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The Little Green Book of Tennis

http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Green-Book-Tennis/dp/1503559041

Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book of Golf” is one of the best recent examples of coaching a sport. I have patterned my new book on tennis instruction using methods similar to Coach Penick. Drawing from fifty years of teaching and coaching, I share insights from my mentors who helped me craft repeatable techniques for winning. I also share our personal experiences and observations that have proven to be solid advice. Hopefully, you’ll find this book to be succinct and filled with gems for all levels of players and coaches.

The tennis book is NOW arranged from beginner to intermediate to advanced players. Then specific attempts to help coaches, teams, fans, parents, and tennis organizations.   Tennis people can more  logically access the proper tennis lessons

The other categories the book appears in thirds:  A. TENNIS, B.  TOWNS AND PEOPLE,  C. SUBJECTS DARK AND LIGHT.

THE COQUIHALLA PASS

I retired almost twenty years ago. I’m glad. Don’t know whether I could have eased off enough to survive the current boredom traps. You have to work at retiring.

There are a few concerns and observations demanded by the great sequester. Will we recognize each other as we walk out like the “Walking Dead”. I’m up to about 250lbs (quarter ton of fat and fun). Haven’t been to a barber shop in a year. I glanced at a mirror and thought, “… You look a lot like Larry David.”

Reminds me of “GROUNDHOG’S DAY”. Same clothes. Same basic routine. I asked “Bonehead ” Dennis where he bought his pants?” Loose, with expandable waist. Wife calls them “soft clothes”. Forgot how to tie a necktie.

“Kelly sox” from Nester Hosiery are thick and I can’t wear them out. Like slippers. Only need two pair as Wife type washes every other day. Vacuums daily. She likes to stay busy. Keeps things “neat and tidy.” Someone said footballer “Big Daddy” Libscomb” serviced so many maids he had an erection every time he heard a vacuum cleaner.

Wife Margaret should have been named go. Truly a nomad–anywhere, any time. When she gets that look we have to ride. If you live at our ocean you can’t drive east. We have covered every area within a day trip. She drives. We did go to the mountains to the far north of North Carolina. Drove for two days but that “…still doesn’t count as a real trip!” Lot of short ventures. We have driven around Beaufort so many times, we are being watched.

We literally rode to the dump one day. One day the landfill of a development had a sign on a house that said “Ground under repair”.

In November I wrote about THE POINT. Just about daily we ride down. Savior of a mini-trip. Average five days a week.

Thank God for Zoom. A grand child in Boulder thinks we live in box. He’s five and can play chess and Texas Hold Em”. That’s my boy!

I’ve played so much online poker I know every tell the computer is programmed for. Elon President, Fred Young told me “you have to have something planned every day.” Last summer I learned how to call up the village owl and capture carpenter bees. My late friend, Bob Johnson, told me his Uncle Tazzo bought the first color TV in Jacksonville, Florida. $900! Tazzo had just declared candidacy for public office and invited the entire family for Sunday dinner and the announcement. Bob said when the TV commentator called Tazzo the most corrupt individual in the county, he kicked the new TV in. Color me angry. I fear we may suffer “Trump Withdrawal” if covid continues much longer. Pro or con–you watched that TV, didn’t you? Ever cuss?

If you didn’t watch news channels between 8 pm and eleven, it was Noodlin, or Swamp People, or Duck Dynasty reruns. Recruiters for the Washington assault went to Wal-Mart, Pro-Bass, and evening TV a lot. (“Ninety percent of the time I got in trouble Uncle Si was involved somehow!” ) ***Admit it, you watched the Cornhole Championships, didn’t you.

In fairness TV has saved many. And saved most money. When you don’t play golf, fill up the tank, travel, or eat out, etc. you save $. I do feel sorry for the cooks, trying to figure out the daily menu. I suggested “meals on wheels”. A reciprocal dirty look ensued.

I’ve ridden the Coquilhalla Highway, British Columbia in Canada. Where they wreck 18 wheelers for TV. I was there in July and it was a hairy trip. The weather channel has amazing film of fires, flooding, hurricanes. I had never witnessed bouncing tornados until recently. By God, something is changing. (“…don’t ask for deluge”) Starbuck form THE RAINMAKER).

PATRIARCHAL ADMONITONS

As a pre-teen and younger I was a tag along with my Mom and my older Sister to visit a couple with three daughters. Often Mom and Sis would try to make me aware of the middle girl, who was about my age. “Better be nice to that one, boy. The day is coming!” At 10 years in 1950 my gang was shooting yankees and germans on the dan river banks or the city dump. Or playing tackle football. No girls allowed.

At 12 years old we moved. Fond of my lost buddies I stayed in touch by mail, or occasionally rode the bus two to visit. Soon the older ones changed topics. About driving time they were myopic. “Have you guys been noticing ( )?” To “God Amighty. she’s filling that blue blouse out!” To ” how could we have neglected her?” To”holy shit!” she’s killing me!”

My bad, Sis.

But never did my Father do his duty. Should the male warn their offspring of obvious preteen ignorance? “That un is gonna ripen up soon, Knothead. All you gotta do is be nice for a little while!”

I have three Grandsons. Maybe its Pop’s job to clue them in on what’s important!

INTERVIEWS

My sister’s granddaughter visited last week with two other lovely young graduate students. They are finishing up advanced degrees in the fields related to data, analytics, etc. The conversation turned to job interviews and their excitement and concern upon this next step. I noticed an odd thing about the three as they spoke without consulting their phones. Five years ago my Sister asked me to talk with the same young college applicant about college admissions and related interviews. I now remembered I had rebuked granddaughter about her watching her phone while I was giving her my time and best advice. I had wondered if I had been too harsh. And that now, she had warned her friends of that day.

So I did remain quiet for a while. Then I blurted out “what have you decided to do on your interviews?” Silence. I then asked my Wife the same question, reminding her of her role as head of selection for National Merit Scholars where she taught, She caught on and remembered crucial fundamentals. I bit my tongue and did remain silent for ages it seemed. After related discussion. one of the aspirants opened the door by asking if I had conducted interviews?

“Hundreds”! Who? Mostly coaches and /or teachers. Plus I’ve been interviewed a number of times.

Bright one #2 : “What is your advice?”

Finally!

Here are some ideas: 1. Somewhere before the session is over ask the panel or person this basic question: Is there anything you have heard or noticed about me that may not be true. If it influences your thinking I’d like the opportunity to address this criticism.

2. Keep in mind that even if you are not selected, these people in your arena may be able to recommend you to someone pulling the trigger on the next similar (maybe better opportunity). Headhunters often go to this panel to search for the next best candidates they are aware of.

3. Or you may have been the best, and missed this once. I can tell you that very often when the candidates have been studied, it is often really hard to chose a “best” one.

4, I asked about books that they have been impressed by? Having an interest in their field I wondered if they had read Sapiens? Yuval Harari? Homo Deus? 21 Questions for the 21st Century? Malcolm Gladwell. Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything? One said, “My dad has that book” (Sapiens).

5. I asked for those who had helped them. I told them of a really impressive teacher on their faculty who had broken some “ceilings” and maybe they could look her up. I offered to call her.

At this point I notice they one by one pulled out their phones, taking notes: “…How did you spell her name? What were those books again? Tell us about jobs interviews you had or hosted.”

The phones didn’t bother me.

FAMILIES

Rocky Covington didn’t come from a big family.   Actually he was an only child and a bit of a “late arrival “ at that.  He looked like his dad.  Who, like Rocky, was a tall good looking man with a southern gentleman’s demeanor.  He did possess a salty side and would take a drink.  Most often with Mac Adam’s Father.  Mac and Rocky were cast together pre-teen and remained lifetime friendship.  Mac was with Rocky at the onset of his fatal illness recently.  For years both delighted in telling tales on their Father’s shenanigans.

Once on a “fishing  trip” the 10 year old sons  were asked along.  Rocky said about noon the Fathers’ left to “go pick up some lunch”.   Left to fish at the local county fishing pond, the boys initially pretended they knew how to catch the proverbial big bass.  Or a bream. or a Catfish, or a Goldfish.  Not so, and they then played on the banks till nearly dark.  Now concerned they sat and waited.  Eventually here come the Dads in an altered state (3/4 crocked). 

Riding home the grownups remembered they had to provide their bounty of fish for the evening meal.   They headed to the local fish market and “silver hooked” some  fish  {“ Hey Ed, just give anything you got left”. )

During the meal, thinking maybe they’d pulled it off, Rocky’s Mom asked “…just explain to us how you caught these flounder in Miller’s pond???

Mr. Covington was at a lot of our games.  We often laughed at each other.  Once I took a younger date to the game and was about to pass him in the lobby.  He said ,”Hello, Coach.  My- your daughter is a lovely young lady!”

Bobby Gilmore was Rocky’s college roommate and teammate, and friend of all their adulthood.  He was from the same town where my dad was  the Baptist minister.  Alma Gilmore brought all six Gilmore kids every Sunday.  Early on I knew Bobby was a player.  His favorite early tale is about my Mom getting a speeding ticket going to Southern Pines for a high school basketball game i was playing in:   “Hurry, Mrs. Parham, it’s about time for the game to begin!”  Oops, red-light.

Bobby told this story every time Rocky hosted us at North Myrtle Beach.

Which was two or three times a year, for many years. 

We told the same stories over and over.  Rocky, Bobby, me and Larry Schwab hardly ever missed the “Rocky conventions”.  Sandy treated us like kings. Pud Hassell brought Alton Hill several times.  George Owens, Nick Serba, Danny Thompson, Lee Laughlin, Wayne Norris were teammates at  Atlantic Christian College in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  They came occasionally.  Norris was a younger teammate whose status became like a meteor rise on his first visit.  Wayne played on the second freshman team  I coached.  On one of our golfing “attempts” Wayne loaded my golf bag into a cart with him.  From then till now Wayne has watched over me like a son.  He did impress me on the back nine.  At the turn he politely asked. “Coach, do you mind if I have beer”.  In a few minutes he appeared with two six-packs.  I thanked him for buying beer for everyone!  “Well, no—I brought them another bag.”  I counted 9 empties he had consumed in our golf cart on #18.  Stopping to eat Wayne ordered 3 double Jack Daniels cocktails.  Then, properly oiled up, it happened.  Wayne told the “monkey story”. It is our all time tale, but no one can tell it like Wayne and I won’t attempt to.

Our table of six was told to calm down the laughter or leave.

Wives came often.  Ann Barbour Schwab got our attention when Larry told us she “gave my dog away while I was here last time!”  Larry was a good guy and funny.  And he was wide open when paired with Rocky and Bird Gilmore on Friday night.

One Saturday morning I wrote in the condominium guest book:  “Larry Schwab made DOUBLE DIAMOND LAST NIGHT!”  A Navy vet, Larry was famous on campus for taking a knife away from an enraged and drunk student who was threatening to slice up the dean of men.

Coach Ira Norfolk sent me to Rockingham to see Rocky’s teammate, Greg Whitman.  Whitman went to Western Carolina, but Rocky was discovered and offered  a grant.

Norfolk roomed Bobby with Rocky.  It was a strange time, with Vietnam, integration, drugs, “the 60’s” mentality contrasting with the marine lifer, Norfolk— demanding a war like mentality of his players.  No jeans, military haircuts, the five man weave, “ defense is from the heart”.

I coached these varsity guys only one time.  When I announced to the team that their coach had badly ruptured his achilles tendon, and “come up lame”, guard Ed Carraway deadpanned: “Shoot him” . I  had forgotten that Bobby Gilmore had gone to a funeral and I drove him to UNC-Wilmington in my Corvette.  Our guys wound up tied at the game’s near end and we had possession.  I called a time out (my first coaching move of the game) and began to  draw up  a play on my clipboard.  Larry Jones put his hand on my pencil and said, “You got six offensive men on your diagram!”  Stunned,  I listened to Clyde (Stallsmith) say, “Its okay Tom, we know what to do”.  And they did it.  My 1-0 college varsity win percentage record can never be broken.

Our convention agenda rarely changed:  Check in at Rocky’s Friday noon or a little  later.  Snacks, drinks, and tale telling begins.  About 7 we are on to Rossi’s  restaurant.  “Mr. Covington how are you?”  Same everywhere in Myrtle Beach area.  Then the onslaught.  3 or 4 drinks, an appetizer  tray that really could have ended the eating.  But didn’t.  Friday nights were howl night and more tales there remain untold.  Saturday began at the Pancake House.  No matter who came along, our host of big appetites, Mr. Covington wowed them with his breakfast in take.

On to golf.  Once in a while Rocky’s mentor and great friend, Paul Miller, would play with us.  Paul, a member of North Carolina’s Sports Hall of Fame, could play everything (he did in high school, followed by quarterbacking at UNC.)   Rocky didn’t seem to me early on to be a natural at golf.  A year later though, he was much better.  The next year, hey—he gets it!  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Perhaps his dominate characteristic has been dogged persistence.  Why not golf full bore!  Lessons, lots of practice, volume of play, great equipment.  One of  the toughest shots —under 100yds wedges soon awed me. 

I shouldn’t have been surprised in the least and it began after his sophomore year.  I had been lifting weights regularly.  Sheepishly he approached me and asked about helping him get stronger.  I agreed and showed him some workouts and lifts that I was guessing he could profit by.  Honestly I had been impressed with Rocky as a young naive southern kid who was scared to death of Norfolk.  Many were. Me too.  Jones wasn’t. Stallsmith nor Carraway cowered .  Gilmore did everything right anyway.  I hadn’t really seen the heart of Rocky.  Pretty soon everyone noticed.  He bulked up and bumped heads.  From there on out, combining training and some work on basketball skills, he was a double figured, tough small forward who held his own on a fine team that won 34 of 39 games at home.  This may have been the hey day period for the Carolinas Conference basketball.  Integration brought Henry Logan.  Michael before Michael.! Gene Littles, Dwight Durante, M.L. Carr, Bob Kauffman, World B. Free.  Henry Logan’s record breaking 60 point night against us, was always revisited.  42 points in the second half.  Nick Serba:  Did he DUNK THAT?  Stallsmith:  Yea, he dunked it.”

One other venue drew me closer  to Rocky and Bobby.  We all went to New York one summer to work and hopefully play summer league basketball.  Bob Paroli was Headmaster at NEW YORK MILITARY ACADEMY and he hired me, bringing also Gary McMahan and Richard Swanker from the college.  NYMA was located near the city.  We brought in  guest speakers such as Bill Bradley, KC Jones, Norm Sloan, etc.  There were 370 inner city kids, yankees to the  core. NYMA incidentally was the school Donald Trump went to and said he’d received military training comparable to John McCain.  We did have one water fight.  We played basketball for the FELLACHELLO’S PIPERS.  BIG JOHN FELLACHELLO was a plumber and we had a lead pipe wrench on our shirts.

 KC Jones died last week.   I had  hosted him in New York and took him to the bank to cash a check.  He played in the pickup game following his speech (ask me about that classic), and almost tore Gilmore’s head off with a no-look pass.  Lots of tales came back from NYMA.  We were glad to get back to NC.  Yet we learned a lot. 

And I haven’t even started on Larry Jones stories.  Bobby and Rocky were best at Jones tales. The toughest was the wreck.

We’d stay on the balcony  and watch the girls (Rocky’s binoculars) and the sun go down. Pizza and tv games.  Gilmore  a State fan, a Democrat, Rocky -Carolina and GOP.

Back to Rocky, 150 lbs , and ready to go home.  Paul said “you gave him confidence”.  We began to talk in the weight room:  Coach, what do I do about acne ?  I’ll call Dr Gloria Graham.  What should I major in?   Pete’s a helluva guy isn’t he?

Persistence?  He took it to another level.  Academically he was our first Academic All American.  He was Class President,  Later he told BB&T to shove it and showed them last month’s check for 15 grand.  Paul will tell you legendary stories about his professional life.  Rocky almost died and fought back with TWENTY surgeries and rehabs that were cruel.  He had big appetites,  and was an American and religious with the same zeal.  Ask Paul.

I  could type out 100 favorite stories we spun over and over. If you see one below that your are curious about call me or Bird.  Better still I’ll list a few and the best ones to tell them.

  1. The Monkey-  Wayne Norris
  2. Ronnie spills Daddy Ira in mud at ECU—Bobby or Scooter Griffin.    Bernie Capps.  Me and Bobby.
  3.  Bernie Capps.  Me and Bobby.The Sig Eps—Eddie Gwaltney and/or Gary McMahan
  4. Raleigh nites and citizen-band girl chasing—Watson Hale
  5. Which party was he talking about?  George Owens.
  6. Don’t hit me baby, cause I feel bad.  Gilmore
  7. Alton wins the 220.  Bird.
  8. Scooter’s car.  Scooter
  9. Jones and Henry Logan —Bobby
  10. The Guilford game.  Russell Rawlings or CJ Holliday.
  11. Jones —Will he dunk it?  Russell Rawling
  12.   Jones and the juke box—Parham
  13.  The Sig Eps—Eddie Gwaltney and/or Gary McMahan
  14. Raleigh nites and citizen-band girl chasing—Watson Hale
  15. Which party was he talking about?  George Owens.
  16. Don’t hit me baby, cause I feel bad.  Gilmore
  17. Alton wins the 220.  Bird.
  18. Scooter’s car.  Scooter
  19. Jones and Henry Logan —Bobby
  20. The Guilford game.  Russell Rawlings or CJ Holliday.
  21. Jones —Will he dunk it?  Russell Rawlings
  22.   David Worthington —Parham, George Owens
  23. 23.Stallsmith and time clock and false double fouls.  Parham
  24. 24.The highlight film. TP
  25. 5.  The New York night prowler—Gilmore

PLUS SOME MORE:

  Alton’s knee. Bird

  1and1/2 vs Lenior Rhyne. Bird

Schwab wrecks the van. Bird

  The shoot out at Appalachian.  Parham  Yankees baseball.   Mickey Mantle.  Baseball cards.  Bobby.

  IRA tales.   Dorm doused.   Bird

  Collapsed crutch.  Again—Bird

.  Cliff and James.  “”  “

  Norbie, Pfohl and Hemby—Herb Monson, and Boom Box tale.  tp

Okay—Rocky had very little biological family.  But he had families of friends.  His professional family is one of the most impressive of any individual business.  Truly a family.  (Paul Miller: “He was a rock star and influenced thousands.)

His Sig Ep fraternity was a fine family of good kids. Rockingham was a family. Sports were a family.  His religion was certainly a family.  Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College was as near to his  heart as family.  One  he supported generously.  i like to think these families were much like the grouping concept of his business.  He was the patriarch of a large group of family like groupings.  One  was our gang.

He made a family of college mates and teammates.  He worked at it.  He always worked at it.

Well done.        Coach

THE HIGH FOREHAND VOLLEY (for Andre)

Thanks to Facetime and Zoom grandparents can see more of theirs who have gotten far from the home. My Grandson in Boulder is 14 and played tennis tournaments this year. I offer my suggestions from time to time, having modern access to technology. A sample is below:

THE HIGH FOREHAND VOLLEY (for Andre)

As mentioned earlier, the recent videos your Dad sent are great help for me.  And your improving and growing are impressive.   I have found many players learn quicker if they focus on one shot at a time.  Or a physical or mental shortcoming.

Some one said “… a tennis player is as strong or as weak as their weakest link, and the weakest link in tennis is the second serve.”  Ugh, double faults.  Your second serve is sound and getting better.  My guess is the second shot most vulnerable is the high forehand volley.  It looks so easy, then oops, in the net, etc.  There was a lot of times I heard some losing player say,  “… yea, I had that break point right here (mimics the hfv (high forehand volley) and blew it.

You like to play at the net and the last videos concentrate on volleys.  Your backhand volley is excellent.   You seem to PUSH the forehand.  And sometimes let the ball get in a less than PERFECT volley spot.  It should be “V” shaped.  Tighten your hand at hit moment.  The harder they hit it the easier you swing.   A lot of times you just “touch and tighten!”

Remember most volleys are hit with a continental  or even a backhand grip.   There are seven volley spots (see green book on volleys).  I do think the HFV is the only volley grip you change.  And  a clue or two ideas may be:

  1. Try more of a forehand grip on HFV.  This  is less awkward I believe. 
  2. Perfect volley spot is sometimes sloppy on the HFV because it looks so easy (like overheads).  Perfect movement and concentration to “…keep it in the perfect hit-spot.”
  3. Many fine players select to overplay, or chose the dependable backhand volley on marginal volleys.
  4. I agree swinging volleys are now in vogue and effective.  First develop a firm dependable “touch”, not power bomb.
  5. Lots of pros now use the “stinger strategy” that forces a weak return —-which is vulnerable to a swinging put-a-way.   Recall the stinger?  REMEMBER, TOO ,  VOLLEYING DOWN IS BETTER.  LOW ONES GO STRAIGHT AND DEEP AND THEY GET TO HIT THEM.  DOWN ONES WIN.  QUICK LEGWORK TO PERFECT VOLLEY SPOT.
  6. THE GIRLS AND WOMEN SECTION IN THE BOOK HAS SOME GOOD VOLLEY REMINDERS

Happy New Year.  Love, Pop

MA RAINEY

Where Ma Rainey and Beethoven once unwrapped their bed roll
Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole
And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps for the soul
To the old folks home and the college FROM “TOMBSTONE BLUES” by Bob Dylan.

TOMBSTONE BLUES WAS ON ALBUM–HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED. 1965, He wrote it when he was 25 years old.

“SIDE GAMES”

Veterans of the World Series of Poker will tell you that more big money games, or “side games”, are off camera.

Side games show up in various arenas. Several years ago we attended a recreation basketball game my oldest grandson was playing in. First time to see a game for me. However as my son opened the door to the gym we were met by Spider Man. Lingering a moment he, at 5 years old DEMANDED of my son and grandson. “Where’s Lennox?” Lennox was Spider Man’s right hand bower, Son Tee explained. Just watch him. Spider Man was our coaches son. The coach said he wore his Spider Man suit everyday. “Sleeps in it.”

At the next game we took #2 grandson, Lennox ( at 3 and 1/2) along. Watch these guys Son Tee advised. They ranged from 5 to 7 years old and no holds were barred. Whatever their self designed contest required Lennox and Spider Man hung tough. Time out for crying, peeing, and first aid. I couldn’t have been prouder.

Every high school football game has a side game for younger brothers and stout hearted . While all towns differed in 1946 the side games were very similar. Called “tackle the man with the ball” or the unquestioned “smear the queer.” No ball no rules. Maybe a wadded up paper cup and whoever had it was fair game.

As a second grader, I suffered my first permanent injury in Madison, N.C. The Wildcats, on a dirt field, with about ten sixty watt light bulbs, Foot Feynolds (quarerback) led Coach Raymond Cure’s team —featuring Leon Tucker and Lee Anglin. Our game with about twenty kids was on the west end, parallel to the goal post.

Ball ( cup) in my possession, goal not to be felled as long as possible, an unknown lowered his forehead and found my newly minted right front tooth. It almost fell out so I pushed up it with my thumb. Now on the disabled list, I sat in the stands hand to mouth thumb pushing upwards. It stayed in! Might have ushered in the new popular color, charcoal grey, as time went by. As an adult with a little money, I had Dr. Billy Boles cap it and close the natural gap to where it looked pretty good. And served me well for a long time.

As the tooth darkened I told my parents reluctantly what happened. But I begged out of the dental exam. There was hardly any one my Dad’s age that didn’t “come up poor”. His lack of upper teeth age 45 confirmed his back ground. That upper plate in a glass of water scared hell out of me but not as much as our dentist, Dr. McAnnally of nearby Walnut Cove. Nothing has ever generated a fear or pain next that Ballpean hammer of a drill. Nothing. Those who ducked this with the advent of flouride should genuflect daily for that discovery.

Alas the crowned and altered tooth fell to a crust of pizza. Looking like the “what me worry kid a.k.a Alfred E. Neuman, my local Swansboro dentist . Cratg Brown, skillfully drilled and posted me to a new front bumper. The nurse warned me not to bite apples and hard food choices. “This is not a biting tooth. It is a smiling tooth!”

I’m running out of teeth. My left “backuns” are only singular now. And it’s a little shaky.

And on the right my heavy duty, root canal gold cap gave up after thirty years. Dr. Dickie Hogan did the deed for $900. $3 a year i figure. All in all I guess I’m lucky with dentists. Br. Bill Crouch in Elon was good. He didn’t like me calling him Dr. “Ouch” Crouch. Wilson’s Dr.Dwight Johnson caused the least pain, but that was because assistant, Nancy Tyson, was so rough cleaning them you were glad to see Dr. Johnson.

Eating is tricky now. With only a sore side, a gold capped one too far gone to save, and smiley, I have to think hard to locate food with a chewable remainder. Quite a contest. A side game.

“…a man should shed his (‘testicles’) and keep his teeth. hell, he NEEDS his teeth!” (Country’s uncle, Roma Boykin)

RETIRING ANGER

Like other retirees I remember that before long I began to feel “the pressure” ease off. Little by little sighs of relief drifted in.

Similarly the anger that has swallowed many of us is easing off. Married to a nurse. I shuddered at what was being thrust upon all the health care people. My wife worked for twenty years as a nurse, then taught Health Occupations for twenty years in two public schools. But her real love came as a hospice nurse, first as a volunteer, then called on to work full time. Later a bone marrow courier . Still hospice owned her heart.

I became a new person with my children’s growth. “Are you Dan’s father? Tee’s? Once at an Elon basketball game a man I had seen a hundred times approached me and asked “Are you Margaret Parham’s husband?” He then told me how she had cared for his dying mother. “No one in our family could or do what she did.”

One of our women’s basketball coaches, the late Anne Lashley, was with me and when he left I mentioned to Anne: You know coach, that’s happened a lot since Margaret began working with hospice— people speaking to me for the first time because of Margaret! Coach Lashley busted me: ” Sorry, Coach, but it has been that way all along.”

Touche!

Occasionally the same scene with Margaret present went this way. “Mrs. Parham, thank you from our family. How do you do this remarkably tough job? She never says anything but “…it is a gift I have.”

I am good at holding grudges. “W”,Cheney and Rumsfeld, et. al. got us in that Irag war which led to bloodshed and loss of treasure that galls me. Still it stings. For 10 months what has been asked of Americans, particularly nurses and teachers and those who have lost love ones, has infuriated me– knowing large portions of death, suffering and despair could have been avoided.

Trump’s fund raiser (denying he lost) doesn’t anger or puzzle me. If those saps want to pay off his lawyers, carry on. After a lifetime in the sports world, blaming every loss on the referees is nothing new. Neither is “Im gonna my ball and go home.”

Hopefully the nightmare of the last four years will ease off. Forgiveness and anger?

P.S. Trump had a golden opportunity to be the man on horseback. He blew it. By 360 degrees.

*******************

They say prayer has the power to heal
So pray from me mother
In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I am a-tryin’ to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh, mother, things ain’t going well.

Bob Dylan–AIN’T TALKIN

A DIFFERENT WAR

More Americans have died from Covid-19 in nine months than in combat over four years in World War II. The virus death toll exceeds 292,000, compared with 291,557 American World War II battle deaths. (New York Times- December 12, 2020).

Yuval Harari in HOMO DEUS contends that mankind will conquer all foes except war, famine and disease. Then those will be eradicated. Pre-election my contention was we must deal with three immediate dangers : Covid, Trump and racism. The deficit, as always, delayed. True climate change, national division, among others loom ominously.

There is hope. Donald is in the rear view mirror. The vaccine was approved last night. Biden has already appointed more good people than the other bunch.

THE CITIZENS OF LONDON by Lynne Olson features the influence Gilbert Winant had in winning WW11. I was unaware of this outstanding man and his quiet leadership. One point in the book features a speech by Winant to British miners. About to strike, Winant called for their solidarity in a speech, copied in large part later. What struck me was that as sure as we were at war in 1943, we are at war today. We face an entirely different foe. Not a country, religion, or ideology or political party, but a virus. My belief is that the same unity called for by Winant is now necessary to defeat the microbes, bigots, ignorance, currently and in the future.

Hear what Winant said:

He “…equated the battle against fascism with the fight for social democracy. The miners and other workers, he said, were on the front lines just as much as soldiers in the field, with the same responsibility to continue the fight. “You who suffered so deeply in the long Depression years know we must move on a great social offensive if we are to win the war completely. It is not a short-term military job. We must solemnly resolve that in our future order we will not tolerate the economic evils which breed poverty and war.” Winant added: “this is not something that we shelve for the duration. It is part of the war.”

“What we want is not complicated,” the ambassador declared. “We have enough technical knowledge and organizing ability….We have enough courage. We must put it to use. When the war is done, the drive for tanks must become a drive for houses. The drive for food to prevent the enemy from starving us must become a drive for food to satisfy the needs of all people in all countries. The drive for manpower in war must become a drive for employment to make freedom from want a living reality….Just as the peoples of democracy are united in a common objective today, so we are committed to a common objective tomorrow. We are committed to the establishment of the people’s democracy.”

“We must always remember,” he said, “that is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail. That caring counts. That where there is no vision, people perish. That hope and faith count, and that without charity there can be nothing good. That by daring to live dangerously, we are learning to live generously. And that by believing in the inherent goodness of man, we may meet the call of your great Prime Minister and ‘stride forward into the unknown with growing confidence.’ “

John Gilbert Winant American Ambassador to Britain during WW11