Recently, a fellow was commenting on one of my columns and he said to me,



"We must have gone to different schools together."



It took just a few seconds for that to register. I said, "Yes, that's



quite possible. And I had a car just like yours except mine was a green



Chevy with fender skirts, and it was a four-door."



And in essence, that's a remark I hear quite often. People like to share



similar experiences. No one specifically had to own a '57 Chevy to know



what it was about. That vehicle was as much about a time and place in



history as it was about General Motors. And a person could have been in



Tyler, Texas, and another in Ludowici, Ga., in regard to that time and



place and felt some bond or kinship, although their paths had never



crossed except cosmically.



As well, no one ever had to actually reach under a creek bank and pull



out a catfish to understand the joy of country boys sitting around a



lightered knot fire telling lies about their Saturday night dates, all



the while a chorus of bullfrogs could just as well have been laughing at



us as opposed to singing to us.



Recounting and comparing our younger years might even be something that



is chromosomal.



I recently had a 90-year-old call me and say that she must have grown up



just like I did -- only a half century apart. I suppose hitching up mules



to a tobacco sled doesn't change that much over 50 years. The mules



change, of course, but not so much the event.



Several years back, I read a book by Ferol Sams, of Fayette County, Ga.



It was a best seller titled "Run With the Horsemen." It recounted his



early days living on a farm in the shadow of Atlanta. And although there



are many years difference in our ages, all through that book I became



"the boy" he wrote about.



I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Sams and in our conversation, I asked



why he waited so late in his career to write a book. He said he had



planned to write earlier and one day he decided to go ahead and do it



while his secretary could still read his typing.



Also a few years back, Jim Minter, the former editor of The Atlanta



Constitution, wrote a review of my book "From My Back Porch." And in his



very kind comments he said it was remarkable that though we came from



different parts of the state and although he, too, was significantly my



senior, that our life experiences were quite similar.



Now sometimes we hear people say that those earlier times were the "good



old days." I think that's relative. The past is a nice place to visit,



figuratively speaking, but we can't live there. And while I look back



fondly on the family sitting around a glowing wood-burning heater and



discussing the new preacher or the impracticality of bomb shelters, I do



not miss getting up at daybreak and stoking up the embers in that old



heater.



And while I still get a laugh out of the sight of my cousin charging out



of the outhouse when the oak snake dropped down from the rafters, I



would not want to go back and count the odds of the same thing happening



to me. Nostalgia has its place.



In that regard, hearing from readers is as much therapy for me as the



writing. I find considerable comfort in discovering that more things



bind us than separate us -- that the kooks and the fanatics who would



steer our planet into another orbit are not in control but are only loud



and obnoxious. Many of us have shared similar thoughts whether we are



young, old or somewhere in between. Whether it was a '57 Chevy or a '59



DeSoto with push-button transmission controls mounted in the dashboard,



Hank Williams sounded the same on their radios, giving me the idea that



stuff that is good will find its way to us.



And I suppose that we still ponder many of the same questions that we did



then and that someone else did before us.



Although in parting, I'll offer you one that I would bet has never



crossed your mind: Which came first, hospitals or Jello?



(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545.



E-mail: dwain.walden@gaflnews.com)

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