Life Lessons in 247 Pages
THE IDLE AMERICAN
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury
Spinning tops flung long ago finally stopped, they were like the season’s final flailing of turkeys soon to be main courses on Thanksgiving tables.
For some journalists, however, minds continue to spin–conjuring, probing, marveling and expressing–thoughts about life, sometimes exceeding sublime or falling short of ridiculous.
Such is the mind of my friend Glenn Dromgoole, a talented wordsmith who fell into the swirling word pool, splashing about in it for some half-century.
Glenn’s latest book, Just Happy to be Here, has 247 pages of words written “to encourage, enlighten, entertain,” and they do. The reading evokes both tears and laughter. Starting out as a preacher’s kid–then writing and editing for Texas newspapers—he switched gears a while back. Far from retired, he continues his fascination in the great ocean of words.
Now, he publishes, reviews and sells books with his wife, Carol, at their Texas Star Trading Company, a book, gift and gourmet shop in Abilene. (I should mention that during his collegiate days at Texas A&M University, he was editor of The Battalion. Maybe that’s because some members of the administration who chafed at his “why” or “why not?” questions may still be living, and might buy books.)
Old-time newspaper folks remember when stories went from typewriters to Linotype, and space often dictated shortening of type. The unused lines became “overset,” usually never to see the light of day.
His latest literary effort is a cornucopia of life’s “overset,” capturing feelings, hopes, admissions and challenges not covered in his earlier books or in the dozens of books that he has published.
He has been my friend for some 55 years. I can easily imagine his being the preschooler asking, “Why is a cow?” or the university newspaper editor questioning “the way we’ve always done it.” Unquestionably, though, he’s always made his communities better places to live, and his writing of prose and poetry has warmed hearts across the land, encouraging with his “sunny-side up” views.
There’s no way to describe his newest book; it covers many unlikely topics, including a chapter on commas. (I wrote the previous sentence mainly to show him I know how to use semi-colons–sometimes.)
He deals lightly with “the grammar police,” writing more often about life’s experiences, liberally sprinkled with whimsey and such. I particularly enjoyed the chapter, “My Dog and Your Dog,” where he contrasts “me and mine” versus “thee and thine.”
Some items warrant referencing here: “When my dog barks, it is simply expressing itself. When your dog barks, it is being obnoxious.” Dozens of two-liners later, it closes with, “My dog accepts me unconditionally. Your dog accepts you anyway.”
I hasten to add that Glenn offers practical suggestions worthy of consideration by “powers that be.” One would make the term “student athlete” more accurate–and far less “oxymoronish”–ln describing make-up of many college football and basketball teams.
It could make good sense determining outcomes of games that are tied at the end of regulation play.
Instead of overtime periods to break ties, coaches shall choose 11 players from each team in football (five in basketball) to meet at midfield or midcourt for an academic shoot-out of questions concerning science, math, history, geography and literature.
My friend risks copyright infringement of the late comedienne Minnie Pearl. She was always “Just-so-PROUD-to-be-here.” Like Minnie Pearl, though, he’s always had “what you see is what you get” sartorial leanings. He doesn’t care for neckties, and when being “groomed” for Abilene’s “citizen of the year” award in 2013, he wore a bowtie. To him, a “come-as-you-are” invitation means open collar with hair in “wake-up-and-locked” position.
This book is available on Amazon, but he’d prefer orders to the Dromgooles’ store (www.texasstartrading.com). He autographs store-bought books, of course. (Final note: Glenn has little use for quotation marks. That’s why I’m using them excessively.)
Dr. Newbury, longtime university president, continues to write weekly and speak throughout Texas. Phone: 817-447-3872. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: Don Newbury.
For a small city, Abilene has widespread talent in many fields. We are lucky to have so many resources.