Wednesday, October 31, 2007

West Virginia is famous for burning couches in the street after a football victory. We asked a policeman where we might see such burning couches but he was vague. We did see a tee shirt that said"West Virginia: Where integrity is earned and couches are burned."

At halftime about half of the student section left, why, I don't know. Someone called into the West Virginia after game radio show asking why they did that. The announcers didn't know. Jay asked a policeman who said may they wanted to start getting drunk.

West Virginia just inaugurated a new university president. He said he wanted to be known as student friendly. In the paper, one co-ed complained because the new president also said he wanted WV to lose its reputation as a party school. She said that was not friendly to students at all.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday morning I got up and got on the road. I went East through Wheeling, West Virginia, and then North to Pittsburgh. I programmed the address of the hotel into the Garmin and went right to it.

However, I was early. I got there before 3 pm so I decided to see what I could find and I found a mall. I bought some nice maroon clothing at Penney's that I wore the next day to the game at West Virginia.

Back to the hotel, I checked in and got two card keys. I got my luggage and started to the room when I realized I did not have the keys. I searched the car, my purse, everything. I managed to lose the key is seconds after they were given to me.

The desk clerk was very nice and gave me two more.

The room was great. I had gotten the Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh Airport on Priceline for $45 a night. I find the TV channel selection is better at cheaper hotels. The Days Inn the night before had more choices than the Crowne Plaza.

I watched something on TV, football I think. Jay got in about 11, having taken the hotel shuttle. We talked for a long time. Our talk time had been limited so we had a lot of pent-up topics to discuss.

Saturday morning we dressed in our maroon outfits and drove to Morgantown. I think the trip was about an hour and fifteen minutes. I programmed into the Garmin the address of the WV Alumni Center where the MSU activities were scheduled and we drove right there.

We were early so we went over to Hardee's and got some breakfast.

Later at the center we had a pep rally, a great lunch, and many door prizes. We enjoyed talking to the people at our table. They were from Aberdeen and Meridian, Mississippi. Neither Jay nor I won a door prizes. The prizes were mainly t-shirts. Neither of us need another t=shirt but we really wanted to win. Humans often want something they don't need and are jealous of other people for possessions they don't even want.

We took a shuttle to the stadium. We had free parking and a free shuttle.

Our seats were second from the top in the end zone. Actually there were great seats with a good view but there was one big drawback that drove me crazy. We were right under the scoreboard and it seemed they used that loudspeaker to broadcast to the whole stadium. First, before the game, I was looking at something when I heard a loud roar and I, honestly, thought the stadium was falling down. I looked around wildly, terrified, and found that it was the scoreboard with a train picture on it and the sound, very loud sound, was of the train whistling. I spent the game with my hands over my ears between plays. I especially hated when State had third down because then a bell tolled LOUDLY three times.

Season ticket holders told us that it had never been that loud before, that it was twice as loud as usual.

State won the toss and elected to kick off. West Virginia got the ball on their own 14, fumbled, and State recovered. Alas, State was offside and had to kick again. This time no fumble and West Virginia scored a touchdown on their first play. That is the way the first quarter went. In all my years of watching football, I have never seen a worse played quarter than State played. At the end of the quarter, the score was 28 to nothing. And WV kicked a field goal, very soon after the second quarter started.

I was shell shocked. I thought we would probably lose but never in my worst scenarios was the situation that bad.

We played okay for the rest of the game but it was too late. We lost 38-13.

It was also easy driving back to Pittsburgh. At the hotel we watched the LSU-Auburn game and were glad LSU won, at least I was.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In the Spring when Jay started talking to me about going to the MSU-West Virginia game, I was lukewarm at best. Jay enjoys going to different campuses and games. I finally said okay, and I am glad I did. I got back yesterday from a great trip.

Jay was flying to Pittsburgh but I decided to drive. I am an American; I like my car.

I left here on Thursday, driving through Nashville, Louisville, and Cincinnati before stopping for the night at Columbus, Ohio.

I had a new Garmin 340 GPS system, bought from Amazon, and I loved it. It told me what lane, where and when to turn. Going through cities was a breeze. When it said 10 miles to the next turn I could relax for a while. My grandchildren named it Bully. Ken's Garmin is named Rachael Ray.

The foliage was beautiful, starting in Kentucky. The day was beautiful also. It was a pleasure on the road.

I passed some of the things that Anne and Ken had shown the kids on a trip a few years ago. Kentucky Down Under had been their goal. Anne wanted them to see Australian animals. I also passed Dinosaur Land. Adam strongly wanted to see this. When they got there, the admission price was so high the parents nixed it. However, they were able to convince Adam that the gift shop was Dinosaur Land. That wouldn't work now.

I passed the United States Corvette Museum or maybe it was the Hall of Fame. Later up the road I saw a long line of various colored Corvettes going south, to the museum I presumed.

I love Cincinnati; it is a beautiful city. After going over the crest of a hill, you see the city from on high, the river, the bridges, the city. A great view.

Ohio always surprises me. I think of it as industrial and heavily populated. But the areas outside of Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and a few other cities is agricultural. Between Cincinnati and Columbus is all flat land with scattered farm houses and barns.

Culturally it doesn't seem that much different either. The same billboards are there as in the South. "If you died today, where would you spend eternity." and "Hell is real." Also there is an advertisement for the Creation Museum.

I stopped for the night at a Days Inn. It seemed to be mainly patronized by truckers, who were very polite to me. There was always one there to open doors for me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More on clothing in sports.

James tells me that Oregon takes perverse pride in their hideous uniforms. They like that everyone hates it.

I have to give some credit to people that I had rather not. (Or maybe, based on these people, I should re-evaluate my stand.) Eli Manning, after the game last night, appeared at the press conference wearing coat, white shirt, and tie. Jay tells me that Howard Schnellenberger wears a suit when he coaches football.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

From the Jonesboro Sun, October 9, 2007
Opinion page

Behind-the-scenes work suited Kiwanian just fine

By Roy Ockert

Harry Findley was always there, doing whatever needed to be done

Harry Findley was the kind of person who makes a civic club profitable in the way that a civic club should be-in service to the community. He did whatever the Jonesboro Kiwanis Club needed to get done and I suspect that'[s what he did in every endeavor of his personal and professional life.

Unfortunately, Harry lost a long battle with cancer on Saturday at the age of 74.

Harry was never president of the Kiwanis Club. He preferred to work behind the scenes. And did he ever work!

Civic club presidents come and go, and most people who fill the role become quite active two or three years around that presidential year. Most tend to become much less active afterward.

But Harry's service was year in and year out until he was felled by this awful disease. He received the Kiwanian of the Year Award several years ago, but the truth is he was deserving of that honor every year.

Our club's signature event is Pancake Day, held annually in late winter of early spring. It draws thousands of people and raises enough money to fund our contributions to dozens of projects and three scholarships to Arkansas State University.

To people who go through the line, I'm sure that putting on Pancake Day looks easy. And to those of us who man the griddle, the hard part is keeping your eyeballs from getting cooked.

But it takes dozens of people working together for such an event to be successful. And until this year Harry probably worked longest and hardest of anyone every year.

I didn't really appreciate how valuable his efforts were until my year as president when I was, of course, more active.

We start setting up on Thursday morning, and it takes two full days to get everything in place for our 6 a.m. Saturday start at the fairgrounds. That means hauling chairs and tables, collecting supplies, covering our work space with cardboard to facilitate cleanup, setting up the gas-fired griddles and scrubbing everything.

Harry didn't give orders, but he was always there, and if you really wanted to help, you could just ask him. He knew what needed to be done, and if no one was available to do it. he would.

On Pancake Day most members find time to work 2- or 4-hour shifts. Harry was there from long before opening to sometime after closing, doing whatever needed to be done-from filling in on a griddle to pouring coffee to making a run for more supplies to taking out the trash. He made sure the event went well, and, at the same time his good humor brightened the mood for all.

Not only that, but his wife June was usually there helping, too-possibly because that was the only way she'd see him that day.

The worst part of Pancake Day comes on the following Monday when we must take everything down and clean up including all that sticky syrup people spill. Most of us try to find excuses to miss that part-the office calls-but not Harry. He was always there until the job was done.

One year he even lost the use of a hand for a time after an accident. We were returning a heavy-duty batter mixer and he was in the back of a truck steadying the mixer when the truck hit a bump or made a turn and the mixer shifted.

No doubt, the accident cost him some time that spring for one of other favorite activities-playing in the Jonesboro American Legion Senior Softball League.

His service to the club wasn't just once a year, though. he could be counted on to set up for our meetings, to take attendance, to keep up with member information forms, to fill a board of directors vacancy, to sit in on a committee meeting-whatever needed to be done.

On the night I was to be installed as president, we discovered at the last moment that we didn't have a flag for the Pledge of Allegiance. Don't worry, Harry said. He took off and returned with the requisite flag and pole.

Another favorite memory of my year as president is a trip to Caruthersville, Mo., for a district meeting. Harry and another club stalwart. Fred Sitz, went with me. And on the way there and back, I got a great course in Jonesboro area history from their stories-so entertaining that I missed the Blytheville exit coming back and went on to US 63. I only wish I'd had a recorder that night.

How does a civic club replace a guy like Harry? We don't. We have other valuable members, like his good friend Fred. But Harry was one of a kind, and no one person will be able to do everything he did so well. A lot of other people will have to pick up the slack, and they did this year because he wasn't able to participate.

Still, we'll miss him. And I'[ll never cook or eat another pancake without thinking of Harry. The good works of this behind-the-scenes hero will benefit people who didn't even know him for years to come.

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