gnat and deer fly season.

I honestly don't live in the past but there is a lot I miss about the "old days". I know that you do too, because when I run into you at the grocery store, that's what you tell me.

So, let's talk about this for the next couple of weeks.

You and me.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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