Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson

As I get back into the swing of things here in South Valley, I want to offer up some random thoughts, or comments, garnered from notes taken over the past few weeks both here at home and on the road. The first observation is that we are a lucky lot, we King City people, as we live in a community where ample opportunity exists to get involved, to be active in social and cultural affairs through volunteerism in a variety of public outreaches.

I know this is not a trait, if that is what it is, held by our city alone but surely, we rank highly in the realm of citizen involvement. And we are a giving society, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars are contributed to causes and cases covering a wide spectrum of King City society from scholarships offered by organizations representing youth sports, student achievement, and the arts; and from private persons who just want to help.

I have recently been recipient of such generosity, which made possible the making of wonderful memories and fodder for this column. The two people behind that generosity are well known for their true commitment to their city and for a giving nature; but I want to get my personal sincere appreciation in words for as many to read as will: Thank you sir and madame, may your generosity come back on you tenfold. ‘Nuff said here.

The News has it wrong: I had a time recently where I came into contact with folks, just plain ol’ American people, from the Pacific to the Gulf Coast, clerks at fueling stops, small restaurant staff, the hotel crew at a Phoenix hotel, airline employees, and just the common people one meets from California to Oklahoma to Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and I came to the quick conclusion that the media, who would like us to believe we are a very divided society, only preach one side because controversy generates more revenue than does compatibility. I met nice, helpful and interesting people all along the way with the only dissention my constant denial that Californians have a discernable accent. Seems if you don’t speak with a drawl and say “I suppose” instead of “I reckon,” you are from California; hard to argue against when surrounded by the Southerners who “reckon you’nse are from Cali, aincha?”

We are overweight as a nation: True. I saw a video where a popular, and quite overweight, British comedian said of his first comedy tour in the USA that he finally felt he fit in when in public. For those of us who are able, we (and I use the pronouns “us” and “we” as a member of society, not as one who feels the need to lose weight) need to consider the health benefits, not to mention the financial savings, of a balanced lifestyle where food and exercise combine to keep us a nation ready for action, not given to idleness.

Our Big River: Prior to my time away I started reading, for the sixth or seventh time, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and for those who know the book, considered by many to be America’s greatest novel, you are aware the main three characters are Huck Finn, Jim the runaway slave and the Mississippi River. While in Vadalia, La., only 500 yards from that mighty body of water, I read the chapter wherein Huckleberry utters one of the most powerful sentences ever written: “‘Alright then, I’ll go to hell’ — and tore it up.” If you don’t know why that sentence is considered powerful then I strongly suggest you read the book. And even without Twain’s narrative, one can only be dazzled by this wide, flowing river that has played such a major role in the history or America. Driving over the bridge into the state of Mississippi, the view up and down stream is a sight that stirred my soul and lifted my spirit … and I can’t really explain why.

Sights and sounds of the South: We quit counting three quarters of the way at 121. That would be the number of churches my grandson and I tallied while passing through The Bible Belt. These can be behemoth buildings in cities with congregations numbering in the thousands to small, converted houses or former businesses in small hamlets along the highways. We would often pass through an unincorporated area where only a dozen homes were seen but with four churches; apparently there are many families off the beaten path or very small, but committed, assemblies. On stops we heard the high pitched, rise and fall sounds of cicadas whirring (the only word that comes to mind to describe the sound) and the bark like scolding of tree squirrels; at least it sounded like scolding to me. Second only to churches are Dollar General stores; they pop up everywhere, often within only mile or two apart in areas of seeming scant population. One can only deduce there are a passel of folks living out in the forests that cover vast areas of Southern states. (While I am one who enjoys greenery, the sight of the brown hills and blue mountains of the Valley were a welcome sight after what almost became a monotonous skein of verdant hills and valleys.)

Sights and sounds of South Valley: So, back to the future. Last Thursday was the Summer Solstice, the longest day and shortest night of the year, and I love it. Should be a national holiday. Clean-up Week and all it entails is upon us, the Fourth of July and fireworks and a parade are closely following, and The Monterey County Pops! Orchestra will appear here come Veterans Day. The Rec Center Pool is open, baseball is played on local fields, and warm weather is the norm. It seems summer is goin’ full tilt boogie and we should all endeavor to savor it while it surrounds us.

Take care. Peace.

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King City and Greenfield columnist Steve Wilson may be reached at [email protected].

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