Hindsight

‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.’ (Danish philosopher) As I glance backward through the years to the bad decisions I have made, I think that perhaps I was blessed with a rare case of hindsight that has allowed me to backtrack through 96 years of life without a disastrous catastrophe. In attaining that age, I am comforted by the old saying that ‘A useless life is an early death.’ Could this mean then that I have served some useful purpose, or does it just mean that, because of this backward vision, I can remember more of the past than some of those blessed with wisdom’s foresight’ I am often asked, ‘How do you remember all of those events in your past’ The answer is that it is somewhat similar to digging through an old trunk where memorabilia, which just cannot be thrown away, has been stored for future children. Upon the first re-entry into this past, one finds so many memories that all cannot be retained in just one visit, thus repeated trips into these recollections are often required to bring to life the complete recall of one or more particular event. Many memories of my early years have not yet surfaced. New ones, like waterlogged corks, do bob to the top on infrequent occasions. These stray recollections often wander in from times already covered in my ‘memoirs;’ therefore, to wedge them into their proper places, I may refer to them as ‘old footprints found in memory lane’ or ‘backtracking to earlier years.’ While my backward vision or hindsight has been good, I must admit that my foresight has been faulty in more instances than I care to relate. One could well argue that the dim vision of foresight could also be classified as the lack of good judgment and, in the past, I have staked my claim under each banner. I will describe one such event: Early in 1949, as a result of being given a handsome work bonus, I had some money to invest. A friend tried to get me to buy two or three lots on San Pedro Avenue in San Antonio. Lordy no, invest my money in three little old mesquite covered lots on a street that boasted just a few taverns after passing Hildebrand Avenue’ For the same amount of money I bought 547 acres of land in Missouri on which the farmhouse, barns and pens covered more than three lots. Now ye heirs to the powers of good judgment how am I to be rated on this decision’ I wound up trading the property in Missouri for a tire store in Brady; ran into a drought which lasted seven years to my six; then moved back to San Antonio where the property on San Pedro had escalated to unbelievable prices and 45 years later are still rising. So, which is it-‘poor vision or poor judgment’ Whatever the verdict, I am not complaining. Had I become rich from trading property on San Pedro, I would not now be living in Brady where I am just as content as a bug in a rug. Did I hear someone say, ‘Poor fellow, he’s just as blind as a bat’ That could be true, for I will admit that my foresight has not improved since returning to Brady. For instance: I was offered property adjacent to me for $l0,000’too high said I. It later sold for $17,000. I have, in times past, played the stock market ‘have made and lost money’but have become thoroughly convinced that someone could make money in the market if they would sell when I bought and buy when I sold. Any takers’ *** FOOTNOTE: Now listen to some of the musings of a bunch of old men (from ages 71 thru 96) as they talk about ‘the good old days.’ In talking about the things we had to look forward to in the old days, one of our members said, ‘Back in those days about all I had to look forward to after getting up at daybreak to milk the cow was to head for the cotton patch. Then, after picking cotton all day, I could look forward to milking that durned cow again before supper.’ While discussing the methods of killing a chicken, one old timer said he was taught to hang the chicken on the clothes line, cut it’s jugular vein and let it hang until it bled to death. That is too cruel said another, we used the ‘wring their neck’ procedure. ‘That is a quick and effective way to kill a chicken,’ said another, ‘however, there is an art to that procedure that takes a little while to learn. The first time I tried it I wrung that chicken’s neck for about 60 seconds and after I finished twisting it’s neck and pitched it on the ground that dang chicken got up and ran away.’ Always looking for a story that Joe McDonough could not top, I told about the way Papa caught the chicken snakes that got into his hen house at night when he lived at Voca. Those snakes would crawl under the bottom rung of the chicken wire fence around the hen house, get in the hen’s nests, swallow all of the eggs and then try to exit by crawling back under the fence. That’s where they made their mistake because at least one of the eggs they swallowed would be the glass eggs put into each nest to encourage the hens to lay eggs. While the snake could crush all of the real eggs he swallowed, he could not crush the glass egg. Thus, as he tried to crawl back under the bottom fence rung, the glass egg would hold him up until morning at which time Papa would kill the snake, open him up and get his glass egg back. Of course one of the fellows added his bit to the story (it was probably Joe) by saying that they couldn’t afford a glass egg so they used an old white doorknob. Then, there is the story someone told about slopping the hogs back in the days when most everyone had a hog pen and all of the scraps from the table were generally put into the slop bucket. One day this fellow was visiting friends, and at the end of the meal, he saw that the lady of the house had started scraping the plate scraps into the slop bucket. Thinking that he would help, he took his plate and started to scrap it into the bucket. His host yelled, ‘Hey, don’t put that stuff in there.’ The man said ‘What’s the matter’it’s just a bunch of cabbage.’ ‘I know it is,’ said the host, ‘But I won’t eat that danged stuff and I’ll be durned if I will feed it to my hogs.” Bill Bodenhamer is a weekly columnist for the Brady Standard-Herald. Email him at bodenhamer@cebridge.net.

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