Still 17 at Heart
Okay, so the students wanted a picture of me as a kid. Here it is. When I was 17 I thought I was gonna be a Beatle. When I told my uncle the farmer the Beatles were coming he said, “I hope they don’t eat my crops.”
I also thought I might be Arnold Palmer. I had a set of Wilson Arnold Palmers except the 7-Iron was a Sam Snead Blue Ridge. My uncle borrowed my clubs and lost the original 7 iron, but he went down to the Firestone store and got me a new one, it just had the wrong name on it.
Didn’t matter. We liked Sam too. None of us had the foggiest notion of how to play golf other than watching Arnie on black and white T.V. for a few holes on Sunday afternoons. We tried to dig the game out of the dirt the best we could. I played five years before I knew you weren’t supposed to hold it like a baseball bat. When I’d hit one just right my Dad would always say, “Son, you hit that one like Arnie.”
In reality, I never hit one like Arnie in my life. We thought we were good, but one day some out-of-town kid with a picture book swing showed up and waxed us all. Even at that age I was practical. I figured there was probably one kid in about every town that good, and maybe Mama was right. I was pretty good with books, the doctor gig sounded like a smart idea to me.
Mama worried the guitar would lead me astray, but I met my wife with that guitar so it all worked out. I never saw any girl with a smile that pretty at least until my daughter came along; she looks just like her Mama.
I never was the fastest, I couldn’t jump the highest, and once I got to med school I found out right quick I wasn’t the smartest cat around either, but I will give myself credit for this: If there was ever a more persistent rascal in the pursuit of tranquility, I’m happy for him. I was a tortoise but I still plod along. By modern standards I guess my life is pretty simple, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
17 was a long time ago. Thanks to the help of a couple good bluegrass friends I got better on mandolin than I ever was on guitar, although no professional mandolinist needs to worry about their job security. And at least on a good day I think I could beat that boy in golf. He wasn’t wise enough yet, and that only comes with time. I still set out to learn something new every day, and have a lot more miles to travel.
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