I have an Army poncho liner. It retired from the Army September 30, 1999. Oddly enough the same day I did. I had two, but suspect my ornery brother absconded with one of them. In my day, a poncho liner was premium gear. I never actually lined a poncho with it or know anyone who did. Past boot camp, I don’t ever recall using a poncho. But the old poncho liner is as close to me as Linus Van Pelt’s blanket. Suzie-Q often asks when am I going to throw it away. That’s usually after she peels it off my chair down in the bunker, sniffs it, gets that look on her face and heads for the washer. The next time I see it, it’ll be neatly folded lying on my chair smelling like spring fresh fabric softener. I suppose those don’t come in a more masculine scent.
I like old clothes. Baggy jeans, ratty sweat shirts and ankle high boots covered with a few years of dirt and wear. I believe the best, most comfortable, and most functional piece of man clothing ever invented is denim bibbed overalls. Except that Suzie-Q will not let me outside of the yard wearing them. The Army frowned on my suggestion to make a camo version. I remember the old men from my youth here in wild and wonderful who would wear nothing else. Just imagine a crisp starched white shirt and bibs and you have church clothes. And when you get home, trade the white shirt for a flannel one and you’re all set for a Sunday fried chicken dinner. It doesn’t get better than that. When life is simple, life is good.
I like old people. The more I age the more appreciative I am of them. There is a lot of wisdom out there behind the spectacles and beneath the white hair. Our youth pastor started a program of interaction between the youth and us seasoned citizens. The kids were shocked when they saw us cut a rug at our Christmas sock hop. Most of the kids could not twist again like we did last summer. We had some great conversations too. Suzie-Q likes old people too, which is good since she’s married to one.
I like old friends. Over one’s life, we have many acquaintances but too few true friends. With time, memories of others fade including of those who gave reason to dislike them or wronged us some way or another, which is a good and healthy thing. But we still recall those few good friends. They may have moved on, but their memory remains with us. We remember the trust. Remember how they were there when we needed them. I’ve been fortunate to keep in touch with some and reinitiate contact with others. Old friends will share your legacy with others in a complimentary and maybe slightly exaggerated version and you’ll do the same with them. Cherish and remember good friends. They are a rarity.
I like old memories. They keep me grounded. I remember three snowy black and white television channels. I remember how crazy people believed getting television across a cable was and how angry they became at the thought of actually having to pay for it. We had rotary dial party lines where everyone on the line eavesdropped on everyone else. Mom had an old washing machine sitting on the back porch with wingers and a rinse tub. Now you know where the expression, “tit in a wringer” comes from. It’s a painful image. I carried water from the well and from a hand pump. I’ve even bathed in the creek. I’ve got the fires going in the coal stove and the kitchen stove. I’ve eaten squirrel, rabbit, deer, snapping turtles, frog legs, catfish, and even a whistle pig. Gone varmint hunting with a bolt action Remington .22 – before I was 12 and survived. Planted corn, potatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, onions…. Not sure I could survive in the wild and wonderful of my youth. Not sure most Americans could either.
I have some unpleasant memories too. I just avoid thinking about them. My country in not too old relatively speaking but God has richly blessed it as he has my family. He has given me many great memories of the land I love. We must hold on tightly to Him and what He has provided.
© 2018 J. D. Pendry