Transcribed by Timothy R. Meador, Jr.
January 9, 1947
We have had quite a bit of favorable comment on this column. So here goes again. When one sits down to his typewriter and decides to write a “colyum,” it is a lot easier to make such a decision that* it is to write it. There are many topics about which one may write, as the weather, politics, family history, scandals and maybe a lot of others. (*this was a typo for than )
When one writes about the weather, it is noteworthy that there is never anything done about it, as Mark Twain once pertinently remarked. Every cold spell is the coldest we can recall. Every hot day is the hottest we ever felt. Just about like the cold we have and which we report to be “the worst cold I ever had.” We are prone to forget the weather of other years, just as we forget how bad a cold we had in 1899, or maybe in 1924. In other words our trials, toils, sufferings, disappointments and afflictions of the other years are largely forgotten from a standpoint of their keenness. Time removes a lot of the edge from such happenings. On the other hand we are very prone to magnify the good things of other years and to feed the fires of our enjoyment, enthusiasm and happiness with memories that recall only the bright and cheerful and which overlook the sad and sorrowing. Most of us look back on our childhood and see hardly a ripple to mar the happy scenes of that distant time. Joy, pleasure, childish thrills and contentment in those years stick out “like sore thumbs” in the hall of memory, but the troubles of childhood are hardly ever called to mind without an effort. We suppose it is better to let the happy live in memory, rather than the unhappy, to let the sunshine flood our recollections rather than cloud and gloom, to see brightness in the past and not darkness. But this sort of retrospective view of life may cause us to say that the old days were better. In fact hardly any of us would think for a moment that the old days were not far better than the present.
But this view of life is contrary to the words of Solomon, who said: “Say not thou, ‘What is the cause that the former days were better than these?’ For thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.” Ecc. 7:10.
Were the old days better than the present? Were people happier then than now? Were boys and girls more richly blest then than now? Our first answer would be in the affirmative. But a more sober review of the dim past may reveal a lot of things that are largely hidden in the memory of good things of other days. One trouble about such an attitude is that we may be led to seek to live in the past. This is not best for us. Memories may be indulged for a time, but we cannot go back and live again the days that are gone forever. Our opportunities to do good do not belong to the past. They belong to the present and to the future. Our repining for other days serves to lessen our ability to grasp our present opportunities and lulls us to sleep with no thought of what we may find to do today or in life’s tomorrow.
Were there no troubles, worries or sorrows in our childhood? Suppose we travel back through the years and seek to learn whether all was sunshine and joy and happiness in those days. Most of us can recall the hard times we have known when money was “tight as a jug” and our dads and mothers had to refuse us many of the things our childish hearts craved and wanted beyond expression. Most of us can recall our disappointments over things that went astray. The writer recalls once upon a time a trip that had been promised him for months by his parents, a trip to see Cumberland River for the first time. He had looked forward to this trip with keener delight than he would today to a trip to the Holy Land. We could hardly wait for that April Sunday to roll around, couldn’t sleep the night before. Sunday, dawned with a cold, cutting wind out of the North. The writer had one little blue suit which he put on for that visit. Our father got out the two farm horses he owned, and placed the writer on one of them. Those little blue pants slipped up his legs until a thoughtful mother said: “He can’t go like that. It is too cold.” Our father concurred in that decision and pulled me from the back of the old farm animal and then had me to remove my little blue suit and to cancel the trip. The writer does not recall a more bitter disappointment in his early life than was this one. He cried till his nose bled and mourned and grieved for days.
Who does not recall with grief and shame, the many, many blunders he made in his bashful days? The writer used to be bashful, extremely so. It is difficult for those who know him now to realize that as a boy the editor of the Times was the “champeen” bashful boy of his community. But it is true and this dreadful and horrible state lasted until he was in his twenties. Some of our most painful recollections cluster around some fool blunder he made because of his bashfulness. One of these will suffice. After he had begun to teach school, he was invited into a home in the neighborhood of where he had been teaching. There were two girls in this home. He got along very well until a young lawyer from Cumberland University appeared on the scene and the local teacher was introduced to this law student. The writer’s poise, if he had any fled like the fog before the rising sun. He became red in the face and confused of tongue. When he was introduced to young Mr. Crawford, ye editor aimed to say: “I am glad to meet you.” Instead, he blurted out: “You ought to be glad to meet me.” As soon as we could, we got our hat and left that place and never went back any more. Our face burns today to think of what those two girls and that young lawyer must have said about such a school teacher. Suffer? I suffered for years over that fool blunder.
But this was not the first nor was it the last blunder that bashfulness caused. I could write columns on this terrible affliction. So there are many things besides happy ones as we unfold the pages of the past. Then there are the troubles of a poor boy who feels stirring for the first time in his boyish bosom that thing called love. Many painful memories of our earliest attacks of the deadly poison brought on by the love bug parade before our mental mirror today. But we will have to close this article before we give the readers a glimpse into some of the painful episodes of a bashful, country boy’s first yearnings for the company and smiles of some little gal. If later we feel strong enough and equal to the task, we might seek to “charm our readers’ with a few of those boyhood “tragedies” that memory brings upon the screen of the past.
Note: This article appeared on page 4.