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Archive for January, 2012

 “The South is more than a region–it’s a state of mind, and Southerners seem forever returning there.”
–The Book of Southern Wisdom

“There is something about Southern upbringing that never completely goes away.”
–A Southern Belle Primer

In my previous post on the South I presented a proclamation about Robert E. Lee’s birthday (January 19) followed by some of my self-quotes on the subject of the South and Southern Culture.

In this second post on that subject, I offer some select quotes from others about these subjects that are so dear to Southern souls.

Some Select Quotes on the South from Others
(with my comments in parentheses
and emphasis in italics)

“Tell about the South . . . What do they do there? How do they live there? Why do they?”

—William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! 

“It’s the law: ‘A Southerner can get away with the most awful kind of insult as long as it’s prefaced by bless somebody’s heart.’”

—Ken Parker, quoted in Arkansas Traveler column,
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, nd

“A Yankee can become an honorary Southerner, but a Southerner cannot become a Yankee, assuming any Southerner would want to.”

How to Speak Southern, Bantam Books

“Southerners will be polite until they are angry enough to kill you.”

—John Shelton Reed, famed Dixieologist,
quoting Hodding Carter Jr.

“We say grace, and we say ‘ma’am,’
  If you ain’t into that, we don’t give a damn.”

—Hank Williams, Jr., Country singer

“Southerners—who like chocolate and pecan most—make pie more often than other Americans.”

Daily Camera of Boulder, Colorado 

“She looked up at me . . . and gave me a coquettish, southern girl smile, the kind you could pour over waffles.”

—Larry Larance, Miss Myrtle’s Boy:
A Collection of Southern Arkansas Memories

 “I’m Southern, and I know neurotic behavior.”

—Faye Dunaway, Hollywood actress

 “The South may not always be right, but by God it’s never wrong!”

—Brother Dave Gardner, Southern comedian

 “The South is more real than the rest of the country. It has lived through more.”

—Philip Martin, “Southernness is more than just an accent,”
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, nd 

“The South is what we started out with in this bizarre, slightly troubling, basically wonderful country—fun, danger, friendliness, energy, enthusiasm, and brave, crazy, tough people.”

—Bill Maxwell, “There’s no place like the South,”
St. Petersburg Times,
reprinted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“The surest thing about the unchanging South is that it is changing and, thank God it never does . . . . whatever the South makes of the Internet . . . the Internet will never be able to make the South.” (Yet William Faulkner wrote about a “vanishing South.”)

—Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor,
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 

“ . . . so much of what the South is about is remembrance anyway.”

—Mississippi author Willie Morris as quoted by
Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist

“Is it a sentimental South, a South that’s just gone or simply a matter of birth?”

—Title of article by Philip Martin,
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 7, 1999

“ . . . while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.”

Flannery O’Connor, Southern writer

“Despite outward appearances, the religion of the South is not football. It is religion itself.”

—Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor,
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 8, 2000 

“It’s surprising how many threads are connected with religion and Southern history. You can’t talk about literature, politics—anything Southern—without talking about religion. If you want to study the South you have to study religion.”

—Southern Studies graduate student, quoted in
“Religion and the South,” The Southern Register, Fall 1987 

“We don’t know ourselves until we see ourselves in art, until we’ve reflected back at us. That’s why I think it’s so important that every region of the country have writers who are willing to look at it and take a real tough stance about it.”

—Florida author Connie May Fowler, quoted in
In Southern Words, The Southern Register, Summer 1994 

“In the South everybody’s got a story, a long, elaborate, rambling, subordinate-clause-filled, bullsh–it-laced, possibly even entirely made-up story.”

—Diane Roberts, quoted in book review by Jay Watson
in The Southern Register, Fall 2009

“Southern writers embrace the freedom of going out West, but once they get out there, it’s almost too free—there’s not enough community or settlement—so in the literature the characters swing back South, or they settle down in the West and embrace Southern ideals of community. They discover their Southernness by leaving the South.” (I didn’t discover my Southernness by being exiled in Oklahoma, I just discovered Okies’ appalling lack of Southernness!)

—Robert H. Brinkmeyer, quoted in
The Southern Register, Winter 1999

“Are six weeks of the summer and two desperate parents enough to make our children Southern? Or does a person have to live and breathe the humid [Southern] air for years and years before it becomes more than a place on a map? In this case, only time will tell.”

—Julie Rowell Steed, “Raising Southerners,”
Southern Journal, Southern Living, March 2009 

“Southern culture is changing. It’s a lot more diverse and fluid than previously thought and previously shown in scholarship and general knowledge.”

—Alan Pike, quoted in “Southern Studies Documentaries,”
The Southern Register, Fall 2009

“Mark my words. You’ll be back soon. The South’s got a lot of wrong with it. But it’s permanent press and it doesn’t wear out.” (Amen! I ought to know!)

—Pat Conroy, Beach Music

 

Select Quotes on the South Taken from
 The History Channel’s “You Don’t Know Dixie”
(emphasis in italics)

 “You can go someplace else, but you are always Southern.”

—Jeff Foxworthy, Southern comedian

“Southerners made this country what it is. And the South made us who we are.”

—Charlie Daniels, Country music artist

“We never speak of the quality of life. We are about a way of life.” (In my previous post on the South, see my use of this term “way of life” in my Robert E. Lee Proclamation written in 1981!)

—James Carville, Southern political commentator

“I’m a Southerner, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of it.”

—Hershel Walker, African-American sports figure

“I think that without the South this nation would have no soul. The South is the soul of this country. That’s the truth.”

—Trace Adkins, traditional Country music artist

Select Web Sites about Southern Culture

The History Channel, “You Don’t Know Dixie,” TV documentary about the South and Southern culture: http://www.history.com/shows/you-dont-know-dixie

Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi: http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/south/ The Southern Register, quarterly magazine of the Center: http://www.southernregister.blogspot.com/

Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina: http://www.uncsouth.org/ Southern Cultures, quarterly magazine of the Center: http://www.southerncultures.org/

Southern Living: The best of the South. The ultimate insiders’ guide to Southern culture, recipes, travel, and events: http://www.southernliving.com/

Deep South: Literary site about all things Southern: http://usadeepsouth.com/

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal:
http://www.asouthernjournal.com/index.htm

Welcome to Southernness:
http://southernness.com/

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“There are three days on which I absolutely refuse to work: the birthdays of Jesus Christ, Elvis Presley, and Robert E. Lee!”
—Jimmy Peacock

“Then there’s the story of the little old lady from Virginia who told her loved ones from her death bed, ‘Oh, please don’t grieve for me. I’m going to see Jesus . . . and General Lee!'”
–Source unknown 

In this post I would like to share some of my accumulated writings and self-quotes about the South, closing with one quote from a Tulsa publisher about me as an exiled Arkie copyeditor and writer. That quote will serve as an introduction to the second post on the South.

In the next post the insightful observations from this post will be supplemented by some select quotes from others on the South and Southern culture, augmented with some Web sites that should appeal to anyone who loves the South and all things Southern.

Since January 19 is the birthday of that renowned and revered Southern leader and icon Robert E. Lee, I will open this first post with a tribute to him that I once wrote and posted on the bulletin board of the international Christian ministry in Tulsa where I was working back in the early 1980s.

Robert Edward Lee.jpg

It was read by virtually everyone in the building—a geographically diverse group from various parts of the United States and several foreign countries. After that original posting, I copied it each year and sent it to any new Yankee friends that I had made during that period, updating it, and changing the names of the recipients from one year to the next.

One reason I wrote and posted it at work was to respond to the kidding that I, the token Arkie, received continually from many of the other employees because of my “cornpone” Arkansas accent. Since I began as a French translator and wore Western boots (which I referred to as my “Proust boots”), I was often called the “French cowboy”—or even the “hillbilly Frenchman.”

Note: Marcel Proust was a French novelist who wrote about the ability of a small cake called a “petite madeleine” to evoke “involuntary memories,” sensations, and associations from his childhood; hence, my use of his name to describe my Western boots which recall my own childhood and youth. (For further information on this subject see my earlier posts titled “My Father’s Brand and Seal” and “My Mother’s Bible.”)

Thus, the proclamation I wrote and posted was one way that I, as a tenth-generation Southerner (Tidewater Virginia; Eastern North Carolina; Middle Georgia; Southeast Arkansas) and a descendant of a member of Robert E. Lee’s famed Army of Northern Virginia, countered the stereotype of the “Ignernt Arkie” and the “Southern Redneck” by introducing a bit of “Dixie Pride” and “Suthrun Heritage.” Although it is probably no longer “politically correct,” neither is the stereotyping of Arkies and other Southerners which is still so common in our society today.

So with that caveat, here is the tongue-in-cheek tribute I wrote and posted back on January 19, 1981, and updated to this year. 

A PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS, January 19 is the birthday of the South’s most revered and esteemed hero, GENERAL ROBERT EDWARD LEE, CSA; and,

WHEREAS, the aforementioned ROBERT EDWARD LEE personified those characteristics of honor, strength, integrity, nobility, graciousness and gentility so representative of the Southern people and so dear to Southern hearts; and,

WHEREAS, the birthday of ROBERT EDWARD LEE is still recognized and celebrated as an official state holiday in the majority of the sovereign states of the Old Confederacy;

THEREFORE, in honor of the said ROBERT EDWARD LEE, we, the undersigned son and daughter of that most beautiful and sublime of homelands known as The Old South (from whose loving bosom Almighty God, in His Infinite and Inscrutable Wisdom, hath seen fit to wrest them that they might be thrust forth as Christian missionaries and ambassadors in this most barren and desolate Western wilderness, subject as it is to the onslaughts of vicious and intemperate Northern climes), WE, the undersigned, DO HEREBY ESTABLISH AND PROCLAIM THE DAY OF JANUARY 19, 2012, AS A DAY OF SOLEMN MEMORIAL IN COMMEMORATION OF THE BIRTH OF GENERAL ROBERT EDWARD LEE, CSA; and,

FURTHERMORE, in recognition of, and in keeping with, those Christian virtues of Charity and Magnanimity so typified by our noble Leader, whose memory we honor today, WE DO HEREBY CONFER and BESTOW THE TITLE OF HONORARY SOUTHERNER upon

XXX

and all other such YANKEES, FOREIGNERS, and POOR UNFORTUNATES, the birth and upbringing of whom hath so cruelly and unjustly deprived them of the joys of that gracious and genteel WAY OF LIFE from which Southern ladies and gentlemen, such as we, have for generations drawn such comfort and cheer.

Done this Nineteenth Day of January in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twelve in the City of Tulsa, Indian Territory, Confederate States of America.

SIGNED:

____________________________________________________
Jimmy Dale Peacock, Founder-President, Sons of Southern Gentlemen

_____________________________________________________
Marion E. Peacock, Chairperson, Southern Belles Synonymous 

 

Some More Self-Quotes on the South
(emphasis in italics)

“The whole problem of the South seems to be the result of its long history of good manners and bad judgment.”

“The Old South is not dead; it’s just playin’ possum!”

“The farther South you go, the longer the memory and the shorter the fuse.”

“I come from just far enough South to temper my inherent Southern fatalism with hope—which is, of course, the worst kind.”

“In the real South, using ‘dinner’ for ‘supper’ is like using ‘you all’ for ‘y’all’; it is a practice reserved only for those special formal occasions when we want to sound cultured or refined.”

“Our last nite home over Thanksgiving I dreamed I went uptown to the railroad station in [my hometown of] McGehee [Arkansas] to pick up an attractive redhead from Trinity [Episcopal Church in Tulsa] loaded down with excess baggage. Her name? DIXIE!”

—Message I had scribbled on a day calendar
for a Saturday in December 1995

“When I am overcome with homesickness, I refer to it as being ‘all down in the South’ or suffering from ‘y’all withdrawal.’ The only answer is to ‘take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land’—or at least find some ‘sweet young Southern thang’ to ‘tawk Dixie to me.’” 

“You have to join cotillion.”
—1954 Little Rock Junior League girls

“The Old South will never die, not as long as there are darling debutantes, doting docents, indomitable dowagers, and other groups of proud Southern women like the Junior League, the Ya Ya Sisterhood, The Sweet Potato Queens, the Steel Magnolias—and the Maggie [McGehee] Clique!”

—Quote by Jimmy Peacock in letter to
Charles Allbright dated June 10, 2002

“I love the South in general, Arkansas in particular, the Delta in spite, and all three in absentia. Someday soon I will love them all in memoriam.” (I have never known nor cared anything about the topography of heaven—but now the South/Arkansas/Delta, that’s a different story!) 

Quote about Me from Judy Whitley in
the 1986 Newsletter of a Tulsa Religious Publisher
(emphasis in italics)

“Listen up . . . y’all! I would like to introduce you to that smooth talkin’ and slow walkin’ Southern Gentleman fondly known around here as  . . . Mr. Hey [a reference to my usual Southern-style form of address].

“His given name is Jimmy Peacock and he hails from that great state of Arkansas which he considers his own personal Promised Land. . . . 

“Here is just a little reminder to you YANKEES out there. According to Jimmy, the South WILL RISE AGAIN . . . even if it takes the rapture to do it!”

Note: Stay tuned for the second part of this discussion of the South continued in the next post with quotes from others on the subject.

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  “I’m nuthin’ if I ain’t honest!”
—Jimmy Peacock 

“One of these days I’m goin’ home if I have to do it in a pine box—which I probably will!”
—Jimmy Peacock

The following is a piece I wrote years ago at the request of an editor friend who was collecting 1,000-word articles for inclusion in a book of personal religious experiences. I later withdrew it from publication because it is so candid that I was afraid it might jeopardize my career as a Tulsa-based religious copyeditor. I think you will see why I felt that way.

Note that the ending is now different since I no longer feel that I will one day “go home again”—at least not in this life.

Occupation in Exile,
Deliverance in Time

When I was home in Arkansas, God came to me and said, “Jimmy, I want you to move to Oklahoma.”

I said, “Lord, let me think about it.”

About a week later He came back and said, “Well?”

I said, “I’ve decided I’ll go if You’ll go with me.”

His response was, “Let me think about it.”

About a week later He came back and said, “Well, Jimmy, I’ve thought about it.”

“Yes, Sir?”

 “I’ve decided I’ll go with you as far as Fort Smith.”

That was the last I saw of Him—which is why I have to go home every so often to get my bearings; otherwise I lose my marbles.

To be honest, I “borrowed” this quotation (at least the part about being sent by God from Arkansas to Oklahoma) from Dr. Daniel Grant, who freely granted me permission to use it because it was actually told about him to describe his move from Tennessee to Arkansas to become president of my alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University. According to the Dr. Grant version, God agreed to accompany him only as far as Memphis.

Ouachita President Daniel R. Grant 1970-88

Dr. Daniel R. Grant, President of Ouachita Baptist University, 1970-88 (photo courtesy of Ouachita News Bureau)

The part of the quote about going back home to get my bearings to avoid losing my marbles is mine—and quite true. It is a tiny excerpt from my own voluminous writings, which I only half-jestingly refer to as my “Oklahomian Exile Literature.”

Some of this nostalgic, humorous, and often poignant outpouring of my soul has been published in newspapers and journals in my beloved home state, which I was forced to leave for purely economic reasons: to take a job and support my family.

Whether that move was the leading of the Holy Spirit, I have never been able to say. What I can say is that it is a move I would never have made if I had had any viable alternative. As I freely admit, “If ever a man put his hand to the plow looking back, it is me.” (Luke 9:62 KJV.)

Using biblical analogies to describe my “wilderness wandering,” and my regular “pilgrimages [back] to the Holy Land” from whence I came, seems only natural for me. After all, the job that brought me here in 1977 (or as I say, in scriptural terms, “in the year that King Elvis died,” see Isaiah 6:1) has been primarily religious in nature.

The truth is that as a contract editor for several Tulsa-based Christian publishers, despite the fact that my work has kept me (barely!) alive for all these years, I have never really felt “at home” with it—or with where it has taken place.

[Southern editor/writer/publisher] Louis Rubin wrote, “Great writers are exiles, either spiritually or geographically [both, in my case!]. The impulse to write is the desire to give order and definition to one’s world, and that impulse can arise only out of need.” Someone else has noted that in the life of a writer there are no extraneous experiences.

Louis Rubin
   Louis Rubin (photo taken from Web site above)

I fully identify with both these statements and many others I have accumulated over the years on the subjects of home, exile, and the writer. [I will share some of these quotes in a later post.] I have also composed many of my own quotations on these three subjects [which I will also share later], all of which are of great concern to me both personally and professionally.

For example, I have been quite honest, even with my Christian publishing clients, that “I edit to feed my body; I write to feed my soul,” and that “rather than being a religious editor in exile, I want to be a Southern writer in residence.”

Yet, despite my burning desire as an exiled Arkie to return to the land of my birth and upbringing from which, like Scarlett O’Hara, I draw my strength (and inspiration), and despite my urgent need as a frustrated writer to get back into contact with the scenes of my past, with what Marshall Frady called “the primary pulses and shocks [the writer] cannot afford to lose,” all my efforts to “return to Paradise Lost” have been in vain.

Marshall Frady

Marshall Frady (photo taken from Web site above)

For years I have struggled with the feeling that, although the Lord seems to promise His people a glorious return home, for some inscrutable reason my ongoing efforts to effect that return have been thwarted at every turn—surprisingly, by God Himself!

Obviously, any knowledgeable believer will say that the home spoken of in the Scriptures is not geographical but spiritual, and that, like Paul, I should learn “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11 KJV).

All through these long years of forced exile and labor, I have tried, with a total lack of success, to convince myself of those truths. It seems that, unlike Paul, I have no capacity to be content without (a significant play on words!) if I am not content within. And I cannot be content within, if I am not allowed to be who and what—and where!—I was created and destined to be. As the writer of Psalm 137:4 NIV asks, “How can [I] sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”

My philosophy is that “where you’re from is who you are.” And, like Jesus, I am not from here; I am from another place, a place called “home”—to which, seemingly, I can never return.

Someone much more wise and knowledgeable than I once observed that the quest of every living soul, whether realized or not, is to get back home. That is certainly true for me, though for almost a quarter of a century now that quest has not been realized.

Yet through it all, I have been both driven and sustained by an enduring and undeniable inner conviction that some how, some way, some day I will—I must—eventually get back home.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of that glorious day, I am obedient (if not indeed content) to do as Jesus told the disciples in Luke 19:13 KJV, “Occupy till I come.”

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20 KJV). And when You do, Lord, please take me home!

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A thing of beauty is a joy forever;
Its loveliness increases; it can never
Pass into nothingness.
—Keats

This post was taken from a section of my writings titled “Correspondence.”

Despite the title of that section, it is not simply a collection of letters that I sent to various people and groups over the thirty-plus years of my Oklahomian Exile. Is it that, but it is also more.

Of all the hundreds of letters I have written over that period, a few have been chosen and included in this blog for a reason. They are humorous, nostalgic, philosophical, or poignant insights into my mind and heart. They all relate to some aspect of my life at the time they were written, and often reveal what was happening to me inwardly and outwardly as I dealt with some ongoing situation.

For example, the 1991 letter I wrote to Barbra Streisand describing my dream about her was written not because I was a particular fan of hers but because of the issue of the lymphoma with which I had just been diagnosed at the time of the dream. (As a reminder, see the earlier post titled “Dreams” and the more recent one on my health titled “Reflections on My Birthday.”)

As another example, homesickness for the sound of Arkansas voices was the motivation for the letter I wrote to the Arkansas Department of Tourism praising them for their choice of a “sweet young Southern thing” as spokesperson for my beloved native state; her reply to me was classic gracious “Southern Belles Lettres.” (See the earlier post titled “Keep Arkansas in the Accent!”)

The following is a copy of a letter I wrote to the Zenith Corporation back in January 1979. It was prompted by the quality and longevity of a television set that Mari and I bought as the first purchase of our marriage in 1963. That letter was then followed by a commentary on it written in the 1980s–now almost twenty-years ago.

My 1979 Letter to the Zenith Corporation

Zenith Radio Corporation
Attn: Customer Relations
1900 North Austin Ave.
Chicago, Ill. 60639

Dear Sirs:

My wife and I were married on December 27, 1962. About two weeks later, in early January 1963, we made our first family purchase—a brand-new, black-and-white, table-model Zenith television set.

I am happy to report that the marriage and the Zenith are both still going strong.

Zenith table-model 1962 TV set

A 1962 Zenith black-and-white table-model TV like the one Mari and I bought in January 1963

We have never owned another TV set. We could never part with this one; it’s almost like a member of the family. This month marks the sixteenth year of continuous service for the set (which must itself be some sort of a record for longevity of life); but that is not the amazing part—the set is still operating on the original tubes! In these sixteen years, I conservatively estimate that the set has operated at least 17,000 hours—without repair!

In the first fifteen and one-half years of operation I spent exactly one dollar on it (for two 25-cent wall plugs and a 50-cent antenna). Last summer when we finally had to call a TV repairman because of trouble with the dial, he simply cleaned the dial and adjusted the set—cost $15. This represents a total operating cost of $16 in 16 years—a dollar a year!

When (or should I say, if) this set ever quits, we plan on replacing it with a new color set. You can be sure that when we do, we will give careful consideration to Zenith. In our case at least, your slogan that “At Zenith the quality goes in before the name goes on” has certainly held true. [To view a video on this vintage advertising slogan, click here.]

If only all products were as solid and dependable as this one has been. After all, “Till death do us part” is not a bad idea for manufactures as well as marriages.

Sincerely yours,

Jimmy Peacock

My 198os Commentary on the Letter to Zenith

I am not in the habit of writing letters—either of commendation or of complaint—to manufacturers. In fact, I suppose this was one of the first (if not the first) such letter I ever wrote. But since the old set had performed so magnificently all those years, I thought it should be called to the attention of the Zenith people. Had I been on their marketing staff I would have leaped at the opportunity to make use of such a free and unsolicited testimonial in my advertising campaign nationally.

For one reason or another Zenith didn’t see fit so to do. In fact, they never even acknowledged receipt of my letter. Which was OK with me, I guess. But it did seem rather negligent on their part. Especially since I as much as said that I was going to be buying a new color set in the near future.

Well, as it turned out, a year or so later when I bought that color set, I did “Give careful consideration to Zenith,” but ended up buying an RCA. (The old Zenith is still seeing yeoman duty in my wife’s second-grade classroom!) [Mari now tells me that eventually, like both man and manufactures, the old TV set died.]

Zenith passed up a marvelous opportunity to sell a color TV because of their seeming indifference to a faithful and appreciative customer. But that’s not the point of my story. My point is age—or more precisely, quality and longevity.

You see, when I acquire something—whether it’s a TV set or a car or a suit of clothes or a wife—I expect it to last!

In this age of “planned obsolescence” I refuse to yield to society’s pessimistic expectations. On the contrary, I don’t expect things to go wrong, I expect them to go right. I don’t expect appliances or automobiles or clothes or wives to break down or fall apart or wear out or even get old. I just take it for granted they’re gonna look good and run good and be good and last good, and seldom am I disappointed.

Like, for instance, our washing machine. It’s a 1968 model Maytag that has operated grandly day in and day out for lo these fifteen years, totally without complaint and virtually without repairs (we’re tickled pink that the Maytag repairman is the “loneliest guy in town”). [To see more about this classic TV ad man, click here and then scroll down to Jesse White, Top Ad Icon #2.]

Ad for 1968 Maytag washer

Ad for a 1968 Maytag washer like the one Mari and I owned and used for more than fifteen years

I typed up this article on our 1936 (that’s not a misprint—1936) model Underwood standard typewriter that was bought second-hand for my wife by her father back in 1958 from the Missouri Pacific Railroad in a disposal sale. (They thought it was shot then!) We have both used it through college and graduate courses and for ten years and more as teachers, and I have gotten every job I ever got through letters and resumes typed up on it. We have no plans to replace it, and it doesn’t know it’s ever supposed to die. (See the previous post titled “My Mother’s Bible.”)

Underwood Standard typewriter

An Underwood standard typewriter like the one Mari and I own and used for years

That’s the secret! Never let them (appliances, cars, typewriters, wives, etc.) know that they’re ever supposed to get old!

If you don’t believe it works, we’ll discuss it as we take a drive in my classic burgundy ’69 Chevy Impala that still draws admiring glances and whistles from the teenaged boys!

Sean and Keiron and the '69 Impala

Sean (in red uniform) and Keiron (in gray uniform) getting out of the Classic '69 Impala

Why, I never wear out clothes or shoes (my last pair of cowboy boots lasted nine years; they would have made it longer had I refrained from digging drainage ditches in them for a couple of years). A few weeks ago I garnered several compliments on my stylish new suit I wore to work (you know, the snazzy navy blue ensemble I bought at J.C. Penney back in 1971). (See also the earlier post titled “My Cancer Car” about my 1992 black suit that I still wear!)

Jimmy in 1971 blue suit

A 1974 family snapshot with Mari, Sean (front right), Keiron (front left), and me (dressed in my 1971 blue suit that I was still wearing in the 1980s when this story was originally written)

I could go on and on. But I think you’ve got my point.

The Bible says: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” And that holds true for his opinion and estimation of his “belongings.” In other words, if you want it to last, expect it to.

Finally, as Henny Youngman used to say, take my wife . . . please. After 18 years of marriage she still looks and acts youthful (people consistently under-guess her age by five years). So, although I’ve learned that the more I compliment her looks and youthfulness, the better and younger looking she gets, I do enjoy an occasional dig at her about her age and shape (especially the closer she gets to her fortieth birthday). 

Mari in about 1980

Mari in about 1980

One day not long ago we were standing and talking with one of the ladies at our church, a pleasant middle-aged matron, and the subject of age came up. Once again I took the opportunity to make some cute remark about my wife’s age: “Yep,” I said, “Ole Mari’s gettin’ up in years. I’ve warned her that when she gets to be forty I’m gonna trade her in for two twenties.”

To which our friend, eyeing my less than Olympic physique and with a twinkle in her eye remarked: “Yes, but are you sure you’re wired for two-twenty?

Well, maybe not. But, shoot man, I’m not over the hill yet. Not by a long shot. After all, I’ve never yet hit my Zenith!

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