The Idle American
By Dr. Don Newbury
In bygone years, street names shed considerable light on the economic status of residents abiding there, particularly if the streets had lights.
One shabby neighborhood–called “Billy Goat Hill” for decades–became “Angora Knoll” overnight when vast oil reserves were discovered. Within hours, some West Texas landowners who previously shopped mostly at thrift shops showed up at Neiman-Marcus.
Dallas sportswriter Barry Horn wrote a recent piece about a boxing Olympic hopeful who lives on the corner of Raspberry and Vanilla Streets in DeSoto. He suggested that “Tough Luck Lane and Street of Broken Dreams is the more likely intersection.”…
Tree names are commonly spotted on street signs in many communities. If there’s considerable population growth, the list of available tree names can grow short, what with garden variety tree names such as Pine, Willow, Spruce and Mulberry already taken.
Maybe that’s what framed the story about the policeman who called the station to report that he’d found a body on a dimly-lit street. “The location is 425 Bois d’arc,” the patrolman stated.
“How do you spell Bois d’arc?” the captain asked. Dumbfounded, the caller didn’t have a clue. “Lemme drag him over to Oak and call you back.”…
Some towns and cities have honored U.S. presidents with street names. Names of birds, flowers and animals also have gotten their due. The whole issue becomes convoluted, since so many names are synonymous with “streets.” Some municipalities have boulevards, avenues, drives, lanes, thruways, circles, courts, and cul-de-sacs, to name a few. (Our landlord during early marriage vowed she’d live only on boulevards. During her final years, she resided in a care center several blocks away from her home–still on a boulevard.)
Tyler, with one street named “Easy,” chose a name already in use for its main drag. If Broadway is good enough for the Great White Way, it’s A-OK for the Rose Capital, too.
Lake Jackson, an hour’s drive from Houston, has great vitality, growing in tandem with Dow and other chemical companies. They “will” to find “ways” for their street names. Fact is, there are at least ten streets with “Way” in the names….
Included are Parking Way, Park Way, Center Way, Circle Way, Winding Way, His Way (and Sinatra never lived on it), West Way, Any Way, That Way and This Way. It should be noted that This Way and That Way intersect.
Locals figure that as Lake Jackson grows, there could be a No Way, Safe Way, In Way and Out Way. They may consider Every Way and Right Way, too. And Narrow Is the Way might be favored by the clergy.
One Lake Jackson favorite with footprints all over town is Charles Castleberry, a Realtor there for some 50 years….
A proud graduate of Baylor University, he returned to his alma mater four years ago for a banquet commemorating the 50th anniversary of the class of 1958. (They also hand out pledge cards at such events, I am told.)
He welcomed the invitation, eager to tell his old college buddies that he was healthy enough to attend the banquet, or any other event for that matter. Never to be confused with a man of few words, he proceeded to “lay it on ‘em” about his 2005 heart transplant that restored his health.
In a cluster with a half-dozen other “75-ish” graduates, he opined that he should get the prize for being the youngest one there, since he “has the heart of a 47-year-old.” A cohort responded, “Too bad your heart didn’t tell your face.”…
He voiced the opening prayer at the Realtors’ luncheon recently, seeking blessings for the speaker and much else. I thanked him, admitting that I need the prayer and he needs the practice.
At the same luncheon, President Kim Caldwell led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Hands over hearts, we turned toward the outer wall of plate glass that framed a striking view of the civic center entrance.
The beautiful entry features a giant U.S. flag. It was rippling in the breeze, filling our view to the outdoors. I’ve “pledged” a few thousand times, but never in this manner. Looking back, it was a good “way” to start the program in a thriving community where prayers and pledges still kick off most meetings….
Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.
THE IDLE AMERICAN
Deep Thoughts from Deeper in the Thicket…
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury
Column #481 for Release Saturday, July 28, 2012, or Later
(Note: We are on vacation, but our school administrator daughter, Julie Choate, asked for the space this week. My response: “You have 700 words; make sure they are well-chosen. My readers deserve a refreshing change.”)
Often quipped and sometimes true is the adage about apples falling pretty much straight down from trees. This hardly applies to Uncle Mort and his younger brother Bud, who lives even deeper in the thicket. They’re as opposite as flapjacks and crepes.
While Mort is keyed-up 24/7, Bud is calm, cool and collected, taking on life in the lowest gear. Usually preferring silence to conversation, Bud is one of few words. When he does speak, his words are well-chosen and helpful—wisdom for the ages. His kids take “Bud-isms” to the heart, quoting them regularly. And his five grandchildren, ages 8-26, can recite them at will. (They even have them numbered to save time.)
Sadly, many thicket visitors don’t make it past Uncle Mort’s nonsense when seeking directions to Bud’s house, so his quiet wisdom rarely appears in print….
Convinced that today’s children live in an era of entitlement—getting what they want when they want it, with participation ribbons for all—Bud drags out the “whoever said life is fair” bromide. His kids had chores.
I remember his younger son admitting he didn’t want to clean the garage one Saturday, as instructed. It was a hot day, and at age 16, manual labor held little appeal. “You’re not big enough to make me anymore,” he bragged.
“You’re right. I’m not big enough to make you, but I AM big enough to make you WISH you’d done it,” Bud smiled, dangling car keys the teen had hoped to claim for the evening. (Aside: The garage was spotless in short order.)…
Bud and his wife had a simple approach to parenting. They have two grown sons who have applied their dad’s oft-spoken advice on child-rearing: “Love on their heads and spank on their bottoms—the former more often than the latter.”
Both treasure their dad’s sincere “I love you” and “I’m proud of you” comments, sincerely verbalized even to this day.
They know that he means every word, and that they’re never too old to hug their daddy….
“Bud-isms” extend beyond child-rearing—even to game tables.
An avid “42” player, he tries to keep the dominoes moving with his “think long, think wrong” philosophy.
He quotes this line to his partner and opponents as well, and offers this advice freely as well: “If the dominoes are falling your way, bid it up.”…
He’s never spent much time worrying about anything. He offers comforting advice when his wife frets over whether to purchase “this or that.” His motto: “Spend a little and save a little.”
Once he conversed with a friend who wanted to purchase a 4×4 truck. Uncle Bud asked him how much time he felt he’d actually use the 4×4 feature. “Maybe 10% of the time,” his friend responded.
“You don’t need to plan for 10% of your time,” Bud suggested. Again, quiet wisdom….
His advice to husbands is timeless. He’s a veteran in marriage, now in his 58th year of wedlock. “You can be right, or you can be happy,” he jokes.
Kidding aside, he and his wife epitomize a successful marriage. This is a “loud and clear” message, important for the folks who don’t ever venture deep into the thicket.
A practitioner of “old-time religion,” Bud contends that the Lord can use any situation for His good. So really, what’s left to get riled up about?…
We’ve touched but few “Bud-isms” picked up over the years. But we believe his philosophy to be timeless, priceless and well worth sharing. Lots of folks could benefit from heeding his words.
Speaking of words, he’s habitually had these to share with his wife when it’s time to tackle the drive home: “I’m done here. Heading south.”
A final thought: Knowing that Uncle Mort loves seeing his name and belly-aching in print, I had some initial reservations about telling Uncle Bud stories, given his quiet nature. So, I asked Bud’s permission, and he was quick to answer, “Say whatever you’d like–as long as it’s not too nice.”…
Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas and Fort Worth area, and he is a former Sul Ross State University news and information director. Email: email@example.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.
Story filed under: Big Bend Blog