Kenneth Avery is a Southern humorist with well over a thousand fans. The charm and wit in his writing span a nearly a decade.
This time, no comedy. I am serious. Truth be known, I am torn-up for having to share this with you. Not that you haven’t heard this; I just cannot catch the brass ring, before. I wager that almost everyone has heard this dramatic statement. But how true it is.
The statement has anything and everything to do with real life. Real problems all around us. And real failures that will haunt us for years. No, this is not a script similar to “Death of a Salesman.” Actually I loved Dustin Hoffman in the lead role as “Willy Lowman.” Personally, this version of the hit stage version hits me harder than “Rain Man.” I apologize to all Tom Cruise fans. But I have to be honest with myself, God and you.
I realize that ‘hate’ is a strong word, but I would be a hypocrite if I used some other word. But that word makes more sense than ‘Dislike’ in my headline. Oh, it took time to arrive at the hate juncture, but it happened. Not once, but several times in the pathway of life. Am I getting to any of you? I do not want to be overly-sensitive and coping with real problems, but this one has never been caught in my two hands. I can confess that I am (in that way) a bona fide loser.
This painful journey began in 1961 when I started my school years at a very special place: New Home School in the far-flung area of Hamilton, Ala., I loved New Home School and what kid would hate it? None. It was so good to attend first grade that I never felt any dread to get-up each morning and go to school. In 1962, the fun was over. My eyes turned to truth. Second grade was (what I thought) a front door to Hades. And if you had faced this second year in second grade with a teacher who was well-past retirement and did not like me, so with those two truth’s, anyone would hate going to somewhere that you hated.
Oh, before that tragedy, back at New Home, 1961, first grade, at morning recess, I was asked to join in a baseball game. I was no fool. I had watched early MLB (with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese, announcers) and I liked this sport. So I was asked to play catcher. I thought how neat. I am on my way to stardom, popularity. Not so, buddy. A friend, Charles Deline, hit the first pitch and ‘got all of the ball,’ as Dean and Reese said many times meaning a homerun.
As Deline began his run around the bases, he threw his bat with the big end at my forehead. Talk about those funny remarks we used to see above the start of ABC’s Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward. The thugs would be hit with Batman and Robin’s fist sending a ‘Bam,’ ‘Whack,’ and several ‘Zoom,’ into the air. I loved that.
In a moment, my first grade teacher, Mrs. Gertrude Ballard, sit me down and calmed me down telling me that I would be okay. Then she did what all grade school teachers did in the early 60’s—she grabbed a bottle of Red Cross alcohol and bathed my forehead where two big knots had already formed. I was in La, La Land. But not with LSD which we in rural Hamilton, Ala., had never been exposed to the drug. Mrs. Ballard’s husband, L.J. who taught the fourth through sixth grade and also served as the school principal. He was compassionate in driving me home to be with my mother, the prototype homemaker, and when we arrived, she was very concerned about what had happened and Mr. Ballard told her to keep me at home for two days while I healed.
After this ordeal, I secretly dreamed of being praised, maybe given some ribbon to prove that I was hurt in battle. But did I? No. Not one mention from anyone. No brass ring at this time. Was I said? You bet!
And the carousel began turning once again. FYI: the late, talented writer, Rod Serling, creator of Twilight Zone and Night Gallery would have been understanding with my loss of the brass ring. Serling could have written a good comedy about this incident. Sadly, if anyone had written about my sad day, the late, great Red Skelton would have been a perfect fit.
As time went by, more chances to catch the brass ring with some tough moments and some easy opportunities. I sometimes felt that life was feeling sorry for me. Back to the second grade with the teacher who did not like me, during an afternoon recess, I was playing a game of Chase where two guys was chasing me and thought by outrunning them I would win and be presented with a trophy making me as Chase Champion of Second Grade. No. Not even close. Instead I made the almost-deadly mistake of glancing back to check how far I was from the guys who were after me. Then, bam! Zoom! My head ran into a granite seat where the teacher sat and gossiped as we played.
Blood was spouting from the gash in my forehead. But not one student or teacher gave a hoot. Our principal, the now-late Lucille Mixon, reluctantly drove me to stay with my sister who did show me some compassion and did I receive any form of pain? I would say no, but you already know the answer.
As an adult, I was fired from two good jobs, and both by folks who “railroaded” me and made up things that I did, but the bosses believe them, not me. No, I did not receive any commendation whatsoever!
I did feel (at this time) that I had been thought of as a scapegoat. Well, it was no ribbon or loving cup, but at least it was something.
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