We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
A Senior Moment
The other night, my wife and I had supper at a table in the dining room of our local continuing care retirement community, described in its website as “Serving Older Adults in the Quaker Tradition.” Around the table were retirees with sterling memories of having starred. Peyton, on my left, the son of a famous missionary in China, had led Episcopal seminaries all over the world; John Gunn, emeritus economics professor at Washington & Lee University, still asks the sharpest liberal-leaning questions at lectures on the W&L campus; Harrison Kinney, on my right, was a “Talk of the Town” writer at the New Yorker until John Updike took his office in the 1950s; Jo McMurtry, next to him, is retired from the University of Richmond’s English Department. She and I were reciting a Robert Frost poem together, from memory, the one from which the stanza above is taken.
Also at the table was my wife’s mother, herself respectably accomplished with a degree in economics from Cambridge University and a pioneering government career starting in the Navy WAVES and in Occupied Japan. She has recently moved from Florida to this idyllic old folks home beside the Blue Ridge. My wife and I visit a lot, but last night it was because I was giving an after-dinner lecture, “When Journalism Was an Honorable Profession.” (The title was merely a set up for my opening line: “Honorable? Hell, it’s never even been a profession.”)
The Frost poem ends bitterly, as Jo and I underscored with chilly irony as we quietly completed our duet:
Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side
Than none at all. Provide, provide.
The residents sitting at tables around the dining room, in their 80s and 90s, certainly have paid dearly for such first-rate friends. Kendal at Lexington ain’t cheap. But the lesson isn’t in the last stanza of the Frost poem, but in a stanza that applies to so many of these retired professors, or retirees returned to the little-changed town where they graduated from W&L or the Virginia Military Institute around the years of World War II.
Some have relied on what they knew;
Others on simply being true.
What worked for them might work for you.
After my lecture, in which I mentioned my past employment at the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and even mentioned this website, Like the Dew, John Gunn came up with a twinkle in his eyes. “I have a song to sing for you.” I thought he was kidding. No kidding, he sang a song from memory, from when he was a student at Georgia Tech, something played on WSB radio no doubt. So may you all live well, kids, and keep your memories.
The Atlanta Journal covers Dixie like the dew.
Everybody there will tell you so.
Daily it reviews
Everything that’s news.
It will tell you all you want to know,
[soft voice: "I'm telling the world that"]
Every hour and every day
both here and far away,
The Atlanta Journal’s on the air,
If you want that Dixie flavor in your mouth,
Tune in on Atlanta and the Voice of the South,
The Atlanta Journal Covers Dixie like the dew,
And it hails from down in Geor–gia.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
In a class on Dante I'm currently enrolled in, Professor Frank Ambrosio of Georgetown University quoted the nineteenth century philosopher Friedric Nietzsche that human beings, as far as we know, are the only animals who make promises. I only add that humans are also the sole ones who break them. According to Ambrosio, Nietzsche puts the significance of human promising and its place with regard to freedom this way: "In man, nature set itself the task to breed an animal worthy of making promises." It's an extraordinary idea. What is it that allows an animal that lives in the here and now to Read on →
When you get interested in painting you naturally look around to see what others who got this bug have done. Finding out what painters are doing in the U.S. today is like listening to rock on the radio. You have to wade through a lot of “forgettables” before you hear one that will be an “oldie” in ten years. Museums show oldies. Most of their collections have been filtered. The forgettables have been thrown out. On this painting journey you will run across an opinion that painting is dead, irrelevant, old paradigm. You can ignore that, and be sure you will en Read on →
The ethical man keeps his hands to himself and does not destroy what he admires and loves. The ethical man does not subscribe to the excuse that “you always hurt the one you love. The ethical hurts no-one at all. Most of the electorate is probably too young to remember the perverse responses Jimmy Carter’s admission of having lusted in his heart occasioned among Republicans. In retrospect, it seems rather obvious that people, who live and die by the euphemism, were ready to believe that Carter had uttered a prevarication, as they, surely would have done themselves. Moreover, because it came out Read on →
Well, He Hands You A Nickel, He Hands You A Dime . . . Such was the way Maggie's brother treated workers in Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm," but Charles Oscar Finley doled out considerably more to the Beatles in 1964: $150,000. Charles Oscar Finley longed to be adored, if not loved, though he acted despicably at times. He considered himself a self-made man and expected other men to meet his standards, even as those standards shifted wildly. In the mid-1940s, flat on his back with tuberculosis, Finley envisioned ways to make a fortune in the health insurance business. All Finley had Read on →