I saved history


After canceling Internet at the office — lost patience with the bad service –, I’ve yet to sign up to a new service, so I’m staying at home more using laptop and router. And Daughter is at camp for two weeks, you knew that. So Wife and I have been here together, just the two of us, for the last few days, well, when we’re not out doing stuff and working. I like it. I may be wearing thin on her patience, though. Good practice, says my mom, for when #3 leaves the nest.

Working from home in the pajama mode (well, bermuda mode for me), as I have reminded Good Wife, is saving her a ton of work in the washing department. A pair of shorts (and I often work shirtless in this heat) takes up much less space in the washer than jeans or slacks. And on the clothesline. Not to mention the socks. Don’t forget those. Bermudas and flipflops. The perfect working attire. (We’ll not bother with a picture of that.) Ah, not to mention all the gas (alcohol, actually) we’re saving from going back and forth to the office.

But the time will come, shortly, to resume normal office activities. Sigh

¶ Somebody recently sent us through snail mail (post office still exists!) a newspaper clipping of our engagement announcement in the Paragould Daily Press, yes, from ancient times. Vicki already had our faded copy stashed away somewhere. Yesterday she was in a cleaning mood and throwing out antiquities and treasures right and left. (This packrat hides when she does this.) But she had the graciousness to ask me about the clipping, as she was aiming it for the trash. “Offer it to the kids, maybe one of them might want it,” I said, wincing from the thought of that Precious Treasure being consigned to eternal destruction.

So I rushed to the Internet and zipped off an email to children and daughters-in-law. One of them bit. So I did my good deed for the day and saved a Piece of History. Someday that’ll be worth something, my Uncle Arvel used to say.

¶ While on the nostalgia kick, a piece of news took me back to college days. On Monday, the Jonesboro, Ark., KAIT-TV station (we always called it “Channel 8”) reported that the Interstate bridge near Dyersburg, Tenn., was closed. (I, of course, read the story on the Internet, and saw the headline on Twitter.) Seems a barge hit the bridge. We’re talking the big, wide, muddy Mississip. One would think you’d almost have to aim at a pylon to hit it. The bridge was closed, no doubt, to assess the damage. It was reopened some hours afterwards. But if you have to get from one side to the other, the next bridge is in Memphis.

I’m getting to the nostalgia part, hang on. But, first, one more item from the news. The Memphis station where Channel 8 got its story named the highway I-155, but KAIT headlined it as I-555. I thought the latter was going to be the new name for US 63 coming up from Memphis through Jonesboro. Last I saw, the highway that went over the bridge was I-155. Who knows?

Now for the nostalgia part. When I started college in 1975, there was no bridge, no I-155 (or now I-555, if it is that). I had to catch a ferry at Cottonwood Point, Mo., across to the Tennessee side, west of Dyersburg. And there was no four-laned US 412 between Jackson and Dyersburg either. Today, the drive shaves off at least 30 minutes between Paragould and Henderson, Tenn., from earlier days. From three hours to two and a half. Not a bad difference.

I remember the dispirited feeling of topping the levee and seeing the ferry pull away from the dock. Since it took about 30 minutes to cross, as I recall, that meant an hour’s wait. And the glee at hitting it just right, driving onto the ferry and casting off to the other side.

When, on I-155, I approach the bridge on the Missouri side, there’s a sign for Cottonwood Point, though I can’t imagine why. I remember there being only one house at the end of the road. But maybe there was a town I had to pass through before I got there. I don’t remember, it’s been many a year. When I see that sign, I feel an urge to drive down there and top the levee and see where the ferry used to dock. But I never seem to have the time. I’m always in a hurry. Sign of the times?

¶ In an effort to get my poetry out there in the world more, and after reading that Facebook was better for business and networking than other services, I, with renewed determination and my face set toward Jerusalem, went searching for FB groups of Christian poetry. (I do this kind of thing in fits and starts.) Almost nothing! The ones that existed had only uns gatos pingados (literally, “some sprinkled cats;” see, I told you there is no literal translation from one language to another). But, back to my search. I widened the search for positive poetry, spiritual poetry. The two I found with pictures of Buddha and ying-and-yang didn’t catch my fancy.

I did join one of the small Christian poetry groups. And I do mean small. But I was dreaming big, for this was late at night, you see. So I decided what I often am moved to do and later regret: I started my own group. Bouncing off the theme and name of the UPLift list and site, I opened a Facebook group as “UPLift Poetry and Positive Thought.” Yeah, I know, not so catchy, but it’s out there. Now to sit back and watch people flock to it.

¶ Speaking of poetry, to the three still reading, I’ve been productive lately with several items for both the UPLift and Cloudburst lists. (See the poetry category for a listing.) I really thought about scheduling these out, parceling them out like an adult giving candy to a kid, but as I sense the time of life slowly ebbing away, I decided to send what I had as I was inspired to write it. So when the dry spells come, don’t be alarmed. Just go back and read the good stuff from the Recent Past.

¶ Enough of poetry, since it’s bad enough to have to read it, but to be required to read somebody writing about it …

¶ Another, though similar, sign of the times. My neighbor across the street, two doors down, works now in the state capital, and I hardly ever see him any more. We used to walk together for exercise, and our boys were good friends. Today, we pass in the street and wave now and again, that’s about it. A few days ago we hooked up on Facebook. And there we were that evening, he in his house, and I in mine, about 50 meters apart, as he observed, swapping posts on a social network.

So you tell me if the world is better today. I have my doubts. But I’ll still sign up to another Internet service at the office, and keep this one at home. Because, for one, my kids aren’t 50 meters away.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

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