2017-04-22 / Viewpoints

The Old Timer

BY HOWARD ‘MAC’ MCDONALD

How long can small-town businesses survive? People have been driving to malls and superstores for decades and now they go shopping by sitting at their computers. Mom and pop stores are going the way of the do-do bird.

Small towns today are lucky if they have a clothing store or shoe store. Even the full-service gas station is becoming a thing of the past. A few of them might still pump your gas, but checking things under the hood is out of the question.

I used to be a pretty good mechanic. The high-tech autos of today have left me in the dust. My skills today are limited to checking the oil, filling the tires and turning on the radio.

Another thing that has changed is the road map or atlas. Today many people can’t find the supermarket or movie theater without flipping on their GPS units.

I went to the Easter Sunrise service and it was a cold experience. Watching Old Sol poking his head over Superstition Mountain was a beautiful site. Early risers have views like that to themselves while the rest of us are languishing in bed. After the sun arrived the valley heated up rapidly. By noon, the temperature passed the 90-degree mark and the A/C kicked on to cool down the house.

Now that Easter Sunday is behind us we can look ahead to the next major holiday, which is Memorial Day. I guess the speech police have not yet tried to outlaw that one day we set aside to remember those who gave up their lives in service to our nation. The hardy volunteers of the American Legion and VFW do a great job of placing markers and flags on the graves of every military veteran they can find. It is a shame that more people do not turn out for the Memorial Day parade and ceremonies. We take a lot for granted in this country.

A story in Endeavor News listed all the offices that are up for election this year. There are only a handful of people running. People are very good at about complaining about everything their school board or borough council or county commissioners are doing, but half of the loudest squawkers don’t even vote. If you’re so sure that you have the answers, why don’t you run for office and serve your community that way?

North Korea and Syria have been getting some strong messages from the United States that this sleeping giant is waking up. ISIS is also starting to realize that we mean business. Military force is the only language some of these people understand. Many people forget that the Muslim extremists have declared war on the United States. You can’t drop marshmallows and expect to get results. Down the road things will probably get muddy. I hope our leaders will be able to handle this situation and not let our country get pushed around anymore.

Arizona is the home of some magnificent wildflowers. With plenty of rain early in the year, we have some beautiful blooms that bring the desert alive with bursts of color. I feel like a wildflower today because my doctor said that I am in pretty good shape and should not change a thing. I hope I do not fade away like many of the spring blooms. My habits are pretty basic. I eat when

I’m hungry, drink when I’m dry, and if the beer doesn’t kill me then I’ll live ‘til I die. That is a line from an old country song and it seems to fit.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the crazy traffic out here and the regular reports of drivers who barrel out into one-way traffic going the wrong way. Yesterday, a college student headed to class smashed head-on into another car. All three occupants died in an instant. The two people in the other car were from the same school he attended. Haste does make waste and in this case the waste was three young lives. Police are checking to see if the driver was impaired. I would say the odds are very high that he was, but what do I know? One thing I do know and that is youth is wasted on the young.

Tax time has come and gone and, as usual, the IRS picked my pocket. Here I go again, but they could make things a lot easier for the little guy with a flat tax and axing all those loopholes that allow the billionaires to get away without paying taxes. Everything we touch is taxed. Where is all that money going? I bet there was a couple billion collected this Easter weekend just on the gasoline tax alone. Big business is also putting it to us. Besides wiggling out of paying taxes through all the loopholes, they hire these credit investigators who will give you a bad rating if you are having trouble with the credit card companies. When the Mafia ran the credit business, if you fell behind they would break your leg. The Mafia had better interest deals than the credit card companies. Credit card loans are unsecured and it is tough to collect on them. They investigators are very hard to work with because they want to collect their juice (a Mafia term). And then there is the gang on Wall Street, which is out to steal everyone’s 401(k) money. The people who invest in those schemes usually roll the dice with some funky company that has one foot in the bankruptcy door and the other on a banana peel. Like old P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

My close friend and constant companion, Sarge, observed his birthday last week. He turned the ripe old age of 11. They say a dog is man’s best friend and it’s hard to argue with that.

The 18th of April always brings to my mind a poem that was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about the midnight ride of Paul Revere. We learned it in fifth grade. I also learned a different version of this famous poem. I don’t think it will ever get the notoriety of the original. It did get me a couple of clouts from Mrs. Nevin’s yardstick. The off-the-shelf version went something like this: “Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. A 50-yard dash to the bathroom door. He missed the commode and went on the floor.”

Stay on the right side of the road and make sure your musket and dry powder are in their rightful place. These days it seems like it’s every man for himself.

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