Friday, June 24, 2005

I went over to my sister June's in Jonesboro, Arkansas, on Monday.

Most people got by way of Memphis. It is shorter, but I go by Dyersburg. It is longer but I don't have to fight the Memphis city travel, especially the congestion in downtown getting onto the bridge over the Mississippi.

Going by Dyersburg the scenery is pastoral all the way from Jackson to Blytheville, Arkansas. It is lovely green country and the road is good, four lane.

I had told everyone that I was going over there and that June and Harry would cook for me. They surprised me by taking me out for three of the four nights. The first night we went to Barnhill's buffet and April joined us.

Tuesday we drove down to Trumann, Arkansas, where Harry's softball team was playing. He manages the team and plays some. The average age of his team is in the seventies and the catcher is even 83. At these older ages, the batting and throwing seems affected the least. I was surprised at what good arms some of them still have. However, the running and fielding have fallen off severely.

Nevertheless the pleasure in playing remains strong. They play generally twice a week for six months of the year. There are five teams in the league: Jonesboro, Trumann, Cherokee Village, Memphis, and Little Rock. It seems to be a very informal league, if one team does not have enough players they just borrow from another team.

They play in the hot sun. The two games ran from about 10:30 to 2. The ones Thursday were particularly hot as it reached 95.

They play seven innings. The two major rule changes are that every base can be over-run and there are two home plates. One home plate is used for batting and for the catcher to catch the ball on plays at home plate. The other home plate is several feet away and is for the runner coming home. This like other things is done to avoid a collision of players at all costs.

June and one other wife Shirley goes to the games. Both are dark, dark brown. I am very fair. At Trumann Shirley sat with me in the shade of a building although she usually sits in the sun.

The biggest pleasure was watching June. She never sits down during the game. Either she is coaching third base, walking up and down the fence yelling encouragement and advice, or running after foul balls. She also carries her glove and helps during warm-up. For June this spectator sport is aerobic exercise.

Harry manages the team and usually plays part of one game.

On Tuesday they lost to both Memphis and Cherokee Village. The loss to Memphis was in extra innings.

Wednesday is line dancing day. Both June and Harry are pretty good at it. They go to the senior citizen center there and dance along with about 20 other people. There is a teacher who teaches the dance and then they dance to the music. They all seem to have a great time. I chose not to participate. I could learn the steps in my mind but I know that I would have had a hard time getting my feet to cooperate in a timely manner.

We played Mexican dominoes on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. June won Tuesday and I won Wednesday. June tried to make me go home after I won. I wouldn't go.

Thursday we went up to Hardy, Arkansas, to play softball. They have quite a routine going for these trips. This time we went in a van from the East Arkansas Agency on Aging. Harry drove. In our van there was just Harry, June, me, and one other guy. One other van also went.

We left about 7:30 and drove up to Hardy, stopping for breakfast at the Hardy McDonald's. This is what they always do. June and Harry ate outside at a table in the sun. I ate outside at a table in the shade.

The ball park there is on the edge of the Spring River. I once floated down the Spring River but I think it was further up river.

It was very hot. There was one little lone tree where I sat up my chair. This time I was well lotioned up as I had blistered on my knees and nose on Tuesday despite having sat in the shade the whole time.

The first game Jonesboro beat Cherokee Village for the first time this year. They were very happy.

The second game they lost to Trumann in the ninth inning.

On the way home we stopped in a small town and got ice cream, another of their traditions. I got chocolate ice cream, the soft serve kind. The first time I had eaten that kind of ice cream in a long time.

Thursday night June and Harry cooked a delicious meal. We had barbecued chicken, rice, fried squash, and her delicious broccoli and cauliflower salad. Yum, yum.

I went home Thursday night.

Today the repairman is fixing my deck, much needed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I went to Nashville early Sundaymorning to see Beth and to help Anne out.

Beth had been to the wedding of a former co-worker on Saturday. Steve came up with her but he chipped a tooth and was in pain so he did not go to the wedding.

When Beth got to the wedding, she felt that people thought she must have gone to the wrong church because she was the only white person there. When she saw the table with gifts, she went out to her car to get her gift and they really must have thought that before she reappeared.

Nevertheless she said it was a nice and lively wedding and she had a good time.

She and Steve left to go back to Florida on Sunday afternoon.

I went back to Anne's house. She was going to a teaching math seminar on Monday and Tuesday so I was going to keep the kids.

Sunday night Emma had a softball game. Adam was upset about not going to church. When he heard they were going to church, he said "We're not going to church? What is more important, church or a ball game?"

It is very tiresome when children learn what you teach them.

The game was in a tournament and if they lost their season would be over. They did lose but Emma got a hit every time she got up to bat as usual. This is especially good as she always, and I mean every time, swings and misses at the first pitch.

She loves softball and plays very well, and she is playing out of her league. Her team is made up of 7 and 8 year olds, and she was only six at the beginning of the year. She will be able to play 3 years in the 7-8 year old league.

Emma is very competitive. When I was keeping her, we would spend some time with my throwing balls to her to field. I was throwing fly balls to her and she was catching them about one third of the time. Then she proposed that we make a game of it where she got a point if she caught it and I got a point if she missed. The percentages then turned around. She began to catch two thirds of the fly balls.

Adam and George spent the time around the light poles stomping bugs gathered on the ground . It was a massacre. As we were leaving, George asked Ken why bugs were attracted to lights. Ken didn't know but George did.

"They're partying, that's what they are doing flying around. If I were a bug, I would party all night and then go to my job in the morning. A bug's job is to bite people, so I would party all night and bite people all day. That would be my job."

Monday Anne left at 7 for the seminar. Ken left at the regular time. I took the boys to Cub Scout Day Camp which began at 9 o'clock. I left them there and Emma and I went back home. We made out a schedule for the day, when we were watching TV, reading, playing outside, eating, playing spinner, and going back to get the boys.

Spinner is a game we made up. They make out lists of things they want to do. They even put boxes at the left to check when they had done them. The spellings are creative. Emma wrote "xrsis" for exercise. Strange but good phonetically.

Then we gather in a circle on the floor and one of us spins a sword scabbord and whomever it points to we do the next thing on their list. It is a fun game for me, too Most often I chose reading as my activity but sometimes I have them walk on my back. It is a good massage.

Emma and I had a good day and then we picked up the boys. They had a great day. They enjoyed camp very much.

One thing they had done was make stilts out of tin cans, just the way I used to do when I was a kid, except they used twine where I used baling wire for the handles.

They had also gotten to shoot BB guns and bows and arrows. George hit the target with neither one. Adam hit the paper but not the target with the BB gun. George said "I made zero with the BB gun and zero with the bow and arrow. Zero plus zero is zero."

When we got home, they went to bed. Adam went to sleep but George and Emma didn't. The purpose was for the boys to get some rest because the boys had a baseball game that night.

It was a tournament game. The boys did not play well. Adam got on base one time and George not at all. their team lost.

The highlight of the night was a huge plate-size turtle that got boxed in between two fences. All the kids loved the turtle but then a coach picked it up and carried it to the woods.

At eight o'clock the next morning the kids woke me up and the boys were ready to go. They were dressed, wearing sun screen and their hats, carrying their lunches and water bottles, and they wanted to right then. It was hard to get them to wait.

Emma and I had another good day. One extra thing we did was go to Babies R Us to buy baby gifts for Charlie and Marty Sparrow's expected granddaughters. Both Chuck and Jennie are expecting girls in August.

The boys were just as excited as they had been the day before. Someone had told them about drinking water in the heat so they reported to me that Adam pee-ed one time during the day and George three times. I praised George for drinking a lot of water.

Emma retorted that he hadn't drank much because half his Gatorade was still in the bottle. George told her that at lunch he was already "hydrated."

They had had first aid lessons that day. George reported how to take care of a wound by washing it and putting disinfectant on it that "will kill all the germs." Adam adamantly disagreed. "No, George, it kills 99% so 5 0r 6 are left."

As I left them at camp and picked them up again, I appreciated the adult volunteers there and I was so glad that my days in scouting are over.

I left and came home when Anne got back. I enjoyed my two days. I liked spending time with just Emma and I liked seeing the boys so happy with going to camp and learning new things.

Anne called me to report that the boys' team won two games tonight. George got 6 hits and Adam 5. George had 5 rbi's. I know they were thrilled. Anne was giddy with excitement and so was I when she told me.

I am calling Coach Polk tomorrow to hold two scholarships eleven years from now.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I forgot to report on the United Daughters of the Confederacy at the monument dedication. They were all dressed up in church clothes and hats and looked great.

Also they all wore their ribbon and badges on their left shoulder. The badges were of different kinds. The thin curved bars were of Confederate ancestors, the name was engraved on it. The first one under the main UDC pin was the "one I went in on." Meaning the ancestor who fought for the Confederacy that enabled them to enter the group. Other ancestors were on other curved bars. One woman had about 10.

They all seemed to have a good time, just as good as the Red Hatters. I enjoyed talking to them.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Dedication of Tennessee Monument at Shiloh

Julia, Frankie, and I went down to Shiloh for the dedication of the new Tennessee Monument at Shiloh.

It is somewhat surprising that there has not been such a monument before but reading in Confederates in the Attic I found that previously people have thought of Shiloh as a northerner's park. Maybe that is the reason.

We stopped at the headquarters to buy a day's pass. Frankie noted that most people did not have the orange sign on their dashboards. I always like to do the right thing and pay my debts. Besides, I felt it was a donation to the park and was happy to give that.

Despite the rain the day before there was parking on the grass at the monument site. The parking was well organized, quick, and close to the monument.

I had seen the monument before when I went to Shiloh with my friends Ray and Linda Jones. It was uncovered on one pass by but covered the next and also when I went to Shiloh with Anne's family. Previously it had been covered in black plastic but on dedication day it was covered with a beige cloth fabric with ropes so it could be unveiled.

Most people had had the foresight to bring chairs; we did not so we had to stand.

The people present were as much a show as the monument. There were several Confederate "widows" there, dressing in long black dresses, blact veils, and carrying black parasols. Many other people were dressed in period costumes. It seemed that most of the older women had their grandchildren with them, also dressed in costume.

There were several units of reenactors there, including a calvary unit. They all seemed to be Confederate. Even the one that was mostly black. I was puzzled by this and by the absence of Union costomers and the mention of anything Union.

A band played military songs.

All these people were hot, I know. It was actually a nice June day, not too, too hot but in those uniforms I know they were burning up. Surely in the Civil War those soldiers were smart enough to take off those heavy wool shirts in the summertime Southern heat.

State representative Steve McDaniel was the master of ceremonies. The program was long, but moved along nicely.

People speaking were the Governor Phil Bredesen, Rep. Marsha Blackbourn, the House Speaker, and Senate leader. Also the presidents of the state Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy.

I must say here that this was the most politically incorrect meeting I have been to in a very long time. It even concluded with the playing and singing of Dixie. I thought the emphasis would be equally on the Unionists and the Confederates but it was almost all Confederate. Only the featured speaker, a historian, gave equal time. I am now a little confused as to the meaning of the monument. I had thought it would be to all who fought from Tennessee but even the statue itself has a confederate flag.

After the program started, I sat on the ground. I could not see the speakers but could hear them clearly.

The statue was unveiled by some of the "children of Tennessee" in the audience. It shows a soldier standing upright, a wounded soldier on the ground, and a soldier taking the flag from the wounded soldier. It is named Passing of Honor. The statue is made of metal, bronze or brass or something, and is 14 feet high. It is the largest monument dedicated there in almost 90 years.

After the dedication we went back to the Park Headquarters to a reception they had in a tent on the grounds. The food was good.

I had thought that the dignitaries would be there but no one showed up except the Park Superintendent. I had intended to ask Marsha Blackbourn if, as a fellow alumnus of Mississippi State, all those Rebel flags made her a little uncomfortable.

On the way back Frankie was fiddling with the radio. I heard one word and knew he had found Jim Ellis broadcasting the MSU game in the regional from Coral Gables, FL. I had gone to Shiloh knowing this game was a slam dunk. It was, the score then was 10-2. We only got reception briefly but the final was MSU 12-Florida Atlantic 2. Today at 6 we face the number one seed Miami.

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