Monday, September 22, 2014


a lunchbox full of gears

Fissiparous? Okay, Anu Garg, I’m off my rocker just enough to appreciate the unlimited notion of using word parts to create new words as needed. If Johnny can build himself a Cadillac “One Piece At A Time” by sneaking out a part a day over 24 years, there’s no reason anyone has to be trapped in a dictionary. Webster can stuff it. One of my own words, “certitudinous” has often proved useful over the years and is at least as legitimate as the splendiferous new, unique and exclusive names that parents have been creating to damn their children to lives of crime. I don’t see working fissiparous into a sermon but might casually drop it into a blog post one early morning.

“U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms” reads today’s NYT headline. Seems that Peter Arnett was right, we’ll have to destroy the world in order to save it. What will it look like when we’re done? Cormac McCarthy has the answer in The Road. Some years ago I attended an EfM training session at Sewanee, where as part of each person introducing themselves I mentioned being a retired naval officer. Later someone on faculty, who had noted my saying that, said something to me about “your military mind,” which triggered my response in a rage of furious putdown that startled her into shutting up and everyone else at the table into astonished silence, but in retrospect probably proved her point. One of my least illustrious moments, that event comes to mind this morning as, thinking of ISIS beheading innocent Americans, I read the NYT headline and react “it’s about damn time.” I’ve not always been some fool politically correct preacher, nor am I yet when my closet door is left unlocked and the beast emerges. But “... in thought, word, and deed, ...” I’ll cover it again during confession next Sunday and the priest will absolve me for the moment.

Linda and I are cleaning up and out. Hundreds of books already taken to my office, and the church library, hundreds more on the dining room table downstairs yet to be carried to the car, which already has a load for her trip to the public library and other stuff for an animal welfare organization this morning. We’re at the grandparents’ standard plea, don’t give me things, just a hug, a chunk of cheese, a chocolate bar, bottle of red wine; and hear me when I say I love you: it’s not just words, it’s everything I am.

One of the things we’ve come across is this little stack of Panama City telephone directories that my mother laid aside. I was hoping they might date back into the thirties and forties, and there may be more; but the oldest I’ve come across, and am thumbing through at the moment, is February 1963. Being among those who complained years ago when our area code was changed from 904 to 850, I had forgotten that it once was 305. There’s the Studebaker, Packard, Mercedes-Benz dealership. The Willys Jeep dealer’s phone number is POplar 3-6581. Christo’s Five and Ten Cent store, and McCrory’s a couple doors down, are in the 400 block of Harrison Avenue. My grandmother had been dead sixteen years, but my grandfather was still at 1040 E. Caroline and sixteen months to go before he joined her. 

We were living in Ann Arbor and soon to head to Japan. February 1963: I'd voted for Nixon but Jack Kennedy was President, where were you?

Panama City Pilot old issues found in a box mama marked and stored away. Here’s the Thanksgiving A.D. 1931 Pilot reporting that the Cove Country Club has been thoroughly renovated and a golf pro from St. Charles, Missouri hired to be in charge. The issue for February 28, 1926 has a photo of the "beach front at the foot of Harrison Avenue eighteen years ago.” On November 12, 1936 the Pilot announces that the Ritz Theatre has a brand new, modernistic front. Front page of the same issue announces, “Three Negro Women Are in County Jail Because of Fights,” remember this is not my doing, I’m just copying and OMG how times have changed. The January 10, 1929 issue has a front page article I’ll have to read, “New Chevrolet Six Finds Large Demand.”

This December 27, 1937 issue of LIFE has an ad for Ipana toothpaste, pictures of Arturo Toscanini and his wife window-shopping, and an advertisement from Glover’s Mange Medicine for curing patchy baldness, dandruff and itching.

Here's an issue of “The Modern Priscilla” for November 1913 with an ad for the magnificent Wing Player Piano. 

And the June 1916 “Home Needlework Magazine.” Mama started sewing early, but not at four years old, so this would have been my grandmother Gentry’s magazine. “Do you need a Sewing Machine?”

Penny post card, no doubt.


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