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October 15, 2017

Being it is playoff and World Series baseball time all over the U.S. the photo and names of the 1957 Pirates of the Louisa/Ft. Gay Little League seems an appropriate Recollections entry this week.

 

Ab VanHoose's batting average was .553 and he was used most of the time as our leadoff hitter. 

"...I hit the ball just over the shortstop’s head (Harold) that won the 1957 Little League Series Game.  Our coach Chesley Wright had Wright Brothers Jewelry On Madison Avenue, when he was closing it down and moving out, I got the 1957 trophy, and I have one of the baseballs and bats that we used then too, wish I had it signed by everyone then.   

–Fred Jones-


Coaches: Cecil Sands and Chesley Wright

Ab VanHoose, 3rd base

Charlie Hill, catcher

Day Day Kerns, 2nd base

Gary Eves, 1st base

Fred Jones, Shortstop

Bud Lemaster, Pitcher

Ed Hensley, Pitcher

Marvin Sands, Pitcher

Robert Castle, Right Field

Nelson Sparks, Backup catcher

Bruce Bussey, outfield

Bill Fred Dodson, outfield

Two unidentified players. (If you know them send in their names to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

 UPDATE: 

Ronnie Holt and Billy Pickrell

 

Growing up in Louisa – Whoops!!

Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn

 In creating this column, I am forced to pry into the stubborn, hidden memory-base of times long gone by. It is reasonable that some events pop up before others, but because some of those aren’t the usual ‘bitter-sweet’ things that we cherish and want to talk about, I am subject to discard them as unpleasant and unworthy of mention. As a resource, I’ve found that a lot of memories are tied to the five senses we learned about in grade school. For those who slept through that class, I mean taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell. Today’s subject, which I have dismissed several times over the years as painful for some, is tied to both the sense of smell, and a non-sense feeling of ‘fair play,’ if indeed there is fairness to be found in this life. I will call this article, “Nature Calling, or wet garments on the stove.”

Back in the day before kindergarten became part of K12 educational programs, we kids were shuffled off to the first grade without other such experiences. The wild bunches of first graders came from widely differing backgrounds when they showed up in our little school at the foot of town hill. All had been subject to their parent’s instructions, or a lack thereof. How they were to merge and amalgamate into a student-body was yet to be seen. How the school itself would play a part since it was a consolidated two-story building with separate grades, would also be determined over time. Some kids were better trained in matters such as socialization, and personal hygiene, to be sure. This was to become an issue we shared either as the cause of problems, or as a victim of someone’s folly.

As a class, we would have to deal with a lack of socialization skills, manners, or self-control as situations occurred. Please understand, dear reader, that bathroom practices differed from family to family, and greatly depended upon those experiences in the home. Kids who came from larger families, or often went to Sunday school, or church services, had been trained earlier. These fit quickly into the new environment and gave comfort to all. It was the remaining untrained kids that would face what must have been highly traumatic experiences. They would learn the hard way to stay quiet and behave in a socially acceptable manner; else, there would be negative outcomes.

To simply come out and say it, some little muffins were not yet fully ‘house-broken.’ Sadly, when accidents happen they are painful and create embarrassing memories. Some readers may recall an uncomfortable moment when things couldn’t be helped. Victim and friends, all suffered together and had to find ways to deal with the embarrassment and discomfort. Relax readers for names or specific events were lost to time, thank goodness, but the events themselves were, in a way, a teaching experience for student, classmates, and the teacher, alike. After all, old teachers with experience would expect such things to happen, but newer teachers may have to learn how to deal with such things.

I know the first grade was a totally new experience for us. It was the first time we were in large groups of peers, but even slight differences among classmates became obvious. It would be these differences that would be picked up and used against the unfortunate by bullies, but sympathizing friends would often rally to protect the poor soul.

The fresh grade-schoolers were already upset at being forced to leave home and family. They just didn’t want to be there. It was a strange environment and seen as threatening or was particularly friendly. Reactions varied from slightly antisocial behaviors such as hiding their faces, or a sniffle, tears, or drastically ‘acting out’ with rebellion. In such an environment, it was evitable someone would lose control of natural body functions and pee in their pants. No doubt, that would be traumatic for everyone concerned.

While the student may have received the sympathies of fellow students and their teacher, many did not fare so well. The major risk was to be called out and made fun of during recess, by bullies. I witnessed more gallant kids, and watchful teachers stepping forward to defend the victimized child. In class, or at recess, it was all too common in those early days for someone to have an accident and puddle right there in front of everyone. Emotions washed over us. While we may not have been personally involved, we still fully felt a kinship with the poor kid. We remembered a time in the past when maybe we couldn’t fight mother nature, either. No matter the cause, such as being untrained, sick, or just stressed out, it was a very private thing that had unwittingly become public.

 At school, the accident meant they might have to wear soaked clothing for the rest of the day. Lucky kids may have had parents nearby to call so fresh clothing could be delivered. Those who had been discreet and not released volumes of yellow liquid, could remain still at their desks and hide the blunder from others. Most were beyond hope. The dark stain in their lap would be spotted and give clues to others of the event. Yes, over time the wetness would dry, but there would still be that telltale smell. On the other hand, if the kid had released far too much of the fluid, there would be no hope of hiding the event. Pee would run from their seat onto the floor and create a horrific puddle that even the teacher would quickly spot. We all knew she would become uncomfortable and trust that she would take immediate action. She would handle the situation.

Some teachers were calm, gracefully reassuring the victim-perpetrator that such things couldn’t be helped. Cleanup was handled with a quick mop while the child was sent to the restroom to finish with nature’s call and to clean up. That time may also have allowed an opportunity to gain control of their emotions. They only had to fear the faces of the others when finally, it was time to return to class. I also remember that there were other educators that would become angry and grab the student by the arm, lifting them out of their chair while loudly berating them for the inopportune act. Maybe that teacher had problems of their own so one more would ‘break the camel’s back.’

Cleaning up was done by the teacher or a janitor was called. The crying child feared being sent to the principal’s office, or having their parents called. I remember a few times when dripping clothes were removed and the child would have to wear a wrap that was kept in a closet for such events. Wet garments were folded over a chair next to the big hot stove. Even if the clothes were rinsed out and the child comforted, the rest of us would suffer with that smell.

Many of our classmates would try to divert attention so not to further embarrass their friend. The poor kid had become the center of attention in the worst of possible ways. I gained a lot of respect for my classmates who were merciful when they might have been cruel. I even saw some pat the kid on the back, reassuring the victim that all was well. It was a lesson I couldn’t forget. I knew that we all make mistakes and we were obligated to look out for our own kind. I’m sure it was comforting knowing that true friends would help us through those difficult times. As in all things, a word of encouragement can mean the world to the one under the microscope.     

This experience was one of the first lessons we learned in the first grade. Training was given to everyone to hold up their hands, wave if necessary, but get the teachers permission to go to the restroom. If approval was timely you would be safe; else, you could be tracked by the puddles leading away. I remember once or twice that the teacher would not allow a student to leave, perhaps not understanding the urgency. We all paid for those times. Some of us felt it should have been the teacher who was invited into the principal’s office. That lesson is so universally known in this country that it is common on the first day of college, perhaps in the first lecture hall, a shy freshman will raise their hand asking to be excused. The professor would shake his head and explain that as an adult they could get up and leave at any time without permission.

As best I remember, those accidental events stopped in higher grades. We apparently matured and the accidents ceased. Of course, there are always times that one might have to hurry, to seek temporary relief. In high school, I remember those cold toilet seats in that unheated bathroom outback of the brick schoolhouse. That was an experience, to be sure.

History tells me that the new addition to our old grade school building was added a few years before my arrival to the scene. It included some new, indoor restrooms. While that had happened during the ‘Civilian Conservation Corps’ public relief days that followed the depression, it was nonetheless before my birth. Several buildings around town were built during this same period including the new high school building with the gymnasium, a new post office, and a new jail behind the court house. There may be readers who remember more buildings that were built during those days.

When I went to the first grade the old ‘two or three-seater’ outhouse was still on the property, but only for the shortest of time. We had directions not to use them because the teachers told us that they were soon to be torn down. Indeed, they were removed, likely within that same year. During a couple of recesses, I had wandered to the other side of the school, opened the door and looked inside. The idea of having a seat over a hole cut into the wooden bench was a bit foreign to my thinking. I was used to indoor plumbing even if I had seen and used outdoor facilities when visiting homes that were not yet plumbed. Our time was one of transition, so many homes either were just being fitted with bathrooms, or had not yet found the funds to make it happen. I found using outhouses a bit uncomfortable and smelly. I even had nightmares that snakes lived down in the hole and might reach up and bite me when I sat down. Of course, I was relieved when I survived without a snakebite. I’ve shared this bit of gross history with a few other classmates, but none so far, remembers the old outhouse at school. No matter, it is gone, and it should be.     

Today, teachers are often taught to avoid hurting a child’s self-esteem. I doubt those lessons were taught in my day. I’m sure it is rough to not be able to take corrective action for bad behavior, or even show anger over senseless actions. In the case discussed in this article, we are not talking about voluntary actions, or students being defiant. Nature’s call is just that. So, I see a difference here, and see that the teacher’s responsibility to react should be limited. Bad behavior on the other hand should not be handled as if it can’t be helped. While teachers need not be disciplinarians like the old school-masters who smacked kids knuckles with a ruler, or took kids out for a whopping, I think teachers still should be allowed to maintain decorum and discipline in the classroom. Making them into child psychologists is overkill, and designed more to avoid litigation than to keep order. Forever fearing to take appropriate actions because of the potential of law-suits is missing the goal of providing a good education to all. The school board should stand ready to defend teachers trying to do their job.

Back in the day our teachers were sympathetic to children’s problems, but they weren’t our buddies. They were in charge. They did not affirm wrong actions. Of course, there were some teachers that had the respect of their students, but there were also a few who allowed the students to take control. Substitute teachers were infamous for losing control and allowing anarchy in the classroom. All teachers deserve our respect.

Watching over bunches of kids who have the nature to look for and find trouble, it has to be difficult and frustrating. Just teaching them the three ‘R’s,’ or to hold up their hands when they need a bathroom break, must make it a difficult and sometimes, thankless job. Ugly, even nasty memories aside, we should thank a teacher next time you see one. Oh, and if that kid I discussed was you, forget it. You’ve overcome all that and have won many more battles by now. You might even have had the experience of changing a diaper, or two. On the other hand, as I get older, I like to know when a bathroom is nearby. We laugh over the joke about, “Do you wear boxer shorts or briefs?” Our answer is of course, “Depends.”

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 October 7, 2017

 Growing up in Louisa; Hefner

Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn

Major headlines have announced the passing of an American icon, the creator and publisher of Playboy Magazine, 91 year-old Hugh Hefner, known to millions as 'Hef'. It was suggested that I add my two cents worth, but my first thought was that I didn’t know the man.

Additionally, he was controversial because a good segment of society didn’t like him. Many felt he promoted a negative image of women, although in his way he glamorized them with professional photography and state-of-the-art graphics. He promoted ‘in your dreams’ thinking that led many people to become dissatisfied with the status quo. He encouraged an idealized lifestyle built around temporary pleasure. He was given personal credit for changing society’s acceptance of free-sex, and the dismissal of moral-living as archaic, totally out of touch. He painted a lifestyle that stirred the urges of the red-blooded American male. He filled the pages of his glossy magazine with pictures of beautiful young women. He created a non-realistic dream of utopia wherein the morals of society were tossed aside to be replaced by parties, booze, and girls. His ‘Playboy Mansion’ was described as a pleasure palace for the rich and famous. He marketed all this and was highly successful, making millions in the process.

One result was that hoards of more normal appearing girls suffered because they didn’t meet the standard of the photo-shopped photos of pretty girls posing while smiling back for adoring men. In many cases, these men, married or not, wanted that lifestyle. They looked to the promise of this better world and consequently dodged their parental and marital responsibilities as they dreamed of bachelor-pads with hot and cold running girls. Famous and infamous celebrities showed up for parties and presumed liaisons within the well-appointed private rooms. Clubs were established in the larger cities, each with a gaggle of pretty costumed ‘bunnies,’ ready to serve the patrons with food, drink, and an every-ready smile. This was the façade that brought in the money and guaranteed this marketer’s fame, fortune and admiration. It was a false doctrine taught by a master of deceit.

My thoughts went back to my high school years when I first heard the term, Playboy. I think I saw my first edition when one of my cousins showed up with one in hand. We knew at once we needed to hide ourselves so parents wouldn’t find out. Because of my tender age, my cousin limited my access to a few short moments as he quickly flipped through the pages. With the first glance I tried to satisfy my curiosity and explore things I had not heretofore seen.

I’m thinking that there may be several gentlemen of my generation who will admit they sneaked peeks of the magazine whenever they could, if someone’s copy was found unguarded. Two newsstands, Ern’s and Hack’s carried those publications. I don’t know if others did, at first. On trips down to Ern’s Newsstand, I tried to see the cover of the latest editions. He was careful to protect the minds of little children, so he didn’t allow direct access to Playboy. Adults would have to ask for a copy, but kids were not allowed to see them. Then again, Ern was blind, so sometimes we could manipulate him in some distraction so we could grab a quick glance at the forbidden pictures of the pretty girls.

In my day, it was uncommon for a kid, and even grownups, to be able to see pictures of naked ladies, whether tastefully done or not. The pictures in Playboy at the time were professionally done, more to tease rather than to ‘show everything.’ As a teen, I know that several of my friends would do their best to see the ‘centerfold.’ That would be an outstanding looking ‘chic’ striking an alluring pose, and smiling back to her admirers. By today’s standards, considering the ready accessibility to real ‘porn’ on the web, these pictures were mild and flattering images. Some would call it ‘soft-porn.’

Once, someone showed me a set of French playing cards, each with a ‘hard-core’ pornographic picture, clearly showing things that Playboy never showed. The occasion of this viewing was short and a one-time event. Perhaps it was out of a fear of getting caught, but I only saw a few cards in that deck, but it was enough to make me want to see more. That was the commonality between the magazine and those playing cards. My eyes were not satisfied. Neither was my mind.

For me, and for others, for sure, the battleground was set. As hormones rushed through my young body an internal fight was ignited. It was as if hordes of demons were fighting with a band of angels that wanted me to have purer thoughts, and to live right. It was as if the enemy of my soul had found a weakness in me and that he fully meant to use that as leverage to drive me in wrong directions.

I have read of many who are addicted to porn. Some are highly respected citizens, even preachers, but they commonly seek to hide their habit. They cannot help but to seek more and more, but they are never satisfied. We read every day of men and women (yes women) who suffer with the private shame of porn addiction, but are found out. Marriages fail, suicides occur, or with some, a time in jail destroys the remnants of marital respect. School teachers, politicians, businessmen, all grapple with this very common malady. None of this speaks of the ‘models,’ often young girls pulled into the trade. Many regret this method of making a quick dollar, when they are seen by the whole world. There are dark stories galore that we would not want our daughters to even suspect. The subject is taboo.

The thing that troubles me most is to see the proliferation within the industry and the ease in which beautiful young models pose without shame. They take pleasure in knowing others are seeing, watching, and desiring their bodies, but then some do it for money. Others are slaves, caught on the streets as ‘runaways,’ or tricked into false promises of fame by those who will market their goods and lock up the girls. I have seen some of these sites and have been amazed that such nice looking young people are willing to pose. I have also felt the haunting that follows.   

Mr. Hefner wasn’t the first to use cameras and money to seduce people into this lifestyle. He was good at what he did, so many bought into his total doctrine he claimed was ‘freedom.’ He pretended to walk a line of respectability while still promoting this ideal. His dogma wasn’t new. We know from history of many civilizations that died out after morals were removed. Many historical cities, including Athens, Rome, and others died when integrity was lost.

Do we give Hugh Hefner the credit or the blame? I have no idea if he was fooled by the model he sold. The silly thing is, put us all naked in a room and we’ll find that we are all pretty much the same. The excitement is more about doing what we know is wrong. Frankly, there’s nothing ‘new and improved’ out there. There’s only male and female. What’s worthwhile in the end, is the wife of our youth. It’s the memories, the companionship, and the basis of that ‘first love,’ that matters. No one can, or has a right to claim that which is someone else’s. If you are dissatisfied, there is a good chance the problem is you.

Yes, there are plenty of pretty girls about, and handsome men aplenty. True love isn’t about sex, or beauty, but is about a relationship. Men, the girls all have the same equipment and can only do whatever they can do. What is truly most important is above the neck. Personality, intelligence, and reflected love is what matters. The stuff below the neck is common to the species. I believe that sex is a gift by our creator. Like any gift, it can be misused and abused, or it can be a blessing.

So, a man died. Such happens to us all. Mr. Hefner’s legacy is played up by the press and movie stars. The rich, and the famous gather to see and be seen, but I suspect people were still, just people. There had to be fights, grumbling and competition. Some sought help for a damaged ego, or needed affirmation and escape from depression. I imagine it was a grand marketing ploy with little truth. It’s possible even Mr. Hefner was isolated and did not live up to the image portrayed. I have no reason to know, but maybe it was all a big money-making scam.

Regardless, the deaths that really matter to us are about friends, relatives, and others who showed integrity and who walked the walk. Men and women who stand up for the truth they believe in their hearts. All the mansions and all the pretty people are of little real value once you tip over and depart life. Glitz is just that and nothing more.

When I was a teen he got my attention, but we need to grow up. There will be those who won’t, but the wise will see through the smoke, lights, and the glamor. When I die there’s no reason the press should take notice, but my family will. They will remember the good times and the silly things we’ve shared. Hugh’s death is sad because I think he likely died knowing in his heart that he was wrong. I suspect that while he accomplished his life’s goals, he was maybe a lonely man entrapped in a crowd of bored people looking for things of little lasting value. While he lived at the center of a hedonistic lifestyle with a crowd of hungry people who wanted what they could get, I believe it was all a lie. Real value isn’t found in those kinds of environments. Maybe, for a while many folks did believe, but now their guide to utopia is gone. As for me, I believe that contentment can be found for the disenchanted, the bereaved and the misled, but I’d suggest looking to the family instead of temporary playgrounds. Recess is over. 

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