Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Youthful Older Age --

Forgetfulness can be most annoying. When I was young we called it “memory lapses.” As middle age set in we called it “absentmindedness.” Now, as a senior citizen, we call it “senior moments.”

Senior moments can be terribly frustrating. Like the one I had this past week. While working at the office it dawned on me that I needed to pick up a form from our Office Manager. Jumping up from my desk I did a “fast-walk” down the long hallway to her office. Once there I stood as though in a daze. There was no recollection whatsoever as to what I needed. I told the manager that I could not remember why I came to her office. She told me to go on back to my desk and whatever it was would come to mind. And so I did. But it didn’t.

Several times when driving in the Houston area I’ll start daydreaming. Then suddenly I’ll pop awake and look around with no idea of where I am. Other times I’ll slip into memory mode and think I am driving around in the Beaumont area. This can be really confusing not knowing for sure in which town you are navigating.

My scariest ever senior moment happened recently when I was trying to come up with a column to reference football. Since football season is in full swing I wanted to write about the rivalry between the Beaumont High School Royal Purples and the South Park High School Greenies.

The thought emerged that I should call over to Beaumont and inquire as to the date this year that those two teams were scheduled to play their football game. This way my column could be published on that weekend with the game fresh on every mind. But wait a minute. This is 2008. The Purples and the Greenies have not played a football game in years. What was I thinking? I wasn’t. It was just another senior moment. Evidently I was lost in my memories and forgot to return to the present and reality.

But think about it. Why couldn’t we have a rivalry get-together every year? There are enough old Greenies and old Purples left over to have quite a gathering. We could even play an annual football game. Some of the rules would need changing though to accommodate our “maturity.”

Here are a few of those changes should such an event ever take place:

• No tackling. We would have to play “touch” or “flag” football to save our brittle bones from being scattered all over the field.
• No running. All plays from scrimmage would have to be walked. Any player caught running would cause his team to be penalized one yard.
• No passing since legally no one could run out for a pass.
• The field would be only 25 yards from goal to goal instead of the usual 100 yards in order to speed up the game since everyone is walking.

• No blocking. We would not want everyone ending up in body casts.
• No halftime. The game would last for only one quarter.

We still could have our cheerleaders yelling their heads off. Can’t you just see those 60 year old ladies in their cheerleader outfits trying to form a pyramid? And still there could be fizzy soda pop and pop corn at the concession stands. But I digress.

See? I did it again. Started out to write about forgetfulness and forgot what I was writing about. That’s how we ended up with a Greenie-Purple football game in my dreamland.

Memory lapses, absentmindedness, senior moments … call them what you like.

Forgetfulness can be most annoying. Did I already tell you that?

I can’t remember.

Winston Hamby

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Boo To You Too ...

In 1952 when I was 15 years old my family moved from Pipkin Street in South Park to an older house located on Concord Road in north Beaumont. Our “new” house was built back in the mid-1920s. It was a large spacious edifice with room to spare for our family of four. A few months after we moved in, my sister, Ann, married and moved out. This left just me and my two parents with all of that living space.

I’ll not reveal the exact address because of the nature of this article. I do not want the present owner of that property to be unduly concerned. After we were moved in and settled, things began to happen. I mean strange little things that we could not explain.

The house was built on blocks and some of the flooring creaked when you walked through some of the rooms. The living room had an identifiable creak as did the dining room and kitchen. In other words, you could know which room someone was in by the sound of the creaks.

One night I woke up and heard someone moving around in the kitchen. I assumed my dad had gotten up to get himself a glass of water as he had the habit of doing. I kept listening for him to return to his bedroom but everything was silent. Out of curiosity I got up and went to the kitchen. No one was in there. I went into the hall that led to my parents’ bedroom. I could hear both of them breathing as they slept. Then I became frightened. Who had I heard walking around in the kitchen? I never learned the answer to that question.

One night my mother got up because she heard someone in the kitchen. When she looked, there was a young lady standing at the sink. Mom asked, “Who are you and what do you want?” The lady did not reply but instead turned and walked out of the kitchen area into our den. My mother followed her asking her what she wanted. The young lady seemed to “just go away” as my mother described it to Dad and me.

Another night all three of us were awakened by a clatter in the kitchen. My dad jumped up to investigate. I was too scared to move so I stayed in bed and just listened. Several pots and pans had fallen to the floor. We never knew how that managed to occur.

On several occasions, all at night, there were loud knocks in our attic like someone pounding on wood with their fist. This was another unsolved mystery.

One night the doorknob on my bedroom door rattled like someone was opening the door to enter. I anticipated seeing my mom or dad. Soon I realized that no one was there. Why did the doorknob rattle? To this day I do not know.

There were several nights I heard someone walking through the house but was too scared to investigate. I decided that whatever it was would bring no harm our way.
I do not claim that our old house was haunted. I really do not believe in that sort of thing. But the questions remain unanswered. What explanations were there for such episodes as I’ve described.

I called my sister who still lives in Beaumont to see if she objected to my writing about our haunted house. I did not want to embarrass the family name. She told me to go ahead. In fact she reminded me of some of the strange goings on that have been shared in this account.

Do you think our old house in north Beaumont could be haunted? I seriously doubt it.

But on the other hand …

Winston Hamby