Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson

I will remember this month, this May of 2024, as one of journalistic chaos and don’t you wanna know why? Let me tell you why; and in the telling offer up a plea of “guilty with prejudice” to the charge of Unwarranted Opinion.

If one writes a weekly column, no matter if for the Watsonville Pajaronian or the New York Times and everything in between, then one is held to deadlines and word/space limitations; the former always holds true while the latter can change. The two Valley papers come out on Wednesdays and have a long as I can remember. We usually think of a month on a four-week basis, but a look at the calendar shows if the first, second or third day of any month with 31 days falls on a Wednesday, that means not four but five columns needed in that month.

In this year of 2024, the months of January, May, July and December have five Wednesdays; and for this month (the reasons I’ll get to here in a minute) I wanted to get well ahead of the game. I began submitting columns well before the Monday at noon deadline, a variation from the norm that did not go well. To give you an idea, today is the 29th and as I write this, I can hear the carnival workers dismantling rides because the Fair ended yesterday.

The reason is I submitted a two-column piece, part one ran on the 15th, the second part a week later on the 22nd, which is two days from now. This is where the guilty with prejudice plea entered the picture. I owe it to a couple of people who with either humorous side comments or direct oppositions keep me in mind that disparaging words aimed at any person are just my opinion and nothing more. When confronted regarding Mr. Trump, I plead guilty to the charge that I hold a very negative opinion of the man and my words reflect that. But any careful look at the numbers will reveal I am not alone in this justifiable prejudice. ‘Nuff said here.

Were I writing this normally, I would include a few words about hearing Frank work his drum kit last Friday evening as part of a band kicking off Sol Treasures Summer Backyard Concert series. But as I am going to submit this column today, that event won’t have happened yet. And if I was operating under normal schedules, I could write a piece in such a manner as to include mentioning the Monday morning Memorial Day services at the cemetery and be able to get it in by the noon deadline. So, why the rush to press with this month’s columns? Let me offer up a poignant memory to set the stage.

In the summer of 1959, just shy of my seventh birthday, my parents were able to get enough vacation time to reunite with family in Iowa, so the four of us loaded into a Volkswagen Beetle and hit the road. I could relate a few memories of that trip, but one comes to mind because it seems to have come full circle in my life. The time we spent in my mom’s hometown was filled with relatives and friends from years past, and early on the day we were leaving back to Greenfield we went to my mother’s grandmother’s house for a short while. After good-byes as we were backing out of the drive, I noticed my mother was crying and I innocently asked why. She told me that at my great-grandmother’s age and the many miles that separated them she knew she was saying good-bye for the last time. And now 65 years later, I am faced with that same situation.

A few months ago, my son-in-law, Jeff, landed a job in Florida and moved there with expectation my daughter and some of my seven grandkids would follow him there. My daughter can keep her present job with Oklahoma State University until, and if, she moves on to a new position with somebody else. Both Jeff, who is an educator for challenged children, and Jenny are highly employable people, so such a move is possible without major impact on finances; except that Jeff now has a greater income that he did in Oklahoma. The time for the move was planned for after the fifth grandchild graduated this month, so a few months ago my daughter bartered with me: room and board for 11 days if I helped move-out of their place in Oklahoma and drive the U-Haul to the new place in Florida.

I happily took up the offer, and so Saturday, June 1, I’ll fly to OKCity and return on June 11. The route chosen will take me to a couple places I’ve visited before, Fort Smith, Ark., one of them, the other the night we will spend in Hot Springs, Ark. But for only a quick non-stop drive on the Christopher Columbus Intercontinental Freeway (Interstate 10) I have never stopped in Mississippi, and on this trip we’ll spend the night in the riverside city of Natchez; one of America’s oldest cities with a rich history. I’ll see areas I’ve never laid eyes on before and meet new people who make up the vast diversity of the American populace. I’m like a student anxiously awaiting summer vacation; I count each day as they seem to drag toward the first day of June. But there is a downside.

Given that three of the older kids will remain in Oklahoma and the others will be clear across the country, and that I am neither a monied nor young man, the chances are very real that this trip may be the last time I spend with some of my family. I recall my mother’s reaction of decades ago with much more understanding of how she truly felt and suppose I will feel the same. Such is life.

Take care. Peace.

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King City and Greenfield columnist Steve Wilson may be reached at [email protected].


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