Monday, May 15, 2017
Some Florida nights bring such bright moonlight that you think you're living in a lighthouse. That's great if you're not interested in sleeping. As I lay in our bed bathed in moonbeams I was thinking of some memorable men and women who have touched my life.
Such people do not include a certain master sergeant from my Korean War years, but rather the positive folks like Paul, Charlie and Sween. Good friend Ted is another memorable man. Ted is smart, witty, caring, supportive, you name it. A bonus with Ted is his lovely Barbara and their two adult offspring. They are stars one and all. Then there is Hugh, Steve, Mike, Norman and a few others. Interestingly, my collection of Memorables has ladies leading the pack.
There was Pat, my first love, who was considered “the third prettiest girl in the 8th grade.” (Another indicator of simplicity with 13 year-old male minds.) Much later when Pat, Trish and I gathered to plan our 50th grammar school reunion, I can assure you that Pat moved from third place to take the crown. No one else was close. While it's hard to list her every good quality, it might have been that her sensitivity to a short guy with an astigmatism wearing round steel eyeglasses. Or was it “Sleepy Lagoon”, the hit song of 1942? Songs seem to be prominent when thinking of the opposite sex.
Moving on to high school “I'm Confessing that I Love You” carried Jean and me through one semester after another. Later on Lynn and I danced to "It Had to be You" through college and right into the Army induction center.
Romance is still tied in with songs of the time. My dear wife, Joan, and I were mildly annoyed when Mary Ann said that “Close to You” was their song. Everybody knows, or should know, it is our song.
And speaking of Joan, I told her:
“When my life is through
and the angels ask me to recall
The thrill of them all
Then I will tell them,
I Remember You.”
And I will, Most Memorable of All Ladies.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
I love my bike. It's right outside, waiting for me to mount up and pedal off to another adventure.
It's true that my biking today is a far cry from when I used to ride 15, 20, 30 miles a trip. Mother Nature, a bad back and wifely concerns have combined to limit me to a modest 3 three mile jaunt. I have no complaints however. Any bike riding is wonderful to me.
The day I first soloed on a two-wheeler is firmly etched in my memory book. There is no plaque marking the site and my first solo fell far short of the distance Wilbur and Orville flew at Kitty Hawk. But that day on the side yard at 2403 North 50th Street in The City of Brotherly Love was historic nonetheless. My father, a patient man, held the fender of my rear wheel, gently pushed me, all the while steadying the first few feet of my efforts. (I wonder if you too recall your own moment.) After my father left to go back to the office, I got on my bike, pushed and pedaled to move forward. Better to try things without an audience, plus having a comfortable grassy landing site if things went south.
Success! Joyous success. I ran into the house to tell my mother who promptly telephoned my father at work. I yelled the news. Dad congratulated me, excited himself. It was a big Reilly day all around. Only now, so many decades later do I truly understand how blessed I was. First, in having a bike at all in the midst of The Great Depression, and more important, to have such caring, supportive parents sharing my success. If you've been lucky in this life, and I have, nothing beats having had loving parents.
As for that first two-wheeler of mine, it was a beauty. Fire engine red with fat white-walled tires. I wonder if it still exists somewhere out there short of the scrap metal heap. If so, name the price. I'll be there. My steed today still sports fat tires in keeping with my own body type. It is rusty but reliable. The young women and men who pass by me on the road, which includes virtually everyone, are cyclists of the first order. Most of them are athletes and fitness buffs. They are also friendly and encouraging. They seem to welcome old timers like me even though we are slowpokes, for we too are part of the sport they all love so much.