Last Saturday morning I took a long walk through the streets of Memphis. 13.1 miles to be exact.
I was not alone. I was accompanied by 26,000 of my closest friends. Well, that’s not totally correct. At the starting line, I was with tens of thousands of friends, and they quickly left me behind.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was “The Flying Nun.” It starred Sally Field as Sister Bertrielle, a nun who possessed the God-given ability to fly.
“The Flying Nun” was the launching pad (pun intended) for Sally Field’s fabulous career as an actress, which included her Academy-Award winning performance as “Norma Rae,” her wonderful portrayal of journalist Megan Carter in “Absence of Malice,” and my all-time favorite Sally Field role as Carrie in “Smoky and the Bandit” and “Smoky and the Bandit II.”
But while Sally Field (a/k/a “Gidget”) quit the flying habit (again, pun intended) years ago, there is now a flying pastor, Reverend Bartholomew Orr of the Brown Missionary Church in Southaven, Mississippi.
On Thursday, we will all celebrate Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday of the year as it is devoted to the three “F”s that make America great—Food, family, and football.
I will be celebrating it where I’ve celebrated most Thanksgivings over the last 40 years … in the booming metropolis of South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
It was one year ago this week that I lost my dear friend and law partner, Kim Johnson. Kim was an outstanding lawyer and a mentor to me and so many Memphis lawyers. He was also a loving and caring grandfather, father, husband, and man of faith.
But this week, I find myself fondly remembering something else about Kim. He was an incredible prankster.
It began on a winter day in 1886, when a retail jeweler in Redwood Falls, Minnesota received a package of watches that had been shipped to him by a Chicago company. The jeweler refused the package. He did not order the watches, and he had no interest in them.
The package ended up in the hands of a 23 year old railway agent named Richard Warren Sears. Sears managed the offices of Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad in North Redwood, Minnesota, where he operated the telegraph and handled the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad’s business. There wasn’t much of it, and young Sears had a lot of time on his hands.
We live in contentious and uncivil times. It seems like almost everyone these days is spring-loaded in the angry position.
Next to the Presidency, it is the most powerful position in the United States government. And unlike the Presidency, it is a position one can hold for more than eight years. In fact, once your appointment is confirmed by the United States Senate and you are sworn in, you can hold the job for the rest of your life.
The position is, of course, Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
I’m addicted to newspapers. For nearly sixty years, I have started each day reading the morning paper.
I learned to read in the first grade not only by meeting Dick and Jane (“Run, Dick Run!”) in my elementary school reading primers, but also by perusing the Commercial Appeal with my father each morning at the breakfast table.
After graduating from the University of Tennessee Law School, he sat for the Bar Exam. But he didn’t sit for long. Just an hour into the exam, he got up from his seat, turned in an incomplete exam paper, and walked out the door. He hadn’t studied for the exam, and he quickly realized there was no way he could pass it.
One of my favorite politicians is Howard “Cotton” Ivy. He is an old “yeller dawg” Democrat from Decatur County, Tennessee who served in the legislature for a number of years, and was Tennessee’s Commissioner of Agriculture under Governor Ned Ray McWherter.
Several years ago Cotton joined former Tennessee State Senator Roy Herron in writing a delightfully-titled book, Tennessee Political Humor: Some of These Jokes You Voted For.
The title of the 1966 surf movie said it all: The Endless Summer.
I fondly recall when summer was long and seemingly endless. When I was a boy, summer began with the end of the school year around Memorial Day and extended over three months, not ending until the day after Labor Day. Other than Vacation Bible School and a week at Boy Scout Camp, there was basically nothing on my agenda during the endless summers decades ago. My days were spent swimming in a nearby river or riding my bicycle anywhere I wanted to go. My nights were spent chasing lightening bugs or playing hide and go seek with the other kids in my neighborhood while the crickets chirped.
But summers are no longer endless, even for our children.
On Sunday over two billion sports fans across the planet will be watching the World Cup Finals between France and Croatia.
We American football fans who tune in will be watching “soccer.” But in all other nations, the fans will be watching “football,” which in the truest sense of the word it really is.
My late grandfather called golf “cow pasture pool.” He made fun of city fellers who spend their weekends whacking a little white ball around a well-mowed pasture.
My grandfather grew up in Deanburg, Tennessee, where they had several cow pastures but not one golf course.
When I was a little boy, my family and I never missed the annual broadcast of the Miss America Pageant. On a Saturday night in September, we would gather on our living room couch in front of our Sylvania small screen TV that looked like a washing machine with rabbit ears antenna on the top. We would even attach aluminum foil to the tips of the rabbit ears so that we could get better reception.
And then Bert Parks would appear on our TV screen in glorious black and white live from the Atlantic City Convention Hall.
This is Memorial Day Weekend, and it will mark the official beginning of seersucker season for everyone … even Yankees!
As all well-dressed Americans know, seersucker is the classic puckered cotton fabric that for over a century has been the mainstay—or rather the main-dress—for elegant ladies and gentlemen.
In 1776, we Americans declared our independence from King George III of England. The upstart former colonists won the American Revolutionary War against King George and his Redcoats, and in 1787 we created the United States of America. Many Americans at that time sought a new King George for our new country, specifically urging General George Washington to wear the first American crown. General Washington, of course, could not tell a lie, and told his fellow new Americans that the United States of America should be a republic, not a monarchy. So rather than becoming King George, he became our first president.
Major league baseball is a dirty business … particularly in the infield.
The 2018 season of the national past-time begins in ballparks across America this weekend, and in preparation for the game, grounds keepers will be getting down in the dirt. Literally.
On the morning of March 6, 1954, a young medical student in London completed his rounds at St. Mary’s Hospital. He then embarked on a 57 mile journey. The first 56 miles were taken by train from London to Oxford. The last mile was taken by foot on a cinder track off Iffley Road in Oxford.
It was this final mile that would make history.
When I was a boy, I had two heroes. They were both Southern Baptist ministers. The first was my father. The second was Billy Graham.
Last week was terrible. The stock market fell by about a million points, the Federal Government shut down for the second time this year, and I had emergency surgery!
But I’m back home now, and this week has been a good one. As I recover from my recent surgery, I am sitting in my lounge chair in front of my big screen T.V. watching the Winter Olympics from Pyongchang, South Korea. And if you can pronounce “Pyongchang,” you deserve a gold medal in linguistics.
This coming Sunday afternoon, literally tens of millions of Americans will gather in front of their television sets to watch the biggest sporting event of the year. I’m referring, of course, to the Puppy Bowl.
As you have no doubt noticed, the Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces and the leader of the free world is a former reality TV show star.
President Trump is not the first celebrity to become the President of the United States. Hollywood movie and TV star Ronald Reagan served as our President from 1981 to 1989. But he did not go immediately from the set of Bedtime for Bonzo to the Oval Office. In between he served two terms as Governor of California. But the former star of the Apprentice is our first President to go directly from hosting a TV show to giving an inaugural address.