Sunday, December 18, 2016
My wife’s uncle Fred owned a bar in Hagerstown years ago, and up against the front wall sat a juke box. I don’t know if anyone has a juke box anymore, since you can listen to about anything you want to hear on your cell phone, but back then you could put a quarter in the slot and listen to three songs. I think towards the end of the juke box era, (and probably one of the things that contributed to people listening to music on their cell phones,) they raised the price to a quarter for one song. I also think when you had to pay a quarter for one people paid a little more attention to their selections.
A man came in about once a week and took out the quarters and split them with Fred, and sometimes he would put a new record or two in the line-up. The juke box had a mixture of some old and new country, and some old and new rock and roll. I thought it needed more rock and roll, but a lot of the more mature patrons thought it needed more country. Fred didn’t really care, as long as somebody kept putting quarters in the machine. He used to say “Different strokes for different folks,” which helped explain why he kept different brands of beer in the cooler and different brands of cigarettes in the cigarette machine.
Since I worked as a bartender, and spent some leisure time on the other side of the bar, I learned to enjoy some of the old country music, but I’m not sure some of the patrons ever came to appreciate the new rock and roll.
I’m sure different people still enjoy different things. Take 2016, for instance. I imagine Donald Trump will have fonder memories of it than will Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. The people that hit the $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot probably thought it turned out okay, as did Bill Gates, who was the year’s and the world’s richest man with $75 billion.
It turned out to be a pretty good year for Cubs fans, but not so good for Harambe, who discovered that just sitting in a pen minding your own business can be fatal under some circumstances. I’ve heard people say the election in 2016 was the best we’ve ever had, and I’ve also heard people who are convinced it was the worst we’ve ever had. Whether it was the best or the worst, or somewhere in between remains to be seen. I prefer to think that while our choices were the worst ever, I’m more afraid they may only turn out to be the worst so far.
From a personal standpoint, I’ve had better years. I met my wife and started my business in 1974. That was a pretty good year. There have been years along the way when I got married, had children, had grandchildren, bought a home, made a profit, and wrote a book.
But in 2016, we lost a sister and a sister-in-law to cancer. Our brother’s cancer reoccurred, and my wife lost 3 months to an illness the doctors couldn’t diagnose. I had a stroke, and Roy Johnson’s service station on Main Street in Hagerstown closed.
Trying to look on the brighter side, I googled “good things that happened in 2016.” My best advice to everyone would be “don’t do it.” Sure, the wild tiger population increased, and the Juno spacecraft made it to Jupiter, but other than that, it’s pretty slim pickings.
I don’t doubt that some people will look back on 2016 with great fondness, and on a personal level, some people may have had a good year, but overall, I’m ready to say goodbye to 2016, and good riddance.
Happy New Year 2017, and welcome.
Monday, December 05, 2016
The Wish Book...
Back in my Millville Grade School days, before there was an internet or cyber Monday, we had something called the Sears Roebuck catalog. Every December, my old buddy Stinky Wilmont and I, along with my brothers and sisters, spent hours going through that catalog circling what we wanted for Christmas. Since there were 8 of us kids, we also wrote our names by the items so there wouldn’t be any confusion about who wanted what. The really popular items usually ended up with several names beside them.
Since we only had one catalog, we all had to take turns looking at it, and we couldn’t look at it while we were eating, since it also served as a booster seat for one of my little brothers or sisters then, or while we were getting a haircut. Still, by the time Christmas rolled around, there were names on something on about every page. I don’t know if they still make those giant catalogs. I haven’t seen one for a while. I think nowadays instead of writing your name by something you go on line and click “Add to wish list” or “Add to cart”. I don’t know what you sit on if you can’t reach the table.
I know at the Bell household, and I’m pretty sure at the Wilmont household, nobody ever got everything they marked in the catalog. I don’t think any of us thought we would. But, there was a period of time, from Thanksgiving dinner until Christmas morning, when, much like Schrödinger’s cat, anything was possible. I never received a Mister Machine, although I wrote my name in great big letters by it every year. But one year I got a gas powered BB gun with a wooden stock. I had written my name by it, and even drawn a circle around it just to make sure Mom saw it, but I never really thought I’d get it. One of my little brothers wrote his name by it to, but I always figured he did it just to aggravate me, because I’m pretty sure he didn’t have any more idea he’d get it than I did. It remains to this day the best Christmas gift I ever got.
There were 8 of us kids, and it seems like we always received at least one thing we had marked in the book, along with a couple things we hadn’t. And then there were always those socks, but what are you going to do?
We just went through a contentious election, where it seemed few people were overly happy with the choices we had for president. I think a lot of people voted against a candidate instead of for a candidate, and we’ve seen some evidence that some voters chose a candidate just to aggravate the people who chose the other candidate.
We’ve all heard predictions about how bad it’s going to be or how great it’s going to be when the new president takes office. I don’t believe it’s going to be all that bad or all that great. I think that like after every election before, everybody’s going to get something they want and something they don’t want, except for us Libertarians, who always get a whole lot more government than we want.
So between now and inauguration day, just like at Christmas, we don’t know for sure what we’re going to get, but we can wish for anything, and it might come true.
No matter what happens, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, even if all your wishes didn’t, or don’t, come true.