JUNETEENTH. Emancipation Proclamation Day is an important day to remember, and not only because President Lincoln said “No more!”
June 19, was also the day I raised my right hand and was sworn into the United States Navy.
I chose the Navy because a favorite uncle had made a career of it. I’m sure my choice mystified my father because he had been in the Army Air Corps in WWII and in the Marine Corps Reserve during the Korean War. My enlistment surprised him.
But the real reason I joined the Navy back in 1962 was to keep from being injured by my father. Actually, this story is now sort of a joke, but it also has some truth and is good to re-tell.
I had just made an F in chemistry at Texarkanananana Junior College and unfortunately the instructor was one of my father’s childhood friends.
This was in the day when grades were mailed to parents, so I ran out and joined the Navy before my grades could arrive at 303 College Street. I had a vague idea of what would happen when my father saw that big fat F …. and painfully remembered who the teacher was.
I had to go to the recruitment center in Little Rock. I have absolutely no idea how I got there — don’t think anyone dropped me off, so I probably rode Continental Trailways. I believe recruits of all service branches went to the YMCA. Maybe somewhere else.
We got our physicals and filled out a bunch of forms, and then we stood and took the oath to support and defend.
We may have spent the night in Little Rock. Again, I’m not sure. There were three of us going off to the Navy. One guy was from Conway, and one was from Kingsland. Three country boys.
We rode the train overnight to Chicago and were then herded into another railcar bound for the recruitment center at Great Lakes, Ill, for a three-month adventure.
Back in Arkansas — within a few days my grades arrived in the mail and my father at last knew why I was so willing to join the Navy.
Joining the Navy was one of the greatest things that could have happened. Plus I escaped whatever an embarrassed father might have done.
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FATHERS DAY. Daughter Julie treated me to a Travelers baseball game, Saturday night. It was an extra treat because Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy, 15, was also going. It was a night game.
We went by the ballpark at about noon to get our tickets. “Put us where we can’t get hit by a foul ball,” Julie told the ticket-seller. “Can’t make no promise,” the man answered.
Our seats seemed safe behind home plate and behind the screen, and were at the end of a row. Not far from nachos, cerveza and bathrooms.
Sometime around the fourth inning, the batter fouled one back. It hit on the roof right above us and, of course, bounced straight toward our seats. My old Little League instincts took over and I caught the ball (There are some people who — not entirely in error — would say that I snatched it practically out of the grasp of a real Little Leaguer in the row behind us. But life is full of hard luck, as I told the kid.).
I offered to sell the ball to my granddaughter.
BUT THE FOUL ball wasn’t the highlight of the night.
There was a sixtyish gent in a blue sequin tuxedo, blue fedora, black slacks and blue tennis shoes. He spent the game dancing and gyrating on the wide sidewalk just a few rows in front of our seats.
This guy was entirely too old to be doing Michael Jackson dance moves. Every so often he’d spin and leap high, and do the splits on the sidewalk. Had to be hard on sixtyish bones, but it didn’t stop him from dancing every time the music cranked up. Heck, sometimes he didn’t even need music.
I walked down to the sidewalk and took his picture. That inspired him to do some really, really gymnastic dance moves.
I returned to my seat, followed by an usher in a green shirt. In answer to my question, Usher told me that the dancing guy had been coming to the park for at least five years and was unpaid.
“Don’t inspire him to hurt himself,” the usher requested politely.
I told a man sitting in the row in front of us that I didn’t want to talk to the dancer. “He might want to become friends and follow us home.”
The neighboring guy said “If you think HE’s crazy, you ought to come out here on Wednesday nights.”
On our way out of the ballpark, I asked another usher if he knew the dancing guy’s name.
He calls himself Disco Donny, and he says he’s going to be on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ was the answer.
My granddaughter Googled ‘Disco Donny’ and by golly Google said he’s for real. He describes himself as a singer, actor and dancer.
Well, I hope he is able to hold down a day job.
Google didn’t mention if Donny liked the Arkansas Travelers.
I had just one word to describe Disco Donny.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS. Victory in my Bluebird box. Four tiny eggs whisper of wonderful things to come this summer.
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WORD GAMES. The twins: Spic and Span. The cleanest.
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THE INCREDIBLE and Mostly Unbelievable Adventures of my distant kin, Uncle Parry Normal: Uncle Parry’s name was in the court news last week. He got caught planting poison ivy at the Farmers’ Market Organic Demonstration Garden.
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening (and believing) email: “I can waste time, be unproductive, and procrastinate all at once.“
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby