2017-08-12 / Viewpoints

The Old Timer

BY HOWARD ‘MAC’ MCDONALD

Highway signs play a big part in our lives today. When I travel the interstates, I pay attention to the mileposts that tell you either how far you have gone or how many more miles to go before you reach the state line.

Mileposts also apply to other parts of life. One of the most important mileposts is when your mother gets you potty-trained. You are now ready to go out into this big old world and make it to the next milepost, which is first grade.

I remember first grade very well. I fell in love with my teacher, Miss Coulter. She never did give me any indication that she was similarly infatuated with me.

High school was the next milepost. I was a country boy, so I was not very wise to the pitfalls of being surrounded by all the pretty girls.

The mileposts were now coming fast and furious: first car, first steady girlfriend, first job and then the big marker, marriage.

Losing someone you love is a milepost that we all have to pass. When my father died, it changed my life. The road I chose to travel sent me on a 21-year adventure in the U.S. Air Force.

When I went to Europe for five years, the mileposts changed to kilometer markers, but they meant the same thing. The nickname we used for kilometers was “clicks.”

The days of summer are speeding by and so is life. I don’t think there is a milepost that tells you how many more years you are going to travel.

When I was younger, the weekend was always something to look forward to. Since I am in the twilight of my life, much of the old magic of the weekend has faded away. Don’t get me wrong, I still look forward to the weekends, but their glitter and glamour has dimmed. Maybe I should clean my glasses.

Today I went to church and the roof did not cave in. The pastor had an interesting sermon and I hope some of it rubbed off on me. The music was great and everyone was in a good mood. We have a group of five who go off to brunch after church and that was also very enjoyable. Sometimes I wish that every day was Sunday because people seem to put aside their differences and forget their troubles on that day. That makes the world a better place.

We are the proud grandparents of U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Matt McDonald. It was a long time coming, but his promotion was welcome news to us. Matt flies a Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft that the Navy uses to look for submarines. Their missions are top secret and he tells me nothing about his work. I know enough to not ask questions, as I was once in his shoes. That bird is getting pretty old and I worry about its airworthiness. The civilian version is a Lockheed Electra. It got its name from Amelia’s Earhart’s famous around-the-world trip that fell short. That remains an unsolved mystery, despite what some of the TV shows try to make you believe. The oceans of the world hold a lot of

secrets. Her disappearance is like a cold case that stays on the books of a police department for decades. Every once in a while, the investigation is reopened. Then it goes back on the shelf.

Do you believe there is anything mysterious about the Bermuda Triangle? Many aircraft and sailing vessels have disappeared in that region with no explanation.

My blood pressure rises every time I hear someone refer to Social Security as an entitlement program. That is a bunch of malarkey. Public assistance, food stamps and other government programs are examples of entitlements. Workers have paid into the Social Security for years and years. Their employers have also paid into the fund. The whole idea is to have something that can sustain a person through retirement. Many people have not been lucky enough to have a pension plan and many have been unable to pad their savings accounts. They live on a small fixed income and receive no aid or tax loopholes. Some of the comments I hear are enough to make an old person feel guilty for living so long.

A rural post office in Texas posted a sign that read, “In God We Trust.” Someone complained about it and they had to take it down. Word about this has spread, along with a suggestion that on every piece of mail you send, you should write, “In God We Trust.” I’ll bet the people who are so offended by that motto don’t refuse to accept money that has the same words on it.

Last week the U.S. Congress threw in the towel after another series of failures and went home for the entire month of August. A few of them are licking their wounds and some of them are headed off on a vacation that’s paid for by the taxpayers. When they come up for re-election they are always a shoo-in. Nobody is satisfied with their performance. Still, for some reason they are always re-elected and most of them appear unopposed on the ballot. I have tried to keep my promise and not write so much about our dysfunctional political system and a country that seems to be going down the tubes. Many nations are cheering our demise. We’re not licked yet, but the fat lady is starting to practice her song.

This woman walked into one of the local taverns wearing a hat with a duck on it. One of the bar’s best customers said, “Wow, that’s an ugly dog.” The woman said, “That ain’t no dog, it’s a duck.” And the drunk replied, “I was talking to the duck.”

Keep your powder dry and don’t miss any mileposts.

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