I continue to be Thankgivingly-grateful for my recent return to the familiar atmosphere where I am accustomed to organizing the garble from my brain through my fingers into a readable account of observation and comment on the human condition known as life.
I lost myself for a while, but things seem manageable again – in great part due to phone calls and messages from friends and family, a continuous shower of cards filled with love and faith and countless prayers crisscrossing the universe. My house, completely reorganized during my odyssey, has further buoyed my spirits.
Admittedly, that first session with my laptop after several months was one of re-acquaintance. However, three rediscovered passwords and repeated clicking on vaguely-familiar icons finally brought me back to the blank screen before which I have spent many a Sunday evening. Watch out, Boomers – and other assorted generations – I am ready to blog!
I knew I was on the psychological mend when I began categorizing experiences, encounters, and random tidbits of info for possible bloggage. Having spent the summer organizing the memory book for my 50th (delayed by one year) college reunion, I cleared more space in my brain for other cultural icons turning a half-century old.
FIFTY YEARS AGO ~ It was fun, although aging, to realize that Quarter Pounders and Egg McMuffins began showing up under the Golden Arches in 1971 for 59 cents and 63 cents respectively. The Scott Family, whose nascent fast-food tastes back then were more of the root beer stand and Crabill hamburger sort, at home gobbled down its share of another newcomer, Hamburger Helper. It should come as no surprise, however, that I would remain absolutely clueless for many years about technological advancements that included e-mail and floppy disks.
I have chosen, however, to focus on the 50th New York City Marathon run just a couple of weeks ago. Every year I watch at least part of the world’s largest, most prestigious race, but my interest was particularly piqued when a commentator mentioned that just one woman had participated in that first race 50 years ago. True to form, I went nosing around in Google for further details.
The field of runners in 1970 consisted of 126 men and one lady who paid a dollar each to race a marathon’s worth of loops through Central Park. Just 55 participants finished the race. The lone female entrant, who withdrew due to illness after 15 miles, joined three other women the following year – and placed second!
Another more fascinating nugget of knowledge concerns the route of the famed race. Marathoners continued circling Central Park until 1976 when organizers – in a burst of Bicentennial fever – changed the course of the race to include all five boroughs of the Big Apple. That over the years thousands and thousands of professional runners, amateur runners, and wheelchair racers have hustled through each borough stands as a testament to the popularity of that 40-year-old patriotic brainstorm.
VERY MODERN TIMES ~ I recently befriended two young nursing assistants who are members of Generation Z: 20 and 21, to be exact. We managed to decently bridge the 50-year gap between our ages. At 73 I did not seem “that old,” although they undoubtedly considered my birth year of 1948 utterly prehistoric – I am not sure they had any inkling of which war ended three years before my birth!
These young women were flabbergasted to learn that parents have not always been able to know the gender of their unborn children: in their defense, both these girls were born in this century. They simply could not conceptualize that when my father’s oldest sister, Aunt Dorothy, was born in 1917, Grandma and Grandpa had no way of knowing she would be a girl!
INSPIRING WORDS FOR ANY CENTURY ~ Earlier this month I heard the sad news of the passing of Colin Powell. What an illustrious career was his of service to our country! At various stages of his life he held the titles of 4-star general, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State. Even so, this consummate diplomat and statesman was a soldier’s soldier who understood his imperfections even as he steadfastly used his strengths for good at home and across the globe.
And he was a family man, beautifully and lovingly eulogized by his son Michael. Recounting the time his father held his hand amidst serious injuries, Michael found it all too soon to hold his father’s hand for a few final moments: “That hand took my mother’s hand in matrimony. That hand held me as a baby. The hand signed report cards, taught baseball, fixed old cars. That hand signed treaties and war orders and gestured joyfully while he was telling a story. That hand is still now. But it left a deep imprint on the lives of family and friends, soldiers and sailors, presidents and prime ministers, and a generation of aspiring young people.”
The son’s sentiments, so profound in their simplicity, brought tears to my eyes – and I found myself remembering several other fathers in my acquaintance, especially one special dad …
And now, dear readers, whether I am pining for the good old days, opining about the incomprehensibility of the latest newfangledness, or searching for words and ideas to inspire me each day, it is lovely to be writing for you again!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.