Sunday, August 2, 2009

Letters from home, a reversal

Business, or rather the prospect of business, has kept me from my appointed rounds here for quite a while. i will make no promises but i will try to make daily entries until i catch up (my standards of "catch up" apply here). The below is the third in a series about "letters from home" i wrote for The Lebanon Democratin June and July.

While I miss my Navy deployments and those letters from home, I also realize neither the deployments nor the letters would be as good as they were in the 1960s through the 1980s.

I am older can't do what I did back then. Now, those 16 hour days on end would do me in. Liberty ports would be tamer and more toward museums, historic sites, and fine dining. Letters from home would have a different meaning due to my changing perspective with age.

This past week, we celebrated our 233rd Independence Day in the United States: heady stuff. In spite of our problems, this amazing model for a nation with the idealistic but unwavering goal of governance by the people for the people just keeps on keeping on.

But in the midst of the celebration, the news focus on finances, Iran, Afghanistan, and celebrities dying, significant events occurred in relative obscurity in Lebanon last week.

Leftwich, Jewell & Baird Connections

Sunday, at the First United Methodist Church on West Main, a family, a church, and a community celebrated the 70th anniversary of J.B. and Jo Doris Leftwich (the actual anniversary will occur July 12 during their annual family trip to Fall Creek Falls).

Last Thursday, Jimmy and Estelle Jewell quietly celebrated their 71st anniversary with their daughter, Martha Duff, and dinner - it still delights me to call the noon meal "dinner" and the evening meal "supper" - at Michael's.

During the week, Charlie Baird continued recovering from recent ailments at the Lebanon Health and Rehabilitation Center.

These are all significant events to me. This column is a letter from home (in the Southwest comer) in reverse.

Coach Leftwich: an icon

J.B. Leftwich, a Friday columnist in this newspaper, is an icon for print journalism in Middle Tennessee and positively impacted newspaper journalism across the country. His students at Castle Heights have edited some of the finest big city newspapers. Many have provided guidance and support for the follow-on generation in pursuing solid reporting and editorial practices.

He and Jo Doris are the nucleus of a wonderful family spread across the South:
Children Linda Newton, Jim, Barbara Froula, and Jack have produced children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who have maintained the tight-knit kinship, an allegiance to hard and successful work, and superb Southern ethical lifestyles.

In addition to all of that, "Coach" and Jo Doris are two of my best friends.
They are also best friends of my parents. They have been associated with each other since before I was born. So it is not surprising the total number of anniversaries for the two couples is moving toward 150.

Senior Jewell's 71st & Charlie Baird

As for the duo who celebrated their 71st, I have written of them often and will not spend significant space here. They know how I and the rest of our family feel about them. They remain my greatest example of how to grow. I'm still learning.

Then there is Charlie Baird. Charlie Baird is the poster child for success in Wilson County. He was born in Major in what is now Cedar Forest. He came to Lebanon proper for his last years of high school. He rose to the top management of the Lebanon Woolen Mills. He has been a pillar of the Methodist Church. He was a stellar golfer, shooting his age or better into his 90s.

He and his beautiful wife, Erma, had two great children, Sharry and Charles. Sharry and Bill Hagar still live in Lebanon. Sharry remains one of my best friends from childhood on. She carries on that spirit I define as Lebanon.

Several years ago, Charlie took my wife and me golfing at the Lebanon Country Club.
He greatly impressed her as he has always done for those who make his acquaintance. I still love to discuss any subject with him, but it seems we both wander back to talking about golf.

There are many others of that generation who I would have also liked to have seen this past week. I am not at sea but my ship remains far from Lebanon. My letters from home are now phone calls and email.

This is my letter TO home for those special people: J.B. and Jo Doris Leftwich, Charlie Baird, my parents, and others with whom I would have liked to have celebrated 233 years of U.S. Independence.

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