Friday, November 27, 2009

Time Still Is Marching On...

Well, what do you know? It’s the end of November 2009, and I’m still trying to get accustomed to the 21st Century. If I do not keep my mind on what I am doing, I will date something in the 1900s instead of the 2000s. Maybe there should be a phrase that goes something like, “It’s hard for an old dog to change centuries.”

But there is an exclusive reason why this November holds a special memory lobe in my old brain. Five years ago in November 2004, I submitted my first guest column to Beaumont Enterprise opinions editor, Thomas Taschinger. He is a fascinating individual. I suppose most newspaper editors do have something going on because they live constantly within that pressure of strict daily deadlines.

It’s interesting to note that the dictionary defines “deadline” as, “… a line drawn around a prison that a prisoner passes at the risk of being shot.” The secondary definition is, “…the time after which copy is not accepted for publication.” Does this mean that if an editor messes around with a deadline, he or she draws fire?

Anyway, my first column in 2004 was about working as an usher at the Jefferson Theater. That column generated a lot of response. Taschinger e-mailed me and inquired if I had more stories to share. Since I grew up in Jefferson County, primarily in Beaumont, there were indeed numerous local experiences to share.

This guest column adventure that I have enjoyed over the past five years came about because of Deana, my daughter. Deana has her college degree in journalism and for several years wrote a column for the Baytown Sun. Since moving to Arkansas, she has written for Arkansas Life, a magazine published by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. She also writes for several business magazines.

I was always telling Deana stories of my growing up in the Beaumont area. The stories were endless to the point that often Deana referred to me as “my dad, the storyteller.” One day, Deana said, “Dad, why don’t you write up some of your stories and submit them to the Enterprise?” And so I did.

I started out writing a weekly guest column but now do one every other week. Mr. Taschinger would welcome any of your life’s stories that you would be willing to share. I know because I asked him.

You may wonder how to write a story. Just write it like you would tell it. Taschinger will smooth it up if you have some rough edges. That’s a big portion of what an editor does. Maybe you have a good story but have trouble writing it up. Send the idea to Taschinger. He just might use it.

If you have any questions on how to submit a guest column to the Enterprise, send an e-mail to Taschinger. He will be glad to assist you.

Why am I using an entire column on this topic? Because I know that there are so many untold stories out there. How many individual and local human interest experiences have gone to the grave because no one bothered to share them? Your life is a book and most of the chapters in your book would appeal to many people. “People relate to people who grew up in similar or familiar circumstances,” said Taschinger.

Almost ten percent of the 21st Century already is used up and we have barely begun. So share your experiences while you can. The Enterprise opinions page is a great platform to tell your stories. And as Taschinger reiterated, “It makes a good read.”

Taschinger’s picture and editorial appear on the opinions page. His e-mail is listed beneath his photo.

Give it a try. It’s fun.

Winston Hamby

Sunday, November 08, 2009

This Is A Fishy Story...

There are several reasons why Mardell will not go fishing with me. Some of those reasons were initiated prior to our getting married in 1963. When you consider that we have been husband and wife for 46 years then do the math. It has been at least that long since her disdain for fishing began.

Mardell and I met in the Panama Canal Zone in 1959 where her dad and I were stationed in the military. One day I decided to take her fishing at the Bay of Panama (See picture).

Very soon after getting her hook into the water, something really strong got hold of her line. Her fishing rod nearly doubled over. After a few minutes of holding and tugging, guess what surfaced? A stingray. Yes, Mardell had caught a stingray. This was her very first experience with fishing. We had to cut the line as I was afraid of the stinger on that creature. I assured her that catching a stingray was a fluke—that she should try again. She agreed to give it another fling.

Soon, something else grabbed her line. Mardell pulled this one up and guess what it was? An eel. Yes, she had hooked an eel. It was long and black and had wrapped itself around her line. I was afraid of it so we cut the line. Mardell did not want to fish anymore so I took her home.

Two years later when I was discharged from the Army, Mardell and I married and set up housekeeping in Beaumont (TX).

One day I encouraged Mardell to go fishing with me. I convinced her that since we would be fishing at Pine Island Bayou, she would not have to worry about catching stingrays or eels. She agreed to go.

We fished from the bank for nearly two hours. Unfortunately we did not catch anything so we went home.

That evening Mardell exclaimed, “Honey, I’ve got redbugs all over me.” Sure enough, she was covered with the little varmints. Mardell still was unimpressed with fishing.

A few months later I convinced Mardell that if we rented a row boat out at the bayou and fished from the boat that redbugs could not bother her because we would not be in the bushes. She agreed to try fishing from a boat. Again we did not catch anything so we went home.

That evening Mardell yelled out, “I’ve got redbugs all over me.” I did not understand how but she was covered. I believe that is when Mardell lost faith in my vast knowledge of fishing.

One year later, Mardell and I went down to Crystal Beach. I wanted to do some surf fishing. Mardell agreed to wade out with me and steady the Styrofoam cooler that held my cut shrimp fish bait. The cooler floated so all she had to do was to keep hold of it.

We waded out to the third sandbar which meant the water was about chest deep. But that also meant that when the waves washed by, we had to do little hops to keep our heads above the water.

The problem arose when Mardell mentioned that the waves were washing over into the cooler and spraying her face with dead shrimp juice. Finally Mardell blurted out, “Nowhere in our wedding vows was it mentioned that I would have to stand in water over my head and allow shrimp juice to splash in my face.”

With that revelation, she tied the cooler to my waist and went ashore.

Do you know what is strange? Since that day at Crystal Beach, Mardell has never gone fishing with me again. Not once.

It’s always been hard to figure women out.

Winston Hamby

The Beaumont Enterprise