Cumberland Times-News

Columns

April 20, 2014

Think it’s not a small world? You’re wrong

Yes, you read that right in the paper a couple of weeks ago. I covered a wedding as a newspaper reporter. I’ve retired from doing regular stories because my primary duties lie elsewhere, and I don’t have the time or mental energy for it. But I agreed to do it for a couple of reasons, one of which goes back more than 40 years. The former proprietor of The Famous North End Tavern told me about a wedding that was to take place at the Lions Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care, where his wife works.

The wedding didn’t involve residents, but a young man and woman who go there frequently to perform. They wanted to include their friends, who have become an extended family and in most cases wouldn’t be able to go to a wedding someplace else.

I also went because nobody would believe that I of all people would cover a wedding, and because I relish talking with people who are older than I am. (Yes, dammit, I hear you. There aren’t as many of them as there used to be.)
Goldy’s Rule 161: Older folks are like books you haven’t read. Open them and you will learn wonderful things. Listen a lot more than you talk, and you will gain wisdom that will suit both you and the younger folks you will share it with as you grow older.

A friend from my college days was an African (he tried to teach me how to drink Scotch, and I tried to teach him how to drink bourbon) who told me something I’ve never forgotten.

Chris said there was much about America that he liked, but what he couldn’t understand was why we basically ignored or even ridiculed our older people. The old ones in his culture are revered because they have accumulated a lifetime of grace and wisdom.

I talked with several of the center’s residents and could have stayed there all day. It was more hoots than a barn full of owls.

When I was at West Virginia University in Morgantown, I roomed with an older couple. The man grew up in Lonaconing, where he was a boyhood friend of Lefty Grove, and spent several years on New York Yankees’ minor league teams.

He was good enough to have pitched both ends of an exhibition double-header against the Chicago Cubs’ starting team and shut them out both games. The newspaper clipping was framed on his wall.

Sadly, this was before free agency. The Yankees had the best team and the best pitching staff in the Major Leagues, so they didn’t need him. But neither were they going to trade him to another team and have to play against him some day.

Many nights, I was headed out on the town, but found Earl sitting on his front porch swing and decided to stay with him instead.

Great-uncle Paul Goldsworthy was a barber. Having him cut your hair could take a while, because he snipped for a few seconds, then stopped cutting for several minutes so he could talk.


But I loved it and frequently visited him and Great-aunt Mary at their home.

After Paul died, my dad (his nephew) occasionally said he regretted that he’d never asked him about such-and-such a thing.

One time Dad said he’d always wondered about a fellow our whole family knew, and why he never married his long-time girlfriend.

Paul knew him better than the rest of us did, and I told Dad I’d asked Paul about that. Paul said the guy found out that she was running around on him ... but that was all right, because
he’d been running around on her.

Paul visited us one Easter while I was still living at home. By the time he left, it was snowing to beat the band.

Dad and I mentioned that Grandmother Goldsworthy used to say winter wasn’t through with us until we’d had our Easter storm. (Which, since it snowed Tuesday night in Danville, we now have had. Winter is
over.) “We haven’t had any decent weather,” said Paul, “since they put that (four-word Anglo-Saxonism) on the moon!” Dad and I chuckled, but Paul told us, “You look back, and you’ll see I’m right.” That shut us up. A few decades have passed, and I’m not laughing any more. Paul truly was a book filled with wonderful things to learn about.

One of his pages had to do with pitching pennies in a back alley when he was a boy with Diamond Jim Brady. Another involved the time he drove his automobile from Keyser to California and back ... in an era when only a few of America’s roads had been paved.

Five surviving members of the World War II-era U.S. Army 78th Lightning Division and their families returned to Keyser for the annual J. Edward Kelley Award activities last week. Kelley is Keyser High’s Medal of Honor recipient and served with them.

I’ve become friends with three of them and always hope to see them at the reception each year. They came back again, and you’d never think they were in their mid-to-late 80s.

A man about my age whose late father fought with the 78th saw the jacket I was wearing and asked if I was associated with Chapter 172 of the Vietnam Veterans of America in Cumberland.

I said I was, then asked if he was a Vietnam Veteran. When he said he was, I shook his hand and handed him one of the chapter’s “Welcome Home” coins.

He looked at it for a moment and said, “I was in Gettysburg last year, and when I went to Little Round Top, I met two guys in Union uniforms who were from Chapter 172. They gave me one of these coins.”

That, I told him, was my buddy and me — Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy.

As we talked, the thought crossed my mind that — just like the old soldiers we came to honor — he and I are becoming books filled with pages of things we must pass along to those who come after us.

When it was time to leave, I said I hoped we both would live long to see Vietnam Veterans treated with the same reverence America holds for the World War II guys. They deserve it.

“I hope so, too,” he said. “Maybe we will.”

And now I have another new friend. I’m already looking forward to seeing him again next year.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Peanuts and Cracker Jack beat any foam finger

    Times have changed, and for the better, as this week marks the third year in a row NFL training camps have opened and have not taken center stage in the cities of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington. That, of course, is due to the play of the three baseball teams that inhabit said cities, the Orioles, the Pirates and the Nationals — two of whom hold first place in their respective divisions, with the other one entering play on Wednesday just 2 1/2 games out of first.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore

    At this time of the year, the weather is a frequent subject of conversation, particularly the temperatures. We are now in the “Dog Days,” usually the hottest days of the year. The term comes from our sun appearing to be near the “Dog Star” (Sirius) and the “Little Dog Star” (Procyon). In reality, the sun is now about 94.5 million miles away while Sirius is 8.6 light years away with Procyon at 11 light years distance. Sunlight takes only 507 seconds to reach us, while the two dog stars’ light takes about a decade to travel to our eyes. So our sun is in the same direction (but not distance) as these two bright winter evening stars.

    July 20, 2014

  • Mike Sawyers and his father, Frank Sale of quart-sized Mason jars lagging, merchants claim

    The opening day of Maryland’s squirrel hunting season is Sept. 6 and I am guessing you will be able to drive a lot of miles on the Green Ridge State Forest and see very few vehicles belonging to hunters of the bushytail. It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1960s, when I was a high school student in Cumberland, there was no Interstate 68. What existed was U.S. Route 40 and in the last couple of hours before daylight on the opening day of squirrel season there was an almost unbroken line of tail lights and brake lights between Cumberland and Polish Mountain.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hugo Perez Columnist, son are range finders, but where are .22 shells?

    We feel pretty lucky on this side of the Potomac to have a nice shooting range to utilize for free and within decent driving distance.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Opposition and inclusion understood

    Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.

    July 17, 2014

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

    July 16, 2014

  • Further proof you should never bet on baseball

    Had you known in March that ...

    July 16, 2014