Monday, August 31, 2009

What it was was benchwarming!

High school football is a tradition throughout most of the South.

There was nothing more exciting to me, when I was a young kid, than the Friday night ritual of going to watch the Lexington High School Wildcats play, in a stadium that used to be next to what was once Hites Restaurant, behind the former location of the town water tower. By the time I was eight years old, I was playing football every day in my front yard, imagining myself one day playing for those Fighting Wildcats.

Preparing myself to one day join that varsity team, I diligently practiced running, passing, punting, kicking, blocking and tackling any time I could gather up a few friends. Turns out, I should have saved my energy and just practiced sitting… because the position I mostly ended up playing was “benchwarmer.”

Officially, I played guard and tackle in high school. But in my case, that meant “guard the water bucket, and tackle anybody who came near it!” I had all the athletic ability of an over-stuffed sofa.

Even back then, however, I was the eternal optimist. Whatever I undertook, I undertook with passion. Even benchwarming. Hence, the birth in 1970 of what we called “LBU”: the Lexington Benchwarmers Union.

During our junior year, it became apparent to a handful of us that we were destined to ride the bench for the entire year, so we embraced it with pride. We developed the proper techniques for sitting, kneeling and standing on the sidelines, so that we could pass on our expertise to future benchwarmers. We learned the best tactics for staying warm when the weather turned chilly… a common benchwarmer hazard, since you never work up a sweat. We took turns watching the game and taking naps on the bench. And we learned how to rub grass and dirt into our uniforms during the pre-game warmups to make it appear that we had actually played in the game.

We were the finest group of benchwarmers LHS had ever seen.

While I can’t reveal the full identities of my fellow LBU members – after all, they may at this very moment be regaling their grandkids with tales of their high school athletic heroics – I will say that they had very common last names like: Shealy, Sharpe, Sox, Satcher, Smith. (For the longest time, I thought the coach had somehow obliterated the “S” section of the team roster, presumably by dripping tobacco juice on it, and never called us into the games because he couldn’t read our names. I discounted that notion, however, as Sharpe, Sox, Smith, and Satcher’s names were all eventually called into action, leaving me as the lone undisputed captain of the benchwarming unit.)

Looking back, I think my problem was simply that the coaches had me pegged for the wrong position on the team. Defensive tackle is probably the wrong place for a writer/humorist. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the Defensive Coordinator, Coach Hogwartz, was really looking for the “creative type” at all.

(On a side note, in addition to being a member of the team, I was also the sports editor of the high school newspaper… and the sports page of the fall, 1970, edition coincidentally featured the benchwarmers instead of the team!!!)

By my senior year, things changed. But only slightly.

In addition to having the athletic ability of an over-stuffed sofa, there had also been a bit of a communication problem, I discovered.

For years I had heard my coaches saying things like “put some leather on him”…. “crack some leather”… “I want to hear some leather pop”. I had no idea what they were talking about until I finally discovered that apparently, 50 years earlier, helmets and other football pads had in fact been made of leather. How could I have known? This was typical of what seemed to be a general disconnect between the coaches and me.

Then one afternoon at practice, the head coach accidentally said something without a wad of tobacco in his mouth, and I understood him for the first time in three years. He said, “Shealy, why didn’t you hit that guy?”, which I had always misinterpreted as “Sweetpea, waddle donkey Hitchcock fly?” (… which always started my mind wandering, staring off blankly into space wondering what he meant, while the other players were running willy-nilly all around me.)

Now that I understood what he was saying, I did it. I smacked the other guy. And, for the first time, it occurred to me that just running toward the other team with my arms flailing wildly, as I had been doing since fourth grade, did no good whatsoever. And seemed to exasperate my coaches.

Running into that guy, like the coach had asked, changed my football career. The coaches shifted me from defense to offense, and made me a blocking lineman, which largely consisted of me “getting in the way” of the other team. My job was to make sure the opposing players ran into me instead of running into any of my teammates who were authorized to touch the football. (I was sternly instructed never to touch, or even come within five yards, of the football.)

Getting in the way of the other team was easy. I had been getting in the way my whole life. I was actually quite good at it. Probably one of the phrases I was most familiar with was “you’re in the way”.

Unfortunately, in the third game of my senior year, I got in the way of two guys at the same time. Actually, my knee got in the way of the two guys – two BIG guys, coming from two different directions – and ended up lying on the ground beside me facing a totally different direction than the rest of my body.

After a brief hospital stay to put my knee back together, they let me out and gave me a pair of crutches.

I rejoined the team, and hobbled back over to the sidelines -- back to the bench -- where I felt a home… and concluded my football career proudly watching Sox, Smith, Satcher, Sharpe and the rest of my benchwarming buddies from the previous year compete for the conference championship!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

This is really, really funny

Oftentimes when I write my column, I try to be funny. I mention this because a lot of my regular readers have suggested recently that I should occasionally add humor to my column.

Let me re-phrase that: “a lot of my regular reader”, I should have said.

And instead of “suggested recently that I occasionally add humor”, I should have said “asked me if I’m still writing a column occasionally, because I quit reading it years ago, because your jokes are so lame.”

Come to think of it, her exact words were: “The 1950’s called. They want their jokes back!”

Other times, however, I succeed in being very funny, even hilarious… but it’s usually when I’m not trying to, but instead, just telling true stories from my life. (The true stories which seem to get the biggest chuckles, incidentally, are: [a] my attire; [b] my finances; and [c] my automotive and mechanical skills.

(Oh, and I forgot [d] my age, weight, looks, and personality.)

So, I decided to do better. For the last few weeks, I’ve started paying particular attention to the most humorous shows on TV to try to determine what makes them funny. As it turns out, they’re not that much different than my column: the late-nite comedy shows are sorta lame… but the nightly news is a hoot (thanks mostly to our own Governor.)

Consequently, I have given up on the vast wasteland of television, and gone directly to the newest, greatest source of humor in the world: The Electric Internet!!!
Several times a day, one of my many friends will “forward” me an email which makes me LOL (which is an Electric Internet abbreviation for “Laugh Out Loud”).

Let me re-phrase that: “Several times a day”. That part is okay. But when I said “one of my many friends”, I should have said, “Mom”; and when I said “forward me an email”, I should have said, “accidentally hits the ‘reply all’ button” so that I see a list of several thousand people who have already forwarded the joke, complete with date/time stamps, dating back almost to the 1950’s, from whence came the joke!!!

But there are also some REALLY FUNNY jokes on the Electric Internets, if you just know where to look.

To find the funniest ones, I always go to this website:

Let me give you and example of the jokes I have found on the Electric Internets. Here’s one:

Three old guys are out walking. First one says, 'Windy, isn't it?' Second one says, 'No, it's Thursday!' Third one says, 'So am I. Let's go get a beer.'

Now let me give you a sample of Rod-Boy’s Homemade Jokes and Humor:

Question: How did the Scottish man meet his demise?

Answer: Kilt.

Okay, now that you’ve heard both kinds, which did you like best?!!! Which was funniest?!!! Which one really cracked you up and made you roll on the floor?!!!


Okay, if that’s the way you feel, I’ll just give you a few more jokes from the Electric Internet, and be done with it:

Did you hear about the blonde who returned a scarf to the store because it was too tight?


A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan. She asked the class, 'If you saw a person lying on the roadside, wounded and bleeding, what would you do?'

One little girl gave an honest answer: 'I think I'd throw up.'


Bumper sticker of the year: 'If you can read this, thank a teacher -and, since it's in English, thank a soldier!'


Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.


A man was telling his neighbor, 'I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it's state of the art. It's perfect.'

'Really,' answered the neighbor. 'What kind is it?'

'Twelve thirty.'


Emily Sue broke her ankle and Bubba called 911. The 911 operator told Bubba that she would send someone out right away.

"Where do you live?" asked the operator.

Bubba replied, "At the end of Eucalyptus Drive."

The operator asked, "Can you spell that for me?

There was a long pause and finally Bubba said, "How 'bout if I drag her over to Oak Street and you pick her up there?"


Did you hear about the $3,000,000 Alabama State Lottery? The winner gets $3 a year for a million years.


Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical. A few days later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm.

A couple of days later, the doctor spoke to Morris and said, 'You're really doing great, aren't you?'

Morris replied, 'Just doing what you said, Doc: 'Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.''

The doctor said, 'I didn't say that. I said, 'You've got a heart murmur; be careful.'


There you have it: a few of the funniest jokes in the world, Fresh Daily from the Electric Internet. But don’t expect me to make a habit of including Actual Humor each week.

Okay, gotta run now: The 1970’s called… they want their clothes back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Meet My Facebook Friends

Last week, I gave you a brief lesson on the Internet fad called Facebook, primarily for the benefit of my fellow Old People, who, like me, grew up in the age before computers, and frankly, are having a difficult time adjusting to the World in which we currently find ourselves.

Now that we all basically understand how Facebook works (like an old telephone “party line” that everybody in the world can listen in on, except with words and pictures instead of talking), I will follow through on my promise to introduce you this week to a few of my Facebook Friends. (Facebook Friends are what we call those acquaintance with whom we’ve mutually agreed that its okay to listen in on each others “party line” conversations.)

My Facebook Friends can be divided into a very few categories:

First -- and my favorites -- are my old classmates from the Lexington High School Class of 1972, give or take a few years. I’ve reconnected with a number of these old school chums who I haven’t seen since… well, since 1972!!! Every time I am “friended” my another member of the LHS Class of ‘72, I swell up with a sense of inner-pride, knowing that yet another one of us actually learned to read and write, despite numerous predictions to the contrary.

The next group – and probably the largest – is my relatives. They don’t get much choice. They HAVE to be your friends. And since I had a grandmother with eleven brothers and sisters, and a grandpa with fourteen, I’ve got relatives falling out of trees. When I started signing up my relatives as Facebook Friends, the Facebook Overload Alarm sounded.

Then there are the people I work with, or formerly worked with, along with business clients, customers and vendors. These are the contacts which could actually be useful from a profit standpoint. I only have about two of these.

Social friends are another big category. In reality, I have about a kazillion social friends… except for the part about actually remembering their names. Since you need to know someone’s name to become their Facebook Friend, I only have about two of these, too.

Next category: Real Estate acquaintances. I seem to know a lot of people who sell real estate, and they all seem eager to be my friends. I think they’re expecting me to be homeless any day now.

Jim Smiths. I have a couple of actual friends named Jim Smith – which it turns out is the most common name in America, therefore I have about 50 Facebook Friends named Jim Smith, none of whom are the ones I actually know.

And the last major category: People I don’t really know… but I do now, because they’re my Facebook Friends. I have loads of these… even some from foreign countries, which should not be a surprise, because I also seem to know a few members of the Liberian royal family, and they all want to give me money via email.

So that’s a rundown of my Facebook Friends (which I will now start abbreviating as FBFs.) Now, what do I do with ‘em, you may be wondering. That’s where it gets interesting. Every so often – maybe once an hour, maybe once a month – you write a “status update”, telling your friends what you’re doing right now, or just got finished doing, or maybe are fixin’ to do.

Frankly, this has always seemed like a bad idea to me. I might not want the entire free world to know what I’m doing right now. So, instead, I fill in that blank with whatever nonsense happens to pop into my mind: “I fear gerbils”, or “You ain’t nuthin’ but a hound-dog, crying all the time”, or “Time for Tootsie Rolls”, or “Where does bellybutton lint come from?”

Most of my “status updates” leave my FBFs wondering.

Others, however, take their “status updates” very seriously.
Here are some actual “status updates” from my actual FBFs over the past few days. (The names have been changed to protect the indecent.)

Very often, a FBF will list as his or her status that he/she is “about to go for a jog.” Many times, this report comes early in the morning… even before 7am. Whenever I see that, I immediately delete those people as FBFs. We don’t belong in the same club.

Similarly, other FBFs feel the need to broadcast it every time they mow the lawn, paint the house, organize the garage, clean the gutters, haul off the garbage, or change the oil. Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete! It’s people like that who give people like me a bad name.

A recent update informed my that an old classmate of mine, Elmer Snodgrass is “going to the Piggly Wiggly.” If I were going to list that as the main event of my day, I would instead say “Rod-Boy has no life.”

A former co-worker posted that Peggy Sue Overstreet “is stuck in traffic on I-26”. I thought to myself, there’s probably a traffic tie-up due to a wreck caused by somebody trying to play with their Facebook while they’re driving.

Shannon Marie Blonderhair “is heading to Atlanta for the weekend”, another report said. Good luck on having any stuff left at your house when you get back, since you just broadcast to the world that there’s no one at your house on Saturday night!!!

Johnny Ray Rednickerson “can’t wait for State Fair”.

Bubba Lewie Loudmoutherson “is getting ready to watch America’s Got Talent. I hope the magician wins.”

Henry Clay Withersmith “just had pork chops, macaroni and cheese, and collards for lunch.”

Emma Lou Goodness “is listening to the rain.”

Gary Lee Hankerchiefton “is studying for a test I have to take for work”.

Sarah Lee Bakerpie “wants her kids to learn to clean up their rooms”.

On and on and on it goes…. Intimate glimpses into the day-to-day lives of my friends, acquaintances, relatives and some people I don’t know who actually might live on other planets. It’s Facebook. It’s all the rage these days.

As for me, I think I’ll not bore my friends (or embarrass my relatives) with the details of my day. I’ll probably just continue to report on my daily life as it exists in my mind.

Rod-Boy “is trying to finish his weekly column so he’ll have time to mow the lawn, paint the house, organize the garage, clean the gutters, haul off the garbage, and change the oil before the rain comes.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Facebook Friends

By now, you’ve probably heard of the Internet phenomenon called Facebook, even if you are “Old People” like Yours Truly.

To most of the Young Folks, keeping up with the latest Internet fad is easy. It’s second nature. They grew up with the Internet. They understand how to use the Internet. They get it.

But to us Old People, it doesn’t come so easily. It pretty much has to be drilled into us before we even come close to catching on. There’s too much, and it moves too fast. We can’t keep up. And if we TRY to keep up, it makes us dizzy, and we end up having to take an extra dose of our medication….or an extra afternoon nap.

Most of us Old People first learn about these new Internet innovations after they’ve caused some trouble, forcing the National News Media writes about them. Many times, they’re a factor in some sort of violent crime, even murder.

I never knew there were websites that taught people how to make bombs until some wacko used a bomb made from Internet instructions to blow somebody up! But then, I read about it in the National News Media.

After a website is connected to a murder or two, the whole world hears about it. And, if you believe everything you read, these websites are killin’ people: MySpace seems to have killed some people; Craigslist is reported to have killed some people; and now, Facebook is said to have killed some people. (It should be noted, however, that GUNS do not kill people… criminals do!)

Anyway, because of all their notoriety, lots of new Old People have now heard of these Internet websites. But, for the most part, the Old People still don’t have a clue what they really are.

So I thought I would offer you a bit of explanation about Facebook, in which I happen to be a participant, so therefore I am qualified to explain it – one Old Person to another. (If you are reading this column in a your local community newspaper, incidentally, the odds are very strong that your are an Old Person. Remember this fact: Young Folks read the Internet; Old People read newspapers. It’s true.)

So, pay attention, Old People – and elbow the Old Person sitting beside you to wake ‘em up – while I explain the Facebook Friends phenomenon:

1. It’s a computer thing. (If I’ve lost you already, stop reading, and go back to reading your newspaper.)

2. It’s on the Electronic Internet, also known at the World Wide Web. While the Internet is still a mystery to most Old People, I have invented a way of explaining it that most Old People can understand: Think back to the old days of the Telephone, and remember what was know as a “Party Line”. Now just imagine that everyone in the whole world is on the same party line… except instead of talking, we’re sending each other words and pictures. That’s the Internet…the World Wide Web.

3. Now, to understand Facebook, think of a Telephone Answering Machine. When somebody calls you, if you don’t answer, they get a recorded message from you, and then they leave a message. Facebook is just like that on the Internet, ‘cept, once again, instead of TALKING, it’s just written words and pictures… and when a friend tries to contact you on the Internet, instead of leaving a voice message, they leave their message in words and pictures.

4. If it’s a Party Line with everybody in the world on it, other people would get to see all your messages, right? Wrong! That’s where your Facebook Friends come in handy. Facebook allows you to choose the people you will allow to read your messages and see your pictures. Those people are your Facebook Friends. You can ask anyone whose email address you happen to know to become your Facebook Friend… and if they accept, you will now be listed on each others Facebook page as Friends… and you’ll be able to keep up with each other by checking in from time to time.

Now that you know what all the hubbub is about, I’ll invite you to become my personal Facebook Friend, with all the rights and privileges accorded thereto, herewith, whereas, hither, thither and yon.

And, now that you understand the essence of this Internet fad, next week I plan to introduce you to a few of my Facebook Friends, and tell you what they’ve been up to lately. They’re characters, they are. A hoot.

That’s all for this week. It’s 2:00pm already… time for a nap before I eat supper at 3:30 pm…. like Old People do.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Isolated Thoughts for August

Well, here we are right smack dab in the middle of Dog Days… nothing happening ‘cept anticipation.

Every year, when the calendar turns to August, you can be sure there’s still another couple weeks of “nuthin’ much hap’nin”…but right around the corner is all that Back To School, Football Season Kickoff madness. (Until then, the onliest thing interesting enough for journalists to write about is how old Elvis would have been. Mark my words, you’ll be reading that exact theme within the next 10 days.)

That’s why I’ve decided to break the Dog Days monotony with another installment of “Isolated Thoughts”… basically, just whatever’s on my mind, plus a few things that weren’t really ON my mind, they just happened to flicker through my mind for just a brief second or two.

So here we go…

--Strawberries are much bigger than they used to be, I think.

I’ve been eating a lot of strawberries recently, because that’s a good way to lose weight, and I, once again, find myself in the position of being a Big-Fat-Giant-Hippo-Pig-Whale. So I’m eating strawberries. But I’ve noticed that the berries are a lot larger than I remember them as a kid. A LOT larger!!! They’re huge!!!

So I’m wondering why. What happened to make the strawberries five times as big as they used to be?

-- Since its August, I will renew my campaign to have the month renamed to “Elvis”. You may know that I have long pushed for this change… as of yet, to no avail. But it’s a cause I believe in, so I will continue to fight on. (If I’m ever successful, my Mom’s birthday would then be “Elvis, the 16th”. I think it has a ring to it.)

-- Some mornings, my Rice Crispies talk to me and tell me things. Other days, I see wee people inside the O’s of my Cheerios.

-- Each week, as a kid, our first, second, and third grade classes were visited by the music teacher for an hour or so of public school music. I couldn’t believe that it counted as a school class! All we did was listen to music, and occasionally slap blocks together in rhythm! What a breeze.

I do recall, however, being frightened by one song we sang: “Buffalo Gals won’t you come out tonight”. Being a second grader, and therefore totally unfamiliar with the geography of New York State, the words to the song had an entirely different meaning to me. I think I laid awake some nights worried that THIS might be the night that the buffalo girls would appear from nowhere. (I had no idea what “buffalo girls” were, but whatever they were, I’m pretty sure I didn’t want them to come out tonight.)

-- I think “rhythm” is an odd word. It has all those letters, but only half a vowel.

-- I’ve recently come up with two pre-inventions. First, is the pocket patch: a special patch designed for the hole in the bottom of your pocket. Second, is the windshield wiper lights-on switch: so whenever you turn your windshield wipers on, the lights automatically come on. Maybe we already have these two devices, and I’m just not aware of them because I basically live in a cave. But if not, they’re darn good ideas. That’s why I pre-invented them.

-- I also made up a new word: “pre-invent”. It means to come up with the idea for an invention, but not to actually figure out how to make it work. It’s a good word. A useful word. I’ll add it to the list of other words I’ve created – “ar”, “teafill”, you can find a list of them in my previous columns if you visit my blog online at -- none of which have yet found their way into Websters.

-- Here’s a preview of yet another new word I’m currently developing. The word is “whump-whump”. It’s used to describe the sound your vehicle makes after you drive over the curb one time too many.

Okay, that’s it for this week. I need to stop now, so I can get back to sitting beside the phone, waiting for the people from Pulitzer to call.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Help Wanted:

Quite frequently these days, I hear the same types of questions from friends and acquaintances during our ongoing discussions of the current economic conditions:

How does a small community newspaper survive during a recession which is killing-off some of the giants of the publishing industry? How does a small local newspaper survive the onslaught of the Internet and other technological advances which have virtually wiped out entire industries… and has long been predicted to be the cause the end of the newspaper industry?

To be honest, I sometimes hear these questions in my own mind!!!

These are challenging times for all businesses, but particularly so for the newspaper industry, which is facing the twin threat of a slow economy AND shrinking relevance due to the Internet.

(How’s that for a straight-up, honest, no-spin assessment?!!!)

Fortunately, it’s not as glum as it would seem for this little weekly journal, or the thousands of other local weeklies scattered across the continent. While daily newspapers have in fact been suffering for more than a decade due to pressure from the Internet, smaller community newspapers have actually seen growth… presumably because the localized news featured in community newspapers is not as readily available online.

Still, the slow economy has hampered all of us! Virtually all of the funds which have historically allowed this newspaper to publish each week have come from advertising revenues, primarily from small, local businesses which use the newspaper as a vehicle to attract new customers. As the slower economy has forced many smaller businesses to cut back or close, some of those ad revenues have dried up.

Consequently, we, like nearly every other business in America, are making changes to survive the recession. (One of those small changes involves Yours Truly working an extra 10 hours each week on nights and weekends to help reduce overhead costs!!! Believe me… I’m ready for this recession to be OVER!!!)

Another lucky change for us is that more and more larger business are suddenly turning to community weeklies for THEIR advertising, because they, too, are trying to cut costs, and realize that smaller newspapers are more affordable than their larger counterparts. And every little bit helps.

But the biggest single factor that helps this newspaper survive -- especially during tough times -- is the support we have from the community... not just businesses, but contributors, readers, and many, many local groups and organizations.

Each week, dozens of local schools, churches, sports teams, and organizations take the time to email us their news, so we can spread the word to the entire community. We are also fortunate to have a good number of local writers and photographers who take it upon themselves to collect local news and pass it on. These contributors are the backbone of our small news-gathering organization. Thanks to their volunteer efforts, our community is able to have a newspaper… and, as has been said many times before… a newspaper is the glue that holds a community together.

Each year, at about this time, when folks are returning from vacation, and thoughts are turning to the coming school year, the new sports season, or the new organizational calendar, we invite local residents to join us in this ongoing adventure. We encourage YOU to contribute items of interest to us, so that we can share them with the rest of the community.

Whether your talent lies in reporting news, photographing events, writing a community column, or just passing on local items of interest you happen to come across, we want your help. If you’re a participant or member of any local church, school group, neighborhood association, youth sports team, or civic organization, please volunteer your efforts to make sure YOUR group’s news is not being overlooked. If you send it to us, we’ll pass it on to the rest of the community… (or at least to our estimated 20,000 weekly readers!!!)

And we’re also ALWAYS looking for your ideas, suggestions, or comments to help make your newspaper better. Anything at all… just send an email directly to me:

We want you to become a part of our team. It will help this newspaper survive the recession, and help make the community a better, stronger place to live, work and grow.

And, as always, we thank you for your support!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Moon Walk

You’re probably disappointed that I haven’t written anything about the passing of Michael Jackson. And, right now, based on the title of this column, you probably think I’m going to!

But you’re wrong. I’m not writing about THAT kind of moon walk.

Still, I will pause and pay tribute to the King of Pop before I get to today’s agenda. He was, after all, omnipresent throughout much of my life… starting, if I’m not mistaken, with “ABC, easy as 1-2-3”, because I obviously somehow completely missed their first single: “I Want You Back.”

Growing up as a bit of a nerdly geekazoid misfit, I only made it to two concerts during my entire time in high school (…including my freshman year of college, which I failed to realize was not my fifth year of high school until it was way too late.) One of those two concerts was The Jackson Five, with cute little Michael stealing the show. In the mid-80’s, for some reason, I also decided to take the kids to see the Jackson Victory Tour in Knoxville, Tennessee. So I actually saw MJ in concert twice.

But, mostly, I was influenced by his dancing – especially the Moon Walk – after which I patterned my own unique dancing style (commonly referred to by others as “The Wounded Walrus”, although I’m pretty sure they’re just jealous!)

Anyway, The Jackson Five were getting ready to hit it big in 1969 – the year of their first hit -- which coincidentally was the exact year that “other” moon walk took place… 40 years ago this week, to be exact.

That moon walk was an actual moon walk. I remember it, because the whole family watched it on TV, as did most other Americans.

The Shealy family, at the time, had only recently acquired its first color TV, but the pictures transmitted from the moon were in vivid Black and White.

Have you ever seen the movie “Pleasantville”? It’s a movie about changing times. In the movie, the earlier, innocent times are in black and white, while the emerging modern times – complete with new and different ideas and values – were presented in living color.

That’s sort of how I remember 1969. It was a crazy, mixed-up time. Of course, I was a 15-year old adolescent who had just gotten a driver license and finished a year of high school. At that age, you could have put me in the middle of the Sixth Century and I probably would have thought the world was crazy and mixed up.

Without question, landing a man on the moon was the achievement of the year, and probably the decade. Nearly 10 years earlier, JFK had laid down the challenge to put a man on the moon, and we had done it… before the Russians!!!

But the moon landing was far from the only event of the year. There was Woodstock. And Hurricane Camille. And the average household income was a whopping $8,500, which was a gracious plenty, since technology had not yet provided us with a whole laundry list of new and costly necessities: cable TV, Internet, cell phones, etc.

And there was Chappaquiddick, the tragic accident which came to define Ted Kennedy, which, ironically, happened exactly two days before we landed on the moon.

The movies in 1969 were different than the ones I had been accustomed to. Instead of Tarzan, Elvis, and Disney, the movies were more complicated, like Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, The Wild Bunch, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (At 15, I was not old enough to see any of these… but I was TOO old to go see the only movie of the year I could have related to: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!)

The music was also changing. True, the Jackson Five were getting ready to make their move, but there were all these other musical groups with names I didn’t understand – like Led Zepplin – and song titles which made even less sense – “Bad Moon Rising” and “Suite Judy Blue Eyes”. The Jackson Five sounded like the name of a musical group; I thought “Led Zepplin” was some kind of weighted fishing tackle!

My only safe haven at age 15 was the friendly land of television. The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Gomer Pyle, Gilligans Island, Bonanza and The Brady Bunch were still my friends.

But then, right there on the friendly safe-haven of our recently acquired color TV in the middle of our comfy den comes this moon walk, and starts complicating things even on TV. (Norman Lear and Rowan and Martin and 60 Minutes were right around the corner.)

It’s interesting that we went to the moon a half dozen times from 1969 until 1972, and we haven’t been back since… a fact which I only realized earlier this week. That probably means we really didn’t need to go in the first place. We only went to prove we could.

And, I suppose, to add one more complicating factor to the previously black and white world of a nerdly geeazoid misfit 15 year old.