Friday, January 17, 2014

We're all on a sentimental journey

     Gonna take a sentimental journey
     Gonna set my heart at ease
     Gonna make a sentimental journey
     To renew old memories

     I was looking through a file on my parents yesterday, trying to find information someone had requested, when I came across two dozen family photos. It made me think of the old days.
     Every week, I am participating in Facebook's Throwback Thursday, posting photos from my past, my family's past. This week, it was two March 1980 photos -- when Bea and I were still young, and our children were little kids.
       Six times in the past three weeks, the news has come that someone I knew, people who played a role in my world, has passed away. R.I.P. -- Ann Thaxton, J.W. Cook Jr., Bob Hood, Tommy Watson, Donnie Baughman, Wiley Hilburn Jr.
        It's never easy to hear, even when it's not a surprise. I just try to cherish the good times we had, their value to my life, the influence they left.
       What keeps playing in my head this week is that familiar old song: Sentimental Journey ...
        That's the way I feel. Every day, several times a day, we take a sentimental journey. I suspect it's the same for you.
        Yes, we do a lot of looking back -- whether we want to or not. There are reminders everywhere of where we've been.    
Nothing I'm more sentimental about than these
 two kids: Jason and Rachel, in 1984.
        My wife loves to remind me: "For a man who says he doesn't live in the past, you sure spend a lot of time there." If I've heard that a dozen times, I've heard it a hundred. She says I am much more "mushy" than she is.
        OK, guilty. My tears come easily, in many instances. Bea also will tell you that nostalgia is one of my strong suits, that I'm very sentimental. She is, too, of course, but she manages to push forward, to stay in today's world and look toward tomorrow. Admirable trait.
        But she does have her sentimental moments -- mostly thinking of her parents and her kids. And I like that.
        I can spend hours watching YouTube videos of great Yankees wins, LSU wins, Dutch soccer wins, Cowboys wins ... I can even watch some of the great losses. More hours watching videos of and listening to my favorite singers, or big bands/orchestras, Johnny Carson shows.
         Love to watch documentary-type shows on TV (particularly PBS), but not any of those shows relating to wars or military history. No thank you.
         As Bea says, and as I like to joke with friends, that's a lot of time with nothing to do.
         Nothing but enjoy the times, the memories.
         A couple of months ago, after my blog piece "Same Way Turkey Day," for the most part recalling the Byrd-Fair Park Thanksgiving Day football games (1930s through 1962), one of my friends said he enjoys those type pieces best because that's what I write best.
          A writer always enjoys hearing or reading that his work is appreciated.
          Doing those type pieces -- on Shreveport-Bossier or North Louisiana or the state, on Sunset Acres or Woodlawn or Louisiana Tech, or the Van Thyns' early days in the United States -- is fun because it does take me back, and I don't have to do a lot of research.
           But I also want to try to weave in how those times relate to what's going on in today's world. Because I don't want to live in the past. I really don't spend as much time rehashing games and stories from the old days as you might think I do. I could; I've got a lot of the memories stored in my feeble brain.
          But I'd rather think about what we're going to do today and tomorrow, what's on the agenda with the kids and grandkids, what events or places are attractions for Bea and me. I'd rather read and think about -- and read about, and speculate with friends -- how Louisiana Tech and LSU are going to win games in basketball and baseball and then football this fall, how the Yankees are going to find some pitchers, and how the Cowboys are going to rebuild (there's a laugh there).
           Love the past, and I'm sentimental about it. But I'm living for now and for the future, and more memories to be made.
           Maybe "my" teams will make those memories, but I'd like to look back a couple of decades from now, God willing, and think about the sentimental journeys I made with the grandkids.


  1. From Doug Bland: I've always believed your past helps shape your present and future. Drawing on the past has always helped me. Your blogs about the past have helped me with my present and future. Remembering the good times makes me want to reproduce them in the future.

  2. From Bud Dean: Keep up the good work. Nothing wrong with reflections as long as they are that and not your focus on life.

  3. From Sid Huff: Great piece. I, too, spend a lot of time reminiscing. Have often said that I would not trade my youth with anyone from today.When was the last time you saw a bunch of kids playing sandlot baseball/football on an empty lot? Old baseball with black electrician's tape on it ... pretending you are Vada Pinson or Willie Mays facing Sandy Koufax or Whitey Ford? I was at my back surgeon's the other day and, in one of his exam rooms, was a poster from game one of the 1955 World Series between your Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. I could pick out Koufax and Snider and Reese and, of course, Jackie Robinson. Believe Johnny Podres won game 7 for the Dodgers, giving them their first WS win over NY. My mother told me that she cried she was so happy for Brooklyn.
    I have been in the computer business all my career, starting and running a small computer repair and premise wiring business for 25 years before selling it to a longtime employee in 2012 due to a back injury. My guys and gals used to complain because the music I played in the background was all from about 1975 or before, including, randomly, your "Sentimental Journey." And, of course, I sang along with a lot of them. To this day, when I build a computer for someone, I put a 1001 "oldie collection" on the machine for those in my age group and it never fails to elicit an appreciative comment from the recipient.

  4. From Joe Raymond Peace: The past is a beautiful thing, for the most part. There is some of it I wish I could erase, but I guess those are life's lessons. I believe I have had some valuable lessons. For sure, you can't got back and undo, but it has helped in guiding my children and making them better.
    My good friend Bob Brunet says we are getting old. I refuse to think that way. I try to stay as young as I can. I am still in the gym five days a week. Life has been good and I am very thankful.

  5. From Jack Thigpen: I can relate in the sentimental journey. A good friend from high school came to visit last week. You probably remember him -- Ed Koss -- played baseball at Tech. We spent four days talking about old times -- lying some about how good an athlete we were. Spent time with other friends from the past; Leon (Barmore) being one of them. We all expressed how grateful we are to have grown up during the simple, innocent times that we did. As you said, we must look to the future but a few days with old friend reminiscing about the past is good for the soul.

  6. From Janis Leach: I really enjoy your blogs, and this one especially "spoke" to me. It expresses many feelings which I also often have, and it reminded me of a poem I wrote many years ago.
    Daddy was a very sentimental person (as am I) ... and when I wrote this particular poem, I shared it with him. He seemed especially delighted with it. I wondered if he really liked it as much as he seemed to like it… or if he were just pretending to like it so as to avoid hurting my feelings. When going through some of his papers after he died, I became convinced that he really liked it because I found several copies of my poem which he had retyped.
    Even though I wrote this poem many years ago, it still expresses how I feel today. Here it is:
    Ofttimes my mind would reminisce on things that used to be…
    On bygone days, on childhood days, on things so much a part of me.
    And in these moods of past recall when memories flood my soul,
    Nostalgia overwhelms me and sadness takes its toll.
    Ah, but then I happily realize
    that although those days can ne’er return,
    Yet still within my memory they shall forever burn.