Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Big Oak

If you travel roughly 30 miles north on US 319 to Thomasville, GA. you can visit one of the biggest trees on the east coast. The Big Oak is over 319 years of age and the span and girth of this large plant is "sun burn your tonsils" astonishing. You can imagine that this tree dates back in history to the late 1600's. True it was just a little sapling then but imagine the stories it could tell of our American history.

I have been to the Joyce Kilmer national forest in North Carolina. There you can see some virgin pines. As you will recall the early settlers cut down every tree in sight as they settled our country. They either built buildings with those trees or used them for fuel and warmth. The Joyce Kilmer forest contains a few trees that escaped the settlers axes and saws. You remember Joyce Kilmer penned the poem I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. Those trees are pretty impressive.

I have also been to California and observed the Seqoiuas, Redwoods whose girth is awe inspiring. However I am here to suggest to you that none are more inspiring than the Big Oak of Thomasviile.

I had a real estate client who told me an interesting story about the Big Oak. It dates back to when Dwight David Eisenhower was running for re-election to the presidency of the United States. He was running a whistle stop tour by rail. They were due in Thomasville and the people had all gathered around the train depot to hear Ike give a campaign speech. This would date back to roughly 1955.

Now Ike loved his golf and he also was quite a good photographer. On this particular occassion he and a secret service agent sneaked out the back of the train because Ike wanted to find the Big Oak and take a picture of it. They were able to find it and Ike was looking for just the right camera angle to capture its grandness. It worked out that the camera angle was from the front porch of one of the fine homes near downtown Thomasville.

Ike and the secret service agent went to the door of this home and knocked on it. The housekeeper opened the door and was astonished to find the president of the United States standing at her door with a secret service agent. The president introduced himself and the housekeeper assured him that he needed no introduction. Ike asked for the owner of the home. The housekeeper advised him that everyone who lived in the house was down at the train station waiting to hear him speak. He then asked her if she would mind if he shot some pictures of the big oak from their front porch. She assured him that would be fine and asked him if he would like some lemonade. Ike said that sounded very inviting.

After the president shot his pictures he and the secret service agent lingered on the front porch on a lovely summer afternoon sipping lemonade with the housekeeper. They lingered so long that Mamie, the wife of the president, had to make his speech for him. After a while the president and his guardian sneaked back on the train just as it was pulling out the station.

I have verified that the story is true from friends that I have in Thomasville. So the big oak is worth a drive up the road to visit. Even presidents have taken time to admire its stately branches.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Invisible Man

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be invisible? What a cool concept. You could get into every kind of fee paid event absolutley free. You could fly on any airplane to anywhere in the world, stay in the finest hotels and eat absolutely free in all of the world's finest restaurants. Invisibility, now that could be a really exciting gig.

There are numerous ways to test the waters of invisibilty. Go to any busy mall and stand anywhere with a clipboard and tell people that you are taking a survey and would they have time to answer a few questions. If you elicit an occassional, " Get out of my way." comment you have had a pretty good day. Otherwise you will absolutely see into the world of invisibility.

Take up a cause. Wear a name tag that espouses your allegiance to a certain religion, political candidate, cure for a disease or anything else that comes to mind. Everywhere you go people will avoid you like you have ebola.

Become a sales person. Better yet a door-to-door sales person. Pick out any neighborhood and start to knock doors and ring door bells. You will see the occassional curtain pull back and maybe even an eyeball looking out at you. But they cannot see you because you, my friend, are invisible.

Go anywhere looking shabby. I mean put on your worst sneakers, tee shirt, shorts and don't comb your hair. Pretend to have a myocardial infarction in some busy place. People will step over you like you are not even there. Total and rapt invisibility.

Now here is a sure fire way to test the world of the unseen. Get old. I am telling you that is tantamount to if not total evolution into the non-reflective. There are numerous reasons for this chronologic descent into the world of invisibility. First off you don't look so good anymore. You can only stave off old and ugly so long, even with the best microsurgical intervention. Your stomach is going to sag. Your hair is going to lose its luster and when you lean over your teeth could actually fall on the floor along with your chin and facial muscles.

You don't move as adroitly as you once did. Nor do you think and verbalize things as efficiently. Don't believe me? Try getting up in a theatre as the movie ends and move to the exit. See how many 13 year olds either run over you or through you. Remember, they cannot see you because you are invisible. Try telling one of your many memories of life and how it was when you were a boy or a girl. Watch your own children roll their eyes and try to make an excuse to leave the room.

I recently took up playing golf with a septogenerian. He is a very capable golfer and a pleasure to be around. He and I both have difficulty finding golf partners because younger folks do not have the flexibility of time that we do. Also they choose to not play with oldsters because we are a little slower and more methodical and we get to hit from the senior tees. And there is also the fact that I cheat.

There is a huge advantage to being invisible. I remember in my 30's, 40's and 50's being worked to death in my church. I always had a measurably important assignment. I belong to a church that is totally run by volunteerism. Now that I am 65 I don't have anything to do that is weighty. Also in the community. Whereas I used to be asked to serve on this and that committee or teach a class or give a speech no one calls me. I can just see the speculation in those private moments that someone might remember me as to whether or not I am even still alive.

Well I suppose that it is just a matter of time to when I am totally invisible and subterrainian. I suppose that what I am experiencing presently is more a fading away. I have to say that it is not too bad. No one cares what you think or what you did back in the 60's. They are much too busy worrying about themselves to put a lot of time into using me up.

I have also not been sleeping all that well lately. I suppose when I assume that subterrainian posture I can catch up on all of that lost sleep.