By JAMES SHERIDAN
For The Recorder
Last Saturday, while having breakfast, I asked my wife if she thought that I'd gained any fame from my writing. Did she think that fame would change me? She looked me right in the eye and said "Jim, gaining fame is not a problem you'll be faced with."
We have a ritual at our age. There is no rush to get out of bed in the morning. On our night stand we have a Bible and a pamphlet titled "Our Daily Bread." We have our devotions and then have a moment of silent prayer each day. This will be the first occasion my wife knows what my silent prayer is -- and has been for a number of years. When the Big Guy in the Sky starts the roll call, I pray that he summons me many years before my wife because I am not equipped to handle the pain involved by being above ground, alone. I have taken so much for granted in the 62 years of our marriage. I haven't had one negative experience. My wife caters to me to the point where it's sickening. When everyone was home, at breakfast, the five of us took a vote on what we would have for supper. By some odd coincidence, what I suggested would be in the middle of the table at suppertime. You guys in my age bracket -- the next time your family gets together, after saying the blessing, don't look for your wife. She will be too busy taking care of everybody else. She feeds the cat and the dog before she sits down.
Drifting back to when I ran away, I would like to share a few things with you. We were not at war and nobody had anything. One word drove me: survival. I have seen the following: In Ohio and Iowa, small cities always had a white picket fence around the house. On that fence you look for one of two signs -- a black crayon marked "O" so you stay away from there because a hobo has already been there and been denied. You look for a black square which means a "square meal." In this case, one could knock on the door and see if they need the lawn mowed, wood chopped or windows washed. You are guaranteed a sandwich and something to drink. This is where I developed my love of peanut butter. Another outlet to quell one's appetite was family gardens. If you spotted one, and it was still daylight, one waited for the sun to set. You are always good for a half dozen tomatoes, which is why I always carry a salt shaker.
The following I have never done but have observed being done. It is standard procedure for a clean shaven hobo. The only thing you need is a $1 bill. You stop at a restaurant with a counter. You don't want to sit in a booth. You ask the waitress for a large o.j., a stack of pancakes and extra butter. When about three-quarters of the way through, you ask the waitress quite casually if the local police department is very hard on traffic violations. You tell her your car is a half block away and you don't want trouble with the local authorities, so would she please give you a check and a fresh cup of coffee and would she please change a $1 bill into silver so I could feed the meter ... and you vanish. The only evidence that you have been there is your check and the fresh cup of coffee. Remember, the word for today was survival.
See you guys next Saturday.
JAMES SHERIDAN is an Amsterdam resident
and a frequent contributor.