THE LUNAR REPORT – “ALWAYS DREAMING” May 6, 2017

 

Always Dreaming was today’s Kentucky Derby winner. But as long as the poor young nag keeps racing, his dreams of running without being brutally whipped are futile.

 

I watched today’s Derby. That’s something I rarely do. Now I remember why I have avoided this spectacle.

 

As the race was ending, here is what I saw: 20 three-year-old colts and mares, running as fast as they could, while their, what I call “drivers-” not “riders”- were beating the hell out of them.

 

 

Meanwhile, the cameras covering the event showed multi-million dollar “owners,” cheering the beatings of their very own living property! All the while, sipping Kentucky mint juleps!

 

Look, I am a NASCAR fan. And those drivers beat the hell out of their modes of speedy transportation as well. But those beatings are mostly accidental. And when their modes can no longer perform, changes are made. They use duct tape. They change tires. They repair twisted metal. They add fuel!  And – they drink beer!

 

But what NASCAR owners never do is send their useless and beaten living vehicles to a deserted pasture to merely bide time until the glue factory sends a pick-up truck – while it’s wealthy owner sips more juleps, buys more young living things whose whippings will one day create even more self-serving smiles and cheers!

If I were a young and fast horse, I would treasure the name of “Always Dreaming.”

Let’s face it. Dreams are all that young thoroughbreds have!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “HOW TO BE FIDO” April 20, 2017

I taught the youngest guy how to be a dog. I sat mostly in silence with the middle guy for a good while before convincing him what a dweeb I was. I warned the oldest guy about where to not put his head. And I told the oldest of them all that my legs had never felt smoother.

This is my life as a granddad. At least it was during a recent six-day Easter trip to Texas with the bunch. “The Bunch” is what I call my son and his wife and her daughter and sister and mother and my son’s children and a couple of nephews. “The Bunch!” I really want nothing but the best for The Bunch. My hope is that my behavior around each of them didn’t dash their hopes of me!

I think I treated the nephews and the sister and the mother with fun but with respect as well. My son and his wife, though? Well, that’s up to interpretation. Whatever I said to those two, I hope they accept my apologies or appreciate my understanding of them both. Those are important notions to an old dad of a long-time and loving son and a relatively new but wonderful daughter. But the notions are pretty much unimportant ones.  At least they are when it comes to the meat of “The Bunch!”

The most beautiful of The Bunch is the oldest child. A young woman who is close to being as wonderful as her mom. They both posses the ultimate beauty. Inside and out. But I am such a dork. I mean, I appreciate their beauty, but what drives me is being able to make them both laugh! And I made the mom laugh a few times – at her own expense. I apologize for those times. But the daughter, my granddaughter, set me up for the following punch line.

As we were preparing to leave the hotel to return to North Carolina, the granddaughter, a 14-year-old, asked me to give the shaving cream and razor she left in my room to my son to pack and bring back home. I assured her that I would and then said, “Oh, crap! I saw that in the shower and I used it! Man, my legs have never been smoother!” I am not sure if she and her mom were embarrassed by my comments. But, damn it, they both laughed!

The oldest grandson is a wonderful kid. He’s only around ten years old. But just like the oldest nephew, a seventeen-year-old, he so readily offers and delivers the help anyone around him needs. I asked the nephew for help a couple of times, and he obliged. In his natural ways. But just as natural were the ways my grandson helped. Without having been asked. Look, there were eleven of us traveling in a van from North Carolina to Texas. Five adults, two young teens, and four young-ins. Most of my time was spent on the far back bench seat. Underneath that seat was my luggage. At some point during the trip, I needed something from my luggage. So I struggled, trying to pull my bag from underneath my seat. And suddenly, without my request for help, the oldest grandson appeared and crawled on the floor of the van to pull out what I needed. He assured me he would take care of it. So, I raised and spread my legs to give him access to the luggage. Well, the kid would have succeeded, I think. But the closer he got to me, the more I understood his sense of humor. So I said to him, as his head approached my crotch, “Dude! Watch where you put your head!” Once the kid stopped laughing, he said to the nephew, “Man – did you hear what Paw Paw said?” And – I never retrieved my luggage.

I think I identify mostly with my “middle grandson.” While he is not even close to being as insecure as I was a kid, he is much closer than the others. Like I always was as a kid, this one seems to feel guilty about minor things, is way too apologetic about stuff, and is not afraid to shed a tear or two. Well, I am not at all sure how he feels about me right now. During an Easter egg hunt at a park in Dallas on Easter day, I noticed that he was sitting alone on some cement steps with his head down. I walked away from all the others and sat down next to him. We said very little at first. He just needed someone next to him for a while. Then, we began to talk. He told me what was on his mind. Then I told him what a dweeb his granddad was as a child. About how my older brother used to pick on me. About how my brother and sister used to call me dumb and stupid. About how I reacted when I lost at Monopoly! I said to him, “Man – I never won at Monopoly! And my brother and sister would just gloat and laugh and I always ended up throwing the Monopoly board off the table in anger! I was such a jerk back then.” That kid wiped away a couple of tears and said, “Paw Paw, you are not a jerk.” And then he smiled! Finally he smiled.

Then – there’s “Sweet-P!” That’s what I call the youngest. The spelling of his name begins with a “p.” And he is a very sweet kid. But I will be honest with you. I have never known a child like this one. When I see and hear things from Sweet-P,      I see the next Robin Williams or John Belushi or Chevy Chase or Johnny Carson on the horizon. This kid is a bit gullible as well. Or. Maybe the kid just actually understands the value of becoming a dog right now in his life. The kid is five years old. A couple of years ago, he asked to have a bite of the food I was eating. I told him that he would have to beg for it. Like a dog. I said, “Speak!” He very quickly caught on and responded with a dog bark! At that point, I labeled Sweet-P as “Fido!” A couple of mornings ago, at the free breakfast at the Dallas hotel where we were staying, Fido began eating his Fruit Loops without a human inspired spoon. And each time I told him to speak, the kid would bark. Later in the trip, we were eating lunch outside somewhere, and he began to bark and pant like a dog. And God forgive me for this, but I asked Fido to show me how he scratches his ear. Naturally, the kid used his right hand to show me. That’s when I said, “No! Dogs use their feet to scratch their ears!” The kid took off one of his flip-flops and began to scratch his right ear with his right foot! And he did it many times during the following few days! After our last meal together, during some times when Sweet-P seemed to get out of control a bit, all I had to say was, “Fido! Sit!” Man! The kid would sit! And bark! And, again, would scratch his ear with his foot!

Look, here is my message to my son and his wife and others: For the love of God, at some point do your best to protect your children from such a demented granddad!

In the meantime, thank you and your young-ins for giving an old man such joy!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “SHORT LIVES” February 25, 2017

Last night, I asked this question on Facebook:

“What goes through the minds of lifelong and dear friends when their lifelong and dear friends simply oppose the political beliefs of those they love dearly?”

 

The responses I got were actually all wonderful ones. And I heard from three really beautiful and longtime friends and loved ones. Friends who disagree somewhat with my simple political views.  But then, today, things happened. Serious things.

So, I thanked all my friends for responding to that rather nebulous question. Below is my response to them all. I wouldn’t post this on The Lunar Report if I did not think it was important. So thank you guys for bearing with me!

“Thank you all for replying and helping here. And to Gary and Preston, I totally understand you both. Gary, I am sorry for what you guys have been going through, but I am very happy about the remission. And, Preston! Hearing from you made my day! Knowing you is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me. It is! And I miss your smile, your eyes and your beautiful kindness. The healthcare issue you both mentioned is a more specific issue than what my original post is about. But, damn it! Your responses helped me in the most perfect ways.

Do y’all mind if I tell you about my day? Please bear with me here.

This morning, shortly after reading the posts from you, Gary, and you, Preston, I drove 30-minutes to watch my youngest grandson play basketball. He’s only five, so, at this point, his strongest skill is to charm the three little girls on his team. And he really gets into that!

 

After that game, I had some time to kill before my oldest grandson played in a tournament game. So, I was able to go to lunch with my son, his wife, all four of my grandchildren, and my daughter-in-law’s mother. Man! I had one grandchild on my left, another on my right and their parents sat directly across from me. There were laughs, there were smiles, there was nonsense, and there was some serious love.

 

My talented nine-year-old grandson played his heart out. Still, his team lost that later game. But his team won, too. Before the game, his dad, one of the coaches, organized, again, a pre-game center court prayer circle that included the other team, all coaches and even the two referees. It was quite a moving moment.

So much so, that I had to look away to keep my emotions controlled a bit as my son delivered that prayer. So, I looked up, through the skylights in the gym. There I saw a clear blue sky with fast moving and wonderful white clouds drifting by. That’s when I thought of my mother. She would have been so damned proud of her grandson, her great grandson and all of their Saturday afternoon associates at that moment.

 

We all parted ways after the game. After that, I returned home, and I met two new young friends. Marcellus and Desmond. They are neighbors that I had never met until late this afternoon. They are both around nine or ten years old. I was on my porch when I first saw them. They were walking down my walkway. And Marcellus was carrying a small box – one that I readily recognized. It was the same shaped box of the medication that I need daily and had been expecting. It hat been delivered to my neighbor’s house by mistake. Marcellus handed me the box. Offered his name and extended his hand for a kind and gentle shake. Desmond stayed back a bit, but presented such a warm and friendly smile when I asked his name and thanked them both.

Shortly after meeting my two young friends, I heard some disturbing news about a guy I also call my friend. We really weren’t pals. We were co-workers who enjoyed each others’ company during and after work for a few years. But this man made everyone he ever met feel like his best friend. He did! Well, my friend died suddenly today, doing some volunteer firefighting training in Michigan.  His name is Ron Savage.

Look, I am not looking for pity or sympathy or anything like that. But my family and their love of God and of each other and their laughter and successes and failures, Marcellus’ and Desmond’s lives and my long-time friend’s death kind of brought this day and my original post full circle. And it kind of forces me to use a cliché. Life really is way too damned short. It is way too short to ever allow a simple vote for a man we have never known alter in any way the love we have for those we do know and meet and cherish. It really is, y’all!

Forgive me for becoming so emotional here. But true emotions really should be reserved for those we have grown to cherish during each moment of our damned short and loving lives!”

THE LUNAR REPORT – “I AM BENATRIPPEN!” February 21, 2017

Discussing body rashes on The Lunar Report is really something that turns me off.   But, dang!   I have had a rather itchy rash for days.

So, today, I went to Walgreens. I told the pharmacist there about the rash and that I thought it was shingles. I asked for some over the counter recommendations I could use until I see a doctor in a couple of days.

 

The Walgreens’ guy was very helpful. He showed me an ointment that would relieve the itching. Then he said, “And I recommend also taking Benadryl. Now, it might make you a little drowsy, but it may help.”

 

I took the man’s advice. About fifteen minutes after taking a couple of doses of the drug, the itching just stopped. And, naturally, I said to myself, “Damn! That Walgreens’ guy knows his stuff!” Then, the Benadryl really kicked in.

That’s when I read the fine print on the package. I think. My vision was terribly blurred by that time. “There will be marked drowsiness. Do not use alcohol when taking this drug. Excitability may occur.”

A mistake or two was made. And the printed warnings came way too late to correct them.

The pharmacist used the words, “… a little drowsy.” And never mentioned the alcohol or excitability things. So, I had a couple of drinks after the itching was relieved. You know. To celebrate. But “a LITTLE drowsy?”

Man! Just a few minutes ago, I tried to go to the bathroom and fell down like five times! I kept falling asleep on the way to the john! But I was so excited, I just picked myself up, had another drink and laughed.

So, look. Once the rash clears, I am having a “BYOB Party” at my place! You are all invited, especially the Walgreen’s guy. And I will provide all the alcohol!

But you MUST Bring Your Own Benadryl!  I promise you, I will run out of mine long before the party!  Help me out and share yours, though.  I promise, also, that I will crunch it up and share the straw!

In the words of Tony “Scarface” Montana: “This is paradise, I’m tellin’ ya.”

 Man! I love this stuff!!!!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “LIGHT WEIGHT PROTESTS” February 17, 2017

See, by now, you guys must think I am just a crusty, hard-headed and conservative old Southern man who has never fought for justice and civil liberties. Well, in the words of our president, “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”

Just today, in light of some student protests here in Charlotte, I have been pondering my past. Today, some local students walked out of school to protest the interactions between ICE and immigrants. Well, I am here to tell you that those students are light weight.

 

Walking out of school? Just walking out? They used today as the perfect opportunity to ditch school for the day. This day also happened to be a “make up “ day for bad weather that happened a while back. So, of course they walked out! I mean, come on! Even a crusty, hard-headed and conservative old Southern man like me would have done the same thing.

 

I organized my first protest fifty-one years ago. And at the time, I , too, was a young public school student. At Fishweir Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida. Back then, kids had what they called, “play periods.” That’s when the teacher would take us outside to “play!”

 

 

 

 

As a sixth grader in 1966, “play period” meant “kickball!” And kickball during play period was the most fun kids my age had back then. And Fishweir had some pretty good and new kickballs that were full of air and quite kickable!

 

 

Well, late one morning, as our play period began, we went outside to enjoy some kicking and the beautiful day. The very first kicker that day pounded the ball, as hard as he could, toward the sideline and the top of the chain link fence. It really was a powerful kick. But the damned ball wedged between the spikes on top of the fence and an old and hard oak tree.

 

 

 

 

The ball deflated. Immediately.

 

 

 

Well, that seemed to baffle, what I call our “play period guy.” I really don’t know what the hell the guy did, but he was about sixty years younger than our teacher, so he watched us play every day.

 

 

 

And he really did garner more respect from the twenty-five or so twelve year olds than did our ninety-five year old teacher. But on this day, he decided to, instead of finding another ball, make us clean up the playground. Seriously.

 

Well, that disturbed us all terribly. So, I organized all of us kids to have a sit down strike. We formed a semi-circle, sat side by side, clapping our hands, swaying left and right and chanting, “We shall overcome.” Again, I am being very serious here. The poor play period guy was baffled. He had a dirty playground, a busted ball and twenty-five twelve year olds swaying and chanting. He did all that he could do at the time. He let us protest!

 

Eventually, a real teacher or someone came out to break up the discourse. Our teacher never showed. I think she was getting an oxygen treatment or something. But whoever it was made us go inside. And, we did not have to clean the damned playground! We won! Play period guy lost!

Because of what happened in Charlotte today, and because of my twisted memories and thoughts, I just had to contact my daughter-in-law and son. They have four children who are home schooled. I really did have to ask this question and make this statement:

“Did your kids walk out of school today as a protest like some kid’s in Charlotte did? If not, then I need to have a heart-to-heart talk with each of them. They blew a perfect opportunity to spend a beautiful day AWAY from schooling!”

Neither of them have responded, yet! They must be as baffled as I am about a crusty, hard-headed and conservative old Southern man suggesting such a thing!

CLASSIC LUNAR – “MANGUM REPORT – REVISED” February 6, 2017

SPECIAL “BEAT DOOK” EDITION OF THE LUNAR REPORT.  FROM NOVEMBER 6, 2009

 

(The original was written and posted about eight years ago, during football season.  Well,this is hoops time!  My revisions only deleted references to that strange oblong leather ball!)

Granddaddy Mangum and Dickie.

Just a couple of side bars here. When my brother, Dickie, was a toddler, he lived with my parents in Victory Village, the married student housing on the UNC campus at the time. Word has it that his first words were, “Beat Dook.”

 

Dean Dome!

 

Two days after my son was born, the wife and I drove him through the UNC campus and past the Dean Dome.  We told him that if he decided to attend NC State, we would disown him. But that if he chose Dook, we would shoot him.

 

Now to the meat of all this. The UNC-Dook rivalry actually began way before either school had a basketball team. It began with a major dispute that involved land and bastard children between the Duke family and my family, the Mangums. (My Mom is a Mangum.) There are details in an article written in the Raleigh News and Observer about 23 years ago. The entire article is below.

Mangum Dormitory

At any rate, the Duke family money went to Trinity College (now Duke University), and the Mangum money went to UNC. And the rivalry began. And it all started with MY family and that miserable Duke family.

One more thing. As they say around here, “Go to hell, Dook!”

The News & Observer (includes Chapel Hill News) (Raleigh, NC)

The News & ObserverMarch 5, 1994

The UNC-Duke rivalry’s hidden side.  Leading families feuded for years
Author: CRAIG WHITLOCK; STAFF WRITER
Edition: FINALSection: NEWSPage: B1Index
Terms:UNC-CH; Duke;

Washington Duke, Willie P. Mangum HISTORY

Article Text:

It happened long ago, in the year 1794, but just as lustful folks are prone to do these days, Taylor Duke ignored the risks and seduced a local gal by the name of Chaney Mangum.  Duke, a weather-beaten Orange County farmer, figured nobody would learn about the indiscretion, least of all his wife. But when Mangum bore his bastard son nine months later, it blew his cover.

It also ignited one of the most enduring blood feuds ever seen in these parts.  The Dukes, for whom the university is named, and the Mangums, some of the University of North Carolina’s biggest benefactors, have been at loggerheads ever since, with the vendetta spreading to the worlds of business and politics.  And more recently, basketball.  

Tonight, the feud resumes in all its glory when the UNC Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils take the court in Durham.  The winner not only will claim basketball supremacy, but will momentarily gain the upper hand in a family feud that has boiled for 200 years.  

Both clans are rooted in the rural villages of Red Mountain and Bahama, in what is now northern Durham County.  On the surface, the backgrounds are similar.  Both families grew tobacco.  Both thrived in business and influenced politics.But family members, particularly during the 19th century, shuddered at the thought that the Dukes or Mangums had anything in common.   Over the years, they’ve battled over politics, competed for higher social standing and, on occasion, lusted after one another.  

William Preston Mangum II, a family historian, says the two sides don’t fuss as viciously as, say, the gunslinging Hatfields and McCoys.   But they don’t exactly get together for Sunday dinner either.”  I don’t want to say hatred, but underlying these two families is a desire to get the better of each other,” he said in a recent interview at, appropriately, the Washington Duke Inn in Durham.   “There definitely are ill feelings.”

Especially noteworthy is how the families took their rivalry to the rarefied arena of higher education.  The Dukes nurtured fledgling Trinity College in Durham, pumping so much tobacco money into the school that its trustees renamed it Duke University in 1929.  Less publicized is how the Mangums directed their generosity to the state university nine miles away in Chapel Hill.  The Mangums were crucial in helping the university survive its first century.   Willie P. Mangum served on the board of trustees for 43 years.   Adolphus Mangum, a professor, helped reopen the school after the Civil War.   Charles Staples Mangum founded the UNC School of Public Health.   Countless other Mangums graduated from UNC.   A dormitory and several academic awards are named after the family.

The campus connection is where the basketball game fits in.  Both teams have jockeyed all season for the country’s top ranking.   Between them, they’ve won the last three national championships and are two of the most successful programs of all time.  All told, it’s one of the most deep-seated and unforgiving rivalries in the nation.

Taylor Duke couldn’t have known at the time that his amorous urges would cause such a long-lasting fuss.   All he knew was that a comely maiden, Chaney Mangum, had caught his eye.  As can happen when such desires manifest themselves, Chaney Mangum bore a son.   At first, the father’s identity was kept quiet and the adulterous Duke was spared any public shame.   But the secret didn’t last long.  The couple had difficulty containing their affection.   One thing led to another, and the still-unmarried Chaney Mangum had another child.  This time, the Mangums identified Duke as the suspected father in both cases.  Angered by his cavalier attitude, they took him to court and forced him to pay $5 a year in child support.   The judgment was no small debt for the prolific Duke, who had 10 other children.

In the 1800s, the feud extended beyond the bedroom and into the! politic al realm.   For a time, the Mangums reigned supreme, although the Dukes did their best to discredit their neighbors.  Willie P. Mangum was the most famous of the bunch.   An 1815 UNC graduate, he served 23 years in Congress.   He was also a founder of the Whig party and ran for president in 1836.   He carried South Carolina in the election, but not his home state — thanks to opposition from people like the Dukes.  The Dukes were fervent Democratic Republicans and were vocal about it, something that caused Willie Mangum no small amount of consternation.

In the 1830s, a supporter wrote Mangum in Washington to report on the political troublemakers back home.   The writer singled out the Dukes, calling them, with uncanny foresight, part of “a Devilish clan.”  The Mangums weren’t above making fun of the Dukes, either.   One 19th century Mangum noted in his will that he owned a horse named Duke.

After the Civil War, the families’ fortunes changed. The Mangums, part of the Old South’s aristocracy, lost virtually everything. The Dukes, on the other hand, made the most of Reconstruction, thanks to tobacco.  Washington Duke, a legitimate son of Taylor Duke, raised bright leaf tobacco and entered the manufacturing side of the business.   Soon he and his three sons had created a fabulously profitable enterprise.  

Suddenly flush with money, the Dukes didn’t hesitate to throw their weight around.  In 1881, for example, residents of eastern Orange County wanted to split off and form a new county.   The leading proposal was to name it after Willie P. Mangum, the former lawmaker.  But Washington Duke nixed the idea.   He vowed to yank the Dukes’ considerable assets from the area if he had to live in Mangum County.   The threat worked: The jurisdiction became known as Durham County.  

The mostly forgotten conflict is detailed in Willie Mangum’s papers, stored at the Southern Histo! rical Collection in Chapel Hill.  “A lot of people have never heard that before,” says William Preston Mangum, the family historian. “But it’s a true story.”

After two centuries, the feud has cooled somewhat, no longer colored by nasty court battles or political fights.   But the two families remain ever loyal to their respective schools.   The Duke kids still go to their university.   And virtually all the Mangums go to UNC.  The bumper sticker on William P. Mangum’s Oldsmobile reveals as much: “Tar Heel by birth, Carolinian by the grace of God.”

Copyright 1994 by The News & Observer Pub. Co.Record Number: RNOB172307

THE LUNAR REPORT – “THANKS JOE” February 4, 2017

 

Last night I had a telephone conversation with an old friend. He was my best friend during our high school years, but our last really meaningful conversation occurred in 1992, after my dad, Joe Moon, died.  We reconnected, relatively recently, on Facebook.  He and I have disagreed on some Facebook posted issues.

He’s a die hard Democrat.

 

I am a die hard Republican.

 

And, well you all know what that means right now in our current history.

Last night was very special to me. We shared our love and laughs for a good while, and then he laid his bombshell on me. My old friend, a die-hard Gator fan, said, “I need to tell you something that you will not like.”

I said, “Oh, Lord, John. What is it?”

“Well,” he replied, “I have also been a Duke basketball fan for a long, long time.”

That’s when my dad’s twisted and inherited humor kicked in. And when I said this.

“Good God, John! That’s worse than being a damned Democrat!”

John knows my dad and his sense of humor.

My “Daddy” words got a big laugh from my old friend.

Thanks, Joe! Last night you made my day once more. And the day of John – another good friend of yours!

THE LUNAR REPORT – “FAITH IN FRIENDS” January 29, 2017

 

 

Often, I look at my life and see nothing but failure.   It’s really hard, some times, to sift through thwarted plans, foiled loves and other dismal adventures and rediscover the other moments that have brightened our lives for decades.   Hell.   It really is.

 

I have dealt with failure all my life.   I suppose we all have.   Failed mortgages.   Failed jobs.   Failed marriages.   And other relationships.  Those unsuccessful moments overpower us sometimes.   But within those instances of total darkness, those times we cannot find the brightness again, our greatest despair is created.

This is one of those disparaging moments.

A few months ago, I chose to sort of “come out of the closet” a bit.   And I said some things.   Some things I believe with all my heart.   But my heart seemed to cause immeasurable despair among some hearts I truly love.   And I regret that.

In the most adamant manner.

 

So, I have tried my best to restore a few dear friendships and the love we have mostly always shared.  I have mostly failed.

Again.

Now that I am “out of the closet,” those friends seem to think that I am a different man than the one they have known for decades.   I recently told one of those friends, as I sort of quoted lyrics from a song, “I have lost my faith in many things.    But I will never lose my faith in you.”    Unlike my undeniable belief in each of them, they have lost all faith in me.   And it is so damned hard to find the the sunshine, the stars, the moon – the brightness those hearts so generously provided to my failed one for so many years!

And I hate like hell the notion of failing again without the trust and love they once had in and for me.

I truly do.

The darkness that has overcome their once beacons of faith in one of the many hearts that share their same love, well – that’s way too overpowering right now.

So, too, is the lack of that sweet and loving light that mostly grace all of our lives every day!

(Look, I have been writing this for a few days.  Just this afternoon, one of those long-time and dear friends acknowledged my love for her.  And she acknowledged her love of me as well.  Suddenly the sweet and loving light has reappeared just a bit!)

That one friend made my day today.   Faith in friends and all others, including God, make such a powerful difference.  It certainly eases the often necessary siftings.

THE LUNAR REPORT – “KNOWING NO FAILURE” September 2, 2016

OLD WELLWhen I was in college, three friends and I decided, after a Saturday night of heavy drinking in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to drive to Nags Head. That’s a beautiful and basic place on the Carolina coast.  My longest running and best friend – even today – was one of those friends that night.  Mike grew up in Elizabeth City, a more inland town than is Nags Head, but it was nearby.  He insisted we do a road trip that night. The other two, Joy and Kathy, agreed. Eventually, I did, too!

Vega

 

The problem was, for some reason, we had to use Mike’s Chevy Vega to get us there.

 

After we all met back at Mike’s Orange County trailer outside of Chapel Hill to begin the late night trip, I learned a few things. The first thing I learned was that Mike’s license had been revoked for some reason, and that he couldn’t drive. Then I learned that Joy, a tiny girl from Dunn, NC, couldn’t even reach the pedals in a Chevy Vega. And the final education was that Kathy, a city girl from Atlanta, had never driven a “straight stick!”

But we made the trip anyway. And I had to drive. Back then, the drive was almost six hours. But we made it in time to see the sunrise over the ocean. We ate breakfast and locally grown scuppernongs after that, I think. jockey's ridgeThen we went to Jockey’s Ridge and watched the hang gliders dive off the ridge and into the wind. It was amazing. A few years later, I think, my friend Kathy returned to Jockey’s Ridge and did some gliding on her own. I wasn’t there, but I kind of think now that she broke a bone of some sort while trying that!

wright-bros-mem-1Late in the day on that Sunday of our trip, we went to the Wright Brother’s Memorial site. The place was closed, so we saw nothing. Nothing but a very large and empty parking lot. It was there that we tried to teach Kathy how to drive a straight stick so that I could get some rest on the ride home. It didn’t take! She just couldn’t do it. So, I drove back to Chapel Hill, too.

I probably failed a school test or two the following week, but I don’t care. My tired memory of Nag’s Head is a treasure that knows no failure.

THE LUNAR REPORT – “THANKS COACH” August 9, 2016

tampa

 

“College football is approaching rather rapidly.   And to many, it’s become a religion.   It was a religion to me.   At least once.   Back in 1976. In Tampa.”

 

 

Those are the only five or six sentences I had written to post on The Lunar Report this week.   It was supposed to be about a gathering of my family and their friends on the weekend of September 11 of that year.   gatorIt was supposed to make fun of the Florida Gators who lost to my team after throwing the ball out of bounds on fourth down to stop the clock.   It was supposed to be about my Aunt Edith who, on Sunday morning, had to put her bloody mary on top of the motel room television set so that she could hold her bible and hold prayer service.   It was supposed to be funny.

bill dooley 1

Well, it’s not so funny anymore.   I just learned that Bill Dooley, arguably the most successful football coach ever at The University Of North Carolina, passed away this morning.   I remember Jim Hickey, the coach who took Carolina to the 1962 Gator Bowl game.   But that’s my only memory of Coach Hickey.   Most of my early memories of Carolina Football came from the man who took over for Hickey in 1967.   From the man who died today.

Dooley brought us Don McCauley, Ron Rusnak, Ken Huff, Charles Waddell, Mike Voight, “Boom-Boom Betterson.”   And Lawrence Taylor!   He also brought his fans 69 wins in 11 seasons.

But to me, he mostly brought some wonderful memories.   He was the only football coach we had when I was a student at Carolina.   And I will admit my memories are a bit fuzzy.   Even Bill Dooley couldn’t stop the flow of sweet bourbon on warm Saturday afternoons in Kenan Stadium.   For me, my friends and a few times for my brother.   He just couldn’t stop that.

In October of 1975, my senior year, my brother came from our home in Jacksonville, Florida to go with me to the Notre Dame game in Chapel Hill.   My mom and dad sent a couple of things for my brother to give to me.   One was a letter from my mom, telling us to enjoy ourselves and begging us not to drink at the game.   The other was a twenty dollar bill from my dad with instructions to enjoy ourselves and to buy some bourbon.   So what did I do?    Well, my brother expected me to buy a pint and pocket the change. I bought a half gallon instead!

BeamOn the way into the stadium that day, I wrapped my sweater around the bottle.   We were so excited about the game, I think, that we walked faster than we usually did.   Somewhere near the entrance gate, I fumbled big time.   That damned glass bottle of Jim Beam slipped from my sweater and hit the hard brick sidewalk we were walking on.   I think I yelled, “Oh my God!”   Then I looked down and saw the bottle just spinning on the brick.   There were no breaks at all.   I think I told my brother that, even though we were not the Irish, “we will be lucky today!”

Joe Montana

And we were.   For over three quarters.   In the fourth quarter, Carolina led the always powerful and lucky Irish team, 14-0.   That’s when Notre Dame put in their third string quarterback.   That’s right.   THIRD string guy!    Joe-freakin’- Montana!   That’s when the bottle broke!    Figuratively. of course!

 

Well Bill Dooley didn’t win that game, but he gave my brother and me one of the best memories we have ever shared.

boom-boom-boomAnd, he gave us “Boom-Boom.”   I’m not sure I appreciated that at the time.   “Boom-Boom” and I shared a lecture class of some sort.   I don’t remember the class, but I remember one day.   I went to the bathroom or something, and when I returned, my text book was gone.   After class, I looked everywhere for it.   Nothing!   So, I said, “What the hell?” and went to the student union to grab a bite to eat.   And there he was.   “Boom-Boom!”   And he had my book.    I could tell it was mine from the tattered spine I had tattered myself.   So I approached him about it.   When I got to his table, he flexed his arm muscles as he covered the book, and looked up at me.   He was a strong man, and frankly, he scared the hell out of me.   I read the look in his eyes.   “So, what the hell do you want,” was what I read.   I just held up my hands, backed away a bit and said something stupid, like, “Hey! Great class today, huh?”   And then I got the hell out of there.   What did I care anyway?   I never read that damned book!

Coach.   This is nonsense, but it’s nonsense that means the world to me.   Thank you for the memories.   The wins were great and fun.

But, damn it.

Thanks for the incredible memories!