Barns



Around the Bend: A genius for living

Someone once said that he wished that he still had "the genius for living" that he had as a child. I have been long aware of this and delight in that genius. The curiosity, spontaneity, mirth, and knack for having fun out of so little.

Around the Bend: The joy of play

My first sports event was when as a five year old I saw the Baltimore Orioles in their 1954 debut. I have been a sports fan ever since. My recall of hundreds of games is a bit of a blurred continuum. Mostly I can recall great dramatic moments.

Around the Bend: On human islands

We recently saw a documentary on singer/social activist Phil Ochs. People, like me, know the name but not much else. Now I know. He was an intense performer and organizer for civil rights and, then, the anti-war movement. He wrote and performed a steady stream of songs related to his intense commitments.

Around the Bend: The enemy is human

Immediately after the shootings in Tucson, people held forth on how the nasty rhetoric in our current politics might encourage violent acts like this. Mark Shields, a public tv commentator and as reasonable a man as you can find, believed it could influence unstable
characters.

Around the Bend: The name game

Each year there is published a listing of the most popular names in the United States. My boomer generation from WASP suburbs matched the list in my day: John, Mary, Tom, Mike, Susan, etc., all the standards. In this era of very creative African-American names, the names of previous black generations match mine. I know black women named Sharon, Cynthia, and Janice.

Around the Bend: Do presidents make good neighbors?

Issues, character and experience aside, I believe the personalities of our presidential candidates have made an important and, in one case, a deciding difference. Put simply, undecided voters often may vote for the man they feel most comfortable with.

Around the Bend: Living in memory

It was 1974 and I was in a downtown Boston ice cream parlour struggling to choose a flavor. To my right, I heard some chuckling. It was a college housemate, and he said that the knew it was me because I couldn’t make up my mind. It stung a bit, but given Jon’s jovial, let’s-not-take-anything-seriously nature, I had to go with his amusement.

The Monarch of Time

Over the last 20 years, I have had over a hundred letters and columns published in Charlottesville. Reader appreciation has been my pay and the following letter inspired the most responses:

Face to face with fame

A friend has a fun pursuit with her brother-in-law, counting how many celebrities they’ve seen. They are both well over a hundred now. This has inspired me to recount my less frequent encounters with famous people.

People in the service industry are PEOPLE!

In my career in the public library, I served people one on one. In that role, I received much feedback, usually favorable. I was always aware that such affirmation is not the norm for many jobs. Many people rarely or never receive a thank you or praise for doing their job. Some barely get acknowledgment for being a person.

Cafe culture or fast food nation?

The summer of 1967 was a time of personal upheaval and new perspectives. I, a backward homebody, toured Europe with high school friends and finished with two weeks of liberating hitch hiking in Ireland.

The holiday lonely hearts club

For troubled, lonely people there is always the possibility of some good samaritan coming along to offer comfort (letter tributes to acts are newspaper regulars, though they are more likely to be about a car breakdown than an emotional breakdown). But, no, it is mostly for friends or relatives to come through for us when we’re alone. We should always be on alert.

Too much sugar for a nickel

The pause that refreshes. Put a nickel in the machine and out popped a shapely bottle of tasty effervescence. A few gulps and you were on your way. It was a Coke and it was six ounces.

Standing up for quirky golfers

Years ago my wife and I were in D.C. and we went to Jack’s Boats on the Potomac to rent a canoe. Jack’s is in Georgetown and a short walk from a very hip and expensive world. No double lattes at Jack’s.