Friday, April 12, 2024

One Striking Tiger Woods Moment You Missed on Masters Thursday

AUGUSTA, Ga. — James Colgan

It never quite occurs to you that the phrase spine-tingling is overused until you’re standing at the bend of Amen Corner on Masters Thursday.

But then suddenly you’re there, with Tiger Woods emerging from the shadows of the 11th fairway at Augusta National just a few shots off the opening round Masters lead, and it occurs to you that your spine is tingling. Not in a sappy, metaphorical way — but in tangible bursts of energy that start at the base of your neck and travel down your spine. 

Every cell in your body, every atom, is strained toward the image of a 48-year-old Tiger Woods in a peach-colored polo shirt trotting down toward his ball at the base of the green. It doesn’t matter that Adam Scott and Cameron Young are about to hit their approach shots into the hole Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley compared to the Mona Lisa just feet away. Nobody can look away, and even though nobody’s said it, you all know why.

The truth is that we don’t know how many more times we’ll see an able-bodied Tiger Woods make it to the fringe of the 11th green at the Masters while still in contention. And though that accomplishment feels small and low on Thursday next to the Masters achievements that have managed to change the course of the club and tournament and sport of golf, it’s an accomplishment that the 2,500 or so of us can cling to together. 

It’s foolish that the golf world hopes Woods can still win a 16th major. The golf world knows that. It’s the first thing most of Amen Corner says when he arrives.

“Well, he’s got a pretty good trot,” one of them says. 

“Doesn’t look too painful,” a woman replies.

But then the scoreboard changes over Woods’ head and a cheer ripples through the crowd. Tiger is one under, good for T17 on a darkness-shortened opening day. Hope may be foolish, but it’s stubborn.

Tiger likely won’t win a sixth green jacket this week. He hasn’t played a 72-hole tournament in 14 months. He hasn’t played 72 holes at the Masters in two years … and 72 competitive holes in longer than that. His odds of hanging with the best golfers in the world over four days — a group that includes Scottie Scheffler, whose game is nearing a Woodsian level of boring inevitability — are still long. And yet it’s after 7 p.m. on Thursday evening and there’s hardly room for a soul to squeeze into the spectator’s mound behind Amen Corner, which means there’s still a chance.

Woods takes a moment to survey his chip shot on the 11th before he addresses his ball. He settles on a sort of high-spinner he’s hit at least a hundred times on this hole, the kind where the ball whizzes through the air before halting on command. The key is utterly perfect contact, but a thousand of these shots rest deep in the memory of those calloused hands. He scares the flag with the shot, which arcs through the air like a wiffle ball and spins like one, resting neatly on the edge of the hole. 

This crowd has screamed a million times for Tiger Woods chip shots on these holes, but this time is different. They roar with a deep, sudden delight. Woods taps in a moment later and the noise follows again.

Woods laughs with Joe Greiner, the caddie for his playing partner Max Homa, as he walks toward the 12th tee box — the hole Ridley called the “most iconic par-3 in the world.” But they’re alone in the laughter. 

Perhaps it’s that the pair realizes they’ve only got two holes left until play will be delayed for darkness, leaving Tiger with some 23 holes on Friday, the latest test of his physical upper limits. Perhaps it’s that they know that one under for Tiger Woods on Masters Thursday is enough to keep open the possibility that he can stick around in contention. Perhaps it’s that they realize the chip shot surprised all of us at Amen Corner, even Tiger.

The rest of the crowd has gotten over the surprise. They’re busy rising, slowly at first, and then all at once — for what will surely be the longest and loudest standing ovation at the 12th hole at the Masters … until Woods returns again tomorrow.

The moment is short. The ovation is gone quickly. But it feels like the least the gallery can do on Masters Thursday. They know they’re running on borrowed time, and it’s difficult to express the depth of the gratitude and appreciation they feel without upsetting the green jackets. So they stand and cheer, and they hope a little too.

And it’s the hope that sticks with you. Even when it’s for the guy with the mangled body and zero 72-hole tournaments played this year. Because just for a moment you feel it too. 

It starts in the spine.

Cedar's Take: Seriously the best I've read on Tiger in sometime. As someone who has been inside the ropes, Wells Fargo, US Open, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup and others I'm not easy to impress. Yet impressed I am. I hope you  are as well.

Years ago I used to take shots at Tiger, he's not really a joy to be around. On the course he's all business. Off the course his personal life has always been a mess. This is a guy who named his 155 foot yacht Privacy and then made his crew cover up the name while in port.

My Tiger Woods story "Tiger Woods and Two Pickled Eggs" is still better. Funny when I read it I'm tempted to update it but no, it will stay as it is because this is my show and I do whatever I like.

Now driving Tiger Woods! 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Once Again It Is Easter!

This morning I'm offering up a strong dose of Southern Style Religion.

Once Again It Is Easter.... Please be seated.

Years back, when Charlotte was a lot smaller and the pace of life a lot slower, an Easter Sunrise Service was held at Providence High School.

As the headlights of two hundred or so cars streamed into the parking lot, the crimson and purple hues of the sun's first rays began to touch the far eastern corners of the Carolina horizon, while birds sang in wonderful orchestra we call nature.

It's not hard to see the hand of God on Easter Sunday in the Carolina's. Azaleas, Dogwoods, rainbow colors of flowers all in bloom and Carolina blue skies which might explain the large number of churches in the Carolinas. In South Carolina there are 87 church on the Charleston Peninsula alone, I know there are twice that many in Charlotte, the biggest of which is Calvary.

Standing at the corner of Rea Road and Highway 51, Calvary is so big that it's pipe organ is second in size only to that of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. It is a big church, so big it has escalators to the two balconies.

The church was once painted a somewhat a dull shade of pink and, was nick-named by members and non-members as "The Pink Church" or the "Mary Kay Cathedral". Calvary was founded by Dr. Ross Rhodes who at the time of this Easter sunrise service was senior pastor.

Charlotte, is of course the well-known home to the famous preacher Dr. Billy Graham, and a close second to Billy Graham was Dr. Rhodes. I think Ross Rhodes could have made a believer out of Satan if given the chance.

My grandmother used to tell us to sit up straight in church so that God knew we were paying attention. On this Easter Sunday, the frosty cold aluminum bleachers of Providence High School Football Stadium made certain we were all sitting up straight and paying attention.

The hot coffee and warm biscuits from Bojangles, that the Calvary volunteers handed out, helped ease the chill but it was so cold, that I soon began to plot an early exit back to my car.

I'm a morning person, most of the time and I love to watch the sunrise. Cold on the other hand I'm not nearly as fond of, so I thanked my sister a third time for being kind enough to bring an extra blanket to sit on.

Before the small choir had finished the second verse of the first hymn, my biscuit was cold and my coffee gone.

In the faint half-light of the early dawn Dr. Rhodes rose from his seat and walked over to the podium, for all practical purposes it was still dark.

His sermon was simple….. his first words where.....

"He Has Risen!"

And with that voices came to life through the gathered hushed crowd as these words were repeated and rose on wisps of steam from our breath which filled the cold morning air.

Dr. Rhodes continued….

"Now if this had just happened today, on this Sunday morning, we would have proof! There would be satellite trucks, and news media everywhere. Anderson Cooper would be live with eyewitnesses to interview, and there would be full page photo spreads in USA Today, the New York Times and the Charlotte Observer. There would be a "film at eleven" on television that would show the massive stone rolled aside and for the next forty days Jesus himself would hold press conferences right up until ascension.

And he would tell the world: "Hey, I'm back for I have risen!"

"But, because this single event occurred more than 2000 years ago we don't have a film at eleven, but we do have eyewitness accounts and interviews with the Oprah of the day whose name is Mark, and his interview is right here".

And as he spoke those words, Dr. Rhodes held up his bible, the one he has carried for nearly 40 years and proclaimed.

"It says right here…" HE HAS RISEN!

With that a flock of Canada Geese flew over head no more than a dozen feet above the bleachers, winging their way no doubt to eternity and just as suddenly the sun rose above the horizon and bathed the bleachers in wonderful light and warmth that you could feel all the way through to your soul.

And I have got to tell ya ... I don't know how Ross Rhodes pulled it off, but his timing was perfect. Within an instant the chill in the air was gone as this Easter Sunday had begun.

Now years later Dr. Rhodes message, and that Easter sunrise service is still a very vivid memory.

Dr. Rhodes' message has always been simple… "Believe in the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved" Period!

No fancy church or nearly drowning style of baptism, pilgrimage to Mecca, or giving up a certain amount of your paycheck, no course of study, no special communion, no specific number of Sunday school sessions or bible study attendance required, just one simple thing.

"Believe in the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved" - Just Believe!

OK I'm done preaching now go color those chicks.

Cedar's Take: Sometime around 2005 Ross and his wife Carol were returning from a missionary trip and at the same time my father and mother (Also named Carrol) were returning from a 14 day vacation cruise. 

Upon arrival at Charlotte's Douglas International Airport, Dr. Rhodes discovered he had left his car keys and keys to his house in the hotel room back in Cairo 14 hours earlier.

Standing at the baggage claim he turns around to find my father. Their friendship had spanned at least two decades at that point.

As you would expect my dad would take Dr. Rhodes and his wife home and wait with them for the locksmith to arrive.

Now to non-believers this is just a coincidence - but to me this was just another example of God's Grace. 

Dr. Rhodes flight was early, my parents flight late. One flight international and other domestic. Yet they would find themselves standing shoulder to shoulder waiting for their luggage at the same baggage carousel. 

Ross Rhoads (June 20, 1932 – May 24, 2017) was an American megachurch pastor who served at Charlotte's Calvary Church based in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1973 to 1995.

Dr. Rhoads died on May 24, 2017 at the age of 85. He is survived by his wife and three children. 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Dave Harris

Have you ever had a letter that you have planned on writing but never got around to it?

I have several but there is one in particular to a man named Dave Harris.

Dave was the father of a girl named Terri that I was nuts about in high school. OK she was one of many and yes the list is long and distinguished. 

Dave was a great guy hard working, a grow your own vegetables guy who loved to hunt and fish. If the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow he'd be one guy I'd seek out for he would absolutely know how to survive.

He worked for Hub Uniform Company and covered the Carolinas selling uniforms to cops. 

The decades have rolled on but back in the day Dave treated me like the son he didn't have, for Dave was burdened with two attractive daughters Sherri and Terri and they were indeed a handful.

I'm pretty sure Dave knew my intentions were not exactly pure but for some reason Dave liked me just the same and decided to teach this then long haired kid how to hunt properly.

I learned a lot from Dave Harris. Flounder gigging at the coast. Rabbit stew, he raised his own and how to take doves and how to twist the head off stick your thumb down the neck and pop the breast meat out with absolutely zero mess or feathers. 

I might have dated his daughter for just a few weeks and he had me out in the fields shooting doves. 

Back in January I spent several days in Arkansas wing shooting. It wasn't hunting really more like killing no limit just shoot and never miss. I've never seen so many birds. We cooked most and ate them. Those we didn't were frozen and shipped back to Charlotte. I imagine Dave would have done the same.

50 years ago the eastern flyway was hot. The coast of the Carolinas in the fall was loaded with migratory birds. They were thick as ticks and anywhere you went in the low country hunts were hitting bag limits in hours. At times the sky was dark with ducks of all varieties.

And then it stopped. The reason Ducks Unlimited

You see Ducks Unlimited paid farmers along the Mississippi Flyway to plant fields and leave them for the migrating birds. They didn't offer the same to Eastern Flyway farmers.

Back to Dave.

So one day I took his daughter up to what we used to call Glade Valley and Beauty Falls now known as Stone Mountain State Park and Stone Mountain Falls.

We spent the day up there and had planned to return to Charlotte in time for a late dinner. We hiked to the top of the falls watched the sunset and pretty much had the park to ourselves enjoying the late afternoon glory of a Carolina fall day.

On the way down we were surprised at how dark is was getting and the further down the mountain we went the darker it became. At the bottom of the falls it was so dark you could not see your hand in front of your face. 

Early fall in the North Carolina Mountains is awesome unless you are alone in a 14,000 acre state park by yourself. 

No matter how hard we tried we could not find the trailhead back to the parking lot. In fact we were not sure were any trail was. No sunlight no flash light just a bic lighter and the sound of the roaring waterfall. 

Yes, this was before cellphones.

We had a blanket and some left over food and each other.

I quickly determined the best course of action was to stay put til the park rangers set out a search party. Clearly someone would check the parking lot and note the one car abandoned in at the trail head and would send help.

Help never came. But the fire was awesome. The benefit of the waterfall nearby is you don't hear a damn thing else. Not one of those sounds that you hear at night in the woods that say bear or bears.

Around midnight the moon rose over the falls and flooded the woods with shimmering white light and as the moon rose it came right across the top of the falls. The moon became a stunning spot light as if we were on stage and the whole world was out watching. In that shimmering light and the crackle of the fire we spent the night. 

At dawn we hiked back out to the parking lot with no one else around, no search party, no blood hounds, no rangers.

Returning to Dave's house I was surprised to find him standing in the driveway without a shotgun thankfully. He was not pleased, his first words were "Well, you better have a marriage license or a hell of a good explanation". 

I explained and he smiled then asked if we were hungry. 

The years have gone on and while our lives have crossed paths a few times I lost touch with his daughter Terri. In the past each chance encounter offered just a glimpse on someone's life that was ok but far from what I might have imagined. And each time it was not so much a rekindling of our lust or regrets of our lost youth but more of an understanding that in life luck and good fortune doesn't treat us all the same.Yet still she was and I suspect even today stunningly beautiful. 

But what Dave taught me that summer was far more than I understood at the time. I've seldon picked up a shogun or stepped aboard a boat to fish and not thought of Dave.

Thank You Dave Harris.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A True Fisherman

Mrs. Cedar lost a client very unexpectedly. He went in for a routine outpatient surgery and within five days developed an infection went in to septic shock and died. 

I did not know this man and my wife had only talked to him by phone. But she felt compelled to attend his funeral because he was always so kind and gracious.

The poem below was given out at his funeral and I thought this was a pretty thoughtful tribute to someone I didn't know. 

But also it seems fitting and true of many friends and family members I've lost over the years as well:

A true fisherman

knows when and where

the fish are biting.

He rises up early in the morning,

plying the water for that

elusive catch,

waiting in the stillness for a nibble

A slight twitch in the line,

expertly he reels it in -

A good fisherman

knows a keeper when he sees one,

he knows when to toss one back,

and when to head for home.

Stewart Hill was 60.

I wish we had met, perhaps we will meet one day.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Paige Spiranac Golf's Newest "It Girl" Redux

This is pretty funny as far back as 2015 Paige Spiranac was on my radar. This post from July of 2015 shows and yeah she's still got it.

If you follow CP's tweeter feed you may have noticed Paige has been the subject of a few, ok more than a few tweets. Yes, apparently she can indeed play golf. Need more Paige? Just click the photo below.
Even more Paige from Esquire's Q&A this month which is here.

CP Bonus: I married an East Carolina (ECU Pirates) Graduate with a single digit handicap that she carries to this day. So we're paired up with these two doctors from DC at the Greenbrier's Old White Course a few summers ago with 7:30 tee time.

The caddies saw her on the driving range the day before so they are wise to her game. Doctors offer to let her play the reds, but I speak up saying she'll just pick it up if she can't carry the distance.

Doctors go first, then my wife smokes it off the tee box into the mountain's morning fog. She's got 20 yards on them. I hit left just to the edge of the fairway about 50 yards behind the docs.

Caddie looks at me "You gonna pick that up right?"

Thank you for flying Aira Italia Airlines

Traveling to America from Rome the man is flying on a four engine 747 over the ocean. A few minutes into the flight, the captain comes over the intercom:

“Welcome aboard Alitalia Airlines. This isa you Captain speaking. We gotta beautiful day for flying. We gonna be a cruising at about 45,000 feets and it looka like we gotta smooth sailing. So sitta back and enjoy you flight.”

A few minutes later, the captain is once again on the intercom:

“Ladies and gentleman, this isa you Captain speaking. It looks like we’re having some-a trouble with the number one ah engine. But it’s a nothing to worry about. We gotta three other engines and we gonna be fine. Justa relax, and enjoy the rest of you flight.”

The passenger relaxes into his seat. About 30 minutes later, a voice comes back over the intercom:

“Ladies and gentleman, this isa you Captain speaking. It looks like we’re having some-a trouble with the number two ah engine. But it’s a nothing to worry about. We gotta two other engines and we gonna be fine. Justa relax, and enjoy the rest of you flight.”

“Hello?! This isa you Captain speaking, again. We have lost the number three engine, but don’t you worry, we gotta nother one on the left side that will get us where we going. It’s a no problem. 

But as a precaution, we wanna ask every body who knows how to swim to move to the right side of the plane, and those who no can swim, go to the left side of the plane. It’s a no big deal, it’s just a precaution. Have a some wine and enjoy the rest of you flight.”

Shortly after that there was a loud noise and again the voice came over the intercom:

“April Day! April Day!” oh so sorry wrong button OK? “This isa you Captain speaking again. We lost the last engine and it looks like we are gonna have to make a splash landing in da water!"

'So looka here, those of you on the right side of the plane who knows how to swim, don’t you worry. When we hita the water, we gonna do it nice and easy then you a make a you way to the exit signs and jump in the water, and swim straight ahead. We are only about a mile or so from land."

"OK? Those of you who are onna da left side of the plane ……. 

We want to a thank you for flying Alitalia Airlines."

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Magical Negro

The Magical Negro is to many people a tried trope in American cinema, television, and literature. 

In the movies from the United States, the Magical Negro is a supporting stock character who comes to the aid of white protagonists in a film.

Magical Negro characters, often possessing special insight or mystical powers, have long been a tradition in American fiction. The old-fashioned word "Negro" is used to imply that a "magical black character" who devotes himself to selflessly helping whites. Many claim this is a throwback to racist stereotypes such as the "Sambo" or "noble savage".

The term was popularized in 2001 by film director Spike Lee during a lecture tour of college campuses, in which he expressed his dismay that Hollywood continued to employ this premise. He specially noted the films The Green Mile and The Legend of Bagger Vance, which featured "super-duper magical Negro" characters.

I suspect that Tarzan's Samuel L Jackson would qualify as well. In fact Barrack Obama had all the qualities of a Magical Negro. However while in film the "Magical Negro" might be the hero, in real life as with Obama, he is often a disappointment. 

Perhaps only in literature and the movies does the real Magical Negro really live. Jim Mark Twain's character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and its adaptations. Then there is "Red" in Stephen King's Shawshank Redemption.

Even Spock in Star Trek has all the qualities of a "Magical Negro".

However if it is a real event and not of film or fiction, does the magical negro still exist?

Some of the Cedar Posts stories have a strong Magical Negro equivalence. Should I "fix" them in the name of DEI? Perhaps not describe them but rather just say a person? Does the color matter? Perhaps not. But in each of these stories the skin color is the context. Just as in film the story line is not altered by race, but it is defined by race, 

International Harvester Willie Simpson

Everett Wilson A Halloween Tale


Old Joe

I have enjoyed Spike Lee's films particularly Boyz in the Hood. No wait that was John Singleton. Well I'm sure there are some films by Spike that I've enjoyed. That film with John Travolta Pulp Fiction no that was the Tarantino guy. I need to think on this some. 

So back to the "magical negro" years ago I was maybe 22 when I was nearly killed during load out OPS while moving "A" Containers. 

An "A" Container is big as in the entire width of the aircraft and rounded to fit tight against the cabin ceiling.  

While working at night, walking in the interior of which might have been a C-137 that's an old 707 at the time. Somehow I slipped my leg wedged between the floor rollers and deck of the aircraft floor as the "A" container rolled towards me. Out of nowhere this massive hand grabbed me and pulled me up and out of the way of 8,000 pounds of crunch. 

The hand belonged to a Chief Petty Officer and being magical he was a Black man.

He saved my leg and likey my life. He was not part of my detail and to this day I do not know his name or his duty station. He was not the aircraft loadmaster. 

He appeared out of nowhere pulled me to my feet checked me over asked "you're good?"  I nodded and he was gone. He simply had vanished.

To this day I owe him a thank you for saving my scrawny 140 pound ass that night on the ramp. 

Magical Negro Thank You Brother.

Recalling this story it makes me thing about all the other "Magical Negros" I've known.

Johnsey Marks

Ben at Queens Texaco

Leroy at the Johnson Building in Charlotte

Mr. Mosley at the Greenbrier Hotel

These are people who presented qualities that I myself wished to emulate. They were genuine, the real deal and would I beleive threat me the same today as they would have 30 years ago. It is just in their DNA it transcends our strikingly contrasting skin color.  

Thursday, February 29, 2024

International Harvester Boardroom Willie Simpson

During the late 1950’s there was widespread fear of Russia (U.S.S.R.). American manufactures were considered prime "Cold War" risks and many of their executives targets for bribery or abduction.

Labor wars, a looming conflict in Vietnam, an aggressive China and the feared spread of communism made headlines daily.

The United States having been caught "flat footed" by Japan's unprovoked attack a little more than a decade prior would not be unprepared again.

My grandfather used to tell this story - 

It had been more than a year that a negro International Harvester employee named Willie Simpson had been shining board member's shoes during executive meetings. 

The man dutifully went about his task in silence, often under the mahogany boardroom table while executives discussed production, labor strategies, government contracts and post war supply issues. Many items discussed were not meant for the ears of outsiders, competitors, or communists. 

My grandfather liked Willie, and they often traded fishing stories and reminisced about their Southern backgrounds and upbringing. They became friends as much as White and Black men could be back in the days before the civil rights era. 

One afternoon Willie told my grandfather he wanted to say a personal goodbye and that he enjoyed how "Mister Mac" had always treated him. Willie said he was honored to shine the shoes of a man who had worked his way up from sweeping shop floors to the International Harvester boardroom.

When my surprised grandfather pressed him as to where he was going and why, Willie said he wasn't permitted to discuss his transfer. 

Outraged my grandfather exclaimed "Transfer? By whom? Adding, I'll speak to Harvester management right away!". 

Willie quietly took my grandfather aside and said "I'm sorry sir my real name is not Willie Simpson and I'm not employed by International Harvester". And with that he showed "Mister Mac" his badge and ID then folded it back and placed it in his secret vest pocket, explaining that he was a Special Agent with the FBI and that he'd appreciate it if he'd not discuss their conversation with anyone. My grandfather agreed.

And that was it.

We as grandchildren were left to assume that this story, while well-meaning, was of course pure fiction. A fable to encourage acceptance of all people regardless of skin color and a lesson never to assume you know everything about someone.   

A lesson I accepted as did my siblings. A story told often by my grandfather then forgotten until retold again. In fact, my uncle told the story at my father's funeral in December of 2023, to which we all laughed and smiled, accepting the old man's tale just as we would have done had my grandfather told it for the first time at that very moment.

Pretty funny, a Black FBI Special Agent from the south in the late 1950s, working under cover. We accepted it as fact though we knew it was just a fun tall tale. 

This week the FBI El Paso Field Office posted this on "X":

Feb 27, 2024

In January 1956, Leo James McClairen became the newest special agent in @FBIMiamiFL. His selection was quietly historic: McClairen was the first Black agent in the Deep South. 

Leo James McClairen 
aka Willie Simpson?

Monday, January 22, 2024

Saved By Jesus

My grandmother once claimed Jesus pushed her car out of a snowdrift.

When asked what he looked like she said "I didn't see his face, but he was wearing a Carhartt jacket."

When pressed how she knew it was Jesus she said: "It was 10 degrees blowing snow, the car was buried up to the wheelwells, and he didn't
 charge me a penny. Who else would it be?"


Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Possibilities - America's Small Businesses Struggle Under Joe Biden

In 1933 Mrs. Cedar’s Great Uncle founded Carney’s, a clothing store in Lincoln Maine. The town of Lincoln located in the North Woods was a thriving Mill Town, known often by the unfortunate moniker “Stinkin Lincoln”

Carney's Circa 1998

The mill is gone and so is the “stink”, but with the loss of the mill the population also declined. To some degree the mill and associated businesses have been replaced by tourism. 

The Lincoln Lakes Region brings nature lovers to the area for hunting, fishing, hiking and water sports in the summer and snowmobiles and cross-country skiing in the winter.

The Carney family sold the store in 1998 but Mrs. Cedar’s fond memories linger on.

Fast forward twenty-five years and the store remains as “Possibilities” an eclectic mix of gifts and home goods, art and flowers. Mrs. Cedar and I are both huge fans of the business and frequent the store often during our summers in Maine.

Because of all of this we are both sharing this open letter from the owners of Possibilities to their customers and friends. This is the reality of Joe Biden’s policies and the effect on American Small Business:

We keep full transparency with our customers, also known as our friends. 

We like to keep it real and always give you our true pure self. That’s the beauty of our brand. 

In the 25-year history of Possibilities, the original founders closed for parts of the winter. Their successors closed for the month of February and then we closed for the month of January. 

This year is a bit different as we restructure, adapt, and pivot, to allow us to continue navigating in this constant changing economy and business environment. 

We will be closing this Saturday January 13th with a grand reopening for the 2024 season on May 1st.

Possibilities has always operated in the red for the first quarter of the year. 

Possibilities tucks away funds through the busy tourist/summer season to purchase inventory for Christmas and then the profits from Christmas carry the business through the down months in the first quarter. 

In 2023 Maine’s tourist industry was largely impacted by a large amount of rainfall that kept the limited amount of tourists who could afford a vacation in this economy to stay home. This limited our purchase power, layered with less money in everyone’s pocket this year for Christmas gifts. 

We even had to change the items we sell due to the inflation driving the cost of goods up to a cost that our customers would never pay. 

When we purchased Possibilities in 2019, we had no idea that we would experience a global pandemic, shipping crisis, multiple ongoing wars, geopolitical shifts, and the world splitting into two economies. 

We have overcome and worked tirelessly to keep Possibilities on Main Street as we promised to the previous owners at purchase and for the community we serve. 

It’s been a rugged road that has suffered a large decline in sales every year. 

A large percentage of small businesses in America have closed their doors and filed for bankruptcy. Multiple home decor gift shops in the greater Bangor area have closed their doors. We are still here, paying debts and re-investing every dime back into Possibilities, in hopes of being here for a very, very, long time. 

This winter we will be living in Hawaii with our daughter, son in law, and grandson. We will be working full time jobs that pay five times the amount of jobs in Maine to make the funds necessary to keep Possibilities alive. 

A 40-hour work week is a slow week for us. With our free time we will be emerging ourselves into the art community of the island while working on our own personal art. 

We will even tackle our to do list that gets put aside due to daily demands in the shop. We will utilize this time to come back ahead of the game and stronger.

This decision was not easy but is what must be done to have a sustainable luxury goods business model in rural Northern Maine in 2024 and beyond. 

As we adjust our sails, we will have all of you in our hearts. 

Thank you for all your continued support and encouragement. We would have never made it thus far without you and we will not make it to our completed vision of Possibilities Floral Studio & Designs without you. We will miss you. 

A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.

The Owners of Possibilities January 2024

(Edited for grammar and clarity)

Sunday, December 24, 2023

My Christmas Message

Years ago I penned this and it now seems like such a long time ago. But the events that provided the basis for this "Christmas sermon" and as fresh as new fallen snow. I've not spent Christmas in Charleston now for three years. This Sunday you'll find me on the left about the tenth row at The Little Church on the Lane in Charlotte and not at the pulpit. But one day I'll give my Christmas message with profound feeling and conviction. Until then ......

Last year as I sat in 1st pew during our Christmas Eve Service, I listened to our well liked and highly regarded senior pastor, whose long winded sermon on Christmas was making its final dizzying lap which is always preceded by "in closing..." and I thought to myself, I could surely write a better Christmas Eve sermon.

I've got to tell you it's harder than I thought to write a good sermon, even more so when it's about Christmas. But here it is, my Christmas Message.

As I look out upon this cheerful sea of faces, taking in all that is Christmas, the hymns, the holly and evergreens, the candles and the many colorful Christmas sweaters and ties, I am so very moved by the wonder of the moment.

Christmas is a wondrous time, a glorious moment that comes once each year in our Christian lives.

If you attended the children's Christmas Pageant on Sunday you experienced part of this moment and were no doubt moved to tears. Especially when one of the tiny shepherds, tripped over one of the many sheep and they both nearly toppled off the stage.

The hours of labor that go into preparing the sanctuary for Christmas are countless, without the many volunteers none of this festive grandeur would be possible and I thank each one of you.

The youth group, boy scouts and altar guild sold Poinsettias and Christmas trees again this year, raising money to support our food bank and to provide all of the wonderful flowers, greenery you see here this evening.

In our church as it is in homes, businesses and even places of our government, we celebrate the season with trees, songs, lights, and candles some of the many symbols of Christmas.

But with all of the grand and often spectacular physical attributes of Christmas we often overlook the spiritual side.

So it is time to ask yourself, is Christmas on your mind because Christ is in your heart? Or are you just caught up in the moment?

I recall the story of a little boy who in his purest of innocence understood the meaning of Christmas in his own way.

When asked what was the most important thing about Christmas he replied “having Jesus in your heart”.

Asked how he knew that Jesus was in his heart, the boy, not more than three years old, announced "I know he's in my heart because when I put my hand right here, I can feel him doing a lot of banging I guess because he’s trying to get out".

The other night I was doing a little Christmas shopping along King Street in Charleston, and as I walked among the fog wrapped light posts, I could hear echoes of a Salvation Army bell ringer nearly a block away, muffled in the nighttime dampness.

Despite the weather, and the reports of slower than usual retail sales, the street was crowded with shoppers. A hired Santa with a real beard, stood in front of a jewelry store, his laugh was true, and both his "Merry Christmas" and "Ho Ho Ho" were sincere. He was ringing a bell with one hand and nursing a fresh cup of steaming Starbucks in the other. I suspect people who look like Santa Claus year around have Christ banging inside their heart as well.

Around the corner on Queen Street, a young couple sang "over the river and through the woods" as they made their way arm and arm up the wooden steps of Poogan's Porch.

In contrast, down the alley and up under the end of the parking garage stood Charles. He's not someone who you would notice, neither a panhandler nor criminal, Charles keeps to himself. He's one of a dozen or so Charleston homeless men I see from time to time, who call the streets, parks, and parking decks their home.

Charles is a veteran of the First Gulf War and other than being homeless he's just like most of us. He is a father and calls his children when can; he graduated high school and even attended college. Since he left the service he has worked in construction and several odd jobs, 2008 has been a tough year for Charles because he is homeless again.

When I think of Charles I'm reminded that I'm more or less just one paycheck away from being homeless myself and given the current economic crisis perhaps a good percentage of Charleston is not so different from Charles.

But we shun Charles; we look the other way, walk a little faster, even cross the street to avoid contact with him. As I pass Charles he smiles and gives me a bold and joyful Merry Christmas!

Why would a man who is so down on his luck, whose heart must be filled with despair say Merry Christmas?

Because, Charles has Christ in his heart as well, and despite the fact that this moment finds him homeless his heart is still filled with the joy of Christmas.

The other day I noticed someone had given him a new coat, no doubt a random act of kindness which was just paid forward with, a Merry Christmas!

And as I walk home, I smile because who among us could not notice it's Christmas.

But years ago, Christmas was not such a moment, it was not nearly such a big event, unless you happened to be a shepherd.

In the stillness of the night, with a star filled sky above them, several shepherds were stunned when a bright star completely engulfed them in light.

The Gospel according to Luke:

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Here tonight in this building that we call a church we’re protected from the rain and kept warm from the cold and here among family and friends we celebrate that moment that is described in the Gospel of Luke, a moment in time we now call Christmas.

But outside this fine shelter made of stone, gleaming marble and polished wood the cold wind blows and rain skirts the Palmetto trees and dampness finds its way into every open doorway and even past tightly closed windows, just as despair and loss can find its way into mankind’s heart.

With all we do to celebrate the moment that we call Christmas, the one thing that matters most needs you to make it happen.

This Christmas Eve, long after the stores along King Street have closed, about the time the bells at St Michael’s ring out across the Peninsula just shy of midnight, imagine yourself as a shepherd out in the stillness of the night and remember all that is Christmas comes down to the one moment in time, more than 2000 years ago that changed the course of history forever, the birth of Christ.

It is up to each of you tonight and every night to spread the word of hope, peace and joy that this moment is all about, tell everyone.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Remembering Al Rousso at Christmas

This story was written a few years back but the "tradition" of shopping at the last minute continues.... 

My parents have been married now for more decades than I can count and every Christmas my father does “his” Christmas shopping at the last minute. 

Times may have changed; he has even embraced online shopping with packages arriving throughout the year via the Brown UPS Truck. 

But Christmas for Dad has always meant a last-minute dash to the jewelry store.

Several years have passed but for the longest time there was the annual Christmas Eve trip to Brownlee Jewelers in the Johnston Building on South Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte. 

One year, I was privileged enough to witness an event that had been occurring every Christmas Eve since at least the early 70’s. 

The familiar jingle of a bell held over the door announced our entrance. Despite several customers crowded into the small store, the owner Al Rousso immediately spotted my father. 

Calling him by name: “Good to see you, I’ve been expecting you.” 

A warm smile sprang to his face. “Come on in I got something I want to show you.” Al offered, as he opened the small half swing door that separated the customers from the other side of the glass counters and the jewelry salesmen. As we were quickly swept into the back office, Al looked around, obviously checking for anyone within earshot. 

“I’ve been saving this just for you, something I know your wife (he knew her name as well) will really enjoy.” My mother would have been happy with red and white Christmas potholders, the one’s with a reindeer on one side and a sleigh on the other. 

But my father always gave her something that sparkled and came in a small box. Mr. Rousso reached down, opened a safe and withdrew a small six-inch-long box covered in navy blue velvet. He looked around again playing his role with exaggerated movements and came closer to my father and me. He opened the box just for the briefest of moments and immediately closed it. 

“Well, what do you think?” Al asked. “Wow! …. Oh My! …. honey you shouldn’t have?” he questions. 

My father nods in agreement. 

With a faux look of suspicion and glancing past us toward the other employees busy with customers, he tells my father: “I’ve been fighting them off for weeks but this I told them is for someone special.” 

Nervously he looks around and opens the box again. You would have thought we were about to buy a stolen gem the size of your fist. A back alley deal so good we should be arrested on the spot. 

“And the price?” My father asks. 

Al looks at the bottom of the box and hands it to my father, who shows it to me. Al interrupts by asking us to keep it out of sight for what he is about to do the other customers will most likely riot and all his employees might just quit without notice. 

“The price is blank but for you …. (a lingering pause) blank” My father looks like a deer in the headlights, no doubt the price is well beyond what he had in mind. After a long painful pause Al concedes “But since its Christmas blank less blank”… and adds “please I beg you don’t tell anyone what a good deal I’m giving you.” 

My father smiles and with a quick signature on a small 3-part carbon sales bill it is added to my father’s account. The yellow customer copy neatly folded and placed into his wallet and the gift slipped into his suit coat pocket. We all shake hands then the jingle above the door announces our departure, as Mr. Rousso and my father shout Merry Christmas to each other. 

Down the glimmering marble lobby and through the heavy brass doors we step back out onto the street, a brisk wind at our backs. 

And that was it, in less than ten minutes our Christmas Eve mission was accomplished. 

And so, I was left to assume that the interchange between the Jewish jewelry store owner and my father the Christian buying a gift for his wife on Christmas Eve had repeated itself many times before and perhaps years after that. A simplistic ritual, nearly as old as time itself, merchant, and client. 

Al Rousso passed away in 2001 at the age of 76, and the small store at 212 South Tryon Street relocated to the Overstreet Mall but closed in 2020 due to riots, COVID and Uptown crime.

But elsewhere around Charlotte the Rousso family continues the tradition of Brownlee Jewelers. Though I truly doubt it is with the level of theater and salesmanship I witnessed on Christmas Eve so long ago.

Merry Christmas, and thank you Al Rousso

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Christmas Letter From Mississippi

Another year has come on gone, and what a year is has been, certainly not without challenges but still we are blessed. 

As I told you last year at this time I had to have both hips replaced. So in January I got through that. My goodness that wasn’t easy but I managed with Jim and the Lord’s help to pull through. 

Jim had knee replacement surgery in April before he got the COVID. He was up and around in no time. He’s such a stud. 

That was until he went to the dentist, seems he has a bad tooth that needed some work, he’s so cheap he told the dentist he didn’t need no Novocain because he was on a budget, says he’ll not make that mistake again. 

Pat and Tim are doing great, rain made the planting days drag on for a month but he managed to do ok. Used some of the extra money to buy the Anderson property they’d been wanting for about ten years. He’ll have it in the crop rotation by next fall. 

Winter rye is in doing well thanks in part to God’s Grace and Mother Nature plus some late fall hurricanes in case y'all missed the news. 

Grand-daughter Kaylee has a job at the Ole Miss Chick Fil A on Campus. Now this is a problem because she really likes working at Chick-Fil-A, says it is more fun that going to classes for her nursing degree. I wished she’d gone to State instead. 

Junior has a way with cars and trucks, he’s always finding some old broken truck and fixing it up selling it and making a pretty good profit on it. He found a 1974 Ford F-100 bought it for $500 and sold it for $5,000 says he put about $2,500 in it and about 30 hours of work. 

Nana hasn’t driven in years, given she’s blind in her left eye. But Junior though it would be ok if she had a safe car to drive to Sunday meetings and such, so he found a nice Toyota, low mileage and bright yellow in color so you can see her coming.

Now the DMV was a little hesitant but Pat knows some folks and with the promise of daytime driving only they passed her. So she now has a state of Mississippi driver’s license. If you see her coming you might best pull over, Lord help us all. 

Katherine took a job at Walmart in Grenada they must like her cause they said she could go fulltime after the holidays if she likes. This is all great news, her first real job outside of homemaker, after all she’s 35 and the three kids are all grown. 

Justin works for the State of Mississippi and Katy is working at a pre-school. 

Bill and Arleen are doing well, Bill junior is at boot camp in South Carolina Fort Jackson I believe. He’ll graduate soon, smart boy, good looking and more girlfriends than he can name.

The COVID virus tossed a wet blanket on our fall family reunion years back so this year most everyone showed up. Which means we sold out the local Baymont Inn. But folks from Memphis didn’t feel safe staying there since it's not a "corridor hotel" you know room doors on the inside?. Now I'm not a smart person by any stretch of the word but they live in the murder capital of the nation, yet want to tell me don't feel safe at a Baymont Inn in the middle of nowhere? Them two just ain't right.

No one got sick, we all stayed outside and had a great time. All in all we had about twice of the number from last year. 

Eddie got out of the state prison in Jackson he admits he messed-up. Been clean since he got arrested 4 years ago. So he was out about 3 months met some girl at a bar took her back to the halfway house that he was assigned to for his first 120 days out of prison. So he then had her climb in through his bedroom window. This was long about October this year. Y'all know his luck well I guess she lied said she was 18 turned out well she wasn't. He'll be spending Christmas in the lockup but his public defender says he's seen worse and but added stupid isn't a good defense. 

Hard to believe it has been a year since Bert’s passing. We are still cleaning out the house. We miss his jokes, well most of them. 

All said, things are good here in Gore Springs. 

We wish you and yours the best for the coming year. With God’s Grace and never ending Love we will carry on. 

Christmas blessings to you and May Christ’s light bring you joy throughout the year. 

Love Y'all 


Cedar's Note: It doesn't get more real than family Christmas Letters. The names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty. 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

A Christmas Tree Story (Redux)

Every year cable television provides us with endless hours of touching Christmas Stories.

Jimmy Stewart learns the value of friends and family, the Grinch discovers that perhaps "Christmas is just a little bit more" than shopping and dinner parties and while Snoopy embraces commercialism, Charlie Brown and friends come together to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

Well, this is a different story. In fact, a true story, but since my memory is hazy I'll hope Anderson Cooper won't call me out about the details.

Years ago in the north woods of Maine lived a large family in a small town.

Now folks who live in Maine are a different breed of people. They actually call themselves Maniacs and for good reason. You have to be crazy or at least pretty resilient when you live in a place where the average high temperature on Christmas day is only 18 degrees.

Over the years the family prospered and the town grew. For nearly 100 years they called the small town home, ran a dry goods store, a couple of restaurants, taught in the local schools even coached the local high school football team to a state championship.

Back in the early 1960's a young member of the family planted a sapling Christmas tree at the town square, where all of the people in the town could enjoy the tree. The tree grew and every year the tree was decorated by the family Dry Goods Store and the young man who planted the tree.

Years went by and the Christmas tree grew and grew. It survived ice storms and even a couple of hit and run drivers. It was a wonderful Christmas tree. Nearly 20 feet tall, the tree was healthy and strong, enjoyed by all and it was real!

One summer the local town decided to build a park around the lake behind the Christmas tree. They paid thousands of dollars to hire a consultant and architect to design the park and even built a gazebo to overlook the lake. With park benches and sidewalks it was a wonderful park. But people soon complained that with so much money spent on the gazebo and the water front park it was a shame that no one could see it because of that tree that was in the way.

The argument raged for weeks with supporters for and against. The city took the position that since the tree represented Christmas perhaps the tree should be removed. After all, the gazebo was a huge investment and they were very proud of it, and the tree was just a tree.

The young man who planted the tree objected but his voice was not heard for by now he was old and old people don't know anything about progress.

Then it was suggested, that if they were going to have a Christmas tree maybe it should be somewhere else, some place where it wouldn't block the view of the lake and the nice gazebo. They had to make a decision, because soon Christmas would be upon them.

The Dry Goods store that had always decorated the tree had closed a few years before, after a Wal-Mart came to town. The store just couldn't compete with boots and jackets made in China. But the once young man still enjoyed decorating the tree, the last of his family's traditions that he was able to keep alive.

The arguing became unpleasant, as the tree was called ridiculous, an eyesore and even a traffic hazard. This of course made the once young man feel bad, that perhaps he had made a mistake long ago by planting the tree.

So on Thanksgiving day when the once young man would normally string the lights and decorate the tree, he simply took out a chainsaw and cut the tree down. Then he laid it on a long trailer and took it away.

The next day the town's people were in dismay. Someone stole their Christmas Tree they cried and police were sent to investigate. A town meeting was called and everyone attended including the once young man.

With the entire town gathered, he told them that it was just a tree. That it once meant a lot to him, but when everyone began fighting about the tree it had lost it's purpose; which was to add joy and to bring the Christmas spirit to all who passed by. So rather than have everyone fight about the tree he simply ended the argument.

With that he silently walked away.

Today the town will erect a "cut tree" in the parking lot down the street from where the live tree stood for so many years. The view of the park and the gazebo are no longer blocked by the once proud and very large "real" Christmas Tree.

The fire department does a very good job of securing the tree to keep it from falling over in the often strong winter winds. But somehow it's just not the same as a live tree.

Even now, several years' later people still ask…. "Whatever happened to the really big tree?"

So the moral is simple, take care of what you have, and take nothing for granted, for it may not be there next Christmas.

Cedar Update: Last year Lincoln Maine erected a "faux" tree of just wires and lights. This year 2023 they just did without the tree altogether. 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

A Thanksgiving Story (Redux)

Sometimes Cedar Posts stumbles upon something that just puts life into perspective, something I think we all need from time to time.

In this case as I look around the large table that holds family members who have come from near and far and think to myself, we'd have a pretty nice family if we'd just kill a couple of these people, and I know I need perspective.

And so on this Thanksgiving Day I offer writer Jeffery Rudell's story of family Thanksgiving lore.

So my last Thanksgiving ended at exactly 5 minutes after 5 pm on the fourth Thursday of November 34 years ago.

Let me explain.

Both of my parents were lower middle class people with upper lower class educations. My father was a foreman in a paper mill; my mother was a bank teller. We lived in a split-level house in a subdivision that went bankrupt shortly after they bought into it. Inexplicably, in January of 1974, my father came home and announced to my mother that he had sold everything and bought a farm 60 miles away.

The farm turned out to be 80 acres of untilled clay, a heap of rusting equipment and two Holstein cows. They argued until my mother agreed to pack up everything and move — everything, including her prized set of chartreuse colored Russel Wright crystal.

Within a month, my father had built a chicken coop, gotten the tractor fixed and purchased a bull. The bull arrived and went straight to work. Now, the next nine months went as you might expect, which is to say farming is not for amateurs. So any mistakes that could be made were made, beginning with breeding cows in March.

Our first cow went into labor and calved on Thanksgiving at 4 o'clock in the morning. This being Michigan, and a particularly cold season in our unheated barn, it died less than an hour later.

Now, seeing his assets frozen on the barn floor drove my father to take desperate steps to sort of protect his remaining investment. So he covered the floor of our family room with a large plastic tarp, put down a bed of straw and brought the remaining cow into the house to have its calf. By noon, both mother and calf were warm and sleeping in the room next to our kitchen. My father put a bale of straw in front of the doorway between the two rooms to keep them in place.

Now, while we were tending to the calves, my mother was in the kitchen banging pots and pans and muttering about it being a family room, not a maternity ward, sort of thing.

Now, every Thanksgiving it was my mother's custom to remove from her china cabinet one small pale green crystal cordial glass into which she would pour a single jigger of sherry to sip while she cooked. At no other time did my mother drink and to the best of my knowledge no other piece of crystal was ever used. Now, she loved this crystal. She used to brag that her crystal was the only thing she had that wasn't second rate or secondhand.

So. The afternoon goes on. Relatives arrive. My grandmother makes a comment about, "What is that awful smell?" but a sharp glance from my mother is enough to keep her from making it a second time.

At 5 o'clock exactly, turkey is put on the table. We all sit down to dinner and my grandfather says grace. Now, while God is being distracted by my grandfather, a lesser spirit overcomes the calf and it leaps over the bale of straw and comes charging into the kitchen and crashes into the table.

What happens next happens really fast. My mother screams, she grabs her cordial glass, stands up, knocking over her chair in the process. My father, more startled by my mother's screams than anything, sort of half stands, half lunges at the calf, which by now has its nose in his plate.

I will never forget that slow motion look of horror on my mother's face as she watches my father rise a little bit and reach for — but not quite reach — equilibrium before falling backward into the china cabinet.

Somehow, my father escaped injury but every single piece of crystal shattered. Everything save the one glass in my mother's hand. Now, for a child watching all of this unfold, it was fantastic. But that was our last Thanksgiving together, and for the remainder of their marriage that glass sat on my mother's dressing room table with her wedding ring in it.

For all the years in-between — on the 4th Thursday of every November, my mother took great pleasure in preparing a dinner of roasted veal.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Just So You Know

I'm proud to say that I'm “American by birth, Southern by the grace of God” and I'm truly sorry if your not.

Henry Clay Duty home he's seated 3rd from the right and my grandfather Ernest Lynn Duty standing 7th from the right. Circa 1915

Now as a Southerner with family roots in the Carolinas since at least 1740, and in later years Georgia and Alabama, and as someone who was raised in the north during my "formative years" of 5-15 yet, for the past 50 years has lived in the South, I'm going to tell you that the true even though truth is no longer politically correct. At this point freedom of thought and speech is still legal unless you happen to attract the attention of the Biden justice department.

John A. Edmonds my mother's great grandfather, Enlisted for the Confederate Cause on October 3, 1861. Wounded at Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862.  Recovered and returned.  Captured at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.  Received at Fort Delaware on July 6.  Transferred to Point Lookout on October 22, 1863 where he joined U. S. service on January 29, 1864.  He joined Captain Ahle's battery.  Filed for Federal Pension October 17, 1898 in Fayette County, Alabama and later moved to Natural Bridge, Winston County, Alabama.  He died there on November 7, 1910 and is buried at Concord Baptist Church Cemetery in Natural Bridge.

John A. Edmonds 

Neither Edmonds or Duty owned slaves, and while they owned farms they raised hogs, and cattle and the expense of human labor beyond family was not economical. 

So permit me to ponder – while pondering is still permitted in our Reunited States.

To many living elsewhere in our great nation The South is a total embarrassment, for it is the land of deplorables and knuckle draggers. The home of treasonist traitors and insurrectionists. We are especially despised by those smarter people living on our nation's two opposite coasts. Notice I say opposite because they are definitely not opposing coasts. The East and the West Coast are as similar are they can be and they are not the Gulf Coast were kind and considerate people live.

Now, brace yourselves my northern friends because until 2020 confederate veterans and/or their spouses or children were paid a veterans pension. That's right those treasonous redneck Confederate battle flag waving racists were actually paid a pension even though they lost the the war. Believe it or not the last recipient of a pension payment from the US Department of Veterans Affairs was Irene Triplett of (wait for it) North Carolina. Yep, until 2020 your tax dollars paid a pension to the daughter of a confederate veteran.

Now indeed, we talk funny. We’re slow and dumb and backwards and always conservative. We cling to our Bibles and our Guns. We got Donald Trump elected. That alone should make our separated brethren in the Disunited States to want to retroactively secede from us.  

Typically, our kids say “sir” and “ma’am” and, shockingly, we treat men and women differently, and we hold comically to the long-since discredited fantasy that only women can bear children. 

We still put flags and flowers on our ancestral graves – especially those of our our veterans – which is apparently why some folks who come South for the winter in their black socks and sandals, wagging their heads, and honking nasally and incredulously: “Look Martha, these people are still fighting the civil war.”

Apparently, we are not Enlightened and Educated like our neighbors from the Better Regions. We don’t read the New Yorker. We don’t listen to NPR and watch CNN. We don’t care what Whoopi and Joy have to say on the View. 

We don’t realize that we hate our "Black" next door neighbor (whom we are so deluded as to believe that we actually like) on account of our persistent and systemic ‘white privilege.’  In fact it is so systemic and persistent that we don’t notice it.  And we don’t know this because we are ignorant, for our children don’t go to Yale, or Harvard or even Stanford.  In fact, most of us dropped out of school in the third grade, when the booklearnin’ began to exceed our cerebral potentiality.

It seems that we go about in bare feet and overalls. We spit tobacco all over the place and drop our R’s and final G’s. We marry our cousins – but only after asking our uncles for their hand in marriage. Moreover, we eat roadkill and still have outhouses. 

In North Carolina, we either speak mountain hillbilly redneck or a coastal shrimp boat dialect known as bubba speak.  In that sense, we are apparently better than the people of South Carolina who apparently eat sand.  

There are experts in the field of judging groups of people and rating them according to their human worth.  This is apparently called “Intersectionality” and is taught at Columbia and Stanford and apparently studies have concluded that the sum total of our worth is zero.

Of course, they don’t mind when Bubba pulls off to the side of the road to help them change a tire, or when thousands of Billy Bobs join the military and fight America’s wars.

Just so long as we and our filthy kids with mullets don’t move next door to them with our truck on blocks and our dog on a chain blaring our country music and slaughtering our chickens in our backyards, it all good right?

A little history is in order,  you Yankees had a golden opportunity to be rid of us in 1861 without firing a single shot or spending a dime. You people hate us, but wouldn’t let us leave!  And you’re supposed to be the smart ones?

Well now, you’re stuck with us. You created an ‘indivisible union,’ and hence you are joined at the hip with the very people that make you roll your eyes in disgust, the ones that cost Hillary Clinton her destiny, the impediments to Progress, the ones who make you cry and shriek at the sky and dye your hair various and sundry shades of magenta. Yep.  We did that.  

And now, in spite of the largely successful program to vilify our region, our culture, and our ancestors, to destroy our monuments, rewrite our history, assassinate even the memory of our memories –  here we are again, people even in the belly of the beast of the People’s Republic of California are once again speaking the forbidden word, thinking the unthinkable thought, dreaming the impossible dream, and considering the inconsiderable consideration: secession.  And so, you might just yet get rid of the people you loathe. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But in spite of all y’all’s vitriol and opprobrium, we’re still always and ever hospitable to all who come to visit.  We will gladly share some possum stew with y’all, but only after we all gather around the old table, rise for prayers, and sing Dixie.

I have shocking and scandalous news to deliver to my perhaps soon-to-be ex countrymen, so I do hope you like the smell of irony in the morning: Guess What? We’re all Southerners now.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Veterans Day 2023

This week we will mark Veterans Day.

One of our lesser holidays that we note each year, but always seem to forget the real purpose behind as it is often 
confused with Memorial Day but without the Monday Federal Holiday. 

This year Veterans Day is Saturday November 11th.

Veterans Day is "Officially" a Federal Holiday, one of eleven in 2023, with Thanksgiving and Christmas (Friday Before This Year) to follow. It is observed in all 50 states except Wisconsin all US Territories and the District of Columbia. 

So here's the refresher:

Remember, Memorial Day honors those members of the armed forces who died in the service of our country, whereas V
eterans Day is a U.S. legal holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated in many countries as Armistice Day the following year, November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became legally known as Veterans Day.

Cedar's uncle, Dr. Richard Brown was one of many veterans in our family. Dr. Brown served in a MASH Unit during the Korean war. He shipped out in 1952 within weeks of marrying my aunt and graduating from medical school. His photo is below.

After the war he returned to the states and continued his medical career as the only doctor in the small town of Spencer West Virginia. Dr. Brown is a West Virginia native who graduated from University of West Virginia and was a fraternity brother of actor comedian Don Knotts.

Richard W. Brown, MD Circa 1951 Korea

Dr. Brown retired to Florida in 1990 but will always remained a Mountaineer, Dr. Brown and his wife Lois celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2017.

Dr. Brown passed away on May 23, 2018 aged 93.He was buried with full military honors in his hometown of Princeton West Virginia. 

And so we say thank you to all the thousands of men and women who like Dr. Brown who have served in our armed forces.

The following is an outtake from the book "MASH - An Army Surgeon in Korea" by Otto F. Apel, Jr. MD, a follow medical doctor who served during the same time as my uncle. 

Just a reminder than its never too late to say thank you to a veteran or in this case a fellow veteran. His book was published 2 years before his death on November 9, 2000.

Korea was a long time ago.

Korea was a mountainous country far away and the war there happened a long time ago. Even now, time and distance separate us. Korea was far from my mind on a recent autumn evening as I drove from my office in the Ohio River town of Portsmouth, out the rural roads into the hills and farms and communities, to my house back up a country road away from everything.

In the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio in the fall, when the leaves turn colors and the weather cools and the geese flock south, the mushrooms are out in the fields. As I turned up the country road toward home, I was followed by a man and a woman in a pickup truck. My wife Joan, saw them too. Neither of us said anything.

We left the gravel road and eased into our own lane, and the truck followed us. The lane nearly a half of mile of new gravel, rolled over the hills and up to the house. We stopped and the truck stopped about fifty yards behind us. I watched cautiously in the rear view mirror. The man got out, grasped a strand of barbed wire fence, pushed it down, and stepped through into the field. He was a tall, slender, clean cut man with thin threads of graying hair slicked straight back, and he wore a faded old army field jacket. He sauntered into the field. He stopped and searched the ground, strolled on, stopped and searched some more. He looked up at us. We looked at him. He dropped his gaze to the ground and continued his slow, deliberate about the field.

"Who is that?" Joan asked.

"I don't know," I said.

I put my car in reverse and eased back towards him. Several yards away, I stopped and stepped out. The man glanced up, unsurprised. He was a handsome man who appeared to be in his late fifties or early sixties, I looked at the truck and saw the woman starting at us. The man's clear eyes searched the ground as he ambled on over to the fence. He clutched something in his clean lean fingered hand.

"Can I help you?" I said. While standing cautiously on the other side of the fence.

"Naw, I don't need no help. I'm just out here looking for mushrooms.
"I don't know whether there are any mushrooms out there", I said. I glanced involuntarily to the fading green pasture.

"This your property?" he asked.

I said it was. Joan watched from our car.

He came a little closer until he stood several yards from me but still on the other side of the fence. Beneath the old, torn army field jacket he wore a plaid shirt and overalls.

"You Dr. Apel?" he asked.

I said I was.

"You the surgeon?"

I nodded. "Can I help you with anything?" I asked.

"You the one I read about in the paper a couple of months ago? The one who was in the MASH unit in Korea?"

I nodded.

He looked over his shoulder and quickly back to me. He smiled "You remember me?"

I searched his face. "I don't think I do."

He said his name and it did not ring a bell.

"I lived on Fourth Street all my life. Grew up there, went to high school four of five years behind you. I lived there all my life.

I could see that he held a mushroom in this hand; he pulled it up close to his face and studied it. He turned it, pinched it open as if he were dissecting it. Without looking up from his mushroom, he told me when he worked.

"I worked there ever since I got back from Korea," he said proudly.

In the silence of the evening , a tractor engine roared slowly over the field. A distant car with its lights on pushed down the country road.

You still don't remember me?"

For the life of me, I could not place him.

"I was in your MASH unit back in 1951. I was with the 17th Infantry, 7th Division. Was hit in the should near the Hwachon Reservoir. They brought me in and I seen you working there and asked if it was you. I said to the nurse, Is that man from Ohio?" And the nurse, she looked and said you was."

He lobbed the mushroom underhand out into the field.

"I was there in 1951 and '52," I said.

"I know you was," he said quickly. "You worked on me and next thing I knew I was back in Japan in one of them hospitals. I never got to say thanks, to you. Hadn't been for you, they tell me I woudla been dead."

I had to smile.

He scrunched his face. "Yeah, ever since I got back, I been meaning to come out here and say 'thanks' to you."

"That was fifty years ago," I said.

"Yeah," he said with a sheepish grin. I guess time just gets away for you, don't it? I been meaning to come out here and just never got around to it. Kept meaning to come out sooner or later. I thought today's as good a time as any."

I laughed warmly. "I appreciate it."

"Anyway," he said, "thanks for all you done."

We stood for a moment in silence. The cicadas screeching in the trees.

"Well," he said, "can't keep the wife waiting."

And with that, he turned and sauntered back toward his truck. I watch as he walked slowly, grasped the barbed wire, opened a place and crawled through. He hopped across the gully to the pickup and stepped in. The engine started with the roar of the rusted-out muffler, and he went on down the road. In a moment her was out of sight.

"You're welcome," I said.

Korea and the MASH were a long time ago. I have not been back since 1952 - except frequently when I have involuntarily jerked at a loud noise that sounded like artillery or when I have cried out in the darkness from a deep and vivid dream. Now even the thoughts and the dreams are less frequent. But all this time I have intended to go back. I have wondered what that was about and what we were doing there. I know it is a part of us and a part of me, and all these years I have intended to go back.

You can purchase Dr. Apel's book on Amazon in both hardback and electronic editions here.

We are proud of our family of veterans:

John MacEntyre, Continental Army 1776-1778

Samuel Studdard South Carolina Militia 1812-1814 Horseshoe Bend, Battle of New Orleans 

Nathan Edmonds, US Army Georgia Volunteers Seminole Indian Wars 1818

Samuel MacEntyre, US Army KIA 1863 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain

John Edmonds, CSA 26th Alabama Captured Battle of Gettysburg US Army 1861-1864

Ernest Lynn DutyUS Navy WW I 1914-1916

William O. Durham, US Army WW I  68th Infantry Division 1914-1918

Donald Dufalt, US Marine Corps KIA 1942 Iwo Jima Battle of Midway WW II

Teman WilhiteUS Marine Corps WW II, Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart Battle of Midway 1942

Wallace Edmonds, US Army 1941-1943 Germany WWII

Simon Henry, US Army WW II and Korea

John Geiger, III, US Army Air Corps Germany, WW II

Milton Carney, US Marine Corps WW II, Korea

Richard W. Brown, MD  US Army MASH 1951-1952 Korea

Robert Brown, USAF Panama 

Un-Named Family, US Army Cold War 1968-1972

Peter Carney, US Navy Iraq Afghanistan

Un-Named Family, US Navy US Air Force Reserves Iraq Afghanistan