Quotes That Linger
THE IDLE AMERICAN
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury
Some quotes linger, often for no reason. They may stand alone, bringing up the rear when other thoughts are locked in–safe for the night–in literature’s OK Corral. Yet, they are “ear-catching,” hard to shake when minds are in neutral gear.
Retired football coaching great Jimmie Keeling recently provided an eight-word pronouncement. It’s a quote I wish had been mine: “If it’s not the washer, it’s the dryer.”
How true for a world with built-in obsolescence, delays in shipments and whimpering excuses for items–always on the shelf historically–now are in the backwash of back orders.
My friend C. T. Yates, who remembers Absorbine Senior, took a minor problem in stride.
“I’ve started over many times, but this new beginning is welcome,” he said. “The bucket with my list on it sprung a leak.”
Turns out he had crossed off most of his list on the old bucket, and now is looking forward to buying a new bucket and making a new list.
John Duke Smith is another friend with a “sunny side up” approach to life. The “Dukester”–twisted from the middle of his name–gives him a dashing moniker, but, until recently, he used simply “John Smith.” (Mary, his late wife of 60 years, kept her identity simple, too. “Mary Smith” was fine by her.)
He learned, however, NOT to use “John Smith” when ordering food. “For years when I claimed to be ‘John Smith’ at fast food places, several others tried to claim my orders, perhaps hearing only ‘John’ or ‘Smith’ when names were called,” he said.
Now, he claims to be “Philmore Finwick,” greatly simplifying sandwich pick-up.
“You get one hot dog.” Don’t know her name, but she knew how to follow instructions. She was in the serving line one day when well-known businessman/philanthropist Drayton McLane chartered a bus for Temple friends to attend a Houston Astros’ game.
To expedite things, workers were instructed to provide one hot dog to each visitor, thus keeping the line moving.
When McLane reached the server, he asked for two hot dogs. Citing instructions, she gave him one hot dog. McLane, owner of the baseball team for several years, sensed that her heels were digging into the floor. He took the easy route, honoring the one hot dog limit.
For a couple of summers during college in the late 1950s, I was editor of the Brown County Gazette, a defunct weekly newspaper in Bangs, Texas. I learned much from the late publisher, Forrest Kyle, whose life was chronicled in my master’s thesis at UT-Austin. He helped–or tried to help–folks who needed it most. One needing help from all directions was the late Billy Sol Estes, who was convicted of high-dollar fraud that sent him to jail.
One day Estes showed up at the Gazette office. At noon, Kyle invited Estes and me to join him for the blue-plate special at the Bangs Café. Admittedly obese, Kyle occupied one side of the booth, leaving Estes and me to share the other side. Customers leaving stared back at us. “Want to know what those folks are thinking?” Estes asked. “That guy really looks like Billy Sol Estes.”
Many folks living around Brownwood in the 1950s remember the Farren twins, Jimmy and Eddie. Their musical talent was well known, as were their “flubs” during adlibs at their Radio Station KEAN. They were to local listeners what broadcaster Jay Hanna (Dizzy) Dean was to listeners of baseball games.
Eddie once observed “rain falling intermittently off-and-on all day.” Jimmy became excited at the dedication of a water fountain which graced what was then a traffic circle. “Folks, you need to get down here to see these spewers spewing,” he suggested. “Some of the spewers are spewing higher than the other spewers are spewing.”
His redundancy ignored, listeners fondly remembered Jimmy’s description of a fountain where there was a whole lot of spewin’ going on.
Dr. Newbury, a longtime university president, writes weekly and speaks regularly throughout Texas. Contact information: Phone: 817-447-3872. Email: email@example.com Facebook: Don Newbury.