The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Opinion

April 14, 2014

Thank the Lord for spring; the colonel’s 75th was a blast

An Editor's Notes

- — I had to run some errands last week, and the spring in the air at places like Lowes, Home Depot and Hermitage Agway served as a shining example why this is my favorite time of year.

Fresh off one of the worst winters in recent memory, it was wonderful to see all of the spring-related items on full display - gas grills, landscaping blocks and timbers, bird feeders, patio furniture, picnic tables, bags and piles of mulch and other signs of the season noting that the crazy days of summer are finally within our each. You can smell spring in the air at these places.

In addition, during one of the nights last week, we opened the window to let the spring air into the bedroom, and I awoke the next morning to the birds chirping in the large tree in the front yard. This is great, I thought, comparing the sounds from the birds to that of the howling winds and blowing snow prevalent only weeks ago.

One of my first orders of business around the house will be stow away the snow shovel for another year and say good riddance to the snow blower as I stick it in the corner of the shed and cover it for a long summer’s nap. Next will be removing the tarp that’s wrapped around the air conditioning unit, longing for the day that it’s so hot outside that I have to fire it up for another season.

And, I can’t forget about the prelude to spring and summer – the return to Daylight Saving Time several weeks ago, the ultimate signal that the rigors of winter are behind us. I’ll gladly lose the hour of sleep every spring in a trade for longer periods of daylight. It’s a 180-degree turn from the feeling when we return to standard time in the fall, when it seems to get dark shortly after noon.

I am hoping to be able to tuck away my quilted winter coat and tassel cap deep into the closet, and take the bin of driveway salt into the cellar far out of sight. It won’t be long before the neighborhood is buzzing with lawn mowers and the sweet smell of freshly mown grass and the aromas from gas and charcoal grills fill the air.

Give me the heat. Bring on summer.

Tasting summer, toasting the colonel    

I got a two-day pass from spring the weekend before last when I spent time outside of Orlando, Fla. to speak at the 75th birthday celebration of Col. Donald H. Jones.

The Friday night featured a gathering of family and friends and the colonel’s military buddies at a fish fry at the home in Longwood of Don and his wife, Lil. Their adult children were in town to celebrate with dad: Donald, a high school principal in southern California; his daughter, Darlene, a Delta flight attendant for 30 years, who lives in California; and second daughter, Dianne, of Charlotte, N.C., who is a lawyer and former judge in Texas and the youngest of the three. All of the grandchildren attended, including Darlene’s daughter, Chanel Parker, a record-setting, All-American track star in her days running for Cal State at Dominguez Hills. She is training for an Olympics berth.

In addition to enjoying the company of the colonel’s family, it was fascinating to be immersed among his military friends from their combat days in Vietnam. Col. Oliver Wainwright from New Jersey was one of them. The colonel and others saved Wainwright’s life after he and his team were trapped in the jungle during one of their assignments

The celebration was held at the historic Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, which has experienced a meteoric increase in its congregation in the last 20 years, growing from 600 to 3,000.

The church is in Eatonville, about 20 minutes from Longwood. The small town is America’s oldest African-American-chartered community with a population of a little more than 2,000. It’s the birthplace of the late NFL All-Pro defensive lineman, Deacon Jones. I spent a few hours Saturday morning walking around Eatonville, absorbing like a sponge all of the history and culture.

Cheers to the colonel, one of Farrell’s finest ambassadors and a real American hero and role model.

 

Jim Raykie is the executive editor of The Herald. His column appears on Mondays.

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